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Walthamstow School for Girls

History Snippets

Here is a poem for some of you dog-lovers out there - I found it in the 1949 edition of the ‘Iris’ magazine. Miss Hooper, as well as teaching, used to run ‘Ranscombe Kennels’ and specialised in breeding Spaniels.

Ms Kelly
LRC Manager

The Dog's Pow Pow.

Within the bounds of County High School,

Walthamstow’s great County High School.

All the "Powers that be" decided

They would have a show for canines.

Have a lovely show for canines.

First and foremost 'mongst the urgers

Was our well beloved Miss Hooper,

Respected and revered Miss Hooper:

Three and sixpence was the wampum.

Was the fee to enter "Rover."

Many came, and many brought

Canine friends, all barking madly.

And the air was filled with barking,

Filled with noises made by spaniels,

Made by labradors and bulldogs;

Some dogs were all brown and furry.

Others black and sleek and shiny;

There was one like strings of licqu'rice

Very like a long black sausage:

There were dogs of every species,

Known to us or known to others.

Suddenly a hush fell on us,

All was quiet but for barking.

Then a voice in tones insistent,

Tones that carried o'er the ether.

Gave a message, clearly, and asking,

All the dogs who in the first class

Were competing, that were present,

"Come into the grassy clearing,

Stand around our luscious green-sward,

First parading all together,

And then, singly, come toward me,

And go through your simple paces."

Every winner proudly marching,

Marching proudly came with owners,

First the best dog of those present,

Then the one in best condition,

After him the most appealing.

Then 'twas time to hurry homeward,

Hurry home through dreary showers,

We’ll remember, we'l1 remember,

And we'll show our cards and murmur,

"These I got at County Dog Show,

Got when barking dogs abounded."
 

HIAWATHA HIRCHINSON and MINNEHAHA RAND, V.H. Wigwam.


Here is a poem from the 1948 Iris magazine. If you were to look at an aerial photograph, you would see that the oldest part of our building is shaped like the letter E. The author of the poem, poses the question about why this is? My guess is that the letter E, stands for Essex, as when this building was opened in 1912, it was part of Essex County Council, hence the coat of arms above the entrance to the school.

Of course, that is only my guess, there may be a more straightforward answer, so what’s yours?

My School.

My school is shaped just like an E,

On this my friend and I agree,

Does anyone know why this should be,

                I don't.

The architect should surely know,

But I think he lived long ago,

Can anyone tell me where to go

                To find him?

I'm puzzled still, but then you see,

I'm only in the Lower Three,

Why is our school shaped like an E?

                Please tell me.

MARGARET TYSOE, L.III.

Ms Kelly
LRC Manager


On 8th February 1918, women who were householders over the age of 30 (6 million women) got the vote. Here is an article about the campaign that was led by our students who participated in the local campaign, as well as school.

Ms O Kelly
LRC Manager

SUFFRAGETTES AT WALTHAMSTOW HIGH SCHOOL, 1912

How sensibly she dealt with what amounted almost to a revolution in Form II. It was the Osborne Bye-election of 1912, Sir John Simon was the Government candidate and the suffragettes came down in force. Simon must be turned out. All except two unhappy Liberals’ in Form II became ardent suffragettes. Christabel Pankhurst was our hero. All over the weekend I sold "Votes for Women" on the Hoe Street corner, and Miss Hewett bought one.

Then on Monday we turned our form room into a suffragette committee room, we hung the colours from the gas-brackets. The pictures were covered over with suffragette slogans.

We barricaded our doors to all of different views. Form VI could not get through to their room. Even staff were barred out, and our two unhappy Liberals slunk miserably about the passages. 

We couldn’t break windows in Oxford Street perhaps but we could defend women’s rights against the whole school if necessary. And while the excitement was at its height, Miss Hewett sailed along and we didn't quite like to bar her out. How I longed for her to order us to take down our notices, so that I could bravely refuse to do it. She was much too wise.

Very pleasantly she looked round the room, and complimented us on our zeal.

Then she said, "I like to see my girls taking this keen interest in politics. I hope it is an intelligent interest, and not just rowdy partisanship. Let me give you a few simple questions to see if you know something about parliamentary procedure and how we are governed. Does parliament sit every day?” A petrified silence. What had that to do with votes for women? Then Irene Hitchman saved the situation. “No,” she said firmly. Afterwards we rushed at her. “Shrimp, how did you know?” “Oh, well, I thought it wouldn’t sit on Sundays!”

But our revolution was over. We quietly removed our posters and life returned to normal.

Article from the ‘Iris’ magazine of December 1937 by Leslie M Greene (nee Campbell)


Over the years people have kindly donated works of art, books, furniture and even plants to the school. The Iris magazine of 1928, resolves part of the mystery surrounding two objects which have been used to inspire students during their art lessons.

Many of you who have worked and studied in the school may have pondered why there is a plaque on the wall of F18. Room F18, was formerly an Art Room, and even though the room is now full of computers, the plaque is still on the wall. The bust of Hermes was also in this room but was relocated to our new Art rooms in 2010.  Unfortunately, it has recently suffered a fall and is need of repair. Not to worry, because Tana West, our artist-in-residence, is a ceramacist, and is                                                 intending to repair it.

" Summer and Winter Echoes crowd upon us: the new paint and the crack dating from the Summer holidays, the crannied recess with picture, carpet and curtain that is now a Sixth Form study, the new arrangement of the Reference Library in sections, murmurs about the loss of books in the past, as well as joyous recognition of the purchase of many delightful new books this term. The Art Room has acquired "Ornament," a wonderful book and a cast of the Hermes of Praxiteles and a tondo of the Virgin and Child by Michelangelo.  "

The Iris 1928

Ms Kelly
LRC Manager


For the new Year 7’s the transition to secondary school can sometimes produce quite  terrifying results. In the case of the school bell, a widespread panic breaks out at the sound of the school bell and wide-eyed students can be seen hurrying towards various  destinations.

In  primary school the school bell would be heard in the playground to herald the end of play, or the beginning of the school day.

However, in our school, we have bells for lesson changeovers  (beginning and end of), bells for the beginning of the school day and bells for lunchtime. We also have a bell for fire drills, which is a continuous bell. To add to this cacophony of noise, a  warning bell is set off before the main bell at registration  periods. (Apologies if  I have missed any bells).  It all adds to the dynamic of the school day which is split up into ‘chunks’ or I should say ‘chimes’ of time!

Here is a piece from the July 1929 Iris describing the introduction of the new  electric bell. The new building referred to would have been additions to the ‘house’.  I thought you might like to see our original school bell, which is now kept in our new archive.

The Bell.

School life this term has been very hectic - I mean more hectic than usual, if that is possible. The chief feature has been the noise. Apart from the usual musical strains issuing from the Hall (and else­where!) there has been the incessant hammering of the workmen in the new building, and worst of all - the new electric bell. It may be thought, and rightly too, that the sound of the bell, foretelling the end of a lesson, is a welcome sound. It is. Quite an audible sigh of relief passes through the School, when the bell is rung. It is such a simple action, too - just pressing a button.

This bell, which is the means of the saving of many lives, has, this term, taken on a peculiarly dynamic ring. If one happens to be in the vicinity of the front hall or on the stairs, when the bell goes, one stops as though under an electric shock - it is a great strain on people with weak hearts. Of course, it has the effect of pricking into action even the most sleepy of consciences. For instance, if a girl is late for a lesson (I am not saying that this ever happens) but if she were hurrying down­stairs, trying to look as though she had every right to be there, the sound of the bell would make her start guiltily, and she would break into a run and hurl herself in the nearest class-room, in the hope that it is the right one. This may be one of the reasons for its institution.

Marjorie I. Johnson (Form VI)

 

Ms Kelly
LRC Manager


Our visitors from Michigan State  
  University with Ms Davies & Mr Gunzi.
 

Having welcomed visitors from Michigan State University today, I thought it would be appropriate to share Miss Hewett’s writings about her time spent in America.

This article is from the December 1921 edition of the Iris.

Ms Kelly LRC Manager

AMERICA is a country of superlatives. When one is trying to describe the vast expanse of prairie and wheat district, the variety and brilliance of the autumn tints in the woods, or the noise and rush of a great city, ordinary adjectives are quite useless: one finds oneself using the ubiquitous American adjective "wonderful," in spite of one's resolution, to find a more descriptive word.

In every city or district one visits there is one thing at least which exceeds in some way (frequently in size or cost) all other things of the same kind in the whole world: the guides say this and the guide-books corroborate. For instance, one city has more miles of Boulevard and Park drives than any other city in the world; another city possesses “the only building planned and constructed by women"; and another "one of the longest, widest and finest streets in the world": yet another boasts a monument which "is supposed to be the most wonderful piece of masonry in the world" (the Great Pyramid taking second place, perhaps). The list might be extended indefinitely from guide-books, but I will refrain and add two wonderful records personally endured-one is dirtier after twenty-four hours in a train going across the States than at any other time in one's life, and Chicago is certainly the noisiest city one could ever visit, with its overhead and surface street cars, its ear-piercing police-whistles regulating traffic (which the English visitor at first mistakes for a summons to assistance in a life and death struggle), the hooting of a thousand automobiles and the raucous yells of the newspaper boys. In Chicago life certainly shrieks.

Indeed, life and vitality (not always quite so unpleasantly manifested) are splendidly characteristic of America, for she is a young country and has consequently many of youth's best qualities. She has energy and vigour, a determination to set the world right, together with a firm conviction that there is a panacea, and a generous disposition for enthusiastic admiration, even for hero-worship. Her frankness in expressing this admiration and everything else is very different from the Old World's more critical attitude to people and their performances.

Education is of vital importance to America, Everyone is realising it. The papers daily contain articles on the necessity for more High School places: the schools themselves are full to overflowing, and still there is more demand. We share that problem in England. The other problem, that of welding together the mixed nationalities in the great cities, is felt only in a small degree with us. I have been in one school in America where there were thirty-one nationalities, several children entering without knowledge of one single English word.

Building, as in England, is very difficult. To provide more school places, in some towns the double session is used: in others, they have a system called the Work-Study-Play plan, an arrangement by which every class-room, the auditorium (assembly hall) and the playground are all in use the whole time-thus, a school which has school places for six hundred pupils has over a thousand in attendance. This means that no one has a definite place in school or class-room. Here is an uncomfortable example of Individualism yielding to Communism.

The arrangement of the curriculum is different from the English plan. Each

State makes its own regulations and there are consequently minor differences. The High School age is fourteen to eighteen years, though there are some Junior High Schools beginning two years earlier; the schools are free; a pupil may enter and leave at any time (in some States not before sixteen); there are no maintenance grants. But the fundamental difference is that no pupil "carries" more than four major subjects at once. For instance, a First Year's Course may be: English (compulsory during every year), Algebra, French, Domestic Science, and listening to members of the Senate and the House of Representatives carrying on the government of the United States. Now I am in Philadelphia, and in another week I shall be in New York, which with Boston will be the end of my wanderings on this side of the Atlantic.

I expect to be home almost as soon as this article is in print, and then if you have any desire to hear more, your curiosity can be gratified more easily than by the painful process of writing.

America is, as I said, a country of superlatives: I add one more­ Americans are superlatively kind to a stranger, even kinder than one would have expected. The knowledge that one is English only adds to their readiness to help one and make things easy. I am hoping that several from my host of kind friends in America win be able to visit us in Walthamstow. We would like to give them an English welcome.

B. HEWETT.

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