The Leas School,  Hoylake


contributed by Adrian Stevenson & Jeremy Dent

with much assistance from The Leas School Facebook group

On Sundays there were no lessons, and no organised games. The days were given structure by mealtimes, and by morning and evening church services in the school chapel. A couple of Sundays per term the morning service would be in one of the local churches: St. Hildeburgh's, the parish church of Hoylake, a grassy walk across the Royal Liverpool golf course; St. Andrew's, parish church of its own parish (cut away from West Kirby in the 1920s), a tarmac walk in the opposite direction on broad footways.

Part of Sunday morning was devoted to the learning of frequently-used prayers: the Lord's Prayer, the Second and Third Collects for Morning Service, the Second and Third Collects for Evening Service, the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Confession, St Chrysostom's - any more? A record was kept showing the prayers learned and recited by each boy. Some boys, however, were skilled at forging the approval-marks in the records!

After lunch on a Sunday was the time for the supervised writing of letters home. Supervision must have been an awkward job for teachers, as (for junior boys anyway) it involved checking what was being written. Obviously the school did not want parents to be alarmed or scared by anything in the letters; the school needed to reassure parents that sports injuries were not vicious attacks, punishments were not random victimisation, epidemics were not lack of hygiene, etc. It must have been a fine line.

After letters came walks: younger boys (up to maybe 12 years old) would go out in a number of supervised crocodiles; older boys could take "free walks" in unsupervised groups of 2 to 4 boys. The intended itinerary of each "free walk" was noted in a register, to cater for emergencies. Occasionally an intended itinerary was not approved, and sometimes groups might be re-arranged; but on the whole it was a refreshingly open way of giving older boys a taste of freedom and responsibility.

Between tea and Evensong was free time, which coincided neatly in the mid 1960s with Alan Freeman's Pick of the Pops on the BBC Light Programme (split into BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2 in 1967). It was an exciting time, living so close to the Merseybeat which was taking over the charts: Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Searchers, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, Cilla Black.

In the dark winter evenings there were often lectures after supper, usually slide-shows; the lectures were not always on bible stories or missionary life, somtimes they might be about travel, or life in other countries, with little or no religious connection. If there was no lecture, a master might read aloud some adventure story or ghost story.

A couple of Sunday evenings per term there was Parliamentary. This was no doubt intended to be the presentation and considered discussion of various topics of current affairs. But despite the valiant efforts of some masters, there was really not much by way of discussion. Three Candidates would read out a selection of newspaper cuttings, and each would then be expected to answer questions on his designated portfolio. Portfolios varied over the years, approximating to subsets, supersets and combinations of: Home Affairs, European Affairs, World Affairs, Sports.

A Parliamentary session would end with a vote to select the Candidate who had most impressed, who would then be Chairman of the next session. The Secretary had the really hard job: to write it all out, legibly and as if it were coherent; his minutes would be read out at the start of the next session, and the Chairman would solemnly intone: "I presume these minutes are in order? Then I shall sign them."

The best Sundays were the leave-out Sundays: two or three Long Sundays per term, and a number of Short Sundays. On a Long Sunday you could be away from breakfast to Evensong, on a Short Sunday from the end of Mattins to Evensong. It must have been quite hard for parents from a distance to find an activity to keep their youngsters occupied and under control. Chester Zoo figured in many Sundays-out, as did Craxton Wood Country Club, Mollington Banastre Hotel, and the City of Chester. The more adventurous might try go-karting, or visit the real motor-racing track at Oulton Park.

For many, the common late-afternoon experience of a Sunday-out was the dispiriting crawl back through barely-moving solid lines of Sunday drivers, through Heswall, past Thurstaston and Caldy. Evensong might help to lift the spirits of the choir, if not of everyone. But Sunday supper in the fifties and sixties was sure to dampen them once again: cold pilchards on cold toast.

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