Godwin School ( boys ) log 2 - Godwin and Forest Gate pre WW1 (1900 - 1914)

Monday, 30 January 2017

This is the second of a series of posts based on the school log of Godwin School, from 1883 - 1984, providing a fascinating, worms' eye view of the development of the local area.

Godwin school in 1973
See here for details of the first post and a background to this series of articles.

This article, in particular, highlights:

  • Great successes achieved by the school in both Music (nationally and internationally) and football (London, and Essex-wide);
  • how Godwin pupils and Forest Gate people, more generally, responded to national and international events;
  • significant achievements made by some former Godwin pupils;
  • continued praise for the school and its record, by HMIs.
2 Mar 1900 The school was closed today, to celebrate the relief of Ladysmith (ed: significant development in the Boer War).

Contemporary painting of the Relief of Ladysmith
26 Mar 1900 The school choir competed at the Stratford Musical Festival this evening. The choir was successful in gaining 1st prize.

16 May 1900 The attendance was greatly suffered today in consequence of a Patriotic Procession taking place in Forest Gate.(ed: This procession was to whip up jingoistic fervour for the Boer War. The Stratford Express covered it at length, the extract below was published in advance of the procession, forewarning its readers of it.  The extract below mentions that the procession was to go through the streets of Forest Gate on the evening of the publication and Stratford the following evening. It would feature 157 cars - some displaying arms, other tableau with such names as "Home at Mafeking", "Britannia and South Africa", "Men in khaki " and "Camp Life". Three days afterwards  the paper devoted two thirds of a broadsheet page to coverage of the procession.  This is worthy of an article in its own right, and we will return to it in a later article). 
Stratford Express
16 May 1900
21 May 1900 The school was closed today, to celebrate the Relief of Mafeking. (ed: significant development in the Boer War).

1 Feb 1901 In accordance with Board instructions, the master gave a lesson to each section today on the life of the late Queen Victoria. School closed this afternoon, by order of the Board, in consequence of the funeral.

1 Oct 1901 18 years today, this school begun in a temporary building.

5 Jun 1902 The Board has given a holiday to celebrate the peace between this country and the Transvaal. (ed: end of the Boer War).

31 Oct 1902 The master left at 2.30 to attend the stone laying of school for defective children at Grange Road. (ed: now Grange Road Special school, opened for "disabled children" as a project by the Canning Town Women's Settlement).

27 Nov 1902 School closed at noon, by order of the Board, on account of the Shakespearean Bazaar at the Town hall Stratford, in aid of the West Ham hospital.

8 Feb 1905 HMI report This school is well organised and under very good influence. The teaching is careful and thorough, producing much accurate and intelligent work.

24 Feb 1905 Boys cautioned re getting on or near the tram cars.

27 Feb 1905 The boys were very jubilant today. The school football team won their match against Eltringham Street, the champions of South London in the Dewar Shield competition on Saturday. (ed: This was the London Schools championship shield, for football. It is still competed for today, as a trophy for year 10 pupils).

15 May 1905 The district football shield returned to this school today, for last season's success. This is the 7th time out of 9 that Godwin Road has had the honour of holding this shield.

23 Nov 1905 School closed this afternoon by order of the Education Committee in honour of the Duchess of Connaught's (ed: daughter-in-law of Queen Victoria)visit to the borough to open the American Bazaar, under the patronage and active support of the Duchess of Marlborough, for the Extension scheme for the West Ham hospital. (ed: this Bazaar took place in the pre-NHS era, and was a fund raiser for the local hospital - as were held in many places in the country - at a time when most working people effectively relied on charity for their health care.  The event was significant enough to not only result in local schools being closed, but in attracting two thirds of a broadsheet page coverage in the Stratford Express - the headline of which is shown below).

Stratford Express 25 November 1905
12 Feb 1906 Mr Walker, art connoisseur and dealer of Newquay, Cornwall called and informed the master that Frank Watson, an old Godwin boy had just left him to take up a scholar's life at the Donald Fraser Institute, Glasgow for 4 years. Mr Walker showed some of Watson's pictures and says in his opinion that he would make his mark in the art world.

26 Mar 1906 This has been a Red Letter Day ... in the elementary school choir competition at Stratford Music Festival ... 7 schools entered ... and our boys gained first prize ... the test piece was 'Shout! Throw your banner out!" and the choir's own selection "Sleep sweet birdie".

25 Mar 1907 On Saturday our boys gained the distinction of winning the championship for London in the football field. Our team beat Page Green 3 - 0, and so became the holders of the Dewar Shield for the year.

22 Mar 1909 It was painful to hear that Ambrose Rotiusno, Standard 7 was found hanging in a cupboard in his mother's room, yesterday about 2 o'clock (ed: newspaper article calls him Robinson - see below. The jury's verdict was that he met his death by "hanging while swinging about". They did not think he committed suicide).

Stratford Express 24 March 1909
29 Mar 1909 The master, with Mr Rawlings and some of the boys in his class, attended the funeral of Ambrose Rotiuso on Saturday afternoon.

23 Dec 1909 Mr Barker, one of our former pupil teachers came to see us this morning. He has just succeeded in obtaining his BSc degree at London. He was with us from Sep 1899.

15 Apr 1910 The boys were allowed an extra quarter hour's recreation this morning, to celebrate the completion of the 25th year of the opening of the school.

21 Apr 1910 School began work at 1.45 and was dismissed at 3.55. This was to enable the boys to go to Ilford to play the semi-final in the Cook Cup competition.  All staff and about 200 boys went. The school team won the match against Central Park school 3 - 0 (ed: the competition was instituted by the county Football Association, in memory of its late secretary, Robert Cook. It was open to all elementary schools in Essex. It is still competed for, under the aegis of Essex FA, for under 15s).

2 May 1910 The boys played the final of the Cook Cup competition. They met Albert Road school, Romford, at the Boleyn Castle grounds. Our boys won the match 10 - 1 and so became holders of the cup.

9 May 1910 The atmosphere at the school today has been somewhat disturbed. This is not to be wondered at, seeing that His Majesty King Edward V11 passed away just before midnight on Friday.

14 Oct 1910 The attendance this week has not been good. The Jewish holidays affected it.

21 Dec 1910 The secretary of Robert Cook Cup arrived, having made arrangements for the cup to be presented to the school. The ceremony took place this afternoon.

21 Jun 1911 School closed for the Coronation holiday, resuming on June 29.

29 Jun 1911 School reassembled this morning. The Coronation celebration was held yesterday. The boys went to the Electric Theatre ( ed: see photo. This was located near where the Co-op is today, on Woodgrange Road.  It was later known as the Imperial and also The Royal.  See here for details of the cinemas). in the morning, played games on the Flats in the afternoon and returned to school for refreshments. A very enjoyable day was spent.

Outside of Electric theatre

... and inside
7 Dec 1911 It was with satisfaction that one records that Mr Higginson, a former pupil, and Mr Bundell have each obtained the BSc degree at London University.

25 Mar 1912 The choir was successful in gaining the Challenge Shield on Friday, with 77 marks out of 80 and a certificate for singing, with 37 marks out of 40.

2 May 1912 The football team played South Church school at Southend yesterday in the Cook Cup final and won the match 4 - 1, and thus became holders for the year.

6 May 1912 The boys of the choir going to Paris attended today at the Town Hall for a lesson in French from 1pm to 2.15pm, and then returned to school (ed: An extract from Fifty Years a borough:  1886 - 1963 - the Story of West Ham wrote of "Mr Harry Earle and the splendid choir he trained at St Matthew's church, Stratford. Many of his old Godwin Road boys too, remembered with advantage the great days when (he) trained them to compete at the International Competition  held at Paris: how he found the money, took them there, and, on their return as victors they stood at the fountain at Forest Gate station and sang prize songs to a great crowd of friends and admirers. One of the songs was composed by a West Ham musician.").
Slightly grainy photo from Stratford Express
 of 150 West Ham children (including 50
 from Godwin school) on the steps of Vincennes
 Town Hall, during their visit to Paris

Stratford Express coverage of the French trip
3 Jun 1912 The choir was very successful at the Paris music festival, gaining 1st prize in the choral competition and in the singing at sight contest.  All the boys returned on Wednesday last, safe and sound, after a very enjoyable, but strenuous experience. (ed: this is quite an extraordinary story, which the Stratford Express, not surprisingly, covered in considerable detail. Part of that detail is a diary kept by the school of its time on the trip.  Although quite lengthy, this is worth an article on its own, and will feature in a future blog).

17 Jul 1912 The prizes won by the choir in Paris were publicly presented this evening by Baron de Forest MP for North West Ham (ed: see here for more details of the MP).

Stratford Express 20 July 1912

Maurice, Baron de Forest, the local
MP presented  prizes won in Paris
, to boys in the  choir, following
 their successes
26 Sep 1912 The school choir has been asked to sing at a Garden party given in West Ham Park in connection with the Municipal Tramways Conference. Mr Earle and the master are accompanying them to the park.

30 Sep 1912 Arthur Wright (Standard 1) brought a tin 'squeaker' to school. He was sucking it, when it was swallowed. The master sent the boy home to inform his mother.

3 Apr 1913 We had a very interesting visitor this afternoon, Mr John Rassuessen, who left the school in 1901. He has been in India in the Rifles Brigade. Unlike many soldiers, he has made a careful study of the life, religion and matters connected with the people.  Mr Rassuessen has been into Tibet, and so ingratiated himself into the good graces of the Lamas, that he has been shown many sacred places, played chess with them and been treated as a friend. We shall try and get him to speak to the boys on India.

25 Aug 1913 HMI report There is a good deal that is very praiseworthy at this school.

19 Nov 1913 George Cornwall called to inform us he had gained a Draper's scholarship and is going to Cambridge in October. He gained a scholarship at the secondary school from this school in 1908.

24 Nov 1913 A choir of boys from this school went to the Crystal Palace on Saturday to take part in a musical competition, under the aegis of the palace authorities. There were 15 schools who sang, this school was the winner of the first prize, gaining 96 marks out of 100. 
The impressive Crystal Palace, in south
 London, where it was located after the
 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park
 and its destruction by fire in 1936

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