Godwin School ( boys ) log 4 - Godwin and Forest Gate between the wars (1919 - 1939)

Wednesday, 3 May 2017


 This is the fourth 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 1973

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

This article, in particular, highlights:

  • The school participating in public celebrations and commemorations;
  • some remarkable service records from school staff;
  • a goal-scoring English international footballer on the staff!;
  • high achievement by the school in London-wide music and football competitions;
  • gradual emergence of "new technology" into the school and its teaching;
  • visits by older pupils to large local employers, with a view to future employment;
  • Improvements in HMI reports following appointment of "new broom" head.
14 Apr 1919 It is 34 years today since the school opened. The master (ed: Herbert Henry, the(head) master would now have been about 59).

18 Jul 1919 School was closed today to celebrate the Peace. Outing to Grange Hill. The day was fine and all seemed to enjoy the outing thoroughly.

11 Nov 1919 Armistice Day In accordance with the wish expressed in the King's letter, all classes observed two minutes silence at eleven o'clock. The boys were spoken to during the morning about the significance of the event. Each boy made a copy of the following: "Remembrance day, a thought for 11 a.m. November 11 At this hour, and on this day, forever tell us remember the brave men who died that Britain might be free. Let us endeavour so to order our lives that we may be worthy of the sacrifice they made for us."

9 Dec 1919 The boys visited the Borough Theatre to see the Merchant of Venice played by Ben Greek's company.
Borough Theatre programme, 1925
 (photo courtesy Arthur Lloyd)
Interior of Borough Theatre (photo:
 courtesy of Athur Lloyd)


Borough Theatre, Stratford c 1920
 (photo courtesy Arthur Lloyd)

12 Jan 1920 24 boys who are studying Julius Caesar have gone this afternoon to see the play at the Pavilion, Whitechapel Road.

27 Apr 1920 Mr Joseph Addison, in accordance with the council's instructions, gave a temperance lecture this afternoon to Standard 7 (60) boys.

6 Sept 1920 Mr Robert Gibson of North Bay, Ontario, visited us this afternoon. He has been in Canada for 7 years and is chief clerk to the railway at North Bay. He was a scholar here in the nineties.

1 Oct 1920 Ten boys have left today, being over age (ed: the minimum school leaving age was raised from 12 to 14 in 1918) or have passed the labour examination.

11 Nov 1920 The two minutes silence was observed at eleven o'clock this morning. The boys were assembled in the playground and the names of the Old Boys on the Role of Honour was read out, as previously.

12 Dec 1920 The school visited the Queen's cinema and saw a good series of pictures.


Queen's cinema, Romford Road

24 Feb 1921 The school was closed today by the Education Committee on the occasion of a school football match between West Ham and East Ham boys.

28 Feb 1921 Mr Deville took 20 boys from Standard 6 to the Tower of London this afternoon.


Near contemporary photo of Tower of London

18 Apr 1921 Received a letter from Mr Crossland stating that he had been to hospital and the doctor informed him that he had cancer in his throat. It was 36 years on Friday last that Mr Crossland began his service in this department.

2 May 1921 Standards 7 and 3 went on the flats at eleven this morning and Standards 6, 4 and 2 this afternoon, to select suitable boys for the forthcoming sports day in the borough.

10 May 1921 Bertrum Wilson, Standard 5, died yesterday morning. An inquest was held today and the doctor gave the cause of death as acute tubercular meningitis.

10 June 1921 Mr Crossland who has been a great sufferer since he gave up on April 6th passed away yesterday afternoon.

14 June 1921 The department was closed this afternoon to allow staff and may of the boys to pay their respects to Mr Crossland's memory.  He was buried at Woodgrange cemetery.

8 Jul 1921 The school was closed this afternoon on the occasion of the king opening the King George V Dock at Silvertown. 12 boys attended.


George V Docks, soon after opening

14 Jul 1921 A great many boys have been away today at St Marks and St Saviour's Sunday school excursion.


St Saviour's church, host of excursion
 resulting in school stay-away by Godwin boys
19 Jul 1921 This afternoon Mr Deville, who has been on the staff since the opening of Godwin Road, was presented with a gold watch and chain as a token of regard from the boys and teachers of all departments.

22 Aug 1921 School reopened this morning.  All present, including Mr AJ Deville, from Drew Road County School ... Mr Deville takes charge of Standard 7, in succession to his father.

31 Aug 1921 The staff decided to re-establish the school football, and so gradually bring it back to pre-war efficiency.

28 Feb 1922 A general holiday was given today for the wedding of Princess Mary.

25 May 1922 The usual work of the school was suspended after playtime to perform the function of making a presentation to the headmaster, who is retiring on 31 May. Mr Hubert has been here from the opening of this school  (ed: 39 years previously!)and there were present Mrs Horne, his first colleague at Centenary Hall, Essex St school, the one brought over to Godwin Road on its completion ... Mr Everard, a former teacher, President of the NUT, voiced the good feelings of all towards Mr Herbert.

16 Jun 1922 Herbert Stanley Ford took charge as head teacher today.

22 Jun 1922 The school was open during the afternoon session for parents to visit and inspect the work of their children and to interview their teachers.
About 80% of the parents availed themselves of the opportunity and undoubtedly much goodwill will result. In the evening the school was again open for visitation by parents from 6.30 and at 7pm a meeting of parents was held in the drill hall.

29 Sep 1922 The election of a school captain was held this afternoon. They mayor, supported by the deputy mayor and mayoress and Mrs Ridgewell acted as presiding officer. Henry Sanders was elected school captain.

28 Nov 1922 A piano has been purchased at a cost of £47.10/-, for use in the boys department.

27 Aug 1923 School re-opened ... During the last fortnight of the holidays 50 boys were taken to camp at Babbacombe, S Devon. All the boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The head teacher and Mr Taylorson were in charge of the camp, assisted.

2 Apr 1924 The boys of Godwin Rd school were successful in winning the junior football championship of West Ham. The school thus holds the junior shield and the boys gaining medals ... The boys were trained by Mr Deville.

4 Apr 1924 HMI report: This school is attended by boys from for the most part from well-to-do homes. There is, however, a certain number who have attended private schools and are backward though intelligent, and there is a certain section who are dull mentally. The school is drained at its upper end by the boys proceeding to secondary and other schools. As a result, the higher classes are comparatively small. A chart of the ages, however, shows that the classification is on the whole, rather low, in spite of the efforts of the new Headmaster to improve it, by interim promotion, and there is an accumulation of old and dull boys at the bottom of the school, which still presents an unresolved problem.

10 Apr 1924 This afternoon 25 boys visited the Houses of Parliament.

15 May 1924 Mr V Gibbins absent today, having obtained leave of absence from the Education Committee for two days to enable him to travel to France and play in the international football match. (ed: William Vivian Talbot  Gibbins, 19 Aug 1901 - 21 Nov 1979, - known as Viv -  was born in Forest Gate. In addition to being a school teacher, he was a fine amateur footballer.

He joined West Ham in 1923 and made his debut on 26 December 1923 against Aston Villa, creating the only goal of the game for Billy Moore. He became the first unpaid West Ham player to top the club's scoring charts in 1930 -31, with 18 league goals. He also played for Clapton, and won the FA Amateur Cup with the club in 1924 and 1925. 

Whilst registered with Clapton, he won two full England caps, both against France, scoring twice in a 3–1 victory on 17 May 1924 - i.e. the game for which this leave was agreed - and once on 21 May 1925. Gibbins went off injured after 35 minutes of the latter game. 

He was one of the last amateur players to play for the English national football team. He also won 12 amateur caps, scoring seven goals. After playing for West Ham and Clapton, he also played for Brentford, Bristol Rovers, Southampton and Leyton . Gibbins returned to the Tons in the 1950's, as a trainer. 

He became head teacher of Harold Road school. He died in 1979. The entrance gate at the Old Spotted Dog ground is called the Viv Gibbins Memorial Gate.

See the extract from the Stratford Express, below. This is the ONLY coverage given to this full England International, local centre forward, scoring on his international debut.  It was buried in the middle of a dense page 3 of the paper. Just imagine the coverage today!).


Vivian Gibbins, Godwin school
 teacher and English football
 international centre forward
Stratford Express - 21 May 1924

19 May 1924 Godwin Rd school choir gained 2nd place in Stratford Musical Festival ... Second place was also gained in the sight singing tests ... Godwin Rd boys were also successful in gaining the Boxing championship of West Ham schools ... the school holds the cup presented by the officers of the 6th Essex regt. for one year.

25 Jun 1924 45 boys with three teachers are visiting Wembley Exhibition today. (ed: this was an "Empire" exhibition located next to the site of the Empire Stadium -old Wembley stadium - which hosted its first cup final the previous year, featuring West Ham United - six months before Viv Gibbins joined the club).


Programme for British
Empire Exhibition, 1924
25 Mar 1925 Permission gained for day to end on 26th at 3.30 ... this will enable about 120 boys and 40 parents to travel to Tottenham (ed: via what is now the Goblin line) to watch the school play the champion Tottenham school in the 4th round of the Dewar Cup competition (ed: see entry of 27 Feb 1905, above, for details).

19 May 1925 Mr Gibbins absent today, leave of absence granted for 4 days to allow him to play in the international match against France, in Paris (ed: see above for details of Viv Gibbins. He was granted leave of absence a number of times to play in various football matches, while at Godwin.  As the comment above makes clear this was his second and last "full" international for the national team, and he left the field injured - at a time when no substitutes were allowed, so the team went down to 10 men, after 35 minutes).


Gloucester Echo 22 May 1925, describing
 Viv Gibbins' role and fate in the international. 

It is the only  coverage we could find of his
 fate, in the national Newspaper archives!
27 May 1925 Mr Gibbins left to have his knee X-rayed, he received a very serious injury in France.

16 Jul 1925 The boys department held a sports festival in Sebert Road ground at 5.30pm (ed: site of present day Woodgrange infants school?). The meeting was great success and was attended by about 2000 people.

11 Jan 1926 My Symes a member of staff for 30 years passed away on Monday 4 January. The whole of the staff and boys from classes 5, 6, 7 and 8 attended the funeral on Friday 8 Jan.

5 May 1926 The attendance of 40 boys to the baths has been cancelled, owing to the General Strike.

10 May 1926 The attendance of 40 boys to the baths again cancelled.5 Oct 1926 HMI report: Since the previous report, the head master has affected a marked improvement. Classification is now normal, the accumulation of old boys in the lower classes has disappeared ... the teaching of French to boys who have not passed through to Standard 7 is of doubtful value.

27 Oct 1927 A concert was given in the Town Hall, Stratford, by the scholars, in aid of the school's sports fund. The programme took the form of a minstrel entertainment. The town hall was crowded and the concert was most successful. The profit exceeded £38. Great credit is due to Mr May and Mr Deville.

10 May 1928 Godwin school won the Dewar Shield and thus became champion school in London and district for football. The boys have also won the West Ham senior and junior championship.

23 Oct 1930 40 boys were taken on an educational visit to the Houses of Parliament this afternoon. Councillor Groves MP conducted the party round the Houses.

7 Mar 1931 Mr May and Mr White took a party of 24 boys to the British Museum.

22 Apr 1931 Reginald Newall, a scholar at this school, was awarded an international cap for football.

27 Nov 1931 A Nigger Minstrel Entertainment was held at the town hall, Stratford. ... The hall was crowded and the concert a great success. The funds of the school will receive a very welcome addition.

25 Apr 1933 Mr W How, the newly appointed head teacher, visited the school this afternoon. (ed: William How moved from Gainsborough Road school, and took up duties at Godwin on 2 May 1933).

23 Oct 1933 I and Mr Penfold left school at 3.15 this afternoon to visit the new baths in Romford Road, relative to holding a gala there.

5 Dec 1933 A man tried to steal my overcoat from my room today was given in charge by me after assaulting me. A doctor examined me and recommended that I go home to rest for the afternoon.

9 Jan 1934 I, with the caretaker, Mr Bailey, attended the Old Bailey today as witnesses in the trial of Alfred Wilson. He was sentenced to 8 months hard labour for the theft and 3 months hard labour for the assault.


Stratford Express account of the court
 case over the theft and assault
(13 Jan 1934). "Mr How executed
 a "rugger tackle" and brought the
 prisoner down. He was struck two
 or three times on the side of the face
 "The Recorder sentenced the
 prisoner to eight months hard labour
 for stealing, and three months
 hard labour for the assault on Mr How
 - eleven months in all"

6 Sep 1934 20 boys in the charge of Mr Deville and myself went on an educational tour of the London Docks, under the aegis of the Port of London Authority, in the SS Catherine. As the boys had to catch the train at 12.18 from Forest gate, I sent them home for dinner at 11 am.

17 Dec 1934 The boys assembled at 3pm for a fancy dress party, followed by tea and entertainment ... Miss Read and Miss Tear assisted by the vicar of St Marks judged the fancy dress costumes and selected the winners.

3 May 1925 The boys were assembled in the hall this afternoon for a short talk about HM the King's silver jubilee. Each boy was presented with a new 6d - the gift of the mayor. Others were given free tickets to attend the Grand Cinema in Forest Gate on the 7th. The proceedings were closed with the national anthem.

29 Sep 1935 The first swimming gala ever held by this school took place on Friday 20th inst. It was highly successful and wonderfully attended by both parents and scholars.  Among those present were His Worship the Mayor (ed: and half a dozen other local worthies).

1 Oct 1935 Arising from the financial success of the gala, His Worship the Mayor was asked to accept a cheque for 3 guineas from the school, as a donation to the boot fund (ed: the boot fund was a West Ham council initiative aimed at providing boots and shoes to "necessitous children". Up to 2,000 pairs footwear were supplied each winter, for the duration of the fund).

20 Nov 1935 A party of 40 boys visited the Ford Motor Company this afternoon.


Near contemporary photo of Ford's
 Dagenham - one of a number of industrial
school visits laid on by school, as
 potential future employers for the boys.
16 Dec 1935 The new cinema projector arrived and was used for the first time today.

4 Feb 1936 This afternoon Mr Meldrum, a representative of Ford Motors called to give prizes to the successful essay winners on "A visit to Ford Motor Works". The final prize was awarded to R Basham and the 2nd prize to K Ingham. All other boys were presented with a token of their visit.

18 Mar 1936 At the invitation of the staff of the school, parents were invited to attend this evening to witness a demonstration of the new school cinema projector, to show its educational worth.

4 Dec 1936 Four boys - PT, LP, SH and SW were guilty of stealing from the barrow of a helpless cripple a packet of cigarettes and afterwards sharing them out and smoking them. I dealt with them severely and informed the parents.

11 May 1937 Today, the eve of the coronation, is very rainy but the attendance is very good. Tickets from the cinema entertainment arranged by the council were distributed, as were also the sixpences - one to each boy ... The school closed this afternoon for the coronation and the Whitsun holiday.

22 Jun 1937 Mr Penfold reported to me this morning that one of the boys, M O'B on the way to the baths had shown gross respect to the dead. He punished him this morning with my full approbation.

30 Sep 1937 Mrs Holmes called at the school and without consulting me went straight to Mr Harper in a fury of temper and complained that he had struck her boy across the head. Mr Harper brought he to me, but she was so infuriated that I ordered her out.

21 Jan 1938 Mr Munro of the Telephone Development Association attended this morning and gave a lecture on the uses and methods of the telephone.

31 Mar 1938 Mr Penfold reported to me that a trolley bus ran through some boys crossing the road at a Belisha crossing (ed: road crossing introduced in 1934 and named after the then Minister of Transport, Leslie Hoare Belisha - a man most famed for a quip by 30's sex-symbol Mae West, who when visiting Britain, provocatively asked "So, just who is this Hoare, Belisha?").

9 May 1938 Mr Penfold and 3 boys had to attend West Ham police court this morning regarding the summons on a trolley-bus driver for negligent driving, as reported by me on 31 March. The man was fined £3 and 2 guineas costs.


Stratford Express (14 May 1938)
 account of the court case
of Arthur Bowie, the tram driver.

"It was alleged that the bus driver
 made no attempt to stop
(while 26 boys were on a
crossing on Romford Road,
on the way back from the baths).

The teacher "boarded the bus
 and spoke to the driver, who,
 however, would have nothing to do
 with him".

"Defendent would be fined £3
 and £2.2s costs, or 21 days
 on the summons for driving
 without reasonable consideration"

23 Jun 1938 40 boys visited the Gas Light and Coke Company's works this afternoon.

25 Jan 1939 Mr Munro of the Telephone Development Association attended and gave the boys of the upper class a lecture on 'How to use the telephone'.

14 Jul 1939 I attended a meeting at the Education Offices relative to the extension of the school age to 15 (ed: the application of this had to await the end of the impending war, and was introduced in 1947).

26 Jul 1939 Today is my last day here as Headmaster, on my retirement.

27 Aug 1939 Sunday. Members of staff were present from 9 o'clock until 4.30pm to interview and advise parents.

28 Aug 1939 Evacuation rehearsal successfully carried out. The children were assembled in their respective groups and marched around the playground into school.

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