Early Letter

An early letter somehow survived which provides a brief glimpse into the life and times at the Waterloo Street school just after the turn of the nineteenth century, from someone that entered the school the year after Queen Victoria died!


Dear Miss Henson,

You asked for recollections of the school in the early nineteen hundreds. I am enclosing a letter from Norah Bruseby, nor Mrs Rollason, describing some happenings she remembers.

I thought you might be interested in my reminisences also. I entered the school in 1902 and spent all my schooldays at the old premises in Waterloo St. We had no electricity and the building was lit by naked gas jets hanging from the ceilings in circles of about 20; these were lit by Sarah te school maid with a long pole enclosing a taper.

The gymnasium was the longest room and was used for prayers each morning, it was not long enough for prize days and we had to go to the Town Hall for festive occasions. Miss Rutty was the Headmistress and her brother, the Rev. Edward(?) Rutty, sometimes presided at the Prize Giving. She had another brother who was a celebrated London actor; he was known as Herbert Wareing. The books given as prizes were beautifully bound in coloured calf, tooled and gilded; they were greatly treasured.

No uniform was worn but the wearing of gloves was strictly enforced. There was no public transport but in very snowy weather, I was sent to school in a cab with straw on the floor to absorb the melting snow. The high leather button or lace up boots we wore then were unpopular, they took so long to fasten.

Science and Art rooms were built during my schooldays and then, for the first time, science was taught in the school.

The annual fee was £7.0.0, swimming and hockey were extras.

I hope this letter will be of some interest when the school Centenary is celebrated.

Your sincerely,

Frances Simpson


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