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Irene Clarkson interview: School days

Where did you go to school? 

Wimbledon High School. I went to the kindergarten there. But unusual, even for my day, I had a governess because we moved from Whitby in the autumn and all the classes were full and I think you were supposed to be in school by the time you were five years old. So for a few months until the following year I had a governess who used to come in and give me lessons. It was pretty rare.

I went straight up the school and left in the fifth form when I had taken exams, I didn’t go in the sixth form.  I did ten years straight through the school. 

What year did you leave Wimbledon High School?

1937, [two years before the war]. 

What do you remember most about your years at Wimbledon High School?

I know I always liked school. When these kids say they don’t like school… I loved it. There were a lot of only children around then, remember. We were the generation just after the war. It was fun, plenty of friends, you know. 

Can you remember any of the teachers?

Oh yes. Some of them were legends in their lifetimes. When you see a teacher now it is very intriguing. None of them were married, for instance. I go to old-girls things now and there is Mrs So-and-So and Mrs So-and-So and some of the headmistresses are married but in my day they were never married, any of them. 

What were your favourite subjects?

History and English probably. 

Did you play sports, games?

Yes but I wasn’t very good, not my speciality. The Wimbledon High School playing field was the original Centre Court [in Worple Road] so I would say we had the best drained hockey field in the south of England. We played hockey, tennis, netball. We were taken to the public swimming baths [at Latimer Road]. Now they have a beautiful full size swimming pool but not in those days.