Memories of a School "Explosion" in the 1930s

Raymond, pictured c. 1929
Photograph courtesy of Raymond Course

Here, Raymond Course recalls an “explosion” at the school in the 1930s:

I attended Meldreth School which was built in 1910.  There were something like 50 on the roll.  There were three classrooms; the juniors supervised by Miss Wedd, the middle class by a Miss Pearce and the top class by the Head, a Miss Butler who was quite strict. 

If children were playing with things which she thought they shouldn’t be playing with in class she suggested they threw them on the fire.  The school was heated then by a fire in one corner of the room which heated a boiler which heated a radiator at the back of the room and all three rooms were heated in that way.  So we were obliged to throw on the fire whatever it was we were fiddling with.  Someone thought that this was not quite on and so someone who shall be nameless, so far as I’m concerned anyway, unloaded the shot from a twelve bore cartridge, wrapped it in paper to disguise it and fiddled about with it under the desk.  The inevitable thing happened and it was put on the fire.  Well some five minutes later or so when it had burnt through the outer casing there was something of an explosion which initially was put down to something in the coal.  Well it was, but not in the way it was first envisaged!  Anyway I think that slowed down the process of throwing things on the fire a little bit.

Comments about this page

  • It was me! I threw the shotgun cartridge on the fire! But I had emptied the shot! The funny thing was that one of the girls said that the fire at her house often spat like that because of the coal and Miss Wedd believed her. The fire was a great distraction to us boys. As was the open water tank above that was used for hot water. Every time we went to the fire, we would open the damper a little until finally the water in the open tank would begin to boil and spill over! No health and safety concerns in those days.

    By John Gipson (26/06/2011)

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