History of Thornton

Memories of Thornton Book by Marie Fogg. 

"This book is a short history of Thornton School in Ward End Birmingham since opening in 1930 up till the present day. During its history it has been known as Thornton School, Thornton Junior School and Thornton Primary School. Hence I have opted for the general Thornton School title. It includes memories of past pupils and staff, photos, certificates, copies of reports and excerts from the school log book, along with references to general events that were happening in the country and world at the time."

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History of Thornton

Thornton school was opened on the morning of August 25th 1930 as Thornton Road Junior Mixed School. The first Headmaster was Mr W. Clark. There were 12 classrooms each with an accommodation of 48 children. The school could accommodate 576 children in total. Thornton was originally built as a ‘fresh air school’ one of several built at the same time. It was a new idea that there should be plenty of fresh air available to prevent children getting tuberculosis. On each side of the classroom there were doors rather than walls which could be opened out onto open sided verandas. There were large windows high up that needed a window pole to open them. The toilets were outside.

The picture below shows what the school looked like in the 1930s.

In later years, the verandas to the middle playground were closed in by walls and glass windows. This made corridors down both sides of the school.  Later still toilet blocks were added on to the top end of the corridors.

This photo shows the whole school out in the middle playground during the 1930s.

By 1931 a Temporary Infants School was built in the top playground. This consisted of two wooden huts.

Memories of the Huts – Infants

I started at the Huts in 1936 aged 5 years. I took 2 ½d a week for a 1/3 pint of milk. The bottles had cardboard bottle tops with a hole to be punched, in order to put in a straw. The hole was punched with a round metal thing which pushed in the centre of the top.  If the weather was very cold the milk froze up over the top of the bottle. Sometimes we put the bottles on the pipes to warm the milk. Biscuits were sold by the teacher but I could never afford one.

We played out at the top of the large Junior playground near to the Huts.  I remember seeing aeroplanes flying overhead with advert messages floating behind them e.g. OXO.

From the very beginning Thornton was successful in its sporting achievements in various sports, the most popular being cricket, football, netball, athletics and skittle ball. Every year Thornton pupils completed in the Saltley & Washwood Heath Schools Sports competition.

From the photos received from past pupils it is clear that Thornton often won the shield, plus other cups, shields and medals. Thornton has always been proud of its sporting success.

Another event which the school took part in was ‘The Birmingham Schools Festival of Music’. Thornton’s choir of 40 children took part in this every year and received good reviews.

Every year the school also held an exhibition of the children’s work for parents to see. This included needlework, craft and arithmetic displays.

A past pupil very kindly supplied this photo of one of the Parents Days held in 1934.