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Taylor Avenue, Wolstanton
Taylor Avenue, Wolstanton.
Printed with permission of "The Sentinel"

Wolstanton High School, Newcastle

Mrs. V. Barber Bb@wolstanton.staffs.sch.uk

The project was part of the school’s aim of Widening Horizons, encouraging pupils to interact with the world outside of school as part of their education. It was initiated by Victoria Barber, a member of the History Department at Wolstanton High School. She worked with five Y9 pupils who interviewed twenty seven local residents in five neighbouring residential homes. The residents were both veterans of the home front and the fighting front.


The project involved recording stories from the Second World War of local residents. It was aimed at forging links between our pupils and the residents, to the benefit of both. These links will be used for future projects in school and the residents will now also be invited to school events and pupils will continue to visit their homes. The overall objective was to produce a booklet that could be used in future GCSE and KS3 classes that gave first hand accounts of life during the Second World War.

Activities and Outcomes


Printed with kind permission of Mrs Mabel Sedgwick

The Y9 pupils with Mrs. Barber visited the residential homes to interview the veterans. All residents were invited to take part but numbers had to be limited due to time constraints. All of the interviews were recorded on digital tape recorders so that they could be taken back to school for editing. The interviews covered life in the services and stories from the home front.

Back at school the pupils with their teacher transcribed the interviews and selected passages to bring together in the final booklet which would celebrate the residents experiences. Photographs were loaned to the school and these were scanned ready for inclusion.

The transcripts were also passed onto a drama group working with Newcastle Museum who were producing a play based on veterans recollections. The GCSE drama pupils were able to visit the group and witness first hand how a professional drama group utilises primary evidence to produce historical theatre.

The booklet was launched at the high school at an after school event to which all the contributors and their friends were invited. Refreshments were provided along with a recital of the finished production. The Y9 pupils acted as hosts during the function. They were also joined by a number of the school’s prefects who listened to stories from the residents and watched the drama presentation. All the visitors took a booklet away as a souvenir of the event.

The following are extracts from the booklet.

document image
Printed with kind permission of Mr Leonard Beardmore

“If you were married and you didn’t have any children you were made to take in evacuees. We got a family from Notting Hill. My husband and I gave up our bedroom and tried to make the family feel welcome. They soon abused our hospitality, before long they had sent for their Aunt, Uncle and cousin.

They would go fishing in the canal and they would fry up what they caught and eat it. It really smelt bad. My husband and I suffered for so long and finally we could no longer stand it and asked them to leave.

In retaliation they poured a can of Nestles milk under the velvet cushions on the sofa. It had taken me three years to pay for that sofa at a shilling a week.”

“At the end of the war Marjorie recalled that she felt a little sad about having to go back to her old life. At the same time, many people including Marjorie were happy to do this as many engaged couples now had the opportunity to marry.

Evacuees arriving in Newcastle
Evacuees arriving in Newcastle
Printed with permission of "The Sentinel"

Marjorie quite rightly, is proud of the part she played in the war. It did a lot to challenge you personally and your ideas of what you could do and it was good to play a role in your countries fight. Marjorie also points out that people made many good friends that they stayed in contact with. Marjorie herself stayed in contact with one of the French operators she had passed messages to during the war. Later on they met up in Paris.”

The project has produced a resource, which can be used in future history lessons as a primary source of evidence source about the conditions experienced during wartime. It has provided a unique opportunity for the Y9 pupils involved to widen their horizons by working with an invaluable pool of knowledge outside of their normal educational experience.

It has also established and strengthened links between the high school and the local residential care homes. We plan to visit them again and work with the veterans to further the research. It is also our intention to maintain the positive links forged by the pupils in Wolstanton High School by providing musical and drama productions at regular intervals within the community.