Public contribution to BHRG Memories of Beacon Preparatory School
by Heather Lee from Devon.
I first attended Beacon Prep as a five year old in 1949.

I was pushed in the front gate and left with a lot of other children who were all crying. We were taken down a red tiled corridor of the junior side, past the small boys cloakroom to the small girls cloakroom at the end next to the stock room. The cloakroom was again red quarry tiled and there was a bench running all around the room with our clothes pegs above on which we hung our shoes bags [containing plimsolls] and outdoor clothing.

The first class was run by Mrs Hutchinson and we occupied the school hall. We sat on little half round chairs, and had special small tables. The ABC cards were arranged around the room and we learned them phonetically.

The hall was where we had morning assembly and I remember on my first day singing All Things Bright and Beautiful all TEACHERS Great and Small, [or so I thought].

The second class was taken by Miss Batts herself, and was situated at the end of the block from where she could keep an eye on all that was going on in the field, which was our playground.

The Third Class was taken by Mrs Schaller, [I think that was how it was spelt], the fourth by the frightening Mrs Hunt who had a very short fuse, but was an excellent teacher who stood no nonsense.

Top Class was the domain of Mrs Arnold who lived just opposite the school. She was happy and homely and a real good teacher. I remember Geography class at 2pm on Fridays, was listened to on the radio, and then we had to illustrate and write up what we had heard. She had a star system displayed on the back of the door, which were gained by exceeding 7 on every test during the week. I think I only got one in all the time I was there, but I do remember trying very hard to have one against my name.

The senior side of the school had its own door and cloakrooms, smaller than the junior and only one loo apiece, and still the red tiles, and they could be slippery too.

Games were played in the field and it was mostly rounders, cricket or football. All very impromptu as the field was very sloping. It was great for making long slides on in the winter snow and we used to turn a bench upside down and sit all the little kids in and push them at speed down the ice slide. Miss Batts always had a great big bottle of whitch hazel for dabbing on cuts and bruises.We made camps in the fields and swung on trees behind the bike sheds.

In those days we walked or cycled to school and I went from Burgh Heath across the Tattenham Way recreation ground into the Drive and down Beacon Way, past Uncle Mac's house [Hello Children Everywhere, BBC fame] He had a mock wishing well in the front garden, but was not a very friendly man for all his fame.

In latter years a new hall was added to the Beacon School and it housed a magnificent grande piano, all walnut. Can't remember what the tone was like but the case was beautiful.

I kept in touch with Miss Batts and Mrs Arnold for many years until their death. They were both very special people.

The Beacon Prep School was a very special and happy place and produced fine competent and well adjusted children. Some were the sons and daughters of military people and in my day, just after the war, many of the kids had lost their fathers.

Here are some names I remember - Heather and Christine Gilbert, Heather Warrener [She limped and had a deformed foot], Timothy Neil, Peter Gould, Peter Beadon, Nigel Bennet, Roger Bush, Margaret Nicholson [She was a little slow in ability but had always perfect handwriting], Sylvia Rodwell, Jacqueline Bishop [She lived in The Drive], Penelope Barnes, Susan Henderson, [her father ran the Riding Stables in Garratts Lane] Rosemary and Elizabeth Rickman, [Their father ran the Riding stables at the Drift Bridge] and Janet Salt. Mrs Brett took over the teaching of the first class for a while and her young son Simon [famous author] was also a pupil.

The school uniform was a nice deep heather colour and the school badge a flaming beacon.

When the school closed I was instrumental in organising the farewell do with Mrs Arnold's help.

There was a Mrs Taylor, who was a well known Banstead artist who gave Art lessons. She was an old lady in my day but I believe quite well known in art circles.

Another teacher was a Mrs Johnson who taught elocution and made many historical scenes and figures in miniature.

Miss Cass from the Cass School of Dancing Banstead also came and taught. She never ever made me dainty!! Tried hard though. She would hire the Scarla Theatre in London once a year for her pupils' exhibition and I was a very poor, seven year old chief imp. When I came out of the theatre Prince Monolulu greated me, patted me on the head and said that one day I would be a famous dancer!! {I hope his horse racing tips were better, but I fear not!]

I do hope these memories of the Beacon School are of help to you. They were some of the most happy days of my life.


Heather Lee