Boy Gardeners at Leigh School in 1931
We have been given a school photograph from 1931 (see below). It came from the family of Geoff Hitchcock, a hugely-respected man in the village who in his later years lived at The Wheelwrights Cottage behind the Large Village Hall and Pump Cottage.
However, it is not the usual type of school photo showing all the classes. It is of the older boys only and they have gardening tools with them – either they were just off to the school garden or it was a specially convened event. Even the year – 1931 – has been painted on the side of the wheelbarrow.
The Headmaster, Mr Gibbons, who was keen that all the boys learnt gardening, presides in the back row, with nine boys; and there are six in the front row. One guesses the fifteen boys were the top or possibly the top two classes.
Amongst the tools, there are three spades, three hoes and three forks and we know that the boys had to keep the tools spotless when the lessons were over.
The garden was half way up The Green Lane on the right where the start of Meadowbank is now. They grew mainly vegetables which they were allowed to take home when they were ready; but Mr Gibbons himself grew flowers.
We know a good deal about some of the boys – Harry Lucas, Archie Denton, Vic Fry and Geoff Hitchcock for example, all of whom are no longer with us. But C. Dyson, F. Clark, K. Frost, S. Clifton, F. Older and D. Jenner – does anyone know more about them?
However, one boy from the photograph will be able to help: Roy Brooker, hale and hearty at 90, lives in Tonbridge but is often in the village with a thousand memories. We will look forward to hearing them in due course.
Parish Magazine Article: Sept 2010: by Chris Rowley