Memory Lane: Classmates

Layton Hill Convent 1966 Form VA in 1966

Layton Hill Convent 1966 Form VA in 1966

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OLD girls of Layton Hill Convent, where ‘heritage’ buildings are set to be lost in the £22.5m redevelopment of what is now St Mary’s College, continue to share their memories.

Among them are Catherine Lees (nee Rogerson), who, like her two sisters, followed in her mother’s footsteps.

Layton Hill pupil Vera Broome and brother George outside their home in South Square, Layton, in the 1930s

Layton Hill pupil Vera Broome and brother George outside their home in South Square, Layton, in the 1930s

She says: “My mum, Vera Rogerson (nee Broome), went to St Kentigern’s Primary School in 1927 and gained a scholarship at 11 for Layton Hill Convent.

“Her parents lived in a council house in South Square and found it quite difficult to pay for her school uniform.

“She enjoyed her time at the school and was so proud when all of her three daughters passed their 11 plus to go to the school in the 1960s.

“I was always proud to be a Layton Hill Convent girl as my mother had been many years before me. It was a comfortable feeling to know that I was learning in the same classrooms and walking in the same corridors as my mum.

“It was also quite amazing to find out that during my first years at the school I was taught PE by the same teacher as my mum! Her name was Miss McCappin, who started at the school in about 1930 and didn’t leave until the mid-60s.

“Our wonderful form teacher Miss Claire Hewitson, who taught French and German, was approachable, kind and always smiling, an ex-pupil herself, young enough to appreciate and understand how exciting we found life to be in the Swinging 60s.

“Then there was Mother Sebastian, who taught Latin and Greek. She was tiny and I’ll never forget my Latin name – Minima!”

Catherine recalls: “I often used to look at the old school photos that hung on the walls in the corridors outside our classrooms. It gave me a good feeling when I found my mum’s face amongst the school group. “School trips in my mother’s day were perhaps annual picnics or days out. When I arrived in 1961, trips had become more adventurous. There were ski trips and geography field trips.

“A memorable trip was on a sixth form cruise in 1967 aboard the SS Nevasa. It was an educational trip around the Mediterranean’s historical venues, including Pompeii, Rome, Athens, Corinth and Venice.

“It was a truly wonderful experience, especially when we arrived at St Peters, looking forward to seeing the Sistine Chapel, when, who did we meet, but Ringo Starr of The Beatles, who happened to be visiting at the same time. That was a historical event.

“Later on during the cruise, when we visited Athens, we were seeing the last day of the Greek monarchy’s presence in Athens. We took pictures of the Royal Palace and the Greek elegantly dressed soldiers standing outside. The following day, when we were on the other side of Greece, King Constantine went into exile following a military coup.”

Catherine is first left, middle row, on the 1966 group picture and classmates she remembers are Julie Snape-Jenkinson, Christine O’Connor, Joanna Greenway, Fiona Farrell, Edith Bond, Jeannette McGregor, Magda Koc, Christine Crossley, Pauline Clancy, Jane Noblett, Kathleen Hanby, Margaret Ellison, Catherine Bolam Nuala Groark, Bernadette Sharp, Coleen Irvin, Pauline Tomlinson, Margaret Duggan, Kathleen McKenna, teacher Miss Hewitson, Margaret Byrne, Josephine O’Toole, Elizabeth Ashton and Anne Bachmann.

INSET: Layton Hill pupil Vera Broome and brother George outside their home in South Square, Layton, in the 1930s. Vera’s daughter Catherine Rogerson was a pupil in the 1960s