Memory Lane: Story stirred lots of schoolday memories

Madeleine Tinker (now Hopkins), Maureen Grimley and Joan Connelly at Layton Hill Convent 1948 to 1950

Madeleine Tinker (now Hopkins), Maureen Grimley and Joan Connelly at Layton Hill Convent 1948 to 1950

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THE recent Memory Lane “special” on the former Layton Hill Convent, and the heritage of the St Walburgas Road buildings that will be lost in the £22.5m redevelopment of what is now St Mary’s College, has prompted a number of old girls to get in touch.

Among them are Madeleine Hopkins (nee Tinker), who writes: “We had Guardian Angels, second years who were appointed to guide a new girl through her first days. Some were better than others, mine never appeared at all.

Layton Hill Convent Sunken garden From left: Winnie Dunn, Joan Connelly, Norma Sheffield, and Audrey Burrow

Layton Hill Convent Sunken garden From left: Winnie Dunn, Joan Connelly, Norma Sheffield, and Audrey Burrow

“After first year we were streamed into Latin or non-Latin, A or B streams.

“School Certificate required at least a pass in English and one each in other groupings, like science. Many girls left with nothing at all, in spite of passing in up to six or seven subjects.

“We thought O levels, with a certificate for each subject were a doddle. On the Feast of Ascension Day, a school holiday, all the boarders, about 100 of us, went for a picnic and outing for a whole day. I particularly remember a fantastic day at St Michaels on the River Wyre. It never ever rained and I still notice that it never rains on Ascension Day.

“During the war years, the third year classes went potato picking, coming into school in old clothes and going off for a day’s hard work in the fields. I was furious, as when I reached this year, peace had been declared and we were not needed.

“Among the pupils was Maureen Grimley, who joined the convent after school, went to Oxford, and returned to Layton Hill, teaching and becoming headmistress for many years. She saw the school through all its changes and building works until retirement. She then spent some time in Milton Keynes as a parish assistant, most of it looking after children whose mothers were in hospital. She was a very well-loved figure among the Blackpool Catholic community, especially locally in Layton, until her death there a few years ago.

“Maureen is in the centre of the photograph, taken at the back of school, with myself and Joan Connelly, who was head from 1949 to 1950.

Madeleine adds: “I have lived in St Albans, Hertfordshire since 1972, Peggy Mercer from Layton Hill also lives here and taught French for about 30 years. There were five former Layton Hill pupils on a recent Newman Pilgrimage to St Paul’s, Cyprus.”

n We will carry more Layton Hill memories and pictures in Classmates next week.