This is Angela Newbury (nee Burden) writing, a former pupil of Brentford Secondary Modern Girl’s School from 1954 – 1959. It was with great sadness that several of her former pupils learned of Sheila Crockford’s passing and who agreed, unanimously it seems, that I should commit to paper some affection recollections of this outstanding and much loved teacher and latterly good friend. I attach these for inclusion on the school’s website in the hope that it might evoke memories in other former pupils, should they read it.
I read with interest the history of Brentford Girls’ School and noted the name of Miss Brace. Miss Helen Brace was an extraordinary lady and a personal friend of my family, in particular my grandmother, Mrs Alice Burden who was for many years Chairman (no political correctness in those days!) of Brentford and Chiswick Education Committee. She taught me (as a home tutor) the basics of French and I am indebted to her for my on-going love of languages. On one occasion she gave me a book on archaeology and this too has remained a life-long interest. I never missed a ‘Time Team’ programme! Miss Brace was a graduate of Goldsmith’s College in London and was head mistress of Rothschild’s School. The girls endowed her with a nickname and former pupil, Vera Woodcock (formerly Smith and now deceased) told me the following anecdote. ‘The navy uniform included a blazer embellished with a badge with the initials ‘RS’ in gold and the wearing of uniform was strictly enforced. Hats were part of the uniform and woe betide any girl caught not wearing hers! However, the girls would remove their hats as soon as it was safe to do so, replacing them with great speed if someone shouted “Look out! Here comes ‘Brasso’!”. I have a couple of photos of Helen Brace taken on our wedding day on 7th August 1965 and will send in a further email.
Should you wish to include on the website more recollections of former pupils I’m sure there are a number of us, myself included, who would be delighted to send you memories of our time at Brentford Secondary Modern Girls’ School. I must add that the opportunities open to the present day pupils were beyond our dreams back in 1954. Nevertheless, several girls in my year, the very first to have a fifth year and take the GCE (now GCSE) examination, beat the system and went on to forge careers in the teaching profession (myself included). Another became a state registered nurse and one had a very high flying career in the fashion industry. Hazel, featured in my article, went on to teach three systems of shorthand! We may have ‘failed’ the 11-plus but we were not failures! And thereby hang many stories.........
I wish Brentford Girls’ School the greatest success in all its educational endeavours now and in the future.
With kindest regards
Angela J. Newbury (Mrs)