THE 1930's


This site is for all the girls who attended Lawnswood High School. It’s intended to be a focal point for those who have memories of the school and of their time there. It covers the period from the school’s beginnings in 1931, until it merged with Leeds Modern School in 1972 and then became the co-ed, comprehensive, Lawnswood School.

I am an Old Girl, and was a pupil at Lawnswood High School from September 1959 to January 1964. I no longer have any connection with Lawnswood School. However, I was concerned that there was no official site for the Old Girls of the School, so, in lieu of anyone more qualified for the task, I took it upon myself to create and maintain one.

I have not done it alone! For incredible amounts of research and writing, my thanks and a big hug go to fellow alumna Maggie Cobbett (née Margaret Collie). For more about Maggie, please go to her website at http://www.maggiecobbett.co.uk/

For masses of technical support, special thanks and another big hug go to my husband Trevor who actually built the site. Thanks also to so very many fellow pupils whose memories I have tapped for the anecdotes, recollections, etc.

Although I will try to make the site as broad as possible, I'm afraid that at first it will inevitably harvest most of its memories from the time that my contemporaries and I were at school; that is, from 1959 onwards. I hope that, in time, alumnae from other eras will share their memories of school life so that there will indeed be ‘something for everyone’.

Maybe the Lawnswood High School Alumnae Website will stir some memories for you? Whether you were a pupil or a teacher, I would love to hear your personal recollections, whatever your era! Please e-mail your memories to lhs.alumnae@gmail.com

If you're not already on the Friends Reunited site, may I suggest that you add your details? Find them at http://www.friendsreunited.co.uk

The website for Lawnswood School can be found at http://www.lawnswood.info/. It’s an excellent site, with loads of info about the present school (prospectus, Ofsted report, etc.)

The Lawnswood High School Alumnae Website is known to The West Yorkshire Archive Society. If you'd like to know more about the excellent work of this organisation, please click on http://www.archives.wyjs.org.uk. The West Yorkshire Archive Society exists to preserve the county's heritage of historical documents and help members of the public make use of them.


Sandra Midgley (née Sandra Baker)

If you'd like to know more about me, or think you remember me, please have a look at my personal website at http://www.sandramidgley.com

“I remember at primary school (I was at St.Chads) watching the girls go by in their Lawnswood uniform and thinking, 'I want to be there one day'. I couldn't believe it when I actually arrived!” Anne Pash ’65-’68

“When I went to Lawnswood I was shocked by how big the school was, and how many girls were in a class, let alone the year. I had come from a smaller school environment of Shire Oak in Headingley.” Pamela Nunn ’67-’74

[My sister] Joan first went to Lawnswood in 1932. She said it was a lovely school but the swimming pool was freezing. She was under Miss Willey who was a lovely lady; strict but fair.” Rosalie Hudson ’43-’49

“I started at Lawnswood in 1944 when I was 4 yrs old and I'm pretty sure I was the last person to be taken into the kindergarten whilst it was still private.” Stephanie Dalton ’44-’57

“My first hour at LHS: we sat in the cloakroom in the S.E. corner of the school. The rows of pegs were connected by bars at a perfect height for swinging. I longed to have a go. After a while a few brave souls could resist the temptation no longer but soon a member of staff appeared and read the riot act before disappearing again. I waited to see if anyone disobeyed but no one did.” Pat Thompson (Tommy) ’53-’60

“Many of us arrived by tram from Headingley (1d ticket, and if all the numbers added up to “7” you would have good luck all day) and woe betide anyone who claimed a seat, leaving a grown-up standing!” Hilary Steeple ’44-’51

“Our parents were notified by letter that we’d got a place at Lawnswood. I think we started at 9.30 or 10.00 on the first morning.” Sandra Baker ’59-’64

“My Mum was so thrilled that she kept the letter but not the envelope. It just says May 1959 at the top. It contains a warning that the place at Lawnswood could be withdrawn if progress and/or conduct were to be found unsatisfactory! As you'll have gathered, I still have it!” Margaret Collie ’59-’66

“The headmaster at junior school read our names out in assembly and told us which schools we were going to....I can’t remember the letter.” Kathryn Wormald ’59-’65

“My Mum had been a Lawnswood girl and was delighted when I got her first choice on passing the 11+. Mr Coultas at Bennett Road handed out the letters saying we had all done the same thing and he was pleased with us. Sadly, my Mum is no longer with us to share her memories. I just remember her saying she did her homework on the tram on the way to school - so I think she must have sailed a bit close to the wind, even if it was War Time.” Jennifer Pearson née Peace ’63-’68

“We found out that we could attend that great School Lawnswood High on Friday 13th May 1959.” Margaret Peller ’59-’66

“The first morning, Susan Teal (now Dove) and I were taken along by Sylvia Tinker, then in the 5th form, and deposited by her in the Crush Hall. A terrifying moment!” Margaret Collie ’59-’66

“[On the first day at school in September 1959] - I remember sitting on the hall floor next to Susan Foster who had been at Ireland Wood School with me. We were all being sorted out into our relevant classes - and yes we were in alphabetical order (were we not in alpha order in the classroom too?!!). Mrs Webster was our form mistress that year.” Margaret Eastwood ’59-’66

“I remember my first day at Lawnswood. I was the only girl who came from my junior school and felt quite overwhelmed. We were ushered into the hall and sat in rows waiting for the selection into forms. I went into 1.6, with Miss Brown as form teacher if I remember correctly. I was a member of Graham house but later became a Brontë when the names were changed. Already feeling a bit cowed, Miss Longworth swept into the hall with her gown billowing. She stood on the stage and the light behind her shone through the wispy parts of her French pleat, giving it a halo effect. I was terrified! Before long she took us for RE and we had to learn the Ten Commandments. I still considered her to be something of an avenging angel!” Miriam Lewis ’66-’71

“I can still smell the floor polish!” Beryl Midgley ’55-’60

“Do you remember that instead of the sinks emptying down a pipe into an outside drain they emptied into a white gully (or was it lead?) the length of the line of basins, which must have led to a drain.” Janet Ball ’56-’61

“I am so glad I went to such a nice school and had a good time although I was lazy and 'could do better'.” Jocelyn Laws ’59-’65

“Does anyone remember the smell of rotten eggs, which used to pervade the hall from time to time, the smell coming from the coke fired boilers underneath the platform - uggh.” Irene Furze ’43-’54

“The aroma of the bootroom as you walked in the door – earthy mud, mingled with stale towels, sweaty sports equipment, damp shower area and lack of ventilation. I hated having to spend wet playtimes in there. It was so crowded, smelly and noisy.” Sheila Galbraith ’60-’67

“I have so many memories - the sunny classrooms and the daily assemblies in the Hall; 'BBC French' on the radio and the School Song; the smell of polish from the parquet floors, socks from the gym changing rooms and formaldehyde from the labs; endless sponge puddings from the dining hall and 99's (with 'bug juice') from the ice cream van at the back gate; the feel of a thick new rough book and a crack across the shins from a hockey stick on a cold February morning. Happy days!” Margaret Collie ’59-’66

“I remember the huge splinter I had removed from my big toe after changing on the unsealed wooden floor of the changing room!” Anne Watson ’64-’71

“I have met the most fascinating people and enjoyed being a journalist, a social anthropologist, a teacher and for many years a professional artist. Thank you Lawnswood in your part in teaching me about all the wonderful things life has to offer.” Sheila Fingret ’41-’47

“... the smells and feel of the school - the splinters from sitting on the hall floor for assembly - the out of tune pianos in the music room - the sour smell down in the changing rooms - and those awful cold showers after PE.” Sarah Sharp ’64-’71

“I still suffer from problems with my shoulder because of the weight of the books I had to carry home.” Anne Watson ’64-’71

“There were so many fascinating aspects of the school, from the atmosphere of old polished wood and shiny brass doorknobs to the collection of faded cocoa beans and similar substances in old envelopes in the geography room cupboards.” Alison Dalwood ’65-’72

“… those bits of white Windsor soap they used to put in the school bogs. They cut them into small pieces—probably scared that we'd be tempted to steal an entire tablet! They were only hard on the 1st day of term and thereafter a mass of jelly in amoeboid shapes.” Janet Ball ’56-’61

“Do you remember the stench of Hydrogen Sulphide on the top corridor?” Janet Ball ’56-’61

“I still have my school hymn book complete with the embroidered cover made in Sewing Classes.” Beryl Midgley ’55-’60

“I remember Lawnswood days with much fondness and gratitude.” Margaret Eastwood ’59-’66

“I remember the smell of polish on my first day at Lawnswood and the absolute awe in which first formers held sixth formers.” Merryll Francis ’58-’66

“I did enjoy most of my five years at Lawnswood.” Beryl Midgley ’55-’60

“In all, I really enjoyed school as a great social experience but I didn't work particularly hard.” Barbara Catton ’57-’62

“My first year seemed to go on forever and the other six passed by in a flash.” Margaret Collie ’59-’66

“I have to say that I really enjoyed all my time there and consider that I was lucky to have been a pupil during that era.” Sarah Sharp ’64-’71

“I have a lot of happy memories of Lawnswood High School, and my mother did as well. In fact my father and uncle were also pupils at Leeds Modern School.” Shelagh Pullan ’61-’68

“... just to say how much my mum Joyce Renton, who went to the school in 1934 I think, would have enjoyed the memories. As a child I loved to listen to her stories about Lawnswood. The old school uniform; having to wear gloves out of school; the stern Miss Willey; The Daffodil Poetry Book (I still have her copy); and playing tennis. Her best friends were Pauline Jaggs and Eileen Milnes who I have lost touch with now. My mum died in 1988 but I know how much she would have enjoyed your website.” Anne Brinicombe, daughter of Joyce Renton

“My mother (Cathie Rawlins) and her siblings were all pupils at the Modern School before the First World War. She was Honorary Vice-President of the O.G.U.I.” Joan McCarmick ’33-’43

“I have so many memories of Lawnswood and one that has stayed in my mind is in the winter of 1947 when the snow was so bad that all public transport was off the roads. I lived near the university and set off to walk to school at 7-30am and it was nearly 11am when I at last plodded into the school. I had never heard such silence as greeted me that morning and as I stood in the corridor outside the cloakroom, Miss Riddoch appeared at the far end. She hustled me into the domestic science rooms and went to find my gym kit for me as she handed me a towel and told me to take my wet clothes off for her to dry. After a hot drink, something to eat and a rest I was handed dry outer garments and loaned a pair of her gloves before I set off for the long trek home. I had been given a scolding for attempting the long walk and also praise for trying so hard to reach school. That for me was always the ethos of the school, the teachers cared for ‘their girls’.” Joan Whitaker ’46-’51

“I have very many happy memories of my days at Lawnswood. I think most girls realised how privileged they were to attend such a school after success in the 11+ exam.” Joan Tetley ’52-’57

“Thanks to everyone who posted memories - it does bring a lump to the throat to go back in time to what I remember as very happy days - despite exams.” Linda Crookes ’54-’60

“Slowly slowly things are coming back. How lovely to have a past again.” Sheila Fingret ’41-’47