Staying power: bow-tying skills perfected on corsets at Portsmouth school

John Vaughan and his sister Cecilia in the paddling pool at Hilsea Lido in the early 1950s
John Vaughan and his sister Cecilia in the paddling pool at Hilsea Lido in the early 1950s

THIS WEEK IN 1992: Warnings over fumes from filling stations

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In my feature last week on St Anne’s Montessori School in 1950s’ Portsmouth, I mentioned the names of several pupils and wondered if any might recognise themselves.

One of the names was John Vaughan and, lo and behold, within hours I received a lovely e-mail from him recounting his time at the Derby Road, North End, school in the early 1950s.

Alexandra Park - not Victoria Park

Alexandra Park - not Victoria Park

He even sent me the picture on the right of him and his sister Cecilia in the paddling pool at Hilsea Lido.

She features in the picture immediately below (the girl with what John describes as ‘very fuzzy hair’ in a swimsuit on the chaplain’s left) of a St Anne’s day out on the beach.

John says: ‘Two other of the named pupils, Sarah and Caroline Pepys, were the daughters of the Rev G Pepys, the then vicar of St Mark’s, and we used to hold our summer ‘‘sports days’’ in the vicarage back garden.’

I also asked if anyone could pinpoint the location of the picture (inset, right). Victoria Park was the original suggestion, but John says it was defintiely Alexandra Park.

Cecilia Vaughan with fellow Montessori pupils enoying a trip to the beach. The chaplain was James Larkin and the school's founder, Marian Matthews, is on the right holding the girl with a ribbon in her hair

Cecilia Vaughan with fellow Montessori pupils enoying a trip to the beach. The chaplain was James Larkin and the school's founder, Marian Matthews, is on the right holding the girl with a ribbon in her hair

‘We would walk hand in hand in twos in a little crocodile down Cardiff Road and Nelson Avenue as it was less busy than using Gladys Avenue,’ says John.

He also remembers all the children being taken to the Essoldo in Kingston Road to see the colour film of the 1952 coronation.

He adds: ‘Another of my personal recollections is of learning how to tie bows using corsets of the type that could be seen in the windows of Vollers or Etams.

‘Rather than one continuous thread there was one in each set of eyelets so you could tie about 20 bows working your way down!’

Children at the St Anne's Montessori school in Derby Road, North End, Portsmouth, in the 1950s

Children at the St Anne's Montessori school in Derby Road, North End, Portsmouth, in the 1950s