School Days and a Plateful of Celery

  • Subject: Oral History
A commemorative centenary pin for Stanley Technical school. It is black with gold lettering and a large ornate S in the centre

Memories of school days, from Stanley Technical Boys’ musical legacy to being forced to eat celery at Portland Infants.

In this audio you can hear Mick, Renee, Richard, Ian and John.

This audio is 5 minutes and 27 seconds long.


Audio Transcript:

Mick: I used to go to Portland Infants, which is now Ryelands Academy. So that’s there now, I used to be the caretaker there. And in the winter, it was absolutely freezing. And in the in the summer, it absolutely stunk.  I remember in the dining hall my sister wouldn’t eat celery so I’ve stuck it on my plate. She went off, ran off and joined her mates playing, and I had to sit and eat all this bleeding celery.  

Renee: Stanley Tech used to be around here as well, and a lot of the young boys used to go to that school. It was quite a troubled school but at the same time, you had a lot of enriching personalities that kind of came out of it. So for me, there was Stanley Tech that we used to have, I think we’ve got Heavers Farm as well as a primary school that’s quite local that I know a lot of people have gone to and have a lot of, what’s the word? Is it an affinity or a novelty in their heart for that kind of school as well? Now we’ve got the Harris’s, actually, the Harris’s for me, I think, have become quite important in terms of a foundation for the local children in the area. So we’ve got the Harris, South Norwood, and we’ve got the Harris Crystal Palace. But for me, community engagement is just really important, whether it’s in the schools, whether it’s in the pubs, whether we do it in the parks, whether we do it in the businesses or the cafes and such. So, but yeah, the schools are definitely important, staple in the local community here. 

Stan (Interviewer): You said Stanley Tech was a troubled school. Expand on that, please.

Renee: So I think, you know, depending, how do I say this in the best way possible? It hosted a lot of diverse backgrounds and characters, and when you are fostering that kind of environment, you can get all sorts of things that might come up as challenges and issues and such like that. So when I say it was, it had troubles, it had it like any other school can in a different way, I think, so yeah, it had some issues, I think, in the school, but the community worked its best to support them and support the students that went there. And all the students I think that went to Stanley Tech were put into different schools in the local area regardless anyway.

Richard: I went to Stanley Technical High School for boys, and I say that because I’m proud, because that school had standing.

Ian: Well, I mean it was a very hard school to get into when I was there. I mean, I got into it because my brother went there. So, it was a relation that way. Part of it was old, it’s still old, you know, and I was based in the old part with the old radiators and there was tiles on the walls, you know, when it was decorated, I mean, it was one of those times where they decorated buildings really, you know, with period features, you know, we call them period features now.   

Ian: There was a modern block that we went into, and it was a great school to go to. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I mean, you know, people say that school is great. I mean, I must admit, I probably enjoyed college better, I must admit. But then I was slightly older. Yeah. No, I’ve a great time there. It was. It was really good, it was a really technical college and then I left.  I remember, you know, cold showers, you know and you were forced to, you know, you used to try and cheat and put your head  underneath the shower and “No, look, I’ve had a shower” and it’s like, “No, you haven’t, get in there and have a proper shower”, you know.  Because we didn’t have a playing field, we’d go off to the country park and play there. They had changing rooms there which were even worse, you know, and it freezing cold in and playing rugby over there and, you know, absolutely freezing. But yeah, no it was. I had some great teachers, I really did there and really lots of friends and it was really good. I mean now I’d love to go round now and see it because obviously it’s now changed.

Stan: What is it now? 

Ian: It’s now still a school but it’s now, I can’t think what it is. Is it Harris? I think it’s a Harris but they’ve built a load of new buildings on it now. 

John: At Stanley Technical High School when I was at my secondary school. We had to pick what GCSEs we wanted to do. In addition to English and maths and everything, I also picked music. When you’ve done GCSE music, they wanted you to play one musical instrument and then a percussion instrument was optional. So, I started learning the piano and I did try to have a go at learning the guitar, but I was hopeless and went back to the piano to do my GCSE music grade but there was a drum kit in the classroom, and I couldn’t wait to have a go at that. So, the music teacher said they run lessons after school. It was something like, you know, I think about eight children, students sort of went in, it was about £10 each or something. We all chipped in and this drum teacher, this guy, taught us how to play the drums.

South Norwood High Street Stories is funded by Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme delivered by Croydon Council. For more information visit

Image Credit: Croydon Council

A commemorative centenary pin for Stanley Technical school. It is black with gold lettering and a large ornate S in the centre

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