1920s classes recalled

22:25, Feb 11 2014
daphne williams
OLD SCHOOL DAYS: Daphne Williams was among those attending the West School 100 year anniversary. Inset: Daphne in 1927 with the girls in her standard five class.

The only surviving member of the first decade at West School attended the school's 100th anniversary, and she's almost the same age as the school.

Daphne Williams, 99, doesn't know when exactly she started at West School (now Bluestone school), but she finished standard five, the second time around, in 1928.

There were a "couple of hundred" students at the time Daphne attended, with her class being pretty full up with 40 boys and girls.

The school was on Raymond St, a "hop, skip and jump" away from where Daphne lived, which meant she walked to school every day and always had a hot meal at home for lunch.

Daphne said the students were given pills every day, although she doesn't remember what they were for exactly. She remembered none of the girls in her class wanting to take them, so they gave them all to one girl who took them home with her.

She can't recall ever missing a day of school and said during her time at primary school she liked drawing but not sums.


All the girls had to take sewing and cooking, while the boys did woodwork. She said as part of sewing class they learnt how to dress dolls with the clothes they had sewn, knitted or crocheted.

"You learnt more than they do now - they have too much sport now."

Cooking and woodwork was held at the former Timaru Main School on North St, and Daphne said whatever the girls cooked, the orphanage boys ate on the walk back to school.

West School was co-ed and Daphne said she got on well with the boys until they discovered her dislike of beatles.

"I can remember one of the boys putting a big black beatle down my neck."

For cooking class, the girls had to make their own cap and aprons with red stitching and embroidered names.

Things at West School were still the same when Daphne's nieces Daphne Beuth and Adele Williams attended - they even had the same headmaster, Mr Romans.

Daphne senior got a diligence award at the end of standard five in 1928, receiving the book Little Women as her prize. She doesn't know why she got the prize but thinks it's because she failed at her first year in standard five and improved the next year.

After finishing standard five, Daphne left West School looking for housework.

South Canterbury