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View from the Archive

High in the attic of Oakwood lies the school archive, organised and administered by former History Teacher, Mrs Jo Coates. In her ‘View from the Archive’ she shares some South Hampstead memories.

Nancy Salinger, pupil 1920 – 30.

Nancy came to South Hampstead in 1920. She remembers lessons only in the morning, and optional games on two afternoons a week, with a choice of tennis or cricket, and hockey or netball. The girls played a game called Fives – there were at one time five Five courts, built over when the school expanded. Nancy was Head Girl in 1929-30, and led the Jewish assemblies for the 100 Jewish girls (out of 400) in the school.  There was a prefects’ room where they could brew up tea and toast crumpets from John Barnes in Finchley Road (now Waitrose).  She remembers that some teaching was first class and some deplorable, but that the teachers really cared that the students should do well.  Fees were £9 a term (!), but Nancy had a scholarship in her last two years, so half the fees were paid.  There was no contact at all with boys or men. At first Miss Walker was Headmistress. Nancy remembers her as a stern Cambridge Classicist, dressed in mannish coats, skirts, collars and ties. She was replaced in 1925 by Miss Potter, the gentle, artistic, cultured sister of Stephen Potter, the humourist writer; she dressed in flowing Liberty prints. Nancy herself gained a place at St. Hugh’s, Oxford, thanks to her teachers and her own ability, where she read English and PPE.

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