In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, when the Pells School was located at the corner of Talbot Terrace and Pelham Terrace, the pupils were mostly from St John’s Parish. They received a good grounding in education, with teachers who usually knew them and their families well. Some pupils went down to the Parish Hall (as St John’s Hall was then known) for their dinner, while others went home instead.
One young pupil in those days was Geoff Williams, who is pictured above with the rest of Class 4 in 1951. Geoff remembers his headmaster, Mr Turner, as “a very nice man” and a young lady teacher, Miss Rowena Bingham as “very sweet”. He does recall a couple of other staff members who used the older methods of discipline, including rapping misbehaving pupils over the knuckles with a triangular ruler – very painful, and not permitted nowadays!
Another pupil at Pells in the 1950’s was Shirley Barber who lived in Abinger Place. Shirley and Geoff met up again some years later at Lewes Town Hall, where Geoff, in the Boys’ Brigade, and Shirley, in her tap-dancing group, were both involved in a concert. They met again in Southover Grange Gardens, at another “do”, and this time Geoff was brave enough to ask Shirley out.
A couple of years later they were married – “in the year that England won the World Cup”, as Geoff recalls happily. Geoff had been in the choir at St John’s as a youngster and as this was also Shirley’s parish church, they were married there on 20th August 1966.
One lovely memory that Shirley has of the big day was Mr Moppett, their neighbour who drove a taxi, offering to drive her to the church – but instead of a short ride, he gave her a tour of the town in her lovely dress. (The Moppett family were the people whose son had been lost in a POW camp in the Far East during World War II.)
In 2016 the congregation at St John’s were very happy to share in Shirley and Geoff’s Golden Wedding celebrations – they still live at the house in New Road where they went as a newly-married couple all those years ago and are regular members of Trinity St John’s.