Class of 1983
“He who would valiant be, ‘gainst all disaster.” Spurred on by the sentiments of the school hymn, ten BHS old girls overcame ASLEF industrial action to make the pilgrimage to Blackheath and celebrate 40 years since leaving the school.
Stepping through the front door of what is now the Junior School, the first stop was the Head’s Office on the left, now a meeting room. Memories came flooding back of how some of us who came to school by train would deliberately get on a fast train to Waterloo so we would be late and miss assembly. We would have to go into the Head’s office and make our apologies with excuses of mishearing the station announcements!
Visiting our old form rooms on the Wemyss Road corridor was a highlight. We could each remember where we’d sat - at wooden desks in alphabetical order - and could still recite chunks of names being called alphabetically at registration. Up another floor to the attic and memories came flooding back of having to pass through a “secret tunnel” with a creaky, slippery wooden floor to get into the tiny room for A-level tutorials.
Approaching the Staff Room, we reminisced about the smell of cigarillos wafting out, and the experience of knocking at the door and asking: “Can I speak to Miss X?” only to be met with the reply, “yes, you are perfectly able to speak to Miss X,” and to have the door closed in one’s face! One had to knock again and ask: “Please may I speak to Miss X?”Back past the marble staircase in the Old Hall towards the Biology lab with memories of feeling nauseous and faint during a lesson studying a well-preserved human brain. As we walked around the school, shoulders back and heads held high, we recalled the posture marks awarded to each girl at the end of term, based on their deportment and general demeanour. I was apparently marked down because I would whistle, which was not considered ladylike.
Over lunch we swapped stories of school trips, Sixth Form holidays, and some of the capers that filled our schooldays. We remembered some of the many characters who taught and inspired us, such as Mr Relle, the Latin teacher cum Tiddlywinks champion; and Miss Brodie, the formidable French teacher who came to school one day dressed in her wedding outfit, complete with buttonhole, and left at lunchtime to go and get married!
A weekly after-lunch activity was the walk to the playing field for double games. Singing along to a 1983 playlist created for the afternoon, we made our way to the field, remembering how we had to walk through lines of washing hanging up around Rycullf Square and the steps down from Paragon Place. We had a quick peek into what had been the Junior School on Morden Road, with fond memories of the quiet, shady garden, and arrived at the field to find a Junior School family camping event in full swing; it was great to see current pupils having such fun. We had decided not to attempt a game of lacrosse or any athletics and instead sprawled out in the sun and reminisced about days gone by.
It’s a cliché to talk about the years just melting away but they really did. We plan to meet again. If you joined the school in 1976 and would like to come along or keep in contact, please email Karen Canty and she will put you in touch with us.
Written by Marina Evans, Dawn Taylor & Michele Flanagan (class of 1983).
If you would like to organise your own reunion event at Blackheath High, contact: email@example.com.
The group created a playlist for their visit to Blackheath High, full of 80s bangers (and a couple of hymns!). You can listen to it here https://music.apple.com/gb/playlist/bhs-40-year-reunion/pl.u-DdANNB3IagGB6o
What would your Blackheath High playlist look like?