EARLIER this year we ran some articles by T&A reader Neville Cox, reflecting on his wartime childhood and his years managing Bradford cinemas.

Mr Cox, a former chairman of Bradford Magistrates, who had written letters to the T&A since the 1950s, recently died, aged 91. His family has sent us two further articles he had written, and has asked us to publish them. Here, Mr Cox looks back on early schooldays:

I don’t remember any mention of nursery or pre-school when I was young. You simply went to school at the start of the first term after your fifth birthday. Some children had three terms before Year 2, others only had one. I had the average of two terms in my first year. Since I was born on the very last day of 1929, I nearly missed it.

We - me, mum and dad - had got one of the large number of council houses (we called them Corporation houses) built at Haworth Road. Some tenants with ambition said they lived in Heaton - not true!There were two possible schools available, Daisy Hill or Sandy Lane. It meant a halfpenny bus ride to either. I don’t know who selected it but I started at Sandy Lane. The hours were 9am-12noon and 2-4pm. At dinner time we took the bus home for a meal then the bus back for the afternoon session.

Something was happening that first afternoon. A row of Army style bunk beds was unfolded and lined up behind the blackboard. Newcomers like me were laid down for an afternoon nap. But I didn’t want a nap so the tears flowed. I cried myself to sleep.

One morning in 1936 we were all assembled in the yard at the front of the school to see a German airship, the Zeppelin ‘Hindenburg’, floating up the Aire Valley towards Keighley. A World War 1 German officer had been buried there and they dropped a wreath for him, whilst the rest of the crew took photographs of Yorkshire for bombers.

Another day as we left school for dinner a rag-and-bone man handed each of us a leaflet promising a live goldfish in a jam jar for anyone bringing old clothes back after dinner. I think everyone brought something, so the entire school became a mini jam jar aquarium for the afternoon, much to the annoyance of Miss Hart, the headteacher.

I was forced to go to Sunday School, which I thoroughly disliked. At Christmas we put on a performance for parents as nursery rhyme characters. I was Little Boy Blue, in blue suit and cap and a cardboard horn on a string. For the finale we gathered on the stage. After the last song I lifted my horn to my lips. I was terrified and just stood there. Silence descended, every eye was on me. After the longest theatrical pause ever, I blew my horn. The room erupted and laughter and applause brought the house down.

Later I transferred to Daisy Hill and there, in 1939, everyone went to be fitted with gas masks. We soon discovered that if you exhaled heavily, you could make a noisy raspberry sound. What joy! The mask came in a cardboard box which we had to carry with us at all times. Of course, the box disintegrated and shops began selling fancy protective covers.

I remember Neville Chamberlain broadcasting at 11.15am to say we were at war with Germany. Schools didn’t re-open after the summer holiday as a programme of building air raid shelters at schools began. When Daisy Hill had its shelter, it opened half days and another school attended for the other half day until they got their shelter.

An Anti-Aircraft gun emplacement was established near the school with a ‘sound locater’, a ‘range finder’ and a gun surrounded by sandbags. This was a great attraction for us kids, all growing older and facing conscription into the armed forces when we reached 18.

Neville Cox