Chrissy Harrod

(Silver Jubilee Girls’ School – then KEGS) writing in 2021

I have wonderful memories of being a pupil at Silver Jubilee Girls’ School, remembering looking at the boys across the playground, but back in the day, we were quite happy for our side to be just the girls! Then it changed and we became boys and girls in a class, which took a bit of getting used to. Mrs. Edith Crocker was our Headmistress and she was great, very staunch. I can remember some of the teachers, obviously Mr. Heritage the Music Teacher, Mrs. Byers the English Teacher who always wore cardigans with lots of buttons, and Mr. Chapman the Maths Teacher.

Our wonderful Music Teacher, Mr. Heritage, inspired us back in the 1970’s at Silver Jubilee Girls’ School when music was highly encouraged. I can remember him so well, he was a very passionate musician and encouraged us all to take part in lots of productions, including our choir singing at the Cathedral for Christmas Carols and other events. We also sang a Benjamin Britten piece on BBC ‘Songs of Praise’. After the event was televised on Black & White TV, a lady complained, I think in the Bury Free Press, that it was a discordant jangle! My Mother was not amused and wrote a supporting letter as she knew how hard we had all worked. I also remember going over to Ipswich when were in competition. We sang the song:

“A wet sheet and a flowing sea
A wind that follows fast
And fills the white and rustling sale
And bends the gallant mast
And bends the gallant mast, my boys
While like the eagle free
Away the good ship flies and leaves
Old England on the lee”

There are more verses to the song and I can always remember Mr. Heritage being very meticulous about how we sang and insisted that “A wind that follows fast”, the fast had to be FASTTTTT! …
I think we won!

We put on several productions at the time, including Purcell’s “The Little Sweep”, Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols”, and this photo shows some of the cast from the Opera “Dido and Aeneas”, c. 1972. As we were still Silver Jubilee Girls’ School one of the boys from Silver Jubilee Boys joined the cast to play Aeneas. Valerie played Dido, my friend Sue and I were First Witches and we were told to look solemn! Our Headmistress at the time, Mrs. Edith Crocker, sent all the cast this thank you letter and the photograph which was taken by the Bury Free Press. Edith Crocker was a wonderful Headmistress, she inspired us all so much, we were in awe of her. I remember her moving me and my friend Val to the back of the choir because our skirts were too short (we’d rolled over the waistbands as we did back then) and she said she didn’t want to see our knickers!

I also remember when our teacher Mrs. Young died a few years ago, I went to her funeral with my friend Sue and her sister. Mrs. Crocker also came to the funeral and, as the three of us were standing in the churchyard, Mrs. Crocker looked over at us and said “I remember you girls, you now look like grandmothers!” So funny!

The photo below shows my Class mates at KEGS, I still meet some of them around town, which is lovely, they haven’t changed a bit!

I have so many memories to share. When I left KEGS, I went to work for AXA Insurance, 59 Abbeygate Street, where Café Rouge is, or was, now. When I started I thought I had a long term job, however, they were transferring over to computers and I was told there was now not a permanent job but I was asked if I would like to stay on for a few weeks to help transfer information from old insurance documents to computer sheets. It was interesting, e.g., insuring your tea service but not the maid?! In November 1974, I went to work as Post Mistress for Barber Greene England, on Western Way, (now the Council Offices). Around 750 people worked there at the time and the factory produced road paving machines and batch plants which were sold all over Europe and beyond, including Saudi Arabia, I have lots of photographs and LOTS of memories.

We used to take part in the Carnivals and enjoyed discos and fun events. The Carnival events were huge at the time, included lots of businesses, schools, nurseries, etc., in and around the town. In the June 1983 Carnival, Barber-Greene England won with their “Alice in Wonderland” float which we worked on for months. Luckily my boyfriend at the time worked for Mr. Gittus the farmer from Great Saxham. We were allowed to use one of his huge sheds to paint the whole set of “playing cards”! I was Alice, we all made our own costumes, I loved sewing at the time and I made sure I made the correct dress and pinafore, but my hair should have been different! I still have the Alice costume in my Fancy Dress box. So many businesses took part in this event, including Lloyds Bank; West Suffolk Hospital Sports & Social Club; Westbury Social Club; Bury Post Office Sports & Social Club; British Sugar; Fornham All Saints Play School; Bury Town Football Club; Greene King; The White Horse, Whepstead; Slimming Magazine Slimming Club; Hawstead Youth Club; Nat West Bank; West End Home Guard Club; RHM Agriculture East Ltd. – it was a wonderful time to be living in Bury St. Edmunds. I went on to work at West Suffolk Hospital as Secretary to Mr. Barabas, then back to Barber Greene before it went into administration in March 1988. I then worked for Social Services, then on to the National House Building Council, organising huge Builder Events for the National House Building Awards and general meetings. In August 1996 I went on to managing The Cornhill Walk – what a great time we had there with lots of charity and music events and everyone loved coming in to see our Christmas decorations. It was hugely successful in its time and I have such special memories. I was Vice Chair, Chair and President of what was then The Bury St. Edmunds Chamber of Commerce, I was on the Safer Neighbourhood Watch Committee and the Town Centre Management which then became BID (Business Improvement District) for Bury.

Just a note – Also regarding social times, the history of Bury’s night clubs – gosh what a story that all is. Taps Nightclub opening was the most wonderful thing ever!! – previous to that I had to organise coach trips down to Slough, Romford, over to Colchester, Norwich, Cambridge, Ipswich, so we could all have a dance in a nightclub!

Bury St. Edmunds is a wonderful and very special town – I am so lucky to have been born here, seen lots of changes, and hopefully will see it flourish in the future.

Love & Best Wishes to Everyone in Bury St. Edmunds, Chrissy Harrod