Griffydam Primary School, located on Top Road, was officially opened in November 1936 by Lt. Colonel R.E. Martin C.M.G. Chairman of Leicestershire County Council.
There were 60 pupils under 8 years of age and the Head Teacher was Miss Ada Merishaw assisted by Miss Florrie Johnson. The pupils of this age had formerly attended the school on SchooI Lane which dated from 1915 and the two teachers had previously taught there too.
At the time, the school had no running water and no mains drainage. In June 1937 the school log notes that, “The school drinking water has failed. The well having dried up. Arrangements have been made for drinking water to be fetched from Griffy Well until further arrangements can be made.”
In 1939 there was a “National Emergency” due to evacuated children coming to the district. Initially 9 evacuees came from Birmingham. That year also saw the provision of a drinking fountain in the playground and taps provided in the cloakroom. The water was supplied by Ashby Rural District Council.
In 1940 Miss Merishaw was replaced by Miss Kezia Wright as Head Teacher. More evacuees arrived with their teachers and by December of 1940 there were 44 local children and 42 evacuees, some from Birmingham and some from London. The school had two classrooms, a staff room, stockroom and a children’s cloakroom. By 1942 there were 50 children including 10 evacuees from Birmingham and London.
In 1948 the education system was reformed and secondary pupils were transferred at 11 years of age to schools in Coalville. As a result, the infant school closed and pupils were transferred to School Lane school which became an Infant and Junior school. The 74 pupils were taught by Miss Wright, Miss Johnson and Mrs Wright.
In 1954 the school on Top Road re-opened as an infant and junior school. There were 48 pupils taught by Miss Wright and Miss Johnson. Dinners were served in the Wesleyan Chapel Annexe. When author Samuel T Stewart's wife Sheila Stewart (nee Bannister) was at the Griffydam infant school on the top road in the 1950’s she recalls all the children going down in double lines to the Chapel for their lunches. The lunches arrived in hot containers from an outside source, and were then dished out by Mrs Silverwood and Mrs Wilson. After the Christmas party at the school, they would also go down to the Chapel Schoolroom for their Christmas tea
Miss Johnson retired after 50 years teaching in 1971. She lived at 25 Top Road. The following is a transcription of an article in the Coalville Times, December 1971.
MISS FLORRIE JOHNSON RETIRES AFTER ALMOST HALF A CENTURY AT ONE SCHOOL
Miss Johnson, an infant teacher at the Griffydam primary School, retires at the end of this term after almost 50 years teaching at the school. Miss Johnson (65) lives at Top Road, Griffydam. She started as a student teacher at the school in June 1921, and has taught there since apart from a two-year stint at Hathern School.
A collection in the village to buy her a retirement gift raised £81. 12 and at ceremony in the village’s Methodist Room last week she received a painting, a tea trolley, an electric fire and a cheque for £24.87. The presentation was made by Mr. Ken Hutchinson, chairman of the school managers. Miss Johnson, who had been acting headmistress at the school for a time, also received a bouquet from Jane Elston, the school captain.
Mr. S. Towers, headmaster of the school, said when he first took over, he felt the junior at the school. “Here was a teacher in whom I could put my trust”. “She had a love of children, an ability to do her work and an ability to adapt to new methods. She may now look forward to a future free from the tensions of working life and a life time of devotions and service. It is nice to know that if we need her, she will only be across the road. We wish you a long and happy retirement”.
Said Miss. Kitty Brown, former headmistress at the school: “Whatever we say in praise of her, we shall never have said the whole of it. I was with her for about 20 years and I could not have had a more loyal colleague or a finer teacher through the whole of the country”. “Our acquaintance goes back quite a long way”, she added. Mrs. Brown spoke of the history of the school under herself and Miss. Johnson, including the war years. “She was always there to help me. “We always thought that someday we would retire together and no two people would be happier than we were”. “It did not quite work out like that, but Miss. Johnson is not only the most loyal of colleagues but a very dear friend”.
Mr. Hutchinson said “it was a special privilege for him to speak at the meeting and said the love and esteem in which Miss. Johnson was held was bourne out by the number of people in the room and the number who had contributed to the gifts”. “She has displayed an affection for the children which has gone well beyond the call of duty of a teacher. We hope you will accept these gifts and our heartfelt thanks for all you have done both in school and in the village”.
Said Miss. Johnson: “I feel very happy this evening and sincerely thank all who have given so generously. I have spent many years here and have happy memories of the children”.“I have loved and respected all of them and I know they have loved and respected me. I have spent quite a long time in the school and have grown to love it, and I shall be sorry to leave Mr. Towers and the children”. “I thank all the managers for being so kind and those who have worked so hard behind the scenes to make the presentation possible”.
Representatives of Leicestershire County Council’s education dept were also present at the ceremony.rt
In 1982 when Mr Adrian Bradley became Head Teacher, there were 37 pupils and 3 teachers.
The school continues to thrive today providing education for Early Years foundation (0-5 years), Key Stage 1(5-7 years) and Key Stage 2 (7-11 years).
For further information about the opening of the school read Samuel T Stewart's article here>
Griffydam School 1982
Photograph Taken In 1940
Left To Right
Front Row: Gerald Hall, Derek Darby, Colin Hodges, Brian Hubbard, Les Rowell, Kenneth Hill, Kay Bird, William Wilton, Keith Richards, ? McCewan
2nd Row: Clifford Whyman, ?? , ? Hall, Betty Horne, ?? , ?? , ?? , Marjorie Collins, John Collins
3rd Row: Miss Florrie Johnson (Teacher), ? Smith (Evacuee), Stan Hodges, Pauline Hill, ?? , Brenda Leedham (Twin), Mureen Leedham (Twin), Betty Johnson, Marilyn Leeson, Stella Hodges, Harold Burton, Jackie Toone
Top Row: Barbara Bradley, Nancy Bradford, June Pickering, Marlene Hodges, Joyce Marshall, Mirabelle King, ?, ?, Gwenda Bird, Rosemary Benson, Joyce Collins, Miss Merishaw (Head Mistress)
Left To Right
Front Row: June Harrison, Coral Robinson, Marion Hodges, Patricia Holland, Marinda Johnson, ??, ??
2nd Row: Malcolm Pole, Clifford Marriott, Jennifer Worthington, Glenis Smith, Kenny Moore, Mavis Kilby, Marie Cook, Don Hubbard, Reggie Burton.
Top Row: Miss Florrie Johnson (Teacher), ??, Michael Chadwick, William Johnson, Lionel Westley, ??, ??,Samuel Trevor Stewart (author)