Blackberries Galore!

From St Nicholas School log book, 1918 - children help the WWI war effort

St Nicholas School Log Books, with a wealth of information
St Nicholas school archives

This article was first published in Newsletter 106, in December 2008

During the Open Day held by St Nicholas School on Saturday 28 June 2008, in celebration of its 150th Anniversary, I was able to browse through the School Log Books which were on display, together with a small exhibition in the church. Some entries, made in the Autumn of 1918, aroused my interest.

On 12 September that year, in connection with the Food Commission’s Blackberry Scheme, Headmaster George Stephenson gave the school the first of a number of half-day holidays for the purpose of picking blackberries. He divided the neighbourhood into five sections, each of which was in the charge of an Assistant Teacher. The children living in each section gathered blackberries there and in their own neighbourhood.  “The children are very keen and the elder ones, who can reach higher, do very well”. That day they collected 115½ lbs (over 50kg) of fruit.

Five days later, during another half-day holiday, the children gathered a further 248 lbs (112.5 kg)!

And so it continued for a further nine half-day holidays. The last picking occurred on 18 October, by which time the children had picked a total weight of 1370 lbs, that is, about 12¼ cwts, of blackberries! (in metric terms, 620 kg.)

The Log Book does not say who received those blackberries!

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