St Francis School

I still remember my mother helping me dress for my very first day at St Francis School. I cannot though remember my first day in school, maybe that sums it up. I do nevertheless remember some of the things we trained in at that preparatory class, if we were very good they allowed us to take our work to the next upper class and show off to the older ones.

They sent me to the upper classroom so that the older kids could laugh at me. The reason because my mother made me wear long trousers and not the uniform short ones. It is a strange thing that these memories come back to you but it was so important to the teacher that she referred the matter to the headmaster (the ultimate adjudicator). They relented because shortly after many more skinny white legged kids appeared in long grey trousers.

Children in Miss Lentens class

This was Miss Lenten’s class and it is not me making cakes.

Happy days it would be another full year and a new class until the teacher smashed my head on the desk time after time because I struggled to read. I got there in the end and I still remember this particular vicious teacher telling my mother that it was obviously a mental block that needed to be cleared.

My days at St Francis school do not bring back happy memories, not the fault of the teachers, more that I always wanted to be doing something else (whatever it was). Nothing changes there.

When we reached the age of ten we sat the 11 plus, still of no consequence to me as I was clearly not bright enough.

To continue our education we went St. Francis secondary school, which in those days consisted of three nissan huts in vinters park. One hut sectioned into four classrooms, one was the school hall and gym facility and the other was the kitchens and living accommodation of our caretaker.

I remember the cold of the classroom in the winter as the site was so exposed, the caretaker would come into the classroom periodically and throw coal onto the stove and generally try to encourage it to give out more heat.

I also remember the caretaker having an enormous Alsatian dog that he kept promising to set on us if we misbehaved. We nevertheless took little notice and still never had to fight of the vicious hound.

My hard luck story is that I left St. Francis at the age of fourteen, but only because I was going on to further education at Maidstone Technical College.

Tales of Italians

Trish (Patricia) Roberts (Walters)

Maidstone I remember it well: I would love to know when the photo of Miss Lenten's class was taken. It looks very much like me, sitting at the little table. I can remember the cloakroom at the entrance of the classroom, and the sandpit and milk crate in the classroom. I also remember having to go up to Miss Lenten's table, one by one, to read a sentence from Janet and John. Miss Lenten was one of the kinder teachers. The one who hit me on the knuckles with her ruler for biting my nails was a tyrant. Was it Miss Nolan?

Next up from Miss Lenten was Miss Stroud then Miss Coackly (sorry about the spelling) then Mrs. Nolan. It was Miss Stroud that smacked my head on the desk because I couldn't read fast enough. Miss Coakly caned me for not understanding latin and Mrs Nolan picked me up by my hair because I wasn't singing loud enough. In answer to your question it could have been any one of them they were all pretty handy in dishing it out.

Terry McKenna

Maidstone I remember it well: Hi peter. It was my younger brother Shaun you were at school with. I have just made a connection with another contributor to these pages, Patricia Roberts(Walters)who now lives in Melbourne and wrote about her "Memories" of St Francis rather "Stern" teachers AND she too remembered my name but not the face!! So we all must be getting old.

Jim Yarwood

Maidstone I remember it well: Hello everyone. With Barry Hynes and myself we organised the school reunion you're talking about at St Francies Junior School in Week Street and it was a brilliant evening. We made the ladies wear name tags with their maiden names so that "the sands of time" would allow one another to identify those faces from time gone by! Talking about Matteo those of you may remember that my mother was Italian, though you wouldn't have known it when I was at school. There was also the Hughes family, Italian to the core. Sadly Marie and her brother "Divvy" (David) as he was more popularly known have passed away, I believe the two other brothers Charlie and Billy are still around in the north of England. I have lived in Maidstone all of my life; first memories are of my mum renting two rooms at a house in Boxley Road which was convenient for going to St Francis at Week Street, personally a good time for me, I had no complaints and got on ok with the teachers, especially Mr McPartland, a real gent of the old style. Like Peter (Capon) I wasn't brainy enough to pass the 11+ so I went to the Nissan Huts in Vinters Park, again looking back a brilliant time of my school life. Remember Mr O'Donnell and his slipper for us "nauties"? Sadly he passed away a couple of years ago, again to me he was the one that kept me on the straight and narrow! We moved from Boxley Road, around the corner to Wheeler Street (the house has since been demolished) and then onto Shepway Estate where my schooldays finished. Mum had several jobs, with the first one being at Chiesemans, in their kitchen. I used to love going down into their basement store at Christmas time, it was sheer fantasy-land with Father Christmas at the end of a magical ride, I don't know how they did it in the days prior to all the electronic/computer generated backdrops of today. She then moved jobs to The Star ... what a brilliant place, anybody remember Monday nights in the 60s where the lights were dimmed and there were just candles alight on the tables? Can you imagine Health & Safety nowadays!!!!! Brilliant, brilliant times. I used to knock about with a group of lads and I printed up business cards - calling ourselves The Maidstone Set - anyone remember Jim James, Malc James, Alan Matthews, John Birch, Alan Leeson and myself? I can recall The Beehive, wonderful store, go in one entrance in Union Street and exit from the other onto Week Street, it had everything a gwaking young lad in the 60s wanted, how about Hubble & Freeman the sports shop in Gabriel's Hill? The best sports shop in the universe and Goldings junk shop at the top of Week Street (selling army surplus), next to the Barracks where the new road and White Rabbit currently reside. Timothy Whites at the bottom of Week Street, the Kent Messenger at the top of Week Street? Pia's milk bar also at the top of Week Street, Gilberts cycle shop next door and the fresh fish shop next to them? And what about "Misplaced Article" week (to co-incide with Maidstone Carnival/Cricket Week), when shops would deliberately put an article in the windows that they obviously didn't sell and so you had a form to go around the shops, look in their windows, try and spot the mis-placed article, enter it on your entry form and try to win a prize, all good, innocent fun! Could go on but you've probably fallen asleep by now, so I'll end! Let me know if anyone remembers me, great site Peter, congratulations!

vince (curly) oconnell

Maidstone I remember it well: do i remember st francis oh yes i came from preston lanks with my brother tom and my sister ireen after the war to live in wouldham and being a good catholic boy we all went to st francis tom is older than me so he was ther from 1946 to1950 and i vince was ther from 1948 to 1952 and ireen was ther from1952 to 1956 all dates are aprox .i remember my teacher mr ludden and his little red mg sports car and his size 10 slipper i still have the marks on my rear end .and mr mcpartland cane on my hands mostly for fighting with my old mate george meekings i allso remember canon simmonds wat a man he put me on the right path many times he also marred me and my wife joan in 1957 and he baptised our three children .just a name or two from the old school bernard hughes barry and tony tynan ron monk brian weekly john ring gabby gamble jessy newel i hope im spelling ther names right i bet im not.i hope ther is mates out there that remember me yes i was that wrestler

The Mr. Ludden that I knew had a nasty habit of picking his nose in the classroom.

Margaret Hills nee McGinty

Maidstone I remember it well: I was in Ms Lenton's class in 1956 and then Miss Stroud's class before my family emigrated to NZ in 1958. My best friend was a girl called Anita Fischer who had beautiful long plaits!!

barry hynes

Maidstone I remember it well: hi patrick i think the other teacher at st francis who was a tad harsh may have been a mr taylor

Ken Allen Country: Australia Maidstone I remember it well: It seems that St Francis has a good representation - does anyone remember Frances Wigston? She lived at the top of York Rd & as I recall was the only one in the street that didn't go to Soughboro at some stage. She was the only girl allowed into our 'gang'. I think that was because her Mum & Step-father owned a coffee percollator & didn't have to drink the 'Camp' like the rest of us. Silly as it seems we all used to cram into the kitchen just to watch the percollator 'perk'. Now that was living on the edge OK. Where are you Frances

Phillip Wood

Maidstone I remember it well: Hi (curly) O`connell Phil Wood here i remember you at St. Francis School 1946/1956 and all the names you have mentioned i do remember your sister ireen and her friend Mary Mason who had two brother`s John and Robert i seem to remember you worked for A.E.Reed fire service late fifties early sixties it must have been late fifties early when we last saw each other

Bernie Martin

Country: Australia Maidstone I remember it well: I attended St Francis for the last years of my schooling and spent one term at Vinters Park 1958 not sure if we were the first group to move up there. I remember , Harry O'Donnell & Mr McPartlin [ I think ] teachers and Danny Moriarty,Warwick Ball, Kathleen Matthews,Mick Maher,Eric Tynan, someone Sturgeon, one of the Hughes boys,Sylvia Hoey as some of the pupils. My brother Paul went there a few years later.

I remember your brother Paul. We were in the same class at St. Francis and I think we left the same day.

Maria Bradshaw ( nee Hickey)

Maidstone I remember it well: Wonderful! memories, I remember all ( Or Most) of the things the previous writers have put, and probably the name as well, I started at school , St Francis when I was 5, and living in Harrietsham caugh6 the bus, and then walked the length of Week Street , tell me any 5 year olds that would do THAT today. My Brother Lawrence moved to Australia in or around 1967, and still lives there in Toowoomba Queensland, he was born in 1947 and I ( Now this is a secret !!) in 1944 this site was told to me by Peter Capon, who is my Brothers age. I still live in Lenham where I was born.


I am attaching a couple of photos from the good old days ,it would be great if you could put them on the webpage and see if anyone can help in identifying the people in the photos , I am ashamed to say I can't recall half of them.

The football team is St Francis and back row from left to right: Danny Moriarty, someone Neal , ---------,----------,Warwick Ball,

Front row: ---------,----------, me Bernie Martin, --------,--------,

St Francis House Captains: Kathleen Matthews,-----------,------------, me Bernie Martin.

This one taken in the London Tavern: Roy Deacon, Malcolm MacDonald [Super Mac ], Nigel Wise, me Bernie Martin, Pete Jones, Paul Martin.

Love the webpage ,keep up the good work,

Bernie Martin.

Lovely pics Bernie bring back memories sadly Dave Neale is no longer with us, I went to his funeral earlier this year, another good guy gone. Pete

Maureen Rutherford (Rocke)

Maidstone I remember it well: It was lovely to find this site and the memories of the huts. My dad was the caretaker from 1958 until 1967 when the senior school moved up to become St Simon Stock. From 58-63 we lived in the end hut, I recall the dreadful coal fire and the only place you could feel warm was in the boiler house. the milk crates were put on the boilers to warm the ice out of them before morning breaks. The large alsatian was Tom and he followed me everywhere. I had a free run of the park and scurried around on a blue three wheel bike. I remember the hedge of rose that grew along infront of the kitchens and the large vegetable garden my dad kept. The was a needlework teacher who always had a bag of pear drops, and the staff room alway stank of cigarettes. There was also an old wall telephone with the seperate ear piece on the wall of the staff room. In winter you could hardly hear for the rain on the corrugated metal shell of the huts. I still have the scars on my knees from falling on the cinder path around the building as I ran in total darkness when my dad sent me to check the doors were all locked on dark winter evenings. Pat (caretaker) is now in his mid 80's and returned to live in Ireland.

Judith Linstead (nee Potter )

Maidstone I remember it well: I grew up in Maidstone and went to school with Maureen Rocke. Mr Donovan was my headmaster and I remember going to their daughter, Ann's house for birthday parties. A great big house in Buckland rd. Mrs Smith was my first teacher and I have fond memories of school, overall. I loved the breakfast after mass, especially the sugar mice!!! I can also remember the old swimming baths where we went for swimming lessons and I remember nearly drowning Ann Ryan when I got out of my depth. I have a video on youtube if anyone is interested 'Christmas in Maidstone 1967' it has Week St on it with two way traffic!!!

john kyne

Maidstone I remember it well: I remember St francis school very well from 1962 to 65 when i went onto Holy family school up at parkwood,the main teacher i remember was sister Nolan,who could throw a chalk board duster as straight as a missile,having to read our catachisam to the priest every monday morning ,and being very afraid when cannon simmons came into the school room, allso going up to tillings and stevens sports field for our sports day,people i was in class with were john jo flynn,pat green,there was a very large group of Irish chilldren there,,please reply ....

john kyne

Maidstone I remember it well: Hi i used to go to st francis then holy family parkwood then onto southbourough sec boys till it closed 71 wish to hear from anyone else.

Bernie Martin

Country: Australia

Maidstone I remember it well: Does anyone from the old St Francis days remember when we first moved to Vinters Park [think I only did one term there leaving school in the summer of 1958] I remember a big girl there think he name was Sylvia Hoey [think I was in love] her dad used to pick her up from school always wore a black suit & came in a black limo [in my memory] I was convinced he was a gangster. There was also a lovely girl think I was in love who emigrated to what was then Rhodesia to a city called Bullawayo [how can I remember that]. Jog any memories ? I still haven't been able to contact Tony Buckingham anyone have any ideas ? Hope everyone is well in Maidstone. Bernie Martin.

Well I'm not sure that we will be able to locate the girls for you Bernie but I hope you are well and copeing with your new knee and hearing aid. Click here to return to schools