I mentioned in my New Year blog that my intention, having packed up the George files temporarily, was to return to my Wakefield research and in particular to my Grandad, Jack Wakefield, and his brother William, both of whom fought in WW1. I have had in mind to upload their stories onto the Surrey In the Great War website www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk.
In revisiting this website for the first time in a while, I discovered through my ‘person search’ for William Wakefield that not only does his name appear on the Woking Town War Memorial, but it is also on a board at the Maybury Centre (formerly Maybury School), commemorating ‘old boys’ who fell in the First World War. Now this was news to me. I looked up the location of the school and realised that it was a short walk from the family’s home in Church Street, Woking (the house now replaced by a multi storey car park). I found the website for the Maybury Centre, which seems to be a thriving community centre, and wondered how I could get in there one day to see the board for myself.
And then one of those strange coincidences happened. I checked my diary for the location of a workshop I was due to attend on early dance, and which I had booked onto some weeks previously. You can probably guess what I’m about to say next. Yes! The workshop was to be held at the Maybury Centre in Woking!!
I went armed with my camera and, once inside, pushed open a few former classroom doors until I found the room with the war memorial board on the wall. I was just so thrilled both to see it and to be inside the school that my Great Uncle attended and (I was now surmising) my Grandad and his siblings had probably also attended.
Would any records still exist for Maybury School? The online catalogue for Surrey History Centre indicated a reference for a log book, so Half Term was then a great opportunity to visit to check it out. The staff were really helpful and I was soon looking at the Boys’ School Log Book for 1880 to 1975 (reference 8101/2/2) whilst my husband got stuck into the Punishment Book for 1908 to 1975 (8101/2/5). I reckoned that the Wakefields moved to Woking some time after 1907 and before 1910 (when the youngest child was born in Woking).
The log book was fascinating but there were unfortunately few names of pupils and no Admission Records. Outbreaks of measles, mumps, chicken pox and scarlet fever were common occurrences. The school was regularly closed for Empire Day, Sunday School treats and the circus coming to town. The oldest boys (perhaps those about to leave) had medical inspections and the County Nurse was also a frequent visitor to check for body lice, with boys often being sent home because of this. Once the First World War started there were staffing issues as various teachers were called up and collections were taken both for the Red Cross and for the Surrey Prisoners of War Fund. On 10 December 1919 the entry read “school closed this afternoon for the opening of the memorial to the old boys of the school who fell in the Great War”.
The Punishment book, however, was more fruitful in terms of names. On 1 October 1912 a boy by the name of Wakefield in Standard 2 received “2 stripes” from Mr Painter for “continual inattention” and then on 16 November 1914 J Wakefield in Standard 3 received 2 stripes again, this time from the Headmaster, for “constant trouble”. Well, I think that both of these refer to Grandad, Jack Wakefield. He would have been aged 13 and 15 at the time and quite possibly felt he had outgrown school by this time. His older brother William was working by the time of the 1911 census and no doubt Jack felt he wanted to be out in the world too.
After our visit to the History Centre we drove to Walton Road, to the location of the butcher’s shop where both brothers worked before the war. Although the property has been replaced by a block of modern flats, many of the terraced houses from that period survive and give an indication of how Woking would have looked in the early twentieth century.
Oh, and if you get the chance to take part in a workshop on early dance (16th and 17th century), be warned that it’s quite energetic!