The Third Headteacher - Mr Fred Pincott
Fred Pincott's photo still resides on the wall of "The Carpenters' Arms" in the village.
Mr. Smith moved from Eastling in 1889, and then began the uninterrupted reign of thirty-six years of Mr.Fred Pincott, from 1889 to 1926. The school continued to flourish during this period and all the H.M.I. reports are glowing in praise of the work. It is impossible to condense this period adequately, but I must mention the fact that on two occasions Fred Pincott was instrumental in saving the school from burning down!
Log entry, April 22nd, 1905:
"School cleaner having put a quantity of hot coals in the scuttle, went home and left it standing on the floor. The heat caused the floor to ignite, Master having occasion to go into the school, found it full of smoke and the floor burning, but managed to extinguish it".
Log entry, October 27th, 1914:
"This evening while preparing the requisition list for 1915, the lamp fell from its support and did some damage to the floor, two desks, and some books. It was a wonder the whole building was not destroyed".
Fred Pincott is still remembered with affection by ex-pupils. Recently, an eighty-seven year-old lady wrote to me from Alberta, Canada, telling me some of her memories of the old school.
Here are some extracts:
"My earliest school memory goes back to an Eastling School picnic in 1897, held in the Parson's Glebe. It was Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. I was four years old, too young to run in the races. Mr. Pincott gave me a little toy whip for my rocking horse".
She goes on to say how happy she was when she was promoted from the infant class and was given her own slate, her own water bottle with a hole in the cork, and a rag to clean her slate. Previously the infant class slates were cleaned by the teacher from one water bottle. She tells how she had to sharpen her slate pencil on a wooden box fitted with two files, the dust dropping into the box.
Further memories of the school 1898
Contributed by an old pupil who entered the school in 1897.
I was born Maud Shrubshall on 8th June 1893, in the Teacherage adjoining the old Sunday School down the lane. The property was owned by the Rev. Reynardson who lived in the rectory. Later, we lived in the house next to the Post Office, which was combined with a grocery store.
One of my earliest memories is of running away to school at 9am. I had to sit with my sister Mabel until noon, but go to school I must. Finally, I was allowed to enter the "baby class", now I suppose called the kindergarten, although we had to fill in a full day. The infants' classroom was built with a gallery giving teacher full view of every pupil. There we had to advance from baby class through second class to first class, at the top of the gallery. In first class we had to learn to read, write, and arithmetic (simple adding and subtraction), tell the time from a cardboard clock with movable hands, knit, and sew. These subjects we had to prove before Mr. Pincott, who passed us to Grade I, in the larger room.
In Grade I we were seated five to a desk. How well I remember "desk drill". With folded arms facing the teacher she called
"One" - we turned like clockwork to the right.
"Two" - we put our left hand on our own desk lid the right hand on the desk behind,
"Three" - we had to jump clear from the seat,
"Four" - again face the teacher.
Woe betide any one if they knocked a slate down as they jumped - this meant detention for 15 minutes, long enough to have to walk home alone. We had to sharpen our slate pencils on a wooden box fitted with two files, the dust dropped into the bottom of the box.
One recess, we were awaiting class to re-assemble, Vi Doughty said to me, "You are scared to empty the box on the desk". I replied, "I am not" and promptly upset the dirty dust all over.
"Ooooooooh", said the others! Mr. Pincott shouts "Who did that?"
"I did, sir". Quietly, he said to me as he mopped up the mess, "Could not take a dare? If someone told yen to put your finger in the fire, would you do that? Let this be a lesson - and do not do foolish things again".
The humiliation of being corrected before the class remained with me all my life.
I do not remember knitting on two needles, but I did finish a pot holder, blue and yellow, taking it home with the greatest pride.
Grade 1. began wristlets, on four steel needles.
Grade 2. baby socks, Mr.Pincott turned the heel.
Grade 3. pink wool vests, on wooden needles.
Grade 4. Mona socks.
Grade 5. gloves.
Grade 6. we had our choice of any knitting.
Now I am 87 years old, I have just finished my eighth Afghan, having lost track of the many sweaters I have made through the years.
My birthday on June 8th coincided with Mrs. Pincott's birthday. How my little heart pounded, awaiting her "Happy birthday, Maud," as she searched the class for me. The great happiness has lingered through the years - It was something special.
I have missed the letters from Grace and Dorry Pincott. They kept me posted with Eastling news for many years. Many a tea I shared with them in the old school house. Our first pupil teacher was Ethel Anderson, her father ran the baker's shop in Newnham.
Later, we had a Miss Elliot from Chatham, she cycled home every weekend, often arriving late for Monday morning, much to Mr. Pincott's annoyance.
My eldest brother, Bill, was full of monkey tricks, I can hear him giggle yet. I remember the time a gang of the boys, running late one noon hour, heard the school bell ringing and took a short cut through Divan Court, grabbing apples from the trees as they ran. The farmer gave chase and shut them all in the empty coach house, sending one boy with a note to the schoolmaster. (Boys were never reported to the police, the master punished if done in School hours). The remainder of the gang found a baby cart and promptly raced each other up and down the coach house.
The farmer, sensing disaster, released them for school, where they were reprimanded and had to write so many words every night for a week.
Another occasion was the same brother boasting that he had helped the butcher make the Christmas sausages. Said Bill, "We broke the record". Very upset, I said "Oh Bill, now mother will have to pay for that". Another trick for the boys was to dip our long hair into the inkwell in the desk behind us girls - such a mess!
The School Concert was a highlight of the year, always held in January, the proceeds going towards our school prizes. Mr. Billy Clark of North Court, Mr. Foster the baker, Mr. Tommy Reid, all gave generously towards the prizes. All were members of the School Board.
Brother Bill chose to polish his good shoes over the open well, down goes the shoe, oh, how be cried because he had to wear his school boots to the concert! The concerts were something to be remembered. They opened with the lower classes singing and dancing, and ended with a play, such as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Dick Whittington, etc. Being chosen Prince in Red Riding Hood, as we neared the end, I was to slay the wicked wolf with the magic sword given me by the Fairy Queen. I whacked so hard the wooden sword was broken in two. I never knew quite how I threw it under a seat, pulled the one from around my waist and held it aloft in the final victory song. It was an anxious moment, as all children's concert create, but such fun and lingering happiness.
One performance, the boys wore stockings and shoes on their hands behind a white sheet, singing "Topsy-Turvy Somersault", giving a shadow effect of turning head over heels, until Em Bobbins came up with his face between his hands. I never heard an audience laugh so heartily.
Then there was "Tay-lay" Jackson. Each morning, the register was called, each with a given number. As your name was called, you answered with your number. "Tay-lay was number 56, but he would call in a shrill, piping voice, "Fitty-tic". One day, Mr. Pincott said, “Fitty-tic, I will Fitty-tic you if you do not keep quiet!" I wonder what happened to "Fitty-tic".
One highlight was a Christmas party given principally for the street children. The long tables in the schoolroom during the Christmas holidays were loaded with red, green and yellow jellies and every goody dear to a child's heart, followed by games and singing. The school piano was the Pincotts' own personal gift to the school. Previously, we had to learn the hymns and songs with a tuning fork.
I remember the inspector complimenting us on our perfect tone, it meant nothing then but through the years I have marvelled bow we managed. In earlier days, the school was a Church School. Rev. Burton came at 9 am, opening the day with a hymn, prayers, and a Bible reading. Later a School Board was formed, Board men visited once a month to check the register. This was followed in about 1906 with a County Council. During the days of the Church School, my older sister and brother had to take threepence each on Monday mornings - no money, no lessons! In January 1900, we were assembled to hear that we were entering a new century. It was difficult to forget the 1800's and write 1900.
My school days were happy days, and the memory lingers on with devotion for the Pincott family.
My last "goodbye" to them and the little school was on March 8th 1912, when I sailed in "Empress of Ireland" for the Canadian West, the land of freedom and opportunity never a sign of "Keep off the Grass".
Through the years I have travelled every mile around the village, hoping some day to return, but old age slowly crept over me, and since there have been two wars, maybe it is best I linger in my childhood dreams of home. The primrose and the violets we gathered to decorate the church on Good Friday, I remember especially well. We ate our lunch down by the old beech tree - I did hear that my initials and my sister's are still top of all the climbers (H.8. & v.8.). This is the tree that stands by the edge of the woodland on the way to Arnold's Oak via the old church-yard.
What excitement there must have been when one day I gazed through the window in a trance, lessons forgotten. Mr. Pincott brought me back to earth with, "What are you looking at, Maud?" I dazedly replied, "A balloon, sir".
We all dashed out into the playground (gravel at the time). The balloon came lower and lower until the travellers in the basket shouted, "Where are we?" They were informed, "Eastling, near Faversham". "Thank you," they replied, and away they went to our amazement.
Her appraisal of Fred Pincott is
"Bless him, he was a School Master in a million, each pupil was a personal being in his life. Strict to the utmost degree, but very understanding of children's needs and frailties, his punishment was served according to the deed". Aud Hermon, ne. Shrubsall 1897-1908.
Life at Eastling with Fred Pincott
Fred Pincott was a Londoner, born in Tooley Street, Bermondsey and he spent the first thirty years of his life in London. He concluded his pupil-teacher ship at St. Paul's, after which be went to Trinity College, where he gained his teaching certificate and returned to St. Paul's as first assistant. The circumstances of his application for the Eastling headship are of interest.
Mr. John Smith, who had been headmaster of Eastling for four years, had a son who was also going in for the teaching profession, and this son went to serve his apprenticeship at St Paul's Islington, where Mr. Pincott was first assistant. Mr. Smith casually mentioned to Mr. Pincott that his father was resigning the headship of Eastling, and then added, "Why don't you apply for it?"
Mr, Pincott did apply, got the job, and stayed for thirty-six years. Thus are our careers guided by very casual circumstances.
A last word on the Fred Pincott era. In the winter of 1954 Eastling was completely cut off by eight-foot snow drifts. Pictures and reports of the villagers' plight were printed in the "Faversham News", a copy of which eventually reached William Hills, an ex-pupil of Eastling School, then residing in Ontario, Canada. He was moved to write:
"I have just read about Eastling being snowbound. This brought back a lot of memories. In particular, I remember a morning sixty years ago when there was a ten-foot drift near the school. Only six of us made it to school that morning. Our school master was Mr. Pincott and what a lovely man he was. I remember him lighting a coal fire, and how we sat round it, painting until home time. What happy memories of the village school I have, where I received the groundwork to become a good citizen".
Fred Pincott died in 1931, after becoming a legend in his own lifetime. He loved the school, and I've no doubt his spirit hovers still over the school down the lane, wishing us well.
School Photo, c1922