On the first day of February 1926, Mr. Cecil Harris took over the reins and in no time at all had "become integrated" and we have to wait until March 21st 1951, before we read
"This is the last entry I shall make in the log, as I retire on April 16th, the end of the Easter holiday."
In the intervening twenty-five years, Mr. Harris had become as much loved as Mr. Pincott. He was a fine man who lived for the school and the children. He was an expert gardener and naturalist, and one ex-pupil who became an authoress of note told me that he had the gift of opening children's eyes to the beauty of nature.
The older boys cultivated gardens, and walked off with innumerable prizes in shows in Faversham, Maidstone and Sittingbourne. One ex-pupil told me that the lane to school was bordered by cherry trees, but the children had so much respect for Mr. Harris's admonition that taking cherries was stealing, that no-one ever dreamed of 'scrumping'.
A letter about the school in 1931. reads:-
Mr. Harris was a most pleasant and fine-looking gentle-man. He ran a Young Farmers' Club at the school. It was a strong club with interests in poultry, goats, bees and ponies. On one occasion we attended the Agricultural Show at Mote Road, Maidstone, and won first prize in the poultry section, and were given a set of books for the school. Also on this occasion we met the then Prince of Wales.
About this time a temporary assistant came to the school. He was a Jamaican, a coloured man. The children liked him, he played the banjo and had a good singing voice. 'Tip Toe through the Tulips' was the rage at the time.
Of course, during the time of Mr. Harris, many changes took place.
Why, in 1938 the school and house were wired for electricity! What a boon that must have been. The school bought a radio, school dinners were introduced, and Mr. Harris presided over the school during that shattering event, the Second World War.
"Memories of happy school days, 1938 to 1945, came flooding back. At the tender age of 4 years, I cried to go to school so Mr Harris took pity on me and I started my education in Eastling before my fifth birthday. The early start must have given me some sort of advantage as I was one of the few who went on to QE Grammar School for Boys.
Ken Godden No school was more patriotic than Eastling. Waste paper was collected, sacks of chestnuts were collected, Balaclavas were knitted, and the Home Guard was even allowed to use the Infant Room, but not without an entry in the log:-
"Home Guard used Infant Room last night; one light bulb broken, they must be reprimanded".
The skies over Eastling brought the war right into the life of the school. The screaming engines of Spitfires and Messerschmitts shattered the peace of the little Kentish school, and local children, rubbing shoulders with 'foreigners' (evacuees from London), hid in the darkness of the shelters. To cap it all, poor Cecil Harris found himself on January 1st 1943 in hospital with scarlet fever. On June 11th 1943, the school was able to send off £50 after a "Wings for Victory Week".
There were sad days which cast a cloud over the school, such as May 7th 1945:-
"Fred White, pupil at this school (5.3.23 - 22.8.33), prisoner of war since Dunkirk, died in hospital."
Having recently purchased a computer and joined the Internet, one of the first things I did was to go into the Eastling website. I was born in Eastling and attended your school until I went to secondary school.
I was so pleased to find that you had a website and I was prompted to contact you. I saw the picture of all the children waving at the front of the school, and in particular I noticed the railing fence, this brought back to me that there used to be a brick wall along there. I can remember there was an air raid shelter which was built at right angles to the school and backed on to the playing field.
Between the shelter and the field we used to have a garden, in the corner of the playing field nearest to the old village hall was a sand pit which was used for the long jump in sports lessons, above the entrance to the school was a bell that was used at the beginning and end of lessons and was rung by pulling on a long rope.
The toilets were up the back end of the playground next to a cherry orchard, and right in the middle of the playground was some sort of tree. Inside the school it was partitioned off by a concertina style door with the seniors on one side and the juniors on the other, and the infants were in a separate room, in which I remember there was a big open fireplace, and in the winter the crate of milk was placed in front of it to thaw out before we could drink it.
Our headmaster was a Mr Harris who used to ride to school from Lenham on his bicycle that was powered by a small engine attached to the front wheel(we thought he was very posh on this). When he retired his place was taken by Miss Hannah Day. The junior teacher was Miss Evans, and the infant teacher was Mrs Taylor who lived in the Village in the house that was attached to the Forge on the corner of Faversham Rd and Newnham Lane.
My mother was born in Eastling and lived there until her death in 2000, as far as I know there has always been a member of our family at Eastling School, this may not be the case now though.
I hope I haven't bored you too much with my memories, but I attended your School from 1945 to 1950 and it's thanks to modern technology that I am able to take part in it again. I still have the sweat shirt and mug that my Mother sent me in 1981 for the centenary (STEPS OF WISDOM). Wishing you all the best for the future.