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The Art School, Ford Street, remembered by Liz Bayly

Liz Bayly was thrilled to find a photo of the Art School in Ford Street in my "now and then" section. She attended this Art School around 1956-57 and takes up the story from there....

At that time the 'new' Art School in Cox Street was the main building, and as students we were required to walk from one to the other in order to fulfil the syllabus. The inside of the Ford Street building was fascinating (my classes were held on the ground floor in the large room at the back of the building). This was to the right and had a part glass ceiling. This made the light rather gloomy at times because the glass was covered with a green algae-like deposit. This room was where we had our 'screen printing' lessons.

The Art School, Ford Street c1911
The Art School, Ford Street c1911. If you're not sure where this used to stand, try this link to find out.

The teacher was Mr Ramsdale, who had a strong north country accent, wore tweedy jackets and sported bow ties. He was a gentle man, very patient and slow to wrath. We called him the Bolton Wanderer. He entertained us one day by telling us that he suspected the building was haunted. While alone one evening and preparing to lock up he heard footsteps along the corridor which ran from the front entrance towards the back of the building. Looking out of the door, no one was there.

Part of the bottom floor, to the right of the main entrance, lads were taught bricklaying. It was strange to see partly constructed walls rising from the floor. A smaller room than the one described above was also used by the art students. This too was at the back of the ground floor and less gloomy than its larger neighbour. An interesting attachment to the 'new' art school was the remains of the old graveyard, which I believe was once the one used for St. Michael's Church before it became a cathedral. Many of the old properties remained in Cox Street, one such was a little shop which sold art materials to the students at a discount. One of my fellow students was a tall blond girl, Jane Sutton, who I believe came from the family which ran Sutton's bakery in Maudsley Road. I have an aunt who delivered bread by horse drawn van for the Suttons during WWII. Her mother worked at the Hippodrome when it was in its prime, and saw many of the stars; Leslie Hutchinson, 'Hutch', for example.

Liz's aunt also spoke to her about the terrible things that she and her brother had to endure throughout Coventry's darkest days of the war. This got Liz thinking about some of her own observations from shortly after World War Two....

As a small girl, 7 or 8, I was taken from Nuneaton through Coventry to have my tonsils out at the Keresley Hospital, now a Hotel. I didn't understand why the buildings I saw were just one storey, and had, it seemed to me, peculiar (corrugated) roofs. It rather worried me at the time, and it didn't occur to me to ask my parents.

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