Hillside, Salisbury Road was a small private school run by Miss Hemming between 1908 and 1911.
Mrs Angela Evans (Joy Peart's daughter) remembered (in March 1992) that Hillside had been built as a wedding present for her grand-parents, that is her mother's parents, with the surname Raine, a family of builders. Robert James (Jan 2018) thinks William Raine worked for the BCC as Surveyor. He had two daughters the elder Joy married Launcelot Peart in 1936 and their first home was Mill Hatch, 7a Bridge Street.
The date stone on the house says that this was in 1908.
Mrs Joy Peart remembered (February 1992) that Hillside School opened for a short while as a school for "the Sons of gentlemen", and had six boys. It very soon moved to larger premises, but she could not recall where this was.
- Hillside, Salisbury Road. Mar 2009
Hubert Atkinson's personal memories:
We have a very personal account of life at Hillside from Hubert Atkinson, who went to Hillside School as the first pupil of Miss Hemming. Hubert Atkinson was born 19th October 1901. Hubert Atkinson left Hillside in 1911 and went on to be ordained. The detailed account of just a few experiences at Hillside give a fascinating insight into the school:
"My old school with 'Grubber Gratts' however, came to an abrupt end and an entirely new existence suddenly opened up, .All I can remember now is a cab ride with my parents to a house in Hungerford, Berkshire – Hillside - still standing - and of my being left there alone in the care of a certain Miss Hemmings who lived there with her mother.
There began a quite extraordinary period in our lives, for my brother Chris was soon to join me - which, was to leave a very mixed but indelible mark upon our characters.
This strange woman had quite grandiose ideas of founding some sort of a public school. There even came a time when we boys were issued with a red cap, on the front of which was a badge, a shield with a lion rampant, very impressive indeed. Initially I was the sprat to catch the mackerel! Not far off was Bagshot Manor. The people there had a small boy. Soon, I was marched along by Miss Hammings to be introduced, obviously in the hope that the Squire and his lady would entrust their little boy to Miss Hemmings to be educated with me and other boys who would undoubtedly be flocking to the new school. Nothing came of our visit however.
I was alone therefore and before long, to my great joy, Chris appeared brought by one of the Purton aunts. Years later I learned that in some way or other, it was they who told our parents about the offer of a home, or a place in a school, or whatever, which led to me and then Chris being entrusted to Miss Hennings' care. Before long several more, older boys, all boarders, joined us, till we numbered six. Early on two young men appeared as masters, neither I am sure having any teaching qualifications whatsoever.
It would take a Dickensian pen to do justice to this quite extraordinary establishment. How two ladies, Miss Hemmings and her mother, two masters and six boys were crammed into a medium-sized semi-detached house I cannot imagine, yet I have no memory of overcrowding. The predominating atmosphere in which we smaller boys lived was one of fear in relation to the scholastic side of things. Ignorance or mistakes were rewarded by a rap over the knuckles with the sharp edge of a ruler. We even feared to ask to 'be excused' until desperation forced the request and we ran for it.
I cannot recollect that initially we learnt anything though undoubtedly something must have got in. It wasn't all bad - there was a lighter side. In fairness to the masters I don't think they were intentionally cruel in a sadistic sense; it was simply their idea of teaching. Outside of school hours they were quite friendly and took us on at outdoor games. So life wasn't all bad. The 'junior' master had a great love of nature which he imparted to us, together with a love of old churches, and in good weather we tramped miles along dusty country lanes to villages like Ham and Shalbourne, not only entering churches but invariably we went into vestries where he, Mr Wills, would try on the parson's hood. Many years later he was ordained!
We also developed a great enthusiasm for butterflies and moths, learning much about their habitats etc. and I remember hot, sunny days chasing butterflies with our small nets over a nearby common. It was not unknown for Miss Hemming to say on a particular bright morning "Boys – we will go for a walk on the Common".
On Saturday afternoons in the winter we went to the Town Hall for roller-skating to the sound of a barrel organ. And we always went to church on Sunday mornings escorted by our 'senior' master resplendent in 'tails' and top hat - incidentally looking taller than ever.
Another tall, lean man was the vicar, a Mr. Grey, who besides, or maybe as a part of his clerical duties was chief of the local fire brigade. Great was the merriment of us younger boys when the Fire Brigade turned out for the first time in the newly arrived 'Merryweather' motorised fire engine and gave a public display of their prowess, the men in gleaming brass helmets and their captain in a silver one!
Then there was, to us boys, the 'Tarn band of 'Ungerford': the annual fair of roundabouts and stalls in the wide main street to which we were taken, the steam organ being an unforgettable source of wonder - the roundabout was powered by a nearby traction engine.
Another event of lasting memory was a brilliant summer day when we three boys, with Miss Hemmings, were taken by a horse-drawn barge from Hungerford to Newbury, walking the nine miles back and arriving home at midnight.
One other memory of an almost dream like quality stands out above all others. Quite unbelievable and yet somehow entirely in keeping with this extraordinary school. That the event really took place is testified to by a photo in my possession.
It so happened that the vicar of the neighbouring village of Shalbourne started a scout troop and we boys were invited to join. This must have been in the year 1910 only a few years after Baden Powell founded the movement. I can still see the bundle of six heavy ash poles marked in feet and inches, when they were delivered from the station as part of our uniform.
One Monday morning a postcard arrived from the Shalbourne vicar asking us scouts to parade on the village green at 9am. Without more ado we immediately donned our uniforms and streamed across the fields to Shalbourne - the masters undoubtedly glad of a day off. To our amazement on arrival we found the village full of soldiers, all lined up on parade. Panting, we scouts all fell in at the rear. (It later transpired that we had been willy-nilly sucked into the Army's annual Summer manoeuvres!). At the word of command, and in extended order, we all slowly advanced up the downs. I attached myself to the nearest soldier and stuck by him. He and I moved on up, but somehow got detached from the main body and before long found ourselves in a lane, and since it appeared to lead in the right direction, we followed it. Eventually we came to a halt. We were lost. I have only the haziest recollections of the wanderings that day. All I know is that eventually we arrived that evening in camp - the enemy camp. My unfortunate friend 'surrendered'. As for me, I was quickly put to bed in one of the Officer's tents and knew no more till morning.
From then on for the next few days I did whatever they did, I marched proudly when they marched and bedded down when the camp was formed. I became a sort of Regimental mascot and collected a fine assortment of brass arm badges, not least being the Regimental cap-badge of the aforementioned 1st Loyal North Lancs., which was affixed to my khaki scout cap.
The end, however, was in sight. The culminating battle was about to take place. As the men lined up sergeants passed down the ranks giving each man a certain number of blank cartridges. And then we marched, the scent of impending conflict in our nostrils - in mine anyway. Come what may I was going to fire one of those rifles. We were wow strung out along a section of the downs with a great plain stretching out below. Part way down was a cart track which formed a natural shallow trench. Into this we flung ourselves and I quickly persuaded a friendly soldier alongside to let me fire his rifle when that thrilling moment arrived.
Meanwhile in the plain below there was much activity. Parties of men in khaki could be seen advancing, rushing forward in short bursts and lying down, but steadily drawing nearer. At last the moment came – 'FIRE'. What bliss! Round after round, the rifle pointing in any direction. Then, 'FIX BAYONETS, CHARGE'. And over the top we went charging down till we met the enemy and all sat down. Before long I heard a familiar voice asking about a missing boy scout. I turned round and there were the others who had managed to stay and operate with the original column.
Our week long adventure was nearly over. After an evening meal the final exercise was a night march. Silence was to be maintained but we must have been heard a mile off as we stumbled along in the semi-dark and heavy army boots kicked against loose stones. At daylight we halted. Dwellings were not far away. For the last time we formed up, and now, gloriously lead by the Regimental Band, Officers, scouts and men marched into Tidworth Barracks.
For us a hot bath and straight to bed. In the afternoon we were put in charge of a certain Corporal Cross who took us to Hungerford and so back to school.
Next morning we put on our uniforms, military badges and all, and were photographed. And I still have a copy to prove it all happened. I have often wondered what on earth the 'School Authorities' reactions were when the whole school, all six of us, trotted off into the morning sunlight and disappeared for a whole week. Consternation, or bliss?
However, Hungerford days were drawing to a close with the end of the Summer term of 1911 and when school reassembled the three of us (the three senior boys having left) were at school Southend Lodge, Newbury".