Part Four/1: Wynyard Hall

Part Four Chapter One    Wynyard Hall

“I shall hate to leave college.”



Durham map002 png

Wynyard Hall is four miles north of Stockton, Co.Durham.


wynyardgrounds png

Wynyard Hall at the time Len was there.


Wynyard Hall and the 7th Lord Londonderry 

Wynyard Hall near Stockton in Co. Durham in the north east of England was one of three properties that belonged to the “immensely rich” 7th Lord Londonderry.  The other two were Mount Pleasant in Northern Ireland and Londonderry House in London.  Wynyard Hall was his least favourite property and he had thought of having it demolished.

The inherited wealth of the Londonderrys came from land ownership, but particularly from ownership of coal mines.  He was described as “the sort of grandee who makes you wonder why there was no British revolution”.

The 7th Lord Londonderry, like his father, was well connected with other British aristocracy and with the British Royal Family.  Guests, including “Commoners” at Wynyard Hall during the 1930s and 1940s included Mr and Mrs Winston Churchill,  Mr Harold and Lady Dorothy Macmillan, the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII,  the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.  The present Queen stayed at Wynyard Hall when she was Princess Elizabeth in 1947.

In the 1920s rumours emerged that Londonderry’s wife had had an affair with the Irish nationalist Michael Collins, and the Labour Leader, and sometimes Prime Minister,  Ramsay MacDonald seems to have been a touch besotted about her, grovelingly  describing himself  as her “attendant ghillie”.  He could have offered his services when the German National Socialist Foreign Minister Herr Ribbentrop stayed at Wynyard Hall, an honoured guest of Lord Londonderry, attending a shooting party in November, 1936.

Because of his sympathy with the cause of German National Socialism, and its leader Adolf Hitler, the 7th Lord Londonderry was  nicknamed by some fellow aristocrats as the “Londonderry Herr”.  But his sympathies were not out of place amongst a few other members of the British aristocracy.  American journalist William L. Shirer (The Rise of the Third Reich), based at the time in Berlin, in his diary of 7 March 1936 lumped him with the Astors, Lord Lothian and Lord Rothermere (1),  and King Edward VII had been sympathetically interested in the achievements of Herr Hitler’s regime.   On 25 February, 1936, a month before, Shirer had written,  “Learn that Lord Londonderry was here around the first of the month, saw Hitler, Göring, and most of the others.  He is an all-out pro-Nazi.  Fear he has not been up to any good.”  Londonderry was for peace, and appeasement with the National Socialists.  His influence within the Conservative Government of the time was no more significant than other “appeasers”.

The 7th Lord Londonderry died in a gliding accident on 10 February, 1949, nine months before Len started her teacher training at Wynyard Hall.  The Lord in occasional residence when she was there was his successor, the 8th Lord Londonderry.  An alcoholic, he died of liver failure at the age of 52 in 1955.  His son sold  Wynyard Hall in 1987 to the property developer and  later chair of Newcastle United football club, John Hall.

Wynyard Hall  now trades as a Country House Hotel.


Main sources:  Berlin Diary 1934 – 1941, William L. Shirer, 1941; Marquis of Londonderry Obituary, Daily Telegraph, 20 June, 2012; Making Friends With Hitler, Ian Kershaw, 2004.

1.  Lord Rothermere with his brother Harold owned the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, and in Scotland the Daily Record and the Sunday Mail.


Wynyard Hall Teachers Training College and the Emergency Training Scheme

 As has been footnoted before:  “Towards the end of the last war, it became apparent that the schools of this country faced a crisis unparalleled in the history of the British education system. The reason for this were the war casualties… the greatly diminished number of teachers trained during the war, and the huge task of embodying in actual achievement the reforms of the Education Act, 1944.” – from Into the Breach: The Emergency Training Scheme for Teachers, London, Turnstile, 1949.

One of the reforms of the 1944 Education Act was raising the minimum school leaving age from 14 to 15.  It seems that the centres where the Emergency Teacher Training Scheme took place were often not in existing teacher training colleges, but in post-war surplus facilities, such as  the ex-USAAF 231st Station Hospital at Wymondham, Norfolk.  It seems that the Second World War code-breaking Bletchley Park was also used as a women’s ETS college   Most closed after the scheme finished in 1952.    Wynyard Hall continued as a women’s teaching training college until 1956

As far as is known there were no co-education colleges, with men and women tutored in separate colleges, or, as at Wymondham, a separate men’s college and women’s college on the site with different tutors. (Sleeping facilities were the nissen huts.)

There have been suggestions that men who went through the Emergency Training Scheme leap-frogged women teachers of some years experience into Headships.  The attitude that women teachers should work for less money than male equivalents, or that they should be at home as a wife and mother was still prevalent, as has been footnoted in Part Three.  In addition the snide”Old Spinster” appellation aimed at some middle aged woman teachers (a term still heard in the early 1960s) was an unfair and ignorant term.  Ignorant because a younger generation did not realise that women in teaching had, until the early 1940s, to decide between continuing their career as a teacher, or to resign to get married.  The Marriage Bar in the Civil Service also applied in the teaching profession.

One of the rare recollections of the Wynyard Hall Emergency Training Scheme is from Irene Simpson, online at the Craxford Family website.  She had started her teaching training there about ten months before Len arrived at Wynyard Hall.  As they were both involved at different levels and at different times with the college magazine, their paths may have briefly crossed.

“Our principal was Miss Sophie Bertie. She was born in 1896…

It was a live-in college. They had converted various parts of the hall into bedrooms….

The people who were teaching us had been seconded from universities and colleges around the country. There were a number of courses that were taught and I took English. There were also extra courses laid on if anyone was discovered to have a weakness in one area. You also had to undertake a special project….

The training course led to a Teachers Training Certificate and lasted for thirteen months. It was different to today’s courses because we had to start our first teaching practice after six weeks of study. Each attachment lasted for one month, and if you were unable to keep discipline or if the tutors thought that you were unsuitable then you were out.”

The full and informative recollection is here.  (Grateful thanks to Alan Craxford)



List of articles to be brought by students

Identity Card.
Ration Book (Pages which have been deposited with tradesmen must be collected and inserted).
National Insurance Card.
Travelling rug (or eiderdown)
Scrap bag containing odds and ends of material, embroidery cotton, tape, cotton-reels, bits of felt or leather.
Stout cardboard and boxes approx. 4″ x 3″ and approx. 9″ x 6″.
Pots for gum, water etc.  Rags for cleaning.
Hussif (with needles, thread etc.)  Haversack or small Rucksack
Scissors (general, embroidery, cutting out)
Pen, pencil, ruler etc.
Clock and/or watch.  Ashtray.
Napkin Ring and two Table Napkins.
Shoe-cleaning Outfit.  Dusters, Soiled Linen Bag.
Overall, Sweater or Cardigan.
Bedroom Slippers, Overshoes or Wellingtons, Mackintosh.
Cup, Saucer, Plate (small) Teacloth, Tin (for biscuits etc.)
Small teapot, Knife, Fork, Dessert Spoon, Teaspoon.
Two 1 lb  jars or tins with lids for Tea and Sugar.

Dictionary (Oxford, Chambers etc.)

Complete Shakespeare (any edition)

Atlas (Modern School Atlas of Comparative Geography, Philip
or    ”        ”       ”        ”        ”        ”      Foyle
or Advanced Modern School Atlas, Johnston
or Practical Atlas of Modern Geog. Elsa & Dudley Stamp.  Gill
An Anthology of Verse e.g. Come Hither
Book of Verse, Golden Treasury.
Songs of Praise  –  Oxford University Press.
Three or four Children’s Classics e.g.
Grahame – Wind in the Willows, Reluctant Dragon
De Brunhof  Tales of Babar
Maeterlinck  Blue Bird
Hsiung  Lady Precious Stream
Hans Andersen  Fairy Tales
Grimm  Household Tales
Spyri  Heidi
Carroll  Alice in Wonderland
Kingsley  Heroes
Kipling  Just So Stories, Jungle Book
+ Bicycle (with Padlock and Basket or Carrier)
+Gym Shoes (Plimsolls)
+Navy Blue Shorts
+Hockey Stick
+Tennis Racquet
+Musical Instrument e.g. Violin, Recorder etc.
+Pocket Lenses
+Pocket Levels
+Compass (prismatic)
+Small Gardening Tools
+Art Materials
+Books on Toymaking etc.
+Fretsaw & Blade
+Any small Woodwork Tools.
Items marked + should not be purchased specially, but it would be of great advantage if students who possess these articles would bring them to College.


N.B.  Loose-leaf notebooks may be purchased in College.


first envelope from college png

Len’s first letter home, from Wynyard Hall, November, 1949.


This is the first letter in the collection from Len to her parents, since the one sent to them from Salisbury on 30 October.   She is a few weeks  off from being 24.

Len pic for part 3 png smaller-1

8 November, 1949.

Wynyard Hall, Wolviston, Nr. Stockton-on-Tees.

Bedroom – Tuesday morning – 8ish.

Very dearest People,

Here I am, after yesterday’s journey. Met a girl en route – in carriage with whom I got talking and discovered we were both college bound and Wynyard college. She was a cross between Milly and Jean Findlay. A Scot from Turriff near Aberdeen and 28. Apart from the fact that a woman tried to run off with my trunk at Newcastle, the journey was uneventful

On arrival I tea-d at cafe in Stockton with this girl, then returned and our bags were taken from the left luggage to one of the three waiting busses.   As yet haven’t seen the arrival of my trunk – it was left to be brought on to-day.

On arrival at the Hall – there’s a mile and three-tenths drive, we immediately went into tea and cakes, then the principal – Miss Bertie – talked a little and we were taken to our various houses by our house mistresses. We’re five in a room – being the younger ones I s’pose. It’s a lovely room and my corner’s like this:

Dorm crop png

The view is wonderful, as we look out on a stream – we’re first floor at the back and a hill topped by coppery trees. At the moment I’m sitting on a chair as in plan, with my feet up on the window sill – the radiators heating them underneath and the sun’s streaming in on them. It takes about 5 – 10 mins fast walking to get from our room to the main entrance – there’s a positive labyrinth of corridors. It’s like Carbisdale – only bigger, yet from the front it doesn’t look so large.

wynyardfront png_edited-1

Wynyard Hall, front entrance, 1940s.

Hence the fact that though we’re floors lower than the main entrance we’re still first floor. After my room at “No. 7” this is palatial. A girl woke me at 6.45 with her portable radio, but says she won’t do it again – I hope. The radiators are wonderful for drying clothes, tea towels and stockings and also for airing one’s nightdresses before one retires.

The rest of the last night was spent in going up to the main floor and back for food and in going for a short walk. Lord Londonderry’s in residence at the moment.  This morning I wanted to rinse my teapot and rather than come all the way back here, went into a room marked ‘Stillroom’ and asked a white coated woman if I could – “No”, she replied “This is Londonderry’s”!  Not, “The Marquess” or ‘The Master’s” but just “Londonderry’s”!

The girls in my room are Alice, Liverpudlian (half Indian) , Iona, Campbeltonian,(1) Jean, (formerly Knightswood)(2) Whitley Bay and Gay (formerly Vienna) Newcastle.

Your letter with the 10/- I received this morning – thank you no end. I must send the money back to you (£1 enclosed) – £2 owed and more should you buy the black material.  You see last night our grant’s came through. My first instalment’s £20-16-8d – more to come in Jan, she said,, so I’ll have to nurse it carefully. The 10/- might have been a great help otherwise, though I did get £3 from the PO in Stockton yesterday.

Various conflicting reports as to our New Year or rather Christmas holidays. As soon as I hear I’ll let you know. We’re terrifically cut off, but it’s not at all an unpleasant feeling.

I loved being at home and miss it in all its aspects.  Firstly, you two of course, then all the other things, large and small.

Unfortunately one can’t have men here Daddy (by the way, it’s an all girl college) but one can have women friends to stay if there’s an empty bed in ones room – 5/6 b&b and very little for the other meals. So I hope you’ll have a sojourn here before the year’s out Mum and I’m here all being well.

To-day we’d morning assembly with prayers and hymns, plus announcements – we’re to write an essay and hand it in to-morrow morning – ‘our experiences’ – so must start on that shortly.

There’s masses of hot water so I’d a lovely hot bath last night, stepped into my warmed nightdress and into a warm bed for a good sleep – 10 pm onwards.

Your letter – talking of leisurely breakfasts etc, makes me really homesick.

What would I like in parcel – washed pants, etc (those that were ‘in sock’) bra from bed, mac (yes, left it behind) and pen from Daddy with instructions on how to re-fill – please register parcel. (3)    Will phone sunday night all being well. My number’s Wolviston 269, ask for Miss Bryers of Mount Stewart House. (4)

All love from Teeside. xxxx


1.  Campbeltown, Kintyre, Scotland.

2.  Knightswood is a few miles from the family home in Yoker.

3.  ‘How to refill’.  Dad’s factory made refillable biro seems a curious concept.  As will be seen from reproduction of some future letters, the ink was certainly ball pen ink: greasy and smudgeable.

4.  Mount Stewart was the name of the Londonderrys’ Northern Ireland house.  It seems as if the names of the Houses that the college women are divided up in borrow from Lord Londonderry’s properties.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-111 November, 1949.

Wynyard Hall, Wolviston, Billingham, Co. Durham.
(Note address)   Friday, 4pm.

Dearest People Always With Me,

Your number 66 with its two enclosures came in to-day. Firstly let me say thanks for it and everything else and secondly that this letter will be immensely disjointed as I’m writing it in our dorm as it’s at least ¼ mile to the library and quietness and to the dining hall and everything else.


You see what I mean about disjointedness, for it’s now about noon on Saturday and we’ve to lunch, bath, catch taxi to bus stop and embus by 1.20 – it’s a great life if you don’t weaken.

We’ve had intelligence tests, English and arithmetic dittoes, walks with maps, gardening – making a compost heap and an (one day’s notice) impromptu concert given on Thursday night. Our house did a skit on 10 green bottles in the form of 10 green students and a Czech dance. All this plus being 5 in a room and the ¼mile walk thrown in every half hour or so is exhausting and doesn’t leave time to think, let alone act on other things.

Your 67 came in this morning with cash for last ½ week’s work from Civil Service.

It’s been and is warm here – so sorry to hear it’s cold with you. The journey down was very lovely – I never knew it was like that.  Daddy, you could come too, Mum could stay with me in coll. for a night or two then you could both stay nearbye – it is a super place, just wish I’d a room to myself, but it’s a case of having to get acclimatised.  Yes, ours are little low radiators and one can sit on them and warm ones bot, sit on the window sill too, for that matter, for it also is low. My trunk came all right and I’m fairly well organised, much, much better than I was at “No.7”.

Miss Bertie – principal and vice president NUT told one of the girls she wants a Burns supper, so must offer to contribute as I love Burns and they like you to be ‘in things’ here.

I’ll wire you 30s. to-day, that’s £1 I owe you in actual cash lent me, + 10s. for odd bits & pieces and taxi fares. Hope to send money for black material soon.- can you manage to get it and me pay later, or is it better for me to send the cash now?

Letters in 66 were from Allan, Was-I-all-right and why-hadn’t-he-heard etc. and from Germany met matron of girls’ home in N.I. (1)

Stockton GPO

Sorry for the mess, but the rain got at this letter on the way to Stockton – it’s now 2.25 and I’ve sent off your money – just hope it gets you, leaving you time to go into town and cash it before the GPO closes.

len rain stained letter from college png

Yes please white silk slip the same length as the other. Actually I left the blue suede shoes to be re-heeled for myself as I thought you didn’t like wearing court shoes. However, if you can wear ‘em, I’d be more than pleased for you to have ‘em as they’re very loose – much too loose on my feet and I only wear ‘em in the ‘waste not, want not’ spirit: I plan to send up the shoes for mending at the Co-op to you, then they can be ready for me to take back after Hogmanay. Haven’t any brown paper just now but hope to send ‘em to you after I receive parcels from you and Val from which I can get paper.

Thanks for posting my letters.

I’ve changed my mind about a portable typewriter and now – unless you’ve got something already – would like a watch at some birthday or Christmas – you see I really need one at Wynyard as we so definitely work by the clock and even my alarm’s gone a bit funny with it’s last bit of travelling. (2)   Otherwise, sometime I’d like a smallish cheap man’s watch. I know the kind I really want, real gold case and four Roman figures in gold on black – other figures gold dots, but as they cost at least £30 in Egypt, they’d cost the earth here with 100% purchase tax, so I’ll just hope to get one like that someday and whilst waiting want something serviceable at the other end of the scale.

The Christmas holidays are to be 22nd December to 4th January pretty definitely. Now have you any plans for Christmas?  Would you like to come to England?, for there’s a Holiday Fellowship Association where one receives £2 or more for a week’s work and one’s keep and one works in lovely surroundings. What d’you think?  In Scotland everyone works at Christmas and nothing happens, or d’you think those 6 days quietness before Joan arrives are necessary? Write and tell me what you think please. (3)

There’s lots more to say I know, but at the moment, my mind’s gone blank. Writing again shortly. All love from ‘the ‘all’.

Len. xxxxx


1.  N.I.  Northern Ireland.

2.  This alarm clock will be the American one she bought in Cairo in 1947.

3.  Joan:  Joan Brandley.  As we know, Len has been sending out invitations to several friends for a big gathering at Coldingham Avenue at Hogmanay.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-115 November, 1949

Wynyard Hall Training College, Wolviston, Billingham, Co.Durham. Telephone: Wolviston 269

Tuesday Evening in our room.

Dearest Own Loved Ones,

Your 68 came in by the 4 p.m. post this afternoon, but I’m afraid this letter won’t be posted till to-morrow morning, as there’s no collection till then, unlike Salisbury where one could get it collected from the Sorting Office till at least midnight. As always it was lovely to hear from you,  but dreadful to hear you weren’t well – I can’t help worrying, even though you say “don’t”. See you’re really keen on my not worrying so will attempt not to.

College headed letter paper from Len png

Yes, I found it a horrid line on Sunday night – hope it’s not like that again. If the watch could be repaired it would be a blessing, but from what I hear, it’ll have to be taken in soon if it’s to be ready by New Year.

About ye black suit. Please don’t buy a wee bit or a remnant for the back of the waistcoat. I’d like it all made up from the same stuff. That black gaberdine in Lewis’s was good, or if you think of something else that’s better, get that. Please get it though, as I should hate then to get sold out of winter materials ‘fore one got anything. D’you want the money first?  If so, say so and I’ll send you some insh’Allah. Then you can keep the material till I come. Hope to hitch straight north as soon as we break up on the 22nd.  If I’m with you, all being well from then until 3rd Jan, it might give you a chance to get the jacket finished.

Burns’ suppers are in Jan, so I’ve plenty of time to think about it.

Have you yet written asking Ernst and his fiancee (or wife) for Hogmanay, or have you thought better of it? (1)

Breakfast is at 8.15 second sitting (which we’re on at the moment, we change settings every fortnight) and 7.45 first sitting. As I said the girl in my room had on her portable radio which awoke me a few times, but it hasn’t been so bad lately. This morning (now Wednesday) we got up earlier as we’d to get clean linen from the linen room.  1 pillow slip, 1 towel, 1 sheet for most people, but no slip for me as I prefer to sleep without a pillow, as you know.  Lunch is at 12.45 or 1.15, and supper 5.45 or 6.15. Apart from these cooked meals (yes, thank goodness, breakfast’s cooked and two courses), there’s morning tea with a bun or cake at 10.50 and afternoon tea without anything to eat, then at 9, we make our own tea with electric kettle in each house and tea given us. There’s also a tray for each house and on it is bread and buns or biscuits – quite good really. We’d roast beef, Yorkshire pud. and greens on Sunday and Tuesday – not bad going.

Were you thinking of indulging in any of the liquor mentioned in the advertisement now returned to you. How would they pack it?  I reminded Val to nag this old Lt.Col about the bottle of Drambuie when I wrote her.

Must tell you, that one of the Scots in my room heard that after one had done one’s two probationary years of teaching in England, one can teach in Scotland, so hope eventually to be really and truly back with you.

The encl. letter was from Betty Baxter who’s expecting her two ops. shortly – just hope she gets through them all right – she’s really a brick the way she takes it. (2)

At the moment I’m listening to a compulsory recital. Never known anything as hectic as being here. Have knife etc. with me so I don’t have long trek back, as I’ve some typing to do for the Library Committee before lunch. The Secy. of the L. Cmtee Inez and I have palled up and hope to go on a hosteling w/e in the vicinity ‘fore Hogmanay. We’re given 2 free w/es ‘fore end of term, but for one, I hope to have a quiet time here and hain my ackers.(3)

Hope so much your cold and tummy are better. Take care of yourselves. All love from the ‘all

Len xxxxx

1.  Ernst and his fiancee had married on 8 October, 1949, five weeks before Len wrote this letter.

2.  This letter has not survived in this collection.

3.  Hain – Scots.  ‘Save, or hoard’.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-119 November, 1949.

Wynyard Hall.

My room, Saturday afternoon.

Hail Dearest Cupboard Makers,

Up to your 69 received and the parcel – it was a wonderful one – came in yesterday. As you can see I’m using the pen.  The mac’s proved invaluable already in the wet fog. Last night and to-day I wore it with my little stocking hat. Yes, we were rash, walked about 9 miles all in yesterday. About 3 in the morning with Olive and at night 3 to Wolviston and 3 back.  We had a shandy and fish and chips. To-day I did my business in Stockton –  sent registered parcel to you, collected film and put in photos for extra copies.  I also got a new bulb and battery for the wee torch, so it’s now going well. We were rash and had ham and tomatoes and cake and coffee in Stockton. The only solution to not spending money is to stay in coll. all the time. However we have to do a hot plate duty – dishing out the food – for a day every so often. Somebody’s done mine as it fell the day I wanted to go to Stockton to see Allan. I was going to do theirs but now I’m to do Inez’s next Sat. and she’ll do theirs. This will enable her to be free for our proposed w/e at a hostel in Yorkshire and stop me going into Stockton next Saturday and spending cash. Olive and I hitched and bussed tremendously quickly both going and coming ½ hour from bedroom door to bank and about the same amount of time coming back.

Thank you so much for everything else in the parcel.  As usual it was so evidently packed with loving care and you may rest assured I really appreciated it all. Oh and I knocked back all the sweets in the library yesterday afternoon.

In the letter from the MoS, they’ve agreed to grant me an extra day’s FSA  (1) – about 16/- I think but it’s all grist for the mill!  I meant the MO (2) to arrive in time for you to cash it on the Saturday, but if it’s being a little late didn’t leave you short, that’s O.K.

Lens ist biro letter png

“As you can see I’m using the pen”   This is the biro pen made by Dad.

Haven’t had a word from Allan since I saw him last Sat, so I wouldn’t worry about him being all hearts and flowers. Thanks for the glove. I’ll manage O.K. about shoes, the boots are too good. The pants are a joy.

Since coming back I’ve done my washing – mostly in Stergene – it’s wonderful – the dirt absolutely runs out.

Yes, do tell all the people where I am and that I haven’t been so happily busy for years. Pants not finished yet but will endeavour to do them this w/e or send off pattern on Monday. Definitely think the new place for the sideboard would be better for ye planned festivities. Do NOT go all out at it – please.

Longer letter Monday. All love from ‘all.

Len. xxxxxx


1.  FSA  Foreign Service Allowance, from when she was in Egypt.

2.  MO:  Money Order.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-121 November, 1949.

Pre-Tea at the ‘All. Monday.

People I love so Well,

This place is hectic as this week we’re an ‘early shift’ for meals and one seems to be running from this to that all the time and trying to get all mail in by 4 p.m. is hectic – how I miss Salisbury’s midnight collection, but at least I know this should get you by the next day.

You’ll be pleased to learn that my name was on the notice board (27 names out of 110-120 students) for commendation on the recent English paper we did.

Last night’s call was good, wasn’t it?  Don’t know if my barrage puts you off for sometimes you sound slightly bewildered.

Honestly, I do hope to help and really do complete jobs for you as the festive season comes up, but please can we do something gay or silly or entertaining on the 25th?  I’ll write and buck Joan up – am writing or have written to others saying to write me with confirmation of 30th as date of arrival.  Your voice sounded O.K. last night Mummy – hope you feel as good as you sounded. How’s your tummy, Daddy?  Hope it’s behaving well. Look after each other for your own sakes and for me.

We’re divided into ‘houses’ – don’t tell anyone, but we believe we’re in the servants quarters – shall I say Head Housekeeper’s room?  There’s a wonderful story of haunting and masses of ramifications but I’d like to save it for telling all being well.

Inez is English – must ask if she’s got some foreign blood somewhere.

If you can make waistcoat and skirt it would be wonderful, or rather, if you could cut them out and instruct me, or would you rather sew and let me really go to it on household tasks. Please get material enough for back of w/coat, skirt and jacket at once. Gaberdine or whatever you think best, but please get it – you know I dislike shopping – especially having looked over blacks already. Shall I send £5 to cover material? If so, please say so in your next letter. Think you’d better have it now rather than be paid at Xmas. Couldn’t bear a bought suit – would rather make it myself. What I actually mean is couldn’t bear parting with £30 – 40 any approach to Mme Bryers couture would call for.

Whilst on cash as I said on grant-app-form £2 per week for people out of term, I hope to give you £5 for Hogmanay. Would it suit you better to have £10 now?

Longing to see you both and loving you a lot.

Your very own,



There is now a five month gap in the correspondence in this collection, so unfortunately we will never know how the Hogmanay party at 26 Coldingham Avenue went, and whether they were any ‘prostrate bodies’ lying around afterwards.  The letters re-start at Easter time, 1950, in Sweden.


Swedish Envelope png

12 April, 1950

Stockholm, Wednesday.

Dearest & Best,

Very worried at having no word from you since a week before leaving England. If there’s anything wrong you won’t have time to contact me here, but do wire the boat – “Suecia” scheduled to arrive Tilbury 7 am. Monday morning.

Have changed my mind about Sweden & feel it’s a place that could get you after sometime. Marie’s still moaning, but admitting it & they were wonderful to me. Bjorn imitates your saying “Mammy’s wee girlie” (and/or cuddles), Mummy. Bob & Bjorn plan to come over this year – I like all the Falun Palmgrens now that I know them, but Lisa’s a bit hard. (1)   Freddie (met in Italy) is taking me to dinner then to Ibsen’s “Brand” to-night, all being well.

Hope everything’s all right, will ‘phone Monday evening – insh ‘Allah.

All love from Sweden to Scotland.
Len. x

p.s. Your 99 just received from Falun – Glad to hear.


1.  Bjorn’s parents were Marie and Robert. Bjorn was born on 26 March, 1934. His elder sister and brothers were Lisa, Robert (called ‘Bob’) and Paul.  Falun is approximately 215 kilometres north west of Stockholm.  Len seems to be meaning Bjorn and his sister and brothers when she talks of the Falun Palmgrens.  We know that in Stockholm Len stayed on a floating youth hostel.  So when she writes ‘Marie’s still moaning’ she may be referring to when she last saw her in Falun, perhaps some days before.  Len arrived by boat at Gothenburg on the west coast and presumably trained to Stockholm and Falun.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-119 April, 1950.
Wynyard Hall, Wolviston, Billingham, Co. Durham.

In bed, 7am. Wednesday

Most Precious People,

Before I forget, could you please post on my ration book as I need it to pass on here. Must now thank you a little less hurriedly for the parcels which arrived before my departure. The re-modelled coat was the envy of all eyes, but I just hadn’t the space to take it with me – keeping it fresh for next winter. The yellow chunky was as young as ever & received favourable comments overseas. The paper hankies were especially useful, especially as much nose blowing is needed going from the central heating to out of doors and vice versa in Sweden.

There’s a shocking noise in my chimney. Haven’t had the fire on for weeks & left a clean empty grate. Before I went away a few twigs had fallen down, but now you’d think I’d set the twigs all ready to receive coal on top. A nest’s been built in the chimney & I’m constantly hearing fluttering of wings and I s’pose this almost human voice just heard was the mother admonishing the little ones. Am almost frightened to look in the hearth – trunk partially hides it – in case a fully grown bird or baby may  have fallen amongst the twigs.

Can’t think what else to tell you about Sweden, just hope to do it verbally when I see you insh’ Allah.

The food was good, but over-rated & they eat very little green stuff. The housing of the population in flats I didn’t like at all. The central heating’s good, but there’s too much of it and one’s apt to feel one’s almost suffocating at times to begin with. They’ve got gorgeous kitchen units of stainless steel sinks, (two) & a draining board all in one, electric cooker and fridge.

Aunt Marie’s really crippled with rheumatism & has to lie down several times a day. She does talk about it a lot, but it’s understandable as the men don’t seem to realise the climate’s killing her & that something positive should be done about it now, before it’s too late & she becomes a permanent invalid as well as having her years of life probably shortened.

Uncle Robert’s short & has a real corporation.  He is however good-tempered & is a wit & does not stand on his dignity.  The boys are clever & unworldly except for the youngest Bjorn, who’s clever and worldly, but sensitive too. Realise he’s apt to be lazy – he’s got to be jollied into doing things.  Bob’s coming over – hope to arrange for him to lecture at coll. – & Bjorn started looking at the list of addresses I gave him (Bob), and asking if he could B & B too. Told him he must be charming and communicative as his shy silence would be construed as “rudeness” – he finished the sentence for me. “Yes” I answered. Got on famously with them all, jitterbugged with Bjorn, country danced with Paul – who’s interested in emigrating to Australia, and laughed a lot with Bob.

Ask me questions, know there’s lots I haven’t told you, but can’t think what it is.

About coming down, Whit Monday’s the 18th June.  Can you come down for the preceding week, arriving on Friday 8th? And stay the week over Whit. Hol? School practice starts on the Tuesday after and there will no chance to see you. This area isn’t as fruitful to a tourist as Salisbury, but has its own good points notwithstanding.

This is the timetable:-
17th April Main Course 9 weeks
19th June Teaching Prac. 4 weeks. (Impossible to see anyone)
17th July Exhibition & Discussions of Teaching Prac 2 days
19th July Vacation till 10th August

For the holiday I want to go to the Continent, would like you two to come too. Now before I get thoroughly embroiled in college work I want to try & find work in France or Italy for the period. Outdoors preferably for girl friend and myself from coll., but thought you’d like to p’raps work in a confectioner’s shop or something similar, or have people coming to you later in the year in exchange for keeping whilst you’re there. When are your holidays Daddy? Write & let me know.

Longing to see you,

All the morning love,

Len. xxx xx
p.s. Re. ration book, be sure to use all rations poss. from book before sending it on.

p.p.s In parcel runner & ashtray from Aunt Marie to you two – rest from me.


Swan Hunter png

Swan Hunter letter, 21 April, 1950.


Front env Len's 85 png

Len pic for part 3 png smaller-123 April, 1950.

Wynyard Hall, Wolviston, Billingham, Co. Durham.

The ‘All. Midday, Sunday.

Dearest Delights,

How are you both? Not phoning tonight in pursuance of economy measure, will keep on every Sunday – hate to feel the pinching of the grant like this, but it’s only for another six months, though I must say I shall hate to leave college.

Len, group Wynyard png

Wynyard Hall students and staff, late 1949/1950. Len is third row from the front, 2nd on left (in blouses).

Len, group Wynyard, CU png copy

Close up of Len from Wynyard Hall college students and staff photo, 1949/1950.

Are you both going to start French? Think about it in view of what I’ve to say later.

Want to go to the Edinburgh festival all three w/es, hitching up and back two w/es and the last one, bussing door to door on coll. scheme. Have invitation to stay with last year’s drama type. See there are late trains to be run to Glasgow, so perhaps I could get home a bit and you could get over for a performance or two. Is there anything you particularly want to see?

Could you please get me another one of those 1/- (wonderful value) pictorial maps of Glasgow, as I want one for St. Mungo and one to illustrate the situation of shipyards visited in my shipyard study. Failing this, another St. Mungo, or rather Glasgow Coat of Arms if possible (1)

Please what about the two circulars, have you sent them? And where are the S.Y.H.A bulletins, I’d like to keep abreast of events, particularly with reference to foreign exchange etc.

Any news of Miss Sansom and her sister’s definite date of arrival. (2)

Had a lovely letter from Joan B., who can’t go to Italy or France this year as her holiday’s at a different time – was a lovely letter though.

People looking in my wardrobe with envy at my gorgeous yellow evening dress and brown coat and say how lucky I am to have someone who can do up and dressmake like that.

With Shirley Easton (3) I’m conducting a very wide campaign to find out about exchange hospitality and work abroad. At your end explore every possibility. It is good of you to be willing to have people back to Glasgow. Might even write to Peter Scott again.

Have received £11.4s. in cheque from Income Tax, and this I’d like to give you, to help you to come across, both if poss., but if not then for you Mum. You can only have it to come across the Channel with me, because I want so much to spend time with you, if you can’t, then I’ll buy a National Defence Bond with £10 of it, so that I can’t touch it. You must have it and must come to the Continent. Shirley Easton and I want to go and would like to work on vineyards and have you two stay at a nearby Pension. If I can’t get work of some kind or other it means hitching about and would make it more difficult for seeing you, but it could be managed for a week even then, probably at the beginning of the holiday. Do hope to find work though, would char or anything to speak French.

One of the other girls parents are coming down from Scotland and she’s having them put up at Durham. It’s 15 miles away, as opposed to Stockton’s 8, but it would be a joy to be on holiday there, for it’s really lovely there and at this time of year well nigh perfect – university atmosphere, narrow main street, castle, cathedral, walks looking down on river and bridges far below and plenty of entertainment and gorgeous pubs too.

Durham cathedrtal pc png

Durham Cathedral, north west.

Durham Bridge pc png

Durham, Elvet Bridge.

That would be if you both couldn’t manage France. Does Daddy have to take his holidays at a specific time?

Spoke to the operator as I did in case you’d hear. Yes, I did feel tired when I ‘phoned as I’d been travelling for such a long time – Saturday embarked and after weak coffee with Lilian hitched right on up after disembarkation. Now feel blithe and gay once more.

The gifts for you I bought in Sweden I left in a box with Lillian, who was going to put brown paper round and despatching by registered post. I said to her “Don’t worry about sending it today, there’s no hurry”, so she may have delayed sending it for a day or two. I couldn’t hang about, hence non-despatch by self.

Am off to see a bee man about a nature study I’m doing. Have wangled Wednesday afternoon off, to go and take photos at a Newcastle shipyard, just hope it doesn’t rain. (4)

Tore out tea coupon, but don’t know where I’ve put it. Tea you’re to thank Mrs. Hemmons for, was in parcel I sent ages ago with sugar and butter – the s & b from me.

Yes, Whit Monday is 29 May, sorry for mistake – can both or one come down? It really is essential to get summer plans in order.

Sky threatening, but taking camera. Haven’t been out since I arrived on Monday – looking forward to fresh air.

All, all love,
Your very own Len. xxxxx

rearenv Len's 85 png

Back of envelope of 23 April, 1949 letter.


1.  St. Mungo is alleged to have preached a sermon containing the words “Lord, let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the Word”.  “Let Glasgow Flourish” and St.Mungo are incorporated into the Glasgow coat of arms.

2.  Miss Sansom was Mum’s B&B lady in Salisbury, August the previous year, 1948.

3.  Shirley, a college friend.

4.  These photos are not in this collection.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-126 April, 1950.

The ‘All.

Wednesday –  Assembly – (outside late) waiting to go in for announcements.

Nearest and dearest people,

No letter from you, so just hope parcel has arrived all right. I’ve some requests, but in meeting them, please send me no more than what I ask for, as I sometimes want to scream when trying to find a place for something in my room. If you’ve any old socks of mine, or a spare little pair of scissors – lost mine on school prac. and though I intend to buy a cutting pair, need a little pair too – don’t do anything about getting socks and scissors if they’re not spare.

Am at the moment waiting avidly to hear the West Dumbarton result – just hope it’s alright.(1)   Also wanted a stiff clothes brush. Have one soft one which is U.S. for most things. Feel one of the old unused hairbrushes we got in Selfridges pre-war would be good Mummy – again, don’t buy if you haven’t got. If you eventually come to despatch a parcel and must put in something extra, let it be small, space or rather lack of it is a terrific bugbear.

Aunt Marie wants a length of Mackay tartan  for a skirt, must see if I can send her some if and when I start earning money again. They told me the Londonderry crest on our blazers is just like the Mackay clan sign – so it is and I’d never noticed.  A Swedish girl and her fiancee are coming across in June and I’d like her to bring a decanter over – giving her the cash for it in sterling here. I adore cut glass – they cost about £3 and are really works of art.

Gave our add. at Coldingham to two Australian women, met on the Af Chapman – the Swedish Y.H. ship in Stockholm.   Thought I’d tell you in case they call.

Swdish schoonerpng

The af Chapman, Stockholm,  1940s postcard in Len’s memorabilia.

Has ye parcel arrived yet?

One of the girls tells me her mother has luxuriant growth of hair and keeps it dark – all with Potassium Permanganate. It seems it only costs her 3d., every two years. They found out about it by accident. 3 crystals are used at a time. It darkens the hair and encourages abundant growth – she says it’s phenomenal.

Please, how’s my suit getting on ? I’d like it very much for the Edinburgh festival – or earlier if convenient.

It’s now Thursday and am most surprised at not receiving any mail from you.  Just hope you’re both all right.

About Whit. You will both be coming down, won’t you?  Surely you can get a day off from work Daddy?  It would of course be possible for me to hitch up, but as I couldn’t start till 4 on the Friday I would have to start back early – 7 – 8 on the Monday morning, it would mean I’d only have Saturday and Sunday with you, whereas if you come down (and you haven’t been here yet and I was up home last) you could arrive by 4 on the Friday and we’d have all that time together as you could leave on the Tuesday.  And in that time we could do a great deal of sight-seeing and get the summer hols sorted out – I hope.

Please write soon and tell me what you think, but anyway I’ll be ‘phoning on Sunday. Hope you’re both all right.

April showers of love to you.

Len. xxxxx


1.  West Dumbarton by-election: The Labour candidate beat the  Conservative and Unionist Party candidate by a whisper of 293 votes, out of 40,441 cast.  Labour hung onto the seat in the 1950 General Election by a margin of 613 votes.   Source: Daily Mail Year Book 1951.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-17 May, 1950.

Wynyard Hall, Wolviston, Billingham, Co. Durham.

The ‘All.   My room 11.30 am. Sunday.

Nearest & Dearest,

Has more sugar arrived from Marie? She bought some to send you when I was there.

So thrilled that the London parcel eventually arrived.  So glad you like the tulip egg cups. They had them in blue and green, but felt yellow was right. Yes, it’s the pin of the Swedish youth hostel ship – clever of you to guess. Lillian’s address is 28 Royal Crescent, Kensington, London W.11.

Isn’t it a shocking summer compared with last year. Remember sunny Salisbury & us meeting at Salisbury station in March last year?  I think S. has something.

Will be writing a letter to you Daddy in reply to your ‘home and away’ one shortly. (1)
Visited Cairo people a week yesterday & they were sweet. Drove me all the way back here. They were on their way to Newcastle from Stockton – & came out of their way. We can visit them at Whit if you like, Mum.

Got an afternoon off to go to a shipyard in Newcastle. Hitched up & back in the soaking rain – having tea at Marjorie’s before coming back. After this & many other adventures eventually got my study in. Can’t believe it yet. Now have to start on village survey. Did not include map in shipyard survey, so can use it for St.Mungo & no other needed – thanks.

Vera Summers, whom you’ll probably meet, Mum, came in on Friday & asked me to go out dancing, so off I went. We went to Stockton & I met a one ring MN engineer officer – am meeting him in Wolviston to-night all being well. (2)   Not thrilled, but being closeted with girls all the time makes you enjoy talking to a man.

When I see and hear how some girls behave it makes me realise that it’s directly to you I can trace the cause of my behaving in “an old fashioned way” if you like to call it that, but the best way. Yes, going to Egypt & everything at 19. There must be something funny about the home life of some girls. Thank goodness I’ve got you two.

When has Bjorn’s passage been booked for? Lisa isn’t nutty about the theatre. She’s a bit hard, not awfully pretty, but very fascinating.

No reply from foreign exchange people yet. Must write to more and more.

Have you fixed up your own accommodation at Ayr yet?

I have a ship book, all pictures, perfect for a child. Was going to cut it up for my survey but didn’t. Shall I send it to you, to give Roderick for his birthday in October? (3)

Will expect you on Friday 26th Mum. Think I’d better meet you in Newcastle. Can meet you there any time from 6pm. I presume you’re taking the bus all the way, its route is Glasgow, Carlisle, Newcastle? Then you can return on the 30th – Tuesday. Do book up now! I’ll look after all expenses at this end – you need only spend your return fare to Newcastle.

Must get this in the post & on with some work.
All my love,

Len xxxxx


1.  This letter of Dad’s is not in this collection.

2.  MN:  Merchant Navy.

2.  Roderick, Len’s young cousin, with his parents in Abadan, Iran.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-110 May, 1950

Wynyard Hall, Billingham, Durham.

My sunlit room. Wednesday afternoon.

Own Darlings,

It’s glorious here to-day and I’m battling forward with work. Never saw the MN type on Friday, but enjoyed the borrowed bike ride.

We very rarely get dance invitations – wish they were more frequent, but we’ve been invited to a British Legion do on friday, so it does a little leavening.

Am running an auction sale to raise funds to cover the college mag. Charging 3d. auctioning fee and 25% proceeds to Mag. committee. You should see my poster, complete with white elephant.

For my history thesis I’m going to do Trade Unions insh’ Allah, starting with medieval guilds. D’you remember anything, or can you recommend any books, or even people to whom I could refer from John Parker lecture days Mum. (1)

Produced – with scripts – in a day – a scene from Sean O’ Casey’s “Red Roses For Me” – Drama tutor shook my hand in congratulation – it was all in the drama lesson.

My English is improving – or at least my writing is. We’re roped in for gardening morning, night & noon these days. To-night am being taken to feed the college bees.

School practice has been put forward a week, so that we’ve 10, instead of 3 days here after it finishes.

What’s your news? Longing to see you at N-o-T a fortnight on Friday Mum – still no chance of your coming Daddy? P’raps later you’ll both come all being well.

All love from Tees to Clyde.

Len. xxxxx


(1)  Possibly either a WEA  or Communist Party lecturer in Glasgow.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-114 May, 1950

Wynyard Hall, Billingham, Durham.

Dull Sunday, Brightened with Thoughts of You.

Lights of my heart,

How’s life in Glasgow? Here it’s going along as usual and as usual I’m – like most others – doing dribbles of work till the night before it’s wanted, then staying up half the night to finish it. S’pose it’s just the way students are made.

Don’t understand about the ‘phone bill – you say the bill is £6.14.7 and the rent is £2.7.2 and that you’ve got the money saved for outside calls. Well, are ‘outside calls’ those made by other people who pay you on the spot?  Is so, are these amounts inc. in the £6.14.7? If so, what is our bill without ‘em, as I don’t want to pay ²/³’s of £6.14.7, if part of it is made up of calls made by people other than us. Please let me know, so that I may take the necessary sum from my little P.O. account. Then I can give it to you at Whit, Mum, or send it earlier if it would help.

Trust that by now you’ve booked up for the 26th Mum. Thinking of what we can do together.

Yesterday went with Miss Robinson our English lit. tutor to Richmond. Picked up Grace Fordyce (last year’s Wynyard, type who’s keen on drama) en route.  We’d a picnic lunch between Darlington and Richmond and on arrival Miss R. insisted on us listening to a talk on the archives of the town. The gathering was that of the Teesdale branch of the International Federation of University Women. If you or any friend of yours goes to or has any connection with a university, never let her join the IFUW, I never knew that blue stockings like that existed – so horsey. Craning necks when there was nothing at which to crane. One had short skirts and knee length white stockings, with a bit of elastic from the knee garter jutting out. The archive talk was jolly good – it was given by the Town Clerk who wore a green corduroy jacket with an enormous mauve pansy in it.

Afterwards Grace and I went over the castle. Richmond’s like Bath, but not so good. Then we tea’d, watched some cricket, met Miss R. and were driven back. She’s a shocking driver. Having spent so much time in lorries driven by men who’ve fallen out of their cradle onto the wheel it irks me no end to shoot backwards and forwards in a car and hear gears grinding. It was a glorious day and most enjoyable.

Friday we went to a British legion dance and I met a man. He wasn’t ordinary – that wouldn’t happen to me to meet and be thrilled by someone with a normal background – at least I wonder if it will. He’s Irish – from Kilkenny, with a degree from Dublin University, is in love with a married woman and is an open cast mining engineer. We talked Irish playwrights to each other, danced and went on talking – he was full of Irish blarney and an exact younger edition of Mr Childs of Porton.  I thought “This is hopeless” and tore myself away from the Irish charm with “Good-bye”.  I was ages in the cloakroom, complimenting myself the while on my virtuous strength in saying farewell and came out to find him waiting. He said couldn’t I ask his pals and himself to a ‘do’ of ours. I havered, but he went blarneying on and I said “O.K.” – he then told me his address verbally, but I said my memory was hopeless, so he grabbed my shoes from me and wrote it on the brown paper in which they were wrapped.

Why do I always meet and like people who need to be saved from someone or something? Course I want to see him and if there’s no dance for ages shall ask if he wants to have tea beside the lake. You needn’t bother to lament, encourage or berate me – this sort of thing just seems to keep on happening to me. However, despite all the ramifications, I’ve felt considerably brighter since Friday, so a little light has been brought in to my Maytime.

Have been doing quite well on going out lately – dancing a week last Friday and the ballet before that, dancing this Friday just past and to Richmond yesterday, with the prospect of “The Beggars Opera” in Durham this coming week. No boy friend means it all has to be paid for unfortunately and I must watch the shekels. (1)

It’s so lovely when I wear my yellow chunky to discover that both pockets are whole and one not half missing as it was before your renovation of it Mrs.B.

You seem very thrilled with your Toni,  Mum. Have you tried the p.p at all?  (2)

The lilac’s lovely and I’ve got it pressed in my Shakespeare besides John O’ Gaunt’s “This England” – etc. speech – seems appropriate.

Can’t get over the bargain of the fire – looking forward to seeing it and getting some heat from it (!) later in the year.   Where will you be going for the interior spring mattress? It would be good if you found one in the same way you found the fire – what a bargain.

You’ll being having hordes of visitors. Just hope you can cope.   Be sure to charge them lots. (3)

Of course my English is improving – I mean look at Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Dostoievsky and the other authors who can really write. That’s the way I’d like to be able to write and it’s not something magical that just happens. Naturally there has to be a certain amount of magic – if you want to call their natural creative gift that, but those people worked darned hard to produce those books. All the time I try to improve my style and as for the matter, that is formed by the kind of person you are and your own personal experiences. When I came home from the M.E. after 3 years of fiffle faffle at cocktail parties and the like, I was searching for words. But now, well all my old argumentative ability is coming back and I use words in speech I didn’t even know in Cairo.  But I do feel simplicity is the keynote.

Paid 6/3 for a pair of cutting out scissors at the Co-op, then had to use them on cutting out pictures and similar for my survey. However, Muriel (next door neighbour) came back from being sick the other day and gave me a German pair I use for my odd jobs, so you see I’ve a cutting and other pair now, so just hold onto yours – but thanks for the thought.

Have loads of letters to write, English theme to do – “the child in C19 novels” – and then gardening – it’s all enjoyable – to a degree and the whole is most pleasant – yes, feel chirpy, only the arrival of the phone bill has shocked me back into ‘phoning every fortnight instead of once a week.

All my love – outside my window is a maple and it with me sends love,

Len. xxxxxx.


1.  Allan, her admirer from the potato picking,  seems to have fallen by the wayside.

2. Toni is a hair product. “p.p” is perhaps permanent perm.

3.  Hordes of visitors.  Mum is possibly letting out the spare room again, as she did at the time of the Glasgow Industrial Exhibition.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-119 May 1950.

The ‘All.

My room, lunchtime. Friday

Nearest and Dearest,

Your 108 in this morning and thrilled with the thought of seeing you Mrs. B – how I wish you were coming Daddy. Ran an auction for magazine funds (it cost £74 last year) on Monday night. It was patronised by students, tutors and domestic staff. Made over 15 guineas and have been congratulated formally from the main hall platform by the principal and Vice-P. as well as having enjoyed many informal congrats – can’t see myself stopping doing things like that to look feminine – need someone like Harris who’s organisation’s better (said she modestly).

If it’s at all possible, could you bring me my 3-piece black and tartan suit in the making Mum – if not the jacket, then the waistcoat and skirt – if you fit ‘em on I can always finish them off myself. Could you also bring shoes put in the Co-op for mending at Christmas? Thanks.

Will give you cash for ‘phone when I see you insh’Allah.

Would you like to go to Marjories’s on arrival in N-o-T – or hate it?  Thought I could pick you up there, rather than you wait at some cafe or restaurant in town till my arrival about 6.  Know your antipathy t’ards visiting, so of it’s “No”, no protests from me.  Thought – it would be more convenient – will ‘phone on Sunday anyway and find out your answer.  It would be grand of course if we got away earlier from coll. on the Friday, but no word of that yet.

They’ve O.K’ed Bob coming to lecture here, must write and find out his dates – do hope he’s booked up and everything.

Have not yet written to the “broth of a bhoy”, but remember, it’s the Ulstermen I don’t like, not those from Eire and he’s from Kilkenny.

Longer letter later and writing you shortly Daddy dear.

All love from me and Wynyard.

Len. xxx


Lizars card to mum, address sidepng_edited-1

Lizars card to Mum png

Mum’s glasses are ready. May 1950. From Len’s memorabilia.


Mum has been down with Len for the Whitsun weekend.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-11 June, 1950

My comparatively Cool Room Friday – 4.30.

My Nearest and Dearest Ones,

To think that the weather’s almost Egyptian leaves me gasping, but I love the heat – what’s it like in Glasgow? You must have had a lovely journey back if everything else was as good as the weather Mum. How are you and how was Newcastle? How are you Daddy having held the well populated castle for a time?

News from here? Well, we’ve been issued with a pot of lemon curd and are sunbathing in the briefest of swimsuits and even these we’re pulling down. To-day half the college has been off to the Farne Islands, but those of us who’ve remained have been sadly disillusioned to find far less free periods than we imagined, but it’s been a lovely day.

We all had appointments to get last school prac’s notes back and Miss Gunson was quite complimentary to me – had criticisms of course, but was more cheering than otherwise.

I’ve had only one letter since your departure – from one of the little girls I taught last time. We’re now full of this school prac. of course, but I’m hoping to work hard and enjoy it. Have been gardening, typing, reading and sewing like mad. The garden path is almost done and I’ve done some planting. Have finished two novels and the blouse only needs a tiny bit of sewing under one arm – the tiers came out well – it looks good and fits me beautifully. Have a garden appointment for 7.30 to-morrow morning with one of the girls.

Longing for news of you – take care of yourselves.

Love from the Sunny Tees.

Len. xxxxx


Because of Len’s letter numbering we know that there are now two of her letters missing.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-18 June, 1950.

Wynyard Hall, Wolviston, Billingham, Co. Durham.

Thursday.   Heatwave Broken.

Dearest Person,

Received your letter on my return from Durham last night and was so upset to think that you should have left here so well and then a thing like that happening. You say don’t worry, well I’m glad to say the School Practice flap will keep my mind off you a little, but when its not on that I won’t worry, but will think of you all the time. The important thing is not to put any more bits of you out of position, so on no account get up to answer the door or the telephone and as for the lavatory, incorporate as much of it as possible in your room. (1)

My back hasn’t bothered me at all since your rubbing and massage. Hope you feel full of confidence with regard to Dr. Gilston – if however you have any doubts don’t worry about etiquette in changing to someone else. I think you would be better in hospital. Know how you’ll hate leaving 26, but think how expert the people in hosps. are, confronted as they are all the time by many cases of each type of ailment. I wish so I was in Scotland, be sure to send for me if you want me up there. Isn’t it a blessing that Mrs.W’s in the house? (2)   As always Daddy will shine in this sort of circumstance.

The college dance date is fixed for 14th July now. Thank you for Noel’s address.

To-day have been busy preparing for school prac – this evening we’ve an English lecture.

Into the mail with this now, so take care of yourself and get well soon.

Beside you in thought and loving you always,

Len. xxxxx


1.  It sounds as if Mum has pulled her back.

2.  Mrs W.  Mum may have taken on a  lodger, as she and Harry did with Jack, the Norwegian.


school curriculum, with letter no.132 png

Len pic for part 3 png smaller-1June, 1950.

Wynyard Hall Training College, Wolviston, Billingham, Co.Durham.

Dear Mr. Horricks,

Thank you very much for all the help you gave me when I visited the school.

As requested I append my forecast of what I propose to teach in English for the coming week all being well.

June 12th  Monday  Static  Observe.

June 13th  Tuesday  Day 6  3A  (Double Period)  Poetry, “Jack” T.V.Lucas and “The Bailiff’s Daughter of Islington”.  Anon.

June 14th  Wednesday  Day 1  3A  Literature – “The Midnight Folk” by John Masefield or a Kipling or a R.S.Stevenson.

June 15th  Thursday  Day 2  3A  Comprehension work on passage from book in Literaature.

June 16th  Friday  Day 3  2C  Continuation of “The Family from One-End Street”.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-1

12 June, 1950.

Wynyard Hall, Wolviston, Billingham, Co. Durham.

Redcar in the Morning. (1)  Monday.

Dearest Wee One,

Wept all over the ‘phone box on Friday with relief on learning that you had had your ‘op’ and were comfortable – poor Daddy.  It was grand to learn you’d opened the butter or ‘chocolates’ parcel as Daddy thought it.  Hope you get the parcel with dressing gown.

To-day I’m observing all the time and to-morrow teaching – wish me luck.

Think it better if I come up at the end of June – 29th June, a Thursday for a w/e.  You see there’s a school trip and if I can get permission from Miss Brideoake ( coll.) and the headmaster here, it means I can nip off on the Thursday instead of going on the trip on friday in pursuance of the joining -in-all-activities-of-the-school programme or policy. (2)

Hope you’ll be out of the Western then and I’ll be able to ‘do’ for you.  (3)   Want to discuss summer plans, as your busy summer of visitors will be altered now.

Take care of yourself and stay in hosp. as long as you can. If you’re still in when I come up all being well, I’ll persuade them to take me on as a nurse for two days, or at least somehow get more than the normal half hour a day with you. Will write to Daddy during the w/e all being well.  Just send messages via him as writing will tire you. All the love to the best mother from daughter in Yorkshire.

Len. xxxxx


1.  Len is on teaching practice.

2.  Miss Brideoake has replaced Miss Bertie.  It is assumed Miss Bertie has either taken early retirement, or gone to another appointment.

3.  The Western:  the Western Infirmary, near Partick, in Glasgow’s West End.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-115 June, 1950.

Wynyard Hall, Wolviston, Billingham, Co. Durham.

My school – Thursday Afternoon – Unsettled weather. (1)

My own dearest Daddy,

At the moment I’m sitting listening to a ghastly man telling the children about St. Francis – in what I think is a most unpleasant way. However, I’m enjoying this school practice, by and large.

Thank you for your letter. Heard from Mummy too yesterday – it’s wonderful to realise that the operation has been successful so far.

Letter to Daddy, 1950 png

I hope to come on Thursday 29th June – Miss Brideoake has given me permission, provided I hand in all my lessons fully prepared for the following week beforehand.

About the summer holiday – I must at least try to come up for a few days. Think though it’s more important that you have no visitors.  Am worried about Bjorn’s arrival.  The Palmgren’s won’t know Mummy’s been ill.  Bjorn sails by the ‘Kangen’ – or some name like that to-morrow (Saturday) and arrives on Monday.  Am enclosing Aunt Marie’s letter so that you’ll know the position.  You can’t have him if Mummy’s just returned from the Western and only if he does for himself completely I s’pose if she’s still in.  Thought I’d warn you as you may have forgotten about it in the stress of the moment. You have been wonderful to Mummy, Daddy – yours is a really great love

What happened about my shoes please? Mummy was supposed to bring them down, but didn’t as they were too much for her to carry. They’ve been in the Co-op since Christmas and I’m rather worried about them. If you can possibly have them sent down – Mummy said Mrs Wakeling (2)) was getting them out of the Co-op – I’d appreciate it, as there are some amongst them I’d like to wear to look smart on school prac.

I’ll ‘phone on Sunday about 5.30 all being well.  Tore up Aunt Marie’s letter by mistake – hope you can decipher it. Surrounded by people talking, so had better wait till Sunday to talk more to you.

All love and take care of yourself.

Your very own, Len. xxxxx.


1.  The postmark on the envelope that she sent her Dad, the following day, is Redcar.

2.  This is the Mrs “W”, who seems to be a lodger at 26 Coldingham Avenue.


Len’s next letter to her Mum is address to Mrs H.Bryers, Ward 13, Western Infirmary, Glasgow, Scotland.


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-117 June, 1950.

Wynyard Hall, Wolviston, Billingham, Co. Durham.

Happy first week of School prac. finished.  Saturday.


Just had lunch with Shirley in Stockton. Off shopping to Middlesbrough for s.prac. stuff.  Enc. neg of Whitby harbour for you.

whitby photo png

Whitby, 1950. Photo printed from the negative that Len sent Mum.

Awful about Uncle Bill. Wish I could help wee Marie Rose especially.  Poor Dad – he’s holding the rudder magnificently.  It must have hit our finances – time off work for him and the fare – still maybe I can help sometime.

Looking forward so, so much to seeing you a week on Thursday night, insh’Allah.

Thanks for your letter – haven’t it by me at the moment, but will write shortly, all being well.

Love you so much – stay in hosp. – and bed as long as poss. like a good Mummy, but get well and strong.  Working very hard, but enjoying it.

Len. xxxxx


Len pic for part 3 png smaller-119 June, 1950.

Wynyard Hall, Wolviston, Billingham, Co. Durham.

The Women’s Staff Room. Monday – lunchtime. (1)

My very dearest Daddy,

May I repeat, I think you’re wonderful. I don’t how you’ve managed to cope – however do take care of yourself – hope you’re feeling O.K.  Do hope I get through college O.K. and manage to get a secretarial or temporary teaching job in Glasgow for two months or so.

Dying to hear the rest of the gen about Aunt Ena.

Heard from Mummy this morning, she says I shouldn’t bother to come up, but I want to, so still hope to see you a week on Thursday.  Wonder if she’ll be out of hosp. then? Feel she should stay in as long as poss., but if she’s out, I could ‘do’ in the house.

I’m enclosing the add. to which Bjorn should go in Edinburgh – they’ll welcome him with open arms to stay there.   Alice is sister of Grace (drama type from last year’s course at coll.) and is engaged to a Dane and loves talking to Scandinavians.  Sent a telegram to Bjorn this morning, but in case he doesn’t get it or goes struggling on to Glasgow, ship him off to Edin. (2)

All love to you.

Len. xxxxx


1.  Len is still doing her teaching practice in Redcar.

2.  Of this trip Bjorn recalled in an email to the author in 2011 “I was back in 1950, this time with my bike, staying in Youth Hostels or with relatives, including of course Dornoch.  I think I spent about two months touring Scotland.  I also saw Len at her college in Durham.”


This carbon copy of a letter, amongst the memorabilia, was typed after her School Practice at Redcar.

school curriculum, with letter no.132png


Enas death envelope png

19 June, 1950.

2, Hilders Road, Western Park, Leicester.

Dear Nellie,

Many thanks for your nice wee letter but more thanks for the use of your nice big husband.

We do hope you are feeling nearly back to your old self again. Whatever you do see and take great care of yourself when you get out. You will require to take it very easy for a long time.

Yes Bill is gone. We do not feel sad. He was so gay how could we feel sad at him getting out of his pain. I went to the hospital with him for treatment at 10 a.m. and he was dead at 11.a.m.

He had

Bill's death, letter png

A Fractured skull (hit by a German rifle)
Mustard Gas in his lungs
One kidney and the other infected
Something wrong with his bladder
Shell in his ankle bone
Duodenal ulcers
Diverticulosis (a bowel complaint)
A slow haemorrhage of the brain
A lot of other fancy names of things I didn’t understand.

Then the pathologist at the Inquest finished up with some other fancy names and when I asked what it was he said “Cancer in the stomach.”

Don’t be sorry for Marie Rose or I. We are gay and happy to know he is out of his pain. Our years of strain are over. Bill was so gay. We must continue to be the same.

We thought it very sporty of Harry to come,  with you in hospital. I said “Nellie would make him come.”

We heard all about Len and hope to see you all when we have our holiday in Scotland soon. So hurry up and get well. Again thanks to Harry for all the help.

Don’t know what more to say. So just send our love.

from Marie Rose and Ena.


This is the end of the  main collection of letters acquired in 2007.  The second batch of letters from 2011 do not significantly take the narrative forward after Ena’s letter to her sister Helen (Nellie) of 19 June 1950.  However, a few letters do survive, after Ena’s letter, into 1951 and extracts will be in the next,  and final chapter of Len: Our Ownest Darling Girl, “What Happened Next


Next       Part Four  Chapter Two:  What Happened Next.

This entry was posted in Britain Austerity 1940s, Feminism, Gender Studies, Letters, Social and Political History, Teachers Emergency Training Scheme 1040s, Womens History and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s