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Henry's adventures after school
School log book
View full size imageSchool log book

At 8 o’clock in the morning, Henry knocks at the house next door, 26 Little Thames Street. His friend Thomas opens the door. Henry and Thomas walk to school together.

When they reach Bridge Street, they stop and look at the traffic. Bridge Street is busy. Horses pull carts and cabs along the street. The road is made of stone setts. The wheels of the carts and cabs are made of wood and metal. As the heavy wheels roll over the stones, they make a loud noise.

Henry and Thomas run across the road. They run in front of the horses. They dodge between the carts and cabs. They run up the lane, and across the recreation ground. They see Walter Theobald, John Skinner and Ernest Coel playing football with a cocoa tin.

White Owl
View full size imageWhite Owl

‘Watcha!’ call Henry and Thomas. Walter and John join them on their way to school. Ernest is 13, and does not go to school any more. He has a job as a newspaper boy. Henry is 11 years old. If he had a job, he could leave school now. Next month he will be 12. Then he can leave school, whether or not he has a job.

The four boys run down Straightsmouth and into Randel Place. The noise of children’s voices from the playground fills the street. The boys run through the brick archway just as the school bell rings.

Mr Pleydell, the headmaster, sees the boys.

‘Rose, Atkins, Theobald, Skinner!’ he shouts. ‘Get in line!’

The children line up, and march into school. Henry sits next to Thomas. The first class is spelling. The teacher gives the class new words to spell. They write the words on slates, with chalk. Henry’s fingers are white from the chalk. The teacher sharpens pencils with a pen knife, and hands out paper and pencils. The children write the words in pencil. The teacher hands round dip pens. The teacher pours ink from a jug into the china inkwell in each desk. The children dip their pens in the ink, and write some more. Henry's fingers are blue with ink.

Then the class says the times tables. They have learnt all the twelve times tables. They say them as loudly as they can. They stamp their feet as they chant. The classroom is full of noise. The children laugh.

Mr Pleydell comes in and tells the teacher off.

‘Your classroom sounds like a zoo!’ he says.

‘But the classroom is so cold,’ thinks the teacher, ‘the pupils must move about or they will get ill.’

Bakers paper bag
View full size image Bakers paper bag

Next, the teacher calls out sums. The children work them out in their heads. There are sums about yards, feet and inches. There are sums about guineas, pounds, shillings, and pence. And sums about tons, stones, pounds and ounces.

In the afternoon, the class has a drawing lesson. Mr Holloway, the art master, puts a stuffed owl on a table. He shows the children how to draw the bird. The children copy the teacher's drawing.

In the afternoon, when school is over, Henry, Thomas, Walter and John wander into London Street. They walk past the railway terminus in Stockwell Street. They turn left into Silver Street. They look at the poster of Harry Champion outside the music hall.

They go through the gates of Greenwich Park. They run up the hill under the trees. They roll down the hill. They do this several times. The grass is wet. Their jackets and trousers get wet too.

Turnpin Lane
View full size imageTurnpin Lane

‘Look what I found!’ calls Walter.

He holds up a penny. The queen on the penny is young, with her hair tied up with a ribbon. The date on the coin is 1860.

‘Let’s get something to eat’

There is a baker’s shop in King William Street. Henry goes inside, in wet clothes and muddy shoes.

‘Can I have four buns for a penny, please?’ he asks.

‘Buns at a farthing each? Good gracious!’ the shop girl says. ‘Buns cost a ha’penny each. Don’t you have tuppence?’

‘I’ve only got a penny. Can’t you give us some stale ones? ’

The girl glares at Henry, but Henry stands his ground.
So she puts four buns in a bag, and takes the penny.

Outside the shop, the boys open the bag. ‘Mmmm, they've got currants in!’ says Thomas.

The boys eat buns walking along the street. They pass the railings of the Seamen’s Hospital. By the river, at the top of Garden Stairs, they meet Ernest.

‘Look down there!’ says Ernest. A sack is floating past the pier.

‘Bet it's peanuts!’ says John. The boys run after the sack as it floats past the band stand. They run down the old stone stairs in front of the Naval College, to the muddy beach. The tide is going out, and the sack floats past them towards Woolwich.

Henry pulls off his jacket and trousers. He slides down the muddy causeway, wades into the river, and swims towards the sack. He swims between the barges moored in the river. Two men on a barge shout at him, but Henry can't hear them. Henry grabs the sack and swims back to the beach. The boys open the sack and share out the peanuts.

On the way home, Henry stops at the top of Billingsgate Street. It is nearly dark now. He goes down the causeway on to the beach. When coal falls into the river from ships and barges, the pieces of coal wash up here. Henry picks up pieces of coal from the beach. When he gets home, his mother will be cross because he is wet and muddy. But then she will see that he has brought home some coal to put on the stove.


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Grammar Glossary

Grammar glossary: what words do

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