Our school opened on August 12th, 1895. Queen Victoria was reigning and the British Empire was close to its peak. Lincoln’s water supply was sometimes green-brown in colour and in Ireland, Bridgett Driscoll had the misfortune to be the first ever person to be run over and killed by the new invention: the motor car. The divorce rate stood at 1 in 250.
There was an infant school here alongside a junior school for boys. Our school logs record many children arriving in school dirty; one poor boy was even sent home, due to his “dirtiness and smell.”
James Bell of 150 Burton Road is the first recorded pupil. He went on to be a bright scholar and had a successful career selling coal. The school had only two rooms. Classes were taught by the head teacher, Mr James (nicknamed “Cocky”) Davy and two teenaged monitors: William Pagdin and Tom Wainer. Mr Davy checked each boy’s boots every morning as they arrived for school.
Our logs tell of the ill health of many of the pupils; mumps, ringworm and measles were all common, although none died in the typhoid epidemic of 1905, which killed over 130 local people.
Westgate became a Council-run school in 1910 and a year later the Water Tower was completed and has looked down on our school ever since.
The Great War of 1914-1918 saw many of our ex-pupils leave to fight against the evil of the Kaiser’s Germany.
Former Westgate boys Arthur Brewitt-who had been a naughty boy at our school but had risen to the rank of sergeant- Alf Mason and John Summerfield all died at Gallipoli in August 1915, exactly twenty years after our school opened. Ex-pupils Cecil Burley, Harold Hibbs and William Woodcock died at the first day of the 1st Battle of the Somme, 1.7.1916.
In school, pupils raised money for “A Christmas Dinner Collection For Blinded Soldiers”, a fund to buy a warship and for the care of “War-Worn Horses.”
Mr Davy died in 1916 and pupils were encouraged to make him a pattern for their own lives.
The Great War ended in 1918, but the Covid-like Spanish Flu epidemic of 1919 took the life of our pupil, Wallace Wilkinson. There were times of joy and the pupils welcomed home the Lincolnshire Regiment and had a grand “Peace Tea.” Our first twenty five years had been eventful!
We often hear about wars in places around the world, but at the time when 80 year olds were babies, there was the biggest war there has ever been. This was the Second World War. The war began on September 3rd 1939 and lasted for nearly 6 whole years, ending in 1945. It was between the Allies: Britain with our friends and allies such as India, parts of Africa and later on Russia and the U.S.A, against the German-Nazis and their friends which were called The Axis Powers: Italy, Japan and others.
It was the first war where more civilians, (that means ordinary people like us), were killed than the soldiers, sailors and airmen who fight and die in wars. The reason so many ordinary people died was mainly because both sides in the war sent planes to drop bombs on the enemy’s
factories, towns and cities. The bomber planes often missed their targets. Lincoln Hospital was hit, an empty Lincoln school was completely destroyed; one bomb that blew up in Lincoln killed an old man and a 3 day-old puppy. One crashing plane, whose pilot had parachuted out to safety, had smashed into a house and killed a teacher. Was anyone safe?
Our story begins after one year of the war. Our side was losing. The Axis Powers had conquered most of Europe. Some people thought the enemy soldiers were going to come into our country at any moment!
Their plan was simple: as soon as their air force had beaten ours, they would invade!
September, 28th 1940: 3.30 a.m. It was a dark, early morning. Pilot Dudley Snooke and his crew of 3 men were flying a Hampden bomber plane back to base. It was cloudy and they were not sure where they were. Worse still, there was something wrong with the plane! Dudley knew it was going to crash! The others escaped by jumping out of the plane and opening their parachutes, but Dudley stayed at the controls. What should he do?
The plane flew up the hill towards Burton Road. If he escaped from the crashing plane it could crash anywhere and more people would surely be killed! What should he do? What would you have done?
Many people believe Dudley stayed at the controls of his plane until it was aimed away from the houses. At the last moment he jumped out of the crashing plane, but it was too late, and his parachute could not save him. Poor Dudley tumbled towards the fence and trees. He fell with a terrible thud onto the ground. Poor Dudley was dead.
The plane burst into flames. The firemen rushed to the scene. The plane’s bullets were exploding in the flames. The firemen bravely hosed the fire-knowing that the plane’s bombs could explode at any moment!
At last the fire was out. The plane had crashed onto an empty church and somehow Dudley had saved the lives of the people living near our school.
The next morning Westgate pupil Desmond Kerringham went to look at the crashed plane. How incredible that the plane had avoided the houses and that no one else had been killed! Two bombs onboard had not exploded. As Desmond and his dad looked at the grim wreckage of Dudley’s plane, something caught Desmond’s eye. He knelt down warily to see what it was: a pilot’s cap with the name: D.D. Snooke.