Hotfooting it back to school, literally

A WOKING schoolboy had an unfortunate incident while not heeding his headmaster’s order not to visit the site of his school’s new playing field.

The boy was Michael Collyer; and ignoring his headmaster he paid for it in a painful way after hot footing it back to school, literally.

SIBLINGS: Michael Collyer and his sisters

Michael grew up in Arnold Road, Maybury in the late 1930s and 40s, and attended the former Monument Hill School. In another of his reminisces for the Peeps page he takes up this story.

“When I was about 11 years old and at the start of a new school year, the headmaster, Mr More, told us the footpath that led to what was to be new playing fields was out of bounds. This was because the area was being cleared of trees that were being burned on site, so it was obviously dangerous.”

It was the end of the school dinner break and Michael and a group of boys had been where they shouldn’t have, to investigate! They didn’t hear the whistle blow calling them back to their classrooms but eventually saw some other boys running back to school.

Michael recalls: “We were at the furthest end of the path and the oldest boy shouted: ‘Come on, mind the fires.’ Being the youngest I lost ground to the others. Trying to catch up I tried to jump over some embers, but I fell short and landed in the cinders.

“We finally got back to our classrooms, but after a few minutes my right ankle felt painful. My teacher, Miss Royal, who we called Granny Royal, came up to me and said something like: ‘What are you up to Collyer? I can smell burning.’

“I got up and she looked at my right ankle and told me to take off my sandal. As I did so a burnt lump of wood fell out. ‘Now remove your sock Collyer and let me see the problem,’ she asked. Then I could see my foot was badly charred.

“Granny Royal said: ‘Up to the hospital you must go and get the burn treated as quickly as possible.’”

After Michael’s ordeal he had a week off school while the burn healed and was instructed to only walk short distances for a month. After a follow-up check-up at the hospital he was told not to play sport for two months – of which he was rather disappointed.

Over the years much has changed in the area where Monument Hill School was. Recently, Michael has taken a walk along Princess and Alpha Roads, both having been extended in the years since he knew them as a boy. The development there now makes it virtually impossible to trace where the footpath he once walked was. The woodland has long gone while today’s New Monument Primary Academy is the local school for the area.

If  you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call me, David Rose, on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. For enquiries and bookings please phone or email him at:

For the full Peep into the Past, get the 23 January edition of the News & Mail

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