Bessy Schiffenbaum's memories of Commercial Street school (she was aged 10 in 1901).

(Courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archive and Jerry White)

Transcript of Bessy Schiffenbaum's interview

"And I remember how we were threatened, if we were naughty children we wouldn't go to the nice new big school...
We passed, you know, from our old school into the new school, and it was a very great thrill. And you know there were no fireplaces, and they explained to us that…in the winter, 'You see these fluttering streamers? You get warm air blown in and it's very healthy for you,' the teacher went on about it; 'And in the summer you'll have cool air blown in…' "

"I was 10 years of age I think in the 5th Standard. I was a young girl. I went from the 3rd to the 5th, I was a good scholar - I was one of those horrible children, you know, really [had to pass an exam to move up a standard]. I went from the 3rd to the 5th and they all hated me, you know. The others who were always top, and when I went from the 3rd to the 5th they hated my guts…

And when I was in the higher classes, in the ex-7th etc., we did Shakespeare, and I rattled off
Julius Caesar, and As You Like It, you know, which I can still do …"