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Sylvia Hart


Celebrations at Firshill school, 1935 - 1942

Black and white photograph of the May Queen celebrations, 1938.
May Day celebrations at Firshill Primary School in 1938 © Sylvia Hart

Black and white photograph of Firshill Percussion Band marching, 1936.
Firshill percussion band, 1936 © Picture Sheffield, Sheffield Libraries


Sylvia Hart (nee Salt) was born in 1931 and lived on Firth Park Road. She went to Firshill School because it was considered to be one of the best in the area and enjoyed her school days there. She wrote this story for the website in November 2006.

I attended Firshill school from 1935 to 1942. I loved every minute of my time there! In the infants school I was a member of the percussion band, consisting of drums, triangles, castanets, cymbals and tambourines. Miss Frith, the head teacher accompanied us on the piano. I played the tambourine and sometimes conducted. We played at all the special occasions, the Christmas concert and May Days.

May Day celebrations were held every year with a new queen chosen from three girls in the top class. I was one of the three but chosen as a special attendant rather than the queen. There were always three queens and their captains involved in the ceremony; the retiring queen, the abdicating queen and the new queen. Each queen chose a flower as their name. In 1937 it was Queen Anemone (red, white and blue colours for the coronation) and in 1938 my Queen was Pyrethrum.

On Shrove Tuesday the girls took shuttlecocks and battledores to school and the boys brought whips and tops. They all played in the school yard with these and them we had a half day holiday in the afternoon.

At the Christmas concert we had all the usual carols, dancing displays and recitations. For the finale each year, a girl from the top class came into the hall carrying a baby doll, wrapped in a shawl along with the smallest boy from the babies class. He wore a bowler hat and they both sang, 'Please put a penny in the old man's hat.' This was repeated , getting louder as they progressed into the hall until, at the end, he held out his hat and everyone threw pennies into it. This was for the orphanage at Herries Road.