The Rowles children were educated at Langford Road Board School from 1889 onwards. At this time it was only compulsory for children to attend school up until the age of ten, George stayed at school for nine years before leaving at the age of fourteen in order to join the Navy, all to no avail.
Whilst in school George did best at English composition; winning a Bible for first prize in a scripture examination:
“Apparently I was the only one out of three or four hundred children who knew the relevant details of Joshua’s military exploits and could write intelligently about them” (George Rowles p.6).
George points out that even in Board School there were social grades:
“My feeling of inferiority was probably caused by the fact that my boots were of the cheapest kind– hobnailed to make them last longer– and that my clothes were made by my mother, whereas some of the more fortunate boys had boots of a superior make and shop clothes that really fitted in the right places. these conditions made class distinctions. (George Rowles p.6).
George does count himself lucky when he mentions children turning up to school in bare feet and his father having to work with string tied around his boots to keep the sole from falling off. He tells how his father would walk to work in order to save his bus fare. Sacrifices where often made by the parents in order to help their children get through life. George tells a short story about his father walking home from work in dense fog when suddenly he kicked an old boot lying in a park, his father picked up the boot and took it home and was delighted to find out it was a perfect fit.
It is difficult to realise the constant and everyday sacrifices made by parents for their children in Victorian times though of course parents always make sacrifices. when my father was an elderly man, retired on a modest pension, he said: “When I see you enjoying your pipe I often wish I had been able to smoke and have a glass of beer; but if I had my beer and tobacco you wouldn’t have had your boots. (p.11)
Rowles, George. Chaps Among the Caps. Unpublished. Burnett Collection of Working-Class Autobiography, Special Collection, Brunel University Library, 1:600 Burnett http://www1.hays.co.uk/jobs/langford/about.html