School dinners at Joe's  

Joe's dinners were the highlight of the day. Concrete and pink custard were a welcome respite from the classroom grind.  Here are some of your reminiscences


I ate dinners at S.J.C. for over 11 years. They were served in the school dining hall which was never called a refectory. The first meals I ate were in 1954 when the dining hall was only a few years old. It was on the first floor above the gymnasium built at the same time. The hall was 100 x 30 ft. approx. running north to south. The north end had a stage about 15ft deep with a grand piano sited in the north west corner. The south end was occupied by a large contemporary kitchen.

On the wooden floor were three rows of tables and benches; each row had about 10 tables which were placed transversely towards the outer walls while the middle row ran end to end. The benches each held four diners. The six or so windows on the east and west walls provided ample daylight which reflected on the eggshell blue walls.

In addition to school dinners the hall was used for: music lessons, concerts, school fairs, weekend films for boarders facilitated by the white north wall screen and morning assemblies where occasional beatings and humiliations were handed out by Bro. Carroll the Headmaster to guilty and innocent alike.

Dinner break was from 12.30p.m. to 13.45p.m.To cope with all the school scoffers there were two sittings. These were supervised by a teacher and two prefects. When assembled at the tables the boys were led in Grace before meals, Grace after being left to the individual.
All prayers were addressed to the Crucifix in the south wall above the kitchen partition. The catering was in house.

The head cook was Miss Coakley who was ably assisted by some Blackpool ladies. Miss Coakley was from Ireland and ruled the kitchen with a custard scoop of iron. I discovered this on 22nd November 1963 when as Captain of Chess, I was attempting to sort out some tea for ourselves and our visitors from Arnold School only to find Miss Coakley had locked up the kitchen in sorrow at the assassination that day of J.F.K.

Now I come to the menu:

Main courses :

Monday -----------Cottage pie, mash spuds, gravy, carrots.

Tuesday --------- Beef stew with a piece of white thick bread.

Wednesday ----- Slices of lamb, mash, mint sauce, cabbage.

Thursday--------- Fritter in batter, mash, veg, gravy

Friday- ------------Boiled fish, white sauce, mash, carrots. in 1961/62 this was changed to fish, chips and peas.

The following puddings were served but on no particular day :

jam rolly polly,

spotted dick,

concrete jam tart,

various sponge cakes,


all the above with custard sometimes pink.

rice pudding and semolina with red jam.

Water was available with all dinners.

As Christmas approached we were served a Christmas dinner of pork, crackling, sprouts, roast and mash potato, sausage and gravy followed by Christmas pudding and white sauce.

In the upper six Bro. Mulligan, headmaster, joined some of us for this. The last time I was in the dining hall Bro. Mulligan invited all the upper 6 to tea after we finished A-levels. He provided sandwiches, cakes, chocolate, soft drinks, beer, Guinness, tea and coffee, as he said it would be the last time many of us would meet.



If you have any reminiscences of Old Ma Coakley and her culinary delights, please contact me at:

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