Points of Interest
On this page, we publish anecdotes, memories and other items of interest which are brought to our attention. If you have any such material, then please send it to us. We cannot guarantee its inclusion, but if deemed to be suitable, then items will be published on this page
School Magazines in pdf format. Click to open: scroll down to view pages.
Roy Lowe reports
And his essay, ” A Moonlight Scene”.
Memories of Mr. Addis
My cat could do better!!
Who remembers Mr. (Bruiser) Addis? I suspect that he was drafted in following the unexpected death of Tommy Silcock. His nickname and reputation arrived before him when he took up a temporary post teaching mathematics in 1955.
Some of our First Form classmates had known him as their Headmaster at Elwick Road Junior School so we Jesmond Road types were well warned that you didn’t mess with “Bruiser”!
His teaching style was, probably, somewhere near ten on the ten point scale of didacticism. There was no concept of engendering a feel for number theory, sets whatever: the elements of mathematics were simply thumped into you and that was that! Algebra (“this ALGEBRA is MOST important” he would frequently bawl) consisted of a bewildering set of letters and the rules by which they must be manipulated (“WHERE’s my bracket line: I MUST have my bracket line”). Geometry and it’s seemingly endless Euclidean theorems was even more of a mystery to most of us.
Every lesson would begin with a test: the master from the previous lesson having barely left the room, when the door would burst open and in would fly a tornado shouting “Numbers one to ten before I get back” – this being an instruction to prepare a page in your exercise book for the said test. Needless to say, you tried hard – very hard – to get things right in his tests!
The title of this little recollection is one of Bruiser’s favourite exclamations. Others were “You go and ask the first baby in a perambulator in Blakelock Road and it’ll know the answer” (note perambulator – not pram!) or “Ask any puppy dog in the Burn Valley and he’ll have more idea”. You can imagine our (necessarily suppressed) mirth when, in his exasperation with some totally confused urchin, he shouted “You go and ask the first puppy dog in a perambulator and it’ll know the answer”! Happy days!
My contemporaries have mixed feelings about Bruiser and his teaching. For my part, it was all just part of school days: I still remember to include a bracket line when called upon to factorise an algebraic expression and the “thumped in” metric prefixes: milli, centi, deci, deca, hecta, kilo have stayed with me and have meaning and usefulness.
J. E. Addis was my headmaster at Elwick Road. I don’t know what name “J” stood for, but my firm recollection is that “E” stood for Edward and that he was known to his friends as Ted. I am unaware how he came to be nick-named “Bruiser”. So far as I am aware he was not a violent man, unlike his contemporary at Elwick Road, the sadist Ellerington.
I do not remember Bruiser using the cane. I suspect he got his name because of his appearance, build and demeanour. He gave the impression of having been a heavyweight boxer. On top of a large body he had a large head with a large nose and a grey complexion complete with warts. He was not a pretty sight.
He was an Old Boy of our School. We know from the website photo in our rugby gallery that he was in the very successful school team of 1908-9. He is the boy holding the shield. I guess he was a burly forward. Those who remember him will instantly recognise him in that old photo once it is enlarged on the computer screen.
Here are some trivial things I remember about him. He never wore shoes, but large black leather boots which covered his ankles. They might have been worn for surgical reasons but to my childish mind they added to his bruiser image.
He had a habit of twisting an elastic band round his finger or fingers and fiddling with it. He regularly rubbed his nose vigorously between his thumb and forefinger. He would noisily slap the back of one hand into the palm of the other to stress a point, perhaps about the comparative merits of his cat.
When he came to the Grammar School as a temporary maths teacher, he had been retired from Elwick Road for several years, but he still remembered his pupils from the junior school. I recollect him commenting to Terry Arthur that Terry had forgotten what he had learned from the “B & A Sum Book”, an arithmetic text book used at Elwick Road.
Goodbye Elwick Rd. Juniors, 11 Plus passed, a whole new world opening up without Bruiser Addis to haunt it!
Oh the horror on arriving at The Grammar School and meeting up with him and his feline friend once more. Bad enough having to play rugby instead of soccer but having to cower in his maths lessons and avoid the odd crack on the knuckles again was a bitter pill to swallow. He frightened the life out of many of us, a powerfully built man with, I always thought, a look of barely restrained violence about him. I can see him now wheeling his bicycle through the Burn Valley , sporting Rosa Kleb boots and bicycle clips agleam at his ankles.
I believe he represented England at the gentle activity of lawn bowls, I fancy cage fighting would have been more in his line . After one slight demeanor , maybe I breathed without permission , he exclaimed with great scorn ” I was lead to believe that this school contained the cream of the town and what do I find when I get here but all the rogues and vagabonds ( said with great emphasis ) gathered together in the one place .” Maybe his bark was worse than his bite , but only maybe.
Don Kidd’s reminiscences
Forty Years On when afar and asunder Parted are those who are living today,
When we look back and forgetfully wonder What we were like in our work and our play,
Then it may be there will often come o’er you Glimpses of notes and the catch of a song,
How we rejoiced as we struggled and panted Hardly believable forty years on….
Those wonderfully evocative words have constantly recurred in my mind ever since a particular prize giving day. I remember, although I have forgotten the guest’s name that it was the school song for Harrow- the speaker’s alma mater..
Rugby apart, my days at Brinkburn were undistinguished but my memories of those 1949 – 1955 years are pretty full. I had arrived with a particular high flying group ( Lightfoot, Major, Knox Fawcett to name just a few ) from Elwick Road and now wearing specs had an initial period of bullying ( pushed down the bank toward Burn Valley Gardens, occasionally punched etc.) It didn’t last long. I had retaliated.
Particular lessons or rather subjects or perhaps it was the individual masters are prominent reminders of those halcyon days.
Brinkburn was a rugby playing school- none of us, I recall, had ever played the game but turned up one dull Saturday morning to have our first practice under the guidance of ???Mr Philpott??. The oval ball was thrown about a bit, two ‘sides’ formed, a whistle was blown then just a few minutes later we were stopped and Mr P announced that if we wanted to play the game we had better learn the rules by coming to watch the school team and strolled off leaving us in bewilderment. This unorthodox coaching had its success though when WHGS produced a worthy unbeaten team in the 1954-55 era.
Maths has never been a strong subject for me. I never understood it but have nevertheless managed to survive with basic skills. My earliest memory of Brinkburn’s maths was with ‘Tommy’ Silcock whose mesmerising high speed delivery of some incoherent formula, scribbled onto the blackboard with accompanying high speed commentary ( ‘Boy in the corner’ or the equally speedy direct flight of the chalk remnant to a suspected non-concentrator ) to reach the definitive Q E D ). My second most vivid memory of my subject bete noire was wit ‘Max’ Leason whose disfavour I earnd by repeating an answer after instruction not so to do. Sent for the cane, the anticipated addition “Of chalk” never uttered, saw a bewildered D Kidd at the staff room door where surprise followed by “OH dear” followed the admission that there had been no “ Of chalk” added. I failed maths that year gaining 3 out of 300 I believe. I was stopped from studying (?) the subject and despite my father’s request that I could do more RE, my pre 6th form years were maths free.
I was caned only once more and that was as a sixth former where I was only one of a complete Lower Sixth caned following some inexplicable reason by headmaster ‘Nobby’ Houlton. Morning assembly had ended when an announcement was made that Lower Sixth would remain in the hall. On lining up along the corridor that morning apparently someone of our group had turned and muttered or yelled something like “Yah! Nobby Houlton”. Who had done it we were asked? The imagined scenario was too ridiculous for words. Who would have dared even? No-one came forward. We were all caned. I had mentioned the incident at home that evening. Next day on leaving the Sixth Form study adjacent to the Head’s office, my mother dressed in Sunday best was sitting. A brief interview. Some sort of apology. All over but I have never forgotten the incident nor the injustice!
On the subject of punishment – I remember a whole school assemble being called one early November morning. The assembled school then witnessed a public caning of a group who apparently had on Nov.5th been involved in unacceptable behaviour involving fireworks etc outside the house of geography teacher Mr ’Joe’ Burrell.
Science with someone nicknamed ‘Death’ whose lessons took away the magic of a telephone call replacing it with to me, the incomprehensible facts of that magical operation. Another lesson involving light and its passage through glass remains in my mind not for the experiment itself but for the message delivered as if by magic which we were invited to view: DEATH WILL GET YOU!
‘Pug’ Boardman ( French) slapping me across the face for what he interpreted as acting the fool when I was wearing darkened glasses ( to ease a spell of conjunctivitis ). Later that Upper Sixth year, en route to A level exam in French and telling me that “ I hadn’t a chance”. I had my best results in French so perhaps it had been intended as a spur.
Other teachers with particular memories for me were/are:
‘Ducky’ Dowling PE/Games/athletics- he spotted a sudden turn of speed from me a games lessonand encouraged my development in athlectics and rugby.
AD ‘Codger@’Jackson- history
Eric Pidd -Science
Steve King – English, Music, Rugby
Toward the end of our first year the opportunity of developing any latent musical ability was offered – instruments could be hired for practice over the summer holidays so a violin hired for £1 ! On return for the autumn term, papers with strange hieroglyphics were presented to the aspiring musicians. D.Kidd failed the test and the violin was safely removed before further damage to delicate ears could be inflicted.
A few years later and a bugler with a local BB band, I was taught trumpet fingering by Ted Aves – “ Notable additions to the school orchestra this year include D Kidd ( Lower Sixth ) whose vigorous work on the trumpet does much to enliven the hymns every morning “.
Old Boys Prize- South with Scott, The Ascent of Everest two volumes lost somewhere in storage in Mousehole where I had moved as a teacher in nearby Penzance.
Rugby was and remains my favourite sport – the attached images of the 1954-55 fixture list serves as constant reminder of many fellow players :- Dave Parker, Harold Knox, Nev Millions, Aves, Noel Tonkin, Rob Bew, Denny Jesson, Ed Harrison, JB Walmesley, Jack Rowell, W H Allen, Keith Collins, Rob Hall, Keith Barker.
A huge chunk of my school life seem to occupy my memory bank but when seen in cold print it seems quite insignificant. Regretfully I never kept up with my former school mates but would be delighted if any wished to contact me on :
A tribute to the late Harry Walker from Vic Branfoot
Harry Walker: 28 September 1928 – 12 December 2015
An appreciation by Vic Branfoot
A significant link with the Grammar School years at Brinkburn was lost during December 2015 with the passing, after a lengthy period of ill health, of former P.E. and maths teacher Mr Harry ‘Butch’ Walker. He was 87. Harry was not an Old Boy of our School neither did he take a significant interest in the Association. However, such was his influence over numerous Old Boys that it is only right that we pay tribute to him.
Harry was born into a mining family in the Durham village of Thornley and was considered to be ‘the quiet one’ alongside one brother and three sisters. Harry was the elder boy and middle child. Music, and especially sport, were common elements within the Walker family.
It may surprise many Old Boys to learn that Harry was an accomplished pianist at a social level. Typical of his modesty, he would not tell people that he could play. However, at various events he would just sit at the keyboard and entertain the gathered throng, most of those present being taken by surprise. Later in life, Harry learnt to play the guitar.
In 1939, Harry passed his 11+ and proceeded to Wellfield Grammar School where, puzzlingly, he was known as ‘Archie’. Harry was often top in maths and he broke many of the School’s sporting records. Unbeknown to Harry, the girl who was to become his wife, Joan, also attended Wellfield at the same time and they began courting in the Sixth Form. It was only then that Joan discovered that his name was Harry rather than Archie.
Harry excelled at all the sports which he attempted, particularly athletics, rugby and soccer, and, whilst he was in the Sixth Form, he had professional soccer trials. However, Harry decided that he wanted to teach and that he would play rugby union.
National Service intervened after the war and, upon leaving the Sixth Form in 1946, Harry chose the ‘easy’ option of the Royal Marines where he underwent gruelling commando training. Strangely, Harry was by this time still unable to swim. He soon learnt when he was pushed over the side of a warship by a sergeant in The Straits of Gibraltar!
Harry played rugby for the Marines, the Royal Navy and the Combined Services. He was offered a commission but he felt driven to become a P.E. teacher and, in 1948, he proceeded to the leading college for P.E. Students, Loughborough Training College, later to become Loughborough College of Education.
As Harry’s time at Loughborough neared its end in 1951, he had to choose between three offers: to take a maths degree at Manchester University, to play rugby league professionally or to teach P.E. in West Hartlepool. The choice was easy: Joan had completed her nursing training in London and had a job in Sedgefield … so Harry began his teaching career in 1951 at Dyke House Secondary Modern School for Boys.
Several rugby clubs, including two Yorkshire rugby league outfits, had sought Harry’s services whilst he was playing for Loughborough but his decision to teach in West Hartlepool led to him joining Hartlepool Rovers. Durham City and Sunderland courted him but Rovers sent several Committee men to ‘persuade’ him to join them. It will be understood that, at the time, Rovers was one of the strongest sides in the North of England whereas ‘West’ had yet to make a significant impact. It may also be recalled that the strict amateur rules of the 1950s precluded any chance of Harry ever being allowed to play Union again had he played League.
So Rovers it was. Harry played for them for the remainder of his career until his knees gave out around 1964. He became captain of Rovers and he also captained Durham at a time when they were a force to be reckoned with and when the County Championship had major standing in the game. Jack Rowell, who knows a thing or two about such matters, admits that … “When at school I watched Rovers! At that time they had a successful team and Harry Walker was a very fine centre”.
In the first of two ‘incidentally’ interventions, I recall seeing Harry play for Rovers against Sheffield during April 1961. I have the match programme in front of me as I write. Many readers will recognise several names in the Rovers’ team: D. Wrigley, P.H. Larkin, H.J. Walker, J.M. Dee, E. Athey, J. Rowlands, W. Woodward, K.J. Winn, G. Politakis, F. Peverley, S. Hutton, J.K. Green, H. Fraser, T.G.A.H. Peart and K.W. Allen. John Dee (twice, in 1962) and Tony Peart (twice, in 1964) were the last two Rovers to represent England.
Meanwhile, and back to the fifties, after a few years at Dyke House, Harry became Head of P.E. at West Hartlepool Grammar School for Boys, succeeding ‘Ducky’ Dowling in 1957. He remained at Brinkburn until the end of the Grammar School years in 1973 and into the Brinkburn Comprehensive years. He retired as Head of Year in 1987 and he and Joan remained in Hartlepool for the remainder of his life. Harry never regretted the career path which he had chosen.
In his early days of teaching, Harry would rise early and catch the bus to West Hartlepool whereupon he would collect his bike from Wally Clark’s house and then ride to work. Harry’s days were long, often involving taking night classes followed by a late journey home. A move to West Hartlepool seemed essential, especially so when his bicycle developed a fault whereby the pedals would rotate at the same point in their circles of rotation rather than diametrically opposite to each other.
Harry was a much respected teacher – respected by colleagues and pupils – who was considered to be firm but fair. He spotted talent – which he nurtured as a high class coach – but he valued effort in the less-able. In spite of his abilities and achievements, there was no brashness about Harry and he did not fit the larger-than-life image of some P.E. teachers. He had a quiet presence about him which was the very antithesis of the Brian Glover character, the overbearing Mr Sugden, in the 1969 film, Kes. Quiet though he may have been, Harry was aware of ‘all the tricks’ and was wise, for example, to any ruse which pupils tried to use to cut corners during cross-country runs
Even though Harry adopted a largely formal approach to his teaching, that is not to say that he was incapable of taking a relaxed approach on occasion. Many Old Boys will recall his occasional end-of-term lessons comprising games of Tarzan Tiggy when all the ropes and bars, etc., were deployed and everybody had to escape from the nominated Tarzan without touching the gym floor.
I should also like to say from first hand experience that Harry was an extremely effective teacher of maths. Many years after leaving school, I encountered Harry at a teachers’ retirement ‘do’ and I took advantage of Harry being present gently to berate him for giving me only 99% in a Third Form algebra exam. He was quietly amused … but offered no upgrade or apology.
Although Harry was presumably ultimately responsible for all P.E.-related activity at Brinkburn, he was happy for enthusiastic colleagues to take their chosen teams without interference. When needs be, he provided the wherewithal for new equipment. For example, Harry provided the equipment for Malcolm Glenn to introduce hockey to the school … and then allowed him to ‘get on with it’ unhindered
In terms of extracurricular activities, Harry’s greatest loves were organising the town’s annual inter-school athletics competition. At school, he was responsible every year for the Under-15 rugby teams, including the all-conquering team of 1964/65 which was so powerful that the team played only 12 competitive matches that season because so many opponents cried off, seemingly through fear of being hammered.
By way of my second ‘incidentally’, the names of several of the above Under-15 team of 1964/65 will interest a number of Old Boys. Stuart Caswell and Bill Dale played for England Schoolboys at Twickenham and at Cardiff Arms Park. Mike Evans, Ian Hawes, Terry Jones, Tony Kirtley, Ron Todd, Brian Walker and Tony Wilson all played for Durham Schools with Hawes and Todd also playing in the North trial. Bill Dale tells me that this was a multi-talented team without a single ‘star man’. They beat the likes of Dame Allen’s GS and the Northumberland Champions, Gosforth GS, to lay claim to be the best Under-15 side in the North East.
Within school time, for many years Harry organised the Annual Sports Day with meticulous efficiency and which, Malcolm observes, ran like clockwork, as did Harry’s joint supervision, with Malcolm, of School Dinners.
Harry was regularly part of school parties to Carlton Camp and I recall being one of the pupils led by him and other colleagues to scale Helvellyn and, on another occasion, to visit Seefeld in the Austrian Tirol. On the latter trip, several boys misbehaved one evening. The following morning, Harry led the group up a mountainside and, at a suitable point, he gathered us round him in order that he might scold the group for the previous evening’s goings-on. His manner made an impression on me even though I was not one of the miscreants. In fact, Harry made no attempt to identify who were the guilty parties. He spoke quietly but with undoubted authority and everybody knew where they stood without any threats being made or any metaphorical blood being spilt. I never forgot that morning and, years later, when appropriate, I used Harry’s technique when I occasionally had to rebuke groups of senior pupils
Marriage to Joan, in 1952, was long-lasting and happy. It, and two children – Gillian and Geoffrey – didn’t hinder Harry’s blossoming rugby career. Amidst excellent reviews and plaudits, Harry shone for Hartlepool Rovers, Durham County and the North of England. Above all, however, Harry was a caring family man. Son Geoff says, “He was a good Dad – he took us places and did ‘stuff’.” He took his family caravanning and the Lake District was a favourite destination where the family readily tackled various ridges and summits.
Harry had many friends and enjoyed being in company. Geoff says that his Dad was the quiet one sitting in the corner until, after reflection, he would deliver a wry one-liner. Malcolm has told me of the get-togethers which he, geography colleague Roger Simpson and Harry and their ladies enjoyed and of which Harry’s quiet wit was a feature.
Harry’s retirement years were full. Happily, family lived close by and Harry broke all mileage records for buggy-pushing whilst propelling his grandchildren around. Harry and Joan traveled far and wide and were able to pursue more fully their enjoyment of dancing.
Harry’s funeral was held in Stranton Grange Crematorium on Wednesday 23 December 2015. The service was conducted most tastefully and eloquently by Reverend John Lund. Tribute was paid to Harry by his son, Geoff, and by his grandson, Paul, who said that his Grandad was the most genuine and kind man he has known, with “a wicked sense of humour and a quiet dignity”. Paul described some of the family outings which Harry and Joan led and which he described as being idyllic.
Harry’s funeral service was worthy of a teacher whose influence on many pupils was extensive in terms of both quantity and quality. In researching this piece, it has been noteworthy the stress which former colleagues, team mates and pupils have placed on Harry’s quietness, courtesy and good taste and on his understated sense of humour.
The family considered adjourning to West Hartlepool Rugby Club following the service. However, they realised that Harry would have been affronted by this and, instead, the gathering took place at Hartlepool Cricket Club, Park Drive.
During the service, Geoff closed his tribute to his Dad by quoting Harry’s favourite farewell, Gan canny, Harry; Gan canny, Dad.
Yes, indeed: Gan canny, Harry.
We extend our sympathy and condolences to Harry’s widow, Joan, and their family.
It has been a privilege and a great pleasure to me to have become friends during my adult years with a number of my former teachers. I have learnt much about Harry during the preparation of this tribute and it saddens me greatly that Harry did not become one of those friends.
For their help to me in composing the above tribute, I am grateful to Harry’s family and to Messrs Bill Dale, Mike Feather, Malcolm Glenn, Neil Midgley and Fred Peverley and Dr Jack Rowell.
An item from Colin Steele (1955 – 1962)
Bryn Llewellyn and Jim Nixon
The WHGS website was recently brought to my attention by Bob Hart who was in the same year group as Jim Nixon and Graeme Scarratt. Coincidentally, Bob recently stayed with my wife, Anna, and I, in Canberra, Australia. Bob, who relatively recently retired as Professor of Economics at Stirling University, was out visiting one of his daughters in Sydney and we passed some time remembering the school and various teachers.
We both attended Liverpool University after leaving WHGS and stayed in Derby Hall before going on our separate career paths. I went on to University College, London and Oxford University before ending up at the Australian National University in 1976. Along the way I managed to gain a Spanish Knighthood and am now an Emeritus Fellow there.
Bryn Llewellyn was certainly an extremely charismatic sixth former and cricketer. I remember one of the summer games on the lawn outside the main building and he and Peter Gibson threatening to break the library windows with their sixes. Looking back now, it seems strange that we stripped off (tops) in what I would now think from Australia was relatively cold to watch the games. I remember ‘Pop’ Saunders walking past and saying, “he had seen better bodies in Belsen”. Saunders used to spend a lot of the German classes talking about his wartime experiences rather than teaching the class German.
The Saunders lived next door to us in Westbrooke Avenue and I kept in touch with his wife, Madeleine, after she retired to the south of England after his death. He never took kindly to the games of cricket in the drive-way, which I think John Gatenby and Colin Henry participated in, as well as Bryn. He persuaded Bryn to move from history in the junior sixth to German, which may not have been in Bryn’s best interests academically but that’s a galaxy far, far away.
With reference to Australia, I think Dave Arnold is still being in Perth. Jim Brownlee came out to Australia in the late 70s to work for Fujitsu but then went back to Hartlepool initially as I remember. Bob Hart tells me he used to keep in touch with Jim and Rene Berthou at Pools games but he hasn’t been down for quite a while to watch them.
It’s been good to catch up with the memories on the website.
Graeme Scarratt: a tribute to Jim Nixon
Following the publication on the WHGSOB website of the obituary of Jim Nixon, Mike Feather thought many of the members might want to know a bit more about Jim’s ‘life and times’.
Jim came to Hartlepool from Sunderland in 1956, when his father Walter took up a position as Headmaster. Jim attended Elwick Road Junior School, before entering WHGS in 1957. Throughout his time at the school, Jim enjoyed both the academic and sporting challenges that come with a grammar school education. He was successful in both aspects of school life.
After leaving school, he graduated from Sheffield University, and returned to the town to teach English.
Jim was a big part in my life (he was also Best Man at my wedding), as we participated in numerous sports, most notably cricket and rugby. Jim was a fast bowler (his best performance being nine wickets against the old enemy, Grangefield), and a hard hitting batsman. I believe he still has a relic of his success for Durham Schools in the form of a broken bail from a dismissal at Old Trafford! In rugby, Jim was a highly competent scrum half, centre and winger (most unusual to be a valued colleague in three positions) and was a member off the WHRFC Durham Senior Cup winning sides of the early 70s. He also coached school sides, and was never short of an opinion on people’s playing ability. During one match which Jim missed through injury, but which he watched as a spectator, I was berating my colleagues for not chasing my kick. Jim’s voice could be heard by all – “You chase it! You kicked it!”
Like many of our generation, Jim’s life was one of sport and physical activity: hours were spent playing cricket in the back garden, or drive of their house in Hutton Avenue. However, the sight of ball disappearing into the garden of the house opposite obviously remained with Jim, as it became the inspiration for his book “The House over There”. Worth a read, and still available from Amazon, £6:99!
Not that Jim neglected his social life: Friday nights always saw a number of callers at the house en route to Wesley Church Youth Club. Jim’s burgeoning record collection was becoming impressive, and listening to The Searchers’ LP while messing around on the snooker table was a must, while we waited for Jim to get ready as he prepared to set female hearts fluttering! And he didn’t disappoint, appearing in his short white mac, drainpipe trousers and winkle pickers, and sporting an outrageous and magnificent quiff (no hair gel in those days, so Jim made do with soap, or when desperate, lard from the chip pan).
Most people who knew Jim (or Jimmy) did not know that his family called him Gordon. Later on, he also answered to the name of ‘Moonlight’, courtesy of the strange humour of Keith Baggs – “Knock! Knock! – Who’s there? – Jimmy. – Jimmy who? – Jimmy the Moonlight!”
Even after the decades had passed, Jim retained a desire to stay fit and active, jogging regularly, and working out in his multi-gym. His wife Joan described him as a creature of habit, which was borne out by his insistence not only on running the same route, but on keeping a record of his times. And he was very proud that after a 5km run for Park Run, he came first in his age group.
Jim was even more passionate about fell walking, and regularly visited The Lake District, especially Wastwater. And latterly, he had been doing some ‘serious walking’ in the company of Mike Feather, Peter Gibson and others.
He also had an encyclopaedic and eclectic knowledge of music; he knew the names, titles, dates and lyrics of countless songs from the 60s onwards, and he and Rene Berthou often enthused about live music concerts which they had attended. Those members who frequented West RFC in the 70s and 80s will no doubt remember his performances with The Fab Foursome (!) at the mime shows (The Golden Oldies). Was this love of music, I often wonder, fostered in the post- match harmonising in the showers at WHGS? Jim put this knowledge to good use in pub quizzes, where he was the authority on all music questions, though he tended to ‘pass’ when the subject was about maths!
For most of our generation, leisure time was spent outdoors, and Jim was no exception. He was very popular, one of those people in whose company everyone felt at ease, and was one of a group who would engage in kickabouts or tennis matches at Ward Jackson Park, cricket practice in the nets at Park Drive, sunbathing at The Blue Lagoon and so on. However, in addition to physical pursuits, Jim was not averse to a ‘bit of culture’, taking part in school productions of The Mikado and The Ticket of Leave Man.
When the energetic early teens passed, beer, West RFC, followed by dances at The Town Hall, or the late Saturday night dash up to Elwick to The Spotted Cow became a priority.
Later, university life was the focus for Jim’s interests. It was at Sheffield that he and Joan became ‘an item’. Romance continued to blossom, and they were married in 1971: setting up home, working as a teacher, raising a family (and of course, rugby at West) were the priorities.
Jim’s many friends will all have their individual or special memories: Denny Dixon recalls the big smile whenever they met, group bike rides to Durham, Richmond, Barnard Castle etc, and more memorably, a heroic and spectacular save when Jim was keeping goal for Elwick Road school football team.
Dave Arnold, on a recent visit from Oz, recalls that Jim never seemed to change; the full head of hair was the same as it always was, only silver grey; though he does add that the trousers were not as tight as in the 60s!
In the same vein, Peter Burton, though not a close friend of Jim, remembers how, at Carlton Camp, Jim was always seen as ‘the cool dude’ (collar turned up like Elvis), while the rest of the group ran around like kids.
Jim also kept in touch with friends from university, and at their regular reunions, conversations simply resumed from where they had finished years previously.
For the last few years the Grumpy Old Men (Jim, Rene and me) would meet for coffee, and to put the world to rights. The discussions were usually predictable, sometimes scurrilous or controversial, but always amusing as we talked about education, politics, religion (Jim was the oracle, having studied Scripture at A level) rugby, music, and Stubbsy! Monday afternoons will not be the same!
Stan Burnicle’s book: “Strike the Right Note”
Cover pages and dedication to the Association,
“West Hartlepool Grammar School” (from Stan Burnicle’s book)
An interesting item from Raymond Colledge, who left the school in 1947.
Keith Robson’s memories of WHGS
The retirement of Mr. J. Archyll Jones as Headmaster in 1922.
(Mail article in July of that year)
At the Secondary School, yesterday, after the ordinary proceedings associated with the end of term, the school bade farewell to Mr. Archyll Jones, the Headmaster. The chair was taken by the senior boy, H. Prentice, who, with the school captain, H.0. Vowell, voiced the good wishes of the school. Afterwards, a pocket aneroid and a case of pipes, the gifts of the school, were handed to Mr. Jones. In thanking the school, Mr. Jones said he felt it hard to say farewell after the 20 years he, had spent there. He would, however, like to give them the thoughts which had helped him in his own life. No one could go through life without having to do things unpleasant or difficult, and he would urge them always to make a point of doing the disagreeable thing first and getting it out of the way. Then they would find that much of the distaste came from the mere anticipation. Years ago he had learned from Francis Bacon what a sound principle this was. The other thought he would leave with them was that in all his experience he had never known a brilliant boy become a great success in life, and he had never known a hard-working boy to fail in after life.
MERITORIOUS EFFORT BY LOCAL SCHOLARS
Last night the The Town Hall was filled with a large audience, on the occasion of a concert which was given by the boys of the West Hartlepool Secondary School.
The school choir, which numbered about 80 voices, is trained by Mr. R W Henderson and under his conductorship gave splendid evidence of successful voice production, the result of sound and careful voice training. Purity of tone was noteworthy, light and shade were excellent and close and prompt attention to the conductor’ s baton produced splendid attack and an altogether noteworthy achievement. The piano accompaniments by Mr. G Young, B.Sc, were a valuable contribution to the success of the performance.
The programme opened with a cantata, “A tale of the Border – Little Sir Hugh”, which is set to music by Mr. Sydney H. Nicholson, the organist of Westminster Abbey. The story was very successfully interpreted, the contralto solos being effectively rendered by Miss W. Howell Jones, end the soprano solos by three boys -T. Simpson, J. Taylor, and G. Wilson. Mr J. Broxup contributed effectively to the rendering of the story with his flute obligato.
Old English Dances
The cantata was followed by three Old English Dances which were produced after careful training by and under the the direction of Mr F. M. Dowling. A country dance was given with lightness and good precision by six boys and this was followed by a Morris dance. This was followed by another set of six boys, who were equipped with straps of bells and wooden staves.
The last of the set, a sword dance, was given by six boys of the Fifth Form who, at the close of the dance, quickly and skilfully formed their swords into rigid six pointed star.
The third part of the programme was contributed by the choir. It was opened by G. Wilson with a piano solo. Arne’s sonata in A Major, the playing of which at the recent Eistedfod, obtained him the first award. Miss Jones gave an excellent rendering of Bemberg’s Hindoo song “Despair.” A unison song by the choir: “Let’s seek the bower of Robin Hood” afforded a splendid opportunity to note the purity and roundness of tone in a long sustained crescendo note.
Another unison song, “I’ve found my Bonny Babe a Nest” , an Irish folk song, was very sweetly rendered and another from the same source, “Dancing on the green”, a quick and catchy air, was pleasingly given. A three part madrigal and two part songs afforded the audience opportunities for appreciating further evidence of careful training.
This varied program included a duet “The Lamb”, which was nicely sung by boys of the choir.
The study of Music
Before the last part of the programme, the Headmaster, Mr. R. Todd M.A. thanked the audience for their attendance and explained that so far as the financial result of the concert was concerned, it was to defray the cost of material that had been used in the fencing and equipment of the school playing field. But that was not the, only purpose for which the concert had been arranged. Music was now taking a more important part in the curriculum for secondary schools and the intensive study and training necessary for the production of such a programme as the boys were rendering, was obviously of great value to them now and would be of great value to them in the future.
The Headmaster proceeded to express his thanks and keen appreciation of the work done in the training of the choir and the arrangement of the musical programme and in the coaching of the boys for the scenes from Dickens, which formed the latter part of the programme. Mr. Todd was also grateful for the work done in connection with the sports field.
Two scenes from were then given from Dickens. The first presented David Copperfield (Sydney Jolt) at the inn, the stopping place of the coach when he was on his way to school, and the second presented Mr. and Mrs. Squeers (R. Beswick and G. Witten) with Nicholas Nickleby (H. Edmondson) teaching the boys of Dotheboys Hall. Mrs. Squeers created much amusement by her liberal dosing of the boys with treacle and brimstone, and by her gentle admonitions – particularly of Smike (M. Wardell).
A most enjoyable programme closed with the singing of the National Anthem.
( NDM 23/03/1924)
The Scarratt Brothers
There are probably dozens of WHGSOBA members who remember our name, but as we are often confused one with the other, the profiles below might offer some reminders of our time at WHGS, and especially what we did after the age of 18.
Sons of bus driver Len and mental nurse Doreen, one or more of the Scarratt brothers attended the school from 1948 – 1966.
Trev entered the school in 1948, and had the dubious distinction of being caned within ten minutes of entering a classroom! During registration, the Headmaster entered the room to speak to the form teacher, warning the class not to speak. Trev turned to his neighbour and asked ‘Who’s he?’ He was spotted, sent to the Head’s study, and caned!
Although interested in cricket at which he was an able performer with both bat and ball, Trev showed no enthusiasm for rugby. Indeed he chose to spend his weekends pursuing his love of football, for which temerity he was not ‘made a prefect’. He was nevertheless ‘one of the lads’, and the likes of Den Jesson, Jack Rowell, Dave Robinson et al were regular visitors at our house.
On leaving school at 18, Trev opted to do his National Service in the RAF, which took him to Germany where among other things, he trained as a wireless operator listening for Russian planes (!?).
On leaving the RAF, Trev took up a place at Imperial College, London, where he studied metallurgy. After graduating, he worked locally for Dorman Long when he wasn’t frequenting the night clubs of the north-east! He continued to play cricket, football and table tennis for local teams.
Trev moved to Wolverhampton where he worked for GKN for a number of years, and subsequently set up his own business (Adverc) which specialised in battery management for the auto and leisure industries.
During this time, he put his knowledge and skills into a new challenge, becoming an accomplished racing driver. He competed at all of the country’s racing circuits, as part of the Monoposto Racing Club championship. It was suggested that he should try his luck at a higher level, but cost and a lack of sponsors ensured that this dream was unfulfilled. Nevertheless, Trev remained a capable and (highly!) competitive player of tennis, badminton and golf.
In 1986 Trev married Marjorie Simpson whose parents had the General Dealer’s shop in Oxford Road. They have two daughters and three granddaughters.
Sadly, in January 2012 Trev was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and died in the September of that year. His funeral was very well attended and not at all a sombre affair: he had left instructions that everyone should partake of some of his fine wine and whisky, and wear blue and white, the colours of Pools, whom he followed till the end!
Malcolm (Mac) Scarratt
Mac entered the school in 1953, and was popular with both his teachers and his peers. His academic record was outstanding, and he was made Head Boy in 1960. He took his position very seriously; rules were everything as I found to my cost, when Mac reported me for not wearing my cap; I was three miles from school and twenty yards from home! I was duly caned the next day.
He was also successful at sport, and is remembered as a member of the First XV, and especially the 7s team defeated in the final of the Ilkley 7s. He is also remembered for another incident from the following year’s tournament, when he and Dave Arnold, having been instructed to ‘stretch their legs’ before arriving at Ilkley, took a wrong turning, and failed to make it in time before the first match!
Outside of school, Mac played a ‘mean’ rhythm guitar, was a keen fan of ‘skiffle’, very popular in the late fifties, and loved the new craze of ‘jive’ at which he was very accomplished! He was also a respected NCO in the 7th Boys’ Brigade, and proved to be a great role model for the younger boys.
On leaving WHGS, Mac was awarded a degree in Mechanical Engineering by Durham University after four year’s study at Sunderland Polytechnic. He then went to work for The Metal Box Company, and moved to London as a production manager, while living in firstly, Finchley, and then, St Albans.
After meeting (like so many of their generation) at Cora Tucker’s Dance School in Dalton Street, Mac married Barbara Lilley in 1966, and they have two children, whom he was a devoted husband and father.
A few years later he moved back north, to Sunderland, working for Alan Bradley Engineering, before deciding to retrain as a CDT teacher where the experience and knowledge gained in industry stood him in good stead. Although he enjoyed his new role (Graeme and Harvey, his brothers, thought he was a natural teacher as he was instructed by our mother to help his younger siblings with their homework, while older brother Trev was ‘out clubbing’!), Mac was sometimes dismayed at the difficulty of inculcating the standards and discipline of his own school days in a totally different breed of pupil. He was happy to take early retirement at the age of 62. By this time, Mac was a passionate angler, and he welcomed the prospect of spending many hours on the river bank at Durham.
Tragically, in 2004 Mac died suddenly at the birthday party of his wife, surrounded by family and friends. He never got to see his two grandsons, which is one of life’s tragedies as they would surely have learned so much from their granddad.
I entered WHGS in 1957, and although in the ‘A’ form throughout, I was probably better remembered for sporting rather than academic achievements, as I represented the school and the county at rugby and cricket. I was a prefect, although I learned years later that Max Leason (Deputy Head then and Head of East House), had not wanted me to be appointed, because he attributed my abysmal performance in house cross country competitions to a lack of effort. PE teacher Harry Walker enlightened him: “You’ve got the lad all wrong; he just can’t run!” Thanks Harry !?
After leaving WHGS I was awarded a BA from London University after studying externally at the then Portsmouth College of Technology. From 1967-1968 I studied at Newcastle University for my Diploma in Education, and began teaching French and PE/Games at the Technical High School for Boys before moving to ‘the old school’ in 1970.
I’m sure I must have felt uncomfortable at addressing my old teachers as Harold (Spence), Alan (Greeenhow), Gordon (Boocock), Bob (Laverty) et al, instead of their more familiar nicknames from school. Equally, I’m sure they had their own opinions about my return as a teacher, no doubt seeing it as an undeniable confirmation that standards were slipping, and that education was ‘going to the dogs!’ Many of my peers would have been of the same opinion! As I look back, they were probably right!
Nevertheless, these were happy times, and seemed like a continuation of schooldays, with old friends who were now colleagues: the likes of Mike Feather, Ian Hunter, Brian Harkness, Oscar Coxon and Jimmy Douglas ensured that the staff room was more like an extension of West Rugby Club, rather than a serious staff room in a prestigious seat of learning.
With the advent of comprehensivisation (ugh !!!) to the town, I obtained my first position as Head of Department among the old enemy at The Henry Smith’s Grammar School (pretentious, or what?). I have to say that this was a very fulfilling period of my professional life: I had my first experience of girls – educationally speaking – and enjoyed the challenge of preparing pupils for their GCE A level.
Away from school, I was still heavily involved with sport, playing rugby and squash for West, and cricket for Hartlepool and Durham. According to the records, I was officially a ‘1stClass’ cricketer as I played in the Gillette Cup against Oxfordshire. However, closer inspection of the records shows that my innings lasted two balls; a snick through the slips for 4, followed by my middle stump being removed!
I again moved for promotion, remaining in Hartlepool, but moving back across town to Brierton School. In 1987, I attended Durham University where I studied for an MA in Education. The hope was that it would be the springboard for promotion. It wasn’t, and when ten years later, the school was obliged to shed members of staff, was offered early retirement – at the age of 51! The offer was too generous to refuse, and I duly retired. For one day (!) before returning to work part-time in another Hartlepool school.
In 2007, I retired again, for the last time.
My wife was convinced that these later years without stress would enable me to enjoy retirement to the full. She was probably right, as I am pleased to say that I am still very active, playing squash, (short) tennis (rather like paddle/’padder’ tennis played after O levels in the school yard some fifty years earlier!), and table tennis. Or, it may be the hard water of Hartlepool which has given me strong bones, and the daily dose of cod liver oil as insisted on by my mother! I also like walking, but I find that given the choice, after all my years as a teacher, I have to be hitting something!
Jennifer (Brown) and I were married in 1970, and we have two children neither of whom lives in Hartlepool. Like many of our generation, we spend much of our time on the motorway en route to babysitting our two grandchildren.
When I arrived at WHGS in 1959, my brother Mac was in the Upper Sixth, and Graeme was in the third form. So, although a new kid on the block, I had inherited an already worn-in school blazer, a cap with the yellow button already pulled off, and a school satchel (previously used by ‘our’ Trev, Mac, and Graeme) of well-worn leather. When satchels became ‘uncool’ I graduated to the more ‘modern’ haversack. Mind you, the new geometry set and ruler still made that familiar sound when I ran across the school yard to see my mates!
School was great, and the characters, both staff and schoolmates, are still vivid. I enjoyed studying, the more so since I missed quite a lot of time in my early teens, hospitalised with rheumatic fever. I still remember a visit by Geoff (Skelty) Hudspith, whom my mother mistakenly referred to as ‘Mr Skelton’! Like my brothers before me, I also enjoyed sport. I played rugby and cricket all the way through school, playing for the First XV and captaining the First XI.
In 1966, I headed for Manchester University where I had a wonderful time, working and playing hard with a year in France thrown in, before graduating with a Hons degree in French in 1970. I then taught English in Sicily for a year, returning to do a PGCE specialising in TEFL and Linguistics at Bangor University, Wales. I returned to Italy, to teach in Bologna for a number of years before returning to the UK in 1975 where I went into FE in Barry College near Cardiff. I rose through the ranks and into senior management (as Assistant Principal, Curriculum and Quality), before taking early retirement (following some health issues – all ok now!). I also remarried in 2006, and moved to North Cardiff inheriting two grown up children, with, now, a sprinkling of grandchildren, who are great fun!
In retirement, I spend a fair amount of time ‘pottering’, which for me involves a lot of reading, writing, going to the opera, watching cricket, spending a lot of time talking with friends, usually about, rugby, cricket, matters political and sometimes (at my instigation) about the fluctuating fortunes of Hartlepool United. I also do some fishing, and my wife and I love hill walking. When we have the opportunity, we enjoy holidaying in Italy, France and Luxemburg.
Sadly, I’ve lost touch with most of my old schoolmates, except for Phil Donaghy, and latterly, Geoff Ridden, with whom I exchange info on what we know or have heard about our contemporaries. I talk to ‘our Graeme’ a couple of times a week so he can keep me up to date with what’s going on in town, and how wonderful Hartlepool is now that ‘Stubbsy’ is in charge of things!
1946: Carols and Ralph Todd
( an account from Keith Bloomfield and Raymond Colledge)
Looking through some very old and tatty diaries brought back memories of our time at the school in 1946, just a year after the end of the War. In those days many of us at the school were very keen singers although music, as a subject, was not in the curriculum. Instead we were very ably guided by, first, Fred Hill and, later by Steve King We sang in an amateur quartet with Ben Parkinson and one other whose name now escapes us. However we also got together as a larger group and just before Christmas eleven of us set off to sing carols we had decided that if we wanted to make some money the place to go was the Park area and furthermore we would only go to selected houses. For example one obvious target was the Mayor’s house who we seem to remember also invited us in even though this necessitated turning off ITMA – a notable sacrifice. That night we collected the princely sum of £2/10/0 giving us just 4/- (about 20p) each.
On another occasion, on Christmas Eve, we made our old headmaster Ralph Todd’s house our last port of call; it was most definitely a last minute idea. We were all somewhat overawed at the enormity of what we were undertaking but, after all, we were in the 6th Form. We sang and sang and practically exhausted our repertoire when the door suddenly opened and a grim faced figure stared at us intently before saying in that familiar gruff voice ‘You had better come in and mind you wipe your feet’.
The first thing we noticed as we came into the hallway were two extremely long oars mounted on the ceiling. They totally overpowered the entrance to the house. and were this impressive memento of university days presumably. Did he in fact earn a ‘blue’? – We were far too timid to ask.
We lingered over sherry and cake for about an hour and a half but the great man said practically nothing while his daughter, who will always be remembered as ‘Miss Todd, did all the talking. He just sat there and although he was never known to crack a smile there was perhaps a slight hint. It had been his last term at the School he had served so faithfully for many years. (As it happened, Fred Hill also departed at that same time to take over as Headmaster at Seaton Carew).
Looking back it is clear from today’s perspective that although we were not in the habit of attributing human emotions to any of our teaching staff, on this occasion this stern remote individual must have been quite moved by it all. We remember that, a week or so before, he had in fact given a farewell supper for the whole school.
That particular Christmas Eve we sang carols from 6.30pm to 12.30am and collected the magnificent sum of £3/17/0 which, when shared out, gave us 6/3 (i.e. 31p) each. Riches!
Brian Anson’s Account
I was born in London in 1939 However as my father, who had left Hartlepool during the depression, was forced to return to work in the shipyards in Hartlepool; I ended up aged one in West Hartlepool eventually attending Linnfield Infants and Jesmond Road Junior Schools.
Fortunately after obtaining the last pass I started at West Hartlepool Grammar School in 1951. Starting in the B form, promoted to the A form in 1952, I slowly rose up the class, culminating in a State Scholarship in 1958. I then went to Leeds University to study Physics. I obtained a BSc 2.1 in 1961 and PhD in 1965.
Played rugby for the school at all ages up to 1st team in the 5th & 6 forms, representing Durham in the U15, U18 and the Public and Grammar Schools teams. I was a member of a successful school 7-a-Side teams in the Billingham & Ilkley 7’s Tournaments.
I had always been quite good sprinter and in my final year at school, rather fortunately for me, the new PE master, Harry Walker, entered the school in the Durham Count Schools Sports for the 1st time. At this meeting I broke both the 100 & 220 yds county senior school’s records which made me realise that I was a reasonable sprinter. As a consequence I gave up rugby at University and concentrated on athletics. I made the British University Athletics team for the World Student Games in Turin 1959 and Sofia 1961, achieving the bronze medal in the 200 m in Sofia. I also I was picked for England in the 4 x 100 relay squad against East Germany in East Berlin, and was a non-travelling reserve for the GB team in the Rome Olympics. Unfortunately my athletics career was constantly disrupted by numerous pulled ham strings and eventually a ruptured Achilles tendon in 1962 put an end to my international career as a sprinter.
Although I didn’t play rugby as an undergraduate, I played as a post grad and went on a Christmas UAU Rugby tour to South Wales with Terry Arthur. During the Christmas and Easter vacations I played 1st team rugby for both Hartlepool Rovers and later West Hartlepool. Later our school 7’s team got together to play in a number of senior tournaments with some success. Unfortunately I dislocated my knee when playing for Headingley in Leeds in 1963 which reduced my sprinting ability even further and made playing rugby hazardous. I played in a number of 7s teams with great success; my record was that in 27 tournaments I was in 26 finals winning 12.
Having had to finish with athletics and rugby which I had enjoyed so much that I looked around for alternative sports and found hockey and squash. I played both at a reasonable level slowly going down in standard as I aged. I continued playing and umpiring hockey until I was 60, when I realised I was too old and decrepit to continue either. I played squash competitively until 43 when the reoccurrence of my rugby injuries put paid to it. However I took over the running of the Harrogate Squash League which I still run 30 years later. Having packed in squash I returned to tennis a game I had enjoyed in my teens at Linden Grove Tennis Club. I was soon captaining and running mixed and veterans’ teams. I was chairman of a local club and now am its chairman and president. I packed in tennis after I had a hip replaced at 63. So after over 50 years of very active sporting life, albeit it with numerous injuries, I don’t do any
Academically after my BSc I started research in solid state physics which also help me to continue my athletic career. Realising academic life was not for me I took a job in Leeds at a research development department of the CEGB (they ran and maintained the electric power stations and grid). It was very rewarding and, using my scientific and mathematical abilities, instigated a number of lucrative and useful innovations to improve the reliability and efficiency of power stations, including the Hartlepool Nuclear Reactor. I specialised in fracture mechanics and development of inspection TV cameras.
When privatisation came along in the late 80s the job changed not to my liking so I took the excellent early retirement package offered with it out much regret. My marriage broke up at about the same time and as my children were leaving home I looked around for something to do. I returned to art, a former interest at school. Initially painting and drawing but eventually I found ceramics. Combining my scientific and engineering experience with my artistic ability I now produce ceramic pots and abstract sculptures in a variety of materials and styles.
I was married in 1969 and had a son, Richard and daughter, Helen, and very much enjoyed bringing them up. My wife unfortunately died rather suddenly last year (we had separated in 1991). My son still lives in Harrogate as a web designer with many other interests especially his band for whom he writes lyrics. My daughter lives in London heavily involved in fashion and is currently designing handbags for the near east market. Regrettably there are no grandchildren, as yet, but my partner, Ann, has seven which is some consolation, unfortunately they are in Portugal or Cardiff.
Roy Lowe’s account
Up on Sea of Tranquility, there’s little bit of me…
It was the mid-1950’s and a sunny summer’s evening in Rolls-Royce (Sinfin) Derby, my team and I were asked to work late on overtime to record parameters on a very hush-hush project. I was amazed to find it was an air-pipe, with a fulcrum, and a compressor-hose attached, with a nozzle at the other end. Nothing else. When the experiment was conducted, we simply measured the forces and thrust developed by the jet of the nozzle. All very trivial, except of course it was History. The length of gas-pipe became in a matter of weeks, the “Flying Bedstead” which we ‘flight-tested’ at Hucknall, and subsequently the Bedstead became Vertical Take-off and the Harrier et al. It won the battle over the “Soar” VTO engine, which we were developing then to be embedded in the wings. Sadly, that came to nothing, despite its 240,000rpm rotor speed.
In 1957 I was headhunted and moved to Canada with my wife Daphne and 9-month old son. One evening whilst late night shopping on St. Luke Street, Montreal, we stared with many others into the night sky and watched Sputnik fly it’s first spectacular orbits.
My work with Canadair in Dorval, Montreal was to work in the team preparing the Flight Telemetry Data installation for the AvroArrow/Sparrow missile cohort. However, the morning after Mr. Diefenbaker won his landslide Canadian Parliamentary election victory, and cancelled the project (on which he’d campaigned), we went into work as usual to find our Hangar empty…..not a shred of evidence that any Aerospace work had ever been going on. Being true ‘Brits’ we first of all kept very busy as usual, organizing seminars, lectures, etc, but this soon deteriorated into reading technical articles etc, until finally it was stiflingly boring, magazines, newspapers (and I’m sorry to say, worse eventually!)
Most of my co-Brits eventually were ‘sold-on’ to Boeing under contract, but I bought myself out and ended up by way of United Aircraft, Pratt & Whitney and Hamilton Standard, and then to California working on NASA’s Mercury & Gemini programmes, later becoming part of the British contribution to Apollos 11, 12 & 13 and of course, the Moon landings. I met some of the first Astronauts and sat in a working Apollo capsule as my work was on the air-conditioning, temperature, humidity, toxins scrubbing, oxygen supply, shock, acoustics, and vibration monitoring of the components. Many of these components, the names are long-gone, were taken to Boron – a desolate spot in the middle of the Mojave Desert, on Route 66, where the Garrett AiResearch Co., had their “dangerous-tests” facility, and where I spent lots of time. Just how desolate it was, you’ll see in the 1958 photograph:
Here, the components were vibrated, (on huge Shakers), dropped, and baked in ovens, subjected to intense humidity, and noise of grotesque decibel levels. One component in particular was a pressurized spherical cryogenic LOX tank, about 10″ diameter, which had to be highly insulated yet shock and vibration proof. It was inside another, with about 2″ annular spacing. Many options were discussed as to the method of insulation, pillars, foam, vacuum, and even mono-construction as far as I recall. We solved it by packing with (for those days) a miraculous new thermal fabric in many cross-woven layers. It was resilient enough to pass Mil. Specs, and did the job. I do believe that on the photo shown, the tank was later fitted to Apollo’s Command Module (photo taken by me, I’m not in the picture):
Having seen various pictures of the Apollo 13 damage though, my feeling is that this was the tank involved, but it remains a conjecture on my part. And very sadly, since the Life Support package was ours, a little bit of the fault on Apollo 13 also rests on my mental shoulders.
I ended up in charge of the Environmental Test facility of Garrett AiResearch Corp., (they had part of the Life Support package of the NASA contract) in Torrance, LA., but I spent a lot of time in Boron, in the Mojave Desert Test Site: I had the control room instrumentation designed and installed: It wasn’t all the glitzy glamour of Cape Canaveral, but it had other compensations, turtles, tumbleweed, and the most wonderful meals in that great American institution “the Diner”.
So I still harbour the warm thought that up there on the Sea of Tranquility, is a little bit of me…..
Thumbnail images: please click to enlarge.
Pop Saunders – a memory
William L Douglass (recently deceased – please see NEWS page).
After leaving the School in 1938, Bill went on to study History at Durham University. During the war, he served in the Royal Artillery in North Africa and Italy. After the war, he completed his studies at Durham and then went on to work for the National Health Service. He became a hospital administrator, latterly in Edinburgh, before retiring in 1981.
Hartlepool Through Time
We recently received a copy of this interesting book from its author Paul Chrystal, who is an Old Boy of the School (1968 – 1973). Paul adopts a “then and now” approach to many aspects of the town such as its industries, streets, houses, shops, churches and transport. Chapter Five of the book is given over to a brief history of the Grammar School and its evolution into the Sixth Form College.
The book is copiously illustrated with splendid photographs and sketches and will be of great interest to Old Boys and others connected with the town.
Thumbnail image: click for full page.
C.V. of John Arnold Hodgson
I was born in West Hartlepool in 1941 of parents who had also been born in West Hartlepool. I graduated from Elwick Road Juniors to the Grammar School in 1952. My interests at school were mainly musical, with the School Orchestra and the Parmont Players. I was hopeless at athletics and sport. I managed to obtain 9 O levels with some difficulty. My father told me after the event that he had gone to see Nobby (whom he knew slightly socially) to seek his advice as to what career I might follow. Apparently Nobby consulted a card index and said that I was average in all subjects and did not shine in any so why should I not just go into my father’s business. My father was a stockbroker in the town and my father knew I was not remotely interested in his type of business. So I had to make up my own mind. My cousin Jane Alton (5 years older than me) was studying to be a barrister so I thought I might copy her. Since being a young child I had enjoyed dressing up and play acting and thought that being a barrister might be something similar. I went in to the VIth form and studied History, French & Latin. I duly obtained A levels in those subjects and proceeded to King’s College London to read Law (following in Jane’s footsteps). Like Jane, I joined Gray’s Inn and in due course was called to the Bar. In 1965 I became a member of a set of barristers’ chambers at 3, Dr Johnson’s buildings in the Temple in London. In my early days at the Bar I did a lot of divorce work but as time went on I gravitated more towards property work, especially Landlord and Tenant work. I was Head of Chambers from 1992 to 2002 when I retired.
The Brinkburn News – a contribution from John Hodgson
In May & June there were four of us in 3a involved in producing “Brinkburn News”: Trevor Morgan, Mike Hillyer, Wilf Cruddas and me. We used to visit my father’s office in Church Street on a Saturday morning and borrow the ancient office typewriter. The headlines were made from letters cut out of the “Northern Daily Mail” & pasted on to foolscap paper.
“Brinkburn News” ran for only two editions and the second edition was never finished. I think we found it was too much effort for too little result. The major problem was that we had no way of reproducing copies. There were no photocopiers in those days & to have it professionally printed would have been beyond us. So it was seen by only a few people to whom we showed the originals. For example we showed the front page of each edition to Max Leason.
The interview with Pop Saunders was quite genuine, as was everything else on the front page. It was Trevor who quizzed Pop Saunders.
The main story in the second edition concerned the arrival of a new physics teacher. It was a “scoop”. By fluke the new teacher had just come to live next to the Cruddasses & Wilf’s mother had got all his news. I remember Max Leason expressing surprise at the revelations in “Brinkburn News” about the new physics master, because it had not yet become common knowledge.
The Parmont Players – another gem from John Hodgson
On 28th March the “Parmont Players” gave a concert in the Dalton Hall. Invitations had been specially printed.
The Parmont Players had been formed about two years earlier. It was a small “palm court” style orchestra formed privately by a group of boys independently of the school but comprising members of the school orchestra. The founder members were the Dalziel brothers (who lived in Park Road), Derek Fearn (who lived in Eamont Gardens) and Wilf Cruddas (who also lived in Eamont Gardens). So they gave the orchestra a name which was a mix of “Park” and “Eamont”. Soon extra members were recruited and the personnel at the time of the concert in the Dalton Hall were as set out on the back of the programme.
We had photographs professionally taken immediately prior to the concert. The vertical stripes at the back of the little stage were rolls of crepe paper in alternating colours of maroon & gold.
Later in the year the School Magazine published a “review” of the concert. Much of the review is entertaining fiction. In fact the concert went very smoothly.
In due course I drew a cartoon of the orchestra.
These are thumbnails: please click for full image
Edwin Nelson Houlton – a genealogical pen sketch from Wally Green
ENH was born in West Hartlepool on 15th October 1904 to William Houlton, a marine engineering draughtsman, and Emily Houlton (nee Nelson), both of whom originated from Hull. Edwin had three younger sisters, Gladys Marian, Kathleen Lockwood, and Vera. There were also two younger brothers, Wilfred and Arthur. All were born in West Hartlepool. The family lived at 74 Wansbeck Gardens in the town.
His grandparents were John Houlton, a joiner/builder and Charlotte Houlton, who also lived in Hull. One of their sons, William – ENH’s father – went to Gosberton Hall School in Lincolnshire as a boarder.
On his mother’s side, the grandparents were Robert and Mary Ann Nelson who were both Yorkshire folk, living near Hull. Robert Nelson was a joiner.
In 1933, Edwin Nelson Houlton married Florrie Faul of 136 Sandringham Road, West Hartlepool. Florrie’s father was a ship’s plater. For many years Edwin and Florrie lived in the Oval. They had two daughters, Charlotte, who never married and Alice who married James B Watkis in Pancras, London in 1960.
Florrie died in 1980 aged 77 and in 1981, ENH re-married to Enid W Walker in Bradford.
Edwin Nelson Houlton died in Bradford during 1985 at the age of eighty one. Enid lived on until the year 2003, when she died in Chorley, Lancashire.
The Dormouse Club
There was, in the Sixth Form Common Room, a trapdoor which gave access to the under floor space of the original house. From there, one could reach the under floor areas of a variety of rooms in the old building – albeit by a tortuous journey involving crawling and ducking under partitions and other obstacles.
Notable amongst the various destinations was the space under the Masters’ Room. From here, the conversations of our mentors were clearly audible through the floorboards: needless to say, much mirth derived from listening in on these!
Visitors to this hallowed chamber would record their achievement in a book and were afforded membership of an exclusive society – the Dormouse Club. You can find many well known names amongst the entries, which appear in the Misc. Documents section of our Galleries.
Legend has it that, sometime in the early fifties, the orchestra’s principal trumpeter decided to play a few bars of the Last Post for the entertainment of the Masters! Would the boy responsible for that, now own up please?
Wiiliam Henry Dowland 1901 – 1993
Another brief life history from Wally Green
WHD (Death) was born in Kings Lynn, Norfolk during 1901 to Henry and Nora (nee Seelly) Dowland.
His father was born in Ramsgate in Kent in in 1869 and he was employed as a banker’s assistant and later as an HM Customs Boatman. Nora was born in Canterbury in 1862 and was turning forty years of age when she gave birth to WHD. The 1911 Census indicates that the family lived at 81 Winstanley Road, Sheerness in Kent. It seems that WHD was an only child.
He was married to Edith Hopkins in London in 1931 and they came to live in Westbourne Road in West Hartlepool. They had no children. We have no information as to when he was appointed to his teaching post at the Grammar School. What is known is that he rose quickly to the position of Head of the Physics Department – a post that he remained in until his retirement in 1967. He was, in his latter years, elected to the presidency of the Science Masters Association of Great Britain: a clear indication of his calibre and his commitment to the teaching of Physics.
Edith Dowland died in 1974 at the age of 79. WHD himself lived on until 1993, when he died in North Cleveland, Yorkshire.
Thomas Silcock – an Obituary (Extract from the School Magazine of 1955-56)
Mr Silcock’s death, on November 5th, 1955 has deprived us of a valued friend and colleague, a man of the highest integrity and a most zealous teacher. He joined the staff in September 1930, so that his twenty five years of service covered nearly half the history of the school. His influence has been felt, and will be remembered by many hundreds of Old Boys.
He was a fine mathematician and an enthusiast for his subject. He was an old boy of Bury Grammar School and, after having served in the Royal Artillery during the 1914-18 war, he entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge where he gained second class honours in both parts of the Mathematics Tripos. He was an accomplished musician and, for many ears played the cello in the School Orchestra. It is impossible to speak highly enough of the cheerful courage with which, during the last years of his life, he stood up to a painful and distressing illness. He enjoyed the blessing of a happy home life and we can imagine what his loss must mean to his wife and children. We offer them our heartfelt sympathy.
Spot the difference!
Did you know that the right hand section of the merchant’s house (Masters’ Room, Prefects’ Room etc) was a new addition in 1939 and not part of the original building? Excellent piece of brick matching on someone’s part! (Both images are thumbnails: click for a full view).
Year of 51 Reunion
On April 9th 2014 at Hartlepool Cricket Club, we held our Sixth event , with twenty members of Year of 51 Present. As usual it was organised by Ken Williams who presented a very successful evening of reminiscence , entertainment , food and refreshments .
Considering that in 1951 we were a year of sixty four students who started their Senior school careers and sixty three years later managed to bring together twenty of these Members is quite a feat . From those present , ten live in Hartlepool with others coming from Harrogate, Knaresborough, Lanchester ,Crewe, Stockport, Billingham, Banbury, Cottingham, Swaffam and Edinburgh. This covers the country quite extensively .
Geoff Graham, Barry Leng and Bill Orley who were all with us are not too well at the moment: we wish them better times in the future. Gav Smith who is permanently in a wheelchair has had his car adapted for him to drive, which he does with great dexterity. What a great acquisition: it gives him the ability to be an active member of the community again.
We are looking for more members. As expected some folk are on holiday or ill and not available, some are not interested and others are missing but the search is still in progress.
If you are any one of these folk we would love to hear from you and maybe become reunited via the Old Boys’ website.
Sadly eighteen members have died, so having twenty people present was a great response. I wonder how many other years or even Schools can equal this feat?
We were entertained by Charles Hoy, a Northumbrian Pipe player who gave a very interesting talk re their history, tuning, cost of buying and finally playing a number of tunes ending with “King Henrys Song “ which rounded off his very pleasant offering in style. Absent friends were toasted with Ken giving up to date happenings in 2013/4.
The School Song was sung and the food appeared as well as a few beers and the chat continued till the Bar closed.
Many thanks to Ken Williams for yet another successful evening , we look forward to 2015 with as many members of “YEAR OF 51 ” as possible .
You can find several photographs taken during the evening in the OTHER PHOTOS gallery of the website.
Old Students’ Association Annual Re-Union: NDM Report from 19/12/1910
The annual re-union of the Old Students’ Association was held on Friday night in the Masonic Hall, which had been tastefully decorated for the occasion. Perhaps the most prominent item in the ornamentation of the hall was the large and beautifully executed motto which stretched across the stage. This was designed in the colours of the Association -maroon and amber- and read ”Bona agere, mali pati regium est”. Miss A . Thompson, who was responsible for the decorations, was assisted by the following ladies and gentlemen: Misses G. Wahlstrand and M. Thompson, Messrs A. Addis and G. Haw and the student teachers. All are to be congratulated on the delightful effect their labours produced.
The programme consisted of dances interspersed with vocal items, each of which was heartily applauded. Miss Mamie Bell delighted her hearers with her rendering of Newton’s “Slumber Song” and Mr A. Johanessen was also in fine voice. Mr G. Palmer sang “My Piccaninny Good Night” with great feeling and Mr W.H. Baylis, by special request sang “Old King Cole”, the audience joining heartily in the chorus.
After supper – itself an important item – a farce entitled “Turn Him Out” was presented by the newly formed Dramatic Society in connection with the Association. The scenery and footlights were very kindly lent by the Christ Church Dramatic Society and fitted up by some of its members. The production itself was an unqualified success, Misses Wahlstrand and A. Ritchie acquitting themselves admirably as mistress and servant, while Mr. Addis, as professional “ejector”, Mr C. Palmer as the master of the house, and Mr. C. Robson as the dandy, made up and excellent cast. The audience was kept in roars of laughter and showed its appreciation of the new Society’s efforts by repeated applause.
Mr. J. Archyll-Jones, B.Sc., headmaster of the Secondary School and President of the Association, gave a short address during the evening. He welcomed his old scholars to the second annual re-union and expressed his pleasure at meeting them under such auspices. He regretted that the members of the Association in training colleges were not able to be with them and wished that it had been possible to postpone the re-union so that they might have had the opportunity of being present. He indicated the advantages that such an Association offered to its members, and concluded by wishing all present the compliments of the season.
For the convenience of non-dancers, games and competitions had been organised by Miss A. Thompson and Mr W.H. Baylis. A great interest was taken in these. The hat-trimming competition for men was won by Mr T. Perry, the judge being Mrs W.H. Baylis. In the nail-driving contest, Miss Winnie Cullen carried the prize.
The Mayor of West Hartlepool (Councillor M.H. Horsley) wrote regretting his inability to be present and wishing success to the re-union.
Mr J.W. Patterson, formerly Science Master at the Secondary School and a vice president of the Association, was present, being heartily welcomed by all.
The following members staff of the School were present: the Headmaster (Mr J. Archyll Jones, B.Sc.), Misses Mackenzie, Duncan and Beattie, Messrs W. H.Baylis, A. Robertson, R. Todd, M. Atkinson, G. Palmer and A.T. Prentice.
Messrs A.G. Winpenny and A. Emmerson acted as M.C.’s. The accompanists Mrs W.H Baylis, Miss R. Fawcett and Miss Bennison acquitted themselves well.
The proceedings throughout were of a most enjoyable character, and all expressed their satisfaction with the arrangements made by the Secretary and his Committee for the entertainment of everyone.