OLD WYVES' TALES 84
FOR WYVERNIANS 1919-76
EDITED BY DENNIS J DUGGAN, ROCK COTTAGE, BROOK STREET,
WELSHPOOL, MONTGOMERYSHIRE. SY21 7NA
TEL 01938 555574 07971 282356
The 2015 reunion will take place on Saturday March 21st at Clarence House. More details later, meanwhile please make a note of the date
FROM FRANK SMITH 1959-66 We are in the process of producing a replacement web site for Wyvernians. It is almost ready to publish, however we have hit a technical problem that maybe one of our members and/or their friends or family can help with.
The problem is this: If you enter a phrase like "city of leicester boys grammar school" into a search engine like Google, the new website does NOT show up at all in the (first 20 pages of the) search results why? What changes need to be made to our website to make it appear near the top of the search results? If anyone can give us a clue, it would be much appreciated! You can send your answer to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the moment the new website can be seen here:- www.wyvernians.blogspot.co.uk but will take over our official web address (www.wyvernians.org.uk) once the technical issues have been resolved. Oddly the new website has been constructed using Google's own Blogger web building tools yet continues to hide from Google searches!
FROM BRIAN SCREATON 1959-65 I was honoured to be invited to the opening ceremony of the new City of Leicester College on Friday 29th August as a 'special guest', representing Wyvernians. I duly arrived at the new building at the appointed time of 1.15pm, after parking in a reserved space (I could get used to this) and was greeted by the Headteacher Anne Gregory, and the College Secretary Ruth Clewlow. Drinks were served and canapés consumed in the reception area, and I chatted to Tony Baxter, Bill Mann, Dave Lawrence, Fred Hutchinson and Bob Childs. Many other former teachers were present and other guests included representatives of Miller Construction UK, Leicester City Council, school governors, and a company called LMEC (Leicester Miller Education Company Ltd). It is this company which, as a Public Private Partnership, is "delivering the £300m Building Schools for the Future programme in Leicester". By a strange co-incidence the Chairman of this company is Rick Moore, a well known Leicester Magistrate, but also a contemporary and friend of mine in the local estate agency world in the 1970's and 80's, who I had not seen for a long time. Although he's actually an old Wyggestonian, so shouldn't really have been allowed in! At 2.00pm we were ushered upstairs to the Hall, where the Year 7 choir sang songs, then Anne Gregory opened the proceedings with a short speech, thanking all those involved in the construction of the college, and welcoming the guests. Awards were then presented to sixth form students with outstanding academic achievements. Sir Peter Soulsby was supposed to be present to unveil a plaque but apparently had to cry off for some reason, so the unveiling was done by his deputy, Councillor Vi Dempster. We were then given guided tours of the new building, which is fantastic the equipment they have has to be seen to be believed. I'm no fan of modern architecture, and the outside, especially the front elevation, is not to my taste, but internally the design has been extremely well-thought out. This aspect was led by the College Business Manager Jenny Sterland, who was also so helpful to us in rescuing many old documents and trophies before the demolition men moved in. Both the former City Boys and Spencefield Lane Schools have been completely demolished the former is now a car park and the latter is part of the playing fields. After our guided tour we were free to wander around I had hoped to grab a burger or a hot dog from one of the several barbecues that had been set up in the grounds, but was beaten to it by 1200 pupils all eager for a free feed! On the subject of food, the sixth form have their own café on the first floor, whilst the other years use a canteen on the ground floor which has four identical serving counters and they claim to be able to serve about 600 pupils in 40 minutes My only slight disappointment was that the 'History Wall' that was talked about during the planning of the new school has not materialised, and seems to have been condensed into a collage of photos in the shape of the college's logo. I know that economies had to be made during the construction, so I assume the History Wall fell victim to these. The school was intending to have an Open Evening after the official ceremony so that everyone could view the new college, but this had to be postponed as soon as I have the new date I will pass it on to Dennis for circulating, as the college is well worth a visit. In addition Wyvernians will have a stand there.
FROM CLIVE DAVIES 1950-57 I have recently been reading back issues of OWT, having somehow missed the last few newsletters, and as a result I have just purchased a copy of The History of A Grammar School by Andy Marlow. What a good read it is and I would recommend it to everyone I noticed in OWT 80 a piece by my former classmate Master Clifford about Nobby Clarke hanging a ginger-haired miscreant out of the classroom window three floors up. I too witnessed this memorable event, and can confirm it really did have a sobering effect on the whole class and he always had the best of b_ehaviour from us thereafter. Methods of punishment varied from teacher to teacher I recall, most of which would be considered as assault today. Basher Brewin with his wooden ruler followed by can't you do it duckie; the blackboard duster or chalk thrown with deadly accuracy by Messrs Bufton and Wardle ; the slipper from Gould or Flash Gordon and of cause the cane from Pedley or Ding Dong Bell. In my particular case it was a slap across the face from Herr Brushe when I informed him that for some reason I was unable to swim for the school that evening, and I was left with an imprint of his hand on my cheek and a memory that has lasted over sixty years.
FROM JOHN O' GRADY 1959-64 In answer to Robert Clifford (OWT83) who comments on the Green Wyvern Yacht Club. My elder brother, Peter (1955-60) was markedly different to me. He took part in as much sport as possible, and in addition joined the Green Wyvern activities on several occasions. At the time of his involvement the events described by Robert were history. However I do recall Peter making comments about a legendary event involving a young lady and some home-made swimming attire. Unfortunately I have no recollection of the lady's identity, and now have no means of checking.
FROM DEREK BOLTON 1953-58 Speaking to old classmate David Sharp the other day he asked me if I remembered the gift that our year (3B) bought for the form teacher at the end of the year (I think it was 1955). The teacher in question was the Rev Holman, who somehow drew the staffroom short straw and had our motley crew as his responsibility for two years on the trot. Gifts for teachers in those days were unheard of, therefore I think it showed the respect we boys had for Rev Holman who taught us Maths and of course Religious Instruction. At the end of term we had a whip round and raised enough cash to purchase a pocket watch, it so happened that one of the boys, Alan Mecklenburgh had a brother who was an engraver running a shop in Silver Street. We had the watch suitably engraved along the lines To Mr Holman from 3B. I am sure it read a bit more flowery than that. Rev Holman left the school that year to go to be senior maths teacher at Harwich grammar school I believe. A year after leaving City Boys I was shopping in Lewis's with my mother, in reality she was doing the shopping I was just tagging along as you do at that age. We bumped into the Rev Holman, who was visiting Leicester and was shopping .with his mother. Exchanging pleasantries and introductions he suddenly took out his pocket watch to show my mother what the boys had bought for him, it was very clear to me that he valued it highly. The bottle of beer .. somehow I acquired a bit of a reputation amongst my peers, subsequently a bet was made that I couldn't drink a bottle of beer during an RI lesson .I never could resist a challenge, still can't to this day. Money was mentioned so how could I refuse? The bottle of beer purchased for me was a large bottle of stout, I decided the best way to tackle it was to utilise a couple of straws to get the beer out of the bottle and down my throat whilst keeping the bottle in the desk. It took a while but I managed it, in spite of voices all around me drawing attention to the odour of beer that one could clearly smell in the air. At least when I left school that day I was half a crown better off.
FROM JOHN A LAWSON 1940-46 (John was both a pupil and teacher at CBS. The dates given are from the former - Ed) Some thoughts about my time with CBS by John A Lawson sometime known as Larry I began school at Catherine Street Board School as an infant and continued in the Junior Dept. where I sat my 11+. For some unknown reason I had to take part of it again some weeks later. I was offered a free place at Wiggy Boys. Grandad was greatly in favour of that, having had to leave school at 12 to chop sticks for a living, just as he was beginning to learn. Granny had to leave at 9 years old to go into service. However at this time my best friend was Alan Cherry who had just spent 2 happy years at CBS and I was sure I wanted to join him. I played soccer for Catherine St and although with Dad I supported the Tigers I felt soccer was better than Rugby at WGS. I had my wish and Mum & Dad had to pay 3 guineas a term for me. There were advantages. CBS was in the middle of town only a one penny tram ride, in fact only half a penny if I got off the tram at St Marks church and ran or walked the rest of the way. 1B was my first form with Miss Reed (I was expecting a man - but the war had started) as I remember only one detention from Mr.Jeaves for turning round in class, followed by 2B, 3B, 4B, & finally 5A and 6S 1. Monthly Orders (latter became form orders twice a term) in years 2,3 & 4, I was usually top or in the first three. In fact in year 3 I was awarded the Junior Mathematics & Science prize, the book was Makers of Science by Hart and it still holds a place in our bookcase. Also in 3B I was in detention again for not having my gas mask in school. No worry this time, detention was held in the Hall with over half the school!
I enjoyed the football. Beeby, De Montfort house captain & House master Mr. Bufton were very pleased with me when I turned up as a reserve for Senior House matches and always played although only a junior. Later I gained my colours for football and cricket and in my final year 1946 was 1st X1 cricket captain. In fact I still have the bat, signed by Mr Crammer & given by Sports Ltd as best all-rounder of the year. In 1945 after Harvest camps of previous years, Mr Howard introduced small groups of boys to the pleasures of Canadian canoeing on the Great Ouse. It was on a small island in the middle of the river at Hemmingford Abbots where I first heard my 5th year school certificate results. This was after camping and canoeing to Bedford and back. Another time we visited Ely and the river Lark and Prickwillow. By this time the war was nearing the end and Cecil persuaded Woods boat yard at Potter Heigham to have two boats, Smuggler and Ladybird ready for sailing. In 1946 I skippered Smuggler (described as a fast boat for an experienced sailor). I had a crew of 4 and my cabin boy was Guy Forcett Butler, my Physics teacher. Cabin boys usually sleep on the floor, but in this case an exception was made and he had a bunk. It was rather nice since he brought an early morning cup of tea to my bunk each day. In 1947 the Green Wyvern sailing group was formed. George Matthews from Newtons and myself were the two youngest skippers. More details are available on the Green Wyvern website. Academic work was not too good in 6S1, OFTR Mr. Roberts suggested, on my report, it was probably too much cricket.
The war had finished and schoolteachers were in short supply, so I did my bit for the country and accepted a four-year Teacher Training course at University College Leicester. After the first year, I completed my Inter BSc in Pure Maths Applied Maths Physics And Chemistry. Two years later, having failed my degree, I was called up for national service. The next two years I enjoyed, after putting on a stone in weight during 8 weeks square bashing at RAF Padgate, I was sent to RAF Yatesbury to train as an Air Radio Mechanic. The course went well and they retained me as an Instructor. On demob I was able to return to UCL to complete my Teacher Training course, as I still had one year of my grant left to qualify as a schoolteacher.
When it came to teaching practice time in a school, I was amazed and delighted to be offered a term at Loughborough Grammar School, and for the last 3 weeks I was doing a full time table for a member of staff who was ill. Saturday morning school was also part of the timetable. I played my second and last game of rugby in the staff match against the school, but I did not manage to score a try as a flying right-wing on one of the few times I received the ball. Anyway they seemed to think I was a good teacher and I even picked up some private maths coaching - it was nice to have some money in my pocket again. Even 3 years later I was still doing private Maths coaching through the Loughborough connection. In the last term my tutor recommended me to apply for a post. I could hardly believe itat CITY BOYS! Maths teachers were in short supply at this time, however I know there was at least one other applicant and possible others. Mr R R Pedley was now Headmaster. I knew him as he came back from the forces in 1946 as Head of English and had taught me English in general studies periods in 6S1. All I can remember of his lessons was that he brought in copies of the Daily Mirror and was very pleased to introduce us to JANE. This was a cartoon strip and Jane was usually showing all her assets. My only other contact with him was in the School v Staff cricket match. He was well-known as a good batsman and was going well, having got his eye in, looking for his 50. I'd had a good season as slow right arm off-break bowler and he was on 40. I was bowling and he hit the ball very hard and and it was still rising and would have gone for six or at least a one bounce four, but I caught it (very painful). He did congratulate me on the way to the pavilion at Grace Road.
Six years later we met again. This time in his study which used to be the old staffroom. Mr Crammer retained his large room with three toilets; I understand Mr Pedley knew how bad the small room was for the expanding staff. Full of apprehension we talked and I have no idea what about and then he showed me my letter of application and said this will not do--- and proceeded to show me how to write it.! I was accepted to teach Maths, Physics and Chemistry, and in my first year taught 3B for Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry a quarter of my timetable with what was always said to be the worst form in the school. I survived. After about 20 years Mr Remmington, who was Deputy Head and had been Head of Mathematics when I was appointed, confessed to me-" you know I did not want you as a member of staff in my department". By then of course I was the teaching Physics and some Electronics.
So I came back to CBS in 1952, and the following also joined at the same time K Witts ( Maths, Geog) A Sweet (English) F Gould (English) R Smith (Head of History) I immediately made friends with Ken; we seemed to be the two youngsters although Sweet and Gould could not have been much older. We all settled in well although the latter, I think, had trouble adding up the monthly orders. The rumour was that he had to go to the head's study to be helped. If true I would sympathise, remembering my application letter (To be continued - Ed)
FROM ALAN PYKETT 1959-66 Just a couple of observations from OWT 83 as our editor tells us he has currently used up all material received. Firstly, if Paul Wheatley (friend of Laurie For ) is an avid racegoer he will know that the Cheltenham race festival always finishes on a Friday (for many years it finished on a Thursday) To my knowledge it has never taken place on a Saturday. Perhaps Laurie would pass this on to Paul and we could welcome him to next year's re-union! Secondly, there were quite a few references to the teaching of English, particularly the Literature part. It has been well-documented by me in the past that English was not my best or favourite subject. This was perhaps somewhat surprising as through junior school I was very good at reading and spelling. As the fifth year and consequent taking of 'O' levels approached I had a dread of being one of only a handful of pupils who failed English Language. This was despite my taking the form prize for 4A the previous year! I was not too concerned about failing English Literature, although I thought the syllabus for that year might give me a fighting chance. For the record the novel was Pride and Prejudice, the play was The Merchant of Venice and the poetry element was The Narrative Art in Verse. My efforts at English during the fifth year did nothing to dispel my fears of poor exam results despite the best teaching efforts of Ras Berry who I believe did have some health issues. The day of course eventually came to sit the English Language exam. The one bright spot in the exam paper was that one of the choices in the essay section was Experiences of being in hospital. As I had spent five days at the children's clinic when I was seven years old having my adenoids removed I had quite a lot of material for that part of the exam! Regarding the Literature exam I thought I might just scrape through with the lowest pass mark. Fast forward to 28 August 1964 when the O' level results were published I was still feeling very nervous about the Language result. Lo and behold I was amazed to find I had passed English Language with a grade 2, my joint-highest pass mark with History, but not so surprised to find I had failed Literature with a grade 8 (6 being the lowest pass mark). Remarkably I got a better pass mark in English Language than in all the other subjects I preferred such as Maths, General Science, French and German. In conclusion one could say that having my adenoids out at age seven helped me pass my English Language 'O' level nine years later! I hope other material keeps coming in as it would be a shame to lose OWT. I realise there is only so much one can write about, and there may come a time when publication has to cease, but wouldn't it be great to see an OWT 100!
FROM DAVE POSTLES 1960-67 Andrew Tear was one of the kindest of peers. He drove a white van, though not in the spirit of the later white van man. He is unduly modest because the Oxbridge entrance exams, like all exams, were a lottery, down to the contingency of the questions and how one felt on the day.
FROM PETER GRUDGINGS 1936-41 From 1941-43 I was in insurance, followed by service in the Royal Navy until November 1946. I trained as a teacher, and taught in Leicester until 1960 then in Warwickshire and finished as Headmaster of a now-closed village school. I took early retirement in 1982. During my time at CBS the Head was R W Crammer, an austere figre known as The Beak. Career guidance was minimal, and consisted of a brief interview with Mr Crammae. The most popular teacher was R R Pedley, known as Sam Scruff for his habit of wearing a tie to hold up his trousers and no socks. He really brought Shakespeare to life, and we read the plays with parts allocated round the class. He went into the army, and his popularity was renewed when he visited the school whilst on leave. We had Henry Morgan Wardson as our form master and German teacher. He was a consciensous objector, and being ignorant boys we gave him a hard time. He was Professor of German at Cardiff. I wrote to his family when he died. It was the custom to give school leavers a bible (I still have mine) and we tried to obtain the signatures of masters and fellow pupils on the flyleaf. For the first term of the war there were no air raid shelters at Humberstone Gate, so on alternate weeks we went to Wyggeston Boys from 8.30am to 1pm, and 1pm to 6.30 pm - six days per week! School on a Saturday afternoon was not popular! Later brick air raid shelters and trenches were constructed, and some downstairs rooms were reinforced with steel struts. It was possible (though forbidden!) to do a Tarzan swing on the horizontal struts. During 1940 and 41 we had some women teachers, including Mrs Eden and Mrs Wynne. The former shocked us with the Not bloody likely line from Shaw's Pygmalion.
ALAN MERCER 1959-63 After City of Leicester and Beauchamp I worked in Uganda for four years. On returning I got a short term contract at Wyggeston Boys. Towards the end the Head called me in and put this question to me, "You have seen the inside of three grammar schools in Leicester (I attended Newtons as a boy), what is your impression of Wyggeston?" I said the impression I had before was confirmed. The main effort went into getting pupils into Oxford or Cambridge, while CBS and Newtons spread their efforts more equally. I knew one boy who came out with two 'O' levels and I thought he would have done better at say, Lancaster Boys down the road. I was encouraged by his reply. He had the same impression since staring there that year and was determined to do something about it. There was a story going round that for one boy who only passed RE and Woodwork, the career officer suggested he should become an undertaker, but it is probably just an apocryphal story.
AND FINALLY... Alan Pykett says it would be great to reach OWT100, and what a milestone that would be. However, apart from the balance of John Lawson's contribution we have run out of material again. It is marvellous we have amassed so many memories, and so much information, about one school. We have achieved so much over the past sixteen years, and not only with OWT. This worthy publication depends on you, the readers, to provide contributions. The ball is in your court!!
Dennis J Duggan October 15th 2014