Forties Reunion     The Talk     Webmaster Contact:   grahamtall@wgsmemories.org.uk

The Reunion was held on the weekend of November 03rd  2007  information below

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This has is the draft version of the powerpoint presentation - words but not pictures!

GT - Graham Tall    DT - David Tall

On Screen – first Powerpoint image of the school Name plaque.

 

Introduction  GT:  I want to start with  a brief resume of our links with WGS and  the reunion since David went to the 1952 reunion, we drove to see an exhibition at the Heritage Centre .  Since then I have received 2,628 emails from boys providing me with information on the school and other reunions – including my own,  336 on our book and over 850 emails on this reunion.  My wife rightly wonders if I’ve gone mad – its certainly been essential that I retired early!

 

Introduction  DT:   We are going try to ring back the curtain on memories that began for you in the Forties—at the customs and assumptions, at the attitudes and approaches of what is now a vanished world. Time has moved on.  Many of you arrived at a school of under 400  boys—no confusion of gender on those days. The whole school was about boys and for boys—and over the 40s decade, whole families of boys moved through.  We have  in this room three Bradshaw’s, two Drage’s, Allen’s, Brown’s, Burton’s, Clayton’s, Collings’, Lovell’s, Neville’s, Smith’s and, in 1940, not a single boy was brown or black.  By 1945 just one such  lad was here Leslie.C. Walters (Nicknamed 'Rastus')  joined in 1947 by his brother Norman (We didn’t then suffer from political correctness)  Mind you, we did have some German students at the beginning and after the end of the war - I hope – Wolfgang Lendle:  –wasn’t called too many names!  Few of the boys in the school, just 9%, by 1946 stayed on to the sixth form

 

My Powerpoint:

Schooldays are the best days of your life

Well, they’re not, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t

good days which provided SOME interesting moments

Certainly, whether our recollections are good, mixed or

bad WGS was certainly the time when our minds

bodies and personalities developed most. 

 

How different were the callow child who entered WGS

and the young adult who left it?

 

How would you classify the Masters?

1.         The Character

2.         The Bully

3.         The Professional

4.         The Misfit/Incompetent

  

Mr.Woolley and the War  DT:

I think you  should then start with a picture of Mr.Woolley and briefly discuss the school and move quickly on to a siren sound and the war.  We’ve heard from a number of boys about the war memorabilia they collected and Quote John Hyde’s story:

GT:  Johnny spoke over the phone to me about the fact that the home guard tried to protect downed planes, but inevitable relaxed at times.  What the boys really wanted to collect the Perspex windows/hoods, but they regularly collected ammunition.  He remembers collecting a bandalero of bullets and teased out the bullet and with the aid of a nail, cork and some home-made flights converted them into darts.  One day, in school, he and others were throwing the ‘darts’ around the room and Hobo Cook came in and caught it in mid air.  The lads egged him on and in the end Hobo through the dart at the wall.  The dart exploded and a large lump of plaster was vapourised…

Air raid shelters.

Nick and ‘On Ilkley Mor bah tat’ 

DT:  Mr Wrenn, the 11+,  the change from School Cert to GCE and the development of the VI Form:

In the forties most  boys left to work locally but success in getting places at universities had begun –three of the eight boys going on to higher education going to Oxford and Cambridge in 1950.  The achievement of the boys in the late forties is evident by 1955 no less than 10 Old Boys were studying for degrees at Oxford and a further 12 had gone on to Cambridge!  But joking apart, how many state schools can you think of who could boast 22 of their pupils at Oxford or Cambridge at the same time?   Ricky Wrenn:   when he came to Wellingborough Grammar School he found a school with only eighteen boys in the sixth form. And father decided he would increase the sixth form, he met great resistance from parents. Parents who either couldn’t afford for their boys to remain in school or who wanted them to help in their business. So father set about that problem: he identified a weakness in the educational system in that the public schools were still concentrating on teaching classics and were not teaching science sufficiently and he knew that there were places going in the senior universities in sciences. So he concentrated on the development of science in the school and by ensuring that boys went onto university he was able to demonstrate the value of university education to the parents in this area and so he managed in that way to develop the sixth form.

Possibly a selection from Mr. Wrenn’s broadcast say from Are you at all apprehensive about the future of grammar schools to Leicestershire plan to more coming into the third at the usual sort of grammar schools.:

 

GT & DT:  Just a few of the Teachers so don’t overplay next section 1    show timetable and picture of Nich

DT:   The Women Teachers  Photo

Mr. Nicholas timetabled with rigid precision by Nick (Mr IJN Nicholas, late of Jesus College, Oxford, and a great supporter of Messrs Grey, Jenkins, McEvoy and Dale’s “Latin for Today”---“Discipuli, pictorum spectate.”

 

Mr Dunning:  I think it was in 1945 that Jake returned from service in the RAF. We had been told for weeks ahead to look out!! The staff made us feel that this man must be a colossus and when we first beheld him we couldn't understand - quite diminutive, bespectacled and  ordinary. However, we soon realised what the man was capable of when we were taught by him. …..1940’s boy

His  tests, according to John Hyde and come to that everyone else I knew,  started the second he got into the classroom  - certainly few of us ever heard questions 1 to 5.  And  do you remember hearing the dreaded tones of

 “Out to the board, Tall. Mark in Pendumbu, Marampa, Timbuctu.  Where where is the sun overhead on Tuesday 12th July when its 6 pm in Wellingborough —too slow, sit down, Green……”

 

Dr Jackson Drama Lessons,  Goods,  Fines,  Marking and Horse Racing

the child of  Polish Jews who migrated to England before he was born.  He obtained a teaching post at a Methodist school in Scarborough under Mr. Woolley.   Spike’s wife, Miss Bates  taught many of you during the war.   His nephew Raymond Jackson was the famous Cartoonist JAK

of the Evening Standard

insert David Wilson’s lesson on Dr. Jackson (not earlier parts)

Which of your master’s was this tribute written on his retirement by a fellow colleague:

Most people who had met this  teacher in the course of his long career were left with a deep, often imperishable impression of a colourful and unique personality. Of how many people not in public life can it be said that scores of their acquaintances are able to recall verbatim words they have uttered sometimes decades earlier

Three characteristics emerge above all as the hall-marks of the man.  First is a sense of style - a tendency to do things or not do things in a distinctly individual manner.  Second is the compulsion towards set habits and pattern of behaviour. Finally, there is a strong sense of loyalty towards those things which he feels to be important. 

 

Following a general inspection this teacher was reported to be, and I quote from the inspector’s report, ‘one of the best teachers in the school’.

  Who is it????

He organised dances for the Old Boys in the old Hall and  was known at these dances as the King of the Hokey Cokey. 

He was a demon fast bowler with a unique action­ delivering with the wrong leg forward and his face turned away from the stumps. 

He used to accompany school outings, in particular to the fleet anchored at Plymouth

He was, of course, totally loyal to the school and his house.  Whenever Lions needed a penalty to equalise or win, that penalty was somehow forthcoming. 

He did more than his share in coaching juniors.  They were used to hearing encouragement bellowed through a megaphone when training in bad weather because he would stand in the open window of the staff-room and conduct the session from there no matter how bad the wind and rain outside. 

There are few things more predictable in life than the certainty that this teacher would be doing the Telegraph crossword surrounded by his acolytes during morning break. 

His weapon of chastisement:  Cuthbert, a slipper or according to some a gym-shoe,

If you haven’t yet identified him:

As a final illustration of his distinctive way – described by a teacher colleague  of  how he was able to keep order in a tricky situation.  At the end of one school year after Mr Wrenn and Mr Nicholas had left the stage of the Grammar School Hall, to quell the impatiently murmuring multitude.  The classic remedy , if they won’t shut up, is to pick on one of the big ones and by subduing him calm down the rest.  Not so Ron Ward.   He pointed a finger at the smallest boy I have ever seen at secondary school, a boy called Seamark.  The wretch shuffled up to the platform at the booming command  “You boy!  Come here.”   I shall never forget the contrast between the pair of them standing there side by side as a sudden silence descended. The boy shook in his shoes, the perfect picture of misery, as Ron towered over him glaring down. It was like a tableau from Dickens.

Possibly A couple of other forties teachers…Hobo Cook orSam Harris, Albert Richmond and Nora Bavin

Forties old boys-teachers:  Syd Brown, Doddy Ridge and Johnny Hyde: Bengal Lancers – Dedication to Johnny Hyde and Photo

 

DT:  The Liberal curriculum – Sport -  Don White and Johnny Hyde

You faced an interesting experience in school sport – with the only schoolboy international present at this dinner.  John Hyde the  representative here of perhaps our best rugby first fifteen (though a later year that played in the sixties might disagree – but then they had the advice and support of not just our Johnny, but of Mr. Sparrow as well.

 

At Wellingborough Grammar School the aim was excellence, whether in sport, in academic achievement, or in outside interests. There was none of the modern “That’ll do.” The message was excellence—and anything less was pointed out and something done about it!

GT:  The Liberal curriculum pictures of some of these in my powerpoint – You could, like hundreds of others, have joined one of the many school societies. Of course, it would have meant staying on after school—an unheard of thing today—and if you came from outside Wellingborough, missing the School Special

 

You could have joined the photographic Society, Railway club, or the ATC.

 

You could have joined the Puppet Club under the supervision of Eddie Phillips, and built your own stage and puppets, before going out to childrens’ parties in strange church halls to present unlikely tales told by tangled marionettes floating two inches above the stage, and, amazingly, holding the audience spellbound.

 

If service was your forte, you could have joined the 6th Wellingborough Scouts or TOC H, in both of which you would have met John Dunning, although not in shorts and a woggle at TOC H meetings.

 

Powerpoint on Houses

 

Trips, Did you sing on The Quarter Mater’s store  -My powerpoint

Conclusion

And so, for your 4, 5, 6 or 7 years at Wellingborough Grammar School, things went on much as usual. At least, we thought it was usual at the time. Perhaps it was. Looking back from this distance, we can now see, by modern standards at least, and perhaps even by the standards of the day itself, it was exceptional.

 

At WGS there was little friction and disharmony. In our own self-policing society, we knew the rules, and if we broke them, we took the punishment—usually writing out those said rules any number of times.  No parent came to plead our innocence or berate our teachers. No social worker issued a report on our behalf when we were dropped a form or failed a test. No  one wanted us to fail, but no-one wanted us to lose the sense of achievement in succeeding by removing the idea of failure. At Wellingborough Grammar School, success was what we aimed at—but failure was an option.

 

We competed. In athletics, in rugby, in cricket, in swimming; in drama and in music, in public reading and in school work; against other houses, other schools, and against ourselves. Competition was the lifeblood of the school, and it has made many of us here today competitive in our own lives and careers. And the point of competition was to develop excellence. Excellence was the watchword of the school. In everything, only the best—YOUR best—was good enough, and to achieve that best there were masters ready to give of their knowledge, their  enthusiasm and support and time and effort—if you would too.

 

And that, I would like to think, is the memory we are left with above all, about Wellingborough Grammar School 60 years on. It was a place where, in a spirit of friendship and companionship that has lasted throughout the years, and under the watchful eyes of their masters, boys—hundreds of boys—learnt to work, to compete, to value excellence, and to prepare for a world where these three virtues—work, competition, excellence—are always under siege.

 

It is easy to forget that. At the time, we took it for granted. Afterwards, we forgot it or sometimes denigrated it. Only today, over 60 years distant from that first year at Wellingborough Grammar School do we get a true perspective of what it gave us, and what we took from it. And so we would like to offer you all here tonight a final toast..

 

Finish

Do you remember those subterranean kitchens, with first and second dinner, hallowed by the Boss’s annual question at Christmas Dinner

 

“Who wants stuffing”

to which the reply was always

…………! (You do)

 

The school grew.

Little else had changed. Harold Wrenn still noted  Holiday work essential

 

Show Powerpoint page of The Memories Book