Memories and More Memories of Wellingborough Grammar School:
Mr Wrenn's School by Graham and David Tall
The Launch of Mr Wrenn's School was on 24th November 2013 at The Wrenn School. To discover more about the books click on the title below.
Review Comments on the Launch and 'Mr.Wrenn’s School'
The Launch The Book
it was suggested that ‘we’ wrote it….you and David have brought it all to
life. It’s a credit to your efforts. I was particularly surprised to find my
caustic comment about Pete ‘Taff’ Cameron was included…I do hope he sees
this book and has time to reflect This is going to make some hours of
interesting reading, which will be looked back at several occasions in the
most pleasant afternoon. The book is a fine record - it's odd seeing quotations
from the past turning up in strange places! But I learned a lot more about
people I worked with whom I thought I knew.
Wilson (1952 and Master)
all made mistakes about pupils (I told Graham Phillips he would never make a
rugby player and he went on to play for the saints). In those days you tended to
just say things without thought and it was wrong. No one bothered in teacher
training to warn you of the psychological effect your words about a boy could
have. It wasn't called bullying then but it is now. I wouldn't dream of calling
a boy an idiot now. But I did then. That kind of memory causes me regret. Jake
called me an idiot and I wrote IDIOT on a sixth formers essay! That's how it
was a good launch Graham. I enjoyed meeting many OBs whose names I could not
remember but they were kind enough to tell me who they were. In fact I enjoyed
the whole thing and thank you both and your families for working so hard to put
it all together.
can rest in peace now. You have done your bit for WGS.
was not there and he usually does come so he must have been away. Rod Farey was
Many thanks for a
wonderful event last Sunday I and the friend that accompanied both enjoyed it,
It was wonderful to wander the hallowed corridors again after so many
years. The friend that was with me told me of missing out on going to the
Grammar School by only a couple of points in the selection system and therefore
in the 86 years he has lived in Wellingborough has never been inside the
building. He was delighted to have the opportunity of doing so.
enjoyed the launch and having another look at the school after so many years.
really enjoyed the launch on Sunday, thank you.
Thanks for organising the book launch to be at the school -
despite living within 5 miles for 36 out of the last 41 years I think it was the
first time I'd been back! Maybe there was a Folk Dance or 2, but it's certainly
41 years since I had the experience of walking along the 'top corridor' and even
entering the physics labs. My old stamping ground was Fleming, where in the 6th
Form I worked at lunchtime and after school as a lab technician, in the first
instance under the watchful eye of Peter Knight who is now named in the rogues
gallery sheets displayed in the hall on Sunday! Strange I couldn't recall his
name - there was another Peter Knight worked for a good number of my 41 years
(so far!) at Scott Bader Wollaston and I never made the connection back then.
I've now looked in the on-line magazines for my dad, entered the
school in 1945. Not only did I quickly find him, I found a mention of his elder
brother (Harold, missing in action but mis-spelled Cheeseman) and in the leavers
G.Brown (to Scott Bader - he was my first boss!) and mention of a couple of
others who I knew at Scott Bader!
My dad had told me he'd played cricket with David Frost for
Rushden Baptists so Prof. Brian Clayton's comments prompted me to enquire ...
and yes, he recalled my dad (died 4 years ago unfortunately else I'd have
brought him along) and we recalled several other players between us. I went to
matches as a kid of about 10 or 12 (and some were still in the Rushden Baptist
churches into the '80's). I guess but don't know if David or Brian was among the
team in 'my time' .. pity!!
I take this opportunity to say how much I enjoyed Sunday's book launch and am
very much looking forward to some time with the new book and also the Letters
books, which I hadn't realised were produced.
Almost as good as Amazon!!!
Arrived safely today, and I am already in disgrace with my wife for too
much post-lunch giggling. Thanks for
ALL your hard work
the production on such a comprehensive and informative book.
General co-census is obviously what an excellent job the teaching staff and Harold did at WGS it certainly worked for me in later years, although I did not appreciate it at the time no doubt.
Carr Northamptonshire Library
have already had a good look through your latest book and you both should be
commended for your work – there are teachers/pupils who I knew/was aware of as
well and it was fun finding out about them.
regards to Mr Parish, he was a bit mad, couldn’t control a class at all and
frankly I think he bored all of us to death with too much detail. He also was
the only science teacher who wore a white coat at Weavers – even though he was
on supply! He had mad hair and big glasses. I can see him now trying to eject
people from the classroom and of course he was quite a weedy guy by these stage
and teenagers are quite difficult to manage. However, on a one-to-one basis he
was always very kind and helpful.
book arrived yesterday and is compulsive reading, I am getting into trouble for
not going for meals when summoned. Thank
you so much for your painstaking work.
safely received – brilliant ! Glad it all went off so well
Best regards to you and David
thanks for the book - it arrived a couple of days ago and I'm already half way
through it. It brings back many (mostly happy) memories as well as mentioning
people and events that I have absolutely no recollection of, even though they
were during my time at the school ! I still believe that even with all its
faults the system back then was more conducive to producing students ready to
face the realities of life - including in my case my first academic
"failure", having been released by Exeter U after a single year, even
though I played football for the second eleven and became a really good darts
player in the pub down the road from my digs ! I'm sure Father and even
Harold would have been gratified ( and probably somewhat amazed ) to learn that
"Hubbs" would eventually be elected to Fellowship of the Royal
Institute ( now Society ) of Chemistry !
again to both yourself and David for yet another "treasure".
to let you know that the book arrived safely yesterday.
thanks for mailing it so promptly. I
had planned to read it over the Christmas period, But I thought I would take a
peek immediately to get a taste – and now I can’t put it down!!
is truly excellent: the sections / chapters work very well and it’s
brilliantly informative. You’ve both done a magnificent job.
loved Ricky’s chapter, as I’m sure I’ll love the other chapters as I get
to them (which won’t be long now!).
and David should be justly proud of your achievement with this ‘final’ book
in your excellent series…….(unless you write another called “Miss Bavin’s School”
have just received my copy of “the book” and a quick
look turned into an all afternoon session dipping into to it
and finally working my way through the whole book.
is monumental, epic, and brought floods of memories pouring
from the back of my mind. You have done it again!
Well done! And thank you most sincerely for your fine
efforts and extensive time in putting this wonderful
catalogue of memories and facts about HAW, staff and boys as
a finale of the WGS series..
trust that you can now rest from your labours and have an
enjoyable festive season.
Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
read Arend ‘Hoogy’ as he was known when I was there,
Hoogervorst’s comments I have to say the same…..reading
some of the memories of others has triggered so many more of
my own……little day to day scenario’s that had been
pushed to the back of my mind, suddenly as clear as though
they were yesterday….other oddities like realising that I
must have walked by Prof Terry Griggs at work dozens of
times, not knowing he was a fellow OG…..If the result is
the same for all the readers, there’s enough memories for
a few more books……….somehow I think they will just
have to stay in our minds…..
I really like is the ‘warts and all’ comments…..good
to see the negative views of the school, as well as all the
was surprised there was no mention of some of the other
caretaking staff who used to work with Jock……Wilf
Burrell…who used to live in Alma St…Joe Eales….who
must have been a distant relative on one side of our
family….Archie…who came after them, and who’s surname
escapes me……and no one mentioned the school cat
Freda…a dark tortoiseshell….lovingly looked after by
Nora in the time I was there……
is my current bed time reading book…….just pick up and
open at any page….it’s superb!
thought we might see ‘Killer’ Goodman at the Launch…he
still lives where he lived when he was teaching at the
school…….I think I will have to go and knock on his
only disappointment at the launch, was that from my year,
there was only Alan Ball and myself present…..rather
sad……..although there were a handful of younger
ones……I hadn’t seen Alan for some 25 years, but we
recognised each other straight away…..
again to you and David for all your efforts. Happy
Christmas, and Best Wishes for 2014
on the new book – a wonderfully varied and evocative
approach to the topic. Loved your summary of OGs who have
gone on to other things—but here’s a curious thing:
travelling across Canada in my various hats as arts
commentator and arts board member, I often ran into Richard
Bradshaw ... yet it never occurred to either of us that we
had been at school together. In fact, we spent one whole
evening seated next to each at the table of the
governor-general (our representative of the Queen) at a
banquet at Rideau Hall in Ottawa (our version of Buckingham
Palace) held to celebrate the award—to Bradshaw, among
others—of the GG’s performing arts prizes for lifetime
achievement. He was a gifted and lively conversationalist,
and we talked of many things musical and non-musical, but
our shared schooldays never came up. Four whole form-years
is a vast chasm, it seems.
to let you know how much I enjoyed ‘Mr
Wrenn’s School’ – which I finished reading over
the Christmas period.
had yet another chuckle at the story about Dr Jackson’s
case [retold on P130]. You cannot imagine how many times I
have told that story over the years – although my own
recollection is slightly different, in that I think it was
just after lunch, as we were in Spike’s new room, actually
waiting for him, when the episode unfolded in front of our
particularly appreciated the section on Martin Cheale. I
have always considered he had more influence on me and my
subsequent career than anyone else at WGS - I always held
him in the utmost respect.
again for the series of books.
Thank you very much for 4 excellent books and the delightful afternoon
of the launch.
book, reading it now.
Graham – Book arrived today and ok. Have already
done a ‘flip read’ and it really makes fascinating
reading. I will enjoy sitting down with it properly
and reliving my Doddington Road days!!
have much to thank Mr Wrenn for. In the July before my
School Cert year I was cycling from Rushden to school and
was taken very ill on the way. Cutting a long story
short I had double pneumonia and was away from school
until the following January, missing the July exams and then
a whole crucial school term. The result was that, in
the February ‘Mock School Cert’ exams I failed all but
one subject. I felt there was no point in carrying on
to the real exams and my parents agreed and asked the school
if I could leave at the Easter. Mr Wrenn then wrote to
my parents and asked them to come to the school. My
parents and I met with Mr Wrenn and he told us that I had
the ability to get stuck in and achieve a good School Cert.
We listened to him and agreed and the end of the story is
that I did pass the full School Cert, in fact, I was one of
only two in my form to do so. Obviously to have a good
School Cert was a tremendous help in starting a career and
so will always be grateful for Mr Wrenn’s intervention,
help and support at a critical time in my life.
thanks again for the book and, as they say, ‘The
cheque’s in the post!’
book arrived safely and I am finding it amazingly
interesting. In retrospect, I regret that I did not
maintain contact with the school since my departure in 1954.
My career with ICI took me to New York in 1965.
I have made many trips back to the UK but they
have usually been short and hurried. My wife and
I did visit the school in the late 1970's. It seemed
to have changed dramatically.
Best wishes to you and your family for 2014!
Graham and David,
have at last finished your magnum opus at the end of a
deliberately slow reading. Truth is.. I didn't want it to
end. The experience was the closest I am ever likely to get
to re-living those 6 memorable years between '69 and '75.
Waugh wrote of the Oxford that he had briefly known in the
'20s that it was "submerged
now and obliterated, irrecoverable as Lyonnesse, so quickly
have the waters come flooding in", and it is with
similar sentiments that I look back on those years at the
end of The Grammar School's life. There is still, even after
all this time, a deep sadness as well as a burning sense of
anger that such a fine institution was needlessly destroyed,
for squalid political reasons, by officials who were mere
pygmies compared with the pioneers who created the school
and the man who forged its formidable reputation- Harold
overarching sentiments, however, are gratitude and a sense
of privilege. I am grateful that HAW saw fit to appoint me
to the teaching staff, and today, looking back nearly 40
years, I feel enormously privileged to have been a part of
it all and to have participated in something that was so
well worth doing and made such a huge difference to the
lives and destinies of so many boys from small provincial
towns and villages without any special advantages of birth
book was full of surprises. From it I learned many things
about colleagues with whom I worked closely which were
completely unknown to me and of which I wish I had been
aware at the time. I felt humbled by the accounts of the
dedication and industry of so many highly effective members
of staff who were confident in their chosen career and,
unlike myself, were not simply marking time until they found
out what they really wanted to do in life.
rather unpleasant, surprise was your account on p.258 of the
shameful return to the donors of all the WGS cups and
foundation monies. Reminded me of ethnic cleansing....
enough, the biggest shock in the book for me was the
reference to an incident when an enraged "Buzz"
Temple seized one Noel "Noz" Drake by the throat
and pinned him up, with some considerable violence, against
the lockers. This seemed so out of character for the mild
and gentle Mr. Temple, late of Queens' College, Cambridge,
that I sought enlightenment from one of my trans-Atlantic
correspondents, Jon Whitney. Here is his reply:
Noz Drake incident was something that as you mentioned was
out of character for Ol Buzz, a lovely man who unfortunately
on that day was probably just sick and tired of Noz and I .
Basically we were reviewing a text book , Buzz would always
single me out at I could rarely keep a straight face when I
saw the word “ La Piscine “ ( swimming pool ) , on this
particular occasion Noz sitting next to me uttered the
simple words of ‘ why don’t you tell him to sod off “
, which Sadly Buzz heard , and that was it. Buzz launched
out of his chair promptly raced across and had Noz pinned up
against the lockers with one hand practically round his neck
and the other pinning his chest up against the wall. I’m
not 100% sure if he had Noz of the ground or not, I think he
was. Both Noel and I have replayed the story many times over
in conversations and laughed it was quite memorable and
after leaving the school I ran into Buzz several times where
it was always a bit awkward ! And as you say, out of
character for such a quiet and decent man.
and David, you can both be proud of a job supremely well
done. I will not be alone in being moved to the point of
tears, nor will mine be the only lump in the throat.I have
always considered myself as having an unemotional
personality, but reading your account of the glory days of
our dear Grammar School has affected me more than I can say.
With deep gratitude, and forever in your debt,
At the Launch We sold 115 copies of Mr Wrenn’s School and 29 other books in the series.
At the OG’s Christmas Dinner 32 copies were sold. They were good days!
Alan Abbott, Lyle
Abbott, Alan Ball,
Tony Bayes, Clive Bellamy,
Geoff Billett, James Bollen?,
Howard Buchanan, Alan Buckby,
Paul Buckby, Bob Buckler,
Richard Buckler, Nigel
Bursnell, Matthew Butler,
Mark Carrington, Roy Catling,
Keith Cheasman, Brian
Clayton, Chris Clucas,
Bernard Coker, Paul Coleman,
Dennis Collins, Stephen
Copson, Richard Cox,
Mark Darnell, Geoff Dean,
John Denton, Alan Desborough,
Roderick Farey, Alan Fokerd,
Rodney Foster, Ivor Frost,
John Garley, Robert Gittins,
Terry Griggs, Steve Hamilton,
Steve Hamilton, Neil Hardy,
Emily Harris, Emily Harris,
Allen Henson, David Hill,
John Hoddle, Richard Huddart,
Laurence Joyce, Peter Kennell,
Ray King-Underwood, Jean
Laughton, Neil Laughton,
Martin Layton, Gerald Lees,
Kerry Lewis, Bernard Lines,
Helen Lock, Eric Love,
Tony Lovell, Colin Maddams,
Colin Maddams, Alan Marlow,
Colin McCall, Pete Murdin,
Rex Nevett, Stefan Novak,
Richard Oberman, Mick Orton,
Mick Orton, Michael Owen,
Lionel Parker, Bill Parkin,
William Parkin, William
Parkin, Martin Percy,
Roy Pettit, David Pratt,
Jonathan Reynolds, Rocky
(Don) Riach, Graham
Ridge, Brian Robinson,
Bob Smart, Dick Smart,
Peter Smith, Peter Soper,
David Spencer, Don Stevens,
Graham St-John Willey,
Brian Tanner, Nick Tompkins,
David Toseland, Steve Turnock,
Mike Wadsworth, Richard
Weekley, Roger Weston,
John Wheeler, Nigel White,
Peter White?, Peter Wieland,
Tim Willford, David Wilson,
Denise Wrenn, Ricky Wrenn,
Lynn Wrenn (Weston),
might be astounded by the remarkable resemblance between Richard Till (p213) and
Mr P Hayes (whose first name I have forgotten - p215). Well done - best wishes -
One issue I have to
take up with you however and to say I was disconcerted, is an understatement,
over the Chapter on Page 33 and the attribute I have been given concerning Peter
True for some of the time Peter Buckey was in the same class as myself but I hardly knew the guy and as for contacting him in later years this is just not true. I do not know from where you obtained the information, but certainly not from me.
I guess it is now impossible to revise the statement but someone should correctly be acknowledged as the provider of the information.