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.

4 Memories books

Memories of W.G.S.

Woolley Book

Letter Book

Mr Wrenn's School


Book Cover

Launch Photographs one

Launch Photographs two

Launch Photos three

Launch Transcript

Errors Book Reviews



Review Comments on the Launch and 'Mr.Wrenn’s School'

The Launch      The Book


The Launch

Martin Percy

Although 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 future.       Martin  Percy


Geoff  Dean  (Master)

A 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.


David Wilson   (1952 and Master)

We 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 continued.

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.

You can rest in peace now. You have done your bit for WGS. 

Killer was not there and he usually does come so he must have been away. Rod Farey was there,


Bill Parkin (1957-1962)

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. 


Steve Hamilton  (1970-76)

Greatly enjoyed the launch and having another look at the school after so many years.


Richard Buckle (1962-68)

I really enjoyed the launch on Sunday, thank you.


Keith Cheasman

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!! 


Jonathan Reynolds. 1973

May 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. 


The Book

John Dickenson

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    


Peter Negus

Congratulations on 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.

Jon-Paul Carr  Northamptonshire Library

I 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.

In 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.


Richard Adkins

The 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.

Very best regards.


Geoff Martin

Book safely received – brilliant !    Glad it all went off so well     Best regards to you and David


John Hobbs (1952)

many 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 !

Thanks again to both yourself and David for yet another "treasure".


David Powis

Just to let you know that the book arrived safely yesterday.

Many 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!!

It is truly excellent: the sections / chapters work very well and it’s brilliantly informative.  You’ve both done a magnificent job.

I 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!).

You 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”


Arend Hoogervorst


I am speechless.

I 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.

It is monumental, epic, and brought floods of memories pouring from the back of my mind. You have done it again!

Brilliant! 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..

I trust that you can now rest from your labours and have an enjoyable festive season.

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.


Martin  Percy

Hi Graham.

Well…..having 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…..

What I really like is the ‘warts and all’ comments…..good to see the negative views of the school, as well as all the positives…..

I 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……

This is my current bed time reading book…….just pick up and open at any page….it’s superb!

I 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 door……

The 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…..

Thanks again to you and David for all your efforts. Happy Christmas, and Best Wishes for 2014


 Max Wyman

Congratulations 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.


Paul Cox (1955)

Just to let you know how much I enjoyed ‘Mr Wrenn’s School’ – which I finished reading over the Christmas period.

I 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 eyes.

I 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.

Thanks again for the series of books.


Bill Parkin (57-62)

Thank you very much for 4 excellent books and the delightful afternoon
of the launch.


Nick Tompkins 

Great book, reading it now.

Jim Richardson

Thanks 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!!

I 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.

Anyhow, thanks again for the book and, as they say, ‘The cheque’s in the post!’


David Barber  (    -1954)

The 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!


Howard Buchanan    Master

Dear Graham and David,

I 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.

Evelyn 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 Wrenn.

The 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 and wealth.

Your 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.

Another, 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....

Funnily 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:

The 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.

Graham 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), 



Geoff  Dean

You 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 -


Peter Negus

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 Buckey.
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.