WBHS Choir makes record…well, nearly!

Alan Coad has kindly provided this account of WBHS’s final concert: 


The last major performance by Wednesbury Boys’ High School Choir was held in St Bartholomew’s Church in the spring of 1968. An ambitious project, the main piece was Haydn’s Mass No 3 in D Minor; which had been written in commemoration of Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile.

During the last years of WBHS, the choir was under the expert tutelage of music master Timothy Lees. Rehearsals were held at lunchtimes in the Music Room, usually once per week; increasing in frequency as we approached major events.

Rehearsals for the “Nelson” Mass, must have gone particularly well, because a recording company was engaged to produce a vinyl record of the performance. This was agreed on the understanding that sufficient numbers of pupils and their families gave an undertaking to purchase said record.

The final rehearsal, on the afternoon prior to the evening of the concert, was also expected to act as a sound check for the recording equipment. The choir, plus guest soloists and organist assembled, and waited, and waited. Phone calls were made, but there was no sign of the people from the recording company. Eventually, we had to proceed with the rehearsal without them.

The recording company finally showed up that evening, about 30 minutes before the concert was due to begin; hastily setting up gantries and microphones.

Whether the recording equipment was ever switched on, or the recording was so poor that it could not be transferred to record, we will never know. Communications with the recording company fell silent after the event (if any OW has a more detailed explanation of what really happened, I would love to know…many pupils were disappointed that they never got to play their own recording!).

The event itself was well-attended and the audience appreciative of a stirring performance. For the record (no pun intended!), solo parts were sung by: Margaret Osborne (soprano), Linda Watts (mezzo-soprano) and two old boys of the school, Keith Noakes (tenor) and David Taylor (bass).

The choir comprised:


Archer                 Horley

Ashmore              Sprules

Lockley                Tibbitts

Gibbons               Richards

Busse                  Coad

Flowers                Timmins

Collins                  Yarnold

Higgs                   Wilkinson

Phillips                 Askey

Hubble                 Farmer

Stone                  Butler

Jennings              Jones

Martin                  Lloyd


D Richards, R Corfield, D Burkitt, J Taylor, L Gutteridge, S Foster, K Horley


Mr A Watkins, J Cartwright, P Horley, B Poxon, K Burton, G Maxfield


Mr H Baptist-Smith, Mr L Smith, Mr A Rimmer, Mr R Edwards, P L Cartwright, R Hill, S Allen, A J Goodwin


Colin Rae

In March, Alan Braddock kindly let me have this news item about the death of Colin “Bugsy” Rae:


By Nick Griffiths

An inquest has been opened into the death of a pensioner cyclist who was in a collision with a lorry on Brampton Road in Carlisle.

ColinRae83  th_st_rae

Former teacher Colin Rae, 83, died in a crash last Wednesday morning as he cycled near the University of Cumbria campus. A lorry driver, 61, from Carlisle, was later arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and failing to stop after an accident. He was bailed by police pending further inquiries.

An inquest was opened by the North and West Cumbria Coroner, David Roberts. The cause of Mr Rae’s death was said to be head and chest injuries. The inquest was then adjourned until a date yet to be decided.

Mr Rae lived at Whiteclose Gate, off Brampton Road. His friends paid tribute to a fit, independent man who – despite his two replacement hips – was often seen riding his bike around the city. He was a founder member of the Carlisle Cycling Campaign – now Cycling Carlisle – and was the group’s first chairman in 1992.

Mr Rae was the chairman of the Cumbrian Society of Organists and a former head of maths at Trinity School in Carlisle. He was the youngest of three brothers and is survived by an elder brother, who lives in Sheffield.

First published at 11:36, Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Published by

It is interesting to read he was Head of Mathematics in Carlisle, given that I have him down as teaching Physics and Geography when at WBHS.

Next meeting of Old Wodens

Trevor Reece has asked me to let you know that there is a dinner at 7:30 for 8pm on 3 November 2017 at the Beverley Hotel, Walsall (58 Lichfield Road, Walsall, WS4 2DJ), to which all are welcome.

OW Len Conolly – a professor of English in Ontario, Canada – will be there. Len is an expert on George Bernard Shaw.

Trevor is particularly interested in contacting Trevor Chambers, Tony Hopkins, Keith Darby, John Wassel and Jackie Bayliss, all of whom played in the 1959 football First XI.

If you don’t know how to contact Trevor, please email me on webmaster AT wbhs.info (but replacing the AT with @ and leaving no spaces in the address). I will then put you in touch with him.

Obituary: Phil Clift

Phil Clift, who died in October 2015, had a long and distinguished career in the field of education. He was a man of extraordinary energy, persistence, quiet determination, and considerable intellect. In his personal and professional life he was diligent, organised, careful, disciplined and meticulous. Almost teetotal and an early riser, he was something of an embodiment of the Protestant work ethic.

Philip Sidney Clift was born in Essington Staffordshire in 1931, the oldest child of Sidney and Beatrice Clift. His father was, for many years, the headmaster of the local primary school in Short Heath. Academically able, in 1941 he was sent to Wednesbury Boys High School at the age of 9. He completed Higher School Certificate in 1949. Continue reading

Philip Clift (WBHS 1941-49)

Philip’s son writes:

It is with great regret that I write to advise you of the death of my father Philip Sidney Clift on Saturday 17th October 2015. He passed away peacefully in his sleep.

My father (born December 1931) attended Wednesbury High School between 1941 and 1949.  In his later years he recounted tales of the school, which he recalled with very considerable fondness.  These tales were usually liberally salted with references to a certain Mr Kipping and having read some of the entries in the Old Wodens website I can now see why.    As I recall he attended a number of Old Wodens events (annual dinners?) until he was too frail to do so, having suffered a stroke.

A little more than a year ago I travelled up from my home on the Kent/Sussex border to take my father back to his old home village (Essington) to see his childhood home, then to try to follow his path to school, initially on several buses and latterly on a bicycle.  It was quite a distance for a small boy of 9; for some reason my father was sent to WBHS at 9 years of age.  We had a little difficulty locating the old school because it had changed quite a bit since he was last there.

The education provided by WBHS provided my father with a strong foundation in life, the benefit of which was passed to his family.  Philip Clift married Eirfron (my mother) in 1953 and the marriage was dissolved in the 70s. He subsequently married Laura.  He is survived by both and by their respective sons and families (Nicholas and Rhys, Christopher and Stephen), by whom he is greatly missed.

His funeral will take place in Northampton on 2nd November.  Details are available from me on request.  There will be a short recital of part of The Lady of Shallot which he learned by heart at school, just one small example of knowledge fixed in the mind at WBHS and treasured for life.

I should be very grateful if you would publish this note on the Old Wodens website in order that it might be brought to the attention of his friends and those who knew him at school.

Click for 1947 photograph of Philip.