Old Wodens’ Annual Dinner

This year’s annual dinner will be held on Friday 18 May 2018 at the County Hotel, Walsall, meeting at 7:30pm for an 8pm meal.

As numbers attending seem to reduce every year, John Clifford is keen for as many as possible to come along, please.

Please get in touch with him, for further details, and to book your place. If you don’t know how to contact him, then please email

webmaster @ wbhs.info

(with no spaces in the address), and I will put you in touch.


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.

Kipping/Davis memorabilia – 1953/54

CSK seems to have been very keen on boys paying attention during assembly, and a recurrent theme is their poor performance in answering questions about the readings from the Bible! Interesting to note that CSK didn’t know the difference between “their” and “there” on several documents!

Here are a few snippets from this collection, including the wit and wisdom of other staff members:

  • “Spectators’ interest in the game was rather tepid. Amongst them moved four young gentlemen whose faces seemed familiar. Indeed, had they been recognisable from the wearing of a school cap they might have found places on the attendance list.” [ABT, report on 2nd XI v Bilston, Mar 54]
  • “…hardly any football for some three weeks … If the School do not want to play on Saturday afternoons, it would be better to loan the field to schools who do.” [CSK, 1954]
  • “…juniors should watch from the touch line on the school side and not sit on the bank reading.”   “Presumably new boys. Disgusting litter of sticky paper on the field. Anything thrown down has to be picked up again. Even if grown-up people litter the streets, etc, with paper, we want to train boys to avoid this filthy practice.” [CSK, v Dudley, Oct 53]
  • “It was a hard, clean game, with no fouls and one which I enjoyed refereeing.” [FC, v Wolv Municipal GS, Nov 53]
  • “Some utterly silly little boys – presumably new boys – on the far side of the field, spent part of the first half throwing lumps of earth at each other.”   “…linesmen should be larger boys with considerable knowledge of the game, who can help the referee….. In professional football the linesman will have to take the whistle if the referee is incapacitated.” [CSK, Joe Caddick Cup via Wolv Muni, Nov 53]
  • “The general enthusiasm (?) of the School is deplorable.”  “Boys playing in nets without pad. One can be hit on the knee quite as easily when playing in this was as in a game.”   “…it is easier and pleasanter to watch cricket when there is not continual loud talking.” [CSK, May 53]
  • “It is rather a pity the old practice of playing on is not pursued since our batsmen got no practice…” [CSK, after WBHS won by 9 wickets v Brewood, May 53]
  • “Not content with the frightful practice of putting a cap on the field to mark bowler’s run, one fielder threw down a sweater but was at once discouraged. Presumably the next step will be a mackintosh.” [CSK, v Holly Lodge, Jun 54]
  • “I found this game, like the weather, dull.” [ABT, v W Brom 1st XI, May 54]
  • “Any case of wearing hair in a silly manner may result in loss of points for your House. We shall look forward to the time in the army when such boys will be compelled to wear their hair sensibly.” [CSK report for w/e 8 May 54]
  • “School warned about bad manners especially in the street.”   “Owing to faddy little boys there is difficulty with second lunch. We must try having special tables for these faddy boys who will have to wait until all others have started.” [CSK, report for w/e 1 May 54]
  • [CSK report for w/e 16 Jan 54] – he was not a happy man! Worth a look.
  • “A senior wearing his hair in a ridiculous manner with a long lock outside his cap. Very drastic action will be taken in future against boys who let the school down in this manner.” [CSK w/e 7 Jan 54]
  • “Firsts. Very noisy at chess, Some boys have no idea of how to play and only very few of how to behave. Chess men thrown about the floor….. Piles of stuff thrown about in the changing rooms. There must be some feeble-minded person who is deliberately throwing clothes about.” [CSK, behaviour, 10 Dec 1953]

I could go on – there are many more delightful snapshots showing that CSK was concerned with the tiniest details that fell short of his exacting standards. Have a browse yourself…

Kipping/Davis memorabilia – 1954/55

About 40 items today. Almost all sport-related. The “cover page” that says “History 1954/55” was used in the same style from as early as 1936 up to 1956. Looks awfully primitive these days, but it is remarkable that CSK used the same potato-printing-like technique for so many years!

Highlights today:

  • “IIM – possibly the worst form we have ever had.” (Grades Summer 55 – 21 grade 0s)
  • Sam Mangan plays a Piano Concerto at a Choir Concert in July. I knew he was a good pianist as he accompanied Britten’s Ceremony of Carols superbly when I was there in 1963.
  • “We should normally be able to learn very little from the behaviour of other schools.” (Cricket  report v Dudley, Jul 55)
  • “Our only redeeming feature was that we LOOKED smart…”  “Greenwood and the scorers were the only redeeming features.” (Cricket 2nd XI v West Brom, Jun 55)
  • “Our own School [boundary] flag incorporates part of the Town Arms and is of unique design.” (1st XI, Brewood, May 55)
  • “Batting not good, but tail wagged well.” (1st XI v Bilston, May 55)
  • “Disgraceful lateness. Two boys arrived 2:40 and one boy gave the excuse that he was having his lunch.”  “Some 50 percent of the School are not fit to have playing fields like ours.” (1st XI v Holly Lodge, May 55)

Reminder: the link for this collection’s gallery is on the RH top corner of the window under Fixed Pages, CSK Documents.