Staff and Old Boys’ Memories

Last updated: 17 Jul 09 (substantially amended when moved to WordPress in April 2016)

This page is largely up to you!

The first 9 titles below are links to much longer articles.

P C Ray, pupil 1937-44, remembers the war years at WBHS


W R Swale, English master, describes the early days (1926-30)


School trip to Calafell, Spain, 1968 (Jim Croton, c1966-c1973)


John Dobson recalls…


Bryn Oakley remembers (episode 1)


Jim Croton describes life backstage


Geoffrey Marsh remembers the WWII years


Trevor Reynolds looks back to the early years after WWII


Jim Croton tells a fishy story


Mel Thomas breaks into verse:

It’s a school that is sadly not with us

(except, of course, in the guise of Wood Green High since the late 60’s)

It’s a school that is no longer with us,
Remembered by most with great joy,
An establishment known for commitment
To provide what was best for a boy.

It was built in St Paul’s Road in Wednesbury,
Twenty-Seven was the year I’ve heard tell.
Harry Folios knows all about opening,
He was there, so remembers it well.

As a year, Twenty-Seven was exciting
And not only for Wednesbury Boys:
Charles Lindburgh flew solo-Atlantic,
The ‘Talkies’ was one of its joys.

Twas the year of Al Jolson, ‘Jazz Singer’;
Malc. Cambell drove Bluebird – such speed;
Mae West was outrageous and witty;
Noel Coward’s plays best, all agreed.

And so the school rose high in stature,
Its standards of teaching supreme,
Maintained by Headmasters of standing,
C S Kipping perhaps was the cream.

His chemistry lessons, notorious,
For leaving his class in a mess,
He juggled his balls as an encore,
Then his scholars were forced to play chess.

There were six days of schooling for students,
Compulsory sport twice a week,
No excuses accepted for missing,
No allowances made for the meek.

It produced men of stature and courage,
Each one a strong, confident male:
To name just a few: Harry Folios,
J Clifford, C Cartwright, C Vale.

Now Corwyn’s so pleased that he’s seeing,
Old Wodens’ Society thrive,
Recalling great days at the High School
And keeping its memory alive.


 

 

wbhs0708a

Phil Ray (1937-44) has kindly provided a Prefect’s lapel badge and an account of their duties, powers and privileges. He says I am a hard taskmaster to expect recollections of these matters after so many years, but has done a splendid job, for which I am extremely grateful! In my day (1969/70) every Sixth Former was a prefect, and had no privileges and few powers. It was so insignificant a role, I have almost no recollection of it, apart from being threatened by many a Fifth Former! On the back of the badge is embossed (in microscopic letters) “W O Lewis (Badges) Ltd, Birmingham”. This company was established in 1832 and is still producing enamelled badges in 2009!

  1. The main joy of being a prefect was that the library was your form room, with comfortable chairs and tables to work at. This was your base and the Boss expected to find you there if not in a lesson, as he regarded prefects as second line managers – unpaid! The other main privilege was being allowed to walk round the tennis courts i.e. away from the mass.
  2. Duties included listing those who turned up to support “the school” on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons when school matches were played. The list was given to the Head. This was a great opportunity for those of us in Wood Green House to curry favour with him obviously. I think this stopped quite soon after the war began. Certainly I never did it.
  3. Taking a first or second year class if a master was not available . This could be for a few minutes if a master was just called away, but also a whole lesson. It was not difficult to take a lesson if there was a text book and personally I realised I wanted to be a teacher partly as a result of this “early works experience”, and I certainly remember prefects taking our year and it was taken for granted that we behaved reasonably well.
  4. Getting school assembly ready. Prefects controlled behaviour at the back door of the hall and guarded the front door. A message was sent to the staff room and the Head when all was ready. The staff moved in at the front and the prefect closed the door and opened it when the Boss was ready to leave. This sometimes called for quick action as CSK could sometimes decide to leave in mid-sentence with a sort of cough if his lozenge got stuck.
  5. Collect a piece of paper with the details of the lesson to be read by one of the prefects. Bearing in mind his idiosyncratic handwriting, it often took several of us to decide what was meant.
  6. Prefects emptied the school at break by searching the cloakrooms, and then manned the doors to keep everyone out, opening up again when the bell went. On one occasion I recall in my fourth or fifth year the prefects failed to notice that some of my contemporaries were herding first formers into the cloakroom between the cloakroom and the yard. It was Alan Owen’s idea, a comparatively mild, bespectacled boy normally, who became the chief executive officer of Stoke on Trent. The Head heard the noise and came along the corridor and gently remonstrated with Alan that perhaps the first formers had suffered enough and ever afterwards referred to him as Horatius – quite suitable for a classically educated Chemist. No doubt Jack Ede would have murmured, “Black Hole of Calcutta” or Horace Coombes — our equivalent to your Ladkin — “the press” or “the masses”. I recall it as a great place for culture and wit.
  7. They helped at lunch time too and ate after the crowds had gone and were treated to “extras” from the dinner ladies — one of whom was an absolute peach.
  8. Before the war brought sweet-rationing, there was a wooden hut with a side which was hinged and opened up at break into a tuck shop in which a prefect helped one of the masters, but this was long since gone by 1943-4.

Tony Bullock (whose OW son, Chris, has kindly made many other contributions to this site), has produced this fascinating insight into war-time WBHS: It was in 1942, when I was sixteen, that I joined 196 Squadron Air Defence Cadet Corps in Walsall. I used to cycle there from Wednesbury twice a week – I was very keen! Then a year later a new Squadron, No 240, was started, based at Wednesbury Boys’ High School and two of the teachers became officers in the Corps, Mr F L G Smith and Mr A B Turner. They became Flight Lieutenant Smith and Flight Lieutenant Turner, and they acted as instructors for Aircraft Recognition, Morse Code, and Drill (Square Bashing). They also accompanied us when we went on weekly holidays to RAF stations. The squadron was now named the ATC (Air Training Corps).If any other visitors have memories of this era, please do let me know!


Trevor Reynolds disappoints Sam Mangan: Geoff Donaldson, at the 2009 OWA dinner and on the 1950/51 First XI football photo, remembered me playing the piano in the hall at lunchtimes. I used to play popular songs (standards) by ear and played some such medleys in school concerts. I was a great disappointment to Sam Mangan who wanted me to play Chopin Waltzes in those concerts ! These days I play keyboard at 2 Methodist churches.


Chris Bullock recalls the strange arrangements for Roman Catholics: As a Catholic, I didn’t have to study Religious Instruction with the rest of the class, and I had the advantage (?) of not having to attend assembly either! This let me wander around an almost empty school with a few others of the same religious background, while everyone was singing ‘Arte, Marte, Vigore’ or certain variations on that pronunciation.

However, it was expected that I had Religious Instruction, and for that I had to attend St Mary’s Church on a Wednesday evening with a few others that had been lured away from Catholic Schools into ‘hell and damnation’!

Needless to say, I wasn’t too enthralled with this arrangement and to quote NG Anderton, who presumably had feedback from the Church in Form 2, “Attendance at Instruction has been spasmodic and this is reflected in the poor exam result (20%)”. This was only surpassed by the comments on the following term “Attendance has again been very poor, and he is not making progress” — reaching a memorable 3% in the term marks.

Since no-one seemed too bothered by this performance, I no longer attended after Form 2, seemingly having succumbed (willingly!) to ‘hell and damnation’.


OW Harry Abel wrote to John Clifford in May 1977: “As I write this I am wearing the old school tie that you so kindly sent me following my daughter’s telephone enquiry to the school secretary regarding the possibility of being able to purchase a tie and from which store.”

“Subsequently she has rung the secretary thanking her for her part and suggested that I should be writing to tender my thanks to you.”

“Although I left Wednesbury Boys’ High School as it was then called in 1930, it still holds many happy memories for me. I have been more than grateful for the education I received there including the discipline and moral standards which have been maintained throught my life.”

“When I obtained a “Free Place” in 1925 the old house was the school which had begun only 12 months earlier and Mr C S Kipping, the Headmaster. The wing containing the Hall, Chemistry and Physics labs and additional classrooms was built during my stay. I suppose inevitably time has changed the face of the School, but I shall always have a soft spot for WBHS.

“Again , many thanks for forwarding both the school and old school ties. I shall always treasure them.”


David Chorley narrowly avoids being an Old Woden: Imagine my surprise to find a photo of Jim Croton on the net…..

I narrowly avoided being a Woden… and were it not for South Staffs Education Committee changing to West Bromwich, I would have been the youngest Woden ever (my class at Hobs Road was the last to take the Eleven Plus, but I and three others had been advanced a year, cos we were so clever, like, …. and West Brom wouldn’t take us…. Two years of Mrs. Bridget and her Scottish Country dancing could do serious damage to a young boy’s psyche…. so I became an incomprehensive pupil…. but that’s another story….)

My brother John is active(?) as an old Woden….but I would like to e-mail Jim Croton and any other WBHS/WGHS oldies who might recognize the name of Chorley without going into an uncontrolled laughing fit or choking on their Farley’s Rusks……. [I can put anyone who wishes to contact David in touch. Please email webmaster@wbhs.info.]

By the way, for anyone who might be interested I’m practising medicine in Oklahoma and have nine (yes that’s right, NINE) children…… [You’d think he’d know what caused that, wouldn’t you?!]

David Chorley, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

PS. What ever happened to AKP Rimmer? Is Jim Croton still cleaning steam engines on the SVR?


All sorts from Carl Salmon: I am writing in reply to Roger Best’s request asking what happened to Carl Salmons – well, I am pleased to announce that I am still alive and kicking and joking (as Roger pointed out, with my initials I had to develop a sense of humour – thanks for that one Roger).

After leaving WBHS, I did a 5 year apprenticeship as a design draughtsman, but by the time I had qualified in 1971, I had decided to move into sales, which is where I have been since then – I am currently the M.D. of a security seal company based in Cannock.

Because my parents moved to Aldridge in 1965, and I worked in Birmingham, I quickly lost touch with all my old classmates – I did keep in touch with John Rowley for quite some time, but we have not been in touch for nearly 20 years, which is when my wife and I moved to the exotic surroundings of Cannock.

Yesterday (27dec02!) was the first time I had logged onto your web site, and it brought back many fond memories of WBHS, especially the 1962 school photograph that Micky Skyte sent to you (I still have a copy somewhere).

I was in Manor house and I can remember some of the houses for some of the guys on your list for the 1962 photograph:-

  • Micky Atkins – Manor
  • Billy Bates – Wood Green
  • Ronnie Burns – Manor
  • Pete (Coco) Coleyshaw – Manor
  • Richard Cooper – Wood Green
  • Alan (Cotchy) Cotterill – Lodge
  • Frank (Putcha) Dicken – Manor
  • Keith Dixon – Lodge
  • Roy (Mogsy) Morgan – Manor
  • John Rhodes – Lodge (1961 – 1966)
  • Keith Worrall – Lodge
  • Stephen Greenwood – Lodge
  • Dave Price – Manor

Concerning the teachers, Ken Burhouse also took German, John Clifford’s nick name was Buz, and Tony Kent also took French. I don’t know why I can remember these and not others – perhaps senile dementure is setting in.

For some time I have been researching my family history, which is very much based around Wednesbury, for which I still have a great fondness, and I have been collecting and copying photographs. Like Roger [Best], I have been back to the old school this year and taken photographs, but I have been trying to obtain a copy of a photograph from the time I attended WBHS – any suggestions where I might be able to obtain a copy.

It is a strange world: only last week an old boy, who lived by me in Wednesbury, and who remembered me, came up to me in a pub and we were reminiscing about WBHS, which is what prompted me to search the web for information – he advised me that there was an old boy reunion at the Blue Boar pub in Wednesbury earlier this year, and I was told that there was another old boy reunion at the Royal Hotel in Walsall. [Both happen every year, and all Old Wodens are welcome. Webmaster.]

If anyone wishes to contact Carl – which he would very much welcome – I can put you in touch as I have his contact details. Please email webmaster@wbhs.info.


Tom Young remembers the 40s:

I was a pupil in the first year of 1M in 1946. This merely meant that your surname initials began with M to Z. The class had been enlarged after the War and those with initials A to L were in 1A, and M to Z in 1M. I was Young and so was in 1M. I think that I was the first scholar from Great Barr CofE school who had passed a scholarship to Wednesbury, the majority being to Queen Mary’s in Walsall.

I well remember Mr Kipping’s interview with myself and my mother. He said that I was unobservant because I had not seen a geographical compass on the top of Barr Beacon pointing out N.S.E.W. I was able to tell him that it had been erased at the beginning of the War!

I can remember some of my class. These were WILEY, MIDDLEBROOK, MOUNTFORD, NAYLOR, TRINDER, MARSH, MYATT, RHODES, MARTIN, PRINCE, and so on…

1A and 1M were above the Secretary’s office and the Head’s Study. If we were noisy then Mr C S Kipping would invade with his walking stick and mortarboard and wreak havoc!

I went on the Walsall Corporation bus at the dual carriageway, Great Barr, for the 3 miles to Walsall. At the Bell Inn on the way to Walsall, two masters would come upstairs. They were Messrs Ladkin and Legge, respectively the English master and the junior English and Art master. I never ceased to be amazed at Legge who had a different change of clothing for every day of the week and Ladkin who had his elbow-patched jacket on daily.

I vividly remember Ernie Powell, the Maths Master, who used to prefer to tell us risque stories most vividly, than lessons on Maths, so that one day a boy fainted in the middle of his description! I once went on a camp with him and other pupils.

The other Masters were Legge, Ladkin, Hunt, Hopkins, Turner, Hatcher (who lived nearby and occasionally gave me a lift), Mangan and, of course, Mr Kipping, who took us for Bible (we had to read 3 verses and I was best in the class), Latin and sometimes for Chemistry!

In 5A and 5M, we were the first to do the GCE O-level instead of the old School Certificate. This was a disaster! Various scholars passed in 1 or 2 subjects and 50% in none! That’s another story! I passed GCE and was recruited by Stewarts & Lloyds as a management trainee. I was conscripted into the Royal Navy for 2 years where I passed a Russian translator’s qualification. I was demobbed and eventually recruited to the Northern Rhodesia Police where I finished up as Detective Chief Inspector. They now call the country Zambia. I retired in 1994 in the Cape, South Africa, and am living a quiet but adventurous life there.


Chris Bullock recalls school chess in the 60s:

WBHS was renowned as a Chess school when Kipping was in charge and I believe he used to actually hold Chess classes, but that was before my time. I played Chess there from the day I started in 1961 to the day I left in 1968. I managed to get on the Chess Team when I was in the second form, and I believe that Kean Clifford may have been captain then, although I can’t remember any other names. The teachers that encouraged us were Mr Mangan and Mr Kent and without them we probably wouldn’t have had a Chess team. We regularly played Chess on a Monday night after school and it was quite popular. We used to play matches at other schools, and often made our way there by bus, unless we were lucky enough to get a lift in the back of Tony Kent’s mini-van. Once I reached the fifth form I became captain of the team, and the rest of the team were Stew Elwell, Dave Spink, Andy Golder, Steve James, and occasionally Steve Thomas, Trev Johnson or Bryn Oakley. We managed to win more than we lost and I believe all of the results would have been published in the magazine.

Chris challenges you to a game of conventional or unusual chess on his web-site,www.e-boardgames.com  (Still exists, but not working on 9apr16).


Chris Bullock remembers some dramatic events:
We did Cox’s Pippin in our Lower Sixth year, so that would be 1967. At the time it was the province of the Upper Sixth to do the Revue, and 5th years to do the House Plays, so we wanted to make our mark in the Lower Sixth. Most of the Lower Sixth were involved in some way. It was great fun —- full of innuendo— and extracts from Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, I’m Sorry I’ll Read that Again, and even Macbeth – Hubble Bubble Toil and Trouble… The 7 Dwarfs were Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Titch  & I guess Grumpy & Sleepy – one of them (can’t remember who) kept shouting Zabadack whenever he was on stage. I even got a comment from Witcombe in my End of Term Report about the best Snow White he had ever seen!I have a video of ‘The Two Twits and the Bescot Bog Roll Boys’ with notable performances from ‘George’ Grew, Andy Golder, Bryn Evans, Stew Elwell to name a few. I may attempt to get a few still shots from it if there is interest.


Bert Millington (left in 1950)  originally posted this to Friends Reunited:

Started school in 1939 at Slater Street Primary, Darlaston. Transferred to Wednesbury Boys High School in September, 1945 with Clive Gasser and Ivor Taylor.

Left WBHS in 1950 after school Certificate. Went to St Paul’s Teacher Training College, Cheltenham after National Service in the RAF. Taught at Blakenhall Junior School, Bloxwich from 1957 – 60 and then moved to Hertfordshire. Taught in two schools before taking up the headship of Hollybush Primary School, Hertford in 1968. In 1974, transferred to Ware College of Further Education to run the Social Studies Dept. Had a spell as Vice Principal before entering HM Inspectorate of Schools in 1982. Worked in many parts of the country over the next ten years visiting schools of all types and sizes. Very interesting and rewarding experience. Retired in 1992, but am still working part time.

There were originally 35 lads in my year at WBHS. Ten (seven of them are starred in the list below) had entered in 1944 but remained in the first year to join 25 new entrants, who were the first intake after the establishment of the 11+ exam. I can recall the names of all but four of the class:

1 BLAKEMORE Alan?, 2 BURGESS Peter, 3 BURNS Robin, 4 BUTTON John *, 5 DONALDSON Geoff, 6 EDWARDS Alan, 7 FARMER Colin *, 8 GASSER Clive, 9 HARRIS Alan ?, 10 HIGGS Paul, 11 HORTON Joe, 12 HUGHES John, 13 HUGHES Gordon, 14 HULL Geoffrey, 15 KITSON Paul *, 16 LAIGHT Job, 17 LANDER Alan, 18 LEES Brian *, 19 MARTIN Geoff *, 20 MILLINGTON Bert, 21 MORRIS Alan, 22 NASH Roy, 23 RAY Peter *, 24 RICHARDSON Allen, 25 SHELDON Douglas, 26 STANLEY John *, 27 TAYLOR Geoff, 28 TAYLOR Ivor, 29 TOFT Richard, 30 TROMANS Horace, 31 WARD Keith, 32 WINSPER Ken.

Colin Farmer left at the end of the 3rd year or shortly afterwards. Roy Nash joined the class in our 5th year.

Geoff Taylor went to Oxford University and John Hughes to Cambridge; Clive Gasser to Hull; Ivor Taylor to Manchester (I think). Ken Winsper became a fighter pilot in the RAF for a time and then ran a florist’s shop (or so I heard)

In the lower classes we were taught by the following teachers:

English: Mrs Turner / Mr Taylor (occasionally); Maths: Mr Powell; French: Mrs Turner; Geography and PE: Mr Smith; Physics: Mr Wainwright; Latin: Mr Coatham; History: Mr Ede (I think though he certainly taught us later on); Chemistry: Mr Hopkins; Divinity: Mr Kipping, the Head (occasionally) and ??; Art: Mr Legge

In the senior stage we were taught Geography by Mr Hatcher, the Deputy Head and Mr Ladkin took us for English.

My apologies to the lads whose names I can’t recall. perhaps they will add them.

My best wishes to anyone who happens to read this and recall those far-off days of the late 1940’s, the power cuts, the early afternoon dismissals, the fogs in which we walked faster than the buses that were supposed to take us home, and the long, bitterly cold winters. But no doubt they will also remember wonderful hot summer days and the exciting inter-house and inter-school matches at both football and cricket, and the annual athletic sports and swimming gala. Great days.


Martin Davies recalls the accelerated route to WBHS:

I started in 1958 & left in 1965. I remember that Kean Clifford, John Ford and I were a year younger than everyone else in our class as we had, for some reason that now eludes me, all passed the 11+ when we were 9, so started a year early.


Miscellaneous musings from Geoff Stokes:

I was at WBHS from 1957 to 1964, and can hopefully add to the store of knowledge that you are accumulating. It is good to see and hear so many things that bring memories and reminiscences flooding back. The name Bryn Oakley reminded me that I hadn’t seen or heard from a lad with whom I frequently associated, and might even refer to as a “partner in crime”. This was his brother Alec, who appears in the 1962 photograph recently added.
st_historyAlthough time seems to put unreasonable demands upon me, I hope to add to the archive as often as I am able; for example I have a copy of the 1960 school photo. I will happily provide scans of it, but more immediately, can fill in a couple of gaps – I attach shots of the infamous Alf “Jogger” Jordan, and the (as I remember,) fairly short-lived Brian Smyth  (does anyone know when he left?) of School Hymn/Song score fame. Also, I attach a shot of Sid Childs – his subject eludes my ageing mind – and another master whose face is familiar, but whose name and pet topic are still further removed, though History seems to ring the right bell !

(The 4 photographs have been added to the staff gallery, and Ron Dadge kindly tells me that  the History master is Mr J G Hillaby. Webmaster.) I can also add a few names to the various photographs, and will submit them when the cogs have finished turning. As time permits, I might even add a few memories that inspire others to similarly add to the archive.

Has anyone heard what happened to the great man himself? I last saw Edgar in a relatively humiliating situation – a couple of years after I left, I spotted him meekly carrying a shopping bag in the wake of his wife trudging up Walsall market!

I did hear that when the evils of comprehensive (and therefore co- ) education were imposed on his beloved monument to wisdom, he was last seen jumping up and down, waving his arms in the air and shouting: “YOU WILL NOT HOLD HANDS IN MY CORRIDORS!”

Memories continue to flood back, largely prompted by your own efforts. I shall continue to watch the site, and will try to contribute, even though sporadically.


Maureen Batchelor (nee Oakes) remembers the dying days of WBHS:

I started at Wood Green Secondary Modern School in September 1966, and so was in the 3rd year when Wood Green and WBHS joined to form (for 2 years initially) Wood Green Bilateral School.  After 2 terms in form 3AM, a fellow pupil (Susan Bagg) and I were ‘promoted’ to 3AG.  I well remember Jim Croton – also in 3AG – and contacted him recently through Friends Reunited.

I also recognised several of the teachers on the list:

  • E C Witcombe (of course!)
  • Mr Thomas (deputy head)
  • Mr Rimmer (my maths teacher)
  • Mr Legge (form master of 3AG at the time I joined)
  • Mr Watkins (my English teacher)
  • Mr Hughes (Physics teacher)
  • Mr Payne (French teacher)
  • Mr Baptist-Smith (my Geography teacher – he and his wife led a school trip to Majorca, which I went on – Easter 1970)
  • Mr Hutchinson (my Biology teacher.  Incidentally – I think he left the school the same year as I did (1971) and I seem to remember him saying he was going to become a Probation Officer.  His nickname in our class was ‘Happy Hutch’ because he always seemed to be smiling.  I also remember he got very embarrassed when he had to teach us about Human Reproduction!)

Derrick Williams recalls a different system:

I left in 1963 having ‘dropped out’ after one year in the 6th form so I can recognise several of the 6th form who would have been in their second year by 1964. As a matter of interest I was one of 12 boys who missed out the 5th form and went straight to the 6th with the plan that we would spend 3 years in the 6th and thus obtain higher A level grades. This was perceived to be necessary because of intense competition for university places because of the high birth rate soon after WW2.


Jim Croton randomly remembers:

I enjoyed reading the report on the staff v pupils footie . I remember well that game and Harry Baptist Smith did play very well. Andy Rimmer was also hot down the left wing. The Brad got the biggest cheers every time he knocked over any pupil who got in his way. One Wilf Hunt was reffing and he was very liberal with his interpretation of foul play.

Harry was an all round sportsman. He also played tennis versus the pupils. I was lucky (?) enough to be chosen to be a ball boy and got to see at close hand the Baptist Smith service which was really quite good. My forte was swimming and cross country running. When I was small, I was brought up on the Woods Estate and we used to play up the woods where the Manor High now stands. The ruffians from Friar Park would come over and chase us through the woods hence I was pretty nimble on the feet and good over rough ground!

When I was in year one, two of us – Graham Wright and I were both swimming for Wednesbury ASC as was Peter Coleyshaw – then in year 4. At the swimming gala that year Graham and I won every event we were allowed to enter up to the under 15s which Peter won – he also won everything over that mark that he was allowed to enter. It was a little unfair! We were all training with the county squad! I am today a qualified ASA Coach although I am currently not attached to any club, preferring to work in the field of officiating. Wilf wrote in my report “An excellent junior swimmer and cross country runner”.


John Yarnall: My recollection is that Edgar Witcombe took over in September 1957. I joined the school in September 1956 and recall having one year under Kipping – we had Wednesday afternoons for games and lessons on Saturday mornings, and all spare time was filled playing chess with sets hand-carved by Kipping! My recollection is borne out by the fact that Witcombe is the Head in a school photograph I have which was taken in March 1958.


Ron Dadge recalls a hitch-hiker….

I read the extracts of Bryn Oakley’s school memoirs today and it reminded me of a rather foolish thing I did back in 1969 when I was travelling back home to Wednesbury from my then girlfriend’s house in Shelfield, north of Walsall. It must have been close to 1.00 am in the morning and I stopped to pick up a hitchhiker on the A461 in Rushall. Within a couple of hundred yards my passenger enquired of me, “I know you don’t I?”

“Probably”, I responded, fearing I’d picked up a drunk who probably didn’t know what day of the week it was, let alone be able to identify me.

“Well you should do because we went to the same school, my name is Bryn Oakley”.

We chatted about old times before I dropped him off in Walsall somewhere. I hadn’t seen or heard of him again until now.

I hope his memory is as good as mine and he can recall this incident.


A real “old boy”, Geoffrey Marsh, wonders if anyone remembers him:

Joined the illustrious band in Oct 1939 (while waiting for the Air Raid shelters to be finished). Member of the “B” classes with Senior cap in July 1942. Left in July 1944 (after scraping 6 credits + 3 passes). Articled to Architect – attended part-time courses in Architecture at W’ton Tech. and School of Art. “Called up” July 46. Served Royal Engineers, (mainly Suez Zone). Demobbed Dec. 48. Returned to architectural part time studies (including “Testimonies of Study” designed by some infidel to make study courses last longer). Qualified Associate Royal Institute of British Architects in 1958. (Phew!). Continued on Local Authority circus, then formed own practice. This led to Partnership which subsequently failed to prosper, so undertook lecturing!! – (incidentally what happened to my close friend Mr Horne?). Happily married to Phyllis Marjorie who looks after me with great care in my dotage. Have 2 children and 2 grand-children (18 and 16). I enjoyed my years at WBHS and I’m sure most others did.


Almost of the same vintage, Brian Amos , writes:

Having left the school in 1947 to work at Kenrick and Jefferson Ltd of West Bromwich together with two other pupils, Jeffrey Wilkes (sadly no longer with us) and Clifford J Powell it is our intention to meet at the Hawthorns (WBA v Crystal Palace) on the 21st April 2002. This will be our first meeting in 55 years. We were both members of that famous 1st X1 having won all our games for that season. Allsopp being the leading goalscorer of all times.Hoping to make the dinner in May.

Following the dinner, Brian writes:

Can`t really recall Geoffrey Marsh. Could have been in the time of Derek Davey (Head Prefect) now retired Professor of English Literature, Christchurch University, N.Z., with whom we meet occasionally – his wife Edna being a Head of Dept (PE) together with my wife (Dom Science) at Wards Bridge Sec Mod School Wednesfield.

The meeting with Cliff Powell went off very well. We arranged to meet at high noon in the West Bromwich Moathouse. Would we recognise each other? No problem. The rooms were packed with ‘Baggies’ supporters each with their strips, flags, wigs, painted faces.

Cliff and I immediately recognised each other. We were the only two grey haired wrinklies in the building !!! The day went well. The Baggies moved into the premier league and all was right with the world. The Wolves in mourning.

Remember `Granny` Hollins, `Honky` Horne, `Daddy` Hatcher, `The Boss`, Margaret Russell, and the delicious Miss Deutch, Chas Taylor and etc.

Ran the Old Wodens F.C. in the Wednesbury and District league for a few years winning a number of trophies with the help of such stalwarts as Geoff Jackson, Dickie Dyke, Bob Whitehouse, Jimmy Hughes, the late Ralph Bayley and Don Evans and many more `Old` boys.


Advertisements