Updated 14 Nov 2009

Retford Grammar School

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Memories 1941-49

by Joe Almond

Joe Almond was at Retford Grammar during the war years and just after (1941-49). His emails recall some of the life at school when the buildings were being shared by schools from Leeds and Yarmouth, evacuated because of the danger from overhead. Thanks also for his pictures of school teams etc.

                      1st XI                       1945
Col. Wallace, P Parkin, J Almond, V Hartshorne, L Eyre, M Kettleborough
G Denie, P Skillen, W Crossley (captain), G Warburton, G Bentley

E.R.G.S.                       FIRST XI                       October 1946
Mr J D Illingworth, R H Palmer, J Swindin, C.Sykes, J N Earl, E Abbott, D Price
C E Waterfield, J Almond, E J Ingall (captain), V Hartshorne, R B Olive

E.R.G.S.                       FIRST XI                       1947
J H Richards, J M Higgs, M Hurst, C Taylor, C P Snell, J M Noble,
T E Waterfield, F W Stinchcombe, V Hartshorne, J Almond, P M Parkin

E.R.G.S.                       FIRST XI                       1947-8
J D Illingworth, E D Wilson, P M Parkin, R Payne, C Sykes, J M Higgs,
                      T A Mangan, T E Waterfield
E Abbott, R B Olive, J Almond (capt), D Price, C R Tattersfield, D G Collingburn

E.R.G.S.                       FIRST XI                       1948
C P Snell, R Cordall, J R Fishburne, A Bloomfield
P M Parkin, J Almond, F W Stinchcombe (captain), D M North, W J Cordall
J Fawkes, M J Hall

E.R.G.S.                       FIRST XI                       1948-9
A Bloomfield, D C Minnitt, R Payne, D M North, B Gardner,
A M Clayton, T A Mangan, D Price, J Almond (captain), E Abbott, J H P Padley, R Wood

E.R.G.S.                       FIRST XI                       1949
C M Bloore, A Bloomfield, R D North, W J Cordall, P N Pratt, R Shone,
C P Snell, R Cordall, J Almond (captain), D M North, C E Waterfield,
J Fawkes

E.R.G.S                       PREFECTS                       October 1948
Small, Eastland, Blore, Gerry Brooks
P.Kingston, E.Abbott, Frank Hilder, D.Minnitt, ---
A.Evans, D.Price, J.Almond, D.North (Head Boy), A.Bloomfield, C.P.Snell, Brian Stanford

    ----------------- 5 Jan 2009 Dear John, I was at school from 1941 and have quite a few photos if you are interested. Joe Almond ----------------- 6 Jan 2009 There does not seem to be anything in the history about the fact that Yarmouth Grammar School shared our premises (evacuees). They went to school early in the morning before us and after us in the late afternoon. I cannot remember the exact hours we shared but I have a feeling that my school day was very short. As I remember this went on for about 2 years. I lived in Langold and in the early years I got a bus to Worksop, a train (2 carriages for the boys) from Worksop and a long walk to school. Towards the end of the war (I think) there was a special bus that took us from Langold to School via Blyth and Barnby Moor. If we stayed for after-school activities (only football and cricket) we had to get the public transport. The Staff consisted of men too old to go to war and young women. One of them (Miss Nicklin - a blond I always and still do!,fancied) later married one of the prefects. He was the son of the Mayor of Retford by the name of Waterfield. No, he wasn't a prefect when they got married. Such was the make-up of the Staff that we went through a full school life without a single PE or Games lesson. To be continued. Joe ----------------- 6 Jan 2009 Hello Joe, I did know about Yarmouth GS in the war, but not the details. If you don't already have it, you should get yourself "A History of King Edward VI Grammar School, Retford" by A D Grounds, published by R Martin & Co, 1970. There are 264 pages of index and history. On page 236 he writes: "The building up of an efficient staff and the careful work of re-organisation were disrupted by the war in 1939. Masters who were called up for military service were replaced by women teachers, and the school had to be adapted to meet the difficulties arising from the evacuation to Retford of West Leeds High School. Their arrival before the September term began posed such a problem, indeed, that it was solved only by the introduction of a shift system: The Leeds boys, because they were billeted in Retford and therefore on the spot, used the premises in the early morning and late afternoon, while the hours for local boys, some of whom had considerable distances to travel, were between 10.20 am and 3.00 pm. West Leeds High School remained only until the Christmas, but the same arrangements were followed when Great Yarmouth Grammar School arrived early the next summer to stay for the duration of the war. The shortened hours were initially greeted with delight, but as yhe years went by it became more difficult to maintain academic standards, and the curtailment of societies and sports - although every effort was made to keep school life as normal as possible - made all long for the restoration of peace." Best wishes, John Palmer ----------------- 8 Jan 2009 I didn't know about the Leeds school being billeted on us. I do remember that the train from Worksop left at 9.15 a.m. and we returned at 3.25pm. As there was at least an hour for lunch there is no wonder we could only do a maximum of 7 subjects for School Certificate. That train journey for a junior was somewhat hazardous. Today it would be called bullying as many a junior was 'ragged' particularly on the homeward journey and frequently you would see a junior get off the train in a state of undress. Personally I quickly learnt that as the journey was only 15 minutes so the best thing to do was resist as hard as possible. Oddly I don't remember any ill-intent on the part of the miscreants. After the walk to school we spent the time to let Yarmouth depart sitting on the balcony in the school Hall In my early days I had school lunch which, I believe, was organised by the Head's wife. Since then I have never eaten sago or bread and butter pudding again. Then a British Restaurant was open just up the road so most pupils went there. Tash Illingworth was also a daily diner and I remember him going round the tables picking up scraps for his pet dog/cat. Fridays were a special day as the only fish and chip shop was open. When the bell went for the end of morning school there was a mad dash up the road, along the canal and into town to get to the head of the queue. Memorable Staff were 'Polly' Beasley (Physics), 'Tubby' Lewis (Scripture), G.W.R.Lines(Geog) better known as Great Western Railway, 'Paddy' Gover(Maths), Headmaster (Pilk-Rodgers) Sixth form maths and MacFerran. Mac was a great story teller and I clearly remember him telling us the whole of History of Mr. Polly without any notes and may others. This took several lessons which should have been Geography. Mrs. Jones took me for Chemistry up to S.Cert. and then she was replaced by her husband who had been away during the War working on munitions (we were told.). 'Colonel' Wallace was my favourite. He taught junior science and one day the only occasion I met him in a classroom was when I went into the Chem. Lab to find him peeing in the sink. He coached us at cricket after school and when he batted in the nets he always put coins on the stumps which you kept if you bowled him out. The only time I saw him in full-flow was when he captained a First XI team to play against a team of Australians from a nearby RAF base. We were slaughtered and it was the only time in my life that I have played against a team that bowled all eleven players. Even the wicket-keeper bowled. The only one of us who got any runs was the Colonel and while he was batting we were smoking his Gold Flake that he had left in his blazer. GWR Lines was a brilliant Geography teacher and seemed to have a joke for every geographical fact. I particularly remember him saying "In the exam don't write that Chicago is at the bottom of Lake Michigan". At the end of the was previous staff gradually returned - Hedley Brooks, Charlton, Chemy Jones etc. Because of the unique staffing situation throughout my school career P.E.Lessons, Games lessons, School Play, Debating Society, School Clubs etc. were completely unknown. To be cont. ----------------- 10 Jan 2009 When I first went to RGS one of my main ambitions was to better a record that a certain Frank Walsh held. Frank lived in Langold, was some years ahead of me and had left school before I went there. His record was for throwing the cricket ball and stood at 96 1/2 yards. I even took home a medicine ball and trained by throwing it against the house wall. Sports day 1948 I beat him and the record has stood ever since as they stopped it a few years later and throwing the javelin took over!!!!!! Members of staff were godlike to the juniors and I will always remember using a school urinal and being amazed when teacher Chris Bintcliffe (Physics) came into the toilet and and used the urinal next to me. I realised that he was mortal just like me. He became even more mortal when I found myself teaching in the same school (Varndean, Brighton) as Chris. When I started School (1941) the air raid shelters were already there. We did use them but only for practice in case there was an air raid. I can't remember any sirens going. Sport has always been an addiction for me especially football and cricket. One of my best friends at school was C.P.Snell who had a young brother (David) at the school. David left at 16 to become an assistant golf pro at Lindrick golf club. David later won the British Matchplay Championship and today has his own golf course in the grounds of Worksop College. The course is College Pines and David is on your 1947 photo. Next time I will name pupils in photos Joe -------------------- 11 Jan 2009 David Snell was Head professional at Lindrick and I was a member there for one year (1986) when I took early retirement from teaching. I then moved to East Anglia. You will see David in your 1947 photo, as you look at it, 5th.row up, he is 10th from the left. Johnnie Fawkes was the school wicket keeper and, I believe, went to to keep wicket for the Army. Fawkes is 7th. from the left in the same row as David. 3rd.row up, reading from the left : -, -, -, -, Evans, -, Rhodes,Olive, Taylor, G.Dernie, -, Dickinson, -, Mick Noble, Hirst, Me, Axleby, John Higgs(Head boy), Charlton, Bintcliffe, -, Brooks, Illingworth, Chem.Jones, Bartlett, Tubby Lewis, Pilk-Rodgers, Polly Beasley, Art teacher(Boss?), -, -, -, Chislette, -, caretaker, V.Hartshorne, D.North, F.Stinchcombe, Massey, -, -, -, Moorehouse, Pat Snell (David's brother), -, -, -, -, Colin Sykes, Frost, -, -. I do have a school photo earlier than this but I have yet to find it !!!!! After 60 odd years I have only just spotted that K.Palmer's name is missing off the 1945 photo. Who said that your eyesight gets worse as you get older? Palmer stands between Parkin and myself. The blurred names, I believe, were on the attached photo so I am sending another and incidentally I had 3 years in the VIth so I left in 1949 - too much football, cricket, table tennis, snooker etc. Just to finish off the golf area, I finally took it up when I was 32 years but still managed to play in the British Amateur at St.Andrews 1976, runner up in the Suffolk County Championship and win the County Seniors Championship at the age of 69. I also played for Suffolk many years. My current handicap is 9 but I am hoping to reduce that when the weather gets a bit warmer. Joe Correction: Palmer was between myself and Vernon Hartshorne --------------------------- 14 Jan 2009 The missing name on the 1946 football team is C.Sykes. I am attaching my last team photo. I should have a school photo that is earlier than 1947 but I have yet to locate it. During the War years we had very few matches. I seem to remember that the only cricket matches for the Under 14s were against Yarmouth Grammar. Football matches were a little odd and included opposition from Rampton Asylum (Staff) which was played away, with the touchline occupied by inmates who cheered us very loudly. Another soccer match was against a religios college (it might have been against a team of monks) at Kelham, near Newark. During the whole of my time at the school there was never a Second XI team for soccer or cricket. Joe ---------------------------

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