Please note: This website is moving - please read this.
I am delighted to include the following pieces, of which the first is submitted by Terry Parsons.
It gives a detailed picture of life
at Dorchester Grammar School, as it was then, during the wartime years. I hope these articles will inspire others to
write similar pieces recollecting their school years.
DORCHESTER GRAMMAR SCHOOL IN WARTIME.
In the Spring Term of 1943 I was a nine-year-old in the First Form, one of some 30 small boys firmly but amiably controlled and instructed (in that order) by Miss Hill (“The Duchess”), the Headmaster’s sister. The form room was worryingly close to the Headmaster’s study and the Sixth Form room, but reassuringly far from the staff room. We wore short trousers and grey woollen socks up to the knee, blazers and caps with the familiar badge based on the arms of Thomas Hardye, and dark blue gaberdine raincoats. We carried gas masks in cardboard cases slung on a string. The gas masks were inspected from time to time by Ticker Cole, the sprightly chemistry master. Our school uniforms were inspected all the time by masters and prefects: caps on at an angle or socks falling down brought reproof or worse.
Discipline was mostly well maintained and mild corporal punishment commonplace, but masters varied in their approach and in their abilities. I still remember a vigorous cuff from the headmaster, just for being in his way in the corridor. I greatly profited from the numerous blows that I, like most others, suffered from Charles Steemson (“Steamboat”). He was a brilliant teacher of Latin, charismatic, always kindly and cheerful, but intolerant of inattention or thoughtlessness. A fine teacher of maths and another firm disciplinarian was the genial Sam Fox (“Saffy”) whose sarcastic reproaches were memorable. Worse punishments were writing out lines (usually beginning “I must not”), learning mnemonic rhymes from Kennedy’s Latin Primer, detention or caning, carried out only by the Headmaster.
There were about 30 teachers led by Headmaster Ralph Hill (“Monty”) and the second master “Dunc” Lidbury. Junior boys were taught maths by the brisk Miss Osborne. Art was taught by Miss Evans and the only other mistress was a formidable black-clad French mademoiselle, and later Mrs Dutot. Some of the older masters had been at the school pre-war. Others, like the eccentric history master Mr Harvey, had emerged from retirement to replace the younger masters who had joined the armed services for the duration.
Most of us were day boys, many travelling to and from school by bus or train; I had a two-mile walk (later I was allowed to cycle) from the bus stop to the village. In the winter blackout it was dark before I got home. Boys were divided into four houses mainly for the purposes of sports competition, each identified by a stripe in the tie: Hardy (gold), Lock (black), Pope (blue) and Treves (green). There was one boarding house, South Walks (the Headmaster’s) until the school expanded and a second boarding house, Southfields, opened under Walter Lancashire. Two additional houses were formed: School (silver) for all boarders and Hodges (red) named after the affable and rubicund Chairman of the Governors Wilfred Hodges, a local wine merchant.
There was school on Saturday mornings, rare half-holidays, and sports most afternoons except Tuesdays when the CCF, of which membership was almost compulsory from the age of 13, had priority. In winter came rugby (or football for juniors) and cross country running for all. In summer there were athletics and cricket. There was frequent PT in military style under old soldier Joe Hopewell but no facilities for swimming. Apart from the occasional nature walk there were few outings of any sort, but we were all taken to the Palace cinema in Durngate Street to see the film of Shakespeare’s Henry V in 1944.
Exposure to the arts was limited: the music (and English and CCF) master was Jimmy Whittaker - a decent but pernickety man whose patience with the silliness of boys soon lapsed into imprecations (“Blast you my boy!”) to the delight of his mostly philistine audience. He played the fiddle – I never heard him use the word “violin”. Bertie Cruse the French master played the trumpet and there were other instrumentalists and a choral society. The visual arts were well developed and Steamboat was an excellent actor and director, as well as teaching Latin and running cricket. Each day began with an assembly and prayers, and the uphill task of teaching Divinity fell to the learned and tolerant AG de L Willis.
Dorchester had not been a target for German bombing, unlike Portland and Sherborne (mistaken for Westland Aircraft’s factory at Yeovil). In the blackout we could see the Milky Way shining brightly until the searchlights were turned on. American troops assembling in Came Wood for the D Day invasion could be seen from the school windows and they occupied Kingston Maurward House and Warmwell aerodrome, with their aircraft overhead providing additional distractions. When the invasion came on 6 June 1944 scores of aircraft towing gliders flew overhead, and all the Americans had suddenly disappeared.
The Spring Term of 1945 started very cold. Few houses were centrally heated and we were glad to come into the warmth of the school, miraculously maintained despite fuel shortages by the trusty George Bareham. Outside, the grounds were tended by the sterling Benny Morris, an old soldier and former Hampshire professional cricketer.
While the heating was good the food was nutritious but unappetising, with frequent gristly meat, frosted potatoes, soggy cabbage and stodge, prepared by Mrs Bratby. The food was better, though, than in the British Restaurant near the County Museum. We all stood for grace before meat as the duty master declaimed “Benedictus benedicat per Iesum Christum Dominum Nostrum” or suchlike. We were old enough to remember the delights of bananas and ice-cream pre-war, but such things had not been available since 1940 and rationing was strict, and to become stricter. The butter ration was 2 ounces per head per week, and sweets 4 ounces. Only fish, offal, fruit, vegetables and bread were unrationed, although in short supply. Dried milk and eggs came from the USA and whale meat sometimes appeared. We boys were not yet troubled by the acute shortage of such things as razor blades, petrol and car tyres, while of course clothes rationing bothered only women.
After the education Act of 1944 our fathers no longer had to pay tuition fees. A film unit came to make part of Children’s Charter [see separate Children's Charter section]. With the end of the war the blackout ended, food rationing became tighter and younger masters returned. Spring term in 1947 was bitterly cold and fuel was desperately scarce, but the school heating somehow worked as well as before. Cars re-appeared, as a little more petrol became available – Mr Hale’s bright yellow one was a culture shock, for all the cars we had seen were black, dark blue, gunmetal-coloured or (mostly) khaki. We boys hardly noticed that the Cold War was beginning.
E & OE! Terry Parsons, July 2007.
My old friend Jimmy Gale, who was in the first form with me in 1943, and I have tried to remember the school layout in those days.
The First Form was certainly in Room 2 but the Sixth might have been only temporarily in Room 1 [next to the HM's Study - Ed.]. The
other ground-floor class rooms were
occupied by the Second to Fourth Forms. The number of streams increased from two to three about then, and a little later were redesignated,
so that A, B and C became Mod, Sci and Ag(ricultural). Mod included classics (Latin was still needed for Oxford Matriculation) and Ag
(Jimmy says) included art!
2C was in the miniature rifle range on the west side of the grounds, half-way down the slope, and there were form rooms in the hut adjacent to the Staff Room. South [East? - Ed.] of that again was a larger wooden building which was the Art Room, and served as the Canteen as well. There were then no further buildings along that east boundary, except perhaps a hut for Benny's motor mower, but there were trenches in the bushes, and a Home Guard bunker at the end. The only other outbuilding was the block with the changing rooms and the Armoury [i.e. the Pavilion - Ed.], also used for lessons for small Sixth Form sets.
The upstairs classrooms housed the Lower and Upper Vth forms, the latter in the large central room which was divided by a substantial screen. The Library was in the classroom nearest the gym, but that was also a form room.
All this E&OE again, and there was some changing around.
My name is John Broad and I went to the school in Sept '34 at the age of 9, entering Form I under the care of 'Beefy' Winter. The fees were £12, presumably per term.
My memories are very sharp of my time at DGS. There was quite a large group of us who started there and then went to various Public Schools. Gerry 'Hard' Roe and John Goldsmith to Sherborne, Roddy and Colin Braybrooke and David Parsons to Monkton Combe and in May '39 myself to Sutton Valence in Kent and then in Sept '40 to Monkton because of the Battle of Britain.
When I took early retirement in '82 and came back to live in Dorchester, 'Saffy' Fox, Mr. Thomas and Bertie Cruse were still going and, either then or during earlier visits, Harold Mann and Ticker Cole were about. Whilst talking of staff, 'Nutty' Haslegrove (Physics) had a house built in Maiden Castle Road (No 16 or 18, at a guess) for his new bride that is heart-shaped in plan (Ah! Young love!!), and today it is a listed building.
[I reproduce an aerial photo, taken around 2001, courtesy of Google Earth, of what must be Mr Haslegrove's house (centre) in Maiden Castle Road - Ed.]
[I recently received an email from Roger Caves, the current (2013) owner of this house, saying that:
"The house was first built in 1937 for Maurice Lawrence Haselgrove and his wife Nancy May and they lived in it until 1944.
They then sold it to Stanley Walton [Physics Master] who owned it until 1980." - Ed.]
A master called Evans had a very short fuse and would grab a boy so violently by the hair that he pulled out a handful. A boarder, Joyce (no Christian names in those days) put his hair, which had been tossed onto his desk, into an envelope and sent it to his father. The master left to general satisfaction and amazement. By and large the staff were great, although 'Monty' could wield a powerful cane which could be heard in Form 1. School was held Saturday mornings and compulsory games in the afternoon. Thursday I think was a half day though (in common with early closing day in Dorchester) as I believe detentions were done then.
Sadly there were tragedies; Mr Hill's wife took one of the domestic staff to the dentist and went into the surgery with her as the young girl was nervous and had a fatal heart attack. This was announced to the school by Dunc Lidbury at a special assembly before going home for lunch. There was a strict enforcement of a No Cycling rule unless one lived more than 1 mile from the school, so once at home this news was passed on rather breathlessly with some feeling that a momentous event had taken place.
A Weymouth boy was killed while shortcutting from Culliford Road railway bridge to the Southern station and was caught between goods wagons as shunting started. Much less seriously another Weymouth boy, Fuller, who had nicked a piece of phosphorous from the lab was examining his spoils on the train when it dried and ignited, badly burning his hands.
Assemblies were held on the first floor until the building of the new gym was completed in '36 or thereabouts. The school crest which adorned the exterior of the north end was carved in situ and watched daily as it progressed.
There were exams at the end of the Spring and Summer terms. The papers were hand written with a stylus onto special paper (sorry, I can't remember the proper name for this process ["mimeograph" - Ed] and then loaded onto the printing gadget which rotated and produced very blotched and sometimes near illegible exam papers!! The termly reports detailed both exam and form results which were closely scrutinised by parents.
Names that I recall are Pople, Harold Keeping and his elder brother (Head choirboy at Trinity Church and later partner of the accountants Edwards and Keeping in Dorchester), Cloutman, DV King and his cousin, Priddle (later Prideaux), Ian and Tony Parsons, Trenchard, Shellabere, J Croad, Paxman, Stan Alderman, Mayo, Virgin, 'Sam' Weller, Stan and John Thornicroft, John Cake, Harris, Northam, Dean, Cheeseman, Keech & John Day.
My brother Richard was very bright and went to DGS in '36 at the age of 8. With the help of a Dorset County scholarship, he later went to Exeter College at Oxford.
John Broad, February 2009.
In response to some questions of mine, John has added the following:
In those far off days all those in Form I (next but one to Monty's study) were fee paying pupils. The "Scholarship Boys" entered at
age 11 in Form III (presumably).
The only other school premises was the boarders house in South Walks.
Adjoining the lane that led to Fordington Farm there were the primitive loo block, the army type wooden shed used a for woodwork classes [The latter-day Canteen - Ed.] and just possibly one other.
The assembly hall was the centre of the first floor with "The (Armada?) Screen" behind the staff dais at the east end. After the gym was built this was bisected by a folding screen into two class rooms. [These were later rejoined to become the Library - Ed.]
THE LIDBURY EVENT.
My name is Gordon Hutchinson and I was a pupil at D.G.S. from about 1933 until 1942. My age is 84 so some of the names and dates are lost in the mists of time.
I was one of the many boys that lived in Weymouth and travelled by train to school. On leaving the school you had two choices to get to the two stations. The first was to go straight down the road - I remember a shop on the corner which sold sweets and was extremely popular. Continuing down the road passing South Walk and then up a slight hill; Holland the butcher was near the Great Western station. The alternative was to turn left on leaving the school gates and proceed down the avenue. From my memory Mr Cole the chemistry master (known to all as “Ticker“) lived on the left, and further down on the right side lived Mr Lidbury. Further on you turned half right past Maumbury Rings and on to the Southern Railway station adjacent to the Eldridge Pope Brewery.
On the day of the incident we walked past Mr Cole’s residence and reached Mr Lidbury’s house. His frontage had two wooden gates; a small one about 4-ft leading to the front and back doors, and the other gate about 8-ft leading to the garage, so it was a very simple operation to interchange the two gates. Having completed our prank we went on our merry way little realising the fury that would erupt the following day.
After assembly Mr Hill requested that those responsible should remain behind. Needless to say no-one did. However it did not take the staff long to find out the guilty parties and we were told to stand outside the Headmaster’s study. After a while Mr Hill appeared. We were all in awe of him and to find him in a towering rage did not auger well for the future. We were threatened with expulsion, called vandals, letting down the school and damaging property (actually no damage or harm was done to the gates, it would take one or two minutes to restore). He would not rush into a decision but the least we could expect was a severe caning. We all went home severely chastened. I do not think any of us had a good night’s sleep.
At assembly the next day we all feared the worst, but nothing was said then or on subsequent days. Mr Hill may have had second thoughts. Mr Lidbury may have seen the funny side of it; after all, no damage had occurred. Perhaps one of the parents had contacted the Head, I just don’t know.
I would like to close by paying tribute to all the staff and in particular Mr Steemson, a great teacher of Latin, and Mr Cole (“Ticker“) who first whetted my appetite for chemistry so much so that when I came out of the army I studied Pharmacy and became a member of The Royal Pharmaceutical Society until I retired in 2004.
Gordon Hutchinson, September 2009
Whilst on the subject of Mr "Dunc" Lidbury, I would like to add the following:
In the late 'fifties, there were two stories doing the rounds, both of which were alleged to be true.
In the first story, Mr Lidbury, who was reputed to be a trifle forgetful, was walking along the main corridor when he encoutered a boy (name unknown) whom he approached with the question "Is he there, m'boy?". The luckless boy was somewhat taken aback as he had no idea who DSL was talking about. However, not wishing to appear uncooperative, the quick-thinking lad replied "Er - yes, sir!". Obviously pleased with that reply, DSL said "Well, go and fetch him."
The second story relates how one Frank Southerington was in the Library one day, reading quietly, when he was approached by "Dunc", who explained that he wanted Southerington to rearrange some of the books on the shelves in a particular way. DSL then walked off, leaving Southerington to it.
However Southerington, after a moment's thought, was not quite clear of the task he was to perform, and so he quickly set off after DSL, catching up with him at the other end of the Library. Before he could speak, DSL happened to turn round, and upon discovering Southerington behind him, said "Ah! Now, there's another boy at the end of the Library rearranging books. Go and help him."
Graham Allen, October 2009
OLD MASTERS - Memories of the ‘old’ Masters at Dorchester Grammar School.
Because of unstinting efforts by my parents I was privileged to be a pupil at Dorchester Grammar School during the momentous years between 1938 and 1945. Some months ago I saw, in an article on Dorset schools, mention of a Dorchester Grammar School master I knew well, Mr.Duncan Lidbury, and this has prompted me to dredge my memory and set down what I can remember of the masters I knew, good men that they were.
When I joined the School all the masters wore gowns, but as WW2 gradually took its toll of standards and clothes rationing became tighter, gowns became "tattered 'n' torn" until most were abandoned, but the headmaster always wore his. Generally the masters were well respected; one was addressed by one’s surname, one raised the cap as a greeting and with hands out of pockets waited quietly until asked to speak and always said ‘Sir’. Sadly, as WW2 progressed, some masters just did not reappear at the beginning of term and one wonders what happened to all those good men.
Of course, as children will, we had nicknames for them all. Mr.R.W.Hill, the headmaster, was always respectfully known as ‘the Old Man’, or occasionally ‘Monty’ from the Latin. He was a first class headmaster and taught Latin when no one else was available. It was a singular achievement to bring the school from the old historic premises in South Street to the then superb new buildings in the best possible site to the south of town.
Mr.Hill’s judgement in staff selection must have been of the highest order because, as will be seen in my remarks on the masters, they were of the best quality and it was not until towards the end of WW2, when so many masters had just gone away and some of the later replacements were not quite to the standard of those that had gone before, that they did not gain quite as much respect, with obvious consequences – some occasionally had a hard time.
‘The Old Man’ was held in awe by the younger boys and this grew to high regard as one progressed to the upper forms. When he was around, peace reigned. My abiding memory of him was when, in the Lower Fifth, sauntering (that was one thing I was good at!) down the stairs opposite his study, probably with hands in pockets, he passed by and rounded on me, gown whirling. Perhaps he saw something he considered to be ‘dumb insolence’ (something that caught up with me again forty years later with a lady Director). After sixty-five years his words still ring crystal clear, a roar of ‘NORMAN! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?’ with a string of comments on my attitude and demeanour, the tongue lashing of a lifetime came my way leaving me, in the now current phrase, ‘totally gobsmacked’. I slunk away as soon as it was safe so to do. I must have been a fairly stroppy teenager in those days.
Mr. Hill had a sister, a pleasant lady we called ‘The Duchess’. Miss Hill taught Maths and Divinity to the lower forms. In those days one was given a rough guide to the Bible and an effort was made to hammer home the basic tenets of right and wrong which, as a code of conduct, was as good a way as any to start a child on the road to life.
The regular Latin master was Mr. 'Steamboat' Steemson, who always achieved good results, always wore his gown and had a speciality he called the ‘circularius’ which, starting at one corner of the class he would rapid-fire questions on Latin grammar and phrases at each boy, passing on until he received the correct answer. The fact that the correct answer was not forthcoming left one with a feeling of some inadequacy and pointed to further revision. I dropped Latin in the Fourth but ever since have been glad that the basics were drummed into me; after all Latin has had an enormous influence on all the European languages and so can frequently point one in the right direction in many questions of general knowledge!
Another likeable man was Mr. 'Ticker' Cole the Chemistry master. Prematurely bald and somewhat short in stature, but not in ability, ‘Ticker’ introduced us very efficiently to the mysteries of elements, compounds and the complications of chemical formulae. Under his guidance we set up our experiments, watched what happened when various noxious materials were mixed in test tubes (glass!) and tended our Bunsen burners.
There was no such thing as personal protection gear in those days, but I cannot ever remember anything untoward happening - then perhaps we were a fairly docile lot. One just did not skylark about in the ‘lab’; we just concentrated on learning. The Geography master was Mr. Harold G. Mann who took us through the physical and political parts of our planet, describing it all in detail and drew, from memory, all in coloured chalks, detailed maps of countries and continents with all the mountains, cities, rivers and mineral deposit areas shown. These we duly copied down, and in doing so, one hoped that some of it sank in. War is a good Geography teacher; we very quickly learned where places like Peenemünde, Tobruk and Guadalcanal were.
I can remember three French masters, and later one lady who actually was French. My first French masters were (by coincidence) Mr. French and Mr. 'Bert' Cruse. We had Mr. French for about three years until he no longer attended and was replaced by Mr. Roussel.
If memory serves, teaching policy percolated down from the universities (ours was Oxford), and so the Fourths and Fifths were duly separated into ‘Mods’ and ‘Sci’s’, which was Modern Studies and Sciences. Modern Studies included Art which I loved and just the basics of the sciences. The sciences, being written in the languages of maths and formulae, required good memory recall, so I took the easier way and went ‘Mod’.
‘Bert’ Cruse took the 'Sci’s' and had his own way of teaching, thereby achieving extraordinarily good results. Greeted with a chorus of approval on arrival in class, there followed a session of French conversation with quick-fire questions and answers into which the whole class joined with gusto. The noise level had to be experienced to be believed, which was all right when surrounded by two feet of brickwork, but the Fourth Form ‘Mods’ and ‘Sci’s' were in the old Assembly Room upstairs which was divided by a moveable wooded partition. At times Mr.Roussel, who took us ‘Mods’ for French at the same time, was not well pleased at the decibel level and said so!!!
When I joined the school the P.T (Physical Training) master was Mr. 'Johnny' Johnson, a young man full of enthusiasm for his subject. ‘Games’ were routinely in the second period of Tuesday afternoon. Thursday afternoon and ‘matches’ were played on Saturday afternoon after morning school, so his was virtually a six-day week. In WW1 the emphasis was on body building, but policy changed in WW2, agility and ‘thinking on your feet’ being considered more important. As an introduction to the art of landing by parachute (we were about 12 years old!) we had to get up on the ‘box’ which was a box (!) in sections with a padded top, and using a climbing rope, swing forward and land on a mattress. The idea was to land safely on one's feet and keep running. If one made a hash of it then the instruction was ‘tuck your shoulder in and roll’ which stood me in good stead about thirty years later when, helping my wife down some car park steps, I realised I was ‘going’, did as I had been told years before and finally stood up – slightly shaken but not stirred!!
As was the way of things, sadly, one term we found that ‘Johnny’ had been replaced by Mr. Hopewell an ex-military gentleman with a son at the school. My home was at Wool, and in my very early years I attended the village ‘Council’ school there. It was a typical village school with just two rooms and draughty corrugated iron outside toilets. Mrs. Dewfall was the head teacher and lived in the school house with her son Geoffrey, who also taught. Mr.Hopewell was the other teacher. Mr. 'Jimmy' Whitaker took English Language in the Lower School, teaching every possible variation of sentence construction, things like the transitive and intransitive verbs, subjunctives and the future perfect and, most important, correct use of the apostrophe!!!!! Under "Jimmy’s" guidance, a bit of Latin and some French stood me in good stead in later years with my first efforts towards writing acceptable business letters. ‘Jimmy’ ran the school OTC (later JTC) and must have been fairly well up in the Home Guard command. He used us pupils as post boys for carrying instructions to his ‘outposts’. “Anybody here live in Sydling?” “Yessir!” “Take this for me will you, boy” “ Yessir!”. All part of the War Effort! A lot of ‘ordinary’ people had absolutely no spare time at all during WW2.
Probably the master most underestimated of all was Mr. 'Dunc' Duncan Lidbury who taught English Literature. Dunc was grey and wore a beard. Even then, plays and poetry were not ‘macho’ subjects, so ‘Dunc’ sometimes had problems conveying to his often reluctant hearers the deep love he had for his subject.
‘Dunc’ took Eng.Lit.(!) for the whole time I was at the school and it was not until the Fifth that we BEGAN to realise the true value of his teaching. He took us lovingly through the main works of Shakespeare, introduced us to such other characters as Wackford Squeers and Mrs. Malaprop and, using Palgrave’s Golden Treasury, saw to it that we read the very best of the poetry written in the English language, in doing so touching on the Muses, the Greek and Roman gods’ lives, battles and disasters and, not least, various poets’ love-lives!! We had a well rounded education!!!!!
I must have disappointed ‘Dunc’. One afternoon in Longman’s I was looking for a book I could afford (a shilling?) involving ships which was my consuming interest. The only book within my reach was a slim volume on some naval battle and ‘Dunc’ leant over my shoulder probably hoping I was buying some literary gem. On seeing my choice he just said “Oh, I see” and quietly walked away.
My best subject was Art and this was taken by Miss ‘Stella’ Evans, an expert at instilling interest and imagination into those who even had difficulty drawing a circle. How I enjoyed my Art periods, made more pleasant by the fact that they were ‘double’ periods. Miss Evans’ task was not helped by the fact that the ‘Art Room’ was a new temporary wooden building which also had to serve as the canteen. Heating was by a pot-bellied stove at one end and the cookhouse at the other. One froze in the winter and roasted in the summer! The first of many such buildings one has seen down the years!
There must have been other teachers, including a pleasant history master whose name escapes me, Mr. (Beefy) Winters who, I think, taught Maths and Mr. Hazelgrove who was the Physics and Music master.
These masters left nothing but good memories. They were good, effective teachers that made learning a pleasure.
Colin Norman, September 2009
When I arrived at the DGS in 1941, the school didn't provide us with textbooks. We were given a book-list and told that they could be purchased from a particular book shop in the town. However times were difficult, and a practice that developed which was supported by the staff was for us to obtain our books from boys who had moved on the next year-group. I made my own arrangements in 2 Alpha, but I can clearly recall that boys from 3 Alpha were permitted to enter our classroom during the first few days of term to sell-on their unwanted texts.
(NB: 2 Alpha was housed in the classroom next to the Headmaster's study during my first year (very tricky), with Miss Osbourne as our class teacher, and Miss Hill's First form was on the other side. It was only when we went on to 3 Alpha in September 1942, with Miss Osbourne moving with us and Room 1 becoming a Sixth Form Study, that 2 Alpha was re-located in the "Wintergarten". I can remember her telling the class that she "wasn't going down there"! In fact, on the only occasion that I happened to enter that isolated building, we were involved in a map-reading exercise with the JTC.)
Cooked lunches weren't available in the early 1940's, and most boys who lived outside Dorchster brought sandwiches and ate them in a classroom that was allocated for the purpose. However, there was concern for those boys who left home very early and arrived home late without having an opportunity to eat a cooked meal during the course of the day. So, along with several others, I was invited to lunch at The Mill Street Mission Hall in Fordington. Upon entering this building for the first time, we found the Hall to be very crowded, with the elderly, a few war veterans in uniform, and some younger children in the care of adults, all seated together at trestle tables. The daily menu consisted of soup, followed by some stew and "spotted dick", and although we found the contents of the stew rather unappetising, we were able to buy bread from a nearby shop, to eat with the excellent soup.
I used to travel from Dorchester to Wool by train, and on one occasion was apprehended whilst crossing the rail-tracks in an attempt to catch a train that was just about to leave. After reminding me of the dangers, the Headmaster produced a cane, told me to bend and touch my toes, and then gave me "six of the best". I recall even now that, following the first strike, the build-up of pain felt rather like the multiple stings of wasps, and that the discomfort lasted for an hour or so before diminishing quite rapidly. But I held no strong views about the use of the cane at the time, and was thankful that the Headmaster was able to administer his canings properly. There was nothing worse, it was generally agreed, than to be hit on the back of the thighs!
John Hansen, January 2010
Having joined 2 Alpha in 1941, I find that I can still recall the names of 29 of my classmates. This is partly because I possess a good memory, but it's also due to the fact that Miss Osborne would bang her table with the blackboard rubber if anyone failed to acknowledge their name when the register was being called. It was time to pay attention! Those with an asterisk beside their name can be found on the panoramic photo for 1947.
Bailey*, Barter, Boulton, Clark, Crabbe*, Davis, Drake, Edwards*, Ellery, Ellis, Etheridge*, Feltham, Halson, Hansen*, K.Hawkins* P.Hawkins*, Hedge, Keech, Mainwaring*, Perkins, Pitcher*, Powell, Riggs*, Rimmer, Rogers*, Screen*, Spock, Symonds, Thomas, Weedon.
Colin Bailey, Dennis Barter, Peter Crabbe, Brian Etheridge, John Mainwaring and Tony Rogers can also be seen in the photograph of the Upper Five Science class of 1946 - see under "The Hardye's (and Dorchester Grammar School) Boys".
Alan Hedge was a really nice guy, but he was an epileptic and we were 'trained' to deal with his fits if they took place in the classroom.
It doesn't require much imagination to picture the scene if we needed a diversion!
Philip Hawkins lived in Puddletown, and was believed to be a distant relative of Thomas Hardy. This was of no consequence to us of course, but Miss Hill who taught us English, was particulary interested.
Robin Spock was an evacuee, like me, but he was American and was anxious to return to The States before we were invaded by the Germans. I believe he stayed until about 1944.
Ian Ellis and Tony Rogers have both made contributions to the section covering the filming of 'Childrens Charter'.
Peter Thomas had a twin brother named Paul, who was placed in 2A. The staff seemed amazed that they had been separated, but they teamed up together again on the rugby field.
Tony Rogers became a corporal in the Signals Unit of the JTC and can be seen in the photographic section of the Combined Cadet Force, transmitting a message using an 18 Set.
Ken Hawkins, Les Edwards and John Mainwaring can all be seen on a photograph of the 2nd XV Rugby team.
John Hansen, April 2010
Concerning W.G. (Walter Gordon) Morris, who was invented in 1957: I suppose that, in a way, I am his father, together with several others: the late Geoff (Egbert) Moore, the late (Rev) Martin Garner, Dick Cleall, Graham Stansfield, and several others, I think, whose names I am embarrassed not to recall.
We discovered that headmaster A.N. Hamilton was not good with names, and decided to offer him a distinguished non-existent student. I set things in motion by calling the Head to tell him that "young Walter" would be returning to school after his successful operation. When Mr Hamilton supposed that Walter would be off-games I replied that No, he had been encouraged to resume his cross-country running. When I said that I was sure the Head would remember how much Walter loved running, Mr. Hamilton replied, "Oh Yes, I remember his fine finishes." We knew that we had a winner.
We managed to plant an "official" student record in the school secretary's office, and in the next month or two Morris did very well in cross-country events, all faithfully reported at morning assemblies, and managed a few academic distinctions as well. Some of the teachers had their suspicions, and we overheard one attempting to convince his colleagues in the staff room that there was a plot to convince them that Morris did NOT exist. We also had a "plant" in the staff room who knew that Morris was a fake but helped us maintain the fiction. I am almost ashamed that I cannot remember now who he was. Another, my house-master at Heathcote, J.O. Roberts, later told me, on the morning I left school in December, that he had noticed that Morris was good at the subjects I preferred, and that his handwriting was very like mine too. Most of the school was convinced that W.G. Morris existed, but I doubt if JO Roberts was ever fooled by much.
On the last morning of term, December 1957, footsteps led up to the belfry, where an effigy was hanging. They came down again, to disappear into a drain, beside which was a complete school uniform, each piece identified with Morris's name-tags. I recall some of us clinging precariously to drainpipes during the night in alarm as Dick Cleall roared into the playground in his flashy sports car. Our best climber was Martin Garner, and Cleall, I think, actually fell, though only slightly damaging his arm. The rest of us were quite scared as we climbed and painted, but enjoyed ourselves anyway. The local radio news and the Dorset Evening Echo did carry reports during the next couple of days, the Echo on its front page.
Mr Hamilton eventually discovered who was responsible -- one of our "gang" leaked-- and wrote to me. We gladly paid the cleanup expenses, and I had a gracious note from him suggesting that we "let the dead bury the dead." We weren't responsible for the car on the roof that Richard Cousins asked about [in the Hardyeans' Club Newsletter Issue 109, Autumn 2009], but we did know that a few years earlier some sixth-formers had dismantled a teacher's car and re-assembled it on the flat roof of the Armoury. Maybe they were our inspiration? We were pleased with ourselves, of course, but we were also pleased with the headmaster's generous response. The hoax began because we were all loyal to the recently retired R. W. Hill, and did not much like his successor. But Mr Hamilton came out of it very well.
Frank Southerington, March 2010
Walter Gordon Morris still lives! He has co-authored an article in the March 2010 issue of Microscopy, published by the Cambridge University Press -- "An Order of Magnitude Improvement in STEM Resolution: Wavelength High-Energy Electron Localization." The authors are "Walter Gordon Morris, Hardye's School, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 2ET, UK, Squatter Madras, H. H. Wills Physics Laboratory, University of Bristol, and Alwyn Eades, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA." Of course, the only real person is Alwyn, which he acknowledges in "a note added in proof," where he apologises to his readers for the spoof, tells them who W.G. Morris really "was," and uses the entire mock-article (though Alwyn tells me that the science in it is valid) as the teaser for a competition. As I wrote to Alwyn, one of the pleasures of growing older is seeing one's children do well. He agreed that I could let you know about Walter's most recent achievement (the boy must be about seventy now).
Frank Southerington, May 2010
The cutting above from the Dorset Echo was kindly submitted by Richard Cousins.
The cuttings from The Dorset Echo shown below were kindly submitted by Bryan Stanley. The Marabout Gun incident was from July 1958; the others probably from a year or two later:
I started my education at Dorchester Grammar School in the autumn of 1945 and left in the summer of 1952. I did not have a very good beginning because I spent the first four weeks of term in hospital. I never did find out why I was admitted except to find out they removed my tonsils and adenoids. It was very difficult to catch up.
However, I had a good deal of help from Monsieur Roussel and Miss EM Hill. On one occasion Mr Roussel decided to play “The Warsaw Concerto” for us. As you know Mr Roussel was a French master and he taught me from the first year to GCE. He was definitely a character. Homework was a “must” on block paper, CTBP, (copy to be produced). Sometime during my French education he had to be admitted to hospital. Not the local hospital but The Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead where Archibald McIndoe was performing his miracles on the burn wounds of wartime military personnel. I never found out the reason for his stay in hospital. However, on his return as my class master he “conscripted” us into The Peanut Club which I believe was to help the work of the hospital. I believe it was an offshoot of “The Guinea Pig Club”.
Mr Roussel was responsible for nicknaming me “Ernie”. Now why would Geoffrey Frederick Goss be called “Ernie”? Here is the answer: There was only “steam” radio in those days. No television. On the BBC there was an orchestra conductor named Ernest Longstaff. As I was 6’3” and slim he suggested I looked like a longstaff so should be called “Ernie”. It stuck until I left school to do my National Service in the Army. However, whilst still in the service, I did meet up with one or two “old boys” who of course called me “Ernie”. Whilst serving in Egypt I met up with Robert White and “Inky” Marden; both old boys.
My father was in the RAF and wherever my father went my mother followed leaving me “at school”. There were no places immediately available in the boarding houses so I was “billeted” with Brian Wheadon, another DGS pupil, until such time as Heathcote House was opened. I had the privilege of being the first boarder in the new house. Unfortunately, Brian, who was my so called “best friend” is now deceased. I enjoyed my time at Heathcote House under Mr JO Roberts and his wife. I remember the cook who was a large lady and one of the assistants, Mrs Muriel Blandamer. Why I should remember her name and no-one else I have no idea.
My favourite master was Mr CH Steemson, (“you may syndicate”) the Latin master. I was not very good at the language but he did help me along. At the end of term he would read to us from “Caesar’s Gallic Wars” or “Virgil”. It was not until several terms later that I realised he was reading from the Latin and translating as he read. A remarkable man. I left the school in 1952 and understand he died only five years later. I still have very fond memories of him. Whenever he came across the word “causas” (the cause or reason) he would say “Ah causas, my favourite Latin word” I do not think it needs any explanation!
My Biology master was Mr Giuseppi (“next time we’ll have a test”). With this constant testing he ensured we all had good marks in examinations. I never did find out what happened to him but I understand it was not too pleasant. When we first “met” he had a pre-war car, the make of which I cannot remember but the registration mark was ATO 9 which would be worth a fortune these days. He traded it in for a brand new Sunbeam Talbot 80 or 90 which I thought was quite something. Little did I know I would eventually drive one on many occasions at The Metropolitan Police Driving School, Hendon.
Mr AG Willis, the Divinity master. He once gave me 12 out of 10, yes twelve out of ten for homework. He had a strange way of marking. I have never been a believer so wrote some rubbish about Christianity which he seemed to like.
Mr DC Whittaker: I liked this man. He was the officer commanding the Combined Cadet Force. Every year we had a GOC’s inspection. To ensure we were in top form a CSM or RSM (I cannot remember which) from The Dorsetshire Regiment would come and put us through our paces prior to the inspection. On one occasion, at a dress rehearsal, we had been put through our paces and were in open review awaiting the next command from Major Whittaker. The CSM/RSM was a Mr Webber. Major Whittaker standing to attention at the front of the parade said: “And then I shall say................and then I shall say...............what shall I say Mr Webber?” The parade collapsed in laughter.
Mr W Lancashire: Although he never taught me mathematics we somehow did not get on. He was the cricket master and played for Dorset. Although I was tall I used to keep wicket. Unbeknown to me Benny Morris who had played for Hampshire had been watching me and suggested to Mr Lancashire he should take a look at me. Begrudgingly he agreed and told me to stand behind the wicket in the nets. He tossed the ball to his fastest bowler. Now if you know nothing about cricket let me tell you there is very little room in the nets between the wicket and the rear net. A fast delivery came down hit a rough patch, bounced high and hit me full on the nose. There was a lot of blood. The last I heard Lancashire say was “He’s useless”. I never played for the first team. Whilst talking about Mr Lancashire one of his boarders was “Jammy” Matthews who one night well after “lights out” came to visit us at Heathcote. I believe he was caught on the way back into his boarding house.
Mr HJ Mann: Geography was my favourite subject. I still have my essays and drawings. He was very good to me and I enjoyed his lessons. On my way out to Egypt on a ship named The Empire Ken we called in at Algiers and I sent him a card. In the winter he would be the first outside to help make a slide on the ice for the boys. I wonder what The Health& Safety Executive would say about it these days?
Miss EM Hill: We seemed to get along quite well but she did not appreciate it when I vomited in class at the gas works. When we moved to the main school she put on a production of a few scenes from A Midsummer-night’s Dream in the hedgerow alongside the lane. I played Demetrius. It seemed to go down well.
Mr SA Fox: A character. He taught me a lot. “Good morning gentlemen and I use the word in its broadest possible sense”.
Mr DS Lidbury: A kindly man. Whilst preparing for our Local Oxford Examinations when others were sitting different papers we would often be sent to the pavilion to revise. Being conscientious we would take out a pack of cards. On one occasion when the bets were running high the look-out screamed “Here comes Dunc!”. There was panic as cards were grabbed and hidden. By the time “Dunc” arrived all was ship shape and Bristol fashion with everyone studying studiously. Unfortunately, the Ace of Spades was on the floor face up. Those who noticed it froze. Mr Lidbury, bless him, said: “I’m glad to see you are all very busy boys”. “Yes, sir”. We called masters “sir” in those days. His final remark as he left the room: “Someone should pick up the Ace of Spades”.
Mr EF Cole: A likeable character whose aim with a piece of chalk could not be matched by anyone. I was at the back of the laboratory drifting off into some daydream when this long range inter-continental missile struck me fair and square in the chest with the remark “Pay attention!”. I believe his brother was the Captain of the Queen Mary. I could be wrong. However, he did take a party to Southampton for a tour of the ship.
Mr RR Thomas: To use a modern expression he was very laid back. He could referee a rugby match from the other end of the pitch. He stood as Labour candidate in a General Election for I think it was Salisbury. He met up with Clement Attlee but did not win. When I was stationed at Chingford in the Metropolitan Police he came to Walthamstow Town Hall to lecture on a subject that escapes me. I intended to go because it was only three miles from home but unfortunately duty called.
Finally our Headmaster (not "Head Teacher" but "Headmaster"), Mr RW Hill ( “whatever you’re doing stop it”): He commanded respect and received it. I lived in fear of him but he was fair. He wanted to see my parents about my future and suggested I go into the church. My views have never changed and if you knew me then or know me now you would understand why my parents thought it was hysterically funny.
“Ernie” aka Geoffrey Goss, April 2010