Issue 14 (2009)
New Penwithian Issue 14 (2009)
This year has seen the 70th Anniversary of the start of the Second World War and it therefore is quite fitting that we have included in this year’s newsletter two articles from old boys who were at the school during this time. One is an evacuee Lance Brown who wrote to me in the first place to try and make contact with anyone of his era and I might add with some success. The other is Ron Prowse who sent me an extract from a much larger article in which he pulled together some of his early years’ experiences in Newbridge to help Jim Hosking with his book on Sancreed. He thought that some of his experiences at the ‘County School’ from 38-45 may be of interest. We also have some humorous reminiscing from Frank Blewett whose memory was jogged by Uggy Newport’s article on car number plates in last year’s New Penwithian. Look out also for the article on the Old Penwithians website by our database manager Bill Burnett and the report by John Richards on a very successful reunion of the 59er’s.
Next year is the Centenary of the School and we are joining with the present Humphry Davy School to celebrate this occasion. The school is organizing a number of events throughout the year and details of these are in the separate events programme enclosed with the newsletter. They do concentrate on the musical side of the school and included is the first performance of the piece of music commissioned by the association to mark the School Centenary and written by old boy Rikky Rooksby. Enclosed also are details and an application for those wishing to attend the Old Penwithians Centenary Dinner at The Queens Hotel, Penzance on 29 December 2010. Get your bid in early to avoid disappointment as places will be restricted.
Sadly included in the obituaries is Martin Scrase. I attended his funeral along with many other Old Penwithians and must say we gave him a good send off. General Sir Michael Jackson, who was at Sandhurst with Martin, gave him a fitting tribute as did Des Hosken.
As always a deep gratitude is owed to John Richards and his family, who edit, print and assemble the newsletter. And also to those who have written articles and e-mailed me over the past year. Without their help there would not be this fourteenth edition.
May I take this opportunity to wish all Old Penwithians, wherever they may be, a very Happy Christmas and New Year
Where are they now?
By Memory’s Chain we Linked Remain
The first contact this year was Stuart Guppy (52), a regular correspondent, who had had a visit from Roger Hurrell (49) who was interested in joining the OPA. Stuart has also sent in a copy of the article with the photograph taken behind the bar of the Yacht Inn of the Revs Francis Otto, Phillip Potter and Paul Foot who all worked there as part time barmen before becoming clergymen. I am sure many remember them.
I also heard front John Bottle (43) who wanted to know whether we were interested in a scanned photo of the 1947 School Photograph which had been given to the association by John Laity at last year’s reunion. I am having all the long school photos that we have in the archive scanned and copied and am grateful to the Headmaster of Humphry Davy School who has offered to assist us in this task.
Graham ‘Piggy’ Norton (46) wrote from London asking about the association and recalled living in St Henry Street in Penzance close to Brian Coak. He confirmed that he was the real Graham Norton and not the one on TV, whose real name is Graham Walker. He also enrolled his half-brother Christopher Norton (70) as a Life member and sent him an association tie for his birthday. We do have lots of ties if you want to do the same this Christmas. And talking of Brian Coak (5O), he is still in Hong Kong and can expect visits from Bob Vingoe (47) (see also later) and Terry Drew (53) who are both about to visit HK.
Michael Luke (58) made contact from Canada having read of the 2008 reunion in The Cornishman. He emigrated to Canada in 1969 to begin a university teaching career and lived there until 2000 when he moved to live in New York City and then Boston. Mike became very involved in Canadian Rugby – he captained the national side for 5 years and went on to become the national coach – and now divides his time between coach and referee education for the International Rugby Board and part-time teaching at Boston University. He also tells us that his brother Peter Marks (56) travelled extensively in Norway and New Zealand as a teacher, played rugby in the Waikato squad and played for a season with him for Harlequins. Peter is now retired from teaching in Kent.
Jonathan Phillips (55) wrote from Norwich enquiring about life membership and in my reply I reminded him of his prize trip to India when he won the Brooke Bond Tea essay competition and wondered whether he could direct his writing skills towards this publication. He replies “I have before me a school photo from 1959. I think this may be a one off job for the school’s jubilee since I cannot remember any other being taken. But the memory’s chain does have some very weak links. Most of the faces I don’t recognize at all which is perhaps not surprising, but among those that do seem familiar there are many to which I cannot put a name – and that includes a fair proportion of the Staff. A striking feature of the photo compared with a similar group of today’s ‘yoof’ is that not one of us is fat – indeed it is hard to find any that were even podgy – and pretty well all the faces look reasonably cheerful”.
Derek Sleeman (52) writes from the Computer-Science Department at Aberdeen University to say that he popped into the Union Hotel while visiting Penzance and did not realize the historic associations that it had. He wondered whether the Trafalgar Suite would have been a possible venue for our Centenary Dinner.
Michael Hamilton (50) (formerly Rosenberg) has sent me from Florida his copies of The Penwithian’ numbers 76-82, Speech Day programmes 1954-56 and an autographed programme and photo of ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ (1956). The photograph includes Paul Bettis, Tony Jasper, and Barbara Hall from the Girls GS with Brian Coak and Michael. Autographs on the programme include JG Runnalls-Thomas, Chris Jervis and Roger Jenkins.
Des Hosken (54) writes to tell us of three old boys, who used to live in Heamoor and cycle to school together, who have had their own reunion, with wives, after very many years of not seeing each other. Thee three, Des, David Rundell (55) and Brian Salmon (57) had not met together for at least 35 years. Both David and Brian had successful careers in teaching with David’s final role being Curriculum Coordinator at Hounsdown Comprehensive School on the edge of the New Forest, retiring in 2000. David (Head Boy 1962-63) enjoyed playing football, turning out for one county match for Hampshire, and he managed the Southampton Schools Under 15 Football IX for 14 years. He and his wife Jane live at Cadnam in the New Forest National Park and now spend a lot of their time travelling. Brian retired from Camborne Comprehensive School as deputy head teacher and lives with his wife Jenny in Truro. He was part of the Humphry Davy Trio, alongside David Derrington and David Andrews. Their photograph, taken in 1963, is in Three Score Years and Ten and they are described as giving “performances far and wide, won musical contests and raised money for Oxfam”. Brian is a member of the Rotary Club of Truro (Boscawen). He played hockey for the Truro Club for many years and now plays golf. Des had a career in local government retiring from Penwith District Council in 2000 as Clerk of the Council. He lives with his wife Birte and family in Penzance. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Penzance, he played rugby for Mounts Bay Colts and Penzance/Newlyn RFC and now plays tennis. Fifteen months ago he became part-time Clerk to the Governing Body at Humphry Davy School where his children Julia and Jason are students.
Bob Vingoe (47) has sent in a photo of the rugby team which played the first ever official school rugby match on a windy Saturday afternoon in 1952. He has also sent photos of Form 4S and two school swimming teams. These will be added to our archive. Peter ‘Biscuits’ Lawton (43) wrote to tell me of the death of John Oates and to say that he was off to Sevilla in Spain to attempt a repeat of his 1,000km hike of the Camino Mozarabe. Horton Bolitho (43) and Colin Kempthorne (43) kindly sent in photos and a few anecdotes about John Oates.
We have also seen the regular stream of visitors through the North Inn including Chris Symons (55) whose playing at Martin Scrase’s funeral was inspirational. Lionel Pollard (48), Chris Jervis (52), David James (53), Crispin Clemence (37), Bob Quixley (39/Staff), Arnold (33) and David (57) Derrington, John Harper (43), Mike Friggins (55) and most recently John Daniels (52) who came up with the splendid idea of seating everyone in their entry years at the Centenary Dinner.
New Life Members who joined during the year showing their year of entry and where they are now living are as follows:
Derek Sleeman (52) Aberdeen; Michael Ollis (52) Penzance; Mike Hicks (67) Newbridge, Midlothian; Peter Brown (56) Sennen; Graham (Piggy) Norton (46) London; Christopher Norton (70), Gamblingay Donald Jenkin (52) Gulval; Mike Luke (58) Boston Massachussetts; Jonathan Phillips (55) Norwich; Lance Brown (44?) Redhill; Brian Salmon (57) Truro.
Humphry Davy School – Memorial Restoration
An Appeal from the Chair of the Governors
The Memorial to former students of the school who lost their lives in the 1914-18 War is in need of some restoration. While it appears to be structurally sound the wood has dried out over the years causing a few splits in the panels and shrinkage against the brass plates. Quotations and method statements for appropriate repair work are in the process of being obtained. The school’s capital allocation cannot be used for this work and alternative sources of funding are, therefore, being sought. With the help of the Old Penwithians Association the War Memorials Trust has been identified as a potential source and is being approached for both advice and grant aid. If successful this could provide about half of the cost. However, the balance will have to be found and it is proposed that an appeal be made to all those who have an interest, for example: former students, friends of the school, or family connection to those names recorded. The school would be grateful to hear from anyone having an interest and being willing to donate a small sum cowards the cost of restoration, either via the Association Secretary Andrew Coak or direct to Katherine Uren, Chair of Governors c/o Humphry Davy School, Coombe Road, Penzance TRI8 2TG . Depending on the level of response, and with any advice we receive from the Memorials Trust, we will provide further details of the work to be carried out and the likely cost.
Old Penwithians Association Reunion 2008
Bumper Turnout for Old Boys Reunion
The 2008 annual reunion of the Old Penwithians Association was held, as is now the accepted custom, on the 29th of December. It was estimated that over 75 old boys and staff of the old Penzance and Humphry Davy Grammar School, covering the entry range from 1933 to 1977, turned up at the Queens Hotel and enjoyed a couple of hours reminiscing. The attendance was the best on record and the customary photo taken on the hotel stairs had to be abandoned and, because of the numbers, the assembled throng had to be photographed in the main lobby with the photographer standing on the stairs. Among those attending were two fathers and sons; Derry Derrington (1933), the oldest old boy there, and son David (1957) and Bob Conybeare a member of staff from 1968 to 1980 and son Richard who entered the school in 1977. Richard was the most recent old boy and was at the school over the period when it went Comprehensive in 1980. Worthy also of note was the appearance of David Jory (1950) who had travelled over from Canada especially for the reunion. Also present was Rikky Rooksby (1972) who has been commissioned by the present Humphry Davy School to write an orchestral suite to mark the centenary of the school next year.
Once again memories were jogged by a computer slide show of all the old school photographs held by the association which had been set up by Bill Burnett. Old boys were also given the opportunity to add missing names and more than 230 were added to existing photos in the gallery, thanks in particular to Brian Blackler, Brian Richards and Richard Conybeare.
More than 20 new photographs were donated by Des Astin, Gerald Jenkin, John Laity, Phil Westren, Brett Harvey and Vivian Rowe, including a most interesting aerial view of the school taken in 1930, before Treneere Estate was built. All the photographs can now be viewed on line at the ‘Picture Penzance’ website.
In his remarks Andrew Coak, the association secretary, made special reference to the work of John Richards and his family in editing and printing the newsletter and thanked Bill Burnett for the work he had done on the school photographic archive. He reminded everyone that 2010 would mark the Centenary of the founding of the school because it was on 24th January 1910,on a wet and windy day, that the first pupils entered the Penzance County School for Boys’. It was unanimously agreed that the occasion should be marked with a formal dinner – to be held in a suitable venue in Penzance on Wednesday the 29 December 2010. All members would be circulated with the details in the next newsletter: numbers would have to be restricted to about 100.
The evening ended with the customary singing of the School Song accompanied by Dr Nick Marston on the piano. As one Old Penwithian remarked “Shame we’ve already recorded the school song – I thought tonight’s rendition was the best yet!”
The next reunion will be held on 29th December 2009 at the Queens Hotel, Penzance.
List of those attending who signed in:
Roger Cargeeg Brett Harvey Peter Keast John Burrow
Don Ruhrmund John Trewhelia Mike Sagar-Fenton John Richards
Roy Nicholls Paul Glanfield Julian Keen Des Astin
James Bennetts Paul Tyreman Nick Marston Martin Tutthill
Arnold Derrington Stuart Guppy Kevin Marston Brian Blackler
David Derrington Terry Dann Martin Orchard Brian Richards
Peter Brown Norman Ampleford David Jory Frank Rowley
Stephen May Rikky Rooksby Terry Care Andrew Newport
Vivian Rowe Hedley Nicholls Phil Westren John Harper
Mike Ollis Terry Johns Bryan Cuddy Reg Osborne
Bill Burnett Derek Sleeinan David James Ian Robertson
Howard Eddy Frank Blewett George Startin Graham Corin
Gerald Jenkin Morley Hosken Russell Tremayne Michael Murton
Terry Drew Richard Coneybeare John Skewes John Coak
John Laity Bob Coneybeare Justus Hattam Andrew Coak
Phil Dennis David Nebesnuick Tony Jasper
The Reunion of the Class of ‘59
There was a double celebration at Humphry Davy School formerly the Humphry Davy Grammar School on Saturday 19 September, for not only did 15 members of the class of ’59 – the intake of 1959 – hold a reunion, but the event was also the start of the celebrations to mark the school’s centenary. Some of those attending had travelled hundreds of miles from the far corners of the country and one from Spain, while the gathering also received good wishes from former pupils in Australia and the United States as well as former teachers.
This was the first meeting for some of the ex-pupils for over 45 years, but once recognition had been successful, reminiscences came thick and fast. Organised by John Richards, the former pupils were welcomed to the school by head teacher, Bill Marshall and by current pupils who had made them homemade snacks including fairings, saffron buns and hevva cake accompanied by coffee in the old school hall.
A presentation was given by Mr Marshall on the current performance of the school and director of music, Simeon Royle accompanied two young musicians displaying their talents to those present concluding with the singing of the school song.
Afterwards they were shown around the school by the pupils and staff who had come in on the morning especially. As the old pupils progressed through the school lots of anecdotes were exchanged; many amusing and some of a more serious note. The visit ended with a music lesson with current year 8 students in their music suite, the technology was quite amazing to the old pupils who attempted to take part.
After their morning at the school, the group moved to the Yacht Inn for a buffet lunch. John Richards said “Everyone enjoyed it immensely – it truly was a memorable day and the group can’t thank Mr. Marshall, Simeon Royle, Jenny Richards, other members of staff and the pupils enough” All within the party promised it should be attempted again sometime in the future.
In September 1999, as many of the 1949 entry to Penzance County Grammar School for Boys as could be mustered enjoyed a reunion. This involved a tour of the school in its then present guise and an evening together over a good meal and a few drinks to celebrate 50 years on. It proved to be a most enjoyable and exciting experience, particularly for those of us who have strayed beyond the Tamar since leaving school.
A similar get together was proposed to celebrate 60 years on. This was scheduled for September 2009 but sadly due to a set back in health, Fred Pellow, who has been pivotal in organising these reunions, was unable to do so.
I write this for two reasons. Firstly to express my gratitude and appreciation of the work Fred has done on behalf of us all (49ers) and secondly to enquire whether another 49er resident in or around West Penwith would be willing to pick up where Fred left off in organising another reunion.
Frank Blewett (49)
Old Penwithians Golf Championship 2009
Fourteen Old Penwithians teed off in the 2009 Old Penwithians Association Golf Championship held at West Cornwall Golf Club in June. The competition was played using the Stableford format and old boys representing school years from as early as 1946 turned out. The winner was Mike Hicks with an excellent score of 39 points. In second place was Frank Blewett on 35 on countback from Andrew Coak – Chris Roach came fourth. Colin Kelynack the most senior old boy present was not in the prizes, not even the booby prize which he won last year, which this year went to Clive Rowe. The best House went once again to Treneere. The competition was generously sponsored by Roger Dugdale of ‘Penwithian Wholesalers’. It is hoped that the 2010 competition will be held in June 2010 but the date is yet to be finalised. Details will be posted on the West Cornwall Golf Club Notice Board but members wishing to play from further afield should contact the association secretary in the early New Year.
Excerpts from ‘Life through adolescence and beyond’
By Ron Prowse (38)
For me, passing the 11-plus in 1938 was not necessarily a guarantee of attending the Penzance County (grammar) school as our families were subject to a means test. I got free books and help with the bus fare for a year and two terms respectively (maybe I was expected to walk the 5 miles in the Summer Term!) but lunches and uniform etc. had to be bought.
Our school, opened in 1910 and incorporating the local private Penzance Grammar School had by 1938 some 300 boys in about 10 forms and was “twinned” with a similar sized girls’ school at the top end of our playing fields but quite out of bounds and it was set up on minor Public School lines by the founder Headmaster of over 30 years, “Boss”, Mr G.L.Bradley. It was divided into 4 Houses each presided over by a Housemaster but run very largely by the boys themselves who elected their own officers who called and presided over house meetings. These were called to select teams for football, cricket, swimming (except for years 1941 and 1942 when the pool area housed an anti-aircraft battery) and sports’ days and, less welcome, to coerce entries for the annual senior and junior cross-country races. All of these garnered points for one’s House each of which had a good local Cornish name, viz. Godolphin, St Aubyn, Trelawney and Treneere and the competition was quite intense. In 1943 these illustrious names were incorporated into the new school song first performed at Speech Day that year. 1943 was also noteworthy for the party to celebrate the first year of a joint after-school club with the girls of our sister school which was closely overseen by their teachers who looked on it largely as a means of instilling some culture into the otherwise rather unruly and somewhat uncouth nature of us boys. As 16 year-olds setting out to assert our undoubted superiority over mere girls this was very largely true of most of us!
Discipline in our school was highly variable and the school prefects, who were nominated by their leaving predecessors and confirmed by senior staff, had control during the breaks with varying degrees of success and they also stood-in for briefly absent masters. At times they were besieged at one of the entrance doors by a horde of first- formers who found this more fun than kicking a ball around in the rain! The main, front, door was made almost inaccessible by a score or more late-arrivals’ abandoned bicycles so was never targeted (also it was immediately below “Boss’s” study) and so an early action by the new Head, Mr Hearley, in 1942, was to banish all bikes from around the front of the building as well as requiring all boys living within walking distance to get permission to cycle to school and all were banned from using the front door. However, “Boss” was an overpowering presence around the school as I was soon to find out.
In my first year I was surreptitiously enjoying a lollipop hiding from form master Alan Wood’s view behind “Duff” Pearce’s, back when “Boss” burst into the room apologising to “Woodie” for intruding and asking did he usually allow gob-stoppers to be eaten in his class? Then, turning to us boys, he pointed to me and said “stand up that boy.” Knees trembling, I did so, he asked my name and then said “Prowse, come to my study at break but first come here and deposit that disgusting sticky mess in the waste bin”, and with that he swept out leaving a thoroughly subdued class with one very anxious small boy behind. Though new to the school we had already heard tales of “Boss’s” ability with the “stick” which to the best of my recollection was a 30in long, V2 in diameter cane, possibly an Army Officer’s swagger stick. So, break time saw me fearfully and timidly knocking on the dreaded door to be gruffly bid to come in. On doing so I was greeted by “Well Prowse, you know why you are here”. “Yes sir, I whispered”. Then, indicating his wooden office desk armchair he instructed me to bend over its back with my arms to the front and almost before I realised fully what was happening he had delivered six hefty swipes to my stretched-out rather skinny backside! With a farewell “very good boy, off you go”, I scuttled out of the study and with painful bottom, smarting eyes and trembling chin I dashed downstairs to an outside toilet cubicle to sit in hidden isolation to recover before slinking back to the classroom before the others returned. When they did so I was still in no state to offer detail of the event and somehow avoided their questions until lunch break by which time I had somewhat recovered. I think that I was the first in my class to experience the stick so naturally many, and some, somewhat pruriently, wanted all the details. With my new status I was able to oblige but I declined the request from someone to examine my bare bottom for bruises reserving this for my own inspection later on at home in my bedroom mirror! We came to the conclusion that “Boss” had spotted me from the upstairs balcony through the clear glass screen between our room and the school assembly hall.
Around this time, in 1940, three bombs on the school playing fields interfered with football on the first and third pitches and made a mess of the tennis courts in addition to those which fell in the town that night causing appreciable damage and five deaths as well as destroying the house and surgery of Motton the Vet opposite the school. Some time later a larger bomb almost totally destroyed our first eleven cricket pitch -our groundsman “Robin’s” pride and joy. Perhaps surprising to many now, over 800 bombs were dropped on the borough and surrounding area from 1940 to 1942 destroying over 40 buildings and seriously damaging over 150. At school the events there gave us the opportunity to escape Boss’s algebra lessons; our requests to go out to fill in the craters were rarely refused!
Some shovellers were “lucky” in finding pieces of steel slivers of the bomb casings ranging from coin to matchbox in size which could be traded for other trophies such as bits of aluminised fabric and wooden rope shackles from the wayward barrage balloon which had landed in one of our farm fields one night.
In the middle of all this, the arrival of the evacuated Devonport High School for Boys to share our school meant that we only attended school in the mornings. They took over in the afternoons and rude notes were exchanged in our shared desks, Fearing their honesty for these were our desks, a flurry of lock fitting ensued and stocks of these fell to near zero in Woolworths and Ironmongers Rowes and Wilton & Nicholls. When some of them were permitted to attend our Saturday evening Youth Centre socials we did not welcome the competition for our girls (rather as American Servicemen were not welcomed by our own Services) but D.H.S. boys compensated somewhat by having a good dance band who played for our Saturday night dances at the Centre.
This encouraged two of our friends Ron Slater (piano) and Bill Turner (drums) to join a group with slightly older boys led by John Oram (accordion) and at age 15 they were regularly playing at such R.A.F. stations as Predannack and Skewjack (Sennen) with transport and drinks provided! Slightly younger and playing piano in a more “modern” jazz style was Don Rendell who was to become an international performer. My own musical bent at this time, fostered by” Radio Rhythm Club” and partly shared by Bill Turner was traditional New Orleans Jazz. This has remained with me through life but at school led to rather impassioned arguments with our Big Band aficionados one of which was over- heard by Pop Wightman leading him to comment a little bemusedly on our vehemence saying that there was more worthwhile music to argue over!
Pop was also the co-producer (music) with Alan Wood (dialogue) in the school’s musical productions such as “Chu Chin Chow”, “The Desert Song” and “Highwayman Love” in which all the parts were taken by boys who were happily accepted as “normal” in those days of innocence! These three productions were the earliest to be performed in the greatly improved facilities in the new gymnasium theatre opened in 1937 following years of effort led by “Boss” and in which senior boys had played a significant part in providing labour. The stage was well equipped but one economy in the lighting had to be abandoned when an operator was almost electrocuted! This arose from the homemade dimmers which were lengths of glazed earthenware sewage pipes with one end sealed and filled with dilute sulphuric acid electrolyte and into which were inserted a fixed copper sheet and a copper rod suspended by a string These electrodes were connected to the appropriate lighting circuit and the string was wound around a cranked rod so that winding this up effected the dimming required. They worked but unfortunately they leaked and anyone standing on the wet floor could and did receive a shock! . . .
Steam and Blood
By Frank Blewett (55)
Sometime in 1950 at Penzance County Grammar School for Boys in a small room off the physics laboratory, on a roaring gas ring, stood a large copper urn. This was used to heat water to make tea for masters who congregated in the staff room below during the dinner break. One day when I happened to be on the scene the water came to a frighteningly energetic boil. The small room filled with steam and the urn jumped excitedly and dangerously on the roaring gas flame. I was fascinated by this and asked the physics master, Thomas L Petters, why the urn became so agitated and jumped up and down. The tweed-suited, waist-coated, Pickwickian character peered over his glasses and said, if I remember correctly, “Small boy, if you sat on that gas ring you would also be agitated and jump up and down!”
That unexpected and unhelpful response has stuck with me for well over half a century and I am not sure now whether or not it had a subconscious influence on my choice of career which actually was in science. I will never forget that answer, even now when I might be able to give a reasonable explanation for those circumstances.
Moving on a bit to about 1953, maybe 1954 when hormones disturbingly kicked in for some of us 49ers, it was customary during the lunch break to linger in the area of the path leading down from the girls school in order posture as we watched the girls, many of whom were highly watchable, who walked down from their school to the canteen, which was on the boys’ school patch One day, whilst slouching near the path and struggling with the rigour of adolescence the hiss of a flying projectile came our way and hit one of us in the face. The impact of a lump of stone just under the left eye of the recipient caused a nasty gash which immediately leaked copious amounts of blood. We didn’t know where it came from but were patently aware of where the unexpected and unwelcome missile terminated. It left an oozing crimson mark on the left cheek, dangerously near the eye, of one W J George. We weren’t sure of the severity of the injury but realised that it was pretty serious so it was promptly put into the hands of the first aid master. Now, Mr Petters, TLP, Tom or Mot as some called him, was in addition to being the physics master, the school’s first aid officer. Needless to say he was well qualified for this post as he was the senior officer at the Hayle branch of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade. On being summoned he immediately put physics to one side and arranged for John George’s upper reaches to be wrapped in a towel and the casualty bundled into the passenger seat of his immaculate 1953 willow green Ford Prefect * then with all haste proceeded to West Cornwall Hospital which of course was not far away in St Clare Street. The mummified back view of George hurtling out of the school gate with Tom, white hair flying, at the wheel was the last that the rest of us actually witnessed. Further details of the story were filled in later during the casualty’s recuperation. He had by this time adopted the status of some sort of personality wandering around sporting evidence of the repair job on his cheek. We were impressed though, after all, to our knowledge nobody had been seriously damaged at school before other than up on the balcony outside the headmaster’s study whilst being on the wrong end of the swish of a cruel and unforgiving cane.
Apparently the short journey to the hospital was accompanied by constant instructions from TLP on how the injured and bleeding passenger should conduct himself in the highly polished car, this was regularly punctuated with frequent reminders to be particularly careful not to get blood on the upholstery which was something with which the patient managed to comply even though it was not uppermost in his mind at the time. The short journey was completed and the A&E department sewed the damaged cheek back together again resulting ultimately in very little detriment to those sculpted features.
The Subject of this latter tale was also known by some as Honey George and by others as Duddex. I have no idea of the origin of either of these soubriquet and my final memory of that sequence of events is that for some time after it the very mention of “Don’t get blood on the upholstery Boy!” caused uncontrollable laughter. In fact I can hear echoes of Tom Petters saying it now.
It was references to Mr. Petters in an earlier New Penwithian that caused the above memories to come flooding back amongst many others. Sadly not a lot were connected with physics, apart perhaps from the steaming urn?
* New Penwithian, Issue 13, Two Score Years and Ten describes the car owned by TLP at that time.
An Evacuee to Penzance
By Lance Brown
Like thousands of other visitors to Penzance my first view of the place was of the harbour and the sign on the station platform. What was different for me and the hundreds of children on the train was that that view gave us the first clue of where we were going after an all day journey from West London. I suppose they told the train driver!
My first stop after getting off was a large room in Chapel Street next to the Methodist Church where we were all seated around the perimeter to be selected by residents kind enough to take us in. I was selected by the people who ran the “ Star “ at the top of the road but that did not work out for them so I was moved to Mr and Mrs Symons at No. 10 Chapel Row off St Clare Street – wonderful people.
For some unknown reason I went back to the bombing in London and somehow passed what was called the scholarship. This took me to Sloane Grammar in Chelsea but after some time there, and avoiding V1 ‘doodlebugs’, I was shuttled back to Chapel Row and started at the County School.
The first person I saw on arrival was a Mr Jarvis, a heart-dropping moment as he had moved from the junior school that I previously attended and came with the train. He was remembered for a half missing little finger which stuck out at an angle when he hit the side of your head. Things were different then! A Londoner pushed on the school was not popular with the teachers and I knew that when a victim was needed to answer a question I couldn’t hide. I was well accepted by classmates as I was keen on sport, picked for the school U14 Cricket team and the U12 Football. Someone saw me play in goal and picked me there away to Truro College. Unfortunately, I was under rugby posts and proceeded to watch the ball fly over me until they saw their mistake. I really enjoyed my time at the County School but cannot tell what years they were due to the frequent changes.
I was very lucky to live with Mr & Mrs Symons. They were responsible for much of my upbringing and I owe them a lot. I lost contact some time after the war and regret that very much so I don’t know if they had family with whom I could continue to show my appreciation. I believe that some relatives called Reynolds had a butchers shop in Market Jew Street, on the north side. They also owned a house in Marazion where I stayed during holidays. It seems that Chapel Row does not exist now – whether redeveloped or renumbered I have not found out.
I cannot remember any other evacuees at the County School but perhaps someone else can. It was over 60 years ago that I was in Penzance and remember it very fondly but not in detail of course – and was very lucky to spend much of the war the way I did. I hope others were as lucky.
The day after I received this article from Lance I was having a glass of wine with Chris Symons (54) who was staying at the North Inn and mentioned the story. He immediately recognised the Reynolds connection and realised that the Mr. and Mrs. Symons mentioned were his grandparents; who lived in Chapel Row before it was knocked down and became the site of the St Clare Flats. Chris and Lance are now in contact. What a coincidence. I also think that Lance Brown is probably listed in the back of the school history in year 1944 as school number 2317. There is no local home village given and no initial but there are other names treated in the same way around him, i.e. no initials or village, suggesting they could be evacuees. Can anyone throw further light?
The Old Penwithians Online
In the 2008 issue of New Penwithian we announced the move of our gallery of photographs to the ‘Picture Penzance’ website. The move proved to be very successful and our gallery has been very popular. During the past year dozens of names have been added by old boys leaving comments on particular photographs, and one or two have generated a good deal of discussion.
In recent months there have been major changes at ‘Picture Penzance’, however, access to our gallery is still the same. To view the photographs you must register with the site by providing a contact e-mail address and choosing a user name and password. This is entirely free and you will not be bombarded by SPAM – the site is very secure. You will be asked to give the user name of the user who referred you to the site – the user name of the association is oldpenwithian (this is case sensitive). Once you have registered you will be able to log in. Select “Gallery” from the menu bar at the top of the home page and “Gallery” again from the drop-down list. Select “Schools” and then select “Penzance County School for Boys and Humphry Davy Grammar”.
The main reason for moving our archive of photographs to the ‘Picture Penzance’ website was the increasing difficulty in keeping the association’s website up to date. These difficulties continued and Steffan Barnes, the owner of the ‘Picture Penzance’ site, offered to design and build a new website which we could keep updated ourselves. After consulting with Stephen Rodda, who designed and hosted our original website, it was decided to accept Steffan’s offer. Consequently our website has a new domain name and can be found at www.oldpenwithians.co.uk . Our photo gallery will remain at Picture Penzance but will be accessible via the new website and e-mail links will be provided for adding names or any other information to photographs, and for making contact with the association.
Please visit the new website and tell us what you think.
Sadly we have to report the death of the following Old Penwithians:
Ron Slater (38).
Aged 81; in April 2009. Left school in 1944 and became a Post Office Engineer. Was Inspector for BT for Cornwall based in Plymouth. Recently lived with his son in Shrewsbury.
Don Cattran (38).
Aged 82; in May 2009. Left school in 1944 and became a Post Office Engineer and spent his working life in the Telecoms world. Was involved in the setting up of Goonhilly and rose to become a senior engineer on the Lizard.
Ralph Pearce (38) aka ‘Duff’
Aged 82; in September 2009 in St Just. Left school in 1945 and did 3 years in the RAF in Aden. On his return went up to University and became a Lecturer in English in Warwick. His body has been bequeathed for medical research.
Lt. Col. Ken Litt (34)
Aged 85; in October 2009 in Salisbury. Head Boy in 1940/41, he joined the Royal Artillery in Dec 1941. He retired from Active Service in 1974, but remained in a Retired Officer’s Position with the Military until final retirement in 1988. 47 years of service. Was married to Joyce, who attended the PCSG 36-40, in 1946.
John Patrick Blessley Pengelly (34)
Aged 84; on 22 January 2009. Studied Dentistry at Bristol University and became School Dental Officer for Gloucestershire County Council from 1953. In 1974 was appointed Senior Dental Officer, a post he held until his retirement in 1985. He was a keen gardener and used his dental mechanical skills in making jewellery.
Bob Stevens (66).
Aged 57; in February 2009 after a motor bike accident. Was a mechanical engineer with South West Water and a keen biker and golfer.
John Oates (43)
Aged 77; in October 2009 in Heston, Middlesex. Did his National Service in the Army Legal Services and worked for the Lord Chancellor as an Assistant Master in the Court of Protection. For 16 years sang with the London Symphony Chorus.
Lt. Col. Martin Scrase MBE (54).
Aged 66; in October 2009 at his home in Newlyn. Was Head Boy in 1961 and captained the School Rugby and Cornish Schools’ XVs. Went to Sandhurst and served for 37 years in the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. On retirement from the Army in 1999 became the first CEO of the Cornish Pirates.
John (Jack) James (26).
Aged 95; in November. Well known Newlyn builder, described recently as a Battery Rocks swimming legend in his own time. One of the oldest, if not the oldest, surviving Old Penwithian. Father of David James (53).
OLD PENWITHIANS CENTENARY DINNER 2010
We shall be holding the Old Penwithians Centenary Dinner in the Queens Hotel Penzance on Wednesday 29 December 2010 at 7.30 pm. This will be instead of the annual reunion meeting. This dinner will be the culmination of the year long celebrations to mark the School’s Centenary. The dinner will be a formal occasion – evening suit or lounge suit – with speeches and toasts and the association will be inviting guests from the present Humphry Davy School, The old Girls Grammar School, past members of staff and the oldest old boy still mobile enough to attend. We are still trying to track down the oldest old boy. If you have any ideas let the Secretary know.
The Queens is the largest venue available in Penzance but we will be restricted to a maximum of 170. It is impossible to forecast what the uptake will be but demand could be quite high and it may be necessary to restrict it to old boys only. If there is space we will open it up to wives and partners on a first come first serve basis.
The dinner will be four course set menu of soup, fish, a meat dish and dessert. Wine will be included. The cost will be £25 per head. Special dietary arrangements can be made nearer the date. Where possible, old boys will be seated with their year contemporaries. It is planned to have musical entertainment from the music scholars of the present school and an exhibition of old school photos and memorabilia.
Up until 1 September 2010 priority will be given to Old Penwithians. After that date, bookings will be opened up to wives and partners – so book early to avoid disappointment. Bookings will close in mid December or when all tickets are sold. Refunds cannot be made for cancellations after 1 December 2010. You can reserve your place by filling in the enclosed form and sending it with your cheque to the Secretary – address details on the form.