Issue 11 (2006)

New Penwithian Issue 11 (2006)

Secretary’s Smidgin

Well what do you think of the new format? Our Editor; John Richards, who is also the stalwart who physically produces this newsletter, thought it was time that we brought the ‘New Penwithian’ more into line with the size and shape of the original magazine ‘The Penwithian’. The new design is easier to handle and produce and fits nicely into an A5 envelope without folding. It may also keep our postal costs down. Give us your feedback for the 2007 edition.
In my Secretary’s Smidgin in last year’s newsletter the idea of installing a stained glass window in the School in memory of Mr Rising was floated. This project has moved on a little since then; we are now including Mr Bradley in any memorial we might do and hopefully by the time we get around to this year’s reunion on 29 December we may have a stained glass window design to show everybody. Currently we are having some difficulty finding a good copy of the HDGS badge but hopefully that will soon be resolved as I have just appealed to ‘Cornishman’ readers for help. If we do go ahead with the project we will need some financial help, for even though we have about £2000 in our coffers, we do need to retain a proportion of that to meet our ongoing costs of publishing and distributing this newsletter. We shall be approaching old boys to make donations and I will be writing to everyone on the database when we have a better idea of costs etc.,.
I have also been approached by a couple of old boys who feel that as an Association we should mark the occasion of the School’s Centenary in 2010 with some form of celebration. Two ideas that have been suggested are; a formal dinner held at a suitable venue in the town or an exhibition in St John’s Hall with a buffet lunch. I am sure that some of you will have even better ideas and I would be grateful if you could let me have them. Undoubtedly it will be a topic for discussion at this year’s reunion, so, if you have any great ideas, come along and share them. Before we come up with too grandiose ideas we have to remember that anything we do will have to be self financing and paid for by those attending. More importantly someone has to organise it.
The Old Penwithian website has been given a bit of a facelift thanks to Bill Burnett who has put on more photographs and had a general tidy around. We had hoped to put on line all the back copies of the newsletter but that task has been put on hold for the moment.
We do now have a new consignment of Old Penwithian ties so, if you do not have one yet, details of how to get one can be found inside.
And please do not forget to attend our Reunion on the 29th December at the Queens. This year we hope to record the School song and put it on to the official website. So even if you cannot sing you can at least say “I was there when they recorded that!”
I am grateful to all those who have written in or e-mailed me with comments ideas and stories and photos. I have tried to include as many as possible but if I missed you out do keep them coming. 

ANDREW COAK Secretary


Old Penwithians 2005 Reunion

Considering the foul weather conditions – the promenade had been closed shortly beforehand because of the sea breaking over the seafront – there was an exceptional turn out to the Old Penwithians 2005 Annual Reunion in the Queens Hotel on Thursday 29 December. Old Boys spanning 40 years of the school history attended from the 1933 entry represented by Arnold Derrington, who had celebrated his Diamond Wedding Anniversary only two days before, to Richard Uren who started at the School in 1974. Nearly 60 old boys turned up and the Association was also delighted to welcome Mr Rod James the present Headmaster of the Humphry Davy School to his first reunion.
There was the usual gathering of memorabilia including a photographic display from the year of 1955 put together by Andrew Coak to commemorate the year’s 50th anniversary. There were also many other school photos including whole school panoramas from 1933 and 1968 which were particularly pored over with interest.
However, the main business of the evening was a discussion to decide whether the Association should take up the request, made earlier by Mr James, for the Old Boys Association to fund the refurbishment of the War Memorial situated in the School Assembly Hall. The memorial is in need of repair and beginning to feel its age and Mr James said that he felt that the memorial played an important part in the history of the school and that it should be preserved. All old boys present agreed with these sentiments and gave the go ahead for the Association to support the project.
The Secretary Andrew Coak said that the Association would now look for a suitable craftsman to estimate the cost of refurbishment and if the price was right then they would proceed with the funding of the work. He said when the cost was known and a proper estimate was in place that members would be approached to contribute towards the cost. It had been suggested earlier that any work carried out could be done in memory of Mr Rising the former headmaster but it was felt that any memorial to him should remain separate.
The evening ended up with the usual hearty rendering of the School Song. The second verse sung as an experiment last year was omitted by popular request.
The following signed in the attendance register:
Gary Wilson, John Mead, Arnold Derrington, Horton Bolitho, Colin Kelynack, Raymond Treloar, Morely Hosken, Bevan Richens, Andrew Newport, Derek Polgrean, Jim Dann, Howard Whitt, Frank Rowley, Norman Ampleford, Edwin Bryant, John Harper, Stuart Guppy, Les James, Graham James, Phil Dennis, Roy Nicholls, Terry John, Justus Hattam, Roger Cargeeg, Gerald Jenkin, Donald Lockhart, Wallace Stevens, Terry Drew, Colin Polglase, Crispin Clemence, David Mann, Donald Ruhrmund, Paul Snell, Howard Eddy, Phil Slater, Mike Sagar-Fenton, Jim Glover, Richard Uren, Paul Tyreman, Goff Johns, Kevin Marston, Nicholas Marston, Humphry Beckerleg, Paul Leggo, Russell Tremayne,Hedley Nicholls, Martin Orchard, John Richards, Rod James, John Coak, Andrew Coak.


The School War Memorial and Roll of Honour

In December 2005 the Association Secretary was approached by the Headmaster of the Humphry Davy School to ask whether the Old Boys would be willing to help with the refurbishment of the School War memorial. Although still taking pride of place in the assembly hall at the school it was in a poor condition after decades of being on display and was beginning to feel its age. It was in desperate need of a facelift; joints were starting to crack and come apart and the complete surface needed stripping and re-varnishing.
The memorial was originally funded by public subscription and made up of five panels, six columns and an ornate frieze. It was carved in oak by a local craftsman, Mr Pezzack of Newlyn, and cost £230. The memorial was erected by Mr Pezzack and a local builder, Mr F. Berriman, and was unveiled and dedicated by Capt C. E. Venning, the mayor of Penzance on December 17 in 1919. A total of 214 names are recorded, including the names of the 19 who died; these are etched into brass plates.
At the Old Boys Reunion at the end of December the Headmaster’s request for the OPA to refurbish the panelling was discussed and all present agreed that the Association should support the project. It was also agreed that the next step would be to look for a suitable craftsman and get an estimate of costs. When the cost was known and a proper estimate was in place members would be approached to contribute towards the cost.
However, following the meeting John Mead, an old boy and erstwhile design and woodwork teacher at the school, who had worked on the stage, lectern and memorial in the past, offered to carry out a survey of the work and, if there were no real complications, to undertake the refurbishment task. Unless he found something like dry rot, the cost would be minimal as he would carry out the restoration at no cost. At the time of writing John had yet to start the actual physical work but hopefully by the time you read this some progress will have been made. We thank him in anticipation for his effort.


Memorial Stained Glass Window

During discussion on the refurbishment of the War Memorial the idea was suggested that the restoration could be done in memory of Mr Rising. However, it was felt by members at the 2005 reunion that this would not be appropriate and that any memorial to him should remain separate. When this idea was mentioned in an article in ‘The Cornishman’ it generated a very positive argument – including two letters in the Cornishman – from old boys at the school in the pre-Rising era that, if Mr Rising was to be commemorated, then Mr Bradley should be included as he had also given 35 years to the School.
As a result of this at a Committee meeting in March it was agreed that both men should be remembered and the idea was adopted of installing a stained glass window somewhere in the School. The installation would be funded by the Association in memory of both Mr Bradley and Mr Rising and old boys would be approached to help donate to the cost of installing the window.
In a visit to the School the current Headmaster, Rod James, confirmed that he would be very happy to support such a venture as he was keen to continue the historical links. Suitable locations were investigated and it was felt that the obvious place to have a stained glass window would be in the reception area above the glass doors going into the old assembly hall. This location would be secure, free from the elements and highly visible to pupils and visitors.
Contact was then made with a stained glass window specialist, Simon Harvey, the son of an old boy Percy Harvey and he was given an idea of the scope of the project and the sort of window we were looking for. A preliminary sketch design for the memorial stained glass window has been received from Simon Harvey which the committee has approved, subject to some minor changes.
When we have a final drawing to hand we will formally approach the school and seek the permission of the school governors. When that permission has been received we will give the final go ahead to the designer and start a campaign to raise the money. The committee also agreed that the Association would underwrite the cost of the project, estimated at £2000, and would, if necessary be willing to donate £1000 towards the cost. A mail shot would go out to all old boys asking for donations.
It is hoped that a copy of the design will be available for old boys to see at this year’s reunion on 29 December


Where Are They Now?

‘By Memories Chain We Linked Remain’
Reading my last year’s effort for “Where are they now”, I noted that I had mentioned the teaching of French by Frank Murray and Alan Tregenza. Many old boys will remember as well Mr John Grover another of our French teaching staff who we learned had died in March this year. He joined the Staff in 1961 and taught French at the School and Penwith College until his retirement 14 years ago. He had a great love of France, with travel, bird-watching and cricket among his hobbies. He also played the clarinet in the Penzance Orchestra. Our condolences to his wife Barbara and his family. On the same subject of French teachers, I am grateful to Dr Bob Dyson (60) who sent in a potted history of ‘Jack’ Dempsey who also taught me French in the sixth form. Bob’s article and a photograph of Mr Dempsey are printed later. The last newsletter triggered many memories, letters, e-mails and comments and gave me plenty of material for this column. Dr Roger James (61) now a read­er in immunology at the University of Leicester e-mails with a few more details on the 1964 U15 XV team photo. He writes: Mr Rudlin’s memory is almost as bad as mine. Reading from left to right back row, middle row and bottom these are my suggestions. 1. ? 2. Frank (Lever) James 3. Alan Richards 4. Paul Gazzard 5. ? 6. ‘Joe’ Rowe 7. Dave Kitchen 8. Chris Trewellah 9. ?Slitkus? 10. Pete? Perry 1. ? Hodgson? 2. Phil Westren 3. Bryan Robson 4. Roger Randall 5. ? 6. Alan Reynolds 7. Clive Uren 1. ? Symonds 2.
Tony Casey (60) who has volunteered to be the 1960 year representative sent in a named photo of Form 3A in 1963 which appears in our photo section. He recalls that the ‘small boy’ in the Bob Quixley photograph, which also appeared in the 1964 Penwithian, was named Saunders.He also found the reference to old boys killed or serving in the First World War very poignant – in particular the report on the death of Clement Bird which ends “Much sympathy will be extended to the widowed mother who has lost three sons in the war”. Clement Bird is remembered on the School War memorial as one of the fallen.
Jim Dann (49) was prompted by the article on Ruby Sibson to turn up to the Reunion with a copy of a photo of the School play of 1951 “Murder in the Cathedral”. The photo includes Geoff Perry, Billy Leah and Ken Rogers aptly as the cathedral priests, Colin Kempthorne as Becket, and Jim Dann, Bert Hand and Terry Dann as the attendants. The article made Colin Kempthorne (43) dive for the archives as well and he has sent me more photos of “Murder in the Cathedral” including a copy of the programme. These are included in the photo section
David Wright (56) writing from Australia was particularly taken by the article in New Penwithian by Mike Sagar Fenton.He did not know Mike well but they were both “Scavengers” in the same year. Most of the team consisted of ‘converts’ from the First XI football team and only then because it gave them a chance to get up close to the girls from Penzance Grammar, St Clare’s and West Cornwall. When the better hockey players got ambitious and played Penzance Men and Porthcurno Exiles most of the footballers, inspired by an instinct for self-preservation, suddenlyremembered othr commitments.
Michael Howarth (55) now living in Exeter and working at the Cathedral fills in a little more detail on the Sir Humphry Davy legacy with an extract from PAS Pool’s The history of the Town and Borough of Penzance (1974). “In 1829 the school received a legacy from its most distinguished former pupil; following the death of Sir Humphry Davy, his widow wrote to the Mayor, stating that he had left stock worth £100 (bringing in £4 per year) to the Grammar School on condition that the pupils were granted an annual holiday on his birthday, 17 December. The Justice, Edward Collins Giddy, replied on the Corporation’s behalf that they gladly accepted the gift and would record it in gold letters in the school, “as a lasting memorial of his attachment to his native town, and as an example to future gen¬erations, who may thereby be induced to emulate his glorious career”.
David Mann (46) recalls that he was one of the infamous gang who in 1951 ‘dressed up’ the school by climbing on the rooftops at dead of night and fastening chamber pots (in school colours of course) and effigies of Stan Harris and Tom Petters together with a banner over Mrs Sibson’s hut ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’. Mr Rising was not too well pleased.
Roger Carne (54) still practising – it was drinking and smoking in my day – at the bar, writes from Meysey Hampton near Gloucester to ask whether the cricket pitch (St Clare) where he, Chris Symons, Clive Angove and I went for our lunch time fag break was still there or had it been concreted over. He had also been served in an outfitters in Cirencester by old boy Claude Bastian originally from Newlyn, where his father was a policeman, who joined the School in 1928. Must be one of our most senior working old boys.
Derek Beale (52) now a retired surgeon living in Bridgend read about the reunion in the ‘Cornishman’ and decided to become a life member as it was good value for £10. He thought Arthur Hosken (52) had gone to USA. He remembered him as a elegant cricketer, also the only person he knew from Drift!
Frank Blewett (55) has just retired from London Metropolitan University after 34 years and was in the process of buying a house in Penzance, hoping to retire down here next year after he has completed his stint as his local golf club captain. Phil Potter (56) notified me of a change of address; he has moved from Dorset to Totnes in Devon – as he says ‘getting nearer my ‘ansome’.
The article on the war memorial prompted Stan Hockedy (35) now in Wellington, Somerset to say that it was probably the responsibility of his generation of ensuring that there was a memorial to old Penwithians who lost their lives in WWII, but if the Committee was to take on this task he did appreciate the difficulty of ensuring that all the names of the fallen were remembered. Talking of WWII, I had a letter from Arnold Derrington (33) who tells me that he is still in touch with three of the seven survivors of his Lancaster bomber crew. Derry was a warded the DFC for his bravery getting them out of a burning aircraft.
David Jory (50) was reminded by the reference to Michael Hamilton (aka Rosenberg) of the day when he, Michael, became an instant hero after punching Fred Jarvis in the stomach, knocking him into the waste paper basket and then running out of school – he apparently got away with it.
“Bring me your journal boy!”
Thanks to Michael Eddy (43) from St Erth we now have a copy of the School Song music which was passed on to me by Martin Orchard (67). We can use it when we do our recording of the School Song at this year’s reunion. Be there to swell the sound.
Congratulations to Dr David Collins (?) who has been awarded the CBE for his services to further education. David Collins is the principal at South Cheshire College which was voted the “Best College in the Country”.
Lionel Pollard (46) popped over from France for the 1946 year sixtieth Reunion which was well attended and asked the pertinent question of what were we doing to celebrate the Centenary of the founding of the School. See Sec’s Smidgin for some thoughts on this subject.
I have also met a few old boys on the golf course. Alan Perkins (52) down from Wiltshire teamed up with me and Roger Dugdale (52) for one of the competitions at WCGC and I also went 18 holes with Randall Friggens (55) not realising until I got home and looked in “Three Score Year and Ten” that we were both in the same year. There are a nucleus of old boys who play locally, David James (54), Jimmy Glover (47), John Lees (50) and Simon Pengelly (51) to name but a few more and I was wondering if there was any future in having an Old Penwithians get together. There are enough of us around. Let me know what you think.
Colin Kempthorne (43) has kindly copied two letters which he sent to the Radio Times :
“The reference to Sir Humphrey (sic) Davy in your listing (RT, 14 January) of Adam Hart-Davis’ The Eureka Years has caused me, as an Old Boy (1943-1951) of the Humphry Davy Grammar School, Penzance (the great scientists home town), to recall how our late Headmaster was wont to impress upon us that there is no “e” in Humphry and no “e” in Grammar.”
“Further to my letter of this morning … Please (if you publish), for the sake of better effect, make the following rectifcation (see below).
The Headmaster of the Humphry Davy Grammar School, Penzance, used actually to say (as a fellow Old Boy reminds me): “There’s no “e” in Humphry, no “e” in Davy, and no “e” in Grammar!”
(I do not believe the RT published them)
Sadly we have heard of the death of three old boys. Mike Wooding (54) died suddenly and unexpectedly in August of a ‘sudden death’ heart attack while cave diving near his home in Wigglesworth, N Yorks. On leaving school he joined the RAF as a graduate and went on to Bristol to study aeronautical engineering. He later left the RAF and read Maths at Lancaster. He was a keen caver, runner and climber and was well known in those circles. We are grateful to his sister Mary Wooding for passing on the details.
Dr Bill Tellam (30) also died in August at the age of 87 he was a winner of the Humphry Davy Prize and I seem to recall that he was head boy as well. Many will remember him as a GP in Morrab Road, as a County Commissioner of Scouts and for his involvement in many other local organisations. In September I attended the funeral of Douglas Roberts a well known local actor and baritone who, for many years, played leading roles in operatic productions. He was a lifelong Methodist and held many church offices in his local Chapel at Trewellard. I also met at the funeral his brothers Alan Roberts (52) who has been teaching in Australia for the past 33 years and Colin Roberts (57) who is a consultant in re-cycling management in the London area. If you do hear of the death of an Old Boy please let me know.
Keep your memories, anecdotes and letters coming. You can always contact through this website.


Philip Stuart Dempsey (1909-1963)

Does anyone remember Mr Dempsey? He taught French and Latin at the School for three years only, between 1960 and 1963. I remember him with great affection, as a kind, warm, generous and firm teacher: a pipe-smoker, as everyone seemed to be in those days. He was a fine man, and I shouldn’t like him to be forgotten.
Mr Dempsey came to the School at the end of his career, by a roundabout and rather adventurous route. His parents were missionaries in China, and he was born there in 1909. He was educated in England, at Kingswood School in Bath, a Methodist boarding school. Then he read French at the University of London and the Sorbonne. His first teaching post was at the Belfast Royal Academy; but he then spent twenty years in Malaysia (the Federated Malay States, as they were in those days), becoming fluent in the Malay language. He was appointed Principal of the Anglo-Chinese School at Ipoh, Inspector of Schools, and Examinations Secretary for the Federated Malay States. Eventually he became Principal of the Singapore Teacher’s Training College and Deputy Director of Education for Singapore.
In 1942, he was on his way back from leave in England when Singapore fell to the Japanese. He made his way to India and joined the Royal Indian Navy, becoming a Lieutenant Commander and Officer in Charge of the Communications Division. He retired in 1958 and settled at Landewednack on the Lizard – also becoming a member of the Cadgwith-Lizard lifeboat crew! But he came out of retirement (persuaded, I suspect, by Mr Rising) and joined the School in 1960; he used to travel to Penzance in an old, beige sit-up-and-beg Ford: probably the oldest car in the car-park with the exception of Martyn Lynch’s.
At the end of the first half of the Summer Term of 1963, he told us that he was to go into hospital in Falmouth for an operation. It didn’t sound too serious at the time; he even joked about how the boys had given him the duodenal ulcer that was to be operated on. But there were complications and he died on 15 July. The Headmaster made the announcement to the School with visible emotion.
Mr Dempsey is survived by his daughter, Mrs Joan Pugh. I am thankful to Mrs Pugh and to Mrs Margaret Freeman (Mr Dempsey’s sister) for most of the information in this appreciation, and for allowing me to copy the photograph.

BOB DYSON (1960-1967)


One of Those Remembered

The article on the war memorial in the last issue generated an interesting response from William Tonkin whose uncle is commemorated on the brass inscription as one of those who was killed.
“Many thanks for replying so quickly to my enquiry. Sgt. C, Tonkin No.41278 was indeed my uncle and was the eldest son of Charles and Mary Annie Tonkin who lived at 10 Cam Gwavas Terrace, Newlyn. He was killed on the 30th June, 1918, aged 23 years and is buried in the Aire Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. My father Robert Jeffery Tonkin was serving in the same sector at the time of his brother’s death and actually saw him some three weeks before he was killed. My father was serving with the Royal Worcestershire Regiment. My uncle’s name was included on the Newlyn War Memorial – I believe this might now have been moved. Stanhope Forbes’ son, named Alec served with my uncle Charles this provides another indication how closely the artist community integrated with the local people and were prepared to stand with them in times of stress.
I made further enquiries with Bob Harrison a local war historian who kindly provided me with the following information from the official war records which I thought might have been of interest not only to William Tonkin but also to us all as one example of the sacrifice that Old Penwithians made in WWI.
TONKIN, Charles (Charlie). Serjeant. 41278.1st Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. Died of wounds 30th June 1918 age 23 at a casualty clearing station. Eldest son of Charles and Mary Annie Tonkin of 10 Cam Gwavas Terrace, Newlyn, Penzance. Employed as a clerk by GWR at Penzance prior to enlistment. Interred in Aire Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. Listed in Centenary Methodist Church, Newlyn, Humphry Davy School War Memorial and on Newlyn War Memorial. It is most likely that Serjeant Tonkin was wounded on 28th June during the action at La Becque, east of the Nieppe Forest. At 0600 hours the artillary bombardment fell on the German defences some 200 yards in front of the Battalion’s front line and four minutes later the Cornwalls advanced behind the creeping barrage meeting little opposition and by 0730 hours had taken all their objectives. They then dug in and by evening had established their new location and made it secure.”
The first half of this account of Sjt Tonkin is fact but the latter part i.e. “It is most likely that Sjt Tonkin was etc” is pure conjecture based on what 1 DCLI was doing at the time. Using the battalion war diary (copy held at DCLI Museum, Bodmin) and knowing that he died at a casualty clearing, which are always located close to the trenches, we can assume that he was only wounded in the previous few days at the most. Longer and he would have been removed back to a field or base hospital.
With regard to Alec Forbes, although he and Tonkin served in the same battalion, their paths would only have crossed for a few days at the most because he only survived in the battalion for about three to four days!
William Tonkin, although not an Old Penwithian himself made a donation towards the restoration of the war memorial for which we are most grateful.


Honour in Music for Hero Rick

RICK RESCORLA the Cornish hero of the 9/11 Twin Towers terrorist attack has been given orchestral honours at a concert given in Hayle in January this year. Rick was remembered in The Rescorla Variations (Variations on an Original Theme for String Orchestra) composed by Cornish Bard William (Bill) Lewarne Harris who lives in London. Bill was present to hear it played by the Cornwall Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Bard Judith Bailey at St Elwyn’s Church. Miss Bailey remarked: “It is an interesting work and the orchestra felt committed to it. Some members had seen the television programme on Rick Rescorla and their deep feelings came into the music.
The performance was the premiere of the eight minute Variations and the composer commented later “I thought it was a very good performance and I was very happy with it. It is a very difficult piece. I wanted to commemorate this very brave man.”
“I am not a politician” he declared. “The only voice I have is that of a musician, yet I desperately wanted to say something when I read about a fellow Cornishman whose presence of mind and courage saved the lives of 3,800 people. Unfortunately, like a captain going down with his ship he sacrificed his own life. But music does come into the story as well. The papers mentioned that through all the chaos and danger, Rescorla sang popular Cornish songs to stop the escaping staff from panicking. In common with Mr Rescorla, I too believe that music can have a calming effect in time of stress”.
Mervyn Sullivan an old school friend of Rick presented flowers to Mr Harris. He said Rick regularly sang the Cornish favourite The White Rose to his wife Susan – and the bouquet from Susan to the composer included a dozen white roses. Mervyn who found the composition ‘very enjoyable’ travelled to the United States in March to be present when a statue was unveiled in Rick’s honour at Fort Benney, Georgia.
Based on an original article by Douglas Williams in ‘The Cornishman’.