Issue 1 (1996)

New Penwithian Issue 1 (1996)


by T. Craske Rising

(Headmaster 1945-1971)

I have had my 90th birthday and I have had a stroke which has left my right side pretty useless. But I can still write by tapping the keys of a typewriter with one finger of my left hand. In that way l am able to send a message to all old boys of Humphry Davy Grammar School and the Penzance County School for Boys, conveying to them my greetings and good wishes by means of this first newsletter.

The fact that the school we created has gone must be a matter of regret, of course. A part of our past no longer exists physically. But it must still exist in our minds and memories, and we are spared the disappointment of finding that reality falls short of recollection. I have known friends who have gone back to their old schools and discovered that what they found was not what they remembered. For us, however, our school must always be what we remember it to have been, built not of granite and mortar but of memories which grow more romantic as the years roll on.

I came to the school in 1945, but some of my friends had been pupils long before that, one was numbered among the earliest intake; so I know something of the school for the full seventy years of its existence. Many other people can say the same thing with even more justification, having been both pupils and staff. Others have sat in the seats their fathers occupied before them. The school really is part of the lives of the people connected with it, and so lives on.

But the school means something different to each one of us, so that though one school is lost, over three thousand schools live on in memory. My school is very different from theirs and I should be very interested to learn how others saw it when they were members of it. I hope the newsletter will include not only news of the present but also memories of the past.

My good wishes to all old boys and old staff.

The First But Not The Last

Welcome to the first issue of what we intend to be an annual newsletter for ‘members’ of the association. At the last count there were two hundred and fifty on the list and we hope each one of them will have received their own copy. If you have received this newsletter by a roundabout route – perhaps you have moved and it went to your old address, or your name is not on our list and it was passed on to you by another old boy – please let us know and complete the database section of the reply slip on the back page. Please feel free to photocopy the reply slip and encourage any other old boys you know, who have not so far provided information about themselves, to do so. They will then receive future issues of the newsletter.

It is our intention to use the newsletter not only to keep you up to date with present events, but also to bring back memories of the School. To do that we need you to provide us with the raw material for articles. What are your memories of school days? Do you have an amusing tale to tell? Could you provide information for a “Where Are They Now” feature on particular people from your era?

We hope you enjoy this first issue, who knows, it may well become a collector’s item. If you have any constructive criticism, any comment to make or opinion to express, we want to hear from you. Please send your articles and/or letters to the address given on the back page. Now read on —

Memories of the 1988 Reunion

by Barry Lambe (1954 -1959)

Martin Orchard approached me recently, inviting me to submit an article for publication in the first newsletter of the Old Boys Association, presumably as I was one of the organisers of the 1988 reunion of the 1954 intake at the Queen’s Hotel. As I have been given a free hand, for me the following special moments stand out from what was in reality the culmination of two years hard work.

The highlight of the evening was the entrance of the staff led by Mr and Mrs Craske Rising. The old boys rose as one man and brought the house down. Thirty years had passed under the bridge; the respect was still there and great warmth. Hard acts to follow, each and every one of them.

The surprise of the evening was thanks to Mr Martin Tuthill. He had discovered someone whose presence he had managed to keep secret from old boys and staff, right up to the time of his entrance.The old boys and their partners took their places. My wife had been keeping the Headmaster and staff hidden in the East Lounge. After their stupendous welcome by the old boys, everyone thought that the surprises were over until Martin led in Mr Jack Barnes (contemporary head groundsman – Ed.) That welcome had to be experienced to be believed.

The crowning comic moment for me was a spirited piece of banter between Hughie Harvey and the (in)famous Michael Penaluna. Anyone at the School between 1954 and 1959 will surely know Michael Penaluna. There is only one! For the rest of the readers allow me to explain. Many descriptions come to mind, all tinged with affection. “Young scamp”, “lovable scoundrel” – how far can one go before litigation ensues? High spirited certainly, cane-proof definitely. As we degenerated as a form into our worst period, which must have been third year, Michael led us into temptation. It became the norm to cane him even if he was absent from the “scene of the crime”, poor chap. I suppose the assumption was that he must have been at the bottom of the mischief. At the 1988 reunion, some seventy old boys and partners were circulating after dinner. The vast majority of us, naturally, after some thirty years had deteriorated somewhat. Baldness, obesity, wet rot and dry rot …. except for Michael Penaluna. Elvis Presley in his twenties walked into the room. I swear, damn him, that he had not aged one day since 1959. Not lost a single hair, not put on an ounce, no lines, no wrinkles. Penaluna, I could cheerfully poison you! I seem to recall that he was dressed head to foot in white – which just proves things are not always the way they seem to be – he was glowing certainly.
Luckily for me I was standing by the staff table as he sauntered jauntily up to Mr Harvey, his hand outstretched. “Remember me, Sir?” he asked. I glanced at Hugh Harvey’s face. It honestly looked as if he had seen Marley’s ghost appear. With eyes ablaze and through clenched teeth he gasped, “REMEMBER YOU, REMEMBER YOU, PENALUNA, DAMN YOU BOY, I REMEMBER WHERE YOU SAT !!!”
Joy’ oh joy, that one line alone made two years’ work fall away. If you read this Michael, I would add “Good on yer boy, they made one and broke the mould”

The personal highlight for Ina and me, is that, although I was not fortunate enough to have Ben Batten as teacher, form master or house master, since the reunion he and his wife Margery have become our close friends. No trip to Penzance is complete without an afternoon spent with them – such knowledge, such depth, such warmth.
…. by memory’s chain we linked remain.

An Ambition Realised

by Arnold P. Derrington (1933-1940)

Most of us have ambitions and set goals, and at the age of eleven, in 1933, I did achieve mine by going to Penzance County School (PCS). Family friendships with those much older than myself had started this ambition.
Before I went to the school I greatly admired Mr William Pezzack of Newlyn, once Penzance Postmaster. He had a splendid workshop where he produced his exceptional model boats for the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as the Royal Institution in Truro. He made model boats for me too, and had shown me the plans for the 1914-18 War Memorial in the school hall even before I saw the finished work.
Before a pupil went to the County School a “prelim” test had to be taken at the elementary school, if this was satisfactorily passed it gave access to taking the “scholarship”. This examination was taken at PCS in the hall.
My first impression was the size of this lovely room – very lofty, with the War Memorial and dias in position at one end. This was an impressive start, and for sure this was my first unaccompanied visit to the town. We sat in individual desks – quite a new departure for me. There seemed to be two or three boys from each school who gained scholarships – the rest of us, if parents wished, went as fee payers. I believe the charge was £3.5s.O per term (that’s three pounds and five shillings or £3.25p for those of you born in the decimal era – Ed). In the hard days of the early ’30s there was probably a means test.
“Scholarship boys” went into ‘2 upper’ and the fee payers into ‘2 lower’. We somehow felt that ‘upper’ boys were superior to us because they also took Latin! I think we were a much more relaxed and friendly bunch in the ‘lower’ forms. There was a 1st form, ages ranging from 8 to 10, which was a sort of ‘prep’ group. They also had to take the entrance exam.
There was the excitement of getting kitted out to start at PCS, with new caps, ties and possibly a blazer, Simpsons were the official suppliers. We had to take our book orders to J.A.D. Bridgers, an impressive antiquarian bookshop, but it was possible to buy cast-offs from older pupils, which led to some interesting sales negotiations.
Travel to school was quite an adventure. From Marazion we had a wide choice. We could travel by train, Berryman’s Leedstown buses, Western National bus or the Marazion Garage Fleet, which were named St Michael, St Piran and St George. To go by train required a walk of one mile to the station and a one and a halfpenny return. The station master was dressed like an admiral and had at least six staff.
We met the St Ives contingent en route, that was good. Cecil Laity – whom I met years later on a troop-ship going to South Africa – had come from Carbis Bay. There were much older pupils too, like Tommy Warren, Cyril Noall and Bill Bailey, who seemed like men to us.
We did make close friendships which endured, and some of the older boys were to have a lasting influence on me – for they had inherited a sense of service and tradition from the ethos of the school.

Profile of the author: Dr A. P. Derrington D.F.C M.Ed. Ph.D

After leaving school Arnold ‘Derry’ Derrington went to St Luke’s College, Exeter, to train as a teacher. He then served as a navigator in the RAF (1942 -1946) gaining the Distinguished Flying Cross. He took up a teaching post at Redruth Grammar School in 1946 and moved to Cape Cornwall School in 1948 where he was Deputy Headmaster. He later became Headmaster of St Buryan CP School before going to Manchester University to further his own studies in 1968. He gained his Master in Education degree at Manchester and stayed there as a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer until his retirement in 1983. He gained his Doctorate in History of Education in 1979 and became a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd in 1988. He has been an Anglican Lay Reader for 49 years.

From Tiny Acorns

by Martin Orchard

In the Summer of 1993 Philip Dennis approached me with a view to organising a school reunion. Reference to one of those long photographs, taken in 1967, produced a list of names to which we were able to put some addresses. After several phone calls and a small ad. in the Cornishman we were pleased to see those who did turn up. By comparing notes, some more names and addresses were recorded for future use and a similar event was arranged in late Summer 1994. This was attended by a different selection of old boys, but still a very small number.

It was apparent that the net should be cast wider and further, in terms of both geography and age group. This ultimately led to the first reunion of its kind on 29 December 1994, when everyone who had ever been associated with the school during its 70 year history as a grammar school was welcome. This was much more successful and more than seventy old boys and staff from a wide range of age groups attended. One old boy and his wife even traveled from Poland! It was decided to make the reunion an annual event and to fix the date at 29 December. The 1995 event was equally well attended, especially in view of the atrocious weather on the night.

We realise that communication is the key to future success in achieving our aims which are to firmly establish a joint old boys and staff association, renew old friendships and perhaps strike up some new ones. With these aims in mind, we have created this newsletter. We hope it will serve to amuse and enlighten us all, as well as becoming a medium for associates to convey information or messages relevant to like minded individuals, and maybe assist in locating old friends that you may have lost contact with. We must become more organised in order to strengthen the association and give it more vitality and a sense of direction. That is where you can play your vital part.

You all must surely know of at least one old boy or staff member who has so far escaped all our attempts to track him down. Please tell them about the association and extend our cordial invitation to attend the next reunion on 29 December 1996 at the Queens Hotel on the Promenade in Penzance. This year we intend to have a buffet meal and we obviously need to know in advance how many people to cater for. It is therefore very important that you complete the reply slip at the bottom of this page. Photocopy it as many times as you like for other old boys. If you will be attending please send your payment with the slip – if the buffet proves to be a non-starter your money will be refunded.

Many old boys have expressed a desire to own a copy of “Three Score Years and Ten”, the definitive history of the school, co-written by Ben Batten and Laurence James, and unfortunately out of print. If we as an association can contrive to get a second edition printed, then this alone will have justified our efforts; but we hope to achieve much more than this. If, for example, everyone who attends a reunion makes an effort to bring along at least one old boy to the next one, then it is quite feasible to expect up to five hundred by December 1999. This would provide a sound platform from which to launch something quite prestigious for the Millennium gathering in December 2000.

This newsletter can become as successful as you want it to be, “mighty oaks” and all that. A collective outpouring of feelings, memories, and anecdotes, hewn from the same rich vein as those published in this first edition, could become a useful and valuable archive with significant historical value. All you have to do is send your contribution to Phil Dennis at the address below, preferably typed (Barry Lambe please note – Ed.), and we will do the rest – O.K?

Please let us know if you support the idea of a lifetime subscription by returning the reply slip. In the meantime all donations would be very gratefully received!

Philip Dennis and I feel sure that we speak on behalf of everyone in thanking Mr. Craske Rising for his contribution and sending our sincere best wishes to him and Mrs. Craske Rising. Thanks also to all those who have had a hand in the production of this newsletter. We look forward to receiving your contributions both literary and financial in the near future.
Best wishes & Oggy! Oggy! Oggy!