Issue 15 (2010)

New Penwithian Issue 15 (2010)

Secretary’s Smidgin

Well we have nearly reached the end of our Centenary year and much of this New Penwithian will be devoted to reports and photographs on the activities that have been arranged over the past 12 months. We are indebted to Bill Marshall, the present head of the school, and his staff for their tremendous efforts in making it a year to remember for all pupils of the school, past and present, and also to all those who have supported the various functions. Our final celebration will be the Centenary Dinner at the Queens on Wednesday 29th December. We shall be entertaining our town mayor together with staff, present and past, and the chair of the school governors. As we go to press there are still a few seats available so contact me as soon as possible if you want to join us.

Not all is centenary celebration as we have found room for Frank Blewett’s article on school boxing, which brings back a few memories. The regular ‘Where are they now’ feature, the 2010 golf competition and obituaries are also included. Also with this year’s edition is a separate letter appealing for funds to carry out refurbishment of the war memorial in what was the assembly hall at the school. Every pound we can raise will ensure that all those Old Penwithians honoured on this memorial, who served or were killed in the service of their country, are never forgotten. Please support this appeal.

Finally, l cannot sign off without once again thanking John Richards and his family for the work they do to get this newsletter into print and ready for distribution. Also thank you to our advertisers who help to defray what is now becoming a much more expensive yearly project. Do not forget that this is your magazine and I am delighted to hear your news and receive your articles and will always try to include them in our next newsletter.

May I wish you all and your families a very Happy Christmas and New Year.

Andrew Coak
Association Secretary

Where are they Now?

‘By memory’s chain we linked remain’

This year’s Centenary celebrations have naturally increased the volume of interest in the school but my first correspondent was David Mann (46) who wished to correct an error in last year’s New Penwithian about the first Rugby XV photograph submitted by Bobby Vingoe. The photo is not the first Rugby XV to represent the school, it is the team which played a combined Staff/Old Boys XV at Christmas 1952 and won 6-3. The first match was played in September of that year against Truro Cathedral School when we also won. He writes in confidence as he was the captain on both occasions.
In the Reunion 2009 article l refer to CD of the school song recorded on the balcony in 1969 which Simon Rodda (77) brought along. Kevin Marston (63) took it away with him to rework it. He reports that it is an outstanding piece of audio history. Not only is there a recording of the School Song but also ‘Lord dismiss us with thy blessing’, ‘God be with you till we meet again’, the three cheers from the head boy and some classic end of term instructions to the boys from Craske Rising. It was recorded by Patrick Collins at the end of the Autumn Term 1969. We are wondering if there are any more of these recordings.
Andy Winn (74) one of the old boys who was at the school at the change-over and was part of the year’s group to attend Penwith VI Form College wrote for details of the Centenary Celebrations. He now works for Cornwall Council supporting head teachers setting their budgets.
Anthony Casey (60) recently moved to Falmouth wrote asking for details of life membership to be sent to his brother Peter (64) now living in Seaton. Anthony also sent details of his father’s death (see obituaries) and an article on the 1959 Speech Day held in the Ritz Cinema announcing that the school was to have a new name and that this would coincide with the school starting its second half century. How time flies. Do you remember whether it was Doffy Behenna or Leslie Jacobs who ascended from the orchestra pit at the flashing keyboard of the Ritz Wurlitzer organ on that memorable occasion?
Jeremy Green (59) writes asking for another copy of ‘Three Score Years and Ten’ as he had given his to his brother Alan (55) who visited him in January from New Zealand.
I also heard from Gordon Bittern (55), now living in Scotland, who was hoping to make it down for the centenary dinner. Ian Campbell (44) dropped me a line with his news. He can still recite the full form list of 2A in 1945, whose form master was one Mr Bung Waller, and he includes it in his letter. What a memory!
David Wright (56) called in to the North Inn having finally made it back to UK from Australia where he lives in Canberra; still continuing consultancy work for the Australian government in Town Planning. He had also called on Rob Simons, Joe Stacey and Phil Potter and confirmed that they were all well. Other callers to the North Inn have included; Stuart Guppy (52), Derek Sleeman (52), Chris Symons (55), Des Hosken (54), Lionel Pollard (48), David Mann (46), Chris Jervis (52), Antony Holman (55), Mike Friggins (55), David James (53), Arnold (33) and David (57) Derrington, Bob Quixley (39/Staff), Crispin Clemence (37) and John Harper (43).

We are also very grateful for all those old boys who dug into their trunks and lofts and produced memorabilia for the open days at the school. Unfortunately I cannot list them all but here is a flavour: Frank Turner (51) report book; Horton Bolitho (43) PGS tie and report book; Paul Worth HDGS blazer and badge and tie and a PGS cap; John Moyle (49) athletics colours and Cornwall AAA badge; Andrew Moyle (75) HDGS tie and badge; Colin Polglase (50) Milocarian badge and cricket cap; John Trewern (46) PGS school cap and tie; Jim Treglown (41) many precious items including a presentation board with three school badges, many old form and individual photos taken by him for the school records, the Scholarship Board for 1941 which includes him and Dougie James (41); Bob Quixley (39) a wooden PCS plaque made by himself in 1939; Justus Hattam (58) HDGS and PGS caps; Bill Burnett (Staff) cricket score books and old Penwithian magazines. Those who asked for their memorabilia to be returned will get it back at the end of the year.

New Life members who joined during the year, showing their year of entry and where they live are as follows:
Derrick Roach (43) Ottery St Mary; John Prowse (58) St Buryan; Colin Kelynack (46) Ludgvan; Peter Casey (64) Seaton; Stephen Penhaligon (63) St Levan; Clive Mitchell (54) Wells; George Curnow (55) Falmouth

Reunion 2009

Nearly 60 old boys of the Penzance/Humphry Davy Grammar School turned up at the Queens Hotel on 29th December on what turned out to be quite a wet night for their annual reunion. Oldest old boy present was Dr Arnold ‘Derry’ Derrington of the 1933 entry who was accompanied by his son David (57). There were also a number of brothers: Martin and Robert Tutthill, Stephen and Simon Rodda, ]ohn and Andrew Coak, Kevin and Nicholas Marston, and Jamie and Patrick Dunn.

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, a former member of staff of the school. Old boys were also given the opportunity to add missing names. Simon Rodda brought along a CD of the school song recorded on the balcony in 1969. It is the intention to rework it and make some copies.

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 continued to do on the school photographic archive, which was now available on the “Picture Penzance” website. He reminded everyone that 2010 would mark the Centenary of the founding of the school and that the year would be celebrated with a number of events. Many of these he was delighted to say were being organised by the present Humphry Davy School who themselves had been in existence for 30 of the 100 years. The first event would be an open afternoon at the school on Saturday 23 January starting at 2pm with a tree planting ceremony in the school grounds to mark the Centenary. This would be followed by exhibitions of the past and present, music recitals, refreshments and to end the school’s Big Big Band. Everyone would be welcome and any old boys with memorabilia for the exhibition, particularly old uniform items, school sport wear or documents should contact Paul Tyreman at the School (01736 363559). Further events would be held during the year concluding with the Old Penwithians Centenary Dinner on 29 December in the Queens Hotel. Details of this had already been circulated to life members of the association. This would also be the annual reunion for 2010.

The evening ended up with the customary singing of the School Song accompanied by Dr Nick Marston on the piano which was once again done in a particularly hearty manner.

A vote of thanks was made by Gerald Jenkin to the secretary Andrew Coak for the effort he had put in over the years to keep the association going and for the organisation of the Centenary Dinner. He asked all Old Penwithians to support him and the dinner at the end of 2010.

Those attending:

Roy Nicholls, Stephen Rodda, Stephen Penhaligon, Robert Tutthill, John Prowse, Jim Tunmore, Phil Knight, David Nebesnuick, Peter Keast, Kevin Marston, Nicholas Marston, Gerald Jenkin, Iain Vosper, Brian Richards, Robin Turner, Howard Curnow, William I Trewern, Martin Tutthill, Tony Fitt, James Bennetts, Justus Hattam, Roger Cargeeg, Mike Ollis, Frank Rowley, Terry Drew, Hedley Nicholls, Jamie Dunn, Patrick Dunn, Charlie Clemo, Norman Ampleford, Phil Dennis, Howard Whitt, Terry Johns, Humphry Beckerleg, Stuart Guppy, Arnold Derrington, David Derrington, Tony Jasper, Simon Rodda, Peter Brown, John Coak, Ian Robertson, Les James, Andrew Newport, Paul Tyreman, John Harper, Chris Jervis, Bryan Cuddy, Reg Osborne, Bob Conybeare, John Laity, John Richards, Martin Orchard, Simon Mitchell, Bill Burnett, Andrew Coak

Open Day and Centenary tree planting

It was a wet and windy day on 24th January 1910 when the first boys entered the school. Not so on 23rd January 2010, when old boys and now old girls joined with present and past staff, present students of the Humphry Davy School, and local dignitaries and family and friends, to celebrate the Centenary of the school. It was particularly pleasing to have with us one of our oldest old boys, Frank Hosken (1930), with his brother Ernest (1938) and Dr Derry Derrington (1933) and older members of staff Maurice Hogg, Jim Treglown and Bob Quixley.

The main event was the planting of a Rowan tree in front of the ‘new block’ by Jimmy Glover, a distinguished old boy. Some of you will remember the day off we had when Jimmy captained the winning Oxford side in the Varsity match in 1960. Jimmy’s daughter Freya is the current head girl of the school. The tree was donated by the school governors and the slate plaque was presented by the association.

Speeches were made by the present headmaster, Bill Marshall, and by the association secretary, Andrew Coak; who both assisted Jimmy with the tree planting to the rousing accompaniment of the School Song sung by the gathered old boys and former staff. Bill can be forgiven for not knowing the words of the School Song! An exhibition of school memorabilia from the past 100 years together with samples of the current curriculum were set up in what is now known as the gallery and adjoining classrooms and tours of the school were available. We were entertained by the school’s Big Big Band and after the tree planting the music scholars of the school gave a superb concert and tea, heavy cake and rock buns were served next to the old chemistry lab.

Centenary cricket match

The special 20 over cricket match between current staff and current and former pupils of Humphry Davy School to reflect the ‘One and All’ aspect of the school motto. The current and former pupils team included the following – with their age (not their score!) and year of entry: Desmond Hosken 67 (PGS 1954), Brian Richards 55 (HDGS 1965), Martin Orchard 54 (HDGS 1967), Robin Turner 52 (HDGS 1969), Gary Wilson 51 (HDGS 1970), Mike Burroughs 51 (HDGS 1970), Paul Tyreman 49 (HDGS 1972), Dave Bowden 48 (HDGS 1973), Mark Davey 36 (HDS 1985), Troy Coton 19 (HDS 2002) and Jonathon Fitchett (HDS 2004).

The pupils’ team, skippered by Brian Richards, unfortunately lost the toss and was promptly invited to bat on what was a freshly cut and wet wicket. Things started badly with the early loss of youngsters Troy Coton and current school prefect Jonathon Fitchett. Things did improve slightly with a defiant 18 from Mark Davey and 14 from Gary Wilson, but with five possible catches all safely pouched by the teachers’ team, the pupils were bowled out for a paltry 58 in 15.3 of the allotted overs.

The rumours prior to the game that the staff side had been practising in the school nets now seemed well founded. No doubt the staff team were confident of reaching the winning total of 59 easily, but the first ball of their innings caused some consternation in the batting side. Mr Thomas, opening the batting for the staff side, seemed somewhat bemused when the object approaching him did not entirely resemble a cricket ball. Mike Burroughs, on instruction from his skipper, delivered a full toss with what turned out to be a rather ripe orange. The orange was struck ‘full on’ but what should have been a hook for a four or a six, ended up with rather a mess on his cricket bat. Thankfully no runs were conceded! This was however the only liberty the pupils’ team were allowed to take, with full retribution handed out with a thumping defeat by eight wickets.

There was a tidy and agile display behind the stumps from Des Hosken, and the rest of the team also showed great determination in the field. Despite this, the end of year report for the pupils’ team reads ‘room for improvement’. Nevertheless, all had a good time, and the game was played in a sporting manner befitting of the occasion. Refreshments were then taken, and the day came to an end with the singing of the Humphry Davy School song.

Here’s to the next 100 years.

Old Penwithians Golf Competition 2010

Originally it was intended to hold the annual Old Penwithians Golf Competition at West Cornwall Golf Club in June but the chosen date clashed with the start of the World Cup; so it was postponed until much later in the year. A bit of a gamble as weather for golf in November can be a bit hit and miss. As it happened the weather turned out to be much better than expected when 12 intrepid golfers took to the links of West Cornwall Golf Club on Thursday November 18th. The Stableford competition was played over 18 holes and for the blustery conditions the scores were very creditable. Last year’s winner, Mike Hicks retained the title with an excellent score of 39 points. The runner up was Simon Pengelly with 38 points and in third place with 37 points was Andrew Coak. Nearest the pin was Phil Thomas. The prizes were presented at a special lunch at the club by Roger Dugdale of Penwithian Wholesalers who once again had generously sponsored the competition in conjunction with the Old Penwithians Association.

Centenary Concert

The concert was commemorating 100 years of education at Penzance County School for Boys, Humphry Davy Grammar School and Humphry Davy School. St John’s Hall was well filled for this special celebration on Saturday, 29th May, 2010. From the teenage instrumentalists at the present school right through to the conductor, Russell Jory, whose age is a badly kept secret, each generation had something to contribute.

Much of the concert was a showcase for present pupils of this specialist music school and also for the Penzance Youth Wind Band who provided an attractive programme, but the highlight for Old Penwithians was the premiere of Rikky Rooksby’s “Scenes from the Life of Sir Humphry Davy”. Rikky is an Old Penwithian (1972) who has made a name for himself in literary circles as an authority on Swinburne, the author of a number of books on guitar playing and a university lecturer on a wide range of topics, as well as a composer. His specially commissioned major work was performed by a full symphony orchestra under the baton of Rikky’s former music teacher, Russell Jory. It is in four movements. The first describes the outlook of a young boy growing up at Varfell roaming around the countryside and dreaming of the future. The theme of the Maid of Amalveor captures this romantic mood and reappears in later movements. Movement 2 is ‘Davy at Bristol’. The wave theory of his ‘Essay on Heat and Light’ is reflected in the music. The 3rd Movement, ‘Compound Dangers’ dwells on the risks of chemical experiments, his knighthood and his marriage in contrasting sections. The music drops in pitch as Davy delves in the earth for the answer to fire damp: the Davy Lamp. The final Movement entitled ‘Consolations in Travel’ portrays the older Davy on his continental journey, finally dying in Geneva, but being brought back to ‘Gull Grey and Cornish Rain’. Despite very limited rehearsal time Russell coaxed a fine performance of this delightful score which contained a rich variety of tone and colour. I had heard the original synthesised score, but the full orchestral palette made for a memorable performance.

We were all delighted that Rikky and Rhonda could be present to hear this latest composition and there was one more treat in store. We rounded off with a fully orchestrated version of ‘The School Song’. (Sorry, Russell, I promised not to ruin the singing, but I simply had to join in!)

Tony Fitt

When boxing came to school

It was with some trepidation that I walked along Coombe Road towards that intimidating granite building for the first time in September 1949. I had heard so much about prefects, lines and the headmaster’s skill with the cane and I had no idea how I would be able to steer clear of them all. It really was an anxious time. Having got there I trod very carefully and as time passed, in addition to doing my best to cope with extensions of the three R’s, I found that I really enjoyed PT and games, particularly as the master in question, Stan Harris, was a bit of a cult personality who played soccer for the Penzance Magpies. I rather liked his style he encouraged the less able boys, a group in which I found myself, in a firm and positive way. I clearly recall my early days in the gym when the capability to do a handstand and hold it by leaning one’s feet against the climbing bars was a necessary qualification which had to be gained prior to moving on to more exciting activities. I was one of the few boys who had problems with handstands and spent long frustrating sessions feebly attempting and failing to do them whilst others were clambering up ropes and wall bars and jumping around generally. This really was a tedious period which I now put down to my centre of gravity being in the wrong place. After a while just a couple of us in my form were left to master this feat. One day in a fit of acute desperation I frantically threw my hands to the floor and swung my legs in the air to crash inelegantly against the wall bars. Somehow or other I managed to remain in that inverted position. Stan Harris witnessed this success and I was immediately promoted to other things. These all looked exciting but turned out to be even more arduous than handstands.

Soccer was always a good experience with Stan and although I was no great shakes with the ball at my feet I did enjoy slithering around in the mud; which I was always to regret at the end of the games period when there seemed to be only a few milliseconds in which to change out of sports kit, clean up a bit, gather books and gear together, then run laden like a pack mule for the bus home.

Shock overtook us one day on being informed that Stan Harris was to move on and be replaced by another sports master. Sometime in 1950 a Mr A G Bolton duly arrived. He was younger and looked leaner and meaner than Stan. His close cropped hair rather emphasised that he was a tough nut which did nothing to tranquilize our anxieties, particularly when it was learned that he had a penchant for boxing of all things. Being boys chosen by the county to become engrossed in the pursuit of enlightenment and culture boxing didn’t quite cut the mustard to say nothing of raw fear and cowardice. The dreaded day arrived. We changed into PT kit and ambled reluctantly into the gym where we found a boxing ring with a heap of gloves beside it. This sent us deeper than ever into shock. We were told by the steely eyed master that we were to be paired up with opponents of similar stature. My adversary was to be William Emanuel Eddy, a farmer’s son from Newlyn. We had a chat while we fretfully waited to perform in the ring and decided to busk it without delivering any heavy blows. In we went. Our plan worked very well for a time then as I delivered a mock straight right jab to the face Eddy stepped forward rather than backwards to make the impact a damaging punch. At that time I was unaware of the Marques of Queensberry and his rules but I sensed that I had delivered a point scoring blow of which one would normally be proud. I immediately noticed shock and anger in Eddy’s eyes and knew that he did not appreciate that the heavy whack to his face was an error in our sadly un-choreographed stagecraft. For a moment my mind wandered as I pondered his apparent lack of understanding. But only for a moment! I was returned to starlit reality by a stinging blow to the nose and through watery eyes I noted pleasure written all over Eddy‘s face. The consequence of this was that we set about each other like a pair of poor tempered terriers and had a real ding dong for the rest of our time in the ring. When the final whistle sounded we separated and staggered out sweating with our arms weighed down by the massive gloves. Unexpectedly we were congratulated by the PT master for staging such a good scrap. I pulled my shoulders back and with a forced smile, despite the pain, swaggered to the side of the ring to watch the next pair of gladiators.

In my bruised state I realised that boxing was not for me but then I reflected, with an inward smile, that worse things could happen in a boys’ school than to be complimented on one’s pugilistic skills.

Frank Blewett (49)


Sadly we have to report the death of the following Old Penwithians

William Kenneth Tonkin (Ken) (33) aged 88, on 27 February 2009.
A good footballer and keen musician Ken went to St Luke’s Exeter 1940—42 where he shared a room with Derry Derrington. He served in the Army during WWII and after the war taught at Cape Cornwall until 1950. He then moved to Nottingham.

Frank Casey (33) aged 87, in August 2009.
A scholarship entrant who was proud of his time at the school, he recalled running cross country over the open fields until the building of Treneere Estate; whose building foreman camped in a large tent by the school garage. Both his sons, Anthony and Peter attended the school in the l960’s

Mrs Sybil Petters aged 99 in January 2010.
Widow of Mr Tom Petters an Old Penwithian (Humphry Davy Prize winner twice) and Physics master from 1942-65.

Phillip Ernan Thomas (62) aged 59 in August 2010.
Studied Electronics at Plymouth Polytechnic College and went on to serve in the Merchant Navy as a first radio officer on oil tankers with BP and the Bibby Company. Subsequently he transferred to Sea Link cross channel ferries. He returned to St Ives in the 80’s and opened a video shop, retiring after 20 years in 1986.

Revd Leslie James (30) aged 92 in September 2010.
On leaving school in 1935 he worked in the Town Clerks Office but joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in I939 and served throughout WWII. He was ordained into the Methodist Church in 1947 and spent 50 years in the ministry retiring at the age of 81. He was a keen gardener and spent the latter I6 years of his ministry as part-time chaplain to Winchester Prison.

David Holman Melvyn Williams (63) aged 59 on 17 September 2010.
A keen fisherman which he also did commercially, he was on the staff of Finns Shoe Factory in Chyandour then worked for the DHSS. Latterly he worked in the theatres at St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle.

 Jim Matthews (45) aged 76 in October 2010.
Represented the England U15 Schoolboys’ XV at fullback in 1947-48 and captained them in 1948-49 at wing forward, he also played for England ATC. Made 540 senior appearances with the Pirates and captained them in 1958-59. Worked for the GPO and after hanging up his boots became a county selector and fixtures secretary for the Pirates.

 Tom Richards (34) aged 86 in August 2009.
Tom worked in the ticket office at St Ives railway station, the start of his lifelong romance with the Great Western Railway. After working in Plymouth, Cardiff, London, and Bristol he joined the planning department at GWR HQ in Paddington as a senior railway officer. Among his many achievements was his contribution to the electrification of the signalling between London and Penzance. After his retirement he became an acknowledged railway expert and his guide to railway staff archives “Was Your Grandfather a Railwayman” has now sold 15,000 copies. He was also a regular contributor to the St Ives Times and Echo writing articles of local historical interest.

George Laity (29) aged 91 in November 2010.
The brother of John Laity (35) he became head boy at the school and went on to serve in HM Customs and Excise as one of the first officers to serve at London Heathrow Airport when it was still a collection of huts. He subsequently returned to Cornwall to become head of customs at Falmouth Docks. He was a Cornish Language bard and chief marshal at the Gorsedd for many years.

I am grateful to all those who have let me know of the death of an old boy. If you do hear of anybody please get in touch.