See some of the many changes at the school and have a look at the Middle School's comprehensive website.

 

( Remember to check the top of the home-page to see if there have been any recent additions to this section.)

In 1976, Sexey's changed its status and became a Middle school, catering for pupils between the ages of 9-13. At the time of writing (October, 2012) Mrs J Venning is the school's headteacher.

Needless to say, since the '70's, there have been tremendous changes to the school . One of  the first things a visiting 'Old Sexonian' notices is the greatly increased car parking facilities - the large increase in pupil numbers has led to many more staff being employed.

A visitor's first port of call has to be at the reception desk. In order to obtain   admittance, the receptionists will open the security controlled, outer doors to let you in to the main building - how things have changed! 

Wandering around the school, you can very easily become disorientated, as so many classrooms and corridors have been added. The school's present layout is best seen on the school's latest website which can be found at www.hughsexey.com

Inside the security doors, just after the reception area, is the wall display of old photos dating from the earliest decades of the 20th century (the school has kindly let me copy some of these and they appear in the website).

This 'History Wall' of photos is actually dedicated to the memory of John Bevan, who was a pupil in the year below me, starting school in 1965. I've been told, that in later life, John became a very good auctioneer - anyone who can remember his lively personality and likeable cockney accent would surely have agreed that he was made for the job.

Sadly, John died, far too early of course, in 1996. The wall plaque will ensure that his memory will live on with all future staff and pupils.

Another wall, close by, houses the Sexey's School 'Roll of Honour'- remembering those past pupils who  died in the two World Wars. (In 2012 the name of 'JR Hill' was added to the Roll - for the full story read the article in the 'History of the School' section).

 

A number of local surnames can be seen here. To the casual onlooker, names of particular interest are E.J.Smith (Edward Smith) and F.M.Smith (Frank Smith), who were the sons of the first headmaster, Edward Henry Smith.

Sadly, Edward was killed in action in 1916. As well as being a past pupil at the school, Edward gained a post as science teacher there and eventually was put in charge of the Farm School. Frank Smith, the younger of the two sons, was killed in action, fighting in Africa, in 1942. Losing both sons like that must have been a devastating occurrence for the Smiths. In later years, Mr Smith was to have a book published about the two of them.

A number of the Tucker family can also be seen. John Grant has sent in this edited version of Doctor Tim Moreman's account of the life of Francis Tucker - 

Private Francis William Tucker (1891-1914), North Somerset Yeomanry

17th November 2014 was the 100th Anniversary of the first death in battle of a serviceman from the Isle of Wedmore during the First World War - Private Francis Tucker, who was killed in action on 17th November 1914 outside Ypres in Belgium. The short life and wartime career of this young man was recounted in the November 2014 edition of the ‘Isle of Wedmore News’ in an article researched and written by Dr. Tim Moreman. Francis Tucker was a former pupil at Sexey’s School, Blackford, Somerset, a farmer and part-time soldier from one of the oldest farming families living in Blackford. His name begins a chronological list of over 60 local men who were killed in battle, succumbed to wounds or died of disease between 1914 and 1920 in service of their King and Country -

Francis Tucker was born in 1891 at Blackford, the eldest child of William Tucker (1857-1928) and his wife Maria (1857-1922). He was christened in St. Mary’s Church, Wedmore on 3rd April 1891. Francis had one younger brother and four younger sisters and the family lived at Providence House, Wedmore Road, Blackford. After being educated at nearby Sexey’s School, Francis was employed on the family farm.

Francis enlisted before the outbreak of the First World War at Axbridge as a Private in B Squadron of the North Somerset Yeomanry – a unit composed of part-time soldiers that formed part of the all-volunteer Territorial Force (a forerunner of the modern Territorial Army). This horsed unit formed part of the 1st South Western Mounted Brigade with its headquarters located at Lower Bristol Road, Bath. Its four squadrons were based in drill halls scattered across northern Somerset. ‘B’ Squadron was based at Weston-super-Mare with outlying drill halls at Axbridge, Clevedon, Langford and Nailsea. The North Somerset Yeomanry was popular amongst local men with the lure of extra pay, travel and service in the ‘up-market’ cavalry unit (in reality mounted infantry who rode into battle on horseback but fought on foot) attracting many from Blackford and the surrounding area.

The North Somerset Yeomanry mobilised on 4th August 1914 and by 11th August had concentrated at Winchester before moving along with the rest of the 1st South Western Mounted Brigade to Kidbrooke Park, Forest Row in Sussex. On 2nd November 1914, 26 officers, a warrant officer, 474 other ranks and 500 horses of the North Somerset Yeomanry sailed from Southampton for the short passage across the English Channel arriving at Le Havre in the early hours of 3rd November. From there they moved on to St. Omer on three special trains and then to new billets near Esquerdes. Between 8th and 11th November the men practiced constructing trenches and then the North Somerset Yeomanry suddenly received orders to march via St Sylvestre to Dranoutre, just south of Ypres.

They were not given a gradual introduction to battle as was customary for fresh units and two days later were hurriedly deployed to take part in the final stages of the First Battle of Ypres. During the early hours of 15th November they received orders to saddle up and ‘stand to’ at 6.30am ready for duty. ‘A’ & ‘B’ Squadrons and the regimental Maxim machine guns were placed under the orders of the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Dragoon Guards and told to occupy the frontline trenches. ‘A’ Squadron occupied the centre trench in the firing line with the Maxims sandwiched between two squadrons of the 3rd Dragoon Guards. To the rear, ‘B’ Squadron occupied reserve trenches. Apart from intermittent shelling, sniping and an easily repelled small German attack, the night of 15th/16th November was fairly quiet. However, the next day in the front line was marked by sniping and by shelling that steadily grew in intensity and caused several casualties. At 6.30pm ‘B’ Squadron and one troop of ‘A’ Squadron relieved the main body of ‘A Squadron which went into reserve.

~ 2 ~

At 9am on 17th November German artillery began heavily bombarding the frontline trenches with a mixture of shrapnel and high explosive shells. Two low-flying German aircraft roared overhead up the trench line during an interlude in the shellfire followed by another shortly afterwards that machine-gunned the defenders sheltering below. A determined German infantry attack, consisting of waves of heavily armed troops firing as they advanced, was launched at midday that reached within twenty yards of the British trenches before finally being repulsed with heavy losses, albeit it cost the defenders dear. The assault was renewed at 3.45pm against the trenches held jointly by ‘B’ Squadron and a squadron of the Dragoon Guards. A steady stream of casualties was suffered by the hard-pressed North Somerset Yeomanry during that afternoon.

A final German attack was launched a dusk, but this was repulsed with further heavy losses. The exhausted North Somerset Yeomanry was relieved at 6.30pm by the reserve, who found the battered trenches littered with bodies of West countrymen. 22 NCOs and men, sadly including Private Francis Tucker, had been killed, 39 wounded and three were reported missing. Initial confusion reigned over whether Private Tucker had been killed until early in January 1915 when the family at Providence House received a letter from the War Office formally notifying them of their eldest son’s death at Ypres.

23 year old Private Francis Tucker, like other men of the North Somerset Yeomanry who died that day, has no known grave. His body was either destroyed by shellfire or else his final resting place near Klein Zillebeke was lost or simply swallowed up by the encroaching mud during later intense fighting around Ypres. His sacrifice is commemorated on Panel 5 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

Private Francis William Tucker and twenty other Old Sexonians who gave their lives in the First World War are commemorated on the Roll of Honour at what is now Hugh Sexey’s Middle School. A photograph of the Roll of Honour is posted in the ‘Hugh Sexey’s Middle School’ Section of this website.

John K Grant

(From an article researched and written by Dr. Tim Moreman which was published in the November 2014 edition of the ‘Isle of Wedmore News’).

Copyright Tim Moreman 2014. (This article is another graphic reminder of the horrors of World War One - MJ )

 At this point, I would like to thank Geoff Woolston, the school's deputy head (2008), for giving up so much of his time to take me round the school and assembling the archives for me to look at - all the staff I've come into contact with have been really helpful. (Some staff members were actually pupils there in the mid seventies.)

Wandering around the school (2008) I noticed that many, many changes had taken place since the early '70's. The first floor room, which was the main boys' dormitory back in 1966, is now the school's staff room - I can remember it being used as a classroom in the late sixties and early seventies but my memories of it as a dormitory are more vivid by far.

 Imagine this wall with 5 or 6 iron framed beds along it, sticking out into the room. My bed would have been inbetween the two curtained windows - to the right was Geoff Thorne and to my left, Marvin Cooper, who was in the form above me. In between each bed was a small, wooden chest of drawers, which we shared. I'm pretty sure we didn't have the luxury of those radiators. The only fixed feature that was in the room was a very large, built-in wardrobe in one corner of the room, that was used by all of us. (Since I wrote this paragraph two photos of the boys' dormitory have turned up - they can be found in the 'Boarders' section of the website).

Back in 1966, at the bottom of the stone stairway leading to the dormitory, was the entrance to the male boarders' bootroom. It was here that shoes were polished (usually by the younger boarders!) and football boots, daps etc were kept. The bootroom (which was a wooden construction) has long since gone.

What would have been the entrance to the bootroom, back in the '60's, is now the red, emergency exit door you can see in this picture.

To anyone who has not returned to the school for many years, this scene will look very different. Beyond the red door you can just make out the arched doorway that leads out of the main building, besides 'Room 4'- (as it was called in the '60's) - the window you can see is the side window of Room 4. As you can see, the whole area has now been roofed over and looks very different.

In the 'Memories of the '60's' section, Pauline Thompson took a picture of the school field, from in front of the cricket pavilion. I've used her shot again here, and placed it alongside my own recent photograph (2008) so you can easily view the changes made since the '60's - quite a few!

 

 

As you can see, a lot of the grass has been lost to tarmac, the trees that Hubert Fisher planted as 3 foot saplings are now huge and a new building has been added. Needless to say, the sandy high jump area and wooden cricket pavilion have gone, too.

Melita Edwards (Dodge), has sent in this shot of the girls' hostel, from the early sixties. For those of us who were there in the '60's and '70's it's typically how we remember it, with its open, lawned front and a number of apple trees.

At that time, there was easy access, to the left of the building, onto the school playing field. The scene today is very different, as it has now become privately owned and I believe there are two? residences there.

This photo of the old hostel is taken from the side of the school hall facing the road and shows that the whole area is now fenced off from the actual school site and additional building has taken place.

Standing on the school field and looking back at the school reveals that the many wooden 'huts' that once lined the field are now purpose built classrooms. The rooftops of further 'new' purpose-built buildings can also be seen.

Further to the right (just out of picture) are remnants of the original privet hedge, where many of 'us pupils' had the dubious privilege of being 'hedged'!

This section of the website has now come to an end and it also marks the end of the main body of the website.Needless to say, Sexey's has gone through many changes since its small beginnings in the barn at Stoughton and no doubt will continue to change and evolve as politicians and educationalists alike make decisions regarding the most suitable structure of our education system. Who knows, we may yet see the sign 'Sexey's Grammar School' over its front entrance in the years to come! Whatever the outcomes no one can deny that Sexey's, from its very beginnings to its final years as a Grammar school was a very special place and fond memories of it will  remain with its past pupils for the rest of their lives - MJ 

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