Sexey's nearly closes, a new hall/gymnasium is built, the school celebrates its Diamond Jubilee and the new stage takes shape....
( Remember to check the top of the home-page to see if there have been any recent additions to this section.)
A number of changes took place at the school during this period and together with the threat of closure and the death of King George VI, made this a fairly traumatic time in the school's history.
1950 was to be Pete Lee's first full school year, he had joined the school the previous September and was the resident, boarding master responsible for the boy boarders and games.
Pete always took a keen interest in sport but taught Maths and Statistics later on in his career ( he tried to teach me Additional Maths in the early '70's but even a teacher of his prowess couldn't make it 'work' for me!- MJ). He also enjoyed his musicals and played major roles in many of the school's performances over the decades.
Pete went on to marry Isabel Hole, who had been a one time pupil at Sexey's.
Hubert Fisher joined the school in 1950, as a pupil, and went on to become the school's caretaker for many years. He tells me that the uniform was basically the same in that period as it was in the mid 70's, when the Grammar school finished.
He seems to think, though, that the sports 'colours', (these were awarded for representing the school at that time - at senior? level), were in the form of a tie and that this tie may have had a thin red stripe added to it. (Can anyone confirm this? - MJ) Confirmation!!- Colin Mitchell has just (26/6/08) emailed me the following - 'the school 'colours' tie was yellow and black stripes with a thin red line through the black stripe.' - Thank you, Colin.
Hubert also remembers the day King George died - he was in an English lesson with Miss Padfield at the time. Mr Amesbury, the school caretaker, came into the room to see to the heating stove and told Miss Padfield, who then passed on the sad news to the rest of the class.(According to Hubert's classmate, Colin Mitchell, Bunt Amesbury 'stuck his head through the door of Room 1 and said 'King's dead!') Hubert remembers that everyone was pretty devastated at the time.
Also in 1950 Veronica 'Jill' Small arrived at the school as a pupil up until 1955. Veronica can remember a few events from her time as a pupil and as a teacher when she returned to teach French in the latter years of Sexey's as a Grammar school.
'A couple of incidents come to mind. As a very shy, nervous first-year pupil it was occasionally my turn to take tea to the staffroom (a tiny room on the left at the top of the stairs). It was an ordeal to mount the stairs with a loaded tray and even more terrifying, after knocking timorously, to make my way across the room through a fog of cigarette smoke - mostly emanating from Erica Padfield.'
'I also remember, during the Suez crisis, being driven by Mr Tomlinson to Cheddar (I now have no idea why). In order to save precious petrol Mr Tomlinson would turn off the engine, coast down any slight slope and push the steering wheel, speaking encouragingly to the car meanwhile in order to persuade it to continue to roll on for a few feet more before starting the engine again. Im not sure of the scientific theory behind this method but, as not even Mr Swallow succeeded in making me scientifically competent, Im willing to give Mr Tomlinson the benefit of the doubt.'
'Michael Chew: Michael and I were married in 1960 after he had obtained his law degree at Kings College, London. We initially lived in Bristol when he did his articles with J W Stiddard and then moved to Weston super Mare when he became a partner in the firm.'
'He had always loved acting and performed regularly with the Red Triangle Players. He was awarded the Rose Bowl by the Evening Post when he was in his twenties for his portrayal of a centenarian in a play called "A Hundred Years Old".'
'After our divorce he remarried and moved to France where he taught English in Le Havre and Paris.'
'Myself: On leaving school I studied in London at the Lycee Francais and worked as secretary/translator for Bristol Aerojet which at that time was building Concorde in collaboration with Sud Aviation in Toulouse. Wanting a change of direction after a few years, I obtained my degree and a post grad teaching qualification and was delighted to return as French teacher to Sexeys Grammar School. Several of the staff who had taught me at Sexeys were still there (Erica Padfield, Ray Packer, Isabel Rendell, Peter Lee) and it was initially extremely disconcerting to openly use their first names and treat them as colleagues.'
'It was with great sadness that I witnessed the demise of Sexeys as a grammar school. I taught French at Sexeys from 1971 - 76 when the Head of Department was Ray Packer.'
'I taught at Kings of Wessex but took early retirement in 1991 and moved to France, but returned to England periodically as visiting oral examiner in French for one of the examining boards. In France I taught English at the university of Alencon in Basse Normandie.'
'I'm pleased to say that Michael and I never lost touch and remained good friends until his death on 1st September 2009.'
'I am now living in the Ardennes near the Belgian border and continue to give English lessons to enthusiastic students of my own age.' (Thank you for those memories, Jill - you are one of a very small, elite group of pupils who returned to Sexey's as a schoolteacher! - MJ)
In 1951 the school put on a production of 'The Pirates of Penzance' and went on to do 'HMS Pinafore' two years later. Here's the programme that went with 'Pirates'( loaned by Jennifer Thorne) and as can be seen from the cover it was put on over four evenings in February.
The inner pages of the programme, showing the cast members can be seen in Picture Gallery 4 - many thanks to Jean Meech (now Godby) for this and the ticket stub.
Hubert tells me that the stage in the early fifties was a makeshift one and that it was positioned at the hostel end of the old hall/dining room.
Colin Mitchell can remember that makeshift stage in more detail. He says that it was made out of cheese boards about a yard wide and was laid on top of trestles a yard high. (It sounds lethal! - MJ) Colin also remembers that Les Pavey set it up and that Ron Langdon (Erica Padfield's brother-in-law) did all the lighting.
Here is the cast of 'The Pirates of Penzance' (supplied by Colin Banwell).
Staggered Back Row (L -R): Kenneth Duckett ~ Jennifer Thorne (in Mob Cap) ~ Robin Reeves ~ Timothy George ~ Brian Braddock ~ Christopher Podger ~ Donald Russett ~ Malcolm Roberts ~ Mr Lee ~ Colin Banwell ~ Peter Duckett ~ Joe Phillips ~ Roger Norris ~ Derek Manfield? ~ Brian Phillips ~ Mr Curtin ~ Mr Swallow. (Absent: William Venn) Middle Row (L-R): Margaret Avery ~ Janet Vowles ~ Jancis Stradling ~ Roma Berryman ~ Gwen Ham ~ Ann Pritchard ~ Phyllis Flinders ~ Janet Woolley? ~ Margaret Worthing ~ Angela Vowles.
Front Row (L-R): Shirley Norley? ~ Mary Franklin ~ Pat James ~ Marnie Temple ~ David How ~ Loretta Gilbert ~ Shirley Harrill ~ Shirley Fisher. (John Grant)
Colin Mitchell has sent in a photo of the policemen.
Back Row (L - R): Malcolm Roberts ~ Derek Manfield ~ Christopher Podger ~ Joe Phillips ~ Timothy George ~ Colin Banwell. Front: David How. (John Grant)
This picture, contributed by Margaret Worthing, shows Mr Swallow (Major General Stanley) and Shirley Fisher (General's daughter) centre stage.
In 1952, Liz Ricketts (Pearce) joined the school. In 1956 this shot was taken of her with some of her 4th form classmates.
Names L-R Heather Binning, Wendy Skellon, Delia Pavey, Rosemary Long, Eilleen Ham, Liz Ricketts.
In July 1957, Liz took this shot of the 'new' hall under construction - it's the only one I've come across. It looks like Liz took this shot from the front of the hostel - the basic frame is up and the sub-floor would have been built but little else.
Liz supplied this shot of a number of the boarder girls ('56/'57). This would have been outside of the hostel.
Front L-R Liz Jones, Veronica Gibson, Angela Wiltshire.
Second Row L-R Liz Burchill, Maureen Harding, Margaret Davis, Brenda Jackson
Two in Doorway L-R Anne Wilson, Mary Durrant. With glasses, Angela Cryer.
Liz has submitted a large number of other photographs taken in the mid to late 1950's, many of which will appear in one of the forthcoming 'Gallery' sections.
The programme for the 'Pinafore' production, which took place in 1953, was quite a lavish affair with a very colourful front, as can be seen from the photo ( thanks to Hubert for the copy) - the whole thing being no less then 16 pages in length!
All the inside text was written in 'shocking pink' script and contained a large number of adverts (17) for local companies - someone must have worked long and hard to generate money from these.
The programme also shows a synopsis of the production as well as a list of the cast members in the centre pages. (Unfortunately, this hasn't reproduced too well - MJ) With regards to staff involvement, the first two characters in the list (Rt.Hon.Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B. and Captain Corcoran) were played by Mr Swallow and Pete Lee respectively - Mr Curtin played the Boatswain's Mate and Mr Packer was in the chorus of sailors.
At the bottom right it states ' Musical Production and Direction : Mr A Tonkin. The show had been produced by Erica Padfield.
Colin Banwell has also sent me this action shot of himself and Mr Pete Lee.
Roy Mapstone and Shirley Jacobs also posed for the camera.
In 1952 Valda Lewis joined the school as Valda Coombes. Valda has sent in her memories along with a picture from 1952 -
In our first year, Mr Packer had a young French teacher called Mademoiselle Tou-la-Ave Grabbe (not sure of the spelling- maybe someone else can help?) taking some of the lessons. One of the older boys was rude about her breasts; well, you could hear Mr Packer telling him off all over the school and Mademoiselle never taught that class again.
Not long after starting I was ill with rheumatic fever for the best part of a year and when I returned I joined the 'Class of 1953 to 1958'. I was made most welcome by my new classmates and I remember Mr Tomlinson introducing me and making me sound very clever.
The class I joined when I first started was very small, about 12, so when some of them reached the VIth Form there were not enough of them to become Prefects, so I was made a Prefect when I was still in Form 5, which unfortunately set me aside from my peers. When I reached the VIth Form I eventually became Head Girl. During my time as a Prefect and Head Girl, the orchard at the side of the school had to be cleared to make way for new playing fields and the many stones on the surface had to be cleared. The punishment meted out by Prefects for worthy transgressions was to fill a bucket with stones during the lunch break and the area was soon cleared.
During my first year, I think, I remember a gentleman visiting the school to talk about Australia, but the only thing I can recall is singing Waltzing Matilda. There were two postmen at Wedmore at that time, a Mr Gibbs and a Mr Nicholls, who always had a pocket-full of sweets which he shared with some of the boarders. I can't remember day-children getting any.
I can't remember many after school activities apart from Christian Union, which I think was held mainly for the boarders in a temporary classroom near the Science block; however, if you were friendly with a boarder of the opposite sex you went as it was an opportunity to hold hands. Tea and cake was served after each meeting and cook usually made a lovely iced sponge. When it was time to clear up, the plates had to be taken back to the main school building, which was another chance for a kiss and cuddle behind the bike shed, but shrewd Mr Tomlinson always did his rounds to keep an eye on us.
I was born in 1941 at Wedmore and was a pupil at Sexey's from 1952 to 1960. I look back on these days with much fondness. I went to primary school with Heather Binning and we started at Sexey's on the same day, so there was someone there that I knew. One of my cousins, Roy Mapstone (45-53), was Head Boy, and I was in awe of him. I probably whispered "Hello", but can't really remember, and he probably shouted "No running in the corridor" to me. Roy went on to University and trained to be a Doctor and eventually became an Eye Surgeon. I was the youngest of four cousins who went to Sexey's - Iris Patch (44-49) who became a Nursing Sister, her younger brother David Patch (46-51) who joined the Merchant Navy, Roy and me.
Pete Lee was our Form Master and our room was next to the Boys Cloakroom. I guess I was a bit of a goody-goody because I can't ever remember being given lines to write or being told off by a teacher, but that may be wishful thinking on my part.
I studied Botany, Zoology and Geography in the VIth Form, but gave up Geography after a year because of the strained atmosphere between Mrs Irons ('Tinny') and Mr Swallow ('Joe'), who didn't appear to be the best of friends. On one day I remember at the back of the Science Lab where the VIth Formers were studying whilst Mr Swallow was teaching another class, there was a rabbit being boiled in a pressure cooker on the Tortoise Stove in order to obtain the skeleton for another lesson. Nobody was paying much attention but everyone was startled when it exploded all over the ceiling. There was a bit of a mess but no-one was injured.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Sexey's, which were happy years; but I regret that I didn't take advantage of my education as I let my heart rule my head. I got married in the year I left school and had four children by the time I was 24, so never got started on a career. (Thank you very much for those memories, Valda -MJ)
John Sparshatt of the 'Class of 1953 - 1958' has sent in his memories -
My memories of school years and boarding.
'Having just been introduced to the Old Sexonians website and spoken to John Grant who contacted me, I thought I might write down a few thoughts.'
'Starting in September 1953, my first year was as a day pupil until I became a boarder in 1954. I have the Pupil's Report Book which is still in the obligatory brown paper cover, an 'O' Level exam timetable and the exam report postcard, initialled by HT (Harry Tomlinson), which must have come in a separate envelope to keep it private. These things I have kept and treasured and seeing them reminded me of some of the events during that period. Some former pupils may remember I acquired the nickname 'Brusher' after getting a crew cut and carrying a brush to try and make my hair stand upright.'
'I have been reminded of an incident when I ate a snail for a bet, but I struggle to remember the detail of this more eccentric part of my character.'
'I do remember the ringing of the school bell from the dormitory at night which brought HT into the central courtyard and then into the dormitory to remonstrate with the boy boarders, who by this time were hiding under the bed covers. I don't remember who had climbed from the boarder's Common Room window onto the roof and along onto the roof of the main hall to attach a strand of wool, but it was (looking back) quite dangerous. I don't remember any sanctions but I do recall speaking to HT some years later at his home between Sidcot and Winscombe when we recounted the incident and laughed at that and other things. The background to this was the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 when the whole school was involved in knitting woollen squares, boys included, which were collected and given to someone who would stitch the squares together to make blankets. These blankets were then sent to help the refugees in Hungary.'
'I never took part in the Gilbert and Sullivan school productions as my singing skills were non -existent; however, I did help with the lighting for the 'Orchestra' - cutting open cocoa tins to shield the small lights. I still sing the words and songs which hold a special place in the school memories. On one occasion at church (the boarders went every Sunday) my singing skills were noticed and the phrase 'tone deaf' comes to mind. One Sunday we had to attend church twice. During the service, at the appointed time, the collection purse was duly passed along the row of male boarders only to be passed back to the church warden upside down. This protest, at having to go twice to church, did not go un-noticed but nothing was said to the group whose pocket money was precious and not for church funds.'
'One of the school trips was to London, not sure of the year, but we picnicked on The Mall near Buckingham Palace on the temporary staging left behind from some state event. I think we may also have visited Madame Tussauds. I wonder if anyone else recalls this trip? We had travelled by train and Mr Swallow was one of the teachers who accompanied us to London.'
'Not all my memories are happy ones. There was a strong culture of bullying, especially among the boarders. 'Hugh Sexey Night' involved all the bedding of the junior boys being torn from their beds and thrown repeatedly down the stairs during the night for the amusement of the older boys. An initiation test in the Common Room using the rafter struts to traverse from one side of the room to the other was another inflicted on new and junior pupils. Head slapping by senior boys onto junior pupils was particularly nasty and persistent which also seemed to amuse those not involved. I also remember being forced up a tree and being too afraid to get down. Despite these trials and tribulations I did survive into the sixth form.'
'I remember Mr Packer the French teacher calling someone "a gutter snipe". He did have a wicked tongue at times. He wore a very tatty gown.'
'My woodwork days with Les Pavey (who was not full time?) saw me create a tall turned lamp standard in three parts, a turned table lamp from a piece of elm (a splinter from which infected his eye - he never forgave me as the elm had come from home), an oak tea trolley which remained with my parents at Star for many years and the compulsory egg stand.'
'One weekend, whilst trying to jump a rhyne on the Somerset Levels, I ended up with very muddy trousers, having landed in the soft mud. Miss Cotton was not best pleased.'
'There were school dances for the borders and I do remember dancing with Miss Barnes the history teacher. Like my singing skills my dancing followed in the same vein and my two left feet never improved. My ball skills were also very limited and scoring and helping to mark out the cricket pitch were my only contributions to sport at Sexey's. It was not until I was 40 years old that walking became a way of keeping fit and now walking long distances (and long distance paths) is part of my life. I have just completed the Pennine Way National Trail and enjoyed every step of the way.'
(Martyn. Whoever climbed up onto the school roof to tie a piece of wool onto the school bell-clapper clearly risked life and limb to successfully carry out the prank John describes - actions not dissimilar to the sort of heroics that wins medals in wartime. Recalling the event over fifty years later is long overdue, so perhaps the website should now invite the prankster to belatedly own up, with an assurance that, as far as we know, Mr Tomlinson does not have access to the website. Wouldn't he be delighted if he was able to log-on to read this and enjoy the many memories and memorabilia now on the website! JKG --( totally agree with you, John he would love it! - many thanks John S for writing in, MartynJ)
Ruth Sheppard was also a member of the class of '53 - these are her memories of Sexey's school -
Memories of RUTH MORGAN (nee SHEPPARD), 'Class of 1953 to 1958'
'Like several others I believe, I too was 'drafted in' to help keep the school 'going'. It was not one of my choices, I wanted Bridgwater or Weston Girls Grammar, I am ashamed to admit, because I didn't want to go to Sexey's. To be obstinate, I didn't put myself out to try very hard, and when I eventually came to my senses I rather struggled to keep up.'
'My memory of Mr Swallow ('Joe') was falling into the same trap time after time, "Please Sir can I sharpen my pencil" - "Now Mercy how old are you? Do you mean may I sharpen my pencil?" He would call me Mercy - with the explanation - "I know your name is in the Bible. He made Science interesting.'
'Mrs Irons - ('Tinny') was a very good Geography teacher. You hardly got your bottom on the seat and she was 'off' and still calling facts after you as you beat a running retreat down the corridor to the next lesson and classroom trying not to be late. I'm sure she was greatly amused really.'
'Miss Barnes struggled to teach us History, probably because we rather played her up - waiting to see her go very red in the face and shake with annoyance. Whilst toying with plied back ruler and rolled up paper missile, my hand slipped and for once my hand/eye co-ordination was right and I scored a hit. I had to stand outside the door and on hearing heavy footsteps in the corridor I ran and hid in the cloakroom. It 'didn't do' to be caught outside by Mr Tomlinson. History I found distinctly boring.'
'Miss Rendell ('Izzy') taught English and RE. I could never grasp the finer points of grammar and RE was far too important to me than being 'taught' in a clinical manner. She was one of the more attractive teachers, always very smart and I admired her lovely blonde, tidy hair.'
'Pete Lee taught Maths. I would never have made 'O' Level.'
'Miss Merriman (No nickname) was an excellent Domestic Science teacher - one of my favourite subjects. I still love cooking - cooking in the colder terms and sewing in the summer. Our first project was to make a blue and white gingham apron with white bric-a-brac trim. Like my mother before me, I couldn't resist a dare or challenge: - How many biscuits could be made with 4ozs. flour, etc? Penny sized and very thin, I achieved a ridiculous number of broken biscuits and Miss Merriman was not amused at the waste of ingredients. Tossing pancakes: - Would it be possible to stick one on the ceiling?'
'I would love to have been good at sport, but the old hand/eye co-ordination just wasn't there. In tennis or hockey - whack - miss, enthusiasm, but no talent. What I lacked in so many things I made up in bravery. The girl's cloakroom abutted the Headmaster's greenhouse and huge spiders came through the window into the washbasins at times and plain old Ruth, with her National Health glasses and sprouting pig-tails, would come into her own for the removal of our furry friends.'
'Mr Tomlinson also kept bees and most days somebody would get stung - perhaps a gross exaggeration - but I remember still the horror of having one tangled in my hair, buzzing away whilst I ran around frantically until the hot little poker struck - very painful. What would current health and safety have had to say?'
'Really quite a lot of things come to my mind when you start to set down memories. Two I treasure (1) being let off either Latin or French homework in my last term. (Regrettably I left at 15 without taking 'O' Levels). Mr White ('Chalky') said "If you don't write it, I shan't have trouble marking it"; and (2) In a school report "Ruth is too happy to learn".'
'It's been very interesting to see how far flung 'our class' have ended up. Some of the expected ones achieved much; and, sadly, the demise of several. Others, like me, content to potter through life. Being a 'late developer', I ended up in a reasonably responsible job, working for 30 years in a food processing factory on Quality Control and testing products in the so obviously the knowledge gained at Sexey's awoke from dormancy. On the whole, the smaller number of pupils made for a happy school.' (Thank you very much for this set of memories, Ruth. The picture you included will feature in one of the picture galleries - Martyn)
Colin Adams arrived at the school, as a pupil, in the mid '50's and he tells me that the headmaster, Mr Tomlinson, was a keen bee-keeper. Unfortunately, the bees would often form huge swarms and Colin can remember at least 3 cricket matches that had to be cancelled because of the danger they posed! In fact, he remembers that one boy, Clive ?, was badly stung around the head.
He remembers Les Pavey, the woodwork teacher, well, and thinks he was 'an absolute genius with wood'. On one occasion he can remember Les 'blowing his top' with a lad who dared to suggest, that he could put right some very poor joints he had made, with plastic wood!
Colin says that everyone had a deep respect for Mr Tomlinson and on an occasion when he got put out of the classroom, Mr T happened to walk by. He can still hear Mr Tomlinson's sermon, 'To listen is to learn, Adams, to listen is to learn!'
With regards to his fellow pupils, Colin tells me that there was one group of rather devious boys (Ray,Stan and Collin), who made a fine art of deliberately missing the bus to school in the mornings. They would saunter in just before lunch, tired looks on their faces and all sorts of plausible excuses, only to have their praises sung by the staff for making a big effort to get in!
It was around this period that the initiation of 'Hedging' started - this was when new pupils (or was it just the boys ?- MJ) were flung into the privet hedge that bordered the Head's orchard/gardens from the school field.
Colin remembers that prior to 'Hedging', new pupils had their heads dunked into a water-butt at the back of the woodwork room. The state of this water must have been pretty awful as some parents complained about this and the practice was eventually banned - (Wimps!- MJ).
Apparently, Colin got the blame for this at the time, but he would now like to say categorically that it wasn't his mum that complained!!
Colin can remember one bit of scandal from those days. Apparently, in 1960 (he thinks), one of the day pupils made one of the girl boarders pregnant and was expelled (details are known but will not be printed here!).
This must have caused a quite an uproar at the time, to say the least. Let's hope it all had a happy ending for those involved.
With regards to school uniform, caps had to be worn in the lower years, and Colin can remember that it became a ritual on one of the buses (Cheddar?), that on the last day of the 3rd? year, the children would get the bus driver to open up the roof vents, and they would all throw their hats into one of the rivers, as they passed over it .
In March and early April of 1954 the school presented a double bill of 'Toad of Toad Hall' and 'Trial by Jury' (programme loaned by Liz Pearce).
Some of the 'Trial by Jury' characters (supplied by Colin Banwell)
Back Row, L-R Colin Banwell, Brian Lewis, Mr Pete Lee, Arthur Heywood
Front Row, L-R David How, Les Ives?
Another 'Jury' pose. (Colin Mitchell)
Left - Right Mr Pete Lee (Judge), Colin Banwell (Usher), Michael Chew (Defendant), Ann Wilkins (Plaintiff), Arthur Swallow (Prosecutor).
(Was there any 'friendly' competition between the two productions? it would be nice to hear some memories of those who took part. - MJ)
Toad's 'Wild Wooders' (Liz Pearce}
Colin Mitchell, another sexonian of the '50's, has sent me in a picture of the 1955 Cricket team complete with names -
Back Row L-R Robert Blakey(scorer), Brian Evans, Mike Lockyer, Peter Blakey, Ken Horsham, Colin Mitchell, John Ross,Mr Pete Lee. Front Row L-R Michael Chew, John Fisher, Brian Lewis, David How, Michael Hansford.
Colin has sent in (Oct 2009) his memories of classmate Michael Chew, who can be seen in the Cricket picture above, and who has recently passed away -
'Mike joined our form (1950 - 1957) in (I think) 1952. My main memories of him are in the years 1955 - 1957 when we were in sixth form. Mike was head boy 1956 - 1957. He played football and cricket enthusiastically - I kept wicket to his somewhat erratic fast bowling during those years. During the school holidays we would spend a day cycling to places such as Taunton or Bath and spending the day "seeing the sights" - on one occasion Robin Padfield came with us. I remember one sunny afternoon spent under one of the willow trees between the tennis court (alas no longer there) and the girls hostel when he and Peter Tippetts composed some verse on various topics. Most of it not for publication even nowadays although I can remember one - "Oliver Cromwell on his nose, Had a wart as big as a rose; One day his concubine bit that wart, And made old Cromwell jump and snort".
' Mike went on to Kings College, London to study Law and we kept in touch over the next few years. He eventually became a partner in the law firm of Stiddard & Chew in The Boulevarde, Weston. He was very helpful to me and my family when my father passed away in March, 1970 - the day that Dad died we met at an Old Sexonians reunion held at The Caveman, Cheddar and I had dinner with him a few days afterwards.'
' We lost touch after I moved to Australia in 1972. However my mother-in-law Bunty Skellon (mother of Wendy Skellon) lived in Cheddar in the late 1980s and became friendly with Mike's mother - at that time Mike was apparently "doing something with the United Nations involving French". It would be nice to know what he did during those later years.' (Thank you for those memories, Colin - MJ)
Colin Mitchell who joined the school in 1950, has also sent in his own memories of school-life at Sexey's -
'Something that I wrote 3 years ago (2007) on the (50th) anniversary of leaving Sexey's. I sent it to the school but I don't know if they used it.'
'In July 1957 I left Sexey's Grammar School as it was then named and headed off to university. I had spent seven years as a boarder, arriving at the school in September 1950 as a somewhat frightened eleven-year old who had never been away from home before and leaving as an outwardly assured eighteen year old.'
' When I arrived I was welcomed by Mr Henry Tomlinson who, as well as being the headmaster, was also responsible for the care of about thirty boarders, both boys and girls in roughly equal numbers. At this time there were about 120 pupils and 11 teaching staff - Mr Arthur Swallow - deputy head and Science, Miss Erica Padfield, deputy head and English, Mrs Bertha Irons (affectionately known as 'Tinny') - Geography, Mr Norman Potter - French, Mr Anroy Tonkin - Art & Music, Miss Isabel Rendell - English & Religious Instruction, Miss Margaret Barnes - History & Sport & resident Boarding mistress, Mr Peter Lee - Maths, Physics and Sport and resident Boarding master, Miss Merriman - Domestic Science (girls only in those days) and Mr Les Pavey - Woodwork.'
'There was a resident school matron Miss Frances Cotton who also looked after the girl boarders and Miss Odell ran the headmasters' office. There were only five classrooms, the large hall which could be turned into two rooms and a very small sixth form room.'
'My first term at the school was very unhappy - I had never spent time away from home before and I was now surrounded by people that I did not know sleeping in a dormitory of twelve boys aged from 11 to 18. Food rationing was still in force and the food was somewhat different to what I was used to!'
'The school was lucky having Mr Tomlinson in charge - from memory as well as being a very fair-minded headmaster he was also a keen gardener and with the help of the caretaker we were pretty well fed with the fruit and vegetables grown in the school gardens. However when I left I vowed to never eat porridge again - seven years of 'institutional' porridge was enough for a lifetime!'
'I can remember the end of the first term - it snowed on the second last day and lessons were more or less cancelled on the last day and a continuous snow fight took place on the sports field! After the first term I started to enjoy school - as a boarder there was plenty of time on my hands and very few distractions - no TV and very little radio. The main activities were either playing whatever sport was in season or doing academic work. In my seven years at school the boarders, both girls and boys, were nearly always at the stop of the exam lists and were generally members of the appropriate school sports team.'
'Occasionally on a Saturday evening there would be a whist drive or dance for the boarders; we had a very heavy table tennis table that was carried with great effort from the boys common room down to the school hall in order to hold a table tennis tournament over the weekend. We also occasionally played mixed hockey on Sunday afternoons.'
'Being a Church of England school we had to go to church every Sunday. Apparently just before I started at school the local vicar at Blackford Church had preached a sermon on Adultery with examples so we had to walk to Wedmore Church whatever the weather where the sermons were apparently more suitable. When the Blackford vicar retired we returned to Blackford church.'
'In the first few years our football and cricket teams struggled to win matches as we had few boys to choose from. Towards the end of my seven years the number of pupils started to increase and in 1956 - 57 we won all of our football matches, except the match against Frome Grammar, and we won their six-a-side tournament held at the end of the season! We performed somewhat better at cricket and generally held our own.'
'During my seven years at school we also presented three operas - Pirates of Penzance, Pinafore and Iolanthe - musical direction by Mr Tonkin, direction by Miss Padfield. All sold out of course to enthusiastic parents and friends of the school. Another part of my social education.'
'Despite the small staff, or maybe because of, I received a very good general education - both academic and social. After university I trained to be a teacher but never became one - computers were in their infancy and paid far more money than teaching so in 1962 I started work on a LEO III in London - generally recognised as the world's first commercial computer.'
'Computing took me and my family round the world one and a half times and I lived and worked in Australia from 1972 onwards. I am now retired and live about fifty miles north of Sydney. A large part of my career was spent in writing technical specifications and instructions and from time to time I thanked Miss Padfield who taught us English - at the time I never realised how important it would be to my professional life. The whist drives also led to my major hobby - playing bridge which is a great social game as well as being mentally challenging.' (Thank you, Colin - MJ)
Colin's brother, Robin Mitchell, started at Sexey's as a boarder in the September of 1955 and boarded until 1960 and then joined the 6th form for another 2 years . He still has his picture of the farm opposite the school in Wells Way. This was done in an outside art class in 'the late 50s'.
Here, Robin is standing on the school field outside the science lab- the shot was taken in '61.
Here Robin is on the school field with Phillip Lloyd (1961).
L-R Philip Lloyd, Les Skidmore and David Jones. (1961)
L-R David Jones, Robin Mitchell, Phillip Lloyd and Mr Reid. Mr Reid, nicknamed 'Blodwyn' was the boarding master at the time and taught Latin.(1961)
(Further contributions by Robin can be seen at the start of Gallery 8 - many thanks for these, Robin - MJ)
Chris Marquis has kindly sent in his many memories of Sexey's -
'My name is Chris Marquis and I attended Sexey's School between 1955 and the end of 1961. People who may remember me may recall that may surname was pronounced 'Markey'; but over the years, the pronunciation has become 'Mah-kwiss' (as in 'of Bath') - not that I have any delusions of greatness, it's just the logical way to pronounce it.'
Chris Marquis has kindly sent in his many memories of Sexey's -
'Where does one start with such a life-style discourse? The years spent at Sexey's School were extremely formative - and, probably, some of the most enjoyable - years of my life. However, this load of ramblings will probably seem to dart about all over the place; but, I hope some sort of form will become apparent. Many names have been forgotten, and many will be omitted, but the memories are still fairly strong nearly 50 years after the occasion.'
'My family moved to Somerset (Cheddar - later moving to Shipham) just slightly too late (two days) to join in the first days of the new school year in 1955. I remember we arrived in Cheddar on the Friday and settled in with my Grandmother for a temporary period. The Saturday we had to go across to Wedmore to get all my school uniform. There seemed to be so much of it! We did know that I was going to be in Somerville house and we got the appropriate white games shirt. I confess that I was not much of a sportsman and my games kit never got too dirty.'
'On the Sunday afternoon, we went across to the school where we were met by Mr Tomlinson (who was later known to me as 'Wick' - but I never found out why). He gave us a quick tour of the school and we ended up in the Science lab. I well recall Mr Tomlinson demonstrating, on the blackboard, how numbers got their 'shape'. From the outset, he made an impression on me as a very caring and nice person. That impression never changed all the time I was at the school; I revered him and his abilities. It was always possible to recognise his footsteps along the corridor; he had a distinctive heel strike followed by a sole strike - nobody else sounded quite like him - even when they tried.'
'Monday morning came - and so did the bus. One of a selection provided by Walls' coaches (who later went insolvent and WEMS, West of England Motor Services, took over the contract). There was never enough room on the buses and there were, quite often, three or four pupils sitting in one double seat. I was, temporarily, mentored by another new boy (but not as new as me!) and I think I remember his name as Basil Carter. One of his claims to fame was that in later years he played the piano for the hymns in assembly. Some staff used to catch the school bus - which, I believe, was a special concession. Miss Odell (Wick's secretary) used to be picked up and dropped off somewhere round Axbridge. Ray Packer got picked up and dropped off at Cocklake (why did we nickname it as 'The Dungeon'?) and Erica Padfield used the bus to and from her house in Wedmore.'
'Arriving at the school, I was immediately struck by the fact that all the teaching staff wore gowns! I'd never seen that before. Some gowns looked quite old, though, and seemed well-impregnated with years of chalk dust. It seems that the intake of 1955 was the first year where the size of the class was so large that it was split into two groups. And as it was not possible to 'stream' anyone by ability, it was split into Form 1A and Form 1α (alpha). After year 1, we were streamed into 2A and 2B (with the usual Shakespearean quote from staff of, "To be or not to be."). I am pleased to say that I managed to keep sufficiently out of trouble and of enough academic ability to follow the 'A' stream through the school.'
'I have thought long and hard on how to recount my life and stories of life at Sexey's; and perhaps I can start with a 'tour' of the school to prompt my (diminishing) grey cells. And, for convenience, I will start in the Science lab - which was where I got my first real impressions of the school. The first thing that I realised was that the Bunsen burners looked nothing like ones I had ever seen, in books, before. This was because there was no natural gas - it was all from a big gas bottle outside the lab.'
'The Science lab was the domain of Mr (Arthur) Swallow. Perhaps my memory plays a few tricks here; but didn't he have a nickname of 'Joe'? Arthur Swallow did moan about the Headmaster leaving his theory on the origin of numbers on the blackboard without wiping it off. Arthur Swallow was always very proud of the fact that he was the co-author of the first year science text book. I always remember him as an extremely patient person who took his responsibilities as deputy head very seriously. (Strong thoughts here of more than one boy being told that he could do with a haircut?) And what a science master. Many was the time that he allowed some of us to use the lab during the lunch break if we wanted to do an extra-curricula science experiment; and he would be there to mentor and guide us through. To me, he was always a very 'dignified' man for whom I always had great respect.'
'And, so across the yard, through the girls' entrance and along to Room 1 - The domain of Miss (Erica) Padfield, English Mistress.
I always liked Room 1, it always seemed bright and airy, and it had the small school library along one side of the room. I used to love looking at some of the books in there. Memories of English lessons are a bit vague after all these years. Things I do remember, was Erica Padfield's technique (mentioned elsewhere on the website) of hoisting her 'upper chest' over the top of folded arms when she was in 'disapproval mode' and her love of the English language. So often, we used to sit there and do simple tests of the meanings of words derived from a quiz page in "Readers Digest".'
'However, Erica must have done some good because now, later in life, I have done quite a bit of free-lance writing and I do like using the language as correctly as I can as I plod along on the keyboard. At the end of each day, Erica Padfield used to catch the Cheddar bus to be dropped off at her lovely home. Needless to say, there was no misbehaviour on the bus while she was there.'
'Along the corridor and into Room 2 for History. Recollections here are very vague. I was not into history. Miss Barnes ruled the roost here and that is as far as it goes for me. Though reading the other recollections in the website shows just how important a member of staff she actually was.'
'Through the small lobby and into Room 3 for French. Having said that, I remember we did quite a lot of Mathematics in there (more anon). Mr (Ray) Packer was the French Master in those days; though I see that he did have some French assistants later in life. I enjoyed my French lessons and progressed reasonably - to the extent where my French step-mother used to say, on my occasional visits, that I had a better accent than my father who had been speaking it for years. At one point, Ray Packer was off for quite a long period of illness (I think it was nervous troubles) and I'm blowed if I can truly remember who stood in. The other thing I remember about Ray Packer was his favourite punishment… a 3-page essay (the topic left to the writer). I only incurred that wrath once and I wrote an essay about boxing - a sport I have never really understood or approved.
Out of the other end of Room 3 and out through the boys' entrance. Outside, to the left was the 'boot room' used by the boy boarders, and then a lean-to shed where a couple of boys who were fortunate enough to have a motor-cycle could park them. A certain Tom Biss (?) had a little BSA Bantam and the machine was subject to occasional sabotage to try to stop it running. Of course, because we had gone home on the bus, it was not possible to see how he had got on getting the thing running again. One other boy (?Thompson) from Cheddar had a Matchless 350. He didn't have it long before he had a crash which resulted in the loss of kidney. Quite a serious thing in those days.'
'Then came the Woodwork Room. I can still smell the sawdust and glue! I loved it in there - even if I was never that good at it - and loved trying. Mr (Les) Pavey sticks in my mind for his patience with people who had two left hands formed of five thumbs each and his well known adage of, "Measure twice and cut once". Les also used to say that, "If you cut too much off, you can easily stick another piece on; but if you don't cut enough off, you're stuck!" '
'Les told us the story of how, one day, the school inspector visited the Woodwork room, looked around and said he couldn't see any radiators. Les informed him that the room was centrally heated to which the inspector reckoned that the radiators must be very well hidden. Les's reply, "We have got central heating. I put the paraffin stove here, in the middle of the room." I only remember Les getting uppity once in all the time I was there. At the tool check at the end of a session there was a pencil missing. And he refused to let us out until it re-appeared. I can't remember how it was resolved, but it was.'
' I never did really work out the purpose of the water tank behind the Woodwork Room - apart from opportunities for mischief. I seem to remember that there was a stirrup pump there, for a while, for fire-fighting purposes and a favourite trick was to get a new boy to do the pumping while the older boy would do the aiming. Then… the jet was turned on the 'pumper' to see how quickly he would think of stopping pumping. Cruel, weren't we? Perhaps that is why the stirrup pump didn't stay there too long.'
'The Armoury… or at least that's what it's called on the floor plan. I remember that as the store for the lawn mowers that dear old 'Jarge' (George) used to cut the grass with. Mind you, that was back before all the fields were extended to give us much more playing field space and the grass cutting was 'sub-contracted' to a grounds man (with a tractor) from another school. Les Pavey used to park his car (an old Ford Popular) in front of Jarge's store so he could keep an eye on it.'
'Back in through the boy's entrance. Behind the wall on the right were the 6th Form cloakroom, the stairs up to 6th Form Common Room and the door into the boarders' boot room.
The 6th Form Common Room - A somewhat 'remote' room where those of us in the 6th form could do our studies. There was quite an assortment of desks and tables there and, at times, not a lot of studying. From the windows it was possible to see, in the distance, the erection of Hinckley Point power station.'
'Back down the stairs and into the corridor. On the left, the entrance to the Room 5, Geography Room, home of Miss (?) Irons ('Tinny'). I did enjoy geography. Tinny had such a way of making it interesting through personal stories. I well recollect some of her stories of her youth touring around on an old belt-driven motor-cycle and all her personal experiences made geography 'real' for us.'
'Other memories… the old blackboard globe hanging from the ceiling, endless copies of "National Geographic" to browse and read. And one naughty recollection within that room… Before the school was rewired and fluorescent lighting was installed, we had the old white plastic lampshades with light bulbs; and one pupil (not me, I hasten to add) used to delight in turning off the lights, taking out a bulb and using it to hold a sixpenny bit in the socket while he turned on the lights again. The consequence was a fuse blowing that covered that corner of the school. Then out came the sixpence again so the cause couldn't be found. I do hope that constant fuse blowing wasn't the reason for the school being rewired. As I recall, Tinny used to live with Miss Merriman, the Domestic Science Mistress.'
'Along the corridor towards Room 4 with a view on the right over the quadrangle. This area was used as the assembly point for the occasional fire drills. Even to this day, I cannot understand why the fire assembly point was slap bang in the middle of the school and completely surrounded by buildings.'
'And into Room 4, the Mathematics Room. What a gloomy room this was. It was always so dark in there. What I do recollect about this room is it was the room in which we did Latin - under the guidance of Mr White ('Chalky'). Sufficient to say that Latin and I did not get on together. As soon as the opportunity came (3rd Form?), I dropped the subject. Chalky's favourite punishment? Getting hold of the short hair above the (non-existent) sideburns, twisting it and lifting the miscreant up and down by that hair. Ooh, that used to bring tears to the eyes. Much else of that portion of my academic life has gone into the mental Recycle Bin and been emptied. For a while, I remember Chalky's brother (nicknamed 'Persil' to avoid confusion) came to the school. Perhaps he was the temporary replacement for Ray Packer while he was off sick? I seem to think that Persil helped out a little with sports. The upside of Persil was that he used to confuse me with another boy in the class (Robert Fear), so any reports of misdemeanours probably got attributed to Robert rather than me.'
'Room 4 was supposed to be for Mathematics - but as I said earlier, I remember doing a lot of maths in Room 3. Mathematics did become a love for me; even if I wasn't particularly good at it. Mr (Pete) Lee had such a love of the subject as well. When things were well on schedule in that part of the curriculum, it was easy to persuade Pete to be side-tracked into proving Pythagoras's Theorem or, with deviant mathematics, that 1=0! I had a tremendous respect and admiration for Pete. Some years after I left Sexey's, I saw him and his family on the television programme "Ask the Family" with Robert Robinson. Things were neck and neck up until the last question - which happened to be an arithmetic question. Pete buzzed in, answered it, got it wrong (!!!) and the Lee family lost the quiz (but I still didn't lose my respect for him). Pete Lee was also a mean shot with a piece of chalk! He would wedge it between a couple of fingers, clap his hands and deliver a stinging shot right on the ear of a miscreant. Ouch! - so I've been told; I was never zapped. Pete Lee was also the (excellent) Sports Master, but I'll come back to that.'
'Down the corridor towards the school hall. This was past the boys' cloakroom and toilets and then past the art store (did this become the exit to the new gym when it was built?). The school hall was always 90% divided by a concertina screen. This was the early days home of assembly, school dinners and music lessons. I also remember watching the final dress rehearsal for a Gilbert and Sullivan presentation in there on the temporary cheese board stage. Here was also Music lesson territory. Poor Mr Tonkin. We used to make his life hell as we attempted to render classic English folk songs. Mr Tonkin did have one disconcerting habit… Unfortunately, his eyes looked in two slightly different directions - rather like Marty Feldman - and he would be talking to (telling off) one person whilst looking at another, all to the comment of, "I'm talking to you!" I never did work out which one.'
'School dinners? Well, we all now about those, don't we? As the school roll increased with the post-war population increase, it ended up as two sittings - instead of one. I was always lucky and seemed to have first sitting all the time; which meant I had a chance to let some of the dinner hit the bottom of my stomach before going back to lessons.'
'Backtracking from the hall slightly, there was the new school gym which they built while I was there (with a stage added later whilst I was still there). What a luxury this gym was. A properly sprung floor and proper gym equipment, changing rooms and showers. It also made a much more preferable place for assembly time when the stage was built. I used to like trying to do some of the gym work, but was totally incompetent, skinny, weak and, subsequently, useless.'
'The gym equipment was always a challenge (usually insurmountable) to me. Pete Lee bet me 2/6, in old money, that he could get me doing a proper vault over the horse within three weeks. The following week, I fell off someone's back playing leapfrog and broke my arm. Pete did not accept that that made him still liable to pay me my 2/6, though! I think the most frightening part of that broken arm experience was that Wick took me home in his car. As other people have mentioned, he used to love zooming up to an inordinately fast speed, switching off the engine and then coasting to an inordinately slow speed et seq. By the 6th Form, I did learn to play badminton in the gym and managed to keep that up, on and off, afterwards.'
'Across the corridor from the school hall was Room 6, a tiny room occasionally used for such things as visits by the school dentist or nurse. To me, it was the room for 'serious' Mathematics. By the 6th form level, mathematics was either 'pure' or 'applied' with the pure maths being taught in Room 6. I certainly remember Wick covering the 'pure' side, but my memory fails me as to who taught 'applied'. To this day, I can still remember the sound of Wick coming down the corridor to the room. Despite all of my respect for him, I turned out to be a bit of a dunderhead when it came to pure maths. I couldn't get my head round it. And as things developed, applied maths became difficult without the 'pure' understanding. But Wick didn't give up. He kept trying; but I was just a hopeless case.'
'Back into the corridor ("Keep left and don't run!") past the 'Canteen' where the school dinners were warmed up (again) before being distributed and round the corner past the front door (not to be used by pupils) and Wick's territory. There down the step in the dark corner was the entrance to his study (into which I was never called) and further along the corridor past what I thought of as the 'back door' to his house (was it Norah, the mischievous one, that I used to see there?). Eventually back out through the girls' entrance towards the Science Lab. To the left of that was the Domestic Science Room, territory of Miss Merriman. I had seen inside it on the introductory tour, but never needed to go in there; I was a boy and did woodwork.'
'Next along, to the keft, was what is labelled on the map as 'Boarders Recreation Room'. For a while, I remember having RE in there with Miss (Isabel) Rendell (a subject which I 'dropped' later on). With all the windows it had, it was flipping cold in winter with just one stove in the corner for heating. Isabel Rendell used to do quite a bit of her teaching from that corner during the colder weather.'
'With a slightly iffy hop, we can go over the privet hedge and onto the sports field. When I first started at Sexey's, I was impressed by the size of the sports field. To me, there was so much room. But boys playing football had to go up the road, towards Wedmore, to a field on the right. Shall we just say that it was an 'interesting' football pitch with a substantial diagonal slope across it?'
'Then, and I think I've got the sequencing right, the tarmac tennis courts were built. I suppose that this was a blessing for a lot of mothers in that school uniform used to stay a lot cleaner when the weather was wet - break times had to be taken on the tennis courts when the field was muddy. Somehow (the exact timing detail escapes me) the sports field became a lot, lot bigger. I recall there used to be some sort of orchard over the far side and some grounds 'behind' the hard tennis courts. Then suddenly, all that ground became part of the school fields. What a boon with loads more space for everything. Also, there was enough space to be well out of the sight of staff for the occasional sly, crafty cigarette.'
'Although Sexey's was a football/cricket (for boys) and hockey/netball/tennis (for girls) school, I was useless at, and hated doing, sports. A small group of us hatched a plot and persuade Pete Lee to let us go cross-country running during the games period. Reluctantly (I think) he allowed it. Off we'd trot in our gym kit beyond the sight of Pete and then stop, chat, smoke and generally skive. After an appropriate period of time, we would muddy ourselves up a little and run back. Because we were so unfit, the puffing and wheezing when we got back was genuine and Pete was convinced we had been running. But, like all skivers, we were found out. On the day of the genuine cross-country run, we came in last! We were rumbled.'
' Now here is where Pete Lee really showed me how excellent a Master he was. Yes, we got a bollocking and banned from cross-country running - and that's where it finished. I expected dire punishment and all sorts of terrible retribution; but no, there was where it stopped and my admiration of Pete Lee really, really grew. Between Pete and me, we recognised that I was useless (and somewhat unwilling) at sports and that I was remorseful for my behaviour. So, I did what I could to repay in other ways, and Pete and I had an 'understanding' that I would do whatever I could capably manage to do to help 'behind the scenes' with sports. I learned a lot about the background and running of sport and a heck of a lot about life and what being a good schoolmaster was about. I don't think I will, or be able to, repay some of those lessons that Pete Lee gave me. Having said that, (a lot) later, I used to do a lot of (non-competitive) long-distance running. I even tried entering the London Marathon; but was an unsuccessful applicant who formed part of the huge pile of "not enough places for all applicants". I quite often used to think of Pete as I was running - so he did make an impression!'
'And now the end of the day for a day pupil. The Cheddar bus used to pick up on Wells Way - which meant a trip through Wick's orchard (now the car park area). During the season, some of the day pupils had a slight misinterpretation on the rules here. We were well aware that "boarders are allowed to pick up windfalls", so we left those for the boarders and scrumped apples off the trees instead. I don't really recollect any serious problems with the bees for us, though. Perhaps they realised that some of us were not to be antagonised or messed with. Tuesday and Thursday bus runs were less than equable. Girls, from what was then the secondary modern in Wedmore, needed to come on the bus with us as far as Wedmore. That made the coach really crowded and uncomfortable - both physically and mentally.'
Some slightly more 'personal' reminiscences
'Unfortunately, I have no written or pictorial memories of my days at Sexey's. Even my school report (that dreaded book - covered in the obligatory brown paper) went astray many years ago; probably in one of the various moves my late mother and step-father made around Somerset. I do know, however, that it followed a predictable and cyclic manner. One term would show good and/or improved progress followed by a poorer term. Perhaps I used to rest on my laurels slightly following a good term. All my recollections are in the library of my brain where there are plenty of videos, pictures and memories. However, the years have displaced, lost or scrambled some of them, The good ones remain, though.'
'I was never brilliant academically; and I'm sure I used to do the barest minimum to stay out of trouble - both academically for the school and to keep my parents off my back. But many aspects of my education were very formative and enjoyable; with some of it not realised until later on life.'
'I think I learned most about being a person from three very guiding lights:
Henry Tomlinson, as headmaster, about self-responsibility and being a good leader.
Arthur Swallow, generally rather than specifically, about maturity and understanding.
Peter Lee, as a person, about life, its ups and downs and how to deal and cope with them. Most of all, from him, I learned and understood what respect meant - and that it could be a two-way thing. That has stayed with me through my life.'
'That is not to say that others were insignificant. I couldn't have wished to have better mentors. Even those I (careful here, Chris) had less positive emotions about showed me a way forward in life. But the three named above, though, did have the most significant and lasting impact on me (psychological, not physical). Unfortunately, there is now no real way to thank them for that apart from living the tenets that they taught me.'
'So, some personal recollections; not necessarily in order of importance or impact.
The school name. I loved it in the sweet innocence of youth. But later on in life, when I've had to complete CVs and the similar, it has come in for, at best, raised eyebrows to, at worst, ribald comments. I don't care, I was proud of my school.'
'The school uniform. I had come to Sexey's from a primary school in London where there was a uniform code; so uniform was not alien to me. I have seen mentioned, elsewhere on the site, comments about the (dreaded) school cap. In my time, I don't think the Cheddar bus was the one where caps went flying out of the window. What I can't remember was when we were allowed to discard them. Also, wasn't there a stage at which boys were expected to discard grey short trousers (mandatory until then) and start wearing long grey trousers (at all times after that)? I used to find it amusing the variances there were to dress code for the girls - dependent on maturity. There was always a mixture of grey long socks, short white socks or (rather thick and heavy) stockings.'
'I have seen mention of school colours being reflected by the award of a special tie - and yes I'm also positive it was a (better quality) tie and with a thin red stripe going through the black stripe. Is my memory deceiving me on the next point? Wasn't there also a special tie for prefects (not that I reached those dizzy heights)?'
'Friendships. I made many friendships at Sexey's and most of them stayed all through my days there. The unfortunate aspect is that because my life after school became so very much different, those relationships disappeared. But, while I had them, they were great and enjoyable - and I can still remember some of the names. However, I will not embarrass people by revealing their names at this stage.'
''Special' friendships. Here I did mess up. There was a friend (in a different form) who became very special to me; but me being the immature and insignificant twerp that I was, I never found a way of letting these true feelings show. Even after I left Sexey's, I maintained some contact and friendship with her for a while; but never found a way (through stupidity?) of progressing the relationship. Seeing her photo on the website has brought many memories of her flooding back; and makes me think that if there was any anything I my life I regret doing, not showing my true feelings there comes top of the league!'
'6th Form. Another screw up by me in messing up what I did. I had done reasonably well in my 'O' levels and progressed onto the 6th Form to study at 'A' level with the aim of getting passes in Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Physics. I wasted my opportunities. Pure maths was alien to me, applied maths was difficult and physics? Let's just say that I was probably lazy. I spent too much time in the freedom of the 6th Form Common Room wasting time and effort instead of trying to get to grips with it.'
'A couple of times, a few of us sneaked down the road to Blackford Farm where we could get some free scrumpy. (Was it ever powerful? One other 6th former had too much one day and a) was sick before we left the farm and b) was quite obviously drunk on the coach home to Cheddar.) To summarise the 6th form experience, I wasted my time and, more importantly, the school's time. At the end of the first year in 6th form, there were some discrete conversations between Wick and my parents and, eventually, me; and it was mutually agreed that my talents should be better utilised elsewhere. The Royal Air Force beckoned.'
'Wick was very generous and allowed me to come back for one extra term. This allowed me to study and sit 'O' level physics - and achieve the age of 17½ (the minimum age for adult entry into the RAF). Where I had regrets of messing up as detailed above, with hindsight (isn't it a wonderful thing), the stupidity of not taking such an opportunity as I was offered seriously comes fairly high up in my disasters in life.'
'Other staff. I have noticed, on the web site, references to the Bartletts. I remember them joining the staff - but had little memorable contact with them (did Mr Bartlett do my 6th Form applied maths?). But I did admire their Rover car (and, like a lot of the other boys in the school) Mrs Bartlett's outstanding attributes!. There was also another 'new' teacher who arrived that I did have some lessons with - but I cannot remember them. What I do remember, though, was that she had a lovely Scottish lilt to her voice. And, was Mr Churchyard a new staff member while I was there? Was it him that took music appreciation lessons (in the girl boarders' hostel) for more senior pupils?'
Life since Sexey's
'As mentioned, I joined the RAF where I got a very thorough grounding in electronics. A lot of my service career (12½ years) was spent on top of a very cold, bleak and wind-swept hill in Lincolnshire (yes, there are some hills there). I was always aware that, from that hill, the next high ground to the east was the Russian Steppes. While I was there, I got married (more in desperation that hope; after all, I was 24 and all my mates had got married).'
'On leaving the RAF, I stayed in electronics and computing - and training, in one form or another for most of my working life. Eventually, about 10-11 years ago, I became a driving instructor - a job where I can utilise my two best skills and likes of driving and training. Now, after a failed marriage, I have had the opportunity, for various reasons, to come back west and live in Bristol and very close to the area of the country that is still engraved on my heart… the Mendips. And, when the time comes (not far away - but being self-employed, I can retire when I want and not when the government says) that is the area I want to retire to.'
'Since I left Sexey's, I have had two chances to revisit the school. The first was about 15 years ago in a very quick and brief 'flyby' when I wasn't driving (yes, it's still there) and about four years ago when my ex-wife and me came over to Somerset for a weekend so that I could wander around my 'roots'. On the Saturday afternoon (a nice sunny one) we drove across to the school and I parked in the car park at the side. We must have spent the best part of an hour wandering around with me just looking and reminiscing. So many sights and memories came flooding back - and there was not a single bad one among them. It didn't stop a few unseen tears though.'
'I can never forget Sexey's. It has a very, very special place in my heart that it can never leave that place.'
Chris has changed his email address to firstname.lastname@example.org
(It never ceases to amaze me the details that some people are still able to remember about Sexey's - perhaps it's an indicator of the profound effect that Sexey's had on us all. Many thanks for your enjoyable article, Chris. I really enjoyed the tour around the rooms - sorry you had to wait so long for it to appear - MJ)
Annette Bradbury has written in and given us some of her memories of the 1950's -
'I started at Sexeys in November 1955 at the age of 13, leaving after A
levels in 1960. . My parents had moved to Burnham and opened The
Caravan Shop in Victoria Street.'
'Mr Tomlinson called me a Knit-wit because I was often busy with my needles'.
'I have enjoyed reading memories about the school. I can recall only one
trip and that was to the Gas Works at Weston. However I do have photos
of some of my fellow pupils which were all taken in the summer of 1960.
Have had a quick search for these without success. Will send them on
'I married David Horsey whom some Old Sexonians may remember from
Cocklake. Coincidentally his father used to deliver our school meals
from the canteen at Burnham. We had four children. Our three daughters went to Sexeys at Bruton. We also now have seven grandchildren and live at Watchet on the West Somerset coast.'
'I started off doing accounts when I left school (including invoicing for
Woodberry Brothers and Haines at Highbridge who in those days made only school furniture). However I had a mid-life change of direction,
becoming initially an Occupational Therapy Helper and then fully qualified. After training I worked for 15 years in the Yeovil area, mostly in Mental Health and with the Elderly.'
'Our next-door-neighbour here was also an Old Sexonian. She was Cynthia
Joy Binning and lived at Cheddar when at the school, attending ten years
ahead of me. She suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis for thirty years,
but was delightful company and always made light of her problems. Sadly
she passed away last year (2008).' (Thank you, Annette - MJ)
In March of 1956 the school put on a stage production of Gilbert and Sullivan's 'Iolanthe'.The show was over 3 nights and was a great success. The picture shows the female cast members -
Back Row (L-R):
Anne Wilson ~ Pamela Redman ~Angela Pavey ~ Hazel Puddy ~ Heather Binning ~ Valerie Carter ~ Pat Johnson ~ June Small ~ Rosemary Long ~ Carole Webber ~ Angela Hanman.
Front Row (L-R):
Anita Samuel ~ Elizabeth Ricketts ~ Ann Holden~ Delia Pavey ~ Ann Redman.
Newspaper coverage praised many of the cast members, Pete Lee in particular -
How odd that the orchestra didn't play in the opening performance - can any one remember the reason for that? The staff and pupils had to wait a whole year for the new hall and gymnasium to be built so this was one of the very last productions to take place on the cramped, makeshift stage constructed at one end of the dining room. Further related pics can be seen in Gallery 7 and 3. (Thanks to John Grant for coordinating the photos).
During Henry Tomlinson's time, the Deputy Head, Arthur Swallow, produced the school's very first 'history', in 1957 to be precise. (The history has been kindly loaned to me from the Sexey's Archives - MJ)
The cover layout can be seen in the photo. Its size and construction being identical to the 'Old Sexonians' magazine and consists of 20 semi-gloss pages.
At the front of the booklet there is a very early photo of the school (lent to the school by GW Duckett and his sisters) one of whom actually appears in the photo.
The wooden datum posts along with the unused piles of gravel and the bare earthen banks, reaffirm that this picture was taken very shortly after the school had been built. The official opening of the school was on September 25, 1899 so I think it's safe to assume this photo was taken before the beginning of the twentieth century- a really early shot!
For those of us who attended Sexey's after the building of the school hall, it's a bit of a novelty to see the original wall to the West of the school, in its entirety. To the right of the photographer would have been the hostel, as it had originally been a workers house on the estate.
Shortly after the early school photo, appeared the Coat of Arms of Hugh Sexey. The creatures are two-headed eagles.
Their description in heraldic parlance can be seen below the picture.
In the 'Acknowledgments' section, near the beginning of the booklet, Mr Swallow acknowledges five main sources for his information as well as 'private conversations with many Old Sexonians'. Other sources of interest include 'The Private Records of EH Smith'(the school's first headmaster) and the school's magazine from 1932 - 37 'by courtesy of F. Curtin. Esq'
Mr Swallow went on to talk about Hugh Sexey himself and a little bit about his life and times. He tells us that the Trustees of the Sexey's estate were called 'the Visitors'. (I believe this name is still used today. - MJ)
He writes - 'A new secondary school for boys and girls to be called Sexey's School, Blackford was established on the Visitors' property, with an endowment of £100 per annum and the site and buildings.'
He goes on to mention the initial school site at Stoughton 'which with the help of a local craftsman called Strickland, was adapted for a schoolroom.'
In June of 1897 the interviews for the post of Headmaster were held, there were five candidates. Mr Swallow writes - ' They were conveyed to Wedmore and there interviewed by the Committee with Rt. Hon Henry Hobhouse in the Chair. The candidates were told, in effect, 'There is no school, there are no pupils, there are no guarantees, but there is an excellent opportunity for the right man to create a school'. Mr and Mrs EH Smith, after some hesitation and careful thought, accepted the post thus offered, and lucky indeed for our school was that day'.
The centre pages of the 'history' contained a ground floor plan of the school as a double paged spread.
This shows the school as it was in 1957. I'm assuming that the map was an 'in house' affair, possibly drawn up by some capable sixth formers.( Does anyone recognise the names of the map's creators, L. Wilson or R. Preece? - MJ) Colin Mitchell informs me that these would probably have been Les Wilson and Roy Preece - Les was the son of the Mr Wilson who ran the store in Wedmore where the school uniforms were sold. (Were 'Deane's' not the only suppliers of the school uniforms, then? - MJ)
Looking closely at the map, a few interesting points emerge. The entrance in the West wall, which can be clearly seen on the early photograph, appears to have been blocked off (simply by bolting the outside door , probably) to create extra space inside the school, for an Art store.
Secondly, what was the Art Room in the 1960's was termed the 'Old Prep Room' on the '57 map where, presumably, the boarders had carried out their homework and out of hours studies.
Of further interest is that the school possessed an Armoury.
When I arrived in 1964 the boarders Rec/Common room was just beyond the outer entrance by Room 4 - it's interesting to see that an earlier one had existed in the Southern corner of the site.
Mr Swallow divided up the rest of the 'history' into 'periods', according to the 'reigns' of the school's headmasters, ending with Mr Tomlinson. It actually finishes with a small but interesting article on the School's prizes and trophies.
In the EH Smith section, Mr Swallow tells us that Smith had come to Sexey's from a school in Warminster, Wiltshire. Mr Smith and his wife began their 'Sexey's' duties in a temporary building in nearby Stoughton.
Mr S writes - 'On August 27th,1897, the School was opened at Stoughton with twelve pupils, of whom seven were boys and five girls. One boy was a boarder.'
It appears that the Smith's created a very happy and caring environment in those early years - 'For the next quarter of a century, the care and welfare of the school was the constant occupation of these two and from the records it is clear that it was also their joy and delight. Many of the first pupils are still resident in the district and all speak affectionately of those early days and of 'E.H.' It is clear that he, and the assistant, Mrs MacKenzie, began a happy school; the tradition of happiness in the school survives and endures to this day.'
Mr Swallow went on to mention the great financial responsibilities placed on Mr Smith's shoulders - 'He had to employ the domestic help and the gardener and pay their wages. He had to buy the food… if there was a loss he had to bear it. Parents had to pay fees to send their children to the school.'
Mr S went on to talk about an arboretum in front of the school (planted in Smith's time and obviously still there in 1957) 'It contains some fine specimens of Conifers, as well as the rare Box Elder and Bird Cherry. 'More care should be taken of this collection of trees, but one fears that the new building programme will mean some destruction here.' (Does anyone know if any of the offspring of these old, rare trees still exist somewhere on the school grounds? I've a feeling that Mr Swallow's concerns were well founded! - MJ)
Mr Swallow described the Farm School as 'the most interesting development of the school' in Mr Smith's time. The Farm School was housed in the farm buildings on the opposite side of Wells Way. In 1912 Mr Smith's son, Edward, took charge along with T.Reith. During the first year of the Farm school they made an amazing profit from selling cheese (around £200) - which in those days was an incredible amount.
In 1906, Mr S tells us, 'a Kindergarten department was begun in the charge of a Froebel-trained mistress.(The Froebel teaching method allowed the children to be creative and was based on the children learning by doing rather than following instructions. - MJ) This was housed in a small building which is now used as a wood store for the woodwork department. Children were admitted from the age of 5, and it was purely a private venture of the Headmaster.'(This was 'the Old Prep Room' mentioned on the '57 map. - MJ)
Mr Swallow adds a small chart to his article, which shows that the number of pupils between 1897 and1921 rose from 12 to 145. The number of boarders rose from 1 to 45 over the same period.
He ends the EH Smith section by telling us that Mr Smith was ordained as a priest, before his retirement in 1923. He became Rector of Enmore, Bridgwater until his death in 1952. He finally ends the section by saying - 'The work of the school and particularly of the Farm School was heartily commended by many inspectors, and indeed the school was used as a model for overseas visitors of what a rural school can do.'
In 'Period 2', the Lawrence Abram section, Mr Swallow tells us that before he took over the reins of office, Mr Abram had been a Science master at Sexey's. Mr S described him as 'a gifted and popular man.'
Unfortunately, during his time in office, Mr Abram lost his wife. Mrs Abram had carried on the kindergarten department in the 'Old Prep Room'- when she died the kindergarten ceased to exist.
Arthur Swallow goes on to say- 'At the time of writing (1957) Mr Abram lives in Weston Super Mare. He is very interested in the doings of the school, is married to a former teacher of domestic subjects here, and is still a teacher of private pupils.'
Following the section covering Mr Abram's time at Sexey's there was a photo (donated to the school by Miss Margaret Barnes) of one of the original school 'Brakes'.
Mr Swallow's final section of the history of the school, 'Period 3', tells us of Mr Tomlinson's days as headmaster. He pays tribute to Mr Tomlinson for the struggle he had had through the war years. 'The head of a day school had a strenuous time during the war years, but here there were many added problems. There were both boy and girl boarders and there was a good deal of garden to be kept going. It is a tribute to the stubborn character of Mr Tomlinson that he kept the school alive.'
He goes on to write that -'In 1947 the school was taken over by the Somerset County Council as a Voluntary Controlled School This meant, in effect, that the S.C.C. as the Local Education Authority, assumed responsibility for the school's maintenance under the Education Act of 1944.'
In the early 50's the school came under serious threat of closure but many local people spoke up in favour of the school, which must have had some influence on the decision to keep it going. Mr S writes -'Space forbids the naming of all of them, but one name shall be mentioned: the local stalwart, EJ Banwell, MBE, member of the Somerset County Council, a firm believer in the life of the English countryside and a constant supporter of every local cause.'
Mr Swallow went on to mention the enlargement of the school field and the success that the school had in sports. Apparently the girls brought home the County Hockey shield in 1926, 1935, 1948, 1955 and 1956.
Mr S tells us that the school was totally rewired and an oil-fired heating system was installed in 1956. He mentions that the boarder boys were provided with 'a most comfortable recreation room next to the laboratory block'(This means that the Rec room in the '57 map had only been there a year at most. Was there a boarders' Rec prior to this? -MJ) and that the hard courts were laid for tennis/netball.
He goes on to mention the high quality Gilbert and Sullivan Operas of the '50's and mentions the hard work of Mr Tonkin.
Towards the end of this section he writes - 'Two State Scholarships were earned, one in Maths, by Lewis and the other in Science by Mapstone in the year 1953. These were the first such awards to come to the school and mark a milestone in its progress.'
The last but one page of the history, lists the 'Special School Prizes' and their background. He tells us -
The JC Smith Prize was awarded to the boy who, in the opinion of his fellows, is the best sportsman in the school.
The Hobhouse Prize value one guinea, for special merit in Year 6'
The Headmaster's Prize For the boy or girl who has made the most academic progress.
Evans Memorial Prize (awarded by the widow of the late senior French master) for the most proficient pupil in French.
Tiarks Prize - for the best essay on the British Empire.
He goes on to list the school trophies -
The Bishop's Cup - for football competitions between local Grammar schools.
The Burrough Cup - for Senior Boys' Athletics.
The Wilkinson Cup - for Intermediate Boys' Athletics.
The Victor Bracey Cup - for the team which wins the Boys' Relay on Sports day.
The George Ham Cup - for the winner of the 1 mile race.
The Hemens Cup - for Boy's House Athletics.
The Mrs JC Smith Cup - for Senior Girls' Athletics.
The Headmaster's Cup - for Intermediate Girl's Athletics.
The Comer Cup - for Junior Girls' Athletics.
The Hickman Cup - for the Girls' Relay Race
The Mrs Abram Cup - for Girls' House Athletics.
Mr S goes on to write - 'There is also a House Shield for competition between boys and girls, an Abram Cup for the tug of war, which was given up for some years as likely to produce overstrain in growing boys, and boys, and girls' House match trophies. There seems somewhat a plethora of trophies for athletics and a remarkable lack of encouragement of other activities.'
Of the very first (12) pupils in 1897, Mr Swallow was able to give some of their names. The surnames of two of the seven boys were Champeney and Gibb . Of the five girls there was 'Dolly' Clapp, ? Duckett, ? Owen and Laura Porter.
The very last article in Mr Swallow's history is a list of the 'Winners of State and County Awards'. These were -
1953 - W. Lewis and R. Mapstone. (Both State Scholarships).
1954 - Jennifer Thorne.
1955 - Brian Lewis.
1956 - Pamela Redman and Michael Chew.
A belated 'thanks' to Mr Swallow for all his hard work in compiling and providing us with this information of past generations.
Fifties pupil, Colin Mitchell, tells me that County Major scholarships were won in 1957 by Michael Chew, Peter Tippetts, and Colin himself. He also thinks that Christine Lane and some others of his form may have won them.
In 1957 Ann and Nesta Potter arrived at the school joining the class of '53- '58. Nesta has sent in their memories -
Memories of the Potter Twins
Received from Nesta Potter
I have just returned from a visit to my sister Ann and we spent sometime trying to remember the events of 1957. We arrived at Wedmore in December 1956 just after our 15th birthday and joined Mr White's class in January. As you can imagine this was quite a change for us having just left Clifton High School in Bristol. I remember being dressed in a gymslip and high socks. Mr White our form master asked the class to make us welcome and the boy behind me made the sound of a gun and said that would put us out of our misery! The following week I arrived in newly bought stockings a well fitted skirt and our proper education began!
My sister and I are mildly dyslexic and Clifton High informed our guardian that we were ESN - or the name they called it then. As a result we were always put in the bottom class and encouraged in all things sport related, painting, etc. As we were adopted from a Salvation Army mother and baby home our Guardian (Dr Mabel Potter) was not surprised that we appeared slow and did not question our teachers.
Strangely, dyslexia did not hold us back later in life - except for a few embarrassing moments. One example being a boy friend returning a love letter with all the spelling mistakes corrected in red ink. Needless to say we did not marry!
I believe we were admitted to Sexey's, not on test results, but on our Guardian's reputation. She was well known in the area having worked in Wells and as a lay minister preached locally in Methodist Chapels. I also believe that Mr Tomlinson informed the staff that we would need a great deal of support. We were incredibly lucky because with their help we quickly blossomed. I remember having a lot of catching up to do and the only time I was sent to the Headmaster's Office was when I caught up with maths and danced around the class shouting I've done it! Ann remembers Miss Barnes with great affection, especially happy weekends when she joined her and the boarders on educational trips.
My mentor, Mr Swallow,encouraged me with all things linked with medicine and nursing. Ann and I left Sexey's with 10 '0' Levels each (including English language and literature ),much to the astonishment of our Guardian, but sadly when I suggested I could goon to university to train as a doctor I was discouraged - I think she still couldn't believe I was bright enough! Ann and I both became nurses. Ann became a senior practise nurse and I took charge of intensive care units in Bristol as a nurse specialist.
However, looking back on our time at Sexey's there was a problem. We entered the school late when friendships were already well formed, so we were always the outsiders. Ann and I were both shy and we were used to being on our own as our family environment was unusual. I remember initially we did not fit in that well. I had a good voice so joined the choir and Ann became the West County Junior Champion at the javelin, but I remember very little interaction with other pupils during our first couple of years. I had no special friends, but I do remember getting on with everyone when we started the Upper 5th Year in a much smaller class. Ann became friends with Ruth Sheppard, who was also in the Upper 5th. Roy Preece was Ann's first boy friend. I was in love with a boy called Taffy - who was that I wonder! (Identified as Ian Watkinson - JKG)
I am afraid we can be of little help with your search for other past pupils. We did not keep in touch with the school except for one brief visit to thank the staff. Ann kept in touch with Mr Packer and in fact attended his marriage to his second wife. I kept in touch with Mr Swallow who I remember fondly.
We will always be very grateful to Sexey's knowing that we were incredibly lucky that the school took us on and gave us the leg up we desperately needed. We have both had good careers and gained the confidence to explore the world - sometimes alone, sometimes in difficult places. So, thank you Sexey's School and thank so much to John Grant for his letter and enclosures and for reminding us of happy days. It is wonderful that you have given this so much of your time and I'm sure that many happy memories have flooded back for many Old Sexonians.
Ann and Nesta in the Maldives (2011)
(Many thanks for those memories, Nesta - apologies for taking so long to get them online - MJ)
Tony Newlove has sent in his memories of Sexey's -
Richard Abraham arrived at Sexey's in 1958 - here are his memories of the place, in his own words -
'Having just been notified of the 2008 Reunion - I attended last year for the first time - I was delighted to see reference to the oldsexonians website, the more so when I then trawled its pages. Goodness me, that brought back memories and then some!'
'I 'fluked' my way through the 11+ in 1958 at Draycott V A Primary School. Explained thus because in those days - as you may well remember - there were two levels of pass, A & B if memory serves.'
'Those who passed the second rate way then attended a day at the grammar school of one's choice (living in Draycott, that was either Sexeys or Wells Blue School) and in my case was introduced to Henry Tomlinson. He spent the day instructing us in English and Maths; at the end of which there was a test. More I'm sure by good luck than sound judgement I got through and commenced in the First Form in September of that year.'
'There are many stories I recall of staff and pupils - I was in Blake House - involving boxed ears, games of pitch and toss, the building of both the stage and swimming pool, skiving from sport (often watching the girls play tennis from a low level!), the woodpile at the bottom of the playing field (both my first and last ever cigarettes - a 'Kensitas' corked-tip - being smoked behind there), my appalling end of term exam results, being sent by Pete Lee to wash my feet, the arrival of Fred Roberts (my Maths saviour), a few fights, following Veronica Gibson around longingly……….the list I think is endless.' (Please feel free to add more as and when you think of them, Richard - MJ)
Buried somewhere deep in the loft is my old school cap, tie and blazer badge and - rather more accessible - is a copy of the Old Sexonians Magazine for the summer of 1963 which is when I left with a few meagre 'O' Levels.'
'Worse than that is my brown paper covered (by my mother who drew the school badge on it) School Report book. (My report book still has brown paper covering it, too! - MJ) This is such an uninspiring read that my five children aged between thirty-six and ten have never been permitted to see it lest any of the adverse teacher comments should impinge on their own scholastic efforts!' (Isn't it amazing, my own school report was very average at best and I still feel embarrassed by some of the comments - yet it all happened 40 or so years ago! - MJ)
'When I left - initially spending five years in the Army - I corresponded with Isabel Rendall (who amazingly remembered me when I met her last year (t'was she who was the first who boxed my ears in an RE class!) for a while, and also wrote to Henry Tomlinson more or less apologising for being a lazy student at his fine school! I still have his charming - and very undeserved - gracious reply.' ( Thanks again for your contribution, Richard. - MJ)
The final year of this decade saw John Roberts arrive at Sexey's in September, 1959. Some aspects of his time there have stuck in his mind -
'When I first went to Sexeys in 1959 it was the custom for older boys to either throw the first years into the high privet hedge that bordered the field, or duck them in an old metal tank. I got the hedge treatment and I remember Chris Gordon getting a ducking. By the time we reached higher up the school the tank had been removed.'
'The discus throwing area used to be at the back of the tennis courts. Discus types could practice there without harming anyone...unless like me you were left-handed.'
'On two occasions I let go of the discus too late to find the thing flying into the tennis courts. One was a rubber discus which bounced right over the net, to the consternation of the players. The other, a steel rimmed wooden one, buried itself upright in the tarmac. Luckily I wasn't any good at javelin.....'
'I remember Stan Morrissey was very good at discus also - better than me. He didn't trouble the tennis players either!'
'Does anyone remember the woodpile? It was right on the far side of the field, a pile of old logs with a brick wall in front. It provided shelter for those who wanted a quick smoke, or apparently, couples who needed a quick spot of privacy.' (Thanks for your contribution, John. - MJ)
If you have any memories/anecdotes/pictures from this era, whether they're 1st, 2nd or 3rd hand, please send them in to