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Pupils' and Staff recollections

This page is given over to the recollections of pupils and staff from their time at the school. We hope you will enjoy them. Just click on any link to open the file. Hopefully, this will inspire you to record your own recollections and to send them to the Webmaster. We look forward to hearing from you.

John Roomes (joined 1948)

Do you remember the Great Jumble Sale that took place at the Highland Road school, circa 1953 ? The purpose of the sale was to raise funds to purchase an organ for the new school to be built at Baffins playing fields. Prior to the event we were all encouraged to bring/donate suitable items for the sale. I do not remember seeing any items being brought during school hours but there were plenty there on the day. I managed to talk my father out of a couple of family "treasures" which we contributed. In doing so I thought I had done my part for the good of the order but then I got recruited to roast chestnuts outside in the school yard. Apart from that the only other thing that stands out in my mind is the dance that took place in the upper assembly hall in the evening which wrapped things up. Several girls from Southern Grammar were there and a good time was had by all. (A nonalcoholic event, of course.) Most of the girls were the same girls we used to meet and swim with at Eastney beach after school in the summer.

I was never in the new school building so I do not know if the organ ever was purchased. Was it?

Editor's Note: The organ was, indeed, purchased and was played every day at assembly in the new school premises. Sadly, it came into disuse after the school became a Comprehensive - and latterly as Portsmouth College - eventually ending up in storage. But the Old Secundrians Association rescued it and it has been restored by an organ restorer who is currently seeking a new home for it. Updates on the position will be posted on the Message Board as and when information becomes available.( December 2018 )

Carole Freemantle (née Barkley [staff]

I went for an interview at Southern Grammar School for Boys in 1972. I was hoping to share a flat with a girl friend in Southampton and as I had a car I was able to apply for jobs a little further away. I saw an advertisement in the TES for an English teacher able to teach pupils from 11-18. I was in my 4th year at Redland College of Education, Bristol following a B.Ed.(hons) degree.

One of my fellow English students at Bristol could't believe I was going to the Southern for an interview - there are no women teachers there - he told me. When I arrived I was met by the Head of the English Department, David Sochon. I think my first interview was with the Headmaster, Mr. Drennan, I don't remember much about it. Then Mr. Sochon took me around the school which I thought was very impressive. I think there was a temporary, male, teacher in the English Department who had also applied for the post and I thought he would probably be successful.

I remember after lunch when I went into the Staff Room Mr. Sochon asked me if I played Bridge. I had been taught by friends in Bristol and four of us often sat up quite late playing Bridge and drinking coffee - real coffee that we made in a saucepan. I said that I did and he called to another master - Mr. Carrick - that he'd found a four. So I spent the rest of the lunch time on my interview day playing bridge! I really liked the atmosphere of the school, the boys seemed exceptionally well behaved from what I saw and I really hoped that I would be appointed, but as I said I felt that the man who was filling a temporary post in the English department was most likely to get the position.

I don't remember how long it was but I received a letter offering me the position in the English department commencing September 1972. I was very pleased, quite nervous knowing as far as I knew at that moment that I might be the only female teacher, certainly the only female in the English Department. When I told my friend in my English group that I had been appointed to his old school he was amazed - his first reaction was - "You can't teach there, there are no female toilets!" I said I thought that would be sorted out before I got there.

I can't say I remember my first day and my memories of that first term are not very detailed. My form was a lst year group and my form room was the library - I think they had run out of classrooms. As it turned out I wasn't to be the only female teacher, there was one other appointed to the Geography Department, Carolyn Hounsell - I'm not sure if that was her married name or not. I taught, from what I remember, 1st years, 4th form and Lower Sixth. I was a little concerned when Mr. Sochon told me that one of the texts he wanted me to do with the Lower Sixth was Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". However, I underestimated the boys and all seemed to go well.

Bridge was something that did happen many lunch times, assuming none of us was on duty. I think I remember it was usually David Sochon, John Carrick, Tom Hobbs and me. There were other new members of staff who were on their Probationary year like me. I remember John Richards (Science), Graham Arlidge (French) who was an old boy, and also not his first appointment Bob Vale in the English Department. Bob and David Sochon were of great help to me with advice in those first few months. The other person on the staff who was of great support was Harold Williams who was the Deputy Head and I think Acting Head once Mr. Drennan left to go to, I think, Northern Grammar which, like all the other grammar schools was going Comprehensive when the changeover came. Mr. Williams was always on hand to offer advice when needed, a lovely man.

At the beginning of my second year at the school Tom Hobbs asked if I was interested in being Assistant Year Head to him. I was really pleased at this and was very grateful to him. It was the beginning of my future when I eventually became a Year Head at Wakeford School in Leigh Park - a whole different ball game!

The other person I really remember was Bob Mellish who came to work in the English Department and I think also a Year Head and I think I worked with him in my final year at the school - 1974/75.

I suppose one of the highlights of my memories is being dragooned into being part of the cast of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" to play the Barbadian servant Tituba. This was something that wouldn't happen today - to have makeup to turn me into a Barbadian. I remember a specialist make up artist coming in to do this and that I had to have the colour put right into my ears! I also remember my parents coming to see the production and my father walking past me without even realising it was me. I do remember the effort both the boys in the cast and the girls from Southern Grammar School for Girls put into the production. It was a very powerful performance and some of the emotion put into the court scene really affected the girls. This was David Sochon's production and Graham Arlidge was also in the cast as Danforth. I also remember David Calverley taking the very difficult part of an old man and practising walking as though he were about 70 years older than he was!

The other Drama production I remember was something I did with the 1st years - a Mummer's Play one Christmas. When I was at college I was part of a group that performed a Mummer's Play to local Special schools. This is what I tried to re-create. I remember Roger Standen of the Art Department being very good as helping to produce a head for Big Head and also in the creation of the Dragon. I remember the boy playing the Doctor wearing my academic gown and nearly tripping over it! We did take the play around to local special schools and I think it was very successful. The boys certainly enjoyed themselves and I think our audiences did as well.

It was a great shame, for many reasons that Portsmouth decided to go Comprehensive which meant we all had to apply for a job within the new set up. Southern Grammar itself was to become the new Sixth Form College so it meant many staff would be moving. One school I applied for a position at was Portchester - I think it was a combined English and Library post. I do remember being completely underwhelmed when I was interviewed by the Head who didn't seem to know for which position I was applying - only when I told her. I definitely didn't want to go there. It was Tom Hobbs who suggested that considering I had been an Assistant Year Head I should apply for an advertised Year Head position being advertised at Wakeford Comprehensive School in Leigh Park. Tom's wife taught at Wakeford (now Staunton Park I think) so he was very familiar with the school. I wasn't sure this was a good idea, Leigh Park itself was rather scary let alone teaching in such a huge school. Anyway, I applied and was called for interview. Much to my surprise I liked what I saw at the school - a world away from Southern Grammar and was even more surprised when I was offered the job.

I had 258 children in my year group and followed them through the school. I married in 1978 and I left in Summer 1979 as I was expecting my first child. So I have much to thank Southern Grammar for - a really welcoming beginning to my teaching career and the beginning of a path which lead onto becoming a Year Head. Following that were positions in the English Department of Crofton School in Stubbington - part time and eventually to becoming Head of the Junior Department of Wykeham House School in Fareham.

Southern Grammar School for Boys was a wonderful beginning to my teaching career and I remember my time there with great affection.

Carole Freemantle (Barkley)
September 2018

Keith "Jack" Horner memories (joined 1951)

I started at the old Highland Road School in 1951 and later moved to the new buildings in Great Salterns. The Highland Road School had two Assembly Halls, one on the ground floor and the other immediately above it. The ground floor of the school was dark and utilitarian, classrooms bei ng furnished with typical well worn desks and the ubiquitous "black boards". The first storey seemed to be lighter and more welcoming than the ground floor, and the Annex was a separate red brick building which housed the science rooms. In one corner of the playground sat a light coloured brick hut which we were told was the "Cadet Hut" and off bounds unless involved in cadet activities. A second brick single storey building sat next to the hut as the Biology Lab! Here Mr Westfold held sway, and would appear regularly in naval officer uniform as he was responsible for the naval section of the School Cadet Force.

My first Form teacher was "Chalky" White, a man who taught English and seemed to maintain order with no great effort, and from day one was respected by all the new boys. I cannot recall him ever raising his voice or resorting to "easy" teaching (more on this later). Westfold, like Chalky, was respected and quietly appreciated by the boys. In between the main building and the science annex was a toilet block. Using this facility could be risky as a channel of running water passed beneath wooden toilet seats. It was known that certain boys lit and floated candles from one end of the channel to the other! It was basic wisdom to try to choose a cubicle as far up stream as possible! No gymnasium or craft facilities were available. Sports took place at playing fields along Great Salterns Road, and woodwork classes at North End School, so we cycled to each on the days specified.

School life in this community was strictly regulated and behaviour enforced at classroom level and ultimately through Headmaster Henry Mills. The latter seemed to me, a naive eleven year old boy, to be of dark, gorilla like appearance! In later years, I felt he bore a resemblance to the film actor Robert Beatty. Discipline varied from teacher to teacher, and at the whim of godlike creatures called "senators". These had their own room, strictly off limits to ordinary boys, and wore their school blazers with gold braid! I guess their powers were limited to issuing "lines" for minor infractions and pulling one to a stop for running. On the other hand teachers ranged widely in their disciplinary style. There were those such as Chalky White, Westfold, "Buller" Jeffries, Hoar, Jim Thomas, "Scratch" Hitchins ,Westfold, and others who had a natural command and dealt with infractions by issuing lines, or extra work, occasionally sending one for the "Black Book" for a serious issue. The book was collected by the boy concerned from the Headmaster's Study and name and brief details of the offence entered. At Morning Assembly, the names from the book were read out and the boys ordered to report to the Headmaster. After a brief discussion he would then administer strokes of the cane and send you, walking with clenched buttocks, on your way. In my experience, a couple of teachers did not have a natural ability to control a class. Although legendary, Mr Steed was happy to call out an offender, grip your head on one side and administer a sharp slap to the ear on the other side! "Tish" Tilney was an expert in the use of a wooden ruler. His skill was to order you to hold your hand out, palm down, and then he would aim the edge of the ruler accurately and whack the proffered hand, leaving blue green swelling! My classmates simply viewed these personal assaults as a "rite of passage" and laughed at both teachers.

Post war facilities were basic in the Highland Road School. All classrooms had black boards but audio visual equipment was minimal. I recall only Mr Westfold using some form of colour slide projector, and Messr Thomas and Jeffries used wall hung visuals, whilst an epidiascope was sometimes turned on in history classes. Our primary information sources were text books. These were issued at the beginning of the year, having been collected from the previous users, and our names and date written inside the cover. Often these books were in barely readable condition, and would have been published decades before. The only class that didn't need a textbook was during our first school year when we all did Speech Training once a week- no doubt to remove our revolting Portsmouth accents! A text book was utterly vital to Geography lessons as one Dr King had the " easy" teaching style which left dozens of students virtually ignorant about the subject. Filing in to his room we would quickly note he was sitting behind his desk and our instructions were written on the blackboard- read and make notes on pages 25- 45 and answer the questions at the end of the chapter! All my life my knowledge of geography has been limited as a result. Surely, here is a subject which can be brought to life with models, experiments, and discovery but was deadened by teaching boredom. On the other hand, I found Mr Thomas a good history teacher able to engage and promote discussion, and both Chalky White and Inky Ingram grabbed my own natural English language skills and pushed it along.

Perhaps, my recall may give you an impression that school days at Highland Road were grim and unrewarding, but this is not so. Mr Dwerryhouse put in much of his own time running a Junior and Senior Choir, and doing so in a way that helped me love music for the rest of my life. The school did concerts and plays, cadet parades, and on occasions lauded star performers especially at Sports Day. I well remember when the staff put on a pre Christmas Evening when a number of teachers did a turn. I think the Woodwork Master had built a harpsichord and played it! I really enjoyed the last school day before the Christmas break when we all trooped down Highland Road to a church and took part in a Carol Service. I still recall clearly when moving into my upper school year as we had morning assembly in the first floor Assembly Hall. We adolescent boys rushed to get in, not because we loved the hymns, but to get next to the windows so we could look out across the road to Weston Hart's store where two nub ile young ladies would sweep the entrance and clean the windows, well aware that many hormone riddled young boys were hypnotised by them! One Christmas, my Form Master was George Spraggs, a mathematics teacher with genuine interest in his subject and how to get the best from his pupils. George was an upright and relaxed man with a no nonsense control, but you could talk to him and feel he really listened. We all decided to club together and get him a Christmas present. I can't recall what it was but in the last hour before we went home we assembled in our Form Room and gave him the gift. To our delight he'd guessed this was happening and proceeded to hand out small packs of sweets! I suppose we all have a favourite teacher we recall and George has always been mine.

Moving to Great Salterns was a big change in two respects. First, this was a brand new, light and airy school, with wide open green playing fields. Secondly, I was no longer a small boy, but now a teenager nearly fifteen years old. I cycled to school from Southsea, and thoroughly enjoyed the community feeling as now the whole school was together for Morning Assembly and a big Compton Organ shook the hall. Speech Days were now a full-on occasion as we united to applaud prize winners and hear a guest speaker. But, somehow, it didn't have the character of the old school! Now we sat on chairs in the hall rather than stand or sit on a wooden floor. Modern designed desks replaced the old battered ones, and even new text books appeared and a library! It seemed as if the disciplinary measures had changed as well! My hands no longer suffered the edge of a wooden ruler, and the only lines I wrote out were my answers to GCE English practice papers as Inky Ingram tutored me because I was ahead of the class.

At the end of the Summer term, 1956, I left school for the last time. The only teacher I was to ever see again was Mr Westfold. I went to night school to get GCE A Levels, and there he was taking the Biology class. I later trained as a teacher at Milton Teacher Training College, was commissioned in the RAEC, and went on to train adults, a career in Human Resources, and eventually to be General Manager of one of Australia's biggest NGOs. In retirement, I look back on our school and truly understand and value the huge benefits it gave me in a start to life. In so many ways I became and remain a "Secundrian", and my schooldays shine brighter as I move through my eighth decade. Thank you to those teachers and pupils who I can recall so clearly.

I should be delighted to hear from any of my old school mates at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Keith "Jack" Horner (September 2016).

Recollections of Tom McCanna (joined 1957)

Seen from the windows

The building at Baffins had magnificent views from the upstairs windows. But to my naked eye, there was rarely much of interest happening beyond the school boundary. Here are a few memories.

From the Elementary Chemistry Lab, the smoke and steam from the Hayling Billy could be seen as it trundled along the far shore of Langstone Harbour. Looking in the other direction one day in 1963, there was excitement during a French lesson in B5 when Portsmouth's first Atlantean bus appeared on the Stanley Avenue turning circle. Along the Eastern Road there was always a light but steady stream of traffic. One unusual vehicle was a decommissioned trolleybus on a low-loader being taken away - for scrap or to a museum?

On Velder Creek, dredgers came in and out of Kendall's Wharf, sometimes getting stuck on the mud if they misjudged the tide. Then work started on building a barrier across the creek, with the shoreline changing daily as truckloads of hard core were dumped in a long finger stretching away from the school. Milton Common was eventually created, where fifty years later Cetti's warblers nest.

Some time around 1959, while Velder Creek still was a creek, we arrived at school one morning to see a large sailing yacht moored there, a two-master similar to a London barge. During the course of the morning it set sail, and slowly made its way out of the harbour, past the Winner banks, and eventually turning westward, where its sails could be seen way out beyond Eastney Peninsula, watched furtively by those of us lucky enough to be having classes in the south-facing rooms.

Tom McCanna

November 2014

Robert Webb (joined 1951)

I entered the school in September 1950 and remained until June 1954 immediately after sitting the final GCE "O" level exam for which I had been entered.

The reason for my departure at the age of 14 years and 11 months was that my father had been promoted in his work and the family moved with him from a "prefab" in Talbot Road, Southsea to a brand new 3 bedroom house which was, for my father, a first time buy.

It was a sad time for me although I was slightly cheered in August 1954, when I heard that I had passed 6 of the 7 "O" levels that I had taken in the June.

I joined Poole Grammar School 1st year Science 6th form at the age of 15 years and 2 moinths (18 months younger than the next youngest member of the 6th form).

I have enclosed some photo copies of the athletics teams and a group photo of the school's CCF in 1951 (Ed: posted in the appropriate sections of this website).

Robert Webb (March 2017)

Robin Woolven memories (joined 1949)

I started at the Southern Grammar School, at the Highland Road site, in September 1949 as a member of form 'One Green' whose form master was either Mr Hitchens (French) or Mr Ruoff (Geography). French was taught by Mr (CCF Major) Cummings. The only other boys I remember in that class were one Scudder (remembered, as Scudder was the American newspaper man murdered in The 39 Steps) and Peter Knight? - a South African lad who was good at all sports. For that first year I travelled by trolley bus (no 3 or 4) or a Southdown from St Mary's Church, Kingston to Albert Road then I walked to school past familiar shops, even sparing time to gaze in the windows of the smart Swiss Cafe where they sold cream cakes - rationing was still in force so they looked luxurious. From year two I took to my bicycle when the weather was reasonable. This meant negotiating Fratton Bridge four times daily as I invariably went home for lunch and only very rarely had school dinners' in the main hall.

I was on the week-long trip to Paris in 1952 - my first experience of the channel crossing and "foreigners". I have strong memories because there was a general strike of transport workers and we moved around the city on army lorries manned by Foreign Legionnaires in cloaks and Kepis. Naturally we 'did' the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the top of the Arc de Triomphe and the novelty of shopping for unrationed chocolate in Bon Marche and a large cigar I bought for my Grandfather - he never smoked it! Accommodation was in a hotel by the Luxembourg Gardens where we sat and sipped from small bottles of nasty red wine.

I am also in the Bruges Trip photograph on the website and I particularly remember the Beguinage complex by the water in Bruges and how much I enjoyed the day in Bouillon where we exploring the castle up on the hill. On that holiday photograph on the website I recognise my friend John Parkyn next to me in the rear row, the fair haired boy named King and the well-built Tony (Simmonds?) who later joined the Navy. Of the staff I recognise Mr K Thomas (Maths), Mr Dwerryhouse (Maths), Mr Cummings and Miss Cook(e), the school secretary whose office was next to the of the rather severe Mr H Mills, the headmaster. Mr Mills was held in great awe. He seemed to spend break times standing at his mezzanine level office window commanding a view of the whole of the "playground" from where he would indicate with a pointed finger the unfortunates who would then have to report to him. For safety reasons my mates stood out of sight directly below his window - and we were generally law abiding chaps.

In my third or fourth year I was in Mr Pallant's (Biology) class in the new single storey building to the right rear in the 1953 school photo. 'Don' Pallant was a young teacher known for his liberal use of a length of rubber Bunsen burner hose. On the chemistry side I remember Mr (and Flt Lt in the CCF) Chatterton who, like the rest of the science staff, urged us to join the "Physical Society" (or similar name) which met monthly in Portsmouth Polytechnic lecture theatre - the lectures there were a revelation of fascinating things beyond school curriculum and I still remember the talk on the history of the measurement of the speed of sound.

I remember an "Open Day" in the Biology building which I spent 'demonstrating' the dissection of a bull's eye. Other teachers I remember well are the Music master Mr 'Harry' Steed whose music room was above that of the Art Master Mr Jeffries. On that point I remember being in an art class whilst Mr Steed, at the piano, was leading his class above us in a rousing song and tapping feet which caused the art room ceiling to vibrate. Mr Jeffries was furious (not an unusual state) and shouted loudly complaining of 'that damned fool Steed.' I was no budding artist but I do remember two occasions on which my work was acknowledged. The first was when Mr Jefferies gave us the subject of "A Beach Scene" and, incapable of a masterpiece, painted in watercolours the beach as seen from the top of a cliff above it - so sand, waves and circular coloured umbrellas were depicted. On the second occasion I thought I was risking Mr Jefferies' ire when issued with green plasticine which I rolled into crocodiles of various sizes which were then exhibited in the art room glass case for a week or two.

Music teacher Mr Harry Steed who was organist at a church just "over the hill", had taught at the school in the pre-war years and my two cousins (Dennis and Raymond Gibbons) remembered him producing their annual Gilbert and Sullivan productions performed in the old building on Fawcet Road. Both cousins joined the navy as Engine Room Artificers, Dennis losing his life in a submarine attacked by the Japanese - I have checked his and his ship's details in the RN Submarine Museum at Haslar.

In February 1952, due to the shortage of classrooms, I remember my class working in the upper hall (outside Dr King's geography room and Mr Steed's music room) when chemistry master Mr (and Sub Lt RN CCF) Westwood entered to announce, in solemn tones, the death of King George VI. For the 1953 Coronation celebrations, for which we all received a souvenir mug or similar and a message from the new Queen, I was on duty in my Queen's Scout uniform, selling celebration programmes in the Guildhall Square - Scouting with the 21st Portsmouth (St Wilfrid's, Ewart Road off George Street where I went to Primary School) was my main extramural interest - until certain girls of the SGS in Fawcet Road entered my life. I was also a member of the St Anne's church choir in HM Dockyard although I had no musical talent - but they paid 6d a week plus certain bus fares and extra for weddings etc.

School woodwork and metalwork classes were held in Reginald Road School out at Eastney, the former by a young teacher who, in his spare time, built a harpsicord (or similar instrument) in Iight oak; his wife taught at the SGS Girls' School. I still have, because my parent kept it, the small coffee table I built/threw together, not a thing a beauty but still in use in my study. Metalwork was taught by the splendid Dickensian Mr Trout who I recognise is sitting on the right of the staff row in the 1954 school photograph, next to the gentleman who was the experimenter (or whatever he was called) in the Science Block, with Miss Cook(e) at the end of "the staff", such was the social order 60 years ago. Under Mr Trout's direction I made and decorated a small copper ashtray whose main advantage was that I appeared knowledgeable when purchasing much larger copper trays in the bazaar in Tehran in the days of the Shah in the early 1960s - needless to say my little ashtray is still somewhere in my study.

Sessions at Reginald Road School were not the only school activities that required mobility as the sports facilities were up on the Eastern Road between the harbour and the (then) Portsmouth Aerodrome. 'Sports afternoons' were no real pleasure as a long bicycle ride preceded and followed any 'games' played in the wind blowing off Langstone Harbour. I was coached/harassed on the sports ground by a Mr Hobson, a small and very fit sports master. But top of my complaints list would have been the gym for our weekly half hour of PT way up on an "island" at the junction of Francis and Devonshire Avenues (the site on Google maps seems to be a Co-op store). So, a rapid walk or run was essential both before and after the gym work - nothing beat a quick shower (if you were lucky) then a trot back to the Highland Road site to get one sweating again. Perhaps these experiences of sports and games was the reason why I never developed any real interest in sports or much physical exercise other than squash and hill walking, but they did provide ideal training for dealing with PT and sports afternoons later in the RAF.

Francis Avenue was also the route from my home in Manor Road, Kingston (subsequently demolished to provide a sports field for a girls' school), over Fratton Bridge or the pedestrian footbridge at Fratton station, past the Danish Bacon and the Fyffes banana warehouses and down Francis Avenue. If Mr 'Tish' Tilney - in his grey spats striding down from Fratton Station (I think he commuted from Hayling Island or somewhere equally exotic) overtook you - or you, him - he would engage you in "improving" your conversation for the rest of the walk. He was, of course, a very nice but rather intense gentleman, a senior French master who spent his lunch hours hosting either his Bible Class or the weekly Stamp Club. I remember in one of my years a pale and frail boy named Peter Meyer (?) who was, I assume, from a German refugee family. His English was good and he coached me in my few words of German - all picked up from British prisoner of war films.

Other teachers that I remember include Mr R M White (English - his wife taught at the SGS Girl's School) and my Maths teacher Mr George Spraggs, on whom we had informal social snippets from one Appelby, the boy that delivered the Spraggs' daily newspaper. Dr King the geographer was an excellent teacher - he must have been as he liked the maps I drew! He, like Mr Jeffries, had a very short temper so was known to shout frequently - Dr King may have been somewhat disabled and in frequent pain, which would explain most things. Mr J Thomas taught history and I remain most grateful to him for explaining the essentials of our world to (I think) 1918 when history ended! I thought of Mr J Thomas quite recently when, in the course of writing an article for a London local history journal, I had the opportunity to use 'antidistablishmentarianism' - the longest word in the language Mr Thomas told us. The other Mr Thomas was the maths master Mr K Thomas who is on the left in the Bruges trip photograph. Mr K Saxon Walker (English) impressed me in those boring sombre grey-suit days by wearing blue corduroy suiting and through his vast knowledge of Shakespeare. He once challenged us to give him a line and he would respond with play, act, scene and line number. I made up a line and after a moment or two he rightly told me not to be silly. I admit that I never really 'got' Shakespeare although I was peripherally involved in some of the annual school plays then performed at the Teacher Training College opposite the White House at Milton. I do remember that my father made or had made by his ship's handyman, the gold painted throne (made out of an old steel stacking char) for Julius Caesar one year.

I have a strong memory of lining with my classmates, all caps on and straight, the roadside outside the Odeon Cinema, round the corner from school to cheer as Mr Churchill drove past from the South Parade Pier then turned East along to Eastney, waving his hat and/or cigar. I see from The Times Digital Archive that the date was almost certainly 11 December 1950 when the former (and subsequent) Prime Minister that day had been presented with the freedom of the City of Portsmouth.

As the examples on the website show, school speech days were held in my time with honoured guest speakers including the (female) Nicaraguan Ambassador in London and the thriller and occult novelist Dennis Wheatley - of whom I had never heard and whom I have never since read.

Robin Woolven (July 2015)

Further recollections are in PDF files below - just click on any of the links to open in a new tab.