Sunday, June 3, 2012

Back in time to schooldays at Wyre Farm - Cov Telegraph

Came across this from 2010 in Coventry Telegraph.

In this post I have included quotes from Reg Holliday (via the Cov telegraph and Quotes from Ken Short 9also at the school roughly the same period)

Reg Holliday of Styvechale, Coventry, wrote in the the paper -
c1951? Is the rubble on playground from new swimming pool
or Elan Valley pipe-laying??

Reg shared some of his memories from 1946 to 1950. 

He said - 

"All the dormitories were named after different areas of the city - Radford, Earlsdon, Stoke, Bablake and Gosford."

The names of Dormitories/ Houses in the 1940's to 1957 when Wyre Farm became City of Coventry. NB -  This is the correct order. On an earlier photo I had the order wrong!  This is how ken Short remembers the order 1948 - 52. earlier reports mention also Mercia and Godiva houses - have no info on them.

The names of Dormitories / Houses after 1957

This is confirmed by others such as Ken Short, there's mention on the BBC site about the war years that there was also Godiva and Mercia.

Ken tells us that  Bablake was a half-house. " Earlsdon was the No. 1 House..we won the cross country shield (Senior & Junior), Football cup, Cricket cup, Eisteddfod cup 3 years running (There was no Rugby then nor female pupils..pity)"

"In my day none of the houses were divided, the first dormitory (both halves) were Earlsdon, as were Gosford, Radford, & Stoke. Bablake was a half dormitory. For all sports the names of Bablake were put into a hat and then shared between the other 4 houses. I cannot remember the exact number of pupils to a dormitory, it was about 60, 30 in each half sleeping in bunk beds, with wooden lockers in the middle, which we used to use as table tennis tables. "

I was a resident at "Wyre Farm Camp School" from from 1948 to 1952. I still remember my house number E16. I have fond memories of "The Glen", going down to Cleobury Mortimer on Saturdays with a weeks pocket money 1/-, one shilling or 12d or if you like 5p. With that I bought a bottle of pop, went to the local cinema "The Barn" and still had enough to get a cream cake from the High street bakery, and a postage stamp to write home with. I remember playing cricket and football agaist teams like "Harry Cheshire" in Kidderminster..."Christopher Whitehead" in Worcester. "

" Another tit-bit. Only the teachers & school prefects were allowed to enter the dormitories via the end doors, us lower cast boys had to use the side door. The grass triangle between the dormitories and the hospital was STRICTLY off limits."

Reg Holliday mentions in the article

There would be weekly inter-dormitory competitions with the winners given a day trip to a local area of interest,” he said.

“The boys all looked forwards to Saturday – during the week it was forbidden to leave the grounds.
But on Saturday the boys could withdraw a limited amount of money from the school bank and head straight for the tuck shop. Then they would stroll into the nearby village of Cleobury Mortimer to see a black and white film at the cinema – an old converted barn.

Reg was a member of the school choir – but being in a rural location their only ever performances were on Sunday mornings supporting the small local choir.

The teaching team consisted of nine tutors who lived at each end of the five dormatories.

He remembers two headmasters: Mr Martin who retired in 1948 and Mr Davies. They lived in the relative luxury of a spacious bungalow in a quiet area just inside the school entrance.

Most pupils were aged 10 and 15, and for the majority it was their first time living away from home – so there were a lot of tears and some even attempted to run away."

Reg remembered: “Those who did never got far, the nearest bus or railway station was miles away – and teachers or older boys would always find them.”

The last Sunday of every month was visiting day and more tears as parents would arrive in fleets of Coventry Corporation buses. It took time to settle in, but after a couple of months firm friendships had been made and life was good."

Ken Short " Mr. George Langley was my teacher for the first two years, then it was Mr. Archie Lambley, who was also my house master. Visiting days for ones family was the first Sunday of the Month. I remember Sunday parades to Cleobury Mortimer or once a month to Nene Savage. Playing for hours in "The Glen". I have fond memories of playing football against Cleobury Mortimer School, they played on a farmers field where his cows grazed, when one headed the ball ones face was covered in cow shit...happy days, it still brings a smile to my face. I also remember on visiting days I would book a Sunday meal at the "Fox inn" a Mr. king was the landlord, bloody hell I'm travelling back in time now."

Ken Short
" I was a resident at "Wyre Farm Camp School" from from 1948 to 1952. I still remember my house number E16. I have fond memories of "The Glen", going down to Cleobury Mortimer on Saturdays with a weeks pocket money 1/-, one shilling or 12d or if you like 5p. With that I bought a bottle of pop, went to the local cinema "The Barn" and still had enough to get a cream cake from the High street bakery, and a postage stamp to write home with. I remember playing cricket and football agaist teams like "Harry Cheshire" in Kidderminster..."Christopher Whitehead" in Worcester. "

Swimming Pool

Reg was particularly interested in the swimming pool because his father was a member of the committee and instigated the idea.

Reg has supplied the photographs including one of the opening ceremony.

Although it was an open-air pool and unheated - it was welcomed by the majority of pupils who looked upon it as sheer luxury,” he said.

Ken Short (who was there 1948 - 52) tells us - 

"In 1949 and Mr. Morris became headmaster. It was he who took the first swimming lessons in the newly built swimming pool. I remember helping to break the ice at the first lesson. He would sit in an armchair with gloves, scarf and overcoat and tell us to jump in (63 years later I can still feel the cold wind coming down the valley from Clee Hill). I think it was built in 1951"

"When I was there the cricket scoreboard was situated where the swimming pool was going to be, when the pool was built it was placed on the paved area of the pool"

Michael Billings When i was there from 1954-1958 the Cricket Scoreboard was just in front of the block next to the swimming pool which was where the maids stayed. (The canteen staff).

Ken Short
Here is one for the OLD boys. Before the swimming pool was built, who remembers the spot on the river where a diving board was fixed to the bank and roots of trees where we used to go swimming, always supervised by a teacher. 

Oggly Boggly,  It was a farm in the middle of Wyre Forest. Before the swimming pool was built, every summer the a selection of boys were marched through the forest to this farm, it had an ancient sheep dip which was full of water. We were told it had not been used for dipping sheep for 20+ years. It was our swimming pool. We played in it for hours, walked around the farm, then marched back. This stopped once the swimming pool was finished. Great times had by everybody.

Further Memories in late 40's early 50's

Ken Short
"Does anybody remember the gardening area that ran alongside the cricket pitch boundary ?, I spent many a long back breaking stints there"

Rosemary Webb Rehill I remember the vegetable garden down by the headmaster's cottage. Didn't there used to a hut there for the scoreboard? The veggie garden was then moved up to the left of the new buidling but that was later.

Michael Billings
The top sports field hasn't been mentioned to many times so thought i'd share my memories. Directly behind the water tower was the long jump/triple jump pit. At the top of the field beyond that was the Senior Football Pitch. Behind the drive after the row of cherry trees was the high jump pit and from there to the top of the field the Colts Football Pitch. To the left of this was a small brook and then the school vegetable plot which Taffy Evans liked to grow Raspberries on along with tomatoes and marrows. Around the Senior Football Pitch was the running track for sports day and between that and the long jump pit was a marked out 100 yds sprint track. The triple jump pit had to be extended when Tom Merry jumped out of the end of it. Seem to remember he jumped 38-40 ft. He went on to the Kidderminster & District Sports and Worcestershire School Sports finishing up with Mick Ellis at the All England Championships at Durham. Tom's daughter is Catherine Merry an England athlete until she retired after getting married to a French athlete.

Paul Nicholas Williamson Arghhh yes the top field, Michael you are right with all of your placings of the long jump pit,high jump pit, football pitches and the school plots.The farm behind the top field was Skellerns farm could be wrong there.

 As for Tom Merry per haps the best sportsman to have been at Cleobury as he came second in the All England Champioships in the triple jump and this after being stung in the ankle during warm up,I'm sure he would have won if it hadn't have happened.Tom jumped 44 feet 11 inches to win the Kidderminster and District trials and it became a school record and would have stood for ever, I was there watching as it was the first time I had ever seen the triple jump, the only person who might have beaten it was Tom's younger brother Peter who came to the school for only a couple of years only to leave early and he too was very good at the long jump.

Chris Harden Tom's younger brother, Pete was also an amazing athlete - an absolutely devasting sprinter and what a rugby winger. I have many memories of Pete's prowess in athletics and other sports.

Paul Norman Some people might say that Cleobury's best sportsman was Nigel Hawthorne, who as I recall was goalkeeper for one of the England Youth teams. Eventually came back as the sports master.

Paul Nicholas Williamson Michael, Catherine won a bronze medal in the 400 metres Olympic games in 2000 Sydney.Kathy Freeman from Oz won and if Catherine had beaten her she wouldn't have got out of OZ.
Paul, it was Martyn Hawthorne, you have mistaken him for the actor easily done after all these years, Martyn and I played together in the same team after we left School, Ryton United and we won the league then we moved to a team called Phildown Dynamoes which had a lot of old boys in the team and we won a few cups and leagues in fact we were quite a good team for the standard we played in.

Pete Day See, this is where I lose touch. In my day there wasn't any football pitches. WE PLAYED RUGBY, a mans game. Not poofy football.

Trev Teasdel - This article from The Boarder explains
City of Coventry Boarding School: Rugby Football - A New Game at the School in 1960

Paul Nicholas Williamson We must have been ac/dc one term of rugby and one term of footie, this all came about in my third year as we played footie all the time when I first went there. We took some fearsome beatings at footie but it was the other way round when it came to the egg shaped ball.I even ended up playing rugger for Cheylesmore Old Boys on Saturdays and footie on Sundays until the knee gave in.

Raymond Bothwell ‎5 a side on the tarmack, outside the dining hall. I lived in cheylesmore for several years, Silksby St , The Park Pailings, and finally Meschine St,

Michael Breslin ‎....and then in the 70's, We played both and there was an option. In fact many of the Rugby players enjoyed a game of footie also. There wasn't a footie school team per-se but a challenge from Lacon Childes in the village and a couple of other "local" schools was always popular. The long jump/Triple jump and 400 track was behind the top ablution block. There was also a type of Pavilion behind/attached as well which had a cricket score board on display. There were two cricket quares, one inside the running track and another on bottom field in front of the dining room. Two rugby fields were marked out overlapping the running track either side of the cricket square and another rugby pitch was marked out on top field or 'top pitch'. Hats off to the ground keeper who kept the squares in tip-top condition all year round although they were roped off during the winter months to avoid being punctured by rugby boots with sharp nylon edges....they were brutal on the hands in the scrum, especially when it was frosty. (I played Hooker - ouch)

Michael Billings One of the teams we played at Football was Catshill Grammer School of Bromsgrove and i remember going to Droitwich to watch another match. If there was room on the coach a few spectators were allowed to go. I always put my name down to go and watch. Does anyone remember the coach out trips to Kidderminster Town Hall to see The Birmingham Symphony Orchestra or at the same venue a cricketing evening with Tom Graveney, Peter May and Godfrey Evans who played for England as wicket-keeper.

Paul Nicholas Williamson Yep, Michael, Kidderminster town hall to see the CBSO, one year at the interval I went round getting autographs of the musicians and I even went into the main room where the conductor and lead players were having a cup of tea. SAD.that I should remember that, I wonder what happened to the programme with all the autographs on, must be worth a fortune !!!!

Michael Billings Many years later i managed to get a signed autograph picture of my favourite all time girl singer Brenda Lee. Night Out theatre restaurant in Birmingham. Have shook hands with Bill Haley, The Jordainaires and 2 of Elvis' original backing band Guitarist Scotty Moore & Drummer D J Fontana, Brenda Lee and for the ladies in the group actor Steven Seagal amongst many others. Even Cliff Richard signed his autobiography for me.

George Forrester Tom Merry- what a nice lad he was, although he was older than myself he always treated us yougsters with respect. He had a younger brother at the school, whose face I can still see, but name I cannot remember.  Michael Ellis, good all round sportsman, a Head Boy who left in somewhat difficult circumstances as I recall. It was a Mr Chinn, who was the Director of Education for Cov schools, who awarded me the prestigious certificte for comming third in the shot put 1959 !

Chris Harden George - Tom Merry's brother was Pete, a truely nice guy

Ken Short Aahh....Memories, fading with time

Rosemary Webb Rehill Walter Chinn, a tall very scary man! I remember we had to behave when he came to visit!

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