Wolverhampton Municipal Grammar School
This page started off by sharing my "Memories of the Muni", a copy of an article I sent to the Old Pupils Magazine.
I have changed it now to include other people's memories as well, the most recent I have received being from Brian Freeman, who was at the school from 1947 to 54. Only my older readers will remember some of the names in Brian's reminiscences, but I remember quite a few from my time at the school.
Steve Brazier (1958-65) has been sending articles to the OPA magazine for many years and has now sent them to me, for use on this site.
If anyone else has any memories they wish to share, please email me and I will see if I can include them.
(1947-54) Disjointed Memories
Has written many stories about his time at Muni. You might find they bring back memories for yourself. Click on the links to read the articles.
Mind your Language. Mind your Language
Sink or Swim. Sink or Swim
Going to the Head. Going to the Head
The Queen and I. The Queen and I.
Distance Learning. Distance Learning.
"Could have done better". "Could have done better" - a nostalgic reality check.
Take the Boy out of Wolverhampton. Take the boy out of Wolverhampton...
Standing on the Corner. Standing on the Corner
Figuring it out. Figuring it out (Cricket Scorer)
Bill. Sometimes Steve was asked if he could provide shorter articles, to fill up spaces in the newsletter, this is one of those. Bill
School Assembly. (we all remember them, don't we?). School Assembly
PeripheraL Vision. Peripheral Vision
A date with Miss Fenton A date with Miss Fenton.
The Rooms - Part1 The Rooms - Part 1
The Beat goes on. The Beat goes on.
Dancing in the dark Dancing in the dark
Eight from 58 minus 1 equals 7. Eight from 58 minus 1 equals 7.
60 Years Later. Sixty years later.
My Left Foot. My Left Foot.
Postcards from the Rhine Postcards from the Rhine.
I think Steve has now sent all the articles he put in the OPA Newsletter. Thanks Steve. If anyone else wishes to contribute memories, please email them to me and I'll decide if they are suitable for this site. We will continue with other memories from former pupils below.
February 2021 - I had an email recently from Margaret Banks, she was not a pupil at our school but her father was Mr Darby, Head of science department and a
Chemistry teacher. She tells me he died in 1994. She used to come along to the school to see the G&S performances and says Mr Darby usually looked after the
lighting. She remembered a few of the teachers and also a Lab Assistant Mr Dance, who she says was a lovely man. Mr Askew's wife was a teacher at the school
she went to in Dudley. (Bob's note: I did not have him for lessons very often but when I did, I remember Mr Darby being a very animated teacher, who would wave his
arms about wildly to explain how something worked. I asked Margaret if she was related to Janet Banks,
who was also a Lab assistant at the school in the late 60's early 70's and she says her late husband was Janet's Cousin and she still keeps in touch).
January 2021. - I had an interesting email today from a former Pupil Liz Thomas (now Liz O'Neill) who was a pupil at the school between 1948 and 1953 before a happy career as an Infant teacher. She tells me her brother Lionel Thomas (now 86) was also a pupil at the school between 1945 to 1952 before taking a degree at Birmingham University and becoming a Rocket Research Scientist.
Liz says she remembers the names of all the girls in her 5th year class and most of the boys, but can't remember what she did last week. (She's not alone there!).
From her schooldays she remembers Mr Foxon, who she says was inclined to be sarcastic, after he told her ”I can’t believe you are Thomas’s sister”. She also remembers Ms Moody a history teacher, who constantly folded her arms under her huge bra-less bosom, to the delight of the boys in the class.
She passed on one more memory from 1952, the form-master 'Lundy' Luddford, (geography), strode in to classroom, stern-faced, and told us that King George 6th had died, and the school was closing as a mark of respect. I am afraid we cheered, so he kept us in our seats, in silence, for over an hour.
Lou Crow, (Marie Louise Howes when at School) told me that groups of the girls from our year group (1959 intake) used to go off on Saturday days out (on the Bus), and then go back to Yvonne Miles's house. (sadly Yvonne is no longer with us)
Geoff Dillow sent me this memory: "One thing you omitted about the buses to the racecourse...Do you remember the day certain (unnamed) members of our group (P Evans being the ringleader!!!) (P Evans has since written in to deny being involved). were reported by a very unfortunate man who caught the hail of peas from the "upper-deck peashooter club"? Pity he wasn't a better sport!! Not to mention Mr Jones the PE teacher who landed us with detention! "
Haydn Jones sent me a few memories - He remembers the fog being so thick that it got into the hall. It also caused the trolley buses to stop running at 3.00pm, and he had to walk home to Penn as a result. He also remembers the old bus we used to go to Dunstall park for games and being soaking wet when we got back on it to come back to school, (I think we all remember those buses!)
Haydn remembers being involved in the Productions of Iolanthe, Pirates of Penzance etc..Personally I avoided anything that involved singing or performing on Stage as I was not at all musical (Ask Mr Greenway!)
Maralyn Shine (Maralyn Windsor) also remembers the buses we used to leave school and a minor accident she had one day:
Getting on the first available bus outside school at 4.15pm was survival of the fittest, almost a bloodsport. Amongst the lower school pupils the use of elbows, knees and hanging on to the person in front was the norm. Satchels, briefcases, hockey sticks, tennis racquets and domestic science baskets (with insecure loads) were just crammed onto the overcrowded bus. Other passengers were forced to fight past all our paraphernalia to get off the bus and many of us made the entire journey to town, standing on the steep, metal stairs. In those days the buses still had open rear platforms and it was common practice to leap on and off the moving buses, at the most convenient place. One morning I didn't leap off the bus but accidentally slipped off. A misguided survival instinct kept my hand clamped to the hand rail, resulting in my being dragged unceremoniously along on my backside for some yards. The bus and I came to a halt outside Beatties and I was left sitting in the gutter. I was more mortified by the amused bus queue than my extremely dented derriere.
(Bob's note: This also happened to me one morning, when I jumped onto a bus as it pulled away from the stop outside my house. I missed the platform, but hung on to the pole, being dragged along for a few yards before I reluctantly let go, to be left lying in the road, relatively unhurt,but feeling very silly and embarrassed.)
From Jean Terry (Nee Arblaster) I can remember I had only one detention all the way through school and guess what that was for? It was for not wearing my hat on Saturday afternoon after playing hockey for the school. Guess who saw me in Beattties and said "my dear girl, you are improperly dressed". Yes, it was Maggie Mountain herself, and I ended up with a work detention not a conduct one.
Horace (Howard) Bampfield recalls the funniest night he'd witnessed during one of the school shows.
This happened during the song "When A Felon's Not Engaged In His Employment" from Pirates of Penzance:
"My father, who was not given to levity, admitted he had never, in his life, laughed so much.
It happened during the 'Policeman's lot is not a happy one' and whoever the comic genius was, he was playing the sergeant (a third year I think, whilst we would have been 5th, perhaps 4th). Anyway, his truncheon flew off the leather strap and he did the whole thing twirling a strap. The giggles set in, and you can imagine the silliness from then on.
Finally when the police and the pirates have their battle and the Pirates all 'yielded in Queen Victoria's name', Mick Casey, my mate and later co-head boy held up a finger dripping in blood from one of the wooden swords, how we stopped from falling over I'll never know."
My own 'memories' article below is an updated version of an article I sent to the Old Pupils Association magazine. I was prompted to write this after seeing an article written by classmate Phil Smith in an earlier issue of the magazine. You may like to read Phils article first so click here.
Reading Philip Smith's letter in the Autumn 1998 Old Pupils Newsletter brought back a few memories. I was between Philip Smith and Philip Ward on the register from
class 2B to 5B. I arrived at the School in 1959 from Woden Road Junior, I think David Walker was the only other boy who came from that school. David turned out to be brighter
than me and went into the 'A' stream from year 2 onwards.
One of my earliest memories of the Muni was the day I was unfortunate enough to run round a corner in the corridor into Mr Nixon, a bald headed, stern looking teacher who taught Spanish. He picked me up by the ears and carried me back round the corner before giving me a lecture on the dangers of running in school. It was not long after that that I decided to grow my hair longer to cover my ears. When the era of the Beatles arrived in 1963 it allowed us to get away with slightly longer hair than previous generations had managed. I seem to remember some of the girls also shortened their skirts/dresses and would occasionally incur the wrath of Miss Mountain as a result. The school caps which we were all wearing when we arrived in 1959 also started to disappear during our era although some teachers (Usually Mr Wallbank! ) would still issue detentions if we were caught not wearing them when off school premises.
Another unforgettable early encounter was with Mr Jones the PE Master. He told us in the first P.E. lesson that we must call him 'Sir' but about ten minutes later I forgot and was given a thousand lines for my lapse. I confess I was devastated, and probably showed it, and he later took pity on me and commuted the sentence to only 100 lines.
In the early years there was a Tuckshop at morning break, in the lobby near the woodwork room. My favourite were the warm Chelsea Buns which cost either 1d or 2d. The on site shop was eventually wound up and we then went to theshop on the corner opposite the school for the buns.
In second year (1960) I was in Miss Day's Class. I remember some time this year a great piece? of English literature survived a highly publicised court case which tried to ban its publication in paperback. As a result, pupils of class 2B could hire the book for the weekend for only 1 shilling. I forget which pupil started that little enterprise. (Oh the book was 'Lady Chatterley's lover', and I thought it was boring and a waste of a shilling!).
In second year, I started to knock about with Tony Blake (Ant) and Barry Philips and I think we three were the only boys from the 'B' stream who didn't stay on to take 'A' levels.
Barry left early and joined the army and we lost contact. Tony and I joined Post Office Telephones (BT). Tony moved on after his apprenticeship to work for IBM, then the BBC and Visnews and he lived in Dunstable for a while before moving to Leicestershire. Unfortunately he was struck down with a degenerative brain disease and has since died.
I enjoyed BT and stayed for 31 years working in West Midlands area, then at the training college in Stone, Staffs and finally as a Manager in a Head Office department in Milton Keynes until I took early retirement in 1996. I lived in Northampton for over 20 years and after working for 7 years as a Field Engineer for NTL, (now Virgin Media), the local Cable TV & Telephone supplier, I decided I needed a complete career change and finished my working life in a clerical post at Northamptonshire Police before retiring in 2008 and moving to South Devon
Winter Sport wasn't one of my favourite subjects. We used to get taken on an old bus to Dunstall Park racecourse to play rugby when it was 20 below zero with a howling gale, then forced into a communal shower whether we were dirty or not. By the time we were fifth formers Bogsy Potter, David Gough and others were much bigger and heavier than me and it really hurt if they tackled me. I remember one occasion when a lad (Was it Mitchell?) was treated like a wimp by the teacher after he left the field injured during a game, but it turned out later he had a broken collarbone. The rugby training came in useful when it came to getting on the bus after school though. Update August 2004: John Liptrot recently contacted me and said that he broke his collarbone at Dunstall Park, the consequence of playing on a frozen pitch.
Football on the school premises was strictly forbidden, which was strange really when you consider we were almost in the shadow of Molineux, at the time when Wolves F.C were one of the top football teams in the country.
Summer wasn't so bad as you could opt for athletics to avoid getting hit by cricket balls and could hang around the long jump pit not doing too much except watching the girls in the tennis courts. I was quite a fast runner over short distances and could almost keep up with Alan Jones over 100 yards. I never had the stamina for longer distances and hated the lesson when we went for two laps round West Park. I once took a short cut but Mr Jones or Mr Jackson spotted me and detention naturally followed. However if you ran slowly enough and walked when you were behind the biggest bushes they had to let you take a short cut to get back to school in time for the next lesson. A special one off treat one year year was to play hockey against the girls. Rachel Heyhoe was the games mistress and I'm not sure if she refereed or helped the girls against we superior boys. We would have liked to have played the girls at rugby but it wasn't to be.
In third year I remember learning German with Frau and being quite good at it, but I had to give it up in Year 4 to take physics. My only memory of Frau (Mrs Goater) is that she gave me 100 lines once and I spent hours trying to tie 5 pens together so I could finish the lines faster.
Biology lessons with Mr Askew, now they could be gruesome! I distinctly rememberone lesson when one of the girls cut her leg and became hysterical at the sight of her own blood. I even remember her name but will spare her blushes. Biology O level was one of the last I took and I had become tired of the endless revision, so the night before the exam I went out on my pushbike to the cycle speedway track. Fortunately I still passed but it was my second worst grade.
Academically I wasn't the best but I did have the knack of getting good exam results with a burst of late revision. One term I finished bottom in Geography termwork and top in the Exam. Headmaster Mr Douell warned me on report after report that I wouldn't always get away with this technique, and he was right of course. Although I got all 8 'O' levels, when I went to college, I failed my ONC at the first attempt and had to retake it. I finished college (Wolverhampton Polytecnic) with a HNC in Electronics but have had endless training since to keep up with the changes in electronics and telecomms technology.
Maths lessons could be fun, we had a lady teacher (Mrs Johnstone) who was good but didn't control the class all that well. One of our tricks was to creep down between the desks to take the milk (remember school milk!) out of the crate and to try and drink it in the lesson without being caught. You did this by lifting the desk lid and pretending to get something out while swigging the milk from the bottle.
I never liked the geography teacher we had in year 4, (Mr Purvis), as he used to write comments about my handwriting in a scrawl so bad I couldn't read it. We once wrote derogatory remarks about him on the blackboard but got away with it when we said it must have been done by the previous class.
The girls in our class all seemed very aloof and mature, although I've since learnt that teenage girls always grow up faster than boys. They did however have varying reactions to the matchbox containing Tony Blake's pet Cockroach, in fact after a while some of them would take flight whenever you approached them with cupped hands or an empty matchbox, and you didn't need the cockroach at all. Other's didn't react at all which was really boring.
In addition to my sister Rosemary (1961-68) who was at school when I was, my other sisters Dorothy (1968-75) and Mary (1972 to 77) were pupils at the school although Mary's time was during the demise of the Newhampton Road site and the move to new Premises. Add my Cousin Geoff Cook (1955-61) and our family were represented at the Muni continuously for 22 years.
Sisters and I all visited the old site a few years ago and here's a picture of the four of us in the main hall.
The only classmate I met on that occasion was Mike Body. The occasion brought back memories of when 5th formers sometimes read lessons in assembly, and those of us on the balcony tried to catch their eye and make them laugh.
Bob Tame [email protected]
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On the theme of memories, here is something that the late Ian Hemsley sent me which seems very true and quite amusing:-
I don't know how some of us lasted this long!
If you lived as a child in the 40's, 50's,60's or 70's, looking back, it's hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have...
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags.
Our cots were covered with bright colored lead-based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cupboards, and when we rode our bikes we had no helmets. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle- horrors.
We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times we learned to solve the problem. We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. No mobile phones - unthinkable.
We got cut and broke bones and broke teeth, and there were no law suits from these accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame, but us. Remember accidents? We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it.
We ate patty cakes, bread and butter, and drank cordial, but we were never overweight...we were always outside playing.
We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle and no-one died from this. We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes,video games, 65 channels on pay TV, video tape movies, surround sound, personal mobile phones, Personal Computers, Internet chat rooms ... we had friends.
We went outside and found them. We rode bikes or walked to a friend's home and knocked on the door, or rung the bell, or just walked in and talked to them. Imagine such a thing. Without asking a parent!
By ourselves! Out there in the cold cruel world! Without a guardian - how did we do it?
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and ate worms, and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live inside us forever, and our faces never got stuck that way!
Footy and netball had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't, had to learn to deal with disappointment..... Some students weren't as smart as others so they failed a grade and were held back to repeat the same grade. Tests were not adjusted for any reason. Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. No one to hide behind. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law - imagine that!
This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years has seen an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. And you're one of them. Congratulations!
Pass this on to others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before lawyers and government regulated our lives....... for our own good.... ..