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News > Lyonian News > Updates to Les Allen-William's reminiscences

Updates to Les Allen-William's reminiscences

We had many replies to Les Allen-William's article, identifying teachers and monitors, correcting the date and adding wonderful flavour to the teachers and times. We have compiled the responses here.
Where was this taken?
Where was this taken?
First of all, the staff:

Where there was some disagreement in the identification of people, we have opted for the most common name chosen.  Where there was disagreement in the description of the staff, we have chosen the most generous ones!  We have included nicknames, where appropriate!

The set of pictures (here) appears to have been taken as a part of a promotional set.  Although the Staff Common Room picture above appears to be posed, as the room is free from its usual wreath of “blankets of pipe smoke, which would have obscured all the faces, the delight on the faces is genuine, as George Andrew was known for his many humorous stories."
Left to right, standing:  Chris White (Latin), Michael Middleton (French and German), Joey Cummings, half standing, (Maths), Roger Williams (Music), Bill Stevens (English), Ron Harrison (English), Geoffrey Thornton (English), and Phil Davies (Head of Modern Languages)
Seated: Roy Millett (German), Tom Robertson (Biology), George Andrew (Chemistry), the man with his back to the camera remains a mystery, though Chris Case’s name came up a couple of times.
And some character was added…
Chris White, “Chalky” or Flash Harry”, was harder for some to identify, as apparently he later grew a beard.  He was described as “a nice man, with shiny hair, ultra-dapper outfits and a tenor singing voice.”  Mike Eathorne-Gibbons recollected Chris White's very severe eye problem: his left eye looked right, and his right eye looked left.  Apparently, this made cheating with a book under the desk very challenging!  Mike mentioned also his “most unroadworthy car which many of us were required to 'bump start' on several occasions to get going."  He died very suddenly to “the grief of boys generally.”
Michael Middleton, “Monty”, remembered “for telling us that we'd all get grade 1 in O levels, and then was surprised when we all, more or less, failed the mocks!”
Joey Cummings, was to be seen pedalling up the hill to School every morning on his bicycle, which famously was hoisted up the flag pole on one occasion.
Roy Millet, possibly nicknamed “Stump” or “Taffy”, “was built like a rugby prop forward but had a superb chalk throwing arm.”
Tom Robertson, as well as an inspiration to Les Allen-Williams, was described as “a very able teacher, [who] had a glass eye and the respect of the boys.”
Martin Ranson recalls,
“The image of Tom Robertson in his lab coat immediately took me back to a school visit to a sewage works when Mr. Robertson made John Worledge and me collapse with laughter.  John and I were looking down into an evil smelling pit of swirling effluent listening to an explanation of what we were seeing by the guide for our tour.
“Mr. Robertson sidled up to us and said this may be sewage to you “but it's this chap's bread and butter!"
George Andrew, “Eggy” or “Thumb”, the “best chemistry master”, “was an accomplished chemist, having worked in industry before turning to teaching.”  “He came to us from Mercers School. Very knowledgeable, great respect from the boys.”
Les Allen-Williams added,
“Thumb gained his nickname as being one of the few people who could cover the opening of a boiling tube [large test-tube] with just his thumb.  He introduced us to the Thermite Reaction, a spectacular explosive reaction, which blackened the ceiling of the Chemistry lab.  An experiment much admired by many of us, especially as at that time we tended to make our own fireworks for 5th November!”
As for “Eggy”, Mike Eathorne-Gibbons suggests the photo tells you why he got that name.  “Though there is the suggestion was because of the egg smell from various chemistry tests.”
Tony Sloggett was able to give some background to the monitors’ photo and not only name all those in it, but give a potted career history too:

"The photograph of the Monitors’ Room was definitely taken during my last year at school, 1962-63, when I was Head Boy.  It was taken as one of a series intended to show life at the school at the time. If it suggests that the Monitors’ Room was more involved with talking than work, that’s probably about right.  Those in the picture are, seated from left to right:  Peter Headicar, David Varley, Jack Frost, Dave Bowtell, myself, and Paul Hodge. Standing, left to right, are Peter Whittaker, Ian Ragan, Martin Lett, John Hill, Tony Charles and Don Grocott.
“As to what became of them all, Peter Headicar became the Reader in Transport Planning at Oxford Brookes University, Jack Frost and John Hill both became BA pilots, Dave Bowtell had a career teaching in further education, David Varley was also a teacher, I think involved with teaching English as a second language, Peter Whittaker worked his entire life for Barclays Bank, Ian Ragan was incredibly bright and after Cambridge was an academic for a while at Southampton University, then worked for a pharmaceutical company, Martin Lett went into the Army, but I don’t know what he did after that, Paul Hodge became a dentist, and Don Grocott worked in health care, in particular in the area of eye care - I saw a while ago that he had been made the Master of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers. Tony Charles is the only one whose career I know nothing of [Ed. He became a surveyor].
Some other memories were stirred by Les’s recollections:
Michael Heryet mentions Norman Hunt “who was a remarkable genius. I can recall him always walking around with a tuning fork (can’t remember the frequency) setting it vibrating and putting it against some of the cracks in the mortar of the old building and we would be astonished to see spiders crawling out and running away!”
Mike Morrow: The photo of the CCF parade in front of Field Marshall Alexander brought various memories.  “The parade ground was the middle of the Harrow School running track and a few years later I had the distinction of fainting when standing to attention in the boiling sun for what seemed a week – at least it got me out of the remainder of the parade.  I won’t bore you with a story about a 303 rifle, passenger and a train from Harrow-on the-Hill while we CCF lads were on the way to Bisley.” [Ed. Please do tell us the story!]
I found some more photos from 1950 - 1960 and have put them in the gallery below,

Photo gallery

To view this News Article

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