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The happiest days of your life: photographs take us back to grammar school in the 1950s

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 15, 2014

  • Form 2A 1949/50 Dudley Grammar School

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THERE can be few better ways of remembering those distant school years, than to dust off the photograph album, kept safe for decades, and sit and muse over times past.

We are grateful to John Darby of Stourbridge for doing just that, and sharing with us his memories of attending Dudley Grammar School.

Where have all the years gone and have fellow schoolmates enjoyed a decent and fulfilled life since last we met?

For John's first picture it's back to school year 1949/50. He told us, "As far as I am aware, for the first two years pupils were allocated forms or classes based on 11+ results, all first and second years did the same subjects, and examinations were taken twice each year, autumn term and summer term. Then at the end of the first two years pupils were channelled into forms which their exam results dictated; arts, science or practical; English language, maths, a foreign language, divinity and PE were compulsory."

John has remembered almost all of the names of his fellow class mates (Form 2A) and they read as follows.

Back row, from left: Jeff Tromans, (?) Hadley, Paul Nicholls, Royston Brookes, Crwyn Jones, Bernard Hilliard, Jim Walton, Ron Douglas, and (?) Edwards. Next: (?), Dennis Price, Les Farmer, Ken Kite, Mick James, Ian Secker, Edward Thomas, Maurice Green, George Barnbrook, and Colin (?). Seated: Maxie Cartwright, John Darby, Alan Brooker, Donald Morgan, Form teacher Rev T.H. Bowen, MA Oxon., who taught English, Brian Harris, John Caswell, Tony Clift, and (?). At the front: Sid Jones, (?) Nicholls, (?), (?) Hyatt (nicknamed Spindle).

John's second photograph is of Form 4 (Arts) for the school year 1951/52. John says, "Years 4 and 5 were the years of intensive study for O Levels – notice the more serious expressions on the lad's faces. Pupils could leave aged 16 or carry on until they were 18 and take A Levels in the sixth form.

"Mr P. Chance, MA Oxon., was our teacher in Form 4 Arts and had fought in Africa during the Second World War and probably other campaigns as well. He never talked about his time in the Forces but once told us a pal of his had died after being stung by a scorpion because he failed to shake his boots before putting them on his feet.

"Mr Chance ran the school boxing club, was a strict disciplinarian, but at the same time a brilliant teacher of history about which he was very passionate."

The names in the frame for the second photograph are as follows.

Back row: Alan Taylor, Crwyn Jones, Bernard Hilliard, Alan Lloyd, Ken Williams, Ian Secker, Tony Clift, Anthony Pinner, and (?) Gibbons. Next: (?) Hadley, (?), Michael Cross, Michael Harrold, Maurice Green, Ray Stokes, Ron Douglas, Sid Jones, and John Caswell. Seated: Derek Onions, Maxie Cartwright, George Barnbrook, Mr P. Chance, Alan Brooker, (?), and (?) Abbot. Front, seated on the floor: Alan Piercey, (?) Moffat, (?) Hubble, Jim Watton, Edward Thomas, John Darby, and Barry Kite.

Sport has always been an important aspect of school life and John has provided us with two contrasting pictures, one of the Dudley Grammar Sschool swimming team, circa 1950/51, taken by Horace Dudley , and a charming snap taken by Mr A.S.C. Barnard, John's Latin master, who was also a keen amateur photographer. John told us, "Competition was not only encouraged between other schools in all kinds of sports, but also between forms, classes and houses; the rivalry was fierce.

"The 'houses' were roughly based on where pupils lived in relation to the location of the school, so North included those from Wolverhampton Street and Old Park, South, Netherton and Old Hill, East, Tipton and Tividale, and West, Sedgley and Gornal.

The football team (2A 1st XI 1949/50) included, on the back row: Colin Censy, Tony Clift, Royston Brookes, Alan Brooker, (?), and Ken Kite; front: Sid Jones, John Darby, Les Farmer (Capt.), Mick James and Dennis Price.

The swimmers were, back row: Crwyn Jones, Ken Williams, (?), (?), (?), (?), John Roden, and (?); middle:-(?) Ford, (?), (?), Paul Sadler, and Don Whitehouse; front: Trevor Wade (whose father was Chief Fire Officer in Dudley at the time), John Darby and Ernie Hall.

Do you recognise any of these faces from Dudley Grammar School some 60 years ago? Can you remember the missing names? And do you have any photographs from your own schooldays? Why not share your class photos or school sports team pictures with other Bugle readers? Contact jworkman@blackcountrybugle.co.uk or write to Bugle House, 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.

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