( Author anonymous : details supplied to us )
I am not entering the competition per se, but I offer the
following details to help in completing the 'Spot the Masters'
picture from 1973.
I have added some teaching subjects, where they are not included
- even with the confirmed pix
2. Looks like an English teacher to me. Name escapes me
currently. ('Peckhead' was a Maths teacher who was not at the school
5.David Hamilton-Jones (Geography and PE) - agreed.
6. Definitely Gerry Imison.
9. Mr Thorne's first name was John, I believe. This is him.
13. Yep - Mr Harvey.
14. This is John Wynchbold (I think that is the correct spelling
- I could be wrong) - in 1973 his eldest son was in the 6th form -
he taught Mathematics.
20. Mr Crook, I seem to recall, rather than 'Crooks' - could be
wrong -taught Physics. (Sprayed himself and the front bench with
mercury during one lesson. Nowadays, parents would have sued for
replacement barathea but we just shrugged.)
26. Arthur Johnson was Headmaster and taught Chemistry. (This
photograph was taken in his final year at school before his untimely
death. The observatory was built in his memory
but appeared to serve no academic purpose in the years that
followed. Subsequently became used as a place behind which the
smokers could hide.)
38, Certainly is Mr Terry - 'Sing up, Tommy!'
39. Taff once famously delivered a lecture to us in the third
year on the dilemma we faced in adulthood. In his view, the cost of
living would be so high that we would simply not be able to make
ends meet. He reliably informed us that within 10 years none of us
would be able to afford to own and drive a motor vehicle. It was
difficult to tell whether he was attempting to deliver a party
political broadcast or simply predicting the end of the western
world. Either way, it had nothing to do with biology and we only
learned this Mystic Meg revelation because our regular biology
master had left the room for 5 minutes!)
41 Harold taught classics with verve and gusto but
got so excited during one lesson at the end of a tiring day that his
false tooth shot out whilst hammering home 'Carthego est delenda'.
Said tooth dribbled under desk, and one sporting pupil back-heeled
it swiftly to the rear of the room (he knows who he is). Class was
sharply dismissed whilst Harold attempted to retrieve the denture
before the cleaners arrived with an industrial vacuum cleaner.)
42 - Ian Maddy taught French
43. Yes - confirm it is Mr Dimsey (drove an Audi and regularly
extolled the virtues of the mpg he achieved. There seemed little
point in paying attention given the sermon from Taff.)
48. Yes, Mr Jackson - but surely he did more than just teach
49. Brian Walker - it was always hard to ascertain whether he was
more interested in serving the English Department of BVGS or
developing a career with BBC Radio Birmingham - had a penchant for
Eric Clapton and slagging off poor quality local commercial radio
broadcasting i.e. BRMB.
50. Chris Allery was RE.
That story about the John Harvey quotation is something you
should add to your Cv - it's the sort of
credential that gets you into investment banking in
the city. Seriously, I think it's rich coming
from Harvey - the man, in my opinion, was a
very poor headmaster. I can understand his self-interest in wanting
his son to do well at school (what self-respecting
parent doesn't?), but the general opinion in
my year was that his priorities were all wrong, centered on:
1. Winning 'Ask The family'
2. Making the observatory available for his son, but not using it
for the benefit of the rest of the school
3. Securing Oxbridge places for the pupils he believed would win
places 4. Not supporting other pupils who aspired for the same, but
in his opinion would bring shame and disgrace
on the school if they failed (and therefore
reduce the chances of others he picked next). I know of one instance
where a pupil was refused nomination by the school, but his parents
put him through the general entrance exminations - he
sailed through with impressive results. When
harvey arranged for a photograph of the pupils that
year who had successfully secured Oxbridge places, you can guess who
wasn't invited to the photo-shoot! And
I did not particularly enjoy my sixth form years in some respects
- because I believe Harvey and some of his
cronies were out of touch with how the pupils
could best achieve - and in the end that was his loss too. I sometimes
wonder, however, what damage that attitude did for other young
people. I remember, for
example, single-mindedly deciding I was going to secure a degree
place in a difficult discipline at a highly ranked University. I
knew I could achieve it. I was informed by one
teacher whose photograph you have included
that it was a reckless decision - and that was advice he gave
as a self-styled 'careers master' off the cuff - no
thought given to the effect it can have on an
adolescent. I was filled with self-doubt for weeks,
but like so many young kids i didn't know who to talk it through
with, so I ignored his advice, but I lost all respect
for the careers support that the school was
offering. And I got my place. Sadly though, I look
back and think I got that place despite certain people (and in
fairness because of some very good and
dedicated subject teachers).
Despite securing a number of 'positions' and 'honours' at the
school, and with exam results which gave me
two school prizes (prizes nominated by the teachers
who knew the pupils far better) - Harvey still had to look down at
a sheet of paper to remember my name on the day that
I left: I wasn't even expecting recognition as
we parted - he was too dumb for that, but anyone with
half a brain cell would have memorised my name from the file before
ten seconds I entered the room that day, and
pretended he knew me.
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An Old Veseyan in Africa!
(Steve Maynard : firstname.lastname@example.org
I was totally amazed when I stumbled upon your site this week and
having spotted myself on the school photo taken in 1973 I thought I
must send a few lines to you, but there is much more to
I started at BVGS in 1967 in class 1 Red . In those days there
were 4 first form classes but don't ask me how we were allocated to
a particular house.If a member of your family had studied at BVGS
before then one automatically was placed in the same house.I left
the school in 1974 and obtained a HND in Applied Physics at
Sheffield Polytechnic. I spent 4 years in the 'black country' ie
Wolverhampton in the ailing steel industry working as a welding
technician and as redundancy looked like a distinct possibillity
followed my parents to South Africa. In my travels through the RSA I
have met 3 old Vs and still have contact with one.I will make sure
he submits his details too! But back to my school days! I recognise
virtually everyone of the teachers shown on your web site however
cannot add anymore info. 'Slasher Slater' was probably my biggest
nightmare and was deadly accurate with blackboard chalk and those
wooden rubbers. He could also throw an exercise book clean through
an open second floor window from 10 metres! If it was yours you
obviously had that long walk to retrieve it.Indeed amo amas amat
gave me most grief! Now 'dingle' Dan (the Chemistry man )also comes
to mind.What he did for cross country running at the school was
incredible. 'Taffy' Jones was my Biology master. His claim to fame
was his late entry into the laboratory through the greenhouse at the
back of his classroom. There he would quietly sit and watch his
students actions.Of course eventually the class would become quieter
and quieter as more boys realised he was in the room! Ron Homer
taught English and the only problem I ever had with him was when I
missed a cricket practice! 'Thug Wallace' was our form master and
Geography teacher.Also not one of my favourite subjects!However I
did manage to find my way to South Africa! Rex Wallbank took me
through cricket and rugby with untiring enthusiasm ,encouragement
and that will to win. There are others I will discuss in future
communications however before I close here is a brief list of the
other guys I enjoyed my time with at BVGS circa. 1967-1974 'Webby'
Dave Webb (my scrumhalf halfback partner) John Oakes Clive Burkin
Simon Berry Phil Kennington (now in Australia?) The Hulk-He'll know
who i'm referring too Mick Burke (from wine bar days )
Let me pull out my old photos and i'll give you some more names
More to follow
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My first day at Vesey
Author has asked to remain anonymous : This is a true story and
to prevent any possible distress we have removed the name of the
Looking back through the photo's of the 1973 teachers, I was
brought up with a jolt at the photo of (x).
I met him just once, in (year provided), when taking the entrance
exam for the school. About ten of us with the surnames beginning O-R
were led into the history room, Room 20. "Right, put your coats
at the back of the room, and then sit down" he instructed us.
And then, suddenly, only about six feet away from me, he made a
slight noise, and collapsed to the ground. I remember it to this day
- he went down like a banana so when his shoulders hit the ground,
his legs flew up in the air. Some of us ran to find another teacher
in the next classroom, and (y), the history teacher came running
into the room, and screamed at us all to leave. We were moved to
take the exam in another room, which gave a good view of the
ambulance leaving taking (x) to hospital. But it was too late. (x)
Back to top
John Rabbit Harvey
(Paul Kerriage : email@example.com
Following up on your feedback section - I recall the mixed
emotions when Spock kicked off - he was a bit of hard case, but I
suspect his heart was in the right place.
I remember when when Rabbit showed up, after a confusing
interregnum, when Thug (or was it Piggy) tried to hold it all
together. Suddenly, we had this bizarre Adge Cutler stunt-double
There was a brief political flurry, when he allegedly came out in
some meeting against Grammar School education (it was the trendy
70's after all), then suddenly realised that he was headmaster of
such a school, and that 99.895% of parents (and therefore kids) were
in favour of it, right or wrong.
My clearest memory of him was his skulking around school play
rehearsals (Oh What a lovely etc) allegedly trying to curry favour
with the kids by offering fags to sixth formers ( I was one). I
refused, but fell victim later and now proudly sport a solid
Marlboro Red Habit.
I'm sure he arrived wanting to be a modernising and enlightening
force, but he was (allegedly) just too lightweight. Don't know what
happened after I I left, but Baz Barrell will have all the facts,
Can I add, your site is pretty cool. Loved the 1973 teachers -
spotted ? "Bobby" Fisher, English teacher and life member
of the "Miserabilist" tendency.
Sad that the school hasn't got it's own site, and seems to be
having a bit of an academic wobble. The Kids' piss-up site looks
like a laugh. Why didn't we have co-ed in my day? Would have saved
some lads lots of ... er... "confusion"....
Checking out the Friends Re-United site, it looks like loads of
us BV's ended up in IT or web. Shame it's all going tits up...
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Happy halcyon days
(Vernon Thornton : firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm Vernon Thornton and I went to Vesey from
September 1973 until July 1977.
In my times there were pupils in my year ....Dave Taylor (best
Tompkins Greg Young Carlton Free Shufflebotham Johnty Hayes
Fuller Andy Bloomer The Parker twins Dave and Michael and in
the year above was ex TV presenter Billy Buckley.
Teachers were......H.M. Spock to start with then John Harvey.
Tim Moore still around now down the local boozer. Mr Brookes,
metalwork and H.B.
woodwork. Desperate Dan, chemistry teacher Miss Etches, French.
Who was the teacher bootlegging jeans to the Russians in the
summer holidays? Yes it's true!
Taff Jones, biology teacher and his wife, the maths teacher, Ma
Jones (fearsome). There was also the gaggle of teachers who went
to The Three Tuns each dinnertime and rolled up well oiled for the
afternoon session along with the pupil's shoplifting bunch in
Sutton town centre who nicked a load of stuff from WH Smith and
sold it to the German teacher, as I recall.
Did all these things really happen?
You betcha!......Happy halcyon days.
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I Luv the 70s
(Paul Kerriage : email@example.com
Gather round, my little curly-headed ones and I'll tell you a
tale to make yer blood freeze.
Of the Morris Marina, Spoon shoes, lyrically ambitious
progressive rock, Vesta Beef Curry and other crimes against cuisine.
Ah, the 70's.
At BVGS, the best you could hope for was a quiet five minutes in
the bogs twanging your wire. This would be executed while thinking
either of Dora out of TV's Follyfoot, or the Foreign student with
whom Chalky Mel was conducting Extra-Mural Studies.
Other than that, your options were limited. You could:
* write "Led Zeppelin Rool" on your school bag (WW2
surplus gas mask case, matched RAF greatcoat)
* get bellowed at by humourless Nazi masters or their
* get food poisoning from the Spam Fritters at lunchtime, with
disastrous consequences during Games periods
* smirk at various teachers' disturbing speech impediments and
extremist political beliefs
* dodge Freaky Dave and his elite cadre of born-again christians
* extinguish blazing gardeners, trash your moped, drive teachers
to early death and torture smaller boys with inventive skill.
* go home at 4.10 and watch the crap TV (which they now
anthologise on BBC2 and C4 - NB - we'd have twatted someone like
And, that's about it. Young people today - Just don't get me
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Taff Jones - The man and his methods
( Paul Kerriage : firstname.lastname@example.org
I was recently reminded by Charles Hinton's sister ( a former
Brown Cow and S/C Love Goddess) of the classic Taff Jones-ism -
"The penis is a wonderful thing, boys, up in the morning before
His rather gothic approach to teaching Biology spawned other
alarming views and anecdotes.
He once warned us of the danger of playing with the gas taps on
the benches. With dark Celtic relish, he recounted the hideous tale
of the two boys who banged a rubber hose up another's arse,
connected it to a gas tap and (accidentally) killed him by inflating his colon with the North
Sea's finest. This had not happened at BVGS, he explained, but was
clearly a warning to us all to desist from such infernal practises.
It may be Alzheimer's on my part, but I'm sure he also wound us
all up into believing we'd have to dissect the fluffy little chicks
resulting from our experiments with eggs and incubation, etc.
Terrified by this I threw a sickie on the appointed day, to avoid
the obvious horror of thirty boys hacking away at the chirping
yellow fur-balls with scalpels, lancets, lawn mowers, spears etc,
The following week, I went to Double Biology to discover they
hadn't been dissected after all.
But where did they go? I ask you again. Where DID the chicks go?
More medication please...
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Some 'Vesey' memories
( John Myers : email@example.com
First of all, may I record appreciation for
producing so excellent a site and for rekindling such vivid memories
of from some very good times.
After leaving Four Oaks County Junior, I became part of Red House
and thus entered form 1R, wearing one of the new house ties
introduced that term, in September 1966.
The form room was one of the then four �Terrapins�, which
overlooked middle field, and our Form Master was Mr. Patrick (Frog)
Hall, who took us for English. First
lesson that Tuesday afternoon was Latin, allowing us an early
introduction to the legendary Mr. Ron (Slash) Slater.
This lesson overran a bit, possibly because we were too much
in awe of �Sir� to move after hearing the lesson bell.
Therefore, Mr. Anthony Holme-Barnett (HB) had to come over
and collect us for the double Woodwork period that ended our
Gold House was also new that term and its only members populated 1G
in the hut next to ours. This
generated the opportunity for some interaction between the two
classes, especially when our Latin lessons coincided with 1G�s
Maths periods, taken by Mr. Alan (Bogsy) Chambers.
On occasion, Slash and Bogsy would play to the gallery, much
to our collective amusement and helping to demonstrate that,
sometimes at least, Slash�s bark was worse, perhaps, than his
My elder brother, David, was in 5Z at the time and thus well able
to assist in my induction. Before us, our late father, Graham and
his own younger brother, Chris, had attended the school such that,
unsurprisingly, BVGS antics have remained a regular topic of
conversation over the years.
There were, after all, many classic events, quirks and
anecdotes about the place, too precious to be lost in the mists of
time but also unlikely to be considered for publication within more
My time at BVGS fell within the Johnson years.
To use the school report clich� of the time, I fear that I
could have done rather better both academically and in respect of
sporting effort such that my pocket A&M hymnbook remains
unendorsed, save for recording my date of entry.
I might have taken more to rugger had they taught us the importance
of aerobics, the object of the game, the distinction between
occupying different positions and how actually to play.
Instead, it was assumed one knew these things already so all
but the future First XV, or seemingly those whom the games masters
liked, became cast into Tamworth Road oblivion!
By way of illustration, perhaps my finest sporting hour came
as a forth-former during a 'flu outbreak when, such were the number
away with the ailment, I was called upon to play for the House.
The embarrassing bit came at the start when, along with
others in my plight, I had to ask where I should stand....
Many good friendships were formed, however and I enjoyed membership
of several societies that mirrored my interests in music and
transport - interests that continue to this day.
Choir: See below.
Christian Union: Interesting films and discussions that led to a
changed life, even though I left before Dave Isgrove came on the
Society: Opportunities to apply and learn new skills or
exchange ideas. Some
very reasonable displays were exhibited at the annual Parents'
Operatic Society: I was a �gentleman of the chorus� in the 1971
Mikado production. The
"girl" lead ("Yum Yum") was played by Bill
Buckley, who made his mark on TV and Radio later.
Orchestra: I played 2nd Bassoon - consumables included double
reeds costing three week's pocket money apiece.
Railway Society: Real BR steam loco sheds to visit and many a fun
story to tell from a different age.
Even some of the trains passing the school featured traction
of sufficient interest to risk getting caught watching and to be
told to run round middle field at the double!
�Frog� Hall, sympathised with the hobby, however, and
appointed a form number-taker for his English periods.
There was even, for a while, a little narrow gauge track at
the school, established mainly for amusement but used initially to
roll chlorine containers to the swimming pool by means of a hand
Tramway and PSV
( i.e. Bus) Society:
Again, today's vintage vehicles were then still new, the
local corporations of Walsall and West Bromwich ran their own
distinctive buses into the town whilst Midland Red designed and
built unique classics in quantity themselves.
Nowadays, new trams operate a metro linking Birmingham and
Most people with whom I remain in touch were met through such
interests and there remain some quality stories still waiting to be
There were distinct advantages of being involved in some of the
above, especially the choir as one sat on the stage behind the Head
during morning assembly. Here,
after the service itself, he would rant on about breaches of
discipline, "audacity and cheek" (as your earlier
correspondent added so classically to the site) or just "sheer,
er, er, VAINderlizerm" (his Estuary twang was accentuated when
emphasising a point). Thus
one could risk a silent snigger or two without hearing the
inevitable "Aind there's a boy over there who thinks it's
funny. Go an' wait
outside my staddy!"
Choir practice at lunchtime also was amusing
as Doc Terry got agitated, either by others pretending to conduct
from the upper corridor ("GEDDOWT, or you�ll all be in The
Jug on Saturday!") or when we sang out of tune.
"Oben yermowvz WIDE", he would shout, quite a feat
as his own lips remained pursed so as not to drop his cigarette.
Orchestra practice provided similar fun.
This took place in the evening and after the stresses of the
day had had more time to reach crescendo.
More than one baton was snapped in frustration, and there are
several of the great works that, even now, bring tears to my eyes
when I try listening to them whilst also remembering the versions
that we used to turn out!
If only my memories about the former teaching staff were matched by
more of that which I was supposed to be remembering of their lesson content.
Having said that, the school provided a most adequate
education, aspects of which I apply almost daily in my IT Management
work for the NHS in North Wales.
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Corrections, Cuttings & other things
( John Myers : firstname.lastname@example.org
Quote from Pictures Section:
"This is certainly an excellent piece apart from an error in the
middle where the publisher made an error saying that Roy Cash was
...more recently the master." .... Master of what ? " In response to
the above, and supplementing my earlier e-mail (copy below) about the
date, I think that the missing word in the above is Careers. Roy took
over as the school's Careers Master after Brian (Chick) Roberts left
at Christmas 1967. Brian himself was a pupil at the school from
1947-1954 and returned to teach Geography in 1961. I hope this helps
as "Woy" certainly still was Careers Master when I left in 1971.
I have the
same cutting as Andrew Strathdee in my collection and,
like his, I fear it has no date remaining upon it. However, I am
pretty certain that it was taken at the end of the 1984/5 Academic
Year as that was when most of those concerned are recorded to have
retired, at least according to the listings within the Kerry Osbourne
history. I say "most of", because only an arrival date of 1943 is
printed for Ron Homer but 1985 is the leaving year provided for each
of the other three. The fact that John Harvey was still headmaster at
the time confirms that it was taken before Mrs. Marie Clarke arrived
on the scene in 1990 (the date of another press cutting I have
concerning that historic appointment). If my suggested year is correct
then either Mr. Homer's starting date or the reference to 47 year's
service, contained within the caption on the press cutting, is out by
5 years. I suspect the newspaper's figure to be the inaccurate one,
Ron Homer was head of the junior section (first and second form) of
the school when I arrived in 1966 and, as part of his duties, led
separate assemblies on most days of the week. These were held in Old
Big School until it closed to become the library, whereupon our
gatherings took place in the new dining room, following its being
commissioned in the summer of 1967. I thought Mr. Homer to be a calm,
likeable and considerate teacher when he took me for English as a
On Mondays, there was an all-school assembly so, for these, the
first two years would occupy the side balconies above Big School.
Proceedings were led either by the Head or his deputy, Mr. Alfie
Dunnett, whose 39 years of service ended when he retired in July 1968.
It was on such occasions when the aforementioned advantages of being
in the choir become most apparent. Tales of woe were meant to be taken
seriously, be they a misfortune attributed to an act of mischief or
reports of a disaster experienced by our various sporting
representatives when the previous Saturday's fixture results were
In linking sport and the retirees in the photograph, a friend of
mine informed me that, during a visit to Edgbaston this summer, he
came across a more recent photograph of Rex Wallbank within the
Warwickshire Cricket Club programme. Thus it appears that he is
spending part of his spare time there in the capacity of a public
address announcer. Additionally, the current OVA News indicates that
Mr. Wallbank now has an e-mail address, (and thus might find your
excellent site before long).
I've found a few more bits and bobs, including a September 1970
all-school photograph and several copies of The Veseyan, each of which
contain interesting stuff on staff arrivals, departures, photos of new
developments and other snippets. Some of these, from the 1966-1971
period, I'll try to scan, and I'm hoping also to track down some form
photos quite soon.
Regarding the 1970 scroll, this photo was taken a second time after
a small group of fairly hairy sixth formers was asked by the
photographer if they'd mind not wearing their sunglasses. The Head and
several of the teaching staff certainly were not amused by this
inconvenience! Also, although he can be seen on the left of the 1948
scroll, I think this was the first such photograph upon which Mr.
Rowley sat with the other staff. As I recall, a place had to be made
available for him at the last moment, meaning all of the prefects on
that side of the shot had to budge up in order for there to be
In those days, of course, such pictures were taken by moving a
tripod-mounted camera through an arc and arranging the subjects in a
matching crescent. Modern lenses and techniques, as used for present
day shots at our local schools, appear to have made this method a
piece of history in itself.
My time at 'Vesey'
( Philip Cunningham :
First of all may I say how much I've enjoyed finding this site, the
stories of teachers I remember have been great to read.
I was at vesey between 1971 and 1977, starting in the short lived
1F with Nick Malden. This class was an attempt to take all of us who'd
done French at junior school and 'fast track' us to fluency. It didn't
work, probably because we already hated French and this put us at a
disadvantage. Back then French seemed to be taught just on the remote
off-chance of finding yourself in France, probably as part of a future
war effort. That we might want to go there and actually speak to
French people seemed remote. In the early seventies a trip to North
Wales seemed a pretty exotic journey to me.
I think for the fist couple of years I was terrified, all these
huge men in cloaks walking around shouting at us and handing out
detentions for not wearing caps, having ties undone, being a bit late
or for no apparent reason whatsoever - wives giving them a hard time
probably. Don Hardy took us for Latin and he scared the bejesus out of
We had the headmaster 'Spock' (no-emotion) Johnson for Chemistry,
"careful boy, I hate the smell of burning flesh"
Art was good fun with the worrying Mr Eudale, I suspect his cry of
'come-hither-worm' was just a warm up for his eventual career as
Emperor of the Federation - if you do remember him, 'Return of the
Jedi' will never be the same again.
I progressed to 2:1 with Rex Wallbank as form teacher. Rex's
lessons were a cross between English Language and Top of the Form, if
you failed to answer a question correctly and the boy behind was
correct you swapped places. Lessons were pretty active with the chance
to rise up to 'Millionaires Alley' or fall to 'skid row'. I'm not sure
what the current thinking on English teaching is but feel sure Rex
would be given a quiet talking to about his methods.
At the end of the 2nd year our art teacher (not Eudale) took a
school trip to the USSR and never returned. He was arrested for either
selling jeans or dodgy currency conversion. I remember mixed feelings
about this as he had given me the slipper after mishandling a mop over
someone else's water-colour. His arrest and detention made the
national news and although he was eventually released he never came
back to Vesey - cant remember his name.
In the 3rd year Freaky Dave Isgrove arrived, staged a bloodless
coup on Topliss's Christian Union and immediately seemed to give
everyone detention. Dave's detentions involved having to spend your
lunch hour at the Christian Union in the hope that we would find
Jesus. I did and became a real creep for a year until I lost Jesus
again, at which point I remember a few of us creeping into the CU room
and reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards with the cross upside-down -
didn't seem to harm us too much, pass the Tannis Root. There were
quite a number of us 'born-agains' who spent a few months feeling
guilty about everything and seeing others that didn't seem guilty, we
tried to convert them too. One of my more guilt ridden friends
(nameless), worried about his masturbation activity asked Freaky about
this was told that even he (Dave) gave in to temptation every six
months or so. Dejectedly, my friend said nothing knowing that he had
trouble not giving in every 6 hours.
Things picked up a bit for me when Doc Camplain (a John Lennon
tribute teacher- see 'Name the Teacher' mug shot) arrived as he did
seem to try encouraging us to learn rather than teaching at us - up
till then I was about last in everything so I'm pretty grateful to Doc
and his approach. His way of getting respect was to throw anyone
misbehaving outside for the lesson until we stopped mucking about then
he was pretty reasonable ("gedout boey" - sounded hugely Cockney at
Piggy Nelson was an experience, his approach with us was to try
humiliation, piggy to disruptive boy "go and stand in the bin, boy",
disruptive boy "in the bin, sir?" piggy "in the bin!" or for a
variation. "shut-up and lie on the floor"
I remember a particular fun activity in the 4-5th year which was to
turn off the mains switch, stick a bit of metal wire between live and
neutral then turn the mains back on with a stick, then run like hell.
This progressed to putting stuffing from an arm chair around the wire
for added specialFX. This was a stupid, activity which I had nothing
to do with and thoroughly condemned (just in case). We (they) also
seemed to have fun making bombs out of weed killer and sugar then
letting them off down the park. It was the first time a chemistry
equation ever seemed interesting. Sometimes, it is amazing that most
boys make it through childhood.
At the end of the fifth year quite a few of our year left to do
other things, and Phil Blick decided that as a farewell gesture, he
was going to 'fly over the pool' and with an attending crowd that
filled the surrounding area. He took a fast run up and, whilst he
flapped his blazer for added lift, he soared across the pool, another
couple of feet and he'd probably have killed himself on the concrete.
Don Hardy arrived, believing Phil had been thrown him took quiet a bit
of persuading that this was Phil own unassisted idea.
The main celebrity for the year was Bill Buckley who after
appearing in several things including 'that's life' is now the
continuity announcer for Channel 5, at least he sounds like Bill to
There's a lot more I could write about my time at Vesey and
although I don't keep up with anyone these days I think it probably
was a good time. Some of the teaching methods seem rather dubious by
today's political correctness, I don't think Hamilton-Jones would get
away with slapping me across the face these days (I was only 12 years
old at the time and about 1/2 his size). Maybe it's age or time that
makes it seem like fun but I think it was for most of the time, or
maybe I'd just forgetting the worst bits.
If anyone remembers me do drop me an email
( Matt Brennan : email@example.com
I thought you might be
interested to know that (although England are doing crap) the guy who
got the 2nd wicket for England in the 5th test (James Ormond) is the
the son of my sixth form chemistry
teacher (still there I think), just a thought you might think
interesting since no-one else from vesey is doing anything special
(except maybe Bradley Haye)
Being shown round the School
(Gary Cater :
I well remember the day I was shown
round the school by a couple of officers.
It was 1975, probaly June I think.
They stopped some lad and gave him a
bollocking for running in the corridor, and then seeing he had red
socks on, made him hand them over leaving him with bare feet in his
I knew from then on that petty rules
were going to feature large for the next few years.
This site has brought back so many
memories but here are a few to start with.
I am surprised to see Miss Etches in the
1973 photo. She gave the impression that a nervous breakdown was
only seconds away from the time I arrived in 1975 to whenever it was
when she left - I am amazed she lasted more than 6 months really,
given the level of control she had on the classroom (nil).
Does anyone remember Janet Cullings a
rather attractive drama teacher in 1975-76 who I think went to live
in Canada? More to the point does anyone have a picture?
A few vignettes:-
Doc Host: "Morris, where's your book?"
John Morris: "It's in my desk sir"
Doc Host: "Well it's no bloody good
there is it?"
Ian Perkins walks into big school with
After the assembly, RJH drily says
"Perkins my office now"
IP duly suspended
Piggy Nelson: "You forget boy, I was in
Whenever it snowed I seem to recall a
huge snowball fight with the college next door. One memorable day
RJH tries to break it up and both sides pelt him (mainly with snow -
but whatever came to hand), then "Don" Hardy appears and without
actually saying anything stops the riot - even the college kids were
frightened of him.
Another "Don" story. We were were
waiting to go into RE in room 10 or 11 and there was a huge amount
of noise and general mucking about, when the corridor starts to go
quiet at one end and gradually falls silent as Don makes his way
down - it was like the parting of the Red Sea.
Another RE story was in that attic room
where Rio used to give his lessons. It was our form room at the
time and some lads got out onto the roof through the window at
break. Then Rio starts his lesson without noticing that there is
anyone missing (the window was shut). Cue downpour and then after
much amusement there is a tap at the window and a couple of very wet
guys enter the room - needless to say Rio did not see the funny side
In the same room I seem to recall the
freshly painted ceiling with boot marks all over it and no-one could
work out how Andy Malloch (I think) had done it.
Anyway enough ramblings for now.
(Dom Parker :
There are so many stories I could tell
but how about this for a starter.
I am not sure when it was created but
many of you will remember the �Raybould Room�, basically a sixth form
Well, every year, towards the end of
term I think, parents would come round the school with their young
sons who were doubtless about to sit the exam to try and get in.
During this tour they would be shown the Raybould room, but only in so
much as they were able to look through the glass at the top of the
door to see us all inside.
I think we were in the upper 6th
at the time but when the parents came round we thought we would try
and set a good example and make the parents aware of what they were
letting their sons in for. As the parents approached about 8 of us sat
on chairs in front of the door and then another 8 sat on their laps
and proceeded to kiss and grope each other (graphically) and start
taking each other clothes off !
As the youngsters we a little too short
to see through the window one unsuspecting parent lifted their son up
to look in. Dave Ward, who was sitting on my lap at the time saw the
boy, pointed at him and shouted �He�s mine, I want him�. The look of
terror on the young lads face was priceless and left my crying my eyes
Later that same day as I recall,
someone brought in a picture of the Rugby first 11 from the �Sutton
News�. One of us who shall be nameless thought they would test their
artistic skills and drew massive appendages on each of the players.
The picture was then pushed under the door of Don Hardy�s office.
The next day at assembly �Big John�
produced the photo and, going purple as he spoke, said �This is
totally bestial behavior from parasitical perverts leaching off the
reputation of the school�. Classic statement John.
Is there anyone who remembers the
�R.S.O.G.T.R� or better known as the Royal Society of Gas Tap
Removers. The task was the unscrew the gas tap and actually remove it
(que hissing gas) during a lesson. The job was then to get the tap
back on before being caught (not easy when everyone around you is
pushing you and waving their hands over the gas tap to stop you).
Inevitably membership of the RSOGTR started with being ejected from
Possible contact for Old Boys from 1914 !
(By the editor) : I recently noticed the following message while
looking through the message board on the site:
Thought I'd try to beat the duck on really old boys! My father,
George Edward Norton, has just celebrated his 90th birthday. He was a
Veseyan from 1922-29 and won caps (glorious black velvet with gold
tassels in those days!) for his rugby heroics. He was an active Old
Veseyan well into his retirement and played rugby for the Old Boys
into his forties. He was also a member of the Old Veseyans Masonic
Sadly, I think he is the last of his 'class' to survive but is
still moderately hale and hearty and living in North Wales.
As a teenager of the early/mid-60s I have very happy memories of
dances in Big School - especially the one when the roof caught fire
and we all had to zoom out PDQ. I went to John Willmott GS.
Mary-Ann Bloomfield (nee Norton), now in Devon.
PS. Vesey boys were always the best lookers.
Knowing that we had a registration from a gentleman from around the
same time I sent the following e-mail :
Dear Mary, I noticed your message on the site today : I thought you
may be (very) interested to know that we DO have a member from your
father�s year at school (I think). The gentleman I am referring to is
Eric James Mitchell who was born in 1910 and now lives with his
daughter in South Australia. I estimate that he is now 91 years old so
he may well be in the same year or one year ahead of you father. I
would be so interested to know if you father knows him, please do tell
me. Eric�s details are listed on the site at
http://www.bishopvesey.co.uk (just go to the �search� page and
click on �1910�) Many thanks for leaving your comments on the site;
your contribution is much appreciated. Kind regards, Dominic Parker
Shortly afterwards I received the following reply :
Dear Dominic, Thanks for your message. I have now
been in touch with my father - who was always known as Jock Norton
(he's Scottish) - and he recalls Eric Mitchell. In fact, he thinks
they were in the same class. Other names remembered from those glory
days are John Slater (became one of Sutton's biggest estate agents -
Slater Dann), Doug Sims (late pharmacist; his widow lives in Torquay
or Paignton, I think) and Stuart Browning (who was a tad younger
than my father). They were all great supporters of the Old Boys and
my father, certainly, turned out for rugby for many years, as well
as mixed hockey. I understand he was an utter tyrant at both and,
though not of huge stature, was known as a fearsome rugby full-back.
It must have been that stubborn Celtic blood! He was also a member
of the Old Veseyan Masonic Lodge in Sutton. My father, despite some
illnesses of age, still gets around in North Wales and way beyond,
regularly taking foreign holidays with his wife Joan. His first wife
was Olive Norton (nee Claydon), who came from a very old Sutton
family. She was a writer and for many years her column was in the
Sutton Coldfield News and other regional newspapers. She turned to
writing and, as Kate Norway, Bess Norton and Hilary Neal, wrote
novels prolifically right up until her death in 1973, at the
comparatively early age of 60. She and my father first encountered
each other when his family moved to Sutton from Scotland when he was
a wee kilted primary school boy. She recalled that her first sight
of him was a flurry of fists and feet fighting his way up from the
bottom of a pile in a playground rumble! Hope this is of interest.
If you get any responses that may be of interest to my father,
please pass them on so I can tell him. Regards, Mary-Ann Bloomfield
With this reply I fired off a message to Eric via his son in
Australia. I have recently received the following reply from Mary-Ann
I have already heard from Eric Mitchell's son in
Australia and it will be interesting to see what transpires!
It is great to think that bishopvesey.co.uk may have been able to
establish contact between Old Boys after such a long time.
Details: George (Jock) Edward Norton, born October
3, 1911. Left Bishop Vesey after matriculation. Former member Old
June 2002 : It is with great sadness that we must advise
that George (Jock) Edward Norton has recently passed away at his home
in Wales. firstname.lastname@example.org
(Nicholas Yapp : )
A visit to your "name the masters"
photo section and the sight of this lady french teacher prompted a
memory of some grafitti on the wall of one of the french classrooms.
"Meez Etches physicallee eez not so good"
You'll get no argument from me!
(Steve Maynard :
Have known this old buggar for probably 10 years and met him again
last week in a drinking hole near me.Does anybody admit to knowing
this old bastard ? Details as follows ;
Mr. S. M. Willmott, Age 72, First year at Vesey 1930 !!
Better known to his friends as Don Willmott
(Steve Bradley :
Bishop Vesey's Grammar School
headteacher Marie Clarke will retire at the end of the year, happy in
the knowledge that she has engineered a quiet revolution in her time
Mrs Clarke steps down at the
age of 55 to make way for new head David Iddon - but is proud of her
achievements since taking over in January 1989.
The affable former King
Edwards Camp Hill Girls' deputy head, a Brummie by birth, has made
Vesey a friendlier place in that time, softening its hard edges and
making pupils and parents feel more comfortable in the environment.
Change started as soon as she
succeeded the long-serving John Harvey to become the school's first
Pictures were bought to adorn
the school's bare, forbidding walls and, piece by piece, much of the
teaching accommodation was rebuilt. A new art and design centre,
library, and sports hall have been constructed, the sports pavilion
has been considerably refurbished, the music accommodation has been
remodelled and moved, and the sixth form common room has been
The makeover didn't stop
there. The new subject of Personal & Social Education was introduced
immediately, tellingly not as an extra GCSE, but for pupils'
well-being in a world in which she judged as all-important the ability
to forge relationships of all kinds.
Information & Communication
Technology and A Level Computing were brought onto the curriculum,
where the school had previously remained steadfastly traditionalist
Astonishingly, when Mrs Clarke
came to the school, there were no word processors and no photocopier
in the school office, and secretaries were still using carbon paper to
Law and psychology have also
been added at the request of A Level students - furthering the
An OFSTED report, published
following an inspection last September, has paid tribute to the strong
relationships between staff and pupils, to the respect youngsters have
for one another, and for their cheerful and purposeful nature.
Mrs Clarke is in the middle of
a painstaking interview process in which she will meet in turn all 124
new pupils, due to join the school in September, plus their parents.
In days gone by, the school
would simply invite parents to a collective question and answer
session, and the youngsters would not get to join in at all.
She is a real "people person"
who has managed to thaw Vesey's frosty image, to the extent that past
pupils from her time are welcomed as visitors even when they drop in
"When people say it's very
relaxed, friendly and welcoming here, that makes me really pleased
because that's how we've wanted it to be," she said.
"The growth in subjects like
art and music has been amazing. Our art was very poor, and our boys
didn't do it for very long. Now we've got large groups at GCSE and A
Level, and the same is true of music.
"They get to do both subjects
for three years, whereas before, they could drop them after just a
Another Clarke innovation was
the abolition of the streaming process in which pupils were split into
"mains" and "specials".
"People felt they weren't as
good as anybody else, which simply doesn't make that much sense in
this type of school," she said.
"My philosophy is more about
looking at youngsters' strengths and weaknesses as individuals. Until
1992, when we started taking pupils in at age 11, that was something
we had to do quite quickly.
"We've now got that much more
time to get the measure of a youngster's learning potential and to try
to fulfil it."
Results have matched the
impressive initiatives. In 1997, Vesey was named as one of the 100
most improved schools in the country and in ten years up to 1999, the
average GCSE points score per pupil had risen from 47 to nearly 60.
But Mrs Clarke said the
school, which now provides work experience time for Year 10 pupils,
was far from an exam factory.
"The most important thing you
learn in your life isn't a subject on the curriculum. It is how to
make relationships with people and how to work with other people.
"That's what we teach in
Personal & Social Education - how to handle feelings and how to work
with others who are different from yourselves."
She paid tribute to her
"tremendously well-qualified and enthusiastic staff", who had seen the
changes through in what had been a difficult era for grammar schools.
"We had this possibility of a campaign against
grammar schools and ourselves and Sutton Girls' School put together an
action group. We were ready to respond to any possible threat, and
indeed we still are.
It was in 1977 I think that Ron Homer stood in front of lower
school assembly and congratulated an unlikely group of pupils for
collecting some money for charity. He did not know the origin of this
money, and it was clear that he was not happy in his (Piggy)
The origin of the dosh, at a princely sum of 2p per copy, was the
Vesey Carol book (can�t remember the proper title). Does anyone still
have a copy of this precious work of parody? It was put together (I
think) by Dick Mundye, Archie Stagg, Col Zetie and one or two others,
and the carols were all traditional tunes with Veseyfied words. I
can�t recall most of them, but a few lines still come to mind:
To the tune of �O Come all ye faithful�
O come, all ye smokers,
Suffering from cancer
O come ye, o come ye,
Down for a fag.
Come and smoke your filters and your king size
O let me have a drag,
O let me have a drag,
O let me have a drag,
You are me mate.
Go and get stuffed,
You scrounging little spastic,
Leave us alone,
And let us drag in peace��..
To the tune of �God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen�
God rest ye merry Vesey men
Let nothing you dismay
The snowball fight with the college
The highlight of the day��
(it then proceeded to detail this annual event, finishing with�)
And so the battle ended The college they had lost But even though we�d
beaten them It was at a high cost For Don had seen the battle fought
And his path we had crossed But we�d all gone and killed those college
prats (those college prats) Yes we�d all gone and killed those college
Can anyone remember any more of this seminal masterpiece? Is the
world ready yet for this work, so very far ahead of its time 25 years
ago? Does anyone really care?
Once every Wednesday would come another day of torment. I would go to
the games session at Windley Swimming Pool, dreaming of what lay
beyond this earth, the stars, planets, moons and space dust. Oh I had
I got there I would Slip into my retro swimming costume and slip
gratuitously into the wet wet water, under the gaze of many boys. On
this particular occasion I hadn't correctly fastened the buckles on my
leather swimming apparel and the inevitable had finally happened! I
was so embarrassed, the back slipped down and it was very very meager
for me to be looking like this in front of all those admiring boys
glances, I'm sure I saw their shorts become tented. With such grace I
rose out of the erotic scene and retired to the changing rooms,
through the small foot pool. Reclusive glances were given as I did so,
I exchanged them for sultry pouts.
(Chris Wood : email@example.com
few memories of BVGS 1952-1960 Can you get
this checked by a lawyer?
Please correct any obvious mistakes (e.g. name spelling).
1. Who was the very bald music teacher? We called him "Baldy", until
we found out that the real "Baldy" was the French teacher of similar
appearance, deputy head (Bridges).
2. Hardy was the stern Latin teacher with a bristling moustache. He
used to throw board-dusters at boys who talked or fell asleep.
3. "Thug" Wallace (geography) did too, but otherwise did not fit his
nickname. 4. On the other hand, I remember the small "Dinky"
vigorously slapping the face of Flavell (?), a boy much bigger than
5. We had a new headmaster Geoff (Black Pig) Cross. The nickname was
pretty silly, but indicated a certain unpopularity. He was very
religious, and contributed to my becoming an atheist. His education,
especially regarding science, seemed to have finished about 1000AD. He
lacked humour and warmth. He was mad about scouting. (The less popular
head-boys were all keen scouts). But he did organise a swimming pool
and tennis courts, on a self-help basis. And the school was OK
in his time. I was not one of those who tried to start rumours that
Geoff "slept" with his whippet, nor did I paint slogans to this
effect on some school buildings, but I knew some of the culprits. One
boy put a firework through Cross' letterbox (really stupid). Another
organised things like a lorry-load of manure on his path (until the
police caught him). Geoff depreed me for a childish joke in
connection with "mock" A-levels. I was na�ve enough to believe that
these were just unimportant practice. This was propaganda spread for
the sake of the nervous. But ceasing to be a prefect just freed me
from responsibilities that I never liked. 6. Rex Wallbank (sport) was
new at the time, not always friendly, but really very good. BVGS
already had a reputation for sport. Derrick Robbins had recently
captained England at rugby, and John Young won the AAA 100 yards. But
still Rex had a lot to do with my love of sport, which has kept me
from taking other things too seriously. Past
60, I still ski, and play squash, tennis, chess, etc. 7. Ron Homer
(English) was a nice man. After I captained the second XV, at a ripe
age, he told me he was surprised that I did not do it badly.
8. I never had Piggy Nelson (German), nor was I good at languages, so
why do I live in Munich? 9. ? Terry (music) was also heavily involved
in Gilbert and Sullivan, which was good. He had worked as a musician
on ocean liners. He ran the fencing club. 10. Bean Jackson (maths,
another silly nickname) did a lot for sport, and was a nice guy, when
one knew him. He earned my respect when he got me to help with another
boy's problem "because I understood it better than he (Jackson)".
Garry Hargreaves (first XV) was depreed for using the opportunity to
thump Jackson during a rugby game. I then asked the head-boy Phil
Malim if I could still use the prefects common room, in case I was
depreed. He said yes, and kept his word, after it happened. 11 Glimp
Daniels (maths), liked the ladies and was a very good mathematician.
He consciously organised his own harmless nickname. He never issued a
punishment, even when Roy Smith threw a dart that nearly pinned his
hand to the blackboard. Roy was school tennis champion. He had good
ideas. I remember a rugby match where Jeff Davis, the school rugby
captain, dived for the line with ball in outstretched hands, and Roy
kicked the ball out of his hands into touch.
12 Udale (woodwork) was stern and pretty deaf. While demonstrating
something, he remarked that his chisel was too blunt. Roy (aged 11 or
12) said in a loud but normal voice "bad workmen blame their tools".
We never knew whether Udale heard. 13 After Taffy Jones (biology)
(enough said elsewhere) nobody else seems eccentric enough to deserve
14. O yes, there was a Polish Dr. (physics) with bad breath. Perhaps
the Germans had been nasty to him in the war. He used to say "Talking
means walking....to detention". David Dunning and I let off small
quantities of home-made gunpowder during his classes, but he could not
find an appropriate rhyme.
Thanks to them all, and to my school friends. I enjoyed school enough
to stay till the end of the school year, after getting a place at
Emmanuel Cambridge. There again I had a wonderful time, at least for
the last 4 of my 5 years. But sometimes I wonder whether there was
much sense in all I learnt. Others with worse results have made much
more of a mark in the world. Now I would like to contact Roy Smith,
Colin Baker, Des Harris, Chris Webb, members of our chess team that
came third in the national competition, and Keith Embry and Mac Grant,
also chess players. (Frank Wood and Roger Impett also played in the
remember putting up tents for the boy scout Jamboree in Sutton Park. I
was surprised to be told to put them up where the grass was a type
that grows where the ground gets very wet. Sure enough, it poured with
rain and the tents were flooded. Scouts had to sleep in the town hall.
Regards, Chris Wood
(Anon : Name not supplied but we liked this so much we
decided to publish anyway :))
Well, we were about 15, so we did what any other boys of that age
would do - we "compared" - you know? So M was leaning out of the top
bunk doing the official comparison (I seem to remember I won on length
but R won on circumference - but I could be wrong). Anyhow - M fell
off the bunk, performing a somersault and landing on his back against
the metal edge of the bed. He yells, we giggle like schoolgirls under
the covers, and Nick Maulden (HCDC) bursts in - silence falls. I think
he tutted, and left.
Ahhh- happy days!
Neil Smith (
Just a couple of memory joggers for any of you that were on these
trips between 1975 and 1979.
Switzerland (can't remember the year)
Somewhere I have a photo of a bunch of us on the Switzerland trip with
a group of Japanese tourists (all girls naturally!) who (whom? who
cares) we had convinced we were 18 or so for various pecuniary
reasons. It was probably somewhere cultural, and the bear pits in
Berne spring to mind but I could be wrong. Anyway, totally unrelated
but also on the same trip we discovered "Slime". I think half the
trip bought a tub - great stuff, almost made you feel like paying
attention in Chemistry.
Now anyone who was on this trip could not forget this. Descending
from the summit we went in for a bit of scree running, which is a
great way of getting downhill rapidly. Unfortunately one of our
group, I think it was a lad called Patrick (Downes / Downey?)thought
he could do it quicker than the rest of us and raced straight
downhill, only to overbalance and bounce, landing several times on his
face, to the bottom of the slope. Screams to fill our darkest hours
for several weeks ensued, we all thought Paddy had been blinded and he
ended up being airlifted out by RAF helicopter (lucky git). He
returned to school several weeks later with some really cool facial
scarring. Way to go Paddy!
Who can remember someone (for arguments sake lets call him Ian Weston)
landing one on Nick Partridge in the dinner queue - I think he cracked
Nick's cheekbone and ended up being suspended.
And finally, Roger Thom where are you? From what I remember Roger you
used to look like the tall skinny one in the Bash Street Gang - you
gained my respect when Rex Wallbank introduced us to the noble art of
boxing and you laid me out flat in about 10 seconds with a smack in
the solar plexus - you were the great white
hope of British boxing - where did it all go wrong Roger?