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1930's and before



Bob Pendleton made an unsuccessful search in the school magazine for Arthur C. Clarke's 'first published work, 1933', being faced with the problem of identifying authors who habitually hid behind
noms de plume. While looking for something else, he then found that the ingenious sixth form editors of the 1967 Magazine had not only penetrated the author's disguise but also secured an 'Introduction' for a re-print of a piece originally dated 1934.

It is a somewhat disconcerting experience to a struggling young author like myself to be confronted by something he wrote no less than 33 years ago. When the editors disinterred it, I read this piece with much trepidation but am relieved to find that it is at least fairly literate. This introduction has been blackmailed out of me by the threat of reprinting other juvenilia which I had thought safely buried.

I don't know if the Technical Institute still exists, or whether it is still used for the nefarious purposes described in this travelogue. But I certainly spent many happy hours there, and my most vivid memory is of the time when I constructed a light-beam transmitter out of a bicycle torch, a carbon microphone and a photocell amplifier. I can still remember the eye-wrenching way the light-beam blinked when I put a metronome in front of the microphone, and picked up the sound a few yards away in an adjoining room. Of course, there was nothing original about this, but it is interesting to note that transmission of information over light-beams is now coming very much to the fore in space communications.

I also seem to remember, dimly, a fight on the Technical Institute's stairs using charged Leyden jars as weapons. This seems a little improbable; perhaps I made it up 'in some other article .
I would like to take this opportunity of paying a tribute to the "potentate" mentioned in the first paragraph - Captain E. B. Mitford. It was "Mittie" who stimulated my interest in writing. and edited all my early work. This year, rather belatedly, I have dedicated my latest collection of short stories, "The Nine Billion Names of God", to him.


Having lived in luxurious idleness for some time, I was in hopes that the Editor had forgotten my existence. Alas, I was mistaken, for one day that potentate asked me, in a voice fraught with hidden meaning, when I had last contributed anything to the Magazine. I took the hint, and left hastily in search of "copy".

First I tried in the Lab, in the hope that I might be able to interview one of its strange denizens. Unfortunately, an accident with the prize Kipp's had made this part of the school unapproachable to one trained to the beauties of the English language. I retraced my footsteps, and inspected the other form rooms one by one, but the rows of frozen faces they represented did not appeal to me.
In despair, I was wandering disconsolately back and forth, when I saw some youths emerge from the school and travel swiftly in a westerly direction. On making enquiries I found that they were bound to the "Tech". This suggested tooth-brushes to me, but, as I had nothing better to do, I followed them.

We walked for a considerable distance through the streets, until we arrived at a rather unimposing edifice labelled "Technical Institute", which we entered. I found myself in a large room. filled with strange instruments and incomprehensible machinery. at whose functions I could not guess.
The place was filled with the roar of many voices, an.d the shrill "keening" of violated dynamos. From various brass knobs, continuous streams of sparks nipped and crackled, while every so often one was dazzled by crazily swinging beams of light from the mirrors of tormented galvanometers. And ever and anon came the sound of splintering glass, mingled with cries of pain and anguish.
Into this maelstrom of general upheaval I was thrust headlong. Recovering from the first shock, I sought a safe refuge from which I could survey the uproar without exposing myself to overmuch physical danger. Such a place I found behind a long bench which ran parallel to the wall and a few feet from it. I took up my position behind this bench, against which the mob hurled itself in vain, like the breakers of an angry sea.

I first perceived a group of youths gathered round a strange apparatus of spinning discs, kept in motion by the vigorous exertions of a gentleman cranking a handle. This apparatus was fitted with two brass knobs between which portly sparks oscillated merrily, each spark being greeted with "ohs" and "ahs" of admiration from the onlookers. This machine worship was however abruptly terminated, for a particularly fat and healthy spark missed its target, and hurled itself, like a thunderbolt, into th'e face of an unfortunate watcher who was too near the machine for safety.

I watched the life-saving activites of the survivors for some time, until another table caught my eye. An interesting competition was in progress around one of the D'Arsonval galvanometers. The aim of the competitors was to see who could make the mirror swing through the widest angle, and it seemed that a gentleman who had cornered all the accumulators was likely to win. A suitable resistance was of course inserted in the circuit to prevent the unfortunate instrument from utter and instananeous extinction.

The gentleman with the accumulators, who achieved a mere 1200, was far surpassed by an ingenious youth who used the dynamo for his purpose, and thus spun the mirror (as far as could be accurately determined) through some 30,0000 before the coils volatilised.

No less intriguing were the antics of the other persons who were playing with an elaborate switch board. One young gentleman was opening and closing a switch with some rapidity, forcing an electric motor to start and stop violently. This treatment caused the outraged motor to emit most interesting noises. Presently however, with much sizzling and smoking, it adopted a policy of passive resistance, and its torturers were forced to desist.

It is strange how small causes can produce great effects. Just one footstep - ponderous, no doubt, but infinitesimal compared with the cataract of noise echoing through the building - put a stop to all this blissful bedlam.

There entered a venerable gentleman whom I at once recognised as our noble Head; accordingly, I ducked behind my bench, but not before I had observed the metamorphosis which had taken place in the assembly.

Those who had so lately and so violently disported themselves, were now engaged in tabulating rows of figures, and reading mysterious scales and dials. The Head gazed round the room, apparently saw no signs of damage (they were well concealed), and marched out again.
I followed his example, and as I left the building I heard the tumult gradually regaining strength behind me......

Autumn Term 1934


I was a scholarship boy in 1935. With others I was placed in Form 2b. Our Form Master was Mr. S E Sidwell who taught Mathematics. Other masters I remember were Messrs. Wickenden (History), Mitford (English), Hayes (Biology), Dickinson (Geography) and of course the "legendary" "Ginger" Rutt (Chemistry)

Unfortunately I can only recall the names of a few of my classmates: Burrows, Burston, Calloway, Denslow, Garraway, Hooper, Hurcombe and Pratt.

I did "war service" in the Royal Navy and then went into the Teaching profession. I ended up lecturing in Education at Teacher Training colleges. I was a member of HOBA (London Branch) for some years, in the late1940s/50s, but moved away from the area and now live near Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Reminiscences of Huish School

Former pupil Frederick Ernest Grummitt wrote to the former website, as follows:

This news concerns myself, as I am probably the oldest "old Boy". I was sent to Huish's School when I was 9 years old.
That was in 1927. I was a boarder and attended the Lower School for a time until I was eleven. This was in the same school grounds, but was just a long wooden hut. Outside the hut were 2 old army cannons.

Mr. Arnold Goodliffe was our Headmaster. His wife attended to the needs of the boarders, who could not have been more than about 10 in number at that time. I have a school photograph, which includes all the boys & masters at that time It was taken in January 1929 and includes Mr. Goodliffe himself. I doubt if many of the boys in that photo are alive today. I left the school in 1932.

My stepfather was a doctor in Churchinford, His name was Archibald Louis George. He married my mother who was a nurse in Upottery. Her name was Ellen Grummitt; I was called Ernest in those days, but that was my second Christian name. My first name was Frederick which I chose to use when I was 18 years old. There is much more I could tell, but I await the pleasure of hearing from someone who is really interested. I was a member of the HOBA association, but lost contact after serving in the army during World War 2.

In a later email from Fred, he wrote:

Thanks for your message and the picture of the hut. My pals & I spent a lot of our "break" time crawling under it to retrieve balls. The gun barrels were always full of litter. I remember the scout hut and the bicycle shed and the gymnasium with the caretakers small shop selling bottles of lemonade which had a glass marble stopper incorporated in it, most of my pocket money went on buying tuck there. There was an ex army sergeant, with a typical army moustache, waxed at both ends who used to be in charge of the gym. Any boys who had differences to settle were encouraged to put on the boxing gloves and get them sorted.

Some of the masters names were Mr. Rutt (Chemistry), Mr. Wickenden (history), Mr. Illingworth (geography) who played rugby for Taunton. Also Tommy Tate (drawing & woodwork) master. The workshop was close to the Gym. Also a Mr. Burton who taught Latin.

Mr. Goodliffe owned a belt driven Trojan car which had solid tyres. He took us boarders out in it to the Quantock Hills occasionally. Once a term we were all treated to a visit to the cinema, I remember seeing the original Ben Hur & The taming of the Shrew, Both films starred Douglas Fairbanks (senior).

We don't normally load obituaries, but RICHARD HOLMAN (PETER) MAY was known to all of us, I am sure.

Peter May died aged 94 on 19th December 2013 at Beauchamp House Nursing Home after a short illness.

His funeral is on Thursday 23rd January at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Church Square, Taunton at 2pm, followed by a private burial at Taunton Deane Cemetery. Donations in lieu of flowers for St Mary Magdalene Church Fabric Fund or Cancer Research should be sent to E White and Son, 138/9 East Reach Taunton TA1 3HN.

Peter (christened Richard but always called Peter by his parents) was born in Marshfield nr Cardiff on 28th March 1919. The family moved to Taunton when Peter was 2, where he was educated at Weirfield Prep School and then Huish's Grammar School. He left school at 15, going to London, as a trainee at Sainsburys' (at 50p per week). He then moved back to Taunton to work as a clerk for Clarke Wilmott & Clarke.

In 1938 Peter joined the Civil Air Guard at Weston-super-Mare so he could learn to fly - 2/6 per hour! In 1939, Peter volunteered for service in the RAF - although he was too young - and was accepted, going solo after only 8 hours instruction. In August 1940 he moved to training on night flying. On the first night, by 9pm, one trainee pilot had already crashed and been killed when Peter was sent off. As he completed his solo circuit, the landing lights were turned off because of a bombing raid and he had to circle around until they came on again. He gained his wings and moved to Chester for Spitfire training. After 10 hours of solo flying and just after the Battle of Britain, he was posted to 74 Tiger Squadron at Biggin Hill. Of the 6 other pilots posted with him, only 1 survived. He finished the war as a night flying instructor at Tangmere and trained hundreds of pilots.

Returning to civilian life, he nevertheless joined the Volunteer Reserve and completed another 200 hours of flying. In 1942, like his father, he joined a Taunton Masonic Lodge (he flew down to Culmhead and hitched a ride to Taunton for the inauguration ceremony), becoming Worshipful Master of the Lodge of St George in 1952 and was appointed a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2002 on completion of 60 years' service.

In 1952 he married June Brookman at St George's Church, Taunton. In 1960 they celebrated the birth of their only child Judith. and Peter became General Manager for North Central Wagon and Finance. In 1963, Peter became a Councillor for Taunton Borough Council and became a Councillor for the new Taunton Deane Borough Council in 1974, being made Mayor of Taunton Deane in 1976.

In 1984, Peter retired: he and June spent their retirement cruising in the Mediterranean and Scandinavia. June died in 1999 and Peter lived independently, still driving his Jaguar until a few weeks before he became ill and moved to a nursing home.

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