OLD HUISH ASSOCIATION

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1940's

MEMORIES

ERIC SAFFIN, 1939 - 1944

I was allocated to Form 2B and would be domiciled in the lower of the two wooden huts in the top playground. We collected our books when we filed though a line of piles of books with senior boys giving each new boy a book as he passed along. To me the number of books seemed enormous. We had a text book and an exercise book for each subject where lessons were written up and homework completed. We also had something entirely new to me - a scribbler. This was a large thick book of writing paper in which we had to rapidly make notes during lessons that we would later transfer into our exercise books. The exercise books were red and on the front, as well as a place to enter one's name and form, they bore the imposing title "Huish's Grammar School" with the Huish Coat of Arms and the motto "Spe Certa Quid Melius"

We also discovered where the homes of classmates were. They came from a wide area. We had one boy come from Burnham on Sea by train every day; one from Thorney out on the Somerset levels; several from Langport; one from Bathealton, two from Wiveliscombe and one from Burlescombe.

In our Form Room in the Huts our Form Master, Mr Hodgson allocated desks to us and then, most amazingly to us newcomers, explained that we would find hasps, which a previous occupier of the desk had attached, on each desk and that we should obtain a padlock that would lock our desks whilst we were away from them.

I found myself sitting next to a boy who had previously been in the Junior School and he was already wise to this and had his lock ready and rapidly fastened it. Mr Hodgson read out our timetable of lessons and we made our first entry in our Scribbler as we copied it laboriously. Our speed of getting things on paper would dramatically improve in the next few days as we tried to keep up with all the things we had to write; we also communally invented a sort of shorthand to help improve things still further.



Class of '47 - the 1997 reunion

Pat Bird's '50 Years On' reunion occupied his and Bob's thoughts for some six months and below are the articles and entries which describe the main events in their search for the 'missing' members.

PAT BIRD. Pat, who was in every sense the founder of this group, died in October 2001. We received the following note from his brother in law as we were planning our 'table' for the 2001 OHA Dinner:


Hi Bob, My name is Rob and I'm Mary's brother. I'm so sorry to have to inform you that Patrick died suddenly on Saturday 6th October at his home in Alveston. He had a heart attack that took him instantly. Mary is coping as well as one can with her grief. Mary's son David and myself are monitoring Patrick's mail and answering where appropriate.
Regards, Rob

________________________________________
In the event, 16 of the original 64 made it to the Dinner, leaving about 15 traced but not present, three believed to be deceased and the remainder untraced. No doubt the search for them will continue as long as any clues can be found. We heard at the dinner that Dave Hatherley is in Canada, but searches of on-line phonebooks and e-mail directories have not yet revealed his whereabouts.

DAVID HATHERLY With much sadness, we heard that David died in Ontario on 13th May 1998. He was without doubt the brightest of our year and as the above note suggests, we were particularly keen to trace him for our reunion last year. The following notice was e-mailed by Peter Coleman who notes that David lived quite close to him and yet he never knew.


Class of '47 - 2P - Polley
Adams, J.E.G.dec'd
Beck, C.A. dec'd
Brice, B.
Carslake, D.W.J.
Cobb, B.H.F.
Davies, A.J.
Dawe, M.J.
Hodges, D.C.
Knowles, W.T.J.
Newport, P.J.H.
Paul, J.E.
Ponting, M.A.
Priddle, E.E.
Richards, C.
Shepherd, T.J.
Sinclair, I.
Taylor, P.L.
Ward, A.W.
Webber, G.W.
Wilkins, D.J.

CLASS OF '47 - 2B - Branton
Bird, P.J. dec'd 6.10.01
Butler, E.D.
Bye, G.P.
Coleman, P
Collins, T.R.J.
Dally, E.J.
Ford, R.A.
Ham, J.
Hatherly, D.G. dec'd 13.05.98
Holcombe, D.E.
Irwin, V.C.R.
Knight, C.J.
Marney, P.E.
Mogg, G.E.W.
Pendleton, R.C.H.
Peterson, J.
Rawlins, C.C.
Reed, J.W.
Smith, B.A.
Snell, B.K.
Taylor, J.K.
Wallis, J

Class of '47 - 2H - Hepworth
Amor, R.E.F.
Banks, R.L.
Broderick, J.E.
Court, G.W.
Dawe, D.G.
Goss, T.H. dec'd 12.04.98
Howard, J.V.
Jones, R.G.
Keitch, T.E.F.
King, K.J.
Lee, B.K.
Marks, R.D.G.
Millard, L.W.J.
Mockridge, D.G.
Moody, R.K.
Palk, C.W. dec'd
Parr, E.A.
Parrish, D.
Pincombe, I.
Shattock, D.J.
South, M.E.
Toller, W.

Reminiscences of Huish School by William Serjeant

With some foresight, my father enrolled me in Huish Junior School, prior to the 1944 Education Act. Thus, a place was practically guaranteed for me in the Upper School. I was among the first bunch to take the 11-plus for entirely free schooling, which was my privilege until December 1950. At that time, "Ginger" Rutt, who was the Deputy Head, convinced me I was totally unsuitable for a career in the Civil Service and for that reason, continuing to the sixth form would not be beneficial. He suggested I should develop my artistic skills; likewise Mr Desa, the art teacher, tried to persuade me to accept an apprenticeship as a cartographic draughtsman for the Admiralty. Instead, I took the advice of my father to gain qualifications at the Somerset College of Art, which would allow me to train as an art teacher.

My time at Huish Junior School was shared: firstly, in a classroom in the upper chambers of an old chapel, which was situated across the road from the Silver Street entrance, and secondly, in a classroom accessed from a narrow lane by the east wall of the main playground.

The most formative teacher at that time was Miss Hobbs. She taught copperplate handwriting to her class of thirty-five pupils. We used pens with brass nibs, which were dipped into inkwells. Our solid oak desks accommodated two pupils who shared a long seat that was held in place by cast iron frames.

In addition to handwriting, Miss Hobbs taught a variety of subjects, including elementary mathematics and poetry, both of which I found difficult, since I could not, at that time, master the process of rote learning.


I remember striking up a friendship with a boy named Dunlop, whose father owned the prestigious garage, which sold Rolls Royce cars. There was another friend, with the name of Purchase, who owned the most attractive fountain pen, which I coveted and shamefully stole! It's strange how one remembers such things, sometimes with a real tinge of guilt. I also recollect occasions of apparent injustices, such as when Mrs Rutt confiscated my mouth organ, because I was playing it while walking along the corridor. In view of my remonstrations, she guaranteed I could have it back at the end of term, but when I tried to reclaim it, I was told it could not be found. At the end of every term there was a Dutch auction of unclaimed lost property. Therefore, I hoped that my mouth organ may have inadvertently been placed among the articles for sale, but that was not the case.

During those war years of 1944/45, all pupils were required to carry gas masks, in addition to their satchels. There was a very real fear that mustard gas would be used on civilians. Teachers often did night shifts as voluntary Fire Wardens, but they were expected to teach the following day, despite their tiredness.

There were food shortages, but more often than not there was sufficient to eat. School dinners were famous because of their dessert, commonly referred to as "frogs' spawn". This was actually sago. Baked beans, mashed potato and fried powdered egg constituted my favourite menu. To supplement our diet each day, we received a free miniature bottle of milk. On cold winter mornings we delighted to warm them on the anthracite stoves used to heat large metal radiators in the wooden huts, which served as our classrooms.


Pupils did not move around the school a great deal, except to attend specialist instruction in the physics or chemistry laboratory, the gymnasium or the art room. Most teaching took place in one's own classroom for subjects such as English language, English literature, French, Latin, history, geography and mathematics. A select few were able to study woodwork in a well-equipped workshop. In the lower school, most pupils came under the direction of "Froggy" Trevett, who did all he could to encourage their appreciation of fine music by listening to his accomplished playing of the piano and by enthusing them to sing in harmony, which seldom happened.


There was a very active Drama Club that performed several Shakespearean plays. I designed and painted scenery and was responsible for the sound effects. In addition to these things I acted as a prompter to help those who couldn't remember their words. Not being an extrovert, standing on a stage before an audience was a fate worse than death for me. Therefore I never offered to play an actor's part.


All pupils were expected to join the Scouts, the Army Cadets or the Air Cadets. I reluctantly elected for the Army Cadets, but hated every Thursday, when I was required to wear my Dad's Army outfit. I disliked the rough utility shirt, which felt like sandpaper and made me sweat profusely - particularly as we were marched around the playground while shouldering 303 rifles. In the event of a invasion, we were instructed how to use a thin wire stretched across a road, with the intention of removing the head of an unsuspecting German motorcyclist, and how to immobilise a motor vehicle by stuffing a potato up the exhaust!


Mr Polley, was the 'officer' who ran our platoon, but my relationship with him was none too happy. This was because of the punishment meted out by him with the gym slipper for any misdemeanour. It seemed grossly unfair, in view of the fact that Cadets were done voluntarily in our own time. That mode of punishment was common, since any teacher or prefect could use it with impunity.

Huish school was overcrowded because of evacuees from major cities. They were looked after by people like my mother and father who took two of them into our household. Overcrowding of the school imposed serious discipline problems, which were addressed by the imposition of punishments. The more outrageous offences were dealt with by the Headmaster, who caned offenders on each hand - up to three per hand. These canings were performed before a school assembly. I actually saw "Ginger" Rutt break the cane on the right hand of "Bomber" Webber, whose crime had been nothing more than to jump off the top board of the town swimming pool! Webber became a hero in the sight of all, but after having three canings of three on each hand, he was duly expelled from the school. He was a superb athletic swimmer who almost single-handed won the inter-school gala and swam for his Quantock house.

House points were awarded for academic achievements, good attendance, Sport's Days, Swimming Galas and Cross-country runs. Pupils of the house attaining the most points were allowed to leave early on the afternoon of the last day of the summer term. This was highly prized. House meetings were held at least once a term with the House Master presiding; in my case, for Quantock, Mr Wickenden.


We loved "Wickey" because he gave so much of himself by running the Natural History Club. It took place every Friday after school. Unusual at the time, he was a keen photographer who produced some stunning pictures of wildlife. He converted them to wonderful slides, which he used to present entertaining and instructive lectures. He was a very strict history teacher, respected for a high examination pass rate with his pupils. His system was to force us to memorize postcards with the vital facts of historical details and corresponding dates. Failure to attain a 90% test mark always resulted in one having to rewrite the card several times during afternoon detention.


Bob Wine, of the1940 - 1949 vintage, wrote to us the other day. He added to Bill Serjeant's memories.

A very good site. I attended Huish in the early 40's, in the very junior school. There were 3 of us in the class: David Dunlop, Geoff Brownsey and myself. The class room was in front of the Headmasters office by the Alms Houses. Our Teacher was Mrs. Rutt senior (Mr. Rutt's mother) as well as Miss Sharp who was head of the junior school. I see a write up by William Serjeant - we were all in the same class at that time. David Dunlop's father did not own the garage; he was the manager at Van Huesen's factory that made the shirts. It was my grandfather (Sam Wine) and father (Tom Wine) who owned the garage in Silver St, almost opposite the school. (This was the home of wines' Taxis) The other boy mentioned was Dicky Purchase and his father owned the Public House near the railway station. My father went to Huish and was there when Mr. Rutt was head boy. I went to Huish when I was 8 years old and left in 1949 and have a lot of memories of activities in the 9 years I attended Huish.

MICHAEL RABJOHNS WROTE FROM STAFFORD, December 2015

Hello, I am 86 years old and now live in Stafford. I was a pupil in the old Huish school in the early 1940's. The headmaster was a Mr Rutt; my form master, Mr. Dickenson. Mr. Day was the arts master, Mr Eel (known as "Bummer") was the religious master. I can't recall the names of the history master although I seem to remember he wrote a book on the history of Taunton. (ED NOTE - BOBBY PLEASS ?) He used to come into class with a piece of wood stuck up his back and jokingly threatened us with it. He called it "Ebenezer !" I can't recall the P.T. teacher's name - he may have been called up to the forces during my stay. The name Mitford rings a bell. Our French teacher was a Mrs Searle. All the boys fancied her! I was one of Huish Army Cadets, and I think a Mr. Tipper was the Captain.
I was part granny reared, living in Belvedere Road West, as it was known then, and being a "know it all " teenager, after some corporal punishment from her, l ran away one day, down to my Mother in St. Austell. Just prior to my absconding down to St. Austell, l went to Mr. Rutt's office and said "l haven't done my homework!" He of course said, "Why not ?" I said "Because l'm not going to do any more" l think he was so shocked, he just sent me to my classroom.

When l next visited Taunton, the old school had been demolished. Do you still retain the elephants head as l recall having on my cap? (ED NOTE - Certainly do, see the home page)
At school, the cycle rack was in the bottom corner by the gates. There was a hut in the top corner which was used for the singing lessons. Mr. Rutt's office was in the corner of the main playground and had outside steps to access it. Remove D classroom was in the far top yard corner and used to be the woodwork room before the war. There were a couple of wooden huts further along. I remember getting three on each hand from Mr Eelů.OUCH.

Between Belvedere and Albemarle Road there was a blacksmith shop where l used to watch the G W R cart horses being shod. (Now Premier Car Valet) and beside it was a drive up to the old Malt House where the American soldiers were billeted. They also had a Club in the large old house off the main road. I think it was known as the P X. There were two brick air raid shelters in Belvedere Road and Italian POWs worked in the coal yard opposite. My grandmother (whose father was Italian) invited the POW's from the coal yard, up to dinner!

During the war there was a permanent fairground under cover opposite Albemarle Road in the old cattle market in Priory Bridge Road. They just had the small stalls and bumper car rides.

There used to be a garage on the main road where you came out from French Weir. It was called Marshalseas. The RAF took it over to take crashed aircraft to in order to salvage whatever they could. My father was posted there after he came back from Italy.

Something else l have remembered about during the war. There is an opening to a yard next to St. Margaret's Hospice shop by the river bridge in town. On more than one occasion a uniformed soldier, complete with rifle and fixed bayonet was on sentry duty, marching up and down the yard up to the pavement and back. I never asked anyone about it so l don't know what was in there



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