This page, which has been set up in February 2012 at the suggestion of Old Secundrian Richard Taylor, is designed to provide a facility for former pupils and staff to include brief snippets of their memories of the school, its staff, pupils etc. Please feel free to include memories of anything that catches your fancy - humorous or otherwise. Items for inclusion should be sent to Peter Higgins (Contacts ) who will edit them (and censor where necessary!). So, do let us have your recollections. We look forward to hearing from you. Here are a few to start the ball rolling:
Extract from school diary 1964:
Messrs Mills and Houldsworth were standing in silence at the Stanley Avenue bus stop. Suddenly, Henry said "I know your face - Secretary in the city Treasurer's Department?"
"No" came the reply, "actually, I teach English at the school up the road. Do you know the place?!"
* John Jenner's escape from "Bertie" Blake's detention after he was locked in room B5 at the top of the Baffins building one lunchtime. John had shinned down a drainpipe at great peril to his future health
* Derek Schulman telling Mr Rogers, careers master, that he planned to become a pop star and being told not to be so stupid! [NB There is an entry in the Summer 1968 Secundrian magazine under the heading of "Visiting Scholars" which records "Derek Sculman works under the group name 'Simon Dupree and the big sound' six months after leaving school"]. ( Ed: Those of us of a certain age will recall that the group were successful, especially with the hit tune "Kites". His group also had the distinction of hiring the then unknown Elton John (at that time known simply as Reginald Dwight) as a keyboard player to fill in for an ill member of the group - and subsequently turned down opportunities to recruit him permanently and to record any of his compositions!!! Wow!!). Derek later became Senior Vice-President of PolyGram Records. See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Dupree_and_the_Big_Sound ALSO http://www.michaelcooper.org.uk/C/dupree.htm (photos) ALSO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yjj8jLS8XM (Kites)
* Art Master, "Buller" Jeffries' extraordinary (to say the least!) stories of his supposed many and varied careers (especially as part of each of the Services in the War!!)
* In a physics lesson (a subject that I could never grasp for some reason) doubting that electricity was travelling the length of a piece of wire ("How do I know that it is travelling along the wire" I asked) and being invited to hold both ends (which I did!!).
* On cross country runs (when the sports pitches were unplayable) boys who thought it would be a good idea to go for a swim in the freezing sea and others who caught the bus on the way back!
* A sudden interest from both boys and staff in having to go to the secretary's office when a particularly attractive lady was appointed!
* As a 15 year-old, donning my school cap some 200 yards before arriving at the school gate (and hence avoiding a detention for not wearing it).
Mr Cummins did not subscribe to the concept that the occasional 'good-thrashing' kept the blood circulating in the brain, which made for enhanced performance! Homework errors or such were treated with "Not in my class boy; out here; now what don't we do?; we don't translate 'the is's, the am's, the are's, the do's and the 'duzze's' (sic)". All the time, while chanting this mantra, he was beating one's buttocks with a bunch of five or six one-foot rules, held in a 'fan' pattern. On more than one occasion I was the recipient of this attention. Painful ? No. Hilarious - most certainly.
2) Who remembers a lad who turned up, at the start of second-year, resplendent in two-inch stripes of gold and royal-blue. Pocket badge proudly proclaiming ‘Simonstown High School? Looked like a kingfisher in a huddle of sparrows!!
Brian R.J. Simpson was the boy in question. Brian ‘marched’ with me through Highland Road school, and then through our time at SGS. Fortuitously I ‘found’ Brian through the reader’s letters page of the Portsmouth News. After almost 60 years we now chat on Skype most weeks.
I managed to hide 13,000 miles away, Brian only got as far as Gosport. I am sure that a brief mention will find others that remember Brian, and his ‘coat-of-many-colours’. (January 2015)
* 15th February 1950 when the school bell went missing on the afternoon of a 5th round replay in the FA Cup, Portsmouth versus Manchester United? The bell was already cracked, which seemed apt in view of the result (1-3).
* When staff at break would rush to a mass of boys in a circle on the playground who were shouting Fight! Fight!Fight! When they managed to get into the `ring` there would be two of those small (pre-Thatcher) milk bottles sitting next to one another, usually but not always, empty.
* Colin Guest was a fellow pupil with me in the mid Sixties.I think he went on to be a jockey. We were in a Physics class taken by Mr Tooze and Colin had not done his homework. Mr Tooze berated him and gave him a detention for the next day saying something along the lines of "You may feel you have won today but tomorrow is my day". Quick as a flash Colin replied, "Yes sir, its Tuesday tomorrow"...and it was! [ Ed: "Toozeday" - get it?].
* Buller Jefferies and his wonderful stories!
* Holy Joe (Mr Webb) and the Jungle Doctor books. Ugh!
* The power of Stan Davies' cane - only once though
* Not completing the cross country run - hiding on the shore line of Langston Harbour
* Dr King falling asleep in his Geography lesson while we wrote notes from the board
* Forging Mr Watson's signature on the inside page in my Physics text book
* Senate Detention
* Understanding calculus with Commander Smart
* Having an older brother in the school I was prepared for many things such as teachers nicknames so I didn't fall into the trap of asking for teachers by names they may not necessarily have appreciated. I can't think of any teacher who didn't have a nickname.
* It was also strange to see boys several years older than me whom I remembered from primary school years before.
* It was very odd being called by my surname by (all male) teachers and other boys but, my brother being already in the school, many of the teachers were able to pronounce correctly my slightly peculiar surname.
* I think the biggest early impression was when Henry Mills took assembly. Not only was he a very imposing figure but he also wore a gown. I was a bit disappointed he did not also wear a mortar board but I was always slightly in awe of him. I never spoke to him until the fourth year when those in 4K had to see him. I never was really sure of the point of the interview but I imagine it was because we were about to take our O Levels. We had another interview shortly after which seemed to be exactly the same.
* When I was in the first year I had to see the School Secretary and was waiting outside her office when Henry suddenly appeared and put his hand on my shoulder in a rather paternal way as he wanted to go in first. I didn't dare say anything. At that tender age, for me it was a bit like standing next to a celebrity
* Speaking of the secretary, I seem to remember she had been a tennis player of some distinction in her younger days (not that she was old then). Someone in my class tore his trousers and she sewed them up for him. I wondered whether he had had to take them off in front of her and how embarassing that would be. Sort of thing you'd give up a week's pension for now.
* The only other females we saw were the school librarian, the dinner ladies and, for one year only, the German Assistant, Regina Steinwand. Her nickname was Frau Doris. She was invigilating for some exams in the hall once and I reckon some of the male teachers had been scrapping outside to decide who would sit next to her. I started doing German A Level the next year which included sessions with the German Assistant but, of course, by then she had gone. Ach, das Leben ist schwer!
* I remember when Henry retired and the way he walked through the hall shaking hands with boys and said "cheerio" to us all. I also remember when he had to announce that one of the boys had died. He said it was a moment he had always hoped he he would never encounter in his career. He seemed very upset. I think that showed his very human side.
Dizzy Winter who took us for Scripture (as it was then called) had a particular problem with Bill Robbins [or, according to Bill Robins it was Foxy Rayner who took us for Latin]** . At almost every lesson, Dizzy/Foxy had Bill out to stand behind him at the front of the class. On one occasion Bill silently left the room and returned later without Dizzy/Foxy noticing his absence, much to our amusement.
The next week Bill performed the same feat except that Dizzy/Foxy suddenly turned around to discover that Bill was missing. We had Dizzy/Foxy looking in some very likely places but eventually we all sat silently awaiting the nomad's return. Bill's face was a picture as he peered cautiously around the door.
It was also Bill who told our Headmaster and Captain of the School's Army Cadet Corps , G.B.H.Jones M.C., that his puttees were on upside down when he stood before us on parade (this whilst he was telling our Platoon about the necessity of accurate observation!). To be fair to Bill, he only revealed this ill dressed state of affairs when the Headmaster insisted on knowing what he was sniggering about.
[**Note from Ed: Here's a challenge for everyone of Peter & Bill's era - who can resolve whether it was Dizzy or Foxy from whom Bill did his disappearing act?!!!]
* Buller Jeffries (art) cry of "Go to the Head" (Mr Mills)
* "Come her laddie boy, I am going to beat you!" I can still feel the impact of Brian Naysmith's dreaded slipper.
* Dr Traynor (English) would frequently cry out in genuine anguish: "Barbarous, Portsmouth-English pronunciation!" after being subjected to grotesquely mangled efforts which would have made even television's Officer Crabtree (of Allo Allo fame) cringe!
* Craig Barlow's (History) favourite imposition was "Punishment for conduct prejudicial to good order and scholastic discipline". So impressed was I by this magnificent example of the English language that I actually imposed it myself at times upon pupils in my charge when - for my sins - I entered the noble profession.
* We were encouraged not to waste writing paper during Jack Thomas's history lessons: "Concise and small writing, boys, save paper - write Gy for Germany...."
SOUTHERN GRAMMAR SCHOOL FOR BOYS PORTSMOUTH 1888-1975
DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN.....?
Now, let's have YOUR contributions!!
Mr Dunfold (Biology). My A level teacher. Serious but very helpful. Endless references to the great tome of Vines & Rees biology text book.
Dr/Mr Foulds General science. Very sympathetic to us first year boys in 1F and good introduction to the three sciences.
"Ben" Gunn (Physics or Chemistry). Younger teacher at the time and was very human and a good communicator
"Splasher" Sims (Spanish). I did a few months Sept-Nov 1966 after A level exams in Spanish before leaving to join the RAF as an officer cadet at South Cerney.
Mr Brian (?) Houldsworth. Terribly Christian maths teacher who did his best to help those of us less gifted in Set 2 for O level.
Mr Webb. Gave us respectful introductions to religions other than Christianity. Buddhism, Animism, and Pantheism spring to mind.
Mr Tooze. Career advice primarily towards the armed services and teaching.
Cmdr Watts. Relaxed ex-serviceman for basic maths early in the O level syllabus.
Mr Pickering. Welsh geography teacher. Often seemingly stressed crying "I'm talking to yeow boy!!" rather often, along with effusive praise for Jurassic limestone - no idea why.
Mr Fowles. Use of English (O and A level standard for those in 6th form science) teacher. Very mild-mannered but with a sense of humour/appreciation of some of the silly things in the English language (puns, bathos etc).
Dr Traynor. English and speech training. We had to learn and say "The secretary reads regularly in the Government Library particulalrly rich in Coptic manuscripts".
"Buller" Jeffries. Art teacher critical of schoolboy efforts "Go away and shade it up!".
Cmdr Hickman. Metalwork teacher and head of the naval section of the CCF.
Mr Shimwell. Woodwork teacher and head of the RAF section of the CCF. Great support in going to Tangmere for gliding and the Biggin Hill tests for Flying Scholarship and joining the RAF.
"Charlie" Cummins. Like Richard Taylor's memory: "What don't we do? We don't translate the 'is's, the am's, the are's, the do's and the duzzes [sic]". Also the acronym for verbs conjugated with être in the past perfect tense: ARP MEND V TRAMS. A=Aller, R=Rester, P=Partir, M=Monter, N=Descendre, V=Venir, t=Tomber, R=Retourner, A=Arriver, M=Mourir, S=Sortir.
"Bert" Blake. A rare item of his humour/being up-to-date with the then current popular music: "What is the French word for beetle (the Beatles?)" "Scarabée".
A young French asistant (male but cannot remember his name). Met for one school period each week during the 5th year to prepare for the French O level oral exam. Very helpful, congratulated me on saying "Je suis ernhumée" (I have a cold) when excusing my terrible pronunciation one week.
Mr Crick. Tall thin with dark-rimmed spectacles. Chemistry, I am almost sure. I always used to think of him when later I learned of Watson & Crick's discovery of the DNA double-helix structure. Strange that there was another teacher called Mr Watson (I was never taught by him). As far as I know there were no links between the SGS teachers and the King's College London researchers.
Brian Naysmith. Sport. Reputed liking for the Still & West pub in Old Portsmouth. I saw him there once. Swift changes of hot and cold shower whilst still in, following gym or games lessons.
Alan Pascoe in the same school year as me but born almost a year earlier.
Up to O level. Pete Trott, Ken Grant, Nigel Walker, Steve Burton, Steve Norris, Don Eldridge
During A leves.: Tom Bedford, David Brealey, Richard Cross, Trevor Forbes-Simmons, Biology - David Pascoe, ?Sweetnam, ? Newman.
Field Trip to Juniper Hall, Dorking (Field Studies Council see http://www.field-studies-council.org/centres/london region/juniperhall.aspx). With the biology bunch: using a quadrat (see http://en,wikipedia.org/wiki/Wadrat) night seeking of badgers, Juniper Bottom (answer: No, I never touched her) huge green June Bug/Beetle scared us all.
Stephen Helms (May 2016)
Three characters come to mind for differing reasons:
a) As always "Wilf" or "Buller" (Jeffries, art master) and his oft hear cry....... "take it away boy it smells"
(b) George Butterworth who, in this current "elf and safety" era would be prosecuted for tossing his blackboard duster at any pupil misbehaving (Ed: he wasn't alone, of course, as other staff had various "missiles" that were projected in one way and another. But, I don't think it did any of us any long term harm and most of us soon got the message and didn't misbehave as a result!)
(c) Mr Burnett (French) where, as a "green" first year, beckoned all new entrants with "Jem'appelle....." . I didn't have a clue what he was on about!
Alasdair McFarlane (November 2016)
This page last modified on Sunday, December 04, 2016