SOUTHERN GRAMMAR SCHOOL FOR BOYS PORTSMOUTH 1888-1975
The School in 1963

The following are extracts from the Secundrian Magaizine celebrating the Seventy Fifth Anniversary of the School's formation in 1963. The first is by Arthur Hitchins, author of the History of the School in 1954 and the second by T. Stent a pupil at the School at that time.

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                                                                        THE SCHOOL TODAY


Built on a rubbish tip and surrounded by acres of cabbages the Southern Grammar School today aspires to a much loftier position than that which its setting would suggest. Nobody would deny that the school is isolated but the 840 boys who arrive every morning on assorted, and frequently secret, methods of transport know that if they are not reaching a different world at least it is a private one.

Inside the building the "seven periods of wisdom" that constitute school life begin with absolute regularity, once the various football meetings have been dispersed. Each period signifies a different emotion for each boy - interest, boredom, amusement and occasional terror - nobody could complain of a lack of variety. The school teaches six languages - French, Russian, German, Spanish, Latin and English, has excellent facilities for each of physics, chemistry and biology, and has in the past few years introduced a "setting system" in the languages and mathematics periods to help in the teaching of these subjects. The school library, containing five thousand volumes, is open most lunch hours and is well used, being maintained by a committee of dedicated boys who attempt continually to combat the noise emitting from the school field.

Indeed it is on the school field that many boys' schooldays begin and end. There is a wide range of sporting activities in the School, with football, cricket, rugby, basketball, tennis and hockey all being played and with a remarkable record of success against other schools. The recent acquisition of a trampoline has added to the gym's equipment and popularity and the field is open to all boys during the lunch hours - a facility which has sometimes proved a little too popular. Although no battles have been won on the fields of the Southern Grammar, many have been fought there.

After four o'clock several groups of boys withdraw from the lemming-like dash for the 143 bus stop and take part in the meetings of the various societies that are organized within the School. These range from those with specific academic connection - the Biology Club, History Association and the Sixth Form Science Society, to those which cater for a specific hobby or interest - the Chess and Stamp Clubs for example. The Dramatic Society and Orchestra deserve special mention. The Dramatic Society provided the "annual entertainment" as well as, in recent years, an open-air production at the end of the summer term, whilst the orchestra blossoms forth at every school's music festival to win considerable praise, despite the almost unique proportions of wind to string players.

There are also those Societies which broaden one's intellect and polemic - the Debating Society, Sceptics' Society and S.C.M. The Sceptics' Society was formed last year in order to provide a forum for unorthodox opinions, a purpose which it has filled so well that membership has had to be restricted to only the most eloquent of the Sixth Form. Unfortunately, the opposite is true of many of the societies where the same half dozen people rear their heads not through discretion on the part of the organizers but the lack of time, or interest, of others.

The C.C.F. still has its place in school life, and the clumping of boots and the spasmodic bawls of command echo through the school until a late hour on most Tuesday evenings. The Sixth Form, who run many of these societies, expands every year in numbers and Private Study periods are no longer those intimate little social gatherings they used to be. However, the Senate remains unmoved by this change, or any other. The braided figures who trundle cartloads of milk with such pre-destined efficiency, know that they are an elite, and a distinguishing feature of the school.

And it is from the senate Room that inspiration radiates for the School houses - Walker, Parks, Jones and Collier. There is a tendency, in the Upper School at least, for these to exist merely as an aid to administration rather than an exhortation to valour on the field. However the proposed reintroduction of the House Play competition may spark off rivalry in a field other than football, which in recent years has been dominated by Walker House and the inclemency of the weather.

T. Stent.

This page last modified on Sunday, October 31, 2010

ANOTHER CHAPTER

When we moved into our new building on January 10th 1956, another chapter in the history of the School opened but it has certainly not yet closed. It is therefore difficult to resume from where I left it in 1954, because the subsequent story is still in the making. Moreover, so much has happened since the History of the School was published in 1954 that it is impossible to give more than a brief idea in a short magazine article.

During the last nine years the School has grown in size and achievement. Seven hundred boys moved into the long awaited new building in 1956; by 1961 the number had increased to 885 and it is still not far below that figure. Some of this increase was due to the three five stream entries of 1957-59 but there has been a tendency to remain longer at school leading to larger fifth and sixth forms. As a result SCE entries have increased considerably both in numbers and, fortunately, in the degree of success. As for higher academic laurels, there have been 36 state Scholarships, thirteen university scholarships and eighteen Commonorships from Oxford and Cambridge, which compare more favourably with the period 1946-54.

The range of work in the Scholl has also widened in the last nine years with the addition of Spanish and Russian, the expansion of Biology, German and Engineering Drawing (extensions to workshop facilities will be made shortly) and the introduction of a varied course of General Studies in the Sixth Forms. Even nine years ago it would have seemed unlikely that one of our Sixth Forms could take a trip to Russia to make use of a knowledge of the language acquired at the School. Yet a recent issue of the Secundrian contains M. March's own story of such a visit, with the obligatory photograph of the Kremlin.

Generally, our boys seem to have travelled about much more in recent years. There may be social and economic reasons for this development, but I think there are educational ones too. There have been four sailing holidays on the Norfolk Broads, trips to Rouen, Paris, Switzerland, Deauville, Belgium, Annecy, Perpignan and even a winter sports holiday in addition to the usual Scouts Camps, CCF camps and a special camp in Wales. And boys now seem to find it easier to visit the Continent whether on exchange visits, individual journeys or specially organised excursion. Next year there will be a trip to Heidelburg, another winter sports holiday and organised exchange visits to France and Spain.

School Societies also show a new variety. While the main societies of 1956 still flourish, alongside them a number of smaller ones have also grown up catering, no doubt, for special interests: the Sceptics Society, the Trainspotters, the Madrigal Society, the Railway Club. A keen Dramatic Society has come into being and already produced two open-air shows. The School Entertainment has followed its strong dramatic tradition but the last nine years have seen a return to an older tradition in some respects: the three operas The Pirates of Penzance, Iolanthe and The Marriage of Figaro all produced with all boy casts. Full length plays have ranged from Gogol's Government Inspector and Christopher Fry's Thor with Angels to Julius Caesar and Henry IV Part 1 which now, in 1963, echoes the production of ten years ago.

As for games, in 1954 the Houses were still called by their colours - the change to the names of former Headmasters was not made until 1956. Both Sixes reached the semi-finals of the Hampshire Grammar Schools Six-a-Side Tournament in 1954, when they were narrowly defeated. This year we have seen the pleasure of that elusive cup won easily by our team. Another interesting detail of 1954 was the result of the Staff v Boys cricket match: 1st X1 55, staff 56-1! But I don't think we had the Staff v Boys football match in those days.

There have, of course, been many Staff changes. Sixteen masters that were here in 1954 have left and one, Mr Parnell, has died. Nine years ago Mr Tilney was in charge of Modern languages and Mr K.S.W. Walker (now Headmaster of Hereford High School for Boys) was Senior English Master; Mr Hobson (now in Canada) was responsible for PT and Games. Mr Gardener and Mr Hore, although officially retired, were still teaching part-time. Major Cummins was in charge of the CCF, whiles both Mr Chatterton and Mr Davies were running the Air Section with the rank of Flying-Officer.

Death has struck many times in these last few years. Mr Parnell's death in July 1958 was a bitter blow. Two years before, Mr E. J. Goodfellow, a former Senior Master, died thirteen years after his retirement. His association with the school stretched back to the Higher Grade days both as boy and master. In 1960, Mr W. James, who taught in the old School from 1907 to 1932, and dominated the School Entertainments of those days died at the great age of 92. Mr Collier who had been his Headmaster for one year, died tragically in the same year, a comparatively young man of 62. During the last twelve months two other former masters have passed away - Mr W. Shackleton and Mr H. D. Steed.

A brighter note is struck by the excitements and success of the Sales of Work, organised by Mr. B.C.Thomas, culminating in 1955 in the gigantic effort which produced £1,258 and made the War Memorial Organ possible. This was installed in April 1956 in the new hall and dedicated on November 20th by the lord Bishop of Portsmouth. A special recital by Dr O.H. Peasgood concluded the proceedings. The School itself was officially opened on Friday June 8th by Mr D.F. Vosper, B.A., T.D., M.P, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education. A special descriptive brochure was issued to mark the occasion.

Other important events and developments of the last nine years were the Jubilee Sports Day in 1957, attended as usual by Mr J.H. Waite, who had organised the first in 1907, the addition of the C.C.F. block in the same year, the inauguration of the War Memorial Organ Scholarship in1958 (the first holder C.A. Butchers, then in 3A, later to win an Open Scholarship in English to Wadham College, Oxford, at the age of 16), the Christian Forum BBC Broadcast recorded in the School Hall on March 12th 1959, the Cadet Force Centenary Review on June 13th 1960 and the memorable recital by Fernando Germani on March 23rd 1961.

Now, at the end of 1963, we are in the midst of another great project - the Swimming Pool appeal fund, the success of which illustrates once more the spirit that animates Parents, Staff and Boys. And in a wider sense the School has responded well to the challenges of the new opportunities afforded by its new buildings and facilities: adventure, experiment and expansion have characterised recent years and inspired the achievement that justifies them.

A. Hitchins1963


 

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