34 thoughts on “Stockton Grammar School. c1960

  1. Being born and brought up in Buxton Street located in the Garbutt Street area, this wonderful image of Stockton Grammar School recall many memories of my boyhood days there. Demolished some years ago the site is now occupied by the Stockton Buffs Social Club.

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  2. Does anyone remember my dad Peter Mitchell, he was in the same year as David Stoddart? He lived on the Primrose Hill estate. He became an engineer specialising in Nuclear Power. We moved to the States in 1966. He talked about school days – but they didn’t sound very happy – but I imagine he felt fortunate to go to the grammar school. His brother Les Mitchell lives in Australia.

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  3. I was a pupil at Stockton Grammar Sshool from 1941 to 1946. I was a fairly regular attendant at the Tuesday morning sessions for punishment in the Study of The Headmaster, Thomas Ridley. He had an impressive collection of canes from which the choice of the model required was dependent on the thickness of material covering the rear end of the delinquent bending over his desk awaiting punishment. A silent senior master, latterly Pat O’ Neil, was in attendance as a witness. Oddly enough I was never subjected to the slipper used by the Latin master Mick O’ Donnell in his lessons for a similar purpose. On an occasion when he stood in for the Head on a Tuesday morning, he let me go without punishment. I also admired the highly polished brown boots Mick always wore. Another teacher I admired was the History Master “Wally” Roberts. I can forgive the way he would, if annoyed, twist the short hair near ones ear and drag one around the room gripping the hair between forefinger and thumb. He will be ever remembered when acting as Invigilator in the school hall for the School Certificate History examination he could not refrain from calling out ” I hope you all realise that question five is the Bismark question”. He must have risked his job doing that. He was not prepared to allow some sneaky examiner to confuse his pupils. I often wonder what happened to the collection of First world war memorabilia that stood in what I presume must have been a locked display cabinet outside the Headmasters study. I had many opportunities to view the contents which included a 45 calibre army revolver and a Mills bomb hopefully not primed.

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    • I went to Stockton Grammar school from 1944 to 1950. One of the things which still stands out in my mind is going to Stockton Baths every Monday morning. We had to line up in military fashion and walk or should I say march through the streets to the Baths. “I want to see in my study at 10 o clock” used to frighten the life out of me. The problem was I was Robinson B and there was a Robinson N I would wait in trepidation… mostly me

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  4. I am sorry to say I don’t know Alan Freeman, but its quite possible that I met him. I have had a life long inability to remember peoples names.

    Six of us were doing Science in the 6th Form, and as this was virtually a one to one relationship, one got to know Mr Golding and Britain quite well. They were good teachers except in retrospect one realises that they were little out of date.

    Brittain’s big weakness as a teacher was in electricity. This was a common problem in science teaching at the time, and as far as I can make out, still is.

    I played around in the maths lessons and never took the subject seriously. In consequence despite a good teacher I failed A level. When I started on my degree at Battersea, I was told that I had to pass the first year maths course otherwise I would be out. I got down to it and reached a satisfactory state…….I have probably used more maths than the average in my own profession, that is, metallurgy…..So it was down to me and a slightly weak maths teacher that I did badly at Stockton Grammar…..who was his name, however?

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  5. I attended SGS from 1959 to 1966 and what a miserable few years they were for me. My classmates were OK apart from a couple of bullies. Some of the prefects were sadistic bullies who took great delight in using the slipper on the 1st and 2nd formers usually. Those that did not dish out corporal punishment would set impossible maths problems or essays on very obscure subjects for the pettiest of misdemeanours – I had these punishments doled out to me on several occasions. The masters were an odd bunch except for the excellent Max Underhill who taught Woodwork & Technical Drawing and Art. There were two kindly, rather timid masters I recall: Mr.Murray (Latin) and Mr.Pickles (can’t remember his subject), both excellent teachers but totally unable to control a class of obnoxious adolescent boys! Two masters I disliked intensely were Mr.Goulding (Chemistry) and Mr.Hislop (Music) – I was glad I would never have to set eyes on them again when I left. A master who joined us at the Fairfield Road site I remember was very keen on handing out detentions – we thought that was an ‘easy’ punishment – how wrong we were! I can still remember kneeling on a hard wooden chair for half an hour with arms outstretched at the side. After just a few minutes your arms would be aching and start to drop whereupon your knuckles would be rapped very hard until your arms were brought back to shoulder level. I often wonder what my classmates thought of the experience after all these years.

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    • “Wilf” Pickles taught History, Clifford, and he was rather fond of the Balkans – I think it must have been his specialist area at university. Max Underhill was a star and when he wasn’t being Headmaster, Frank Cain was probably the best Maths teacher in England. “Ben” Brittain took an enormous dislike to me because I challenged his impossible yarns about his supposed activities during the war. As a result he failed me in the Physics Mocks with 10% which prevented me taking Physics “O” Level. I sat the exam the following year without further study and got a grade 3 which admitted me to the ONC stream at the RAf apprentice school. Mr. Holmes I remember as having a particular method of controlling rascals – by raising one onto tip-toes by pulling a pinch of hair at the temple and lifing you out of your seat.
      Brian “Granny” Grantham certainly triggered some memories when he recalls bog-cramming and moaning during assembly. How are you doing Brian?

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      • Thanks for your response Frank. I’d almost forgotten about Ben Brittain’s ‘yarns’.
        I recall that very few of my class had the slightest interest in Physics and one or two would prompt him into relating his ‘yarns’ which may have contained some facts but were heavily embellished by his own imagination! I remember several ‘Physics-free’ lessons at the time of Kennedy’s assassination when Ben rambled on at great length about his friend in America who was there at the time – we all thought the existence of this friend as rather dubious!
        Another memory of SGS was Mr.Hislop (Dracula) in his ragged gown ‘auditioning’ new boys for the school choir. He held his auditions in the school hall (Garbutt Street) where he would call us individually to stand by his grand piano and sing (for want of a better word) ‘Where ‘ere you walk’. I managed to get halfway through the first line before he ordered me to sit down much to the amusement of the rest of the class – a very humiliating experience for a timid 11-year old!
        Why do I remember your name Frank? Were you one of those dreaded prefects?

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    • I was at Stockton Grammar School from 1948 to 1953 and despite the best efforts of the teaching staff (with one or two notable exceptions) I took a degree in English at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.

      I thought ex-SGS-ers might be interested in reading my novel “Sinners” which has recently been published on Amazon. You can read the first three chapters free… I’d be interested to hear any comments.

      The story has two strands, one of them set in Billingham, Stockton, Yarm and Middlesbrough, with a number of scenes set in SGS. I have slightly fictionalised some of the teachers but you may recognise The Head, Dr. Thomes Craddock, Pat O’Dowda and Mick O’Sullivan, Patsy Proctor the music teachers, (loosely based on a chap called Picksley who taught music, and a bit of English, geography and French), Froggy Folwer, Lennie Long….staff and the French Revolution, Tonker Towers, the games master based on a chap called McManners, who also taught history; the school chaplain the amazing whistling vicar; and Major Mannering who taught first aid on Thursday afternoons.

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  6. I believe, but would love to have it confirmed, that my great grandfather (Fred Bramley) was brought over to open the school, but I am not sure if this was in 1965 or earlier. Is it possible that someone could clarify this for me please?

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  7. Interesting thread but I’m disappointed that so few have left comments. Perhaps it’s because, like me, potential contributors are aware of having a ‘dodgy’ memory. How facts change over time! Ted Fletcher was at SGS from 1951 – 1956 and not 1950 – 1955. I know because we were in the same year intake. The same is true of his pals Sidebottom and Crowe. Not sure about Tony Bradley. Peter Minns also recalls a French teacher by the name of ‘Mr French’. I think Peter’s memory is playing tricks; there was no ‘Mr French’ at the SGS I attended from 1951 – 1958. French was taught by ‘Froggy’ Collin who instilled correct pronunciation into us as well as other aspects of the French language. I failed French at O level (Nobody’s fault but mine) though subsequently passed at night school. Several French people have made encouraging comments on my pronunciation of their language – due entirely to Ray Collin at SGS – a great teacher. I also remember another great teacher – Ken Stott who taught Geography. Ken came to SGS from Thirsk Grammar and went on to Hull Grammar before finishing his career at Harrogate where he was Headmaster of St Aidans, a C of E Grammar (later comprehensive) School. Ken forged an ecumenical link between St Aidans and the RC Grammar in Harrogate that resulted in a joint 6th form between the schools. He retired from school to take up a position as Diocesan Advisor on Education to the Bishop of Ripon and was made an Honorary Lay Canon of the Cathedral where I attended the Requiem Service after his sudden and untimely death in March 2000. Ken’s star pupil of all time was David Stoddart who left SGS to read Geography at Cambridge before becoming a Don there himself. David later went to the USA where I believe he still occupies the ‘Chair’ in the Geography Department at UCal or Berkely(?) and is a widely published world authority on coral ecosystems. Hope this jogs a few memories.

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    • Quite correct Mike, the French master WAS called Mr. Collin and I don’t know how I dreamt up the name Mr French. Still, I think I’m correct in everything else. I attended SGS from 1952-57. If you were 51-58 that can only mean you stayed on for the sixth form. Funny; even though I had 8 GCE’s I couldn’t wait to leave to start earning some money. All the best, Peter Minns.

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  8. I attended the old Stockton Grammar School from 1952 to 1957. Frankly, I think some of the comments posted here are a little harsh. The teachers were not a bad lot and, let’s face it, we pupils weren’t exactly angels. I had more bad experiences at Bailey Street PRIMARY School than I ever did at Stockton Grammar. Mr Bradshaw (the head), Mr French the French Master (yes, that really was his name), Charlie Goulding (Chemistry), Mick O’Donnell (Latin & English Lit) and Pat O’Neill (Maths) to name just a few, were not so bad. I remember most of the pupils in my form – Adams, Bailey, Bassett, Clark, Darling and so on, ending up with ‘Fat’ Wilkinson, who was ALWAYS top of the form. In retrospect, my most amusing memory has to be my 1st ever assembly when Mr Bradshaw told us new arrivals that there were plans for a new school building within a few years and we could look forward to that happy prospect. That was in September, 1952! The sequel was a local door to door petition organized by the school a few years later. Mr Bradshaw congratulated me on personally obtaining 320 names but actually I’d forged most of the signatures.

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  9. I was at SGS 1951-56. Not very many happy memories – turned me off education until I went to the local tech where they treated you like adults. Ended up as a teacher and always tried to remember how it felt to be constantly be put down and not listened to in class. Many of our teachers had favourites, who they helped, but forgot the rest.

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    • Roy… Teddy Fletcher belatedly responding. I’ve just revisited this site after almost a decade and read your comments of 23 January 2003. My earlier visits and messages all failed to find traces of Geoff Sidebottom and Tony Bradley. I know that you lived very close to Geoff, but I don’t recall the name of the road/street. Fuzzy memories in which you play a part include… sheep dung… swimming baths… boils… and Hazel Parsons.
      Can you tell me anything about Geoff or Tony? The sole SGS Old Boy with whom I made interesting internet contact was George Fiddler, written off by Bradshaw as a total waste of space; but who went on to become a millionaire carpet salesman in the USA. Bradshaw wrote me off, too; but I had the last word… gaining a First in English at Uni in later life and making a successful living as a magazine feature writer.
      Good fortune on what remains to you of life’s road.
      Teddy

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    • I have got to agree with you. Hated my time at the SGS 1951-55. The teachers were appalling. Barring Mr. Pickles, I don’t think I ever saw one crack a smile.
      Bullying was prevalent too, I can always remember being held down over a desk by several boys and as I opened my mouth to object one of them cleared his throat and spat in my mouth. I did the same as you, completing my last year’s schooling at Stockton Technical College. It was like a breath of fresh air. I obtained a distinction in maths after four years of misery and bad results at SGS.

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  10. It’s a small world. Minnie Marwood was Mr Cain, the headmasters, secretary at the old school in Garbutt Street and the new one built 1963 in Fairfield. Minnie went to Mill Lane School in Stockton and was in the same class as my mother Jean Worsnop in the 1940’s.

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  11. I hope this reaches ‘the old boys website’ mentioned by Phil Rambert back in 2008 when he commented on my memories of the Garbut Street site.
    Phil, you asked me to contact you through ‘the old boys website’. Unfortunately it has taken me two years to revisit the entire site where I found your message today. Am I too late?
    If not, do you have ANY information about Jeff (spelling may be Geoff) Sidebottom … or Tony Bradley … ? They both attended SGS 1950-55.
    I’ll be most grateful for whatever you can tell me.
    Thanks.
    Edward

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  12. I was there from 1947 to 52. I remember O’Neill as the worst Maths teacher imaginable. He became ill in the Autumn of ’51 before GCE exams. A stand-in lady teacher was hired and she transformed the teaching and the mood in the classroom. Without her clear explanations I would not have passed. As 16 year olds needless to say we noticed all her features notably the varying presentation of her bosom. My Sister remembers her family but I cannot remember her name – she was brilliant.
    Charlie Goulding was certainly dour but when I met him years later at Teesside Golf Club he was perfectly friendly and chose to keep any thoughts on my school performance to himself.
    Max Underhill was a jolly character and a star performer at art and woodwork. His hobby was playing drums in a band. The Latin Master, O’Donnell – Mick?, gave me 5% for spelling my name correctly on the exam paper. The French teacher – ? – went off to be a Missionary in Africa – he took great offence when one boy said he could not imagine him wearing shorts in the heat.
    Having passed for both the Grammar School and for Grangefield I chose the Grammar School simply because my Grandmother’s bakery and shop was 50 yards away and I could drop off the tail of the line back from Stockton Baths and get a fresh iced bun.

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  13. Memories of the crocodile file to the dinner hall, next to the gasworks. When accompanied by Bob Murray we sang,
    “When the red red robin comes BOB BOB bobbing along”
    If singled out it was a surefire way to get detention.
    Also bog cramming, moaning in assembly, the burning of school-caps, being hit by blackboard dusters and woodworking tools and the overpowering scent of “Minnie” the school secretary wafting through the dusty corridors.
    Ah school days.

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  14. Some nice memories of the old Garbutt Street site from Edward Fletcher – Edward if you visit the old boys website and contact me through it – I keep a list of contacts for over a hundred old boys and I will see what I can do.

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  15. I attended SGS from 1950-55. I hated every moment of it, apart from English lessons with Mr Corrin. I recall a form master named Watto the Kraut Watson, and a headmaster whose name has faded. After escape from SGS I despised all forms of formal education until in my fifties when I went, rather late in life, to university. I gained a first in English Language. I earned my living as a magazine journalist and author until recent retirement. I live in London and have been trying unsuccessfully to contact old school chums who do not seem to have joined Friends Reunited. Anyone have any info on Geoff Sidebottom (Jebberdy) … Tony Bradley … or John Crow (Dagwood) … all of Norton? The photograph of the school building brought back memories of all four of us escaping through the windows at the far end which were part of the school hall/gym. We would hide under the stage until the rest of the class trekked into the yard for gymnastics. Then we were out of the window and into the High Street for a savoury bun at Pete”s Snack Bar … and, if our luck held, a bottle of Double Diamond stolen from newly delivered crates stacked behind a pub close to the riverside.

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  16. Rev. Evans who taught R.I. (Divinity) and sometimes Latin, was curate of Stockton Parish Church. He later became the Vicar at St. Mary”s Norton. Charlie Goulding also taught Latin although his main subject was Chemistry.

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  17. Re the Stockton Grammar School teachers in 1961, I missed off Charlie Goulding the deputy head and chemistry teacher, who had the unfortunate nickname of The Ghoul.

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  18. I started SGS in 1961, the teachers were as follows, F.W.Cain headmaster and maths teacher, C.M.Britain (Ben)physics, D.T.Brown maths, J.R.L.Collin (Froggy)french, G.B.Corrin english, J.P Evans(Taffy)divinity, A Hislop (Gandi) music, F.Holmes (Sherlock) geography, J.R.Murray (Bob) latin, A.Thompson (Bubbles)english and french, M.Underhill (Max) art and woodwork and B.C.Unwin history. I have the Stocktonian magazines produced by the school from 1961 to 1966 and the 1963 school opening service booklet(of the new school) in 1963 if anyone is interested.

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  19. The buildings nearest the corner of the main road formed the Chemistry and Physics Laboratories. The Headmaster and Masters offices were in a building a little further down Garbutt Street. On top of these was a room used by the sixth form which amounted to not more than 25 pupils for the two sixth form years. I moved to Stockton Grammar after a reasonably sucessful five years at Richard Hind Boys. This was needed as Richard Hind only being a technical school. Mr Cain was delighted to have us in….it added to his salary, he told the three of us who came from Richard Hind

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    • Hello Fred,

      Did you maybe know my brother Alex Freeman who, like you, transferred into SGS after five years at Richard Hind? He went on to be a librarian in Kent, but died when only 47. I was at SGS as well, but I was seven years older than Alex.
      Mike Freeman

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  20. I took some form of entrance exam to this school in 1947. I failed but wasn”t too sorry – it was a very gloomy place indeed. I recall being interviewed by a Mr. O”Neill. However I did pass the 11+ for Stockton Secondary School. If I hadn”t I would likely have been streamed into a secondary modern school after the rigidities of those times. As it happened I got a State Scholarship to Medical School and retired as a professor emeritus at one of the top US medical schools. Perhaps the flexibility of the comprehensive system has certain advantages !

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  21. The man on the bicycle is almost certainly Mr. “Froggy” Collin who taught French. His bike was almost as famous as the one ridden by our Head – Frank “Blossom” Cain. Froggy later became headmaster at the comprehensive school in Norton, over by Southfield Road.

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