Memories of Calderdale

Todmorden Grammar School: Reunion [Class of 1955]


Stephen Dobson

Memories of a Classmate of '55, Prompted by 50th Anniversary Reunion of Entry Class of 1955.

The organisers of the Reunion were: Yvonne Dumsday, Sheila Ratcliffe, Freda Pickles, Margaret Irving and Derek Howorth.

At Roomfield, Pa Willy first mentioned
An important test was heading our way
That would probably determine the future
Of all those who listened that day

I'm glad to say that the two photographs
Which are currently resting on my knee
Confirm that almost half of the Roomfield class
Went on to Tod Grammar at Ferney Lee

My first day didn't pass without incident
I was told that my clogs wouldn't do:
They would play havoc with the wooden flooring
So would I kindly change into shoes

We were poor, so my mum made all my clothes
Shirts, trousers and sports gear specially for me:
To save material, I was still in short trousers
Even when I was sixteen and a full six feet three!

Let's start with a few notes on the teachers
They are inevitably personal, it's true
Doubtless classmates will have a different perspective
With an entirely opposite view

The Headmaster was one Albert Greenhough
A Chemist, whose nickname was Crun:
Of teaching it seemed that he'd had enough
Because he left most of that to Barry Lunn

Jimmy Large was the Senior Master
A well-organised Maths Teacher was he:
With his fortnightly tests, avoiding disaster
Meant working most diligently

The discipline he'd gained in his youth
He strived to pass on to his charges:
It is an indisputable truth;
Today's schools need a few Jimmy Larges!

The Senior Mistress was dear Miss Cottam
Whose main subject was British History:
In her class she encouraged debating
Which was enjoyed by argumentative me

From one's Schooldays one has few vivid memories
But, for me, one that still lingers on
Is our first lesson with the new Latin Master
Known as Ego: alias Peter Durham

He passed round a new Latin textbook
And said Leeder, would you please translate.
The rest of us panicked as we took a quick look
At a text that had every one of us beat

Though Ego had such a commanding presence
He used humour to help him get through
And so his lessons became an experience
That we all began to look forward to

Raspberry Jam Jam and Iambic Pentameter
Are phrases that Ego would often repeat
But then he'd talk of listening to great Opera
In the Gods at Covent Garden, replete

Miss Maw was a fine English Mistress
Who illuminated many a Shakespearean play
And interpreted texts that might cause distress
Her love for English Literature remains with me today

At woodwork my performance was rather sad
I could only hope that Sid didn't know
That I had a skilled carpenter for a dad
Sid's report was always Inaccurate and Slow

I can't finish without mentioning Fred Davey
Who helped me start my career in Science:
Thanks to him I lectured at a University
As a result of his support and appliance

In the O-level French exam I fell ill
And Fred Davey, who was such a very nice man
Took me home, but on the bottom corner of the hill
I poured my guts out, all over his van

Now the very best things in life are the people
And the social events of the day:
Our school was full of such characters
Who made it easy to enjoy work and play

The girls were all seated together
On the opposite side of the room:
To help reduce the scope for horseplay
And to damp down the boys' va va voom

The girls' playground was the School tennis courts
And that's where they played netball too:
Many a boy's nose got stuck in the wire netting
In trying to get the very best view

In their tunics and knickers of bottle green
And with some lovely legs on full show:
No wonder we boys couldn't resist this scene
And attention, to our own skills, was low

So our football team was not very dashing
Its best achievement was to draw one-one
Against a team that previously gave us a thrashing
By the margin of eight goals to one

Our Centre Vale pitch was always a mudbath
And the leather ball became completely soaked through:
We used to dread being required to head it
Nor could we kick it more than a yard or two

Brave headers were often required of us
And I wouldn't tell my readers any lies:
These caused the loss of so many brain cells
They cost the School its third Nobel Prize

For the Danes I played football and cricket (and also for the school teams)
And tennis with a young Miss Gledhill: (Jacqueline, much better than J Hunter Donne.)
What of the famous moth-eaten yellow jersey? (Her tennis wasn't bad, either!)
Well folks, it hangs in my garage, still (We won the School Doubles Tennis Trophy)

At school, nicknames were commonplace
And they all seemed to add to the fun:
Mine was Dobus, which is quite obvious
But how on earth did the Head become Crun?

That's the end of my recollections
But you're welcome to add your own verse:
I'll add a few lines in conclusion
But I'll try to keep to a few words

We've always known that the broad education
Which we gained at the Tod Grammar School
Was as good as most found in this nation
And through life it's been our best tool

But it's 50 years since we were all together
Such a lot has happened since then:
Still, all of us are now much better-looking
Please repeat this, again and again

Our Class has a lot of achievement
As we surely must all recognise:
We owe a lot to our old alma mater
Even if no-one gained a Nobel Prize

We, whose parents all worked in factories,
Were given the very best of all starts:
Good education made the best of our ability
To a standard no Comprehensive imparts

Don't fix what ain't broke is a good rule:
To provide education that's excellent and free:
I recommend that we bring back the Grammar Schools
Especially that in Todmorden at old Ferney Lee

It is important to say a big thank you
To Yvonne for achieving her grand aim:
Her team has done a great job in uniting
The class of '55 once again

So Yvonne, Sheila, Freda, Margaret and Derek
Thanks to you, it's all been such great fun:
So this is Dobus, a former Sub-Prefect
Signing off with a hearty WELL DONE!!

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 10:26 / 30th May 2021 / 7899

Page Ref: M_19

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