|"And did those feet
in ancient time" - thank you, Wayne Flintham for arousing such warm
and wonderful memories by reminding me of that hymn. It still moves
me whenever I hear it and I am sure the roots of this are from my time at
WCGS. This has inspired me to put on paper some of my memories of
that time, so here goes.
was born and bred in Furness Road and therefore lucky enough to have two
schools within easy walking distance, Furness Road primary school and, of
course, Willesden County Grammar School, aka "The County".
I have indelible memories of my first
day at the County.
My first form mistress was Miss Carr
and I have always had a great deal of respect for this very good and
dedicated teacher but our relationship had a rather uneasy start. I
had a brother who preceded me at the County by 2 years but was not a
natural academic and was not exactly a model pupil (to be fair, he was in
the wrong school for his interests and aptitudes). Miss Carr was,
for a while, his form teacher. On my first day we were all sitting
awaiting the arrival of our first teacher with the usual first day nerves
when in walked Miss Carr. We all stood up. "Be seated" was the
command and we all sat down again. Miss Carr then said, "Who is
Smith's brother?". I put my hand up. "Stand up" she said.
She looked at me with a withering look and said "I have had a lot of
trouble from your brother, I will have no trouble from you. Do you
understand?". I went extremely red, gave a rather meek "Yes Miss" in
reply and sat down. For a while I was clearly "on probation" but, in
fairness, I think she soon realised that she had a different pupil than my
brother and after that we got on fairly well.
If anyone remembers my brother, his
name was Derek Smith and attended from 1950-55. Unfortunately Derek
developed multiple sclerosis in his late teens and sadly died in 1975 at
the age of 36.
Like Wayne, I too recall the smells
from the laboratories and have similar, but different, memories regarding
Miss Halliday. I was never taught by her but do remember that you
knew when she was approaching because her exotic perfume preceded her!
Another member of staff that heralded their approach, but this time by
loudness of voice, was Herr Konigsberg. If I remember correctly his
favourite threat was "I'll push you through the wall, boy!". And
this at 20 decibels. I think some actions and attitudes we endured
would not be allowed today but I suspect that we had more respect for our
One of my most enduring and pleasant
memories is of the end of term shows put on by the staff. (And the
disappointment of being banned from attending because of some
misdemeanour?) I recall that one year the staff did "1066 and All
That" with "Big Bill" Beaumont (he of the loud waistcoats) as a
magnificent Henry the VIII and Harry Crampton as "Blondie" (Debbie Harry,
eat your heart out) the minstrel who played Danny Boy on the trombone.
Bill Beaumont was an exceptional maths teacher who made maths fun and
therefore you listened and learned.
On the subject of Harry Crampton,
another exceptional teacher, the story was that he had at one time played
with the Dorsey Brothers. I think this was probably schoolboy
over-imagination because I have read several books on big bands and, in
particular, the Dorseys and have never seen mention of Harry C. But,
you never know.
I was never any good at sport or
games but did my bit as instructed for the sake of the school. I
wonder what the reaction of Dr. Roberts would have been to the current PC
attitude to things competitive, i.e. "We don't play football or cricket at
our school because someone would have to lose". Life is a
competition whether we like it or not and where better to learn to compete
than at a good school surrounded by your peers suffering exactly the same
pressures? There is no shame in coming second, third or even
seventeenth as long as you did your best. I don't think I was
scarred for life by often being the latter (but please don't ask my wife
her opinion on this!). Incidentally, I married Jill Gulson in 1966
who is also ex WCGS and we have lived in Northamptonshire for the last 34
I seem to remember that Dr. Roberts
was not very tall or large of frame and did not believe in corporal
punishment. But I can still remember the trepidation one felt when
summoned to his presence for breaching some rule or other. If you
were sent to see "The Doc" you usually deserved what you got! I only
once was entered in the Black Book and cannot now remember what I did.
Is this so as to blot out the memory of some horrendous or dastardly deed
or early senility setting in? (Once again, please don't ask my
For some time after leaving school I
kept in regular touch with five of my classmates, mainly by enjoying a
beer or two on Friday nights, but I'm only in regular contact with one of
them now, Geoff Attewill, and that is now down to swapping Christmas cards
and meeting on very special occasions.
I too am pleased that I received a
broad based and well rounded education at a good school surrounded mainly
by good and dedicated teachers and fellow pupils. Obviously there
were the usual proportions of bad apples (teachers and pupils alike) but
we survived intact.
Because of friends and family moving
away or, in some cases, passing away, I do not have the need to visit old
stamping grounds of my youth. But I still have very many happy
memories of the area, the school and friends, and I am sure that these
will stay with me for as long as my memory stays sound. Finally, may
I share my other enduring musical memory, the end of term hymn, "Saviour
Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise". Another tune always guaranteed
to raise goose bumps.
Thank you everyone.
Forms 1G to 5G