Brian Nicholson (1955-8)

Memories of Nether Edge Grammar School
Brian Nicholson

I arrived at the school in early September 1955. A very apprehensive “new boy”. Self consciously attired in an oversized blazer. Capfirmly on head. Struggling with a cumbersome new empty satchel. Not knowing anyone. Without direction or instruction. I timidly approached the school gates.The school buildings looking cold and friendless. A bewildering place. Nothing like the warm, friendly junior school in Shropshire that I had left in July. This was “big school”. Fear must not be shown.

I mingled with what were obviously other “new boys”. Short trousers, oversized blazers, large caps, dwarfed by their new satchels. Pale faced, anxious, trembling boys, many near to tears.

Eventually, after a lot of confusion. I was ordered into a room with about thirty other boys. Given a form to fill in with name, address, father’s name, etc. Informed that Mr. Ramsbottom was my form master,and is addressed as, “Sir”, and had I brought my dinner money?

Ordered to find a desk and sit. Then immediately move to be seated in alphabetical order.Being called by our surnames only. Told when to sit ,when to stand,when to answer and when to not. I was in Richmond House, what ever that meant? All very quick, efficient, and baffling.

Marshaling us for our first assembly was quite an experience. Mr Ramsbottom ask us all to stand.Then sit. Then stand .Then sit. Let do it again quietly! Long pause. He then directed each row of boys out of the room to the stairs. These lead down to the assembly area. This carried out in silence. We walked in single file about turned to face a small dais. We were packed together like the proverbial sardine. To await the appearance of the headmaster. Mr. Wilkinson. He swept, glided across from an ajacent office onto the dias, cloak billowing behind him.To an impressionable young boy like me.This man was god. To some extent, in my mind, he remaind so, during my time at Nether Edge Grammar School.
Memories of Nether Edge Grammar School : Recollections of the teachers.

After the jolt of the introduction to this”Draconion”, enviroment. It was time to weigh up my teachers. For a start, they being all male was a shock. Previously, all my teachers had been female.

Mr. George “Wilky” Wilkinson (math)

An overweight man, with a breathless,wheezy, quiet voice. Always dressed in a dark three piece suit,over which he wore his masters gown with an air of grandeur. I knew him from very close quarters indeed. For I was the boy who was quite regularary selected to endure being “cuddled”, by Mr.Wilkinson in front of the class. As he perched himself on the corner of his desk. While he explained, or had me attempt to explain, a math procedure that we were failing to grasp.

Mr. Kenneth “Rabbi” Ramsbottom (scripture) My first year form master. A particularly favourite teacher. On one occasion, due to a lapse in my memory, he had me write fifty times. Lest I should forget. “Repentance is sorrow for sin. Leading to a change of life”. He was correct on both points!

As his particular subject was scripture, and in certain passages in the scriptures the subject of “relationships” would frquently arise. He had the unenviable task of answering the awkward questions us boys, who already knew the answers to, asked. A flushed faced man already, on these occasions, would inevitably would flush even more, to the point of his eyes watering. To the delight of us boys.

Mr. Leonard “Len” Buchan (english)

A terrifying man. I would dread his lessons. He would stroll into the classroom, with that large gripbag of his. Full of the previous weeks essays. Then glare around the class for a victim for the day. Quite often me. However, one very hot Friday afternoon he did redeem himself. He bought the whole class an ice cream each. A generous gesture!

Mr. Biltcliff (music)

“Taffatety tars” Biltcliff’s rythmic tappings, was beyond my comprehension also.

Mr. John Cookson (music)

He succeeded Biltcliff. A much younger man. I remember with horror an occasion when he required “voices”, for his choir. Each boy in turn required to perform a solo. That was a test I wanted to fail. Thankfully I did. I have to thank him however for introducing me to classical music and its delights.

Mr. “Gus” Platt (history)

He entered the classroom clutching two bags. One contained history notes. The other a deterrent. The slipper! Endless dictation would follow, interspersed with “umms” and “arrs”.

Mr. Charles “Charlie” Simpson (french)

Generally an affable man. That is until he lost his temper. Wow! Then watch out. No one person would suffer. The whole class would have to. He once ordered everyone,during one “flare up”, to stand on their chairs,with hands on head, for the duration of the lesson.

He had a tendency to balance his chair on the back two legs. He went to far once. Woomph! Deathly silence. No one dared to breath, never mind go to his aid. He struggled to his feet,and without a glance or a word,left the room. We erupted.

He returned later as though nothing had occured.

Mr. John Mann (chemistry)

I remember him as a dapper man. He made chemistry interesting and exciting. One episode that comes to mind was thermometer making. Especially the blowing of the glass bubble for the reservoir. You would have though we making light bulbs. Hilarious.

Mr. Henry Parsons (art)

Art being my life and living. Mr. Parsons had a great influence. I liked his gentle humour and admired his talent. I welcomed his guidance, and took his advice.

Thank you Mr. Parsons.

Although my time at Nether Edge was short. They were very formative years. Nearly fifty years have passed, but to me, to use a well used cliche,

“It only seems like yesterday”.


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