John Needham (1953 – 58)

Memories of Nether Edge Grammar School:
John Needham (1953-58)

I was there from 1953 until 1958 (the School’s final year). You have jogged my memory in respect of certain teachers and activities. Certainly, one of my most vivid memories is of the game involving leaping onto the backs of others to try to collapse the line. I hated it. The other game was, of course, ‘tiggy’ or ‘tag’ that was of limited duration in such a small playground. One escape route was via the ‘monkey cage’. This was a narrow alley behind the air raid shelter standing in the middle of the playground and, if you could dart into that, you could escape being ‘tagged’.

On the subject of buildings it was ironic that we were unable to have woodwork lessons due to the unsafe nature of the woodworking room floor at first floor level.

Do you remember the paper ink bombs that pupils used to throw from the first floor of the main building? I still make the paper bombs to amuse the grandchildren. Sad isn’t it? As you say, the school ‘houses’ were Conisborough (green), Peveril(in Castleton, Derbyshire) (blue), Richmond (red) and York (yellow). I was in Peveril but contributed very little to their points tally so far as sport as concerned.

Other memories in brief were:

Jumping off the old Crossley bus (Inner Circle route I think) as it toiled to the top of the hill adjoining the school before it carried on for about another 50 yards to the bus stop. This activity was quite rightly banned by the headmaster.

The screech of brakes as learner drivers practiced their emergency stops in the streets surrounding the school. Snowball fights in the adjoining streets after school.

A particularly ‘atmospheric’ Christmas Carol Concert and Service at the local church (St Andrews I think).

Getting the slipper or skittle for climbing up the goal nets.

Trapping the big finger of my right in the door leading to the Chemistry Lab. It is now perfectly healthy but is a third as big again as the corresponding finger on my left hand. I often wondered if…………..

So far as teacher recollection is concerned I remember Claude very well, particularly for the reason you quote. I can picture him now with his head in his hands. His name was Reins and I think Claude was his nickname after the film actor of that period and earlier.

The nutty chemistry teacher was Harold Potts (‘Potty’) and he was completely bald if I remember rightly.

Mr Wilkinson was made headmaster during the time I was there (I think). I remember him only for his obesity and his very ‘light coloured’ voice.

The Geography teacher I recall most was nicknamed ‘Spiv’ (Sellers I think) who used to give you a lot of class work and just sit with his feet on the desk reading a magazine. His pronunciation of Archipelago (Archipullaygo) and Dun Laoghaire (Dun Layoggaire) will remain with me forever.

A teacher who was disliked a lot was a Scotsman, Len Buchan who was the ‘King of Detention’. He was an English master who taught me for a lot of my time there. Being naturally very well behaved (oh yeah!) I had few problems with him and came to respect him a lot. I can remember at least two occasions when he not only gave me stars for my work but also taped the odd coin in my exercise book. What a guy.

The PE teacher I remember most, particularly for the size of his Adams Apple, was a Mr Cooper.

The Religious Instruction teacher was Ken Ramsbottom. I received an email from a friend recently who had just met him and he apparently remembered me. Wow!.


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