Web Page 1126
3rd March 2013
Top Picture: A Wimshurst Machine
Bottom Picture: The School Hall today
Heavens I was 67 this week I am getting old!!!!!
Never to be used Again.
Now do you remember all those interesting and unpredictable General Science classes with Bert Ray (Thunder and lightening boy being his favourite phrase). The one thing I do remember about my last days at school is going into his lab at the top of the building for some reason and explaining to him how we knew if he was in a good mood or not. Do you remember? Bert was a very unique science teacher with his own individual, very distinctive style. We always thought that we could tell his mood by his hair, if it was all disheveled and wild he was in a good mood, but woe betide you if it was slicked down, there was trouble brewing. When on our last day we told him this he was amazed to find out that he did it and that we had actually noticed
and I have often wondered if, by telling him, we ruined the classes for the pupils who followed us!
But never to be used again applied to much of the apparatus and equipment we used in Bert’s classes. Now when was the last time you used a Bunsen Burner out of the school context, or a retort stand, flask, glass tubing, Litmus Paper or concentrated Sulphuric Acid, I would hazard a guess at years ago if ever; and when was the last time you wrote QED at the end of a paragraph? No it did not mean Quite Enough Done it is Latin quod erat demonstrandum, which translates as "which was to be demonstrated".
Most of us enjoyed Bert’s classes, which is more than could be said for the Science classes we had at Court Lane before we moved. Our teacher there was Miss Fields a lady we were all frightened of and who made us learn chemical initials and atomic weights. She was a character and used to arrive at school on an old BSA Bantam motorcycle and she was always dressed for the occasion in long coat, helmet, goggles and gauntlets. I think it was when I was in the second year she graduated to a three wheeled car. I wonder what happened to her, I really do not remember her once we moved to Manor Court.
The other science teacher of course was Nelson Trowbridge who taught Biology but as I never took Biology I have no memory of his teaching methods, in fact I cannot remember every being in his class for any subject.
But those of us who were in Bert’s class will never forget one particular experiment that he did with every class he had and had a sadistic pleasure in conducting and this was using the Wimshurst Machine. For those who have forgotten or do not know the Wimshurst machine had the two insulated discs and their metal sectors rotated in opposite directions passing a crossed metal neutralizer bars and their brushes. An imbalance of charges is induced, amplified, and collected by two pairs of metal combs with points placed near the surfaces of each disk. These collectors are mounted on insulating supports and connected to the output terminals. The positive feedback increases the accumulating charges an electric spark jumps across the gap. That was the principle but Bert used it to ‘entertain’ as he called it. The whole class had to stand up and hold hands, the last person in the line then had to grab hold of a gas tap. Bert would be at the machine and would get the first child to hold the outlet wire. He would then proceed to wind the handle of the machine faster and faster until the static electricity built up, then all of a sudden it would discharge and run to earth through the innocent pupils holding hands to the gas tap, when there was sharp crack and we all felt an electrical shock in our biceps. I am not sure what this proved but Bert certainly enjoyed it.
Also somewhere in the back of my mind is the name of Fred Vince. He was the elderly lab assistant that worked in both labs on the top floor. Fred must be dead now but he lived in station Road and was an interesting character. He was also an organist and I remember visiting him once and he showing me a small necklace, which came from Tutankhamun’s tomb, Lord Caernarfon gave it to him when they opened the tomb. Fred was one of the clerical staff who helped catalogue the finds.
What has happened to these teachers of 50+ years ago?
Unfortunately Bert is no longer with us however June Blitz stayed friends with Bert and his wife until he died .
Miss Fields: She caused me much heartache in trying to remember chemical symbols Zn zinc and Ag silver (I think) and atomic weights. I have no idea of her Christian name or of what happened to her.
Nelson Trowbridge was popular with a lot of his pupils. I do remember the black bushy beard and his three-wheeled Trojan car with the kick-start under the bonnet. In fact I had an email from someone recently asking if I knew of his whereabouts, but unfortunately I could not help.
Looking at the above I do have a list of thirty-three teachers some entries with photographs although many are poor, along with any details I have of them. If you would like a copy of the list email me and I will send it as an attachment to you.
Now I really must say QED
Stay in touch
You did not mention the school orchestra. I was trying to remember who the female teacher piano player was but I can't remember ! I played the trumpet and we had lessons one afternoon a week at the far end of the hall which I believe was later a study room near the showers? I cannot remember who the music teacher was either that came in for that one afternoon a week.
I know I use to play with some others during assembly time in the morning hymns etc.etc. and Mr. Davies use to put me off as he would lean on the lectern and stare down at us over his glasses but of course he was only listening to us playing rather than staring us out. There were NO recorder's, thank goodness.
News and Views:
My book 'The Time of Our Lives' is now available to read as an on line book.
On this day 3rd March 1960-1965
On 03/03/1960 the number one single was Why - Anthony Newley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was not listed and the box office smash was Some Like It Hot. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was USSR wins Winter Olympics
On 03/03/1961 the number one single was Sailor - Petula Clark and the number one album was Tottenham Hotspur. The top rated TV show was The Army Game (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £not very interesting and 13.25 were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story was the start of the comedy programme Bootsie & Snudge (Granada).
On 03/03/1962 the number one single was Rock-a-Hula Baby/Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was John Glenn was 1st US astronaut to orbit earth.
On 03/03/1963 the number one single was The Wayward Wind - Frank Ifield and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 03/03/1964 the number one single was Diane - Bachelors and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 03/03/1965 the number one single was I'll Never Find Another You - Seekers and the number one album was Rolling Stones Number 2 - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was Goldie the Eagle escapes London Zoo.