CONTRIBUTION BY FRANK WOOD 1953/1962
I spent my early years at Terra Nova in Forest Gate, Blackpool and I think it was my parents believing that the last form wasn’t doing so well that they decided to transfer me to St. Joseph’s College which must have had a good rating to have a better chance to pass my 11+.
I took the Saturday morning entrance exam and passed. I think this was 1953 and Bro. Woodhouse was headmaster. I started in the prep hut with a lovely old guy called Bro. Moss. I remember we used to play outside the hut with our dinky racing cars seeing who could roll the cars down the hill the furthest. Simple but fun past times in those days. I went down to St. Kentigern’s and took my 11+ and proceeded to Form 1 with Mr. McGrahan. I remember reading this passage and trying unsuccessfully to answer the questions so I was brought to the front and bent over the desk and walloped with a pump. I must have worn the clockface out just waiting for hometime, day after day.
I am C of E and Nikolas Jorgensen and I used to spend 1200 – 1230 every day in an empty classroom, supposedly reading but getting constantly checked up on by Ghandi (Bro. Dolan) while everyone else studied RI. I only lived close by so raced home at 1230 for my dinner…a lucky escape from the school dinners.
I remember lots of the names of teachers and can picture most of them. I must have been lucky because although I got the strap from quite a few, my path didn’t cross with the lunatic O’Brien. I just saw him. Here are some episodes…
I must have made somebody laugh in Mr. McPhee’s English class so he said “Wood, come out and explain to the class why you are a comedian”. I thought - right! He thought I would be tongue-tied and wouldn’t say anything…wrong…I told the joke about the Arabs and the fez .You know the one, I don’t recognise the face but the fez is familiar. The whole class laughed their heads off and he said “Right, back to your seat”. I remember John Bentus Bentley with tears rolling down his face.
We had a teacher called Mr. Brough, or Freeborough or similar, who took us for physics. I was into radios from an early age and told him about a No.17 set transceiver I had. He asked to borrow the manual and stupid me lent it to him. He never returned it even though I pestered him every time I saw him. He eventually offered me 2/6 after I threatened him with going to the headmaster. There were three of us who had walkie-talkies (38 sets) and these vhf transceivers (17 sets) and used to talk to each other after school…they were my best friend Martin Lord, who emigrated to USA and Raymond Meadows. I thought I would get my own back on Brough so I brought a 120 volt battery to school and wired it up to the teacher’s desk on the metal side strips where he used to grab when teaching. The bad news is he spotted it somehow and said it was dangerous. Right.
On the first floor behind that concertina shutter was the art class with Mr. Barber. I used to draw missiles and he didn’t mind as long as I painted them. He was an easy-going guy.
I remember the new science block…strap-happy Bro. Shreenan took us for chemistry and he was good at organic chemistry. I enjoyed it. We had the new micro test tubes etc. Unfortunately, one day, I had the bunsen burner on for just a second too long and christened the new blue ceiling with some red stuff. I got away with that but not when I heated some acids and it shot all over my lab coat and straight through a thick jotter. My mother managed to pinch bits from inside the coat to repair the holes. Nice one.
Les Charles took us for Latin and I enjoyed it. He used to arrive at school on a green NSU Quickly moped. Well, I bought it off him. When I got home, I grabbed the handlebars and gave it a kick on the pedals to start it. The bracket holding the handlebars broke so I stripped it off and took it into school. He gave me the money for a new bracket …decent bloke, although he gave the strap at lot. My classmate Tony Nickson also bought a grey Quickly and we parked them round to the right opposite the prep hut leaning on the main building. Well, Ghandi appeared and just looked at them and agreed to let us leave them there…amazing. I failed Latin in the June but passed in the November retake which pleased me as Charles had worked hard with us on Aeneid book 9 with all it’s hastas and scutums…swords, shields and spears stuff.
I remember the French couple, Mr. And Mrs. Sempierre. Is that their name? He was ok with us and gave us notes with Banc de Francais and helmets drawn on them if we did well. His wife was a real looker. They did sword fencing and she had a scar on her leg, apparently, and she showed this to another class…lucky beggars.
I remember the Radio Luxemburg request as well…some boarders got expelled. I think I heard it going out as it was my fave radio station. Dan Dare was on 1915 – 1930 and on Monday night at 1930 – 2000 on the Light Prog was Journey Into Space. I have all the recordings of that now.
We had Oscar Slater for maths who was a good bloke…shame he died in the year we were to take our O levels. His place was taken by our classmate John Naylor…a brilliant and pleasant lad…he tried his best to teach us until somebody else arrived…don’t remember who.
I went into the sixth form with Jo Snow and remember one incident. We went from the classroom at the top of the block along to the physics lab where Jo plonks all the exercise books down on the top of a fire extinguisher while he fumbles for the keys. Well, the extinguisher set off and the hose swung around madly. Jo tried to catch the hose without too much success. We backed up and laughed our heads off. Jo got wet and so did our books. He finally got into the lab and proceeded to hang the books on retort stands to dry…priceless.
I was hopeless in the debating society and remember once I stood up and said “I hope you vote for this side of the house” and then sat down. However, it was a different story with the science society. I gave a talk on the workings of television. Everyone was interested and asking questions and it got to about 1650, that’s about an hour and the teacher said I had better stop as some had buses to catch.
I tried to avoid rugby and cricket and did cross-country as I was a swimmer who swam for Blackpool. After many years of asking, the school finally took up swimming and we entered the school swimming gala. I have enclosed a pic of our team but can’t remember everyone’s name on it.
I know there is Tony Leadwith, myself, Tony Heaton, Paul Nixon and was it Peter ? Ellwood on the back row and Victor Luscombe in the white on the front row. Were the other two Ball brothers? Apologies for forgetting.
I thoroughly enjoyed the time at Joe’s Jailhouse…the lads were all nice people. I could name a lot…never any trouble. Just a few in my various classes…Leo Fletcher, Adrian Dunn, Michael Walsh, John Bentley, Paul Nixon, Tony Nickson, Maurice Comachio, Paul Garrity, Peter O’Riley, Tommy Lawton, Robert Wilson, Frank Cornwell, Denis Toohey, Michael Gallaher, Christopher Gradwell, Martin Lord and more. Also John McNulty and his posh New Yorker bicycle but he wasn’t in my year.
My first job was as a sound engineer at the BBC, Broadcasting House, where I met lots of DJ’s etc and was there at the start of Radio One. I stayed there for 19 months and then went to Granada Television as an engineer for 24 years and made redundant in 1993. Also designed and built auto electronics for all the famous cars including Rolls Royce, Jaguar, Vauxhall, BMW and Man Trucks 1999 – 2000 and then a short spell of teaching computers last year.
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