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History

Dunstable Grammar School emerged from the original Francis Ashton School and later Dunstable School. The School eventually went on to become Manshead Upper School. The development of the school and the events in its history will make up this section of the site.

As always, please let me know if you have anything to add or correct and, in particular, if you have any old photos or publications relating to the school.

 

 

School history  

Frances Ashton
L C R Thring
E E Apthorp
A R Thompson
A F R Evans

G H Bailey

L P Banfield

 

Drama

 

 

 

 

 

1901 Census Form

 

 

1880 - 1921

1900 - 1929

1921 - 1927

1927 - 1948

1948 - 1960

1960 - 1980

 

1896

1926

1938

 

 

 

1901a

1901b

1901c

 

 

The War Years  

They died for their country

THE OTC

Today   DSOBA

Manshead Upper SchoolThis links to an EXTERNAL site which is completely independent of this site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DUNSTABLE  SCHOOL HEADMASTERS

 

L C R Thring
1880-1921

 

A R Thompson
1921-1927


 

A F R Evans
1927-1948

 

G H Bailey
1948-1960
 

L P Banfield
1960-1980

INTRODUCTION
Frances Ashton
The existence of Dunstable School was made possible by the Will of a woman who died in 1727. Her name was Frances Ashton.
In that Will, money was left for many charitable purposes; the relief of poor clergymen: the maintenance of six local almswomen: the provision of bread, each Sunday, for the poor of Dunstable: the aid of discharged prisoners, the maintenance of a charity school in St Giles, Cripplegate. Also thirty shillings a year, or more, were to be used for repairing and cleaning the clock which was set upon the School House, at Dunstable.
Over the hundred and twenty years which followed her death, the value of Frances Ashton's estate vastly increased and a charity was established to administer the terms of the Will. Eventually, in 1868, when some property was sold for £14,500, it was decided to devote the money to 'one special object’. A Grammar School, suitable for one hundred pupils, was to be founded, together with a headmaster's house, to include room for twenty boarders.
In September, 1888, this school opened its doors for its first term. Some forty small boys filed through them - Hugh, John and Oliver Anderson, Ernest and Frank Gladwell, Walter Keeling, Frank Oliver and C H Dixon among them. They were "the sons of professional men, tradesmen and others" and their education was "a moderate expense" to their parents. They must have felt rather overawed. For the first time in their short lives, they encountered, "the real public school system of strict discipline, hard work, compulsory games, and the punishment to fit the crime."

THE EARLY YEARS OF THE SCHOOL
L C R Thring
When Dunstable School opened its doors in September, 1888, its first Headmaster was L C R Thring, of the Thring family of Uppingham. Mr Thring had previously been an assistant master at Wellingborough Grammar School, and he and Mrs Thring were to remain in Dunstable until 1921, establishing a firm reputation for fairness and dedication to the school, and a "family atmosphere" which many Old Boys remembered with affection. In a school magazine of 1911, one such Old Boy recalls,
"In our Head we have a man who, with his sterling qualities and splendid character, has always set a noble example and appealed to the best instincts of his boys. He has from the first earned their respect and something far greater, that is, their affection..... he is stern enough when occasion desires, as all disciplinarians must be, but to judge him properly, you must see him in school, and then out of school joining in the outdoor sports and excelling at them all in a way that wins the admiration of those privileged to be present."
The same writer speaks of Mrs Thring as "a kind and gracious lady". She it was who, with the help of a School Matron, had the job of looking after the gradually increasing numbers of boarders, some of whom, as the years passed, came from as far afield as France, Italy, America, China and India. (see 1901 census) Her husband was a very able and enthusiastic cricketer and another magazine article recalls that "Our heartiest congratulations go to the Head on scoring a brilliant century against Felstead for the MCC."
In fact, a favourite early punishment for any misdemeanours committed by the original forty-nine pupils was to man a heavy roller, as part of a team of eight, in order to level the surface of the cricket pitch. Cricket matches are reported in the magazine of 1899 as having been played against St Albans Grammar School, Bedford County School, and Christ's College, Finchley. In 1900 came the first of the Cricket Weeks, involving past and present Masters and Boys of the Dunstable School, in matches against the County and the town. Mr Thring’s name features prominently in these first reports.
A 0 Jones, later to captain England, played in one Old Boys' Cricket Week, and a number of Bedfordshire county matches took place on the school field.
Mr Thring was first assisted in the running of the school by Mr J Healing and Mr Clarke. From 1890 to 1894, J T Phillipson was the second master and he was succeeded by Mr W F Brown, who was to remain at the school in every sense of the word - for, being a bachelor, he lived on its premises - for thirty years. Mr Eric Baldock, who attended the school in the 1920's, remembers that Mr Brown was plagued by bronchial asthma, but in spite of this, he too was an enthusiastic cricketer, and a very important figure in many ways in the life of the school. A report speaks of:
"the depth and sincerity of his religious feelings, his largeness of heart and keen sense of fair play."

 

E E APTHORP
In 1900, E E Apthorp joined the school straight from Cambridge, where he had gained great golf successes. Mr Baldock has told me that the famous 'trio' of Thring, Brown and Apthorp not only lived for their school and boys, but that they were mainly responsible for starting Dunstable Golf Club. Mr Baldock also remembers these three masters bringing the boarders from the school to Matins at the Priory Church each Sunday. Mr W T Lack, who joined the teaching staff in 1924, remembers Mr Apthorp as a fatherly figure - "the old style schoolmaster". He was to teach classics, and to live at the school until his retirement in 1929.
This appreciation of Mr Apthorp appears in the magazine of 1943.

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EDMOND EAST APTHORP
(An Appreciation)
* * * *

Edmund East Apthorp, formerly Classics master at Dunstable School, whose death has just been announced, will be mourned by Old Dunstablians all over the world.
He was the ideal schoolmaster. He taught for the love of the game and because he loved and understood boys. In return they loved and admired him.
His surname lent itself to the singularly apposite nickname "Appy" and as "Appy" he was known from his very early days in Dunstable until his retirement in 1929. And "Appy" summed up that large, benign figure perfectly.
He had a ready smile and kindly word for everyone, in his dealings he was just, in his friendships loyal; and he was ever sensitive to the finer values of life. He could converse brilliantly upon a variety of subjects, and his sense of humour never failed him.
He was a great sportsman in the best sense of the word. His exploits with the cricket bat are becoming almost legendary when big hitting is mentioned in Bedfordshire conversation, but with whatever feats posterity may credit him, it is the unvarnished fact that he hit balls right over the old mill bordering the school ground -Gargantuan shots - and it was common gossip in the lower school that “Appy" can hit a hockey ball twice as far, using one hand, as anybody else in the school can, using two." At golf, too, he was that rare phenomenon, a "plus" man, and captained Cambridge University in his year.
Of him it might truly be said:-

All His life was gentle; and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man!"

Perhaps one of the best pieces of appreciation Of the 'Grand Triumvirate’ as Thring, Brown and Apthorp were known, is the poem written in their memory by H E Hunt, an Old Dunstablian.

As boys preparing for the world of men
Now proved a world whose evil still rides high),
We met three mentors, greater now than then,
Whose influence on our lives can never die.
Tiggy the kindly, loved as few are loved,
Belgy the gentle, dwelling among his books,
Appy the strong, with interests that moved
From Greek to skates "sixes" and fishing hooks
Now each is gone to whatsoever waits
Beyond the last bell in the world of school;
But they have helped to mould our lives and fates,
And we thank God for their ungrudging rule.

Among the first pupils of the school were C F Dixon, Hugh Anderson, and Ernest and Frank Oliver, and this magazine has spoken already of the 'system of strict discipline, hard work, compulsory games and the punishment to fit the crime' that they encountered. From the earliest days, the House System has existed in the school, in its first form as a friendly but definite rivalry between day pupils and boarders. At the end of each year, each boy was obliged to submit to an oral and written examination (in all his subjects) by the London School of Examiners. The report of this was given at the annual Speech Day in July. The report of 1899 makes interesting reading.

SPEECH DAY- 1899

"SPEECH DAY" this year fell on Saturday, July 29th, on which occasion there was again a large gathering of the boys' parents and friends in the School Hall. The Governors were represented by Mr Hugh Smith (Chairman), Mr R M Harvey, the Rev. Canon Macaulay, MY George W E Russell, Mr B Bennett, Mr H Hankey, and Mr G H Edwards. The Rev. Paul Wyatt, of Bedford, distributed the prizes, and among those present were Sir Edgar Sebright, the Mayor of Dunstable (Alderman F T Garrett), Major C S Benning, and many others.
The detailed report of the examination having been read, in which particular praise was given to the excellence of Hare's Classics and Watkin's Mathematics, Mr Reynolds Squire, M.A., F.R.S.L., who made a viva voce examination of the School, in summing up, said that the general results were highly satisfactory. The classical knowledge shown by the boys of the Upper VI Form deserved the highest praise, and would rank with that expected at any of our best, especially classical, schools. Hare's Greek was also entirely satisfactory, and his name should be heard of in the near future as an honour to the School.
The Lower VI. was a very fair Form, but there was a great difference between individual members. He found on the whole, the grammar had improved since last year. The examination of Form V. in French was most satisfactory, Hansard being especially good all round, while Martin shone in conversation. Holloway, Hyder, and Lenthall might also be mentioned. In Latin, the syntax was a little deficient, but the work was uniformly very fair.
Form IV. had made great strides in Latin since last year. Walker's answers were especially good, and Mawley, too, should be mentioned. Much care had evidently been bestowed on grammar. In French, Vanzandt and Homberger were excellent, and Brown ii. was good.
Form III. was an intelligent class, Wilson and Rosson ii. being good in French, and Wilson's Latin, as well as that of Bayly and Shaw, being well done.
The writing of Form II. was bold, clear and good, but the spelling was uncertain. All the boys came in to do their best, and did it. Mr Squire summed up his report as follows:- “A day spent in reviewing the boys gave an outsider a fair estimate of the tone prevailing throughout the School. This tone,” he said without reserve, “was good, The boys were cheery, well-mannered, obedient, and thoroughly nice fellows. The work had evidently been done thoroughly and conscientiously both by teachers and learners.”
“In conclusion,” he said “the Council was of opinion, from the above report, that the School was in a highly satisfactory condition. They would especially draw attention to the fact that, in addition to providing a sound general education, the School had shown itself able to produce very promising candidates both in Classics and Mathematics.”
“It might be anticipated that the School list of University distinctions will receive additions at no distant date. The report of their examiners in Chemistry was also worthy of special notice, and was a subject of great importance on the modern side.”
“They would therefore tender to the Head Master and his staff their congratulations on the nature of the report, and their thanks for the facilities afforded them during the examination.”

In 1896, a library was opened, and a dramatic society was in existence. A school magazine was issued in 1896, and lost money - and a swimming bath had already been constructed. An Old Boys' Association was formed early on and its records tell us something of what happened to these earliest pupils in later life.
The first secretary of the Old Boys' Association was G Oliver Anderson, nicknamed 'Ooley', who in his school career was a 'capital prefect' and later head boy of the school. He must have been something of 'a11-rounder', because he secured a first medal for the school for the best paper sent in by a Senior in the Geography examination, and he also scored a hundred runs in a cricket match for the Boys' XI! He was a champion sprinter and a capable footballer. In 1891, he was the second boy in the school to be awarded the Hankey Gold Medal (W 'Jehu' Gray had received it in 1890) left by Mr Thomson Hankey, one of the original governors, to be awarded annually to the "best all-round boy in the school". Over the years that followed, G 0 Anderson was a regular official of the Old Dunstablians' Club and twice its President, an attender at annual dinners, and a frequent contributor to the magazine. In his obituary in the 1952 magazine, Mr Anderson is recorded as the boy whose name was first on the register of the school. He continued to play in first class hockey until he was 45, and had for many years been a member of his old school's Board of Governors. G 0 Anderson was Chairman of the publishing firm of Harrap & Co., in his business life.
An article appears in the July edition of the 1901 magazine concerning two fellow pupils of G 0 Anderson's. Hugh and John Anderson shared his surname, but their fates were very different from his own.
THEY DIED FOR THEIR COUNTRY
(A report concerning the Deaths in the Boer War of H & J Anderson)
When the call came for men, and that unparalleled outburst of enthusiastic patriotism swept through the country, the little town of Dunstable was in no way behind with offers of loyal sons. For the first time in history, members of our Volunteer Forces were invited to enlist for active service, and in the first Active Service Company of volunteers sent out to our Bedfordshire Regiment in South Africa, Dunstable had four lads; others had offered, but for various reasons had not been accepted. Of those four selected, the Dunstable School had the proud distinction of claiming two as former scholars - Privates Hugh and John Anderson.
Let it be recorded, that on the first occasion when England required assistance from her soldier-citizen sons, the Dunstable School gave two of its former scholars. Private Hugh Anderson died at Sanna's Post, O.R.C., of dysentery, on February 24th. Writing of him, his Commanding Officer said: “He was the life and soul of the company, when on the trek or on short rations; always ready to look on the bright side of things. He was a good soldier and did his duty well. We shall miss him in many ways."
Of Private John Anderson, Captain Fox, writing home to a friend, said:- "I have just met one of Mr Anderson's sons (near Thaba N'chu). The boy has made a fine soldier." That was some months before his death, when Private John Anderson was also full of buoyant life and courage, albeit he was eagerly looking forward to the home-coming that had, even then, been promised our Bedfordshire Volunteers. But for him, as for his brother, there was to be no earthly home-coming.
Hearing that his brother was dangerously ill, he rode in to Thaba N'chu on February 21st to see him, but arrived too late; five hours before he reached that place Hugh had been sent back on the way to the Bloemfontein hospital. He died half-way on the journey, and four days later Private John Anderson received the sad news of his death. On the previous day John had also to report sick with dysentery. He lay in a tent hospital at Thaba N'chu for a week, and was then removed to a house. On March 9th he wrote home: "Twelve months today we landed in S Africa. Our year's service is now completed, and I hope it will not be long before we sail for home."
By a pathetically sad coincidence, the news of his death had reached Dunstable through the medium of the War Office casualty list the day before the arrival of that letter. He had recovered from dysentery, had rejoined his Company on out post duty west of Thaba N'chu, but had fallen a victim there to enteric. He died at Bloemfontein on March 31st.
During his period of active service in S Africa he acted as correspondent for the Dunstable Borough Gazette, and a series of seventeen articles he wrote entitled "With our Volunteers in South Africa", gave a picturesque and interesting history of their movements and the life they led in the campaign, which reflected considerable credit on his School training. Our hearts ache for the loss of these lads, but we have the grand, consoling thought that, bravely and willingly, they offered themselves in the hour of England's necessity; bravely, too, they died for their country.
A W Mooring
Of the others of the first pupils of the school, W Gray, the first winner of the Hankey Gold Medal, went on to become a chemist; E Spencer became a solicitor; Cobley and Cripps (mentioned together), went into banks; G A Marsh studied dentistry, and R J Gladwell was awarded a Senior Classical Scholarship at Cambridge University.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
1901 Census

I have been sent copies of the 1901 census return for the School by a Dr Bruce Durie.

The School was included on the 1901 census as the dwelling of members of staff staff and boarders so it gives a picture of who was at the school at the time. The School entry covers three pages in the census entries. To view them click on the links below.

       1901a1901b, 1901c

* * * * * * * * * * * *


During the early years of the school, hockey was introduced in 1902, and athletics became a feature of school lift, but was not allowed to interfere with cricket! By 1902, when a Fives Court was built, the school numbers had risen to 119, some boys travelled from Luton each day by train, each carriage in charge of a Prefect. In 1903 one of the school's most famous 'characters' joined the school staff as a drill instructor - R.S.M. Odell, who for some time escorted the young commuters from the station to the school, as part of his duties. He remained at the school until 1936, with a break for War service. Sergeant Major Odell has been called a 'stern disciplinarian' but also "the kindliest and most courteous of men". When the Cadet Corps, of which I hope to write more later, was founded at the school, it was in the hands of R.S.M Odell and the school's Armoury Room was his domain. Mr Eric Baldock remembers Sergeant Odell in the 1920's when, as an enthusiastic schoolboy, he, Mr Baldock, marched up to the school gate where Sgt Odell was standing, and saluted him smartly.
"You must NEVER salute an NCO, boy," said the Sergeant sternly. "Then may I salute a gentleman?" asked young Baldock.
Mr Baldock's contemporary, Mr Eric Snoxell, recalls being on CC manoeuvres on the school field when a sharp hailstorm blew up from Dunstable Downs.
"That's where your enemy is!" the Sergeant encouraged his young recruits.
The Sergeant also ran the school's first Tuck Shop, adjacent to the stairway by the school's main entrance. I should imagine that strict order was maintained.
During this early period of the school, chocolate and blue became the school colours and were to remain so for many years. Eton jackets, stiff collars, straw boaters, or school caps became the regular wear for pupils of the School, and any schoolboy spotted in the town without his headgear faced some sharp punishment.
The morale of the school, at this time, seems to have been very high; it was fulfilling its initial aims and establishing its own firm traditions. Numbers continued to increase' and the Thring family motto, "Do the right and fear not" seems to have become part of the ethos of the whole school.


**** THE WAR YEARS ****
and
MR THRING'S RETIREMENT
* * * *

In all, Mr & Mrs Thring were to remain at Dunstable School for thirty-three years. By the time of their retirement to Bath in 1921, the school had on its roll 179 day boys and 82 boarders, and there were 15 full-time masters.
The School had its own Science laboratories, swimming bath, Fives court, tennis courts and sports pavilion. Ashton Lodge housed 21 boarders and three masters. Over the years, there were many visits from Old Boys of the school, and school magazines of the period are full of letters and articles from others, in many parts of the world. In 1913, a silver tea and coffee set and a silver rose bowl were presented to the Thrings on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the school's opening; the following year brought the outbreak of hostilities in the First World War.
Two things seem to emerge from a study of the school magazines of this period. Neither of them is very surprising, but each of them seems to add to a definite impression of the School as it then was. Firstly, there were the very close links which "the many Old Dunstablians who have nobly responded to the call of Duty" (as Mr Thring wrote) maintained with their old school, and secondly the way that the everyday concerns of the school seemed to continue in these difficult and often heartbreaking circumstances.
1914 was recorded as not a good year for football, because of the lack of strong forwards. Four pounds was collected towards the Prince of Wales Fund for the Belgian refugees, though it was felt that some boys could have given more generously. The annual play that year was 'Aladdin and Out!1 duly performed at the Town Hall, with Mr Coales, a popular Science Master and swimming coach, as the Emperor. All proceeds were sent to the Red Cross Fund.
In the following year, the Summer 1915 magazine commented happily that "few have been hunted out of the library" for bad behaviour, and that no books had been lost. This was the year in which Nelson Elgood, an Old Dunstablian, wrote to his former Headmaster, from the Front,
"We are still as busy as ever, with lots of work to keep us amused".
Such work included supervising his Company in digging a communication trench, laying a new fire trench, and working on the construction of a footbridge. N Elgood was later to be awarded the Military Cross, and in 1920 became Assistant Professor of Engineering at St Andrew's University.
Elgood's letter was one of many which found their way to Dunstable. One father, whose son, W H Brantom of the Civil Service Rifles, had earlier won the DCM, wrote to Mr Thring of his son's death in action:-
"He has done credit to the tuition received at Dunstable School".
Among the other losses of the time, the Thrings' only son, 'Teddy', was killed in action.
1916 was the year of a severe mumps epidemic which had quite an effect on the sports fixtures of the time. The weather was cold and wet, and there was no official Speech Day. It was a popular year for swimming - apparently, during the dinner hour, many boys were to be found "splashing and fooling about in the Baths" and there were a record number of boys who learned to swim. There was a brief lived "photographic mania". Also in 1916 some boys began to cultivate their own small vegetable gardens. They grew lettuces, peas, beans and potatoes, towards the War effort. Mr Thring himself converted part of the playing fields into a potato patch! Many boys and some staff, including the Head, gave up part of their summer holiday to help the local farmers in their fields, because of the shortage of labourers.
In the Christmas 1916 magazine, the Headmaster records that:
"A large number of Old Boys took an active part in the Big Push (the Battle of the Somme) which began on the 1st July."
As the War continued, many notices of the deaths of Old Boys began to appear in the school magazines - by the end of the War, there were more than sixty. There were also many visits from those on leave, some of whom brought their families, and red letter days were those on which the school received a visit from Sergeant Major Odell, who did not return permanently from active service until 1919. Over the war period, the Cadet Corps grew in strength and a Bugle Band was formed. Complete with "drum and fife," it made its first appearance on Speech Day, 1919. Seven guineas had been raised by subscription and the Band had acquired its own drum. The Cadet Corps now consisted of 160 members .
By 1920, Mr and Mrs Thring had declared their intention to retire; and on the occasion of the Head's final Speech Day, he spoke once again of the ideals he had always had for the school -to educate boys, not only for a career, but for life, in a way that would affect their entire outlook as well as their aims. At the end of his speech he gathered up his papers and said:
“I can only say goodbye"
On behalf of the Old boys, G 0 Anderson later made a presentation to the Head and his wife and spoke again of the 'second home' which the school had been to many. There were many occasions and presentations that summer, and a grand Cricket Festival at which E E Apthorp scored "a brilliant century:” During its thirty-three years of existence, the school had had only one Headmaster and his departure must really have seemed like "the end of an age" to all who knew him.
 

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THE SCHOOL IN THE TWENTIES

A R THOMPSON
Mr A R Thompson, a graduate of St John's College, Cambridge, became the second Headmaster of the School. His previous appointment had been that of a housemaster at Bedford Modern School, and he acknowledged the "family atmosphere" that prevailed at Dunstable on his arrival, and the "outstanding personalities" he found on the staff, especially Mr Brown and Mr Apthorp. Among Mr Thompson's primary aims for the school were to improve the overall academic performance, and to persuade more boys to stay on in the Sixth Form, in an area of excellent employment prospects for school leavers. It is interesting to note here that Mr Thring, in one of his last official speeches, had also stated that the sixteenth to eighteenth years of a boy's life, in his opinion, were vital ones for his education.
Mr Thompson found some of the classrooms and school furniture in a dilapidated state and a school that was "bursting at the seams". Renovation and extension work were badly needed. Fortunately, during these years, the school was placed on the Direct Grant List, which was a financial help. Also during the "takeover period" subscriptions were being collected towards a new library, to be furnished and equipped as a War Memorial to those Old Boys who had lost their lives in the War. It was finally opened a year later.
In 1922, a grand Garden Fete was held in the school grounds, to tackle two immediate problems - the renovation of the Sports Pavilion and of the Swimming Baths. It was hoped to raise £500, but it exceeded all expectations by a further £200. Popular attractions were the gypsy fortune teller and a complete Pierrot troupe and concert party (of both masters and boys) who entertained the visitors on both days of the fete. There were many stalls and sideshows, a pig and a sheep were raffled by the Boarders, and visitors refreshed themselves with fruit salad and ere am.
1923 saw two changes: Founders' Day and Speech Day were combined into one, a service at the Priory Church in the morning being followed by prizegiving in the cinema in the afternoon; and soccer was replaced by rugby as "the" school sport.
In 1924 a Glee Club was founded, under its first conductor, Mr Hedges. Meetings took place at half past four on Saturday afternoons, and the Head, Mr Apthorp and Mr Lack were among the basses. Their first performance was of Elgar's "Banner of St George" and Sullivan's 'Madrigal' from "The Mikado". In 1926 they were busily rehearsing German's "Merrie England", and in 1927, Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Gondoliers". The Glee Club proved to be a very popular institution. 1926 also saw a production by the Dramatic Society of Shakespeare's "As You Like It". Both pupils and staff took part in this. Mr Coales, who has been mentioned earlier, played Touchstone, and Mr C L Harris, Amiens. Interestingly, two of the masters' wives, Mrs Lack and Mrs Coales, took the two leading female roles of Celia and Rosalind.
The 'twenties' were the popular years of lawn tennis. In 1923, two courts were in constant use, and in 1924, two more became available. These were the years in which the famous tennis tournaments made their first appearance on the school calendar.
At the School in the 1920's, the Scientific Society came into existence. Mr Coales was in overall charge of this and one of its first aims was to study wireless apparatus, although a separate "splinter society" later took over this role. Visits were arranged to all manner of places, such as Rothampstead Experimental Station, Croxley Paper Mills in Watford, and the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. Papers were read to the Society on such diverse subjects as photography, penguins and bridges.
In 1924 came the retirement, partly because of ill health, of W F Brown, who went to live at Chudleigh, in Devon. Mr Thring, his former Headmaster, wrote the official appreciation of this popular teacher, who had originally been appointed to teach Art and Games. "Steady and patient", he had taught Divinity throughout the School and had always remained in charge of school cricket. Mr Brown was presented with a fine oak reading desk by the members of the School.
The 1920's were the age of many school "characters", among them Miss Draper, a "tall, white-haired Victorian lady" from Leighton Buzzard who for many years taught handicraft and drawing. Miss Draper insisted on being addressed as 'Madam' and was otherwise formal, but still gave the boys end-of-term 'treats' of sweets.
Tom Brown, an ex cricket professional, was in charge of the school playing fields for many years. One day he died there while still carrying out his groundsman's duties. The School stoker and caretaker, Charles ("Old") May, left a valuable library on his death in 1942, after many conscientious years about his duty. His chief complaint of several was about the boys' behaviour in his beloved library: "They treat that library something terrible, Sir".
Some important new masters arrived in Dunstable in the 1920's. C L Harris, brother of the playwright Christopher Fry, came to be in charge of the Preparatory Department in Ashton Lodge. H J Butters and C P le Huray, both of whom influenced the school in many ways, were enrolled as staff members. Mr Lack, who came to teach Science, remembers teaching woodwork also for a time, because of staff shortages. Among other things, some benches were made under his supervision for school use. He was also in charge of the swimming and lifesaving classes, taking this over from Mr Coales and Mr Kidd - his ambition was to make every boy in the school a swimmer. Mr Lack even remembers cutting the grass during his first year in Dunstable, when he lived in Ashton Lodge. Perhaps this gives some idea of the versatility of the masters of the time and of the "family atmosphere" which has already been mentioned.
After six years in Dunstable, Mr Thompson left for Solihull School. His legacy to Dunstable was the "New Block" of classrooms, as well as a second Fives Court, improved Science labs, and electric lighting throughout. His successor was A F R Evans, an ex Naval Officer from Stamford School.
1929 was the year in which E E Apthorp retired and it also saw a "first" - the first school visit abroad. A party of 25 boys, Mr Butters and Mr and Mrs le Huray visited Belgium, "taking in" Bruges, Ghent, Brussels and the battlefield of Waterloo. In the same year, some severe frosts were the occasion of a half holiday upon which the whole school skated on the school baths. A second skating expedition was taken further afield to Tring Reservoir, where Matron won the admiration of all, even surpassing the Headmaster in the skill of her manoeuvres!

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

What of the pupils of the time? Mr Eric Baldock remembers his schooldays happily - "You just had to behave yourself - the important things were good manners, courtesy and tidiness - they gave us a gentleman's training". Mr Eric Snoxell's ambition as a Dunstable schoolboy was to hit a 6 at cricket over the windmill by the school field. He remembers the school's strict discipline as no bad thing - he once received two strokes of the cane himself, but like so many schoolboys, cannot remember the offence! He also recalls the, the entire class being given a thousand lines apiece by the Geography teacher because no-one could identify the Doldrums. Despite this, there were the occasional "pranks" - the carefully pre-dampened chalk which would not write on the blackboard and the furtive attempts to eat in class. In spite of the fact that the teacher in charge had only one eye, retribution almost inevitably followed. Perhaps things have not changed so much over the years!


* * * * THE THIRTIES AND FORTIES * * * *
JUBILEE AND WAR
* * * *

A F R EVANS

On A F R Evans' arrival at the School, he embarked on the tasks of raising the academic standard and of increasing numbers in the Sixth Form. The relative lack of older pupils remained a problem for several years - in 1932, of 200 boys on roll, only 60 were over the age of fourteen. In the 1930's, the number of boarders was steadily declining - in 1934, there were only nine. Therefore, the governors offered two boarding scholarships each year, to assist with finance. This must have helped, and early in the War years the boarders numbered forty.
A Careers Advisory Committee was set up in 1932, and operated for many years. The Headmaster was the Chairman, and staff involved included L A Boskett, C P le Huray, W T Lack, F M Bancroft, and foremost of all, A C Wadsworth. He later became the Grammar Schools' representative on, and Chairman of, Dunstable Youth Employment Committee. As a sample of the C A Committee's work: in 1934, talks were given to pupils on the legal profession, Engineering and Chemistry. The Committee also advised Old Dunstablians who had left school, and during the War years a valuable file was kept on the effects of War conditions on various careers.
The Glee Club continued to thrive, presenting the concert version of "HMS Pinafore" in 1934. The magazine review comments,
"The boys excelled. Their tone was bright and clear".
The Band, too, was much in demand at public functions of this time, including the Royal Berkshire Hospital Sunday parade at Reading (1935-1938). There were record attendances at Church Parade, and at the weekly Band practices, valuable help was given by Old Dunstablians who also took part in ceremonial parades, such as leading the Coronation Day carnival procession through the town. A Band magazine was issued regularly, edited by the famous Dandy brothers, Frank and John, who, with B W B Squires, gave an immense amount of time and energy to maintaining the Band's standards.
During the 1930's, several Hockey exchange visits took place between Dunstable and various German towns. In 1936 the team from Magdeburg were defeated 2 : 1 by the Dunstable schoolboys. Other visitors came from Nurnburg and Leipzig, and a Dunstable team travelled to Dusseldorf in 1938. Ordinary school trips continued abroad, several to Paris, a favourite venue.
In 1937, a Parents' Association was formed under C Hyde, who was later Chairman of the Governors. Its aims were to co-operate with the Headmaster and staff in providing finance when needed for pupils' education, to promote meetings between parents and staff, and to arrange matches between parents and pupils.
In 1934, the school received two items of sad news. Mr Thring, Dunstable's first Headmaster, died after some years of retirement in the West Country. His obituary in the magazine recalls his favourite hobbies - gardening (for many years he had enjoyed pottering about in his greenhouse) and carpentry. It also includes a pleasing epitaph for a schoolmaster:
"He always looked for the good in everybody - a cane lasted him a long time."
L C R Thring was buried in Dunstable, not far from his beloved school. His widow, Jessie, survived him by fourteen years, during which she maintained contact with her "boys" and was the guest of honour at several O D's and Boarders' dinners, until she grew too frail to travel.
In memory of L C R Thring, a Changing Room and Filter Plant for the School Baths were installed at a cost of £800.
W F Brown, too, died in 1934. Although a semi-invalid, he had spent some happy years in Chudleigh in his favourite occupation, watching cricket matches on the village green. Two years later, Sergeant Major Odell, one of his contemporaries, retired after some years of ill-health, but I hope that he was able to attend some of the Jubilee Celebrations of 1938, a splendid occasion for the school.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The Jubilee Celebrations occupied three days in June. The weather was glorious, and on Thursday, June 16th, official celebrations began with a P T display by the younger boys, supervised by Mr Butters. A Swimming Gala followed, organised by Mr Harris for the Prep, school pupils, and by Mr Lack for those of the main school. On Thursday evening, there was a concert by the parents and Old Dunstablians. Friday's celebrations included a cricket match between Dunstable School and Old Boys, and the MCC, who narrowly avoided defeat.
In the evening, school drama came into its own, with three plays - the Prep Department's "Robin Hood", an unnamed French play, and scenes from "A Midsummer Night's Dream". On Saturday there was a second cricket match, between past and present pupils of the school this time, followed by a very popular 'Jubilee Tea1 organised by parents for the boys. The Cadet Corps then took the stage for a display; finally, there came a Pierrot concert in which Messrs Boskett and Coales took part, with some talented younger boys. Mr Coales was the star of the show - he was called back on stage to sing "I Made 'em do the Cakewalk", three times. The audience finally grasped the chorus of this and had a most enjoyable time. "Last Post" and "Lights Out" were sounded by members of the Cadet Corps - it must have made an effective and moving sound, on such a beautiful June evening.
On Sunday, June 19th, the Mayors of Dunstable and Luton and the Councillors were played to Priory Church by the School Band, and there was a record Church attendance of pupils, staff and friends of the School. The Memorial Service began with a rousing version of ‘Jerusalem’ and the address was given by Canon E F Bonhote, Master of Haileybury. There was a procession to the 1914-18 War Memorial at the rear of the south aisle, where prayers were said for the War dead. The service ended with the hymn 'Fight the Good Fight.........'


* * * * * * * * * * * *


In the magazine for Christmas, 1939, Mr Harris wrote:
"It is our job to be cheerful, thoughtful, hard-working and patient until our world is itself again."
A visiting lady later commented that, 'Dunstable School is the only place I know where you don't know there's a War on,' and once again, as in 1914 - 18, the school set itself the task of maintaining normality or something like it, in very difficult circumstances. Christmas 1940 saw record snow drifts of twelve to sixteen feet over the Downs, while the Glee Club continued staunchly with rehearsals for 'The Mikado' and the boarders were commended for their promptness in going to the school air raid shelters in an alert. There they continued with their "prep". Several younger members of staff enlisted, while older colleagues became members of the Home Guard, or area wardens.
In the cold January weather of 1941, RSM Edgar Odell died, at the age of seventy-two. Thirty years and more of those had been spent in the service of Dunstable School. Many remembered with gratitude the training he had given them, and some of his favourite sayings - "We're not playing at shops!" to an unsatisfactory line at Church Parade, and "Hurry along, please!" to tardy boys and masters on their way to prayers. "Old Sergeant Major" was accompanied on his last journey to Church by a guard of honour of his old regiment, the 5th Bedfordshire’s , with whom he had been when badly wounded at Suvla Bay in 1915, on the way to Gallipoli. The Last Post was played over his grave by Sergeant J Jory, of the Cadet Corps.


* * * * * * * * * * * *


On Armistice day, every year, the Roll of Honour is read out in Manshead's Sports Hall. These are some of the names upon it:
W P Richards, who left school in 1930
L F 'Ben' Squire, Pilot Officer in the RAF
R Warren, Sergeant Pilot
A G Wainwright, Pilot Officer
All of these Old Dunstablians were killed in action in 1941. A R Potter, a champion mathematician at school, lost his life in 1943, returning with his crew from a bombing raid.
The owner of another familiar name, C J Rudd, was at school from 1931 to 1938. Colin Rudd was a small but energetic boy who was fond of swimming. In the Jubilee Celebrations, he was a keen participant in the Swimming Gala, and his team won the House Relay. He was at one time School Swimming Captain; in 1938, he won the Senior County Championship for breast stroke. He set a new county record of three minutes and three fifths of a second for 200 yards breast stroke.
In the Glee Club, Colin Rudd sang as a lesser soprano in 'Patience', and in the school's 1935 production of Sheridan's 'The Rivals' he starred as Lydia Languish. The following year, in 'She Stoops to Conquer' he played Miss Hardcastle with a "natural ingenuousness". On one occasion, though, his natural exuberance got him into trouble; he was so carried away by the audience's laughter at his portrayal of Quince in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' that he started to overplay it - which the staff critic did not approve of.
In 1945, Major Colin Rudd was killed in action. He had been awarded the Military Cross on two occasions, for acts of outstanding bravery.


* * * * * * * * * * * *


In October, 1944, Mr Harris, who had been in charge of School House for many years, left to take up an appointment at Solihull with his earlier Headmaster, Mr Thompson. Earlier, G W Hedges had retired, after twenty years' service, in 1943, and he was followed into retirement by Mr le Huray. December 1945 saw a Memorial Service for the School's War dead at Priory Church, and an official inspection in 1946 found Dunstable, after the trauma of the War years, "a happy school."
Some initially worrying changes were imminent. Following the Education Act of 1944, the School lost its Direct Grant Status and came under the control of the local authority. The Prep, department was to cease to exist, though the Boarding House was to continue.
In 1948, Mr Evans retired. During his time, the numbers on roll had doubled and a new gym and two new classrooms had been built. An internal 'phone system had been installed in the thirties. The magazine recalls Mr Evans as ‘a quiet, modest man, of great kindliness of heart’.


* * * * * * * * * * * *

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* * * * ANOTHER VIEW OF THE OTC 1938 - 1947 * * * *
by Roger Hazell
* * * *


Leaving the Prep School for the REAL SCHOOL had many advantages, one of which I clasped to my bosom with the enthusiasm of youth. I could apply to join the OTC (Officers' Training Corps). The cost to my parents was but a few shillings for a baton stick and brass-cleaning wadding.
In retrospect, I believe I was motivated by a latent wish to be an actor; for one night a week, I could exchange my dark jacket, grey shorts, and Eton collar for the instantly recognisable uniform of a potential hero - a real khaki uniform! To my amazement, my request to join was accepted without qualification and with marked enthusiasm, so in no time I was kitted out in a complete Beds & Herts Regiment World War I uniform from cap to puttees, and bore the proud legend, in brass, on my epaulettes, "Dunstable School". My mother did not shed a tear, though I suspect my father probably did!
We "played" at soldiers, we drilled, we learned words of command, we engaged the Hun on maps, and then real War broke out. I believe to the hundred or so of us, it passed unnoticed until the day we exchanged our uniform for battle dress, and our title from OTC to Army Cadet Force; Sandhurst was obviously meant for greater mortals. For my part, I had now risen to be Lance Corporal.
Our training became a little more realistic in that we carried out field exercises in the summer, crawling around Sewell Farm and Dunstable Sewage Works, throwing thunderflash bangers as hand grenades, and letting off "crackerblank" as small arms fire. We were issued with First Aid manuals, which provided a fairly explicit chapter on delivering babies. I do not recall anyone asking if, when, where, or why we should be carrying out this task.
For many of us the next hurdle was obtaining the qualification entitled "War Cert. A". This was awarded as the result of a Part I and Part II examination. Part I was fairly easy and involved a knowledge of flag signals, drilling a platoon, and the exercise of stripping modern weapons such as the sten machine carbine and/or Bren gun into its component parts and reassembling it in working order. For the latter, the examining officer would find himself a suitable site such as the armoury, the bike sheds, or in my case, the entrance to the air raid shelter. At his advanced age, modern weaponry was a complete mystery to him, so he devised the simple expedient of making the first candidate strip the weapon, the second assemble it, and so on. On reflection, it was probably fortunate for many of us that we were totally unaware of the procedure, for had the case been otherwise, then I feel convinced that one candidate would have made off with a vital part of the dismantled weapon, leaving both the next candidate and the adjudicating officer in an embarrassed state.
By the time I reached the rank of Corporal, I had decided that despite Hitler's decision to leave me alone and capture a few Russian lads instead, I had had enough. However, before I could summon up courage to make my intention known, War Cert. A Part II was upon me. So there we were answering questions on map reading, lines of fire (or was it fields of fire?), and nothing on childbirth, and doing quite well, despite the old chestnut questions of what is the weight of a pull through, to which the answer is, "The brass weight at the end," and not, "About 1-2 ounces," when I was struck a mortal blow by being taken into the countryside and led by the RSM to meet an extremely elderly Brigadier who must have fought as a youth with General Gordon. "See that hill over there?" he said, pointing a withered finger in the direction of a small knoll in the middle of an enormous field, whilst beating his begartered right leg with his baton "The enemy are up there, and you are here with your platoon to flush the beggars out - eh?" My platoon, like his enemy, were total figments of our individual imaginations, for there were only the three of us by the hedge, viewing the tranquil Summer scene. I was not totally nonplussed by all of this, for we had been through such imaginary games many a time before. The whole ploy was simple, or rather based on a simple premise: the enemy were always a cowardly bunch of brainless yokels, so provided one directed enough fire in their direction, they would react to rule and keep their heads down until you and your platoon could rush upon them to put them out of their misery with a bayonet. No one ever bothered to mention the simple fact that the accuracy of a Lee Enfield 0.303 rifle diminished by the power of 10 once a bayonet was fitted. However, this was not going to worry me or my phantom platoon. So the ploy was, two men on the Bren gun firing happily at the hill, whilst the eight riflemen crawled along a hedge to get closer to the enemy. Then the riflemen opened fire and the Bren gunners moved to another, closer, position, and so the leapfrog game continued until you were upon the enemy. So, as descriptively as possible, I spelt out each move to the Brigadier for some ten minutes whilst he nodded sagely. I was then struck by two bare facts. Firstly, in this period of time my platoon would have fired more rounds than it was possible for them to carry, and more importantly, the last piece of cover was a good 100 yards from the summit. I faltered. "Come along, lad, the War can't wait, yer know!"
I baldly stated, "Radio the RAF for a squadron of rocket firing typhoons". The RSM dragged me away from the purple faced Brig, whispering in my ear, "You're a b.........foo1, that's what you are!" (He would have had to add 'Sir' in the days of the OTC) "You should have said, 'Charge up the hill!" Protestations that this was the path to total annihilation of my "men" fell on deaf ears. I failed, I vowed to resign. Before I could do so, I was into a retake of part II and this time, on some different field, I left a mess which made the Somme look like a pub brawl, and was loudly congratulated on my initiative.


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CHANGING TIMES

G H BAILEY
The new Headmaster of the school was G H Bailey, previously of King's College, Canterbury. Shortly after his arrival, in 1949, the numbers in the boarding house were increasing with the arrival of sixteen newcomers, but during the time of his stay, the boarding house was dissolved, a five day, Monday to Friday, working week was set up, and a system of three form entry was started.
In 1950, the War Memorial plaque for the many War dead was unveiled in the Speech Hall. A Memorial Fund had earlier been set up, inspired by Mr Butters, "to provide assistance for potential, past and present pupils, and their families." Mr Butters, however, tragically died in the summer holidays of 1950; he had spent thirty-two years teaching Geography, PE and History at the school. On a happier note, also in 1950, Nelson Elgood, mentioned earlier, was Professor of Engineering at Bristol University.
This was the era of many school clubs - some short-lived, some very successful. These included the Jazz, Dance and Photographic Clubs, and the Motor, Railway and Geological Societies. By 1955, the Chess Club, Archaeological and Aeronautical Societies were also in existence.
The Cadet Corps continued to flourish, and at this time an additional Naval Section was formed. By this time, Mr R F Broad-foot, who joined the school in 1947, was in overall charge, and he was helped by Mr J Brennan, on his arrival to teach at the school in 1955. In 1952, the magazine records that the Band was practising hard for the local Coronation Day celebrations. Annual summer training camps continued to be a strong feature, including a memorable one at Stanford in Norfolk during this period, which was "comfortable, we 11-organised and we 11-equipped, and at which no-one grumbled." Mr Brennan remembers these camps and how well the Dunstable boys performed, among the larger public school cadet forces. The Naval Section, supervised by Mr Brennan for a time, maintained its own well, for example, winning the boat-pulling event at Luton Sea Cadets' regatta, in 1956. In 1959, 10 cadets went on an eight days' long range patrolling course in Snowdonia. It proved to be arduous but enjoyable, though many "fell into bogs with monotonous regularity."
From 1956 onwards, the school participated in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. In the following year, twenty-two boys were involved in the tests, which consisted of two grades. There were four types of tests - of fitness, expedition, public service, and pursuits. In 1957, the first series candidates undertook, for their expedition tests, a cross country walk of fifteen miles, followed by a night exercise. The 2nd series candidates went on a three day camping journey from the RN Air Station at Ford, studying the countryside.
In terms of public service, First Aid, Life Saving and Fire Drill were tested, and pursuits included those of Music, Drama, Meteorology, Art, Marksmanship and Mode 1-making.


The Rank Organisation made a film at this time of the various activities, called 'The Way Ahead' , and some Dunstable boys took part in this. The Headmaster was invited to a private preview of this in Buckingham Palace.
In June, 1958, six boys received their Gold Awards from Prince Philip, and in the following year, thirty-three boys altogether were involved in the scheme.
Some links with the past were broken at this time. W Gray, the first winner of the Hankey Gold Medal, who joined the school in 1888, died in 1959. So did his brother and fellow Old Dunstablian, Amos. Also in 1959, the year of the "new large economy-size Sixth form", Mr Coales retired. He had taught for fifty years in Dunstable, in all - although for the last few years of his service, he had handed over his post of Second Master to Mr Lack. He had spent many happy years in the school as head of Science, the 'father of the common-room', and in all the other pursuits mentioned earlier. Mr Boskett, first a pupil and then Senior Maths master at the school, retired after thirty-nine years' service - he had once been one of his colleague's pup i1s!
The school was honoured by Mr Lack's three years' service as Mayor of Dunstable - he was installed as such in May 1956.
Mr J Brennan, who began teaching at the school in 1955, has contributed some memories of this period.
He remembers the relative formality of the Staff room in those days, with the older members of the staff invariably addressed at 'Mr So and So'. Apparently, there was plenty of time for bridge and chess and for discussion of current affairs.
As he was a member of the PE Staff, it was one of Mr Brennan's duties to weigh and measure each new pupil as he came into school, and he remembers a class which contained a boy who weighed seventeen stones, and another who weighed three stone, ten pounds. Rugby, he recalls, was played throughout the Autumn term, and hockey from Christmas to Easter. In the summer, cricket and tennis were fitted around the demands of public examinations. Mr Brennan recalls the quarter of an hour walk to West Parade for games, and the primitive changing facilities there.
One particular memory of Mr Brennan's concerned some staff surveillance at the end of term when a person or persons unknown had added some potassium permanganate to the official contents of the school swimming pool. Staff members, in twos and threes, were keeping an undercover round the clock watch in the pool area, and Mr Brennan and two colleagues were on the eleven o'clock "shift". They heard a suspicious "chinking" sound and were in time to apprehend a Waterlow's shift worker with a carrier bag, on a return trip from the local off licence.
 

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DUNSTABLE IN THE 1960's

L P BANFIELD
In 1960, Mr Bailey left Dunstable School to take up an appointment near Ipswich in Suffolk, at Wolverstone School. This was a boarding school, a system with which he felt himself in sympathy. Throughout his time in Dunstable, he had proved himself to be a hardworking and approachable man, and like all his predecessors, a keen and able sportsman.
His successor was Mr L P Banfield, MA, formerly Deputy and then Acting Headmaster of Bromley Grammar School. One of Mr Banfield's innovations was the introduction of a new school uniform with its now characteristic black blazer to replace the former shade of chocolate brown.
Under Mr Banfield, the academic standards of the school continued to improve; in 1962, 42 boys altogether sat for 'A1 level examinations, and 22 went on to further studies at University; and of the 1963 Upper Sixth, sixty percent went on to University education.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme continued to flourish, and in 1961 twenty two golds, forty five silvers, and eighty one bronzes were obtained by pupils of the school.
In 1964, the new Science laboratories were opened at long last, and Mr Coales returned from his retirement to unveil a plaque at the laboratory entrance to commemorate his fifty years of service. The following year saw the retirement of Mr Lack, who himself had served loyally in the school for forty years and more, and who had been honoured by receiving the QBE in 1960.
In the 'sixties', the many school clubs continued to operate, the senior boys setting up two new and interesting ones. Firstly, a Voluntary Group, consisting mainly of Sixth Formers, was started, to form a link with local old people to help them with such tasks as gardening and decorating. By 1968, this club had some thirty members. The Lower Sixth also formed a literary society which considered the work (among others) of Robert Graves, C S Lewis, D H Lawrence, and Jean Anouilh.
At the time of re-organisation at the end of the decade, some 496 boys were on the school roll, including a Sixth Form of 119. German had replaced Latin as the "second foreign language", Latin becoming an option in the 4th year. Every member of the Upper Sixth now was honoured by becoming a prefect. This was the situation when a completely new era of the school's history began - an era which has been called "the end of a chapter, but not the end of a story."
At this point, it is good to include a section which Mr Banfield has very kindly written for this magazine, concerning his memories of the Grammar School - what Mr Jenner has referred to as "a Grammar School with a very high standard."



L P BANFIELD
                                         DUNSTABLE GRAMMAR SCHOOL                                      top

1960 - 1972
*****


When I sat down to prepare this article, I was reminded forcibly of the title that Alfred Duff Cooper (first Lord Norwich) chose for his memoirs - "Old Men Forget". It is some twenty-eight years since I came to Dunstable and the memory is not what it was!
My first recollection of the Grammar School (apart from the interview for the Headship, which took place in what I was later to discover was my own dining room) was on Good Friday 1960. We had moved up from London the previous day and I felt sufficiently settled in to go through the connecting door from the School House to the Head's study, where, feeling fairly proud of my achievement, I sat at the imposing desk. Casually I opened the main drawer - to discover it had no bottom! The difference between shadow and substance was ominous.
The facade of the buildings facing the High Street was impressively Victorian but inside things were less awe-inspiring. The fabric had worn badly and had clearly not been respected as it should have been. Facilities such as specialist rooms hardly existed. The Science Laboratories were inadequate and old-fashioned. (I fancied I could see ALCHEMY written over the door of the Chemistry Lab.) In the Sixth Form room, immediately over the boiler house, teachers had the alternative of keeping the windows closed and being suffocated, or having them open and being unable to make themselves heard above the roar of traffic from the High Street.
The long promised additions came in 1964, with a new Science Block which meant for the first time that all Science lessons could be taught there; hitherto, only just over half had taken place in laboratories, the remainder occurring in class rooms.
I ask myself what gives me most satisfaction as I look back to those years. I had felt instinctively when I arrived that the pace of academic study was too leisurely with the result that all except the very well motivated boys tended to under-achieve. Sixth formers felt it was necessary to stay for a third year to obtain a University place. While this was very good for the Rugger and Cricket teams, which tended to be very mature indeed, it was rather a waste of resources. So I take pride in the fact that examination results showed a steady improvement over the years. The 28 'A' level candidates who in 1960 collected only 44 passes gave way to the 51 in 1969, who gained 156. The 1960 '0' level entry which averaged only 4 passes apiece, gave way to the 1967 entry which averaged 7. The numbers staying on in the Sixth Form approached 75% of our intake; the same proportion of those went on to Higher Education.
But there was much more cause for pride. The traditional Cock House Competition, based on four Houses named after distinguished former members of staff, had stagnated. In response to the suggestions of the elected School Council (itself an innovation) a new system was set up of three Houses and the range of activities covered considerably extended to include much more than the traditional Games, including academic achievement. This last was assessed according to some mysterious points system which only Mr Symes (who controlled it) understood!
To celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the School's foundation we set ourselves a target of raising a four figure sum for the Freedom from Hunger campaign, which finally totalled £1500, a considerable sum in pre-inflation days.
One of the most valuable means of character building lay at hand in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. The school was a pioneer in this scheme under the leadership of Mr Bancroft and involved a considerable number of boys who regularly gained awards at all levels.
In spite of poor facilities, the Dramatic Society mounted some impressive productions.
Over all our activities there was always tremendous help and support from the Parents Staff Association.
The school regularly fielded six teams for all the major games on Saturdays.
The General Elections of 1964 and 1966 heralded changes in the organisation of education in the county, and after a never-to-be-forgotten cliff-hanging debate by the County Council, the present scheme was finally ratified. There followed a period of frenzied activity, during which we all tried to prepare ourselves for the impending changes - wide-ranging discussions carried out with mutual toleration for our naturally differing views while we sought to ensure that what we should offer in our new role should be, at least, as good as in the old one. On reflection, Kenneth Baker might have learned a good deal had he sat in with us!
As we were to become co-educational, I asked that our last selective intake in 1971 should be a mixed one, so that when we moved to the present site, we did in fact have some 39 girls in the first year, together with four Sixth Form girls. The staff, which had not been wholly male in the past, now received several additional ladies as colleagues.
The move to Caddington followed. A brief 'note in the Log Book records that on Monday July 26, 1971, the Headmaster and School Secretary established their administration in the new school.
Finally, before this magazine ' leaves' the Grammar School for Manshead Upper School, here is an article by Gordon Gray, who, as a pupil, remembers those last years in the old building.
 

GORDON GRAY
(A Dunstable Grammar School Pupil 1963 - 1970)
------oOo------


Never having been one to dwell upon the past, I was both surprised and, at first, slightly disappointed with myself for my memories of my school days. As one who, until five years ago, was a member of the teaching profession, I expected a more ordered recollection. Surely one's memories should reflect a structure to one's learning and growth through to adulthood; but it wasn't like that, nor I imagine has it ever been so.
My immediate memories of the Grammar School do not reflect the nurture and attention I undoubtedly received; rather they highlight events and characters and the rare fragment of bookwork so studiously learnt - bellum, bellum, bellum, belli, belli, bello, bella, bella, bella, bellorum, bellis, bellis - it just rolls off the tongue, but what does it mean?
What of these events? Were they ones which would prepare me for adult-hood? Hardly!. Permanganate in the pool; the opportunity to fight on the way to Ashton Lodge;' Chop-Chop's car parked on the pool surround (whatever was his name?); the winter of 1963 -in short trousers, of course; school milk and avoiding having to take a crate up to the prefects' study; no longer having to wear a cap; hiding every board rubber in the school; the afternoon throughout which Dutch metal in chlorine would not ignite spontaneously with the blue flame in the way that we were issued it would, etc.
And the characters? Well, they begin to fade and only the more eccentric ones come readily to mind. There was the most feared and hated pupil in the school, who rose from school bully to the exalted rank of deputy head boy, from which position he could wreak his wrath with ease; the Maths teacher, Mr Milne, whose gown was white from years of use as a board duster, and his sparring partner, Patrician, who was booked into detention every night for two terms, in advance; and who could forget the chemistry teacher Mr Gibb, or at least his smells! How could he possibly have managed to prepare hydrogen sulphide every day?
Yet through all of this, there was a sense of community and fellowship fostered through competitive sport and on examination-based syllabus. Perhaps it is this which has had a significant effect on me, for my personality and outlook have been shaped largely by the attitudes and ethics which I absorbed during my formative years at the school. Since I can accept the way I am, I can only reflect that the regime was successful, at least for me. I am sure, however, that the Grammar School system was not right for everyone, in the same way that the comprehensive system does not fulfil the aspiration of all its pupils today.
Of all the benefits I gained from Dunstable Grammar School that which I treasure most is the long lasting friendships cemented through seven years of sometimes difficult, usually enjoyable, but rarely dull experiences. These friendships extended to staff, some of whom later became colleagues when I joined Manshead as a teacher in 1974. To all of them I extend my very best wishes.

- — - — oOo — ———


In July 1971 Dunstable Grammar School ceased to exist, being replaced by Manshead Upper School. It is left to others to tell that story elsewhere.


- — - — oOo — ———

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