Search billions of records on

Banburyshire Family History

A site designed for you to share your family history with others from the Banbury area

skip to links

go back to the last page you were on Memories of the 50s : By Any Other Name in 'Little England'

Helen Verrall

Your tale of 'Grammar School' raised many memories, for me. Our State Secondary Schools were run on the same system. Teachers were'Sir''Miss'or 'Ma'am'; they wore flowing gowns, the shade, depending on the age, (of both teacher and gown) varied from Black to Pewter to Green to Grey and their 'Hood', the colour lining, depicting their expertise. Mortar Boards had been dispensed with by my generation, though my father who attended Wellington Boys College from 1924 - 1929 inclusive, said senior masters wore mortar boards then.

Mine was a Co-educational School, Hutt Valley High School, the boys were all referred to by their surnames, at all times - except on Prize Giving when their full name would be read out, amongst titters from the assembly. We girls continued to be named as we had in our Primary School Days.

My Brother, 4 years older than I, had a group of friends with unusual names, just like yours Joe.'Flubb', 'Birdseed', Dwyanne (he played the guitar) his true names where Nicholas James Arthur ....'Lugsy' my brother, who had Prince Charles type ears. To a 10year old this seemed like some secret society. I'd answer the phone, and conversation would go "Hi Birdseed here, is Lugsy there?" All I was permitted to say, was "yes" or "no", and fetch him. No "hullo Alan can I speak to Carol after you've spoken to Philip." Absolutely 'verboten' (Actually Alan referred to me as Lugsy junior, but I wasn't flattered, my ears were and are perfect.

Caps, yes the males had those, we had Panama Hats in Summer and Black berets in Winter. AND Black Gloves Summer and Winter. And they increased and decreased in size and colour, as had to be worn at ALL times out doors. Ever tried to put a rain hood over a Panama Hat, puts severe strain on the shape of the hat.

Males were subjected to 'New Boy' initiations, but not we females -
1. The Button on your cap had to be removed within 1 week of your arrival, and not cut off by yourself; you had to be thrown to the ground the cap impounded and the button torn off, often with damaging results to the cap as a whole. The cap was then thrown down the rubbish chute - a wide concreted hole in the lower building that deposited rubbish in the basement close to the incinerator. And
2. You closely followed the cap, and after retreiving it, try and make your way out of the basement which was often securely locked. You HAD to retrieve it because if you attempted to go out of the school gates not wearing it, and worse not having it in your possession, meant instant detention, until you presented yourself duly capped to the Prefects Room. (NB if you were a younger Brother of a present pupil, your brother was expected to denude your cap, before you came to school on first day - that way they realised you had back up, possibly at a senior level, so they just threw you down the Chute for good measure. :-)

My husband attended a Catholic Boys School from 5 until 16 years and the system after 10 years was equally archaic. Primary years they used your forename, but once you went to Senior School, you had Brothers teaching you, not nuns who could be beguiled with a sweet smile. Ted's main bane of his school days was his Cousin Terry who though 6 months younger was in the same year. There were 2 Verrall males of that year 'That Verrall' and 'Verrall', Ted was the latter. When staff said "Verrall come here" it was usually Terry they wanted not Ted. He was caught out one day though. One of the Staff wanted him to take a message for him and called "Verrall here please." Ted ignored him and carried on with what he was doing, then thundered "Verrall when I say, here please, I mean now, not tommorrow." Ted looked up at that, as "tommorrow" was shouted right over his head!! He was given detention for ignoring a Brother when spoken to!!

The surname use for males, carried over to the Catholic Boys Schools and Private (you call them Public) Schools. There was one family that had a son in every year, when Ted was at School. They also attended the same Church and apparently the Marist Boys, used to greet them with "Good Morning Mr, & Mrs, D..., and D..., D...., D..., D..., and D...", (there were more younger ones, 11 in all. And they'd chorus back, "Good Morning to e.g. Verrall" - this charmed the Parish Priest, but earned Ted a clip on the ear from his Father, who knew eactly what the young limbs of Satan were doing. Afterall he went to a Catholic School before Ted did.


from what was once 'Little England'

Hutt Valley High School Brass Band


1954 Drum Major Ken Stevenson.

Philip James NASH, aged 15 years, and is hidden behind the EBass (Tuba) with his cap on the back of his head as usual. The White Stripe on the Drum Major's Cap indicates he is a Prefect - actually Ken Stevenson was Head Boy that Year!

Written by Helen Verrall