Thoughts & Memories

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The item below is from an e-mail received from Neville Powell. I think you'll agree that his memories give much "food for thought", especially the first paragraph!

I started there in September 1939 a few days after the war had begun. On our first day each of us who didn't live within walking distance of the school were linked with a boy who did. The boy I was linked with was named Hesketh (but I don't know his first name). The two of us had to run to his house, stay there for a short time and then run back. That was what we were to do if there was an air raid during school hours. We never had to do it "for real" since there was never an air raid during school hours.

Quarry Bank Boys' Grammar School was evacuated to Grove Park and for the first term boys in the first year were supposed to have games in the afternoons while the Quarry Bank boys used the classrooms. It didn't work out like that because there was a very hard winter and the school fields could not be used so we just went home. A few boys were evacuated privately to live with friends or relations. I became friendly with a boy from Stoke named Tony Varcoe who came to live with friends nearby and was in my form at Grove Park. There were no air raids in the early months of the war and Tony and the boys from Quarry Bank went back home. Quarry Bank later became famous as the grammar school attended by John Lennon. Liverpool was of course very heavily bombed later - in fact becoming the most heavily bombed city in Britain apart from London.      

In my second year my brother, William Gordon Powell (known as Gordon) came to Grove Park. Sadly Gordon died a couple of years ago. In his form there was a boy who had left home because of the Nazis. He was a German Jewish boy, whose name was Walter Teutch. He had been sent by his parents to Britain. He was living with a Jewish family named Barrahnekorff (I'm not sure about the spelling). I recently enquired about Walter - What eventually happened to him? Apparently he went to Israel after the war. The son of the Barrahnekorff family was in my form. He was a very good wicket keeper. I can't remember his first name. There was a town in Libya which was in the news because of the fighting around it. It was Sidi Barani - and we nicknamed our form mate "Sidi Barrahnekorff" or just Sid for short, and I simply remember him as "Sid"!

Our headmaster at Grove Park was David Lloyd (known to the boys as "Dai") - when he was not around of course. He had served in the First World War, first in the Royal Naval Air Service and then in the R.A.F. He was an absolute master of the dramatic. I'm sure he had steel tips hammered on the heels of his shoes so that they would ring out as he came along the corridor into the hall at the start of the day.The Deputy Head was Jonathan Jones, who succeeded Mr. Lloyd for two years, before Mr. Haddon Roberts was appointed.I had left by then. Among the masters at the school some continued on the staff for some time afterwards - Garfield Davies (known as "Gaffer"), "Piggy" Morgan, Mr. Rowlands (known to us as "Cuthbert" - but whose nickname apparently changed later) - Mr. Andrews (known to us as "Bob Andy") who did a great deal of work with the Grove Park Dramatic Society.Mr. Jones the Welsh master, whom we all knew as "Titch" and who looked after the exercise books; if you needed a new one he was the one you went to see. We had a few new teachers - "Maxi" Freudmann, who was an Austrian Olympic runner (so we were told), Mr. Benert, a German, who came as the German master, was nicknamed "Funf" after a character in the favourite radio show "ITMA", and who was given a torrid time. His lessons were total chaos. We had a couple of women teachers - Mrs. Stevenson, who was the wife of "Stevie" the senior French master; she came to teach French. She was very good looking and "Stevie" went up in everybody's estimation. There was also a new woman Art teacher, who was very attractive too, but I can't remember her name.      

Before going to Grove Park I had been at Gresford Church School. Three of us passed "the scholarship" to go to Grove Park - Nancy Bebington who went to Grove Park Girls of course and Colin Jones who came to the boys' school. We have kept in touch until recently.

Other boys who were with me at school included Joe Kent, Gordon Berrington, who was the school goalkeeper, Geoffrey Morris, who became a solicitor in Wrexham, Derek Lindsay and Derek Watson who both went to Oxford and Clwyd Williams, who was joint-Head Boy. The "star" of our year was Stan Whitley. He was the youngest boy in the year. He won a State Scholarship, and an Open Scholarship to New College Oxford. Yet he also managed to play Football, Rugby and Cricket for the school, and still remain modest and likeable! He eventually became a nuclear physicist and had a senior position at Capenhurst.       

My sister, Delyth,  later went to Grove Park Girls School. She was born soon after the war had begun, so was much younger than me.She started at the girls' school in 1950 or 1951 I'm not sure which. She became Head Girl, and won a State Scholarship and an Exhibition to New Hall in Cambridge.

When I was in the Lower Sixth at Grove Park, Mr. Lloyd decided that we ought to do something for the "War Effort", so we went to deliver the post around the town at Christmas. Most of the postmen in Wrexham then were retired N.C.O.'s from the Royal Welch Fusiliers. In the summer we went to pick fruit in Holt and Farndon.For both of those we were paid!

Towards the end of the war Joe Kent and I decided that we would volunteer for the Fleet Air Arm. There was a scheme for seventeen year-olds to do that. My father wouldn't give me the train fare to go to Crewe for the medical. Joe went, but failed the medical; he was colour blind.  

Both my brother Gordon and I went to Bangor and took degrees in History. Joe Kent, Colin Jones and Gordon Berrington came as well along with a boy called Francis Edgington, who suffered very badly from asthma. Later we were joined by other boys from Grove Park - Ken Jones who became a businessman, Neville Pope who played football for the College, Les Griffiths from Brynteg, with whom I became very friendly.

After leaving I did my National Service in the Royal Navy and then became a teacher first in Bootle and then in Welshpool and Shrewsbury before eventually going into teacher training. Gordon  my brother became a teacher in the Manchester area, and was the N.U.T. secretary in Tameside for quite a long time. He married a fellow teacher from his school. Other members of my family who went to Grove Park during the war were my cousin William Powell who went on to become a farm manager; he now lives in retirement in Devon, and his sisters, Mary, Vera and Eileen who went to the girls' school of course. Donald Cunnah and Eric Roberts both from Pentre Broughton, cousins on my mother's side, were at Grove Park. Donald's father, Howel Cunnah, was the conductor of the Broughton and District Choral Society, which his father Edwin Cunnah had founded. 

I married a girl from Grove Park, Marion Johnson. I met her when I did some supply teaching at Llay Secondary Modern School. Her family owned Johnson's bus company which used to have a bus route from Talwrn to Wrexham via Southsea. Her sister, Elaine also went to Grove Park Girls and trained as a teacher. She married Bill Millington, who was at Grove Park during the war. He was a cousin to Joe Kent. He became a policeman. Her brother Keith went to Grove Park and later worked for Geoff Morris. He was a very good snooker player - I think he (and a partner) were Doubles Welsh Amateur Champions at one time.

 

 

Extract from "The Wrexhamian", July 1963.

You will have  read, on the "home" page, how I have recently acquired copies of the Girls'  School Magazine ('59 - '65). I have spent a very pleasant couple of hours flicking through the pages. My immediate impression is how different they are from the magazines of the Boys' School. Whilst the former are very literature based the latter  have a greater emphasis on sport. My second, and lasting, impression is that the standard of composition, whether it be poetry or prose, in English or Welsh, is  incredibly high even from contributors in their first and second years. The topics covered in these compositions  vary from the serious to the totally frivolous but all show  supreme understanding of language.  I reproduce a few examples below:

Riddle -Me-Ree

My first is in shingle but not in land. My second's in church but not in sand.

My third is in father but never in fun. My fourth is in mother, also in son.

My fifth is in Soho, also in home. My last is in London but not in Rome.

My whole is a place where you may go, and there your brilliance daily show.

                                                                                Valerie Bonnell (14)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Leaves

In Spring the buds burst forth anew, In every kind of shape and hue

In Summer they are at their best, while birds among them build their nests;

In Autumn leaves come tumbling down, in reds and golds and russet brown;

In Wnter as I sadly stare, the trees before my eyes are bare.

                                                                                   Brenda Williams (13)

 Limerick  

 There was an old bear at the zoo, he could always find something to do

When it bored him, you know, to walk to and fro

Instead he walked fro and to.

                                                                                    Anon (first year)

School

In school we work, in school we play, at different subjects every day

Sometimes it's maths, sometimes it's Gym

Sometimes I'm bright, sometimes I'm dim

                                                                                    Anne Bellis (13)

The boys were not to be outdone! :-

Famous last words:

"But why don't you run, sir?"

"I'm sorry, sir, I don't want a programme"

"But sir, I just don't like rugby"

" Honestly sir, they're in the wash"

"Please sir, my aunty knows you"

"...left my homework book in school, sir"

"Smith, sir, J. Smith"

"Please sir, is Jones in this form?"

"Please sir, has anyone found a 1951 Cup Final programme with my name on it?"

"But sir, I thought he was on the bus"

"Would you like a lift home, sir?"

 

On 14th June 1965 Miss Margaret Copland wrote her 21st, and final, letter to the school magazine. I make no apologies for reprinting part of that letter here:

I should like to think that education in Grove Park has given you three things:-  Firstly, the academic qualifications to achieve your chosen career; secondly, a lively mind with an interest in the world around you, in local, national and international events, in books, music, art and sport; lastly, and most important of all, a spirit of service that you will carry with you when you leave school and show, both in your career and someday in the future, as a wife and mother in your own home. "To whom much is given, of him much is required".