Slice of history: pupils remember the Winsford Verdin County Grammar School

The photograph that has prompted so many memories.

The photograph that has prompted so many memories.

First published in News Northwich Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

AN overwhelming response to an appeal for information about an old school photo has led to a Remember When two-parter.

Here we will focus on the pupils and their memories of school rules and their classmates and next week we will take a look at the teachers.

MEMBERS of the Class of ‘57 have been getting in touch in their droves since we published a long lost school photo in Remember When.

The picture features staff and students from the Verdin County Grammar School, in Winsford, in 1957 and was rediscovered at a house in Winnington Lane during work to renovate the kitchen.

The metre-long piece of mid Cheshire’s history was rolled up and tucked down a gap behind the kitchen cupboards.

An appeal for more information about the picture in the Guardian proved even more fruitful than expected and the photograph has now been returned to its original owner, Irene Whittaker, neé Barker.

Irene’s husband George said: “Irene’s mother lived there up to four years ago and they had an alcove between the fireplace and the kitchen.

“It was an open alcove and they had it boxed up with two doors and four drawers.

“One of the drawers got stuck and wouldn’t come out and it used to have pictures in it – this picture must have gone behind it.”

Trevor Williams, from Middlewich, remembered many of the staff and pupils on the picture as he was a first year at the time it was taken.

“It was a smashing school, absolutely terrific,” he said.

“They look stern on the picture but weren’t, they were a good lot although they did discipline us.

“You had to wear your tie and your school cap in front of the school and outside school or you got in trouble if you didn’t.

“You had to have your hymn book with you in the morning at school assembly, it had to be in your pocket.

“I got detention once for eating a lollipop in front of school.”

Trevor, 69, also remembers that one of the sixth formers in 1957 was Malcolm Arnold, who went on to become a UK Athletics coach with Colin Jackson among his protégés.

“He held the school mile record for years,” Trevor said.

Pat Barber, neé Giddings, from Castle, said she had to leave her childhood home in Hartford at 7.50am to catch two buses to go to the school.

“It was ridiculous really, I had a round trip of four buses every day,” she said.

“Kids wouldn’t do that now.”

She also has many memories of the school’s rules and regulations.

“We were completely segregated,” she said.

“There was a girls’ playground and a boys’ playground and we were segregated in class as well with girls on one side and boys on the other.

“Every time someone came in we had to stand up.

“We had to walk on the left side of the corridors and you didn’t dare run because there were prefects at various points to stop you.

“You had to wear your hat or beret, whichever you opted for until you were back on your own property at home.”

Patrick Gowens, who left the school in 1956, also had a story about uniform discipline at the school.

“For a few weeks in 1951 I lived in Manchester Road, just past Parks Steelworks,” he said.

“I used to catch a bus from a stop just across the road to the bus terminus, then change buses for Verdin Grammar.

“While changing, I was passed by Miss Buckley.

“That morning, after prayers, the headmaster read my name out to report to his study – Miss Buckley had reported me to the headmaster, for not raising my cap.

“He then gave me six of the best across my backside which, I found out later, drew blood.”

A number of pupils have been named by their classmates, including Valerie Edmonds, neé Wakefield, who named Rowena Oakes, Mavis Goodier, Barbara Brookes, Nancy Dodd, Tessa Knight, Thelma Smith, Pat Whitlow, Dawn Thompson and Beryl Chesworth.

Chris Roberts spotted himself and his brother David and Trevor Williams could name David Jones, John Finney, Mike Broady, Gordon Sproston, David Sant, Dorothy Barnes, Barbara Deane and Rachael Smith.

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