The Maltonian Web


Memories

Terry Pallister

Memories of Malton Senior School in the 1950s

My sister Pat has asked that I contribute my thoughts on my days at the Senior School. Looking at the web site I see that contributions from fellow pupils are practically non-existent. I put this down to the old saying that if you cannot say anything good then don’t say anything. So this is a rant.

The School was situated on St. Michael’s Street, where I believe the library now occupies the site. The yard at the front of the school was the girl’s playground and the one at the back was for the boys. We had a bike shed in the boy’s yard, a lot of pupils cycled to school. A few were brought in from the outlying farms and villages by a small Van, which had been fitted out with seats. The Van was also used to deliver school meals around the district.

To say that it was a failing school is to give it more praise than it deserved. We didn’t do homework. We had no extra curricular activities. We didn’t have any playing fields. What sports equipment we had was in very bad condition. One classroom had climbing bars and ropes but we were not encouraged to use them. No coaching was given for any sporting activities.

The few textbooks we had were printed in the early part of the century and very few ever found their way into the hands of the pupils. When they were issued we had to spend the first few hours of the subject making covers for the books and we were not allowed to take them home.

We didn’t do foreign languages or science and technology. We were allowed one library book a week. History was 1066 and all that at it’s worst. Lessons progressed at the rate of the slowest pupil.

It seemed that the schools purpose was to keep children off the streets until they could be put on the labour market at age fifteen. I suppose it must be placed in the context of its days. We were the children born prior to world war two, a generation of Teachers were lost in the conflict.

I was born in Old Malton in August 1939. I went to the junior school in Old Malton from the age of five. The Junior school was even worse than the Senior school.

Being born in August meant that I wasn't old enough to move up with my class to the Senior school at age eleven, due to the July cut off date.

Malton Senior School had five teachers, each teacher took a mixed class for a year for most subjects. The head master was Mr Lever (Burt)? He would do the administration, fill in for absent teachers and give special classes for backward pupils as required. He had a musical background and if he didn’t like the sound of the singing during assembly he would keep the pupils practising for hours, totally ignoring the need to do the scheduled lessons. During these sessions we were kept standing and some children used to faint, this provided some relief for others to carry them out for fresh air. This was short term however as the teachers would always send us back. Mr Lever's love of music however fell short of providing any musical instruments, apart from a piano, which the pupils weren’t allowed to touch.

Miss Garbutt taught the first year. Miss Ramsbottom was year two and PT for girls, Mr Grice (Coggy) year three and PT for boys, Mr Terry year four.

We also had a part time teacher for woodwork. I cannot remember his name. He was quite a small man, I remember the year four boys locking him in a cupboard and running off for the day. We (year three) released him when they had gone. Funnily enough we heard no more about this episode.

Year three boys had woodwork for half a day a week and a full day for year four. The woodwork classroom was half a mile away from the rest of the school and to be found up by the Assembly Rooms in Spital Street? This is the only classroom that was well equipped. However as there was no market demand for woodworkers, it all seemed a bit of a waste of time. I remember making a clothes horse, bookcase and a drop leaf coffee table. During these periods the girls did what would now be called home economics.

I had to catch up my class of the previous year and thus only did half a year in class two and three respectively. Due to this change I cannot remember exactly who was in each class. Anyway these names spring to mind. :-

Barry Long, Gavin Taylor, Geoffery Taylor, Jeff Hobbs, Philip Laverack, Tom Sawyer, Donald Banks, David Annis, Guinea? Johnson, Colin Render, Michael Farndale, Jackie Sollit, Edward Burgess, Alan Ring, Heather Burdett and Nancy Smirthwaite. I can remember very few girls’ names.

Coopers Travelling Amusement Fair had its winter quarters in Malton and this provided an influx of different children for a few months. How I envied them their exciting lifestyle.

Mr Grice taught year three in the upstairs classroom, which was designed as a laboratory with Bunsen burners (never used) and taps and sinks at the desks. The only experiment we did was to show the effects of magnetism using iron filings. I remember field trips to the Sewage and Gas works, also to the Police Station.

Mr Grice was a member of the Town cricket team and he used to take every opportunity to practice his batting. During most lunch hours and mid morning breaks he would have a never-ending stream of pupils bowling at him, using a stool for wickets. Woe-betide any boy who was unfortunate enough to bowl him out.

One of the boys had suffered from Polio and as a result had to wear irons on his legs, for this disability he was condemned! to take PT with the girls. As the illness hadn’t affected his hormones he always had a smile on his face.

As we ended year three Mr Lever had to retire due to ill health. Mr Terry was appointed as Temporary Headmaster and a new teacher arrived to take year four. This was Mr Withers, he brought a breath of fresh air to the school. It was a pleasure to be in his class. He was the driving force behind the formation of the Malton Rugby Club.

Lessons were made interesting, textbooks were more readily available.

Geometry, Trigonometry, Logarithms, etc crept out of their hiding places. Coaches were organised to take pupils to the heated swimming pool in York. We were even allowed to use the Grammar School playing fields for our sports day. Whilst this event provided us with a Victor Ludorum it was a one off for that year. A school trip to Belgium was organised.

 

How much of these improvements were down to Mr Terry and how much to Mr Withers I cannot say. Did the authorities provide more cash? Anyway in our final year pupils were encouraged to go on to further education at York Technical College. Our Victor Ludorum by means known only to god and the cricket club found his way to the Grammar School.

Senior School old boy and ex town clerk Henry Greenley’s autobiography gives an interesting insight into the official mind of the town in the fifties.

The industrial revolution had passed Malton by, attempts at innovation, enterprise or industrialisation were nipped in the bud. Farming became mechanised, and old industries such as brewing were shut down. The motor car and the superstore removed Malton’s need to exist.

As a result the majority of school leavers were forced to leave the town to find employment. It is no surprise to find old Maltonians spread out over the surface of the earth. I am a retired Aircraft Engineer and live in Ascot but am about to move to South Wales.

It seems such a waste today to have gone to a school that told about the apple falling on Newton’s head and failing to mention his laws of motion. Electricity without Faraday, who was Einstein?. Or Darwin?. Archimedes displacement, but not density.

My own local hero Sir George Caley failed to get even a mention. I’ll wager his achievements still don’t.

Miss Garbutt taught the first year. Miss Ramsbottom was year two and PT for girls, Mr Grice (Coggy) year three and PT for boys, Mr Terry year four.

We also had a part time teacher for woodwork. I cannot remember his name. He was quite a small man, I remember the year four boys locking him in a cupboard and running off for the day. We (year three) released him when they had gone. Funnily enough we heard no more about this episode.

Year three boys had woodwork for half a day a week and a full day for year four. The woodwork classroom was half a mile away from the rest of the school and to be found up by the Assembly Rooms in Spital Street? This is the only classroom that was well equipped. However as there was no market demand for woodworkers, it all seemed a bit of a waste of time. I remember making a clothes horse, bookcase and a drop leaf coffee table. During these periods the girls did what would now be called home economics.

I had to catch up my class of the previous year and thus only did half a year in class two and three respectively. Due to this change I cannot remember exactly who was in each class. Anyway these names spring to mind. :-

Barry Long, Gavin Taylor, Geoffery Taylor, Jeff Hobbs, Philip Laverack, Tom Sawyer, Donald Banks, David Annis, Guinea? Johnson, Colin Render, Michael Farndale, Jackie Sollit, Edward Burgess, Alan Ring, Heather Burdett and Nancy Smirthwaite. I can remember very few girls’ names.

Coopers Travelling Amusement Fair had its winter quarters in Malton and this provided an influx of different children for a few months. How I envied them their exciting lifestyle.

Mr Grice taught year three in the upstairs classroom, which was designed as a laboratory with Bunsen burners (never used) and taps and sinks at the desks. The only experiment we did was to show the effects of magnetism using iron filings. I remember field trips to the Sewage and Gas works, also to the Police Station.

Mr Grice was a member of the Town cricket team and he used to take every opportunity to practice his batting. During most lunch hours and mid morning breaks he would have a never-ending stream of pupils bowling at him, using a stool for wickets. Woe-betide any boy who was unfortunate enough to bowl him out.

One of the boys had suffered from Polio and as a result had to wear irons on his legs, for this disability he was condemned! to take PT with the girls. As the illness hadn’t affected his hormones he always had a smile on his face.

As we ended year three Mr Lever had to retire due to ill health. Mr Terry was appointed as Temporary Headmaster and a new teacher arrived to take year four. This was Mr Withers, he brought a breath of fresh air to the school. It was a pleasure to be in his class. He was the driving force behind the formation of the Malton Rugby Club.

Lessons were made interesting, textbooks were more readily available.

Geometry, Trigonometry, Logarithms, etc crept out of their hiding places. Coaches were organised to take pupils to the heated swimming pool in York. We were even allowed to use the Grammar School playing fields for our sports day. Whilst this event provided us with a Victor Ludorum it was a one off for that year. A school trip to Belgium was organised.

How much of these improvements were down to Mr Terry and how much to Mr Withers I cannot say. Did the authorities provide more cash? Anyway in our final year pupils were encouraged to go on to further education at York Technical College. Our Victor Ludorum by means known only to god and the cricket club found his way to the Grammar School.

Senior School old boy and ex town clerk Henry Greenley’s autobiography gives an interesting insight into the official mind of the town in the fifties.

The industrial revolution had passed Malton by, attempts at innovation, enterprise or industrialisation were nipped in the bud. Farming became mechanised, and old industries such as brewing were shut down. The motor car and the superstore removed Malton’s need to exist.

As a result the majority of school leavers were forced to leave the town to find employment. It is no surprise to find old Maltonians spread out over the surface of the earth. I am a retired Aircraft Engineer and live in Ascot but am about to move to South Wales.

It seems such a waste today to have gone to a school that told about the apple falling on Newton’s head and failing to mention his laws of motion. Electricity without Faraday, who was Einstein?. Or Darwin?. Archimedes displacement, but not density.

My own local hero Sir George Caley failed to get even a mention. I’ll wager his achievements still don’t.