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Wigan Grammar Schools


Staff of the Grammar School 1952
Photo: RON
Views: 6,412
Item #: 4118
Photograph showing members of the Staff of the school. c.1952

Comment by: Jaybell Pentops on 24th October 2007 at 19:14

I’d like to have a stab at some of these owd buffers (literally when I was at school). Not sure about these but, front row: 4th from left Teddy Johnson; 6th Joe Boswell; 7th a geography teacher who boozed in All Saints Tavern; 8th Sav; 9th Dicky Nut.
Back row: 7th from left (specs) Dicky Downing; 9th FAL (Leyland) art teacher; 11th could be Cooper – wood work teacher. I was caned by Joe Boz and Dick Downing.

Comment by: Cheta Brown on 25th October 2007 at 11:20

Think top row third from left is sports master Franky Balmer.

Comment by: FRANK HEALY on 26th October 2007 at 10:21

BACK ROW (L-R) Taffy Griffiths(just in shot), (??), Johnnie Bradburn, ?Corcoran, Stevenson?, (should know), (??), (??), FAL, (??), Frankie Balmer, (??)

FRONT ROW (L-R) (??), Pop Denning, (??), Teddy Johnson, (??), Joe Boswell, Tommy Walker, Savigny?, Dickie Nutt, (??), Madame Tyson?


Comment by: Elmer on 30th October 2007 at 18:54

I'm glad somebody else has had a go at namimg these lot. I can remember some faces but its hard putting names to them.
Can't make my mind up whether Frank Healy is right or Jaybell about Franky Balmer. He was older when I knew him and looked tougher than these two. He was a good rugby player in his time.

Comment by: FRANK HEALY on 31st October 2007 at 11:08

Hi Elmer. Frankie Balmer used to scare the living daylights out of me during my first few years at the Grammar School(I started in 1955). However, once you'd grown up a bit you found out that he was a pretty decent bloke. I'm confident (chuckle)that I'm right.

Comment by: Elmer on 1st November 2007 at 09:20

Yeah Frank. Take your word for it. His hair had thinned a bit when I knew him, didn't look as smart as this photo. Bark worse than his bite, bit of a sense of humour in that respect. He was OK. More than I can say for the games master that followed him

Comment by: FRANK HEALY on 1st November 2007 at 12:03

Hi Elmer. I was still at the grammar school for a few years after Frankie left but I've forgotten who took over as games master. Do you remember his name?

Comment by: Elmer on 1st November 2007 at 14:04

The games teacher after Frankie was Wilf Murphy - he looked like a bigger rougher version of Peter Butterworh - the Carry On actor. Without putting too finer point on it - I didn't find him as sociable as Frankie.

Comment by: FRANK HEALY on 2nd November 2007 at 10:39

As soon as I saw the name I thought 'yes, a big chap' so, if I remember correctly, the Peter Butterworth comparison seems fair. I don't recall coming into contact with him (Wilf that is) much so don't know what he was like as a person.

Comment by: Elmer on 5th November 2007 at 16:51

I need to be careful how I pass comment but lets say that Wilf, I beleive a Lancashire RU back row representative, was a little too big and strong to be knocking about young lads especially for pretty trivial things. Frankie did things with a sense of humour and I never witnesed any violence from Frankie. None of the lads strayed out of line with Frankie and I think basically they liked him. Couldn't say the same about Wilf.

Comment by: Frank Healy on 6th November 2007 at 14:26

Hi Elmer. I don't know what period you were at the grammar school, but talking about knocking young lads about for trivial reasons do you remember the latin teacher Pop Denning?

Comment by: Elmer on 6th November 2007 at 17:01

Frank. I had forgotten Pop Denning but I recall him now. I thought at the time that many of the old buffers were sadist. With the passage of time I have come to the conclusion that the majority were loopy. I often speak to one of the old teachers who was probably after your time. I told him that they all were mad - he still thinks I was joking. One old codger on that photo used to stand at Central Park on the Douglas Side - he looked at the stand all the match - then at the field during the interval. About the sainest to me was Cocky - good sense of humour too - Dicky Downing was OK but he had his quirky moments.

Comment by: Frank Healy on 7th November 2007 at 10:39

Hi Elmer. You're definitely a diplomat using the word loopy. Sadistic is a better word to describe some of them and even then I reckon it's being euphemistic (jokingly of course). Strangely, although I remember the name Dicky Downing very well I can't bring him to mind at all. Who's Cocky?

Comment by: Elmer on 7th November 2007 at 23:45

Frank. Cocky is Corcoron - used to call kids mugwumps and say "I no speaks da English I speaka da Lomoro Greyn" when taking the micky about the way the kids spoke. He taught maths - he was Ok. Dicky Downing was head of English - an ex-marine. He was very strict but had a weird sense of humour - he would push green "clear gums", as he called them to the front of his desk. He didn't like green ones.
If you answered the question correctly you won the gum - when you put it in your mouth, he would ask if you were chewing - then send you outside. If you were caught outside by the headmaster or assistant headmaster you got the cain. For some reason the lads respected him - we were the dropouts, the C class, but best in English language - so he must have had something. By the way - clear gums - were Rowntrees Fruit Gums.

Comment by: Frank Healy on 8th November 2007 at 11:24

Hi Elmer. Never realised Corcoron had a nickname. I agree, he was OK although he did have a painful way of punishing you which involved the sideburns and tiptoes. Dicky Downing? Now that's what I call a really weird sense of humour. As far as I can remember FAL always took us for English. I always had a lot of time and respect for him. Without being modest I was, and still am, useless at art yet thanks to FAL I passed O-level art. For a month or two prior to the exam he concentrated on the construction and drawing of "dolls". Guess what came up came up in the exam? He actually knew my old man from their school days so that stood me in good stead with him.

Digressing somewhat, when this 1952 photograph appeared I thought that it would generate dozens of comments and that all the teachers would be rapidly identified. How wrong can you be?

Comment by: Elmer on 13th November 2007 at 22:03

I've just realised that Jab could be on this photo i.e. J. A. Bullock. I can't remember waht he looled like but I think he was a stiffer version of Teddy Johnson.

Comment by: Frank Healy on 14th November 2007 at 12:22

Hi Elmer. JAB definitely rings a bell although I'm in the same boat as you in not being able to picture him. Possibly, he's the one I thought might be Stevenson, i.e. back-row fifth left (counting the just in shot Taffy Griffiths as first left). I can recall two who are missing from the photograph, the history master Pop Skirrow and the chemistry master Sam(?) Shepherd. Also, when looking at the master back-row second left, the name Dennison keeps coming to mind for some reason.

Comment by: Elmer on 15th November 2007 at 18:28

Yep Frank coukd be Jab but I really don't know. Now you mention it a remember Pop Skirrow, tallish, skinny, specs and whispy curly hair that went up in a sort of ice cream cone. Jab taught latin. But now I'm wodering if I got Dicky Downing right, the two tall blokes in specs on the back row look pretty similar. Like you said - could do with someone else thowing in their fourpenneth.

Comment by: Frank Healy on 19th November 2007 at 10:43

Hi Elmer. Great description of Pop Skirrow. Always found him to be a decent bloke.
We've certainly monopolised this comments section. Were have all the old boys gone?

Comment by: Frank Healy on 19th November 2007 at 15:39

or even better "where have all the old boys gone"?

Comment by: Pykey on 20th November 2007 at 18:23

Is Gus Wolfenden on this photo? Another bundle of joy.

Comment by: Frank Healy on 21st November 2007 at 11:35

Hi Pykey. Eureka! Back row, seventh from the right would be my bet. Can't recall him teaching me so don't know what he was like. Nice to have more input.

Comment by: Pykey on 21st November 2007 at 12:54

Not sure about that Frank - didn't remember him being bald but he was "old school" type. Not exactly a barrel of laughs. Also I may be wrong about his name, it may have been Wolfendale. Who is the SS candidate sat next to the secretary. 2nd from right - front row? Also is the secretary Frankie's friend?

Comment by: Frank Healy on 21st November 2007 at 16:10

Hi Pykey. Apologies for misleading you, by the seventh from the right I mean the one, with hair, to the left of the two tall teachers with specs. You've got me thinking now as to whether it was Gus Baxenden or Baxendale. Not sure at all. We'll have to settle for Baxen something or other until somebody puts us right. The SS bloke is a complete stranger to me. Must have left before I started in 1955. I thought the lady might be Madame Tyson the french teacher. I'd forgotten about the secretary. "Was she Frankie's friend"? Don't know but an intriguing question, nevertheless.

Comment by: Fred Mason on 25th November 2007 at 18:21

Nice to see that I am not the only one to expderience the sadism of one, Joe Boz. He enjoyed caning us lot and I never met a more 'dedicated' master at Wigan Grammar School. I did like old 'Pobbles' though, he was a true gentleman, and Mr Wright the english master.

Comment by: Elmer on 26th November 2007 at 23:07

Lets say Frankie and the Secretary were at least on nodding terms. The name was definitely Gus Wolfendale. The dude on the back row third from left could be the French teacher whose name escapes me for the moment but I will remember it.

Comment by: Dave Whitter on 1st December 2007 at 15:19

Can I join in this discussion? I was at the Grammar School 1955 - 1960. Having studied the photo intently I can say with certainty that Frankie Balmer is 2nd from right back row, on Fals left and behind Madame Tyson.( I had'nt heard about those two- I must have been too innocent!)Top left is Taffy Griffiths as you say, but next to him is Leigh.I don't know his subject as he never taught me. ( I use the word taught very loosely) Jab is 5th from left and I think it is Cocky (Cochrane) on his right.Gus Wolfendale is next to Jab on the other side.And Dickie Downing is 5th from the right.Front row- Teddie Johnson and Joe bos are either side of the Head, who I don't know; it was J.W. Ashley- Smith in my time.Then comes Walker ( geog) Savigny, Dickie Nutt ,then a stranger, before finally, Mme Tyson. Hope this helps. There is definately no John Bradburn or Cooper and I don't recognise Pop Denning.Shepherd(who is a slight relation of my mother), is not on. Others who I thought would have been there at the time but are not on are Paddy Gore ,Cakey Eccles, Rocket Stephenson,Derek Rimmer, Pop Skirrow (as mentioned), Rigby (Pobbles),and Roberts,Physics (Physics)

Comment by: Pykey on 2nd December 2007 at 21:31

Dave lad I think you’ve been on the pop. Back row 2nd from right Frankie Balmer! – my Arsenal. I never saw Frankie wearing specs and this guy is too small – I think that may be a younger Paddy Gore. This was 1952. I can’t make my mind up which one of the tall guys in specs is Dicky Downing. If 5th from right is Dickie Downing – then who is the other tall guy with specs? Elmer, could third from left on back row be Taylor the French teacher?

Comment by: Frank Healy on 3rd December 2007 at 11:27

Shows what a grammar school education can do for you but I've just noticed that in my last missive Wolfen has been spelt Baxen. Apologies. Fancy forgetting about Paddy Gore. I think he lived in Parsons Walk. From what I can remember Pobbles, Roberts, Taylor and Albert Wright all started when I was there (1955-1963). Don't know whether Cakey Eccles and Cooper were there in 1952. Dave, sorry to take issue with you, but are you absolutely certain that Johnnie Bradburn is not on the photo? Also, were we in the same form for a time?

Comment by: Jaybell Pentops on 4th December 2007 at 16:03

Gentlemen, having initiated these comments I hope you will forgive me if I summarise results to date based on balance of evidence.
Back Row: L to R: Taffy Griffiths; Leigh; Unknown 1; “Cocky” Corcoron; J.A.Bullock AKA “Jab”; Gus Wolfendale; Ralph (Pronounced Rafe) Downing AKA”Dicky”; Unknown 2; Leyland AKA “Fal”; “Paddy” Gore; Frankie Balmer.
Front Row: Unknown 3; “Pop” Denning; Unknown 4; Teddy Johnson; Unknown Head; “Joe Boz” Boswell; Tommy Walker (regular at All Saints Tavern AKA The C&T); Savigni AKA “Sav”; “Dicky” Nutt; Unknown “gruppenfurher”; Miss Tyson.
Unknown 1: candidate: Johny Bradburn; Unknown 2: candidate Ashley-Smith;
Out of Time: Taylor teaching French; Albert (The Preacher) Wright teaching Eng & Rugby; Wilf Murphy teaching Assault & Battery; Eccles AKA “Cakey”; Stephenson AKA “Rocket”; Stirk “Raving Mad”; Jem Hall teaching Geog; “Bongo” Davidson teaching Science; Jem Hoss (birth name unknown) teaching Geog; Ashley-Smith future Head and teaching Avoidism; Makinson attempting to teach Maths; “Hard Cheese” Ellis teaching French & Sarcasm; Pulford AKA “Pullit” teaching Science; Harry Rigby AKA “Pobs” or “Pobbles” teaching Maths; “Pricker” Price AKA “Hitler” teaching Crap Music; Jem Curry teaching Sado-masochism. There is a toffee apple prize for the first to state correctly how Pobs got his name.

Comment by: Frank Healy on 6th December 2007 at 11:19



Also on the original full photograph: BEDFORD, NEWHOUSE, SHEPHERD, HALTON, GORE & SKIRROW

Comment by: Elmer on 6th December 2007 at 11:26

Well Jaybell, I reckon Pobs AKA Pobbles got his name from a character from the Dandy comic. Now, how do I get my toffee apple?

Comment by: Pykey on 6th December 2007 at 12:30

So Frank - a lot of us were wrong. How came you by this info? I always had my doubts about which of the two Clark Kents was Dickie!

Comment by: Frank Healy on 6th December 2007 at 14:25

Hi Pykey. I guess I became a killjoy and CHEATED. If you want a real nostalgia trip, type "Wigan Grammar School" into Google. The first site found should be WIGAN GRAMMAR SCHOOL 1597-1972 HISTORY. Click on the small h above WIGAN, then Photographs, choose Staff from the drop down list and year 1953 (not 1952). Voila! The full photograph is not very good but serves its purpose. This morning (Thurs, 6 Dec)was the first time I've been into the site. Honestly.

If I didn't know better I'd say that that rotter Ron's been having some fun at our expense (Jokingly of course). No offence meant Ron.

Comment by: B. Taylor on 10th December 2007 at 13:04

Pobs hurt my ear. Had to go to the quack's with it. Always had a bad ear. Pobs pulled me by the ear and twisted it. J.J. Bradburn played a tune on my head. Battered me about the head for so long I thought he never would stop. Can't even recall that I did anything wrong. Sadists?

Comment by: Knowlesy on 11th December 2007 at 15:59

Hello B. Taylor. Know how you feel. Was cained by Paddy, Dick Nutt, Dick Downing, Joe Boz and the Boss, Ashley-Smith. Battered by Pobbles, Jem Curry and Bradburn to name but few!

Comment by: jim holding on 22nd December 2007 at 23:00

fellow perusers,,dickie downing(major) as i recall used to drive an mg saloon(kind of metalic greyish)which he used to park at the side of woodwork room and i remember walking down slope into school,with curly when in whizzes dd causeing curly to jump on to grass verge at side,,amongst loads of curses ,,dd wind down the window and shouts"I,ll get you next time dowdall"and carries on and parks,,leaving us wi bemused looks on our faces,,,as I recall he went to Kirby Lonsdale Grammar or Stevens,,,,,,nuther thing both him an "cockie"were keen fishermen,,dd of the fly(as you would expect and cockie more of a coarse man,,,

Comment by: S. Bass on 18th January 2008 at 09:07

Bit before my time this photo but remember some of the bandits. Think I remember Jim Holding too. The name Jaz rings a bell. Also I have vague memories of Jaz coming from Worsley Mesnes and knocking about with a couple of geezers Cubbin and Jem Swift!

Comment by: jim holding on 26th January 2008 at 22:04

hi there young mister bass,,,,you partly right i did live in worsley mesnes,,but came from clarington brook,,,but never knocked around with jem swift or cubbin because they were indeed a couple or three years older,,at the time knocked about with bill ashhurst and co,,,but not seen him for many a long year,,,,still live in marus bridge now as a matter of fact,,,,

Comment by: Wayne Lupton on 15th January 2009 at 16:43

I remember most of these masters. From Paddy Gore twisting the hair at the side of my ear and lifting me out of my seat with one had whilst reading from a book and nasally reciting 'Discipuli picturam spectate, ubi est Roma?" to Dickie Downing sneaking around in his brithel creepers, Bradburn with his "I'm a bat" antics, and Balmer turning off the hot water in the showers leaving us with a cold shower in the dead of winter. Making mahogany letter racks with Cooper, French with Pop Denning and Mme Tison, and later with Taylor, the mysteries of alchamy with Taffy Griffiths, physics with Robers and some part time individual whose name I can't remember, but do remeber throwing lighted paper airoplanes at the poor bugger. Art with Fal, history with Skirrow (yawn), but now I love it, and maths with Pobbles, poor sod, we did get him worked up, trips with the adventure club, the memories are endless.

However, we must not forget that these man and woman had to put up with us, the great unwashed. Unruly, mostly not at all interested in the pearls of wisdom that were being offered to us, gazing out of the window or at our watches, kicking the guy in front, picking our noses, flicking soggy paper with our rulers, anything to disrupt the procedings. What a horrible lot we were, but our masters persisted, each and every day so that hopefully we would have just that edge when it came (oh so quickly) to join the rest of the worker bees in the big hive. (Speaking of which, remember Pop Dennings hives on top of th bogs by the bike shed?) It was a living hell at the time, but now, boy do I miss those times.

Having said all that, I would like to thank the people in the picture for their time and perseverance which they took in order to provide me with the education for which I am truly grateful today. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so mch.

Comment by: Peeping Tom on 20th January 2009 at 18:15

I like your style Wayne. You have almost enough attitude to have been one of the Form 5 untouchables. Given that you were tortured by the usual suspects who tortured us, you must have been some where near our year. Although the only Wayne I knew those days was John.

Comment by: allan worthington on 31st January 2009 at 23:53

I,too,was a victim of Paddy Gore's habit of grabbing hold of the facial hair and curlies and but that was nothing by comparison with his examination of the matters which should have been learned the night before,with the pronouncement"Nought,next."And,if you recall,he went down row after row on that basis.Happy days!

Comment by: allan worthington on 1st February 2009 at 00:11

I remember some of the names of those who have bothered to make a comment but do I recall that most were a year or two below me (I was there from 1955 to 1962).Frank,were you not in my year?

Comment by: Frank Healy on 2nd February 2009 at 09:32

Hi Allan, yes. I remember you being the "Peter Radford" of the WGS.

Comment by: Frank Healy on 2nd February 2009 at 10:19

Hi Allan, yes. I remember you being the "Peter Radford" of the WGS.

Comment by: Dave Whitter on 3rd February 2009 at 17:16

I remember Wayne Lupton. You were in my year if memory suffices. I have this feeling that you had an unusual first name, though after this long my memory could be playing me tricks! Was it 'Fort'? It is the short term memory that usually plays me tricks nowadays. Was talking to another old boy of my era a couple of days ago. Frank Maycock. Anyone remember him? A retired multi- millionaire now is Frank and living in Lymn after moving back from Scotland.
It must be 12 months since I've been on this site and the same old names are still in evidence in the comments columns.Happy days!

Comment by: allan worthington on 5th February 2009 at 16:44

Hello,Frank.Peter who?After leaving WGS,I don't remember ever putting on a pair of running spikes ever again.

Comment by: Frank Healy on 6th February 2009 at 08:50

Hi Allan, Peter Radford won the bronze medal at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

Comment by: allan worthington on 6th February 2009 at 23:42

Thanks Frank.I did,in fact,know that.Oddly,the medals we received at WGS in the athletic sports were bronze at junior and intermediate levels,if you were overall champion,and only silver at senior level.Work that one out!

Comment by: Frank Healy on 9th February 2009 at 09:25

Hi Allan, I could see that you knew he was a runner but wasn't sure if you remembered exactly who he was; I should have known better. They actually awarded medals for athletics at the WGS? (There was never any danger of me winning any). Always thought I was "nippy" until I ran in a 100yds race against you: finished about 10yds behind you (and Jack Reinke?)although I wasn't last. It was somewhat demoralising to say the least. :o)

Comment by: Derek Wilkes on 30th January 2011 at 16:21

Looking at the old school photo there is Mr Warren, headmaster, Teddy Johnson, Dicky Nutt, Richard Denning, Draper next to Frank Balmer, Johnnie Bradburn, Dickie Downing, Mr Savigny, his son was in my class. Madame Tisson, french teacher.Mr Baron, woodwork teacher. Another Mr Downing, Derek Rimmer next to Johnnie Bradburn.Tommy Walker.FAL Layland, art teacher.Mr Corcoran, maths teacher, used to get hold of your side burns an lift.Taffy Griffiths.
These are the names I can remember and I left in 1954

Comment by: malcolm farrimond on 10th April 2013 at 20:41

Names of all staff members-1952.
Back row L to R.J.O.Griffiths,Rimmer,J.Bradburn,E.Cockram,J.A.Bullock,G.Wolfendale,Strange,P.Richmond,F.A.Layland,H.Draper,F.Balmer,W.Stevenson.
Front row L to R:Baron,F.Denning,W.Allinson,I.W.Johnson,Warren(head),J.Boswell,T.Walker,W.Savigny,Nutt,Galloway,Mms.Tyson.

Comment by: Wayne Lupton on 7th May 2013 at 15:46

Dave Whitter, what a memory! Yes I was saddled with Fort, it's an old family name back to my great grandparents.

Comment by: JamesB on 29th August 2014 at 15:06

Apart from Warren (the Head) and Allinson, all of the rest I am familiar with and most taught me. I didn't like my time at the Grammar for all kinds of reasons mainly my own fault but quite a few of the teachers contributed. Hence I followed this up by spending 4 decades teaching! In both girls and boys Grammars, Sec Mod and finally in a mixed multi racial Comprehensive for the last 25. It dawned on me that although my time was fairly miserable here it had left me with a "framework" that allowed me to ensure I got the best out of my pupils - no, not by "torture" but strict, firm uncompromising discipline without a "corporal" in sight - simply not allowed - and with no other meaningful support available it was a case of find a way or sink. The voice, intonation, demeanour and a keen eye for any potential troublemakers usually, but not always, did the trick (a la Frankie Balmer I like to think). Consistency of approach was the key, I'm sure.
Frank Balmer I liked, firm but fair - never saw him hit anyone, but didn't know about the secretary - the story I heard was that Dickie Downing and Rimmer came to blows in the staff room one day over something Dicky said about her - Rimmer, if it's true, was somewhat smitten - well that's the story I heard but it could be wrong.

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