Hells Angels, High School Chapter 4

Recently, I came across the electronic version of the Nottingham School Register which had been painstakingly transferred to an Excel Spreadsheet. They go back as far as the very first boy in what must have been a new School Register in 1858. Here is one of the few illustrations we have…

At midsummer 1858, therefore, Arthur Law Gratton joined the School, which was then, of course, in Stoney Street in the Hockley area. Arthur lived at 13 Northampton Terrace, Portland Road. Ironically, Portland Road is within a two minute walk of the School’s present site on Arboretum Street. I cannot find a Northampton Terrace, so presumably this has been renamed or demolished. In those days, it was very frequent practice to write Northampton Terrace as Northampton-terrace or Portland Road as Portland-road. This persisted until at least the 1920s, but I’m going to give it a go in this post. Hope I don’t miss any!

Arthur’s father was deceased and his mother was now a widow named Eleonora Gratton. Arthur was 15 years 5 months old and he left at Michaelmas of 1860.  Michaelmas is on September 29th. The register states in the Remarks column, “Behaved well. Drowned while bathing June 1861”. Ironically, the summer of 1861 had “above-average rainfall, but not excessively so” although in Ireland the “summer was dramatically wet.”

Henry Wheeldon came to the Free School on January 26th 1859.  He was 12 years old and his father said that he lived at Mr Peter Elliott’s (sic) at 29 Bromley-place. During the 1st half of 1860 (sic) he was dismissed for “not living in the town after repeated warnings as to the rule.” This is initialled by W.B. who was the Reverend W. Butler the Headmaster. Here is the Rev himself:

The Remarks Column is fascinating. We see that one pair of individuals were the victims of a paperwork foul up as they were “Entered by mistake twice”. Some boys were “elected” into the School but “declined” their place. Others moved house between being accepted and the first day of a new term, “left town before coming in”. As well as the clever boys who were educated for free, some less intelligent but more affluent boys paid to sit in with the classes. Thomas Hodson Sissling, the 14 year old son of Wright Calecraft Sissling, an Innkeeper on London-road “Remained six months as a private pupil”. Gordon Clarke, the son of John Clarke, a “General Dealer” in Rick-street (between Huntingdon-street and Glasshouse-street) remained for three months. Glasshouse-street was very beautiful even in late Victorian times. Don’t miss the cat and notice that it’s the day for the dustbin men to call:

More silliness next time…





Filed under History, Nottingham, Politics, The High School

23 responses to “Hells Angels, High School Chapter 4

  1. I take it that the cat and the bins are in an alley and that this does not show the front of the houses.
    MY REPLY : I think you are right and this is the alleyway at the back, hence the relative quiet of the scene.

  2. You don’t often see laundry hanging in the streets anymore, eh?

    • No, you don’t. It says a lot about our society nowadays that if you leave your washing out in certain areas of Nottingham it will be stolen. Years ago, my friend moved into the Forest Fields area without knowing this and left all his washing out in his backyard while he went to work. He didn’t do it a second time!

  3. I remember the old back to backs in St Anne’s….nostalgic photo.

    Incidentally, although unrelated, when I was 16, 23, and 35 years old, I had three dreams of a previous lifetime, two in Nottingham and the third as a housekeeper for a single professor gentleman in Germany and France (just before the first world war).

    They were vivid and of all the different times in a lifetime…at age 3, at early 20’s and in 40’s…very vivid and your smog filled picture feels so nostalgic.
    If you are interested (but don’t feel obliged John), I can recount the dreams here. After the first two, I began looking at historical information about Nottingham (I was in Canada at the time) and I verified much of what I saw in the dreams. When you can smell the scene in your dream it is also much more real.

    To this day (and I now live back in Nottingham much of the time) I feel very connected to the past.

  4. Ian MacPherson

    Interesting stuff. I just found your blogs today, and have enjoyed reading a few episodes already. Reading this one, and seeing the reference to the High School, I paged down to the drawing of the Reverend Butler and immediately thought it was a caricature of the venerable Fez Parker. It does look a bit like him……. or is it just me?

    • I’m glad you are enjoying my blogs. I try to range as far and wide as I can, and being interesting is mu No 1 priority. Personally, I don’t think it looks much like Ian Parker, but that is not to say that I am dismissing reincarnation out of hand. I think the picture came originally from a series of old books about Victorian Nottingham but I am not very sure about that really.

  5. Could the ‘cat’ be one of the mysterious ‘beasts’ so well covered in earlier posts? Perhaps the beast of Nottingham! Incidentally, We recently came across some old school records (only 50 yrs old admittedly) including the punishment book, in which young scallywags were caned for scrumping! Not even on school property or during school time!

    • Yes, we have a punishment book too. One entry for 1933 is ““…J. M.Owen received his strokes at the break today. When two were being inflicted, he flinched away, and so rendered them ineffective. These were therefore repeated. Owen was beaten with a new cane, purchased from Morris, Wilkinson and Co (a factory near the gasworks) for sixpence.” Give uis the tools, and we will do the job!

  6. Haha to Andy ;). You can get a ‘feel’ of this type of alley (called ‘Ginnels’ I think) by visiting the old railway village in Swindon. The Backs’ there haven’t changed a great deal in 200 years (apart from guttering and plumbing) and are well worth a look. Quite an eclectic mixture of methods to enrol the boys into school John. The Reverend must have had impeccable ledger skills to keep track of all of the different types of entry!

    • I agree with you as regards the name. I would have called them “ginnels” as well. I think with the filling in of the old registers and record books, life was just a lot slower and simpler then. School hours were not as long as they are now, and I don’t think anybody back in 1870 would be working as hard in the classroom as teachers are asked to do in our era.

  7. I always find these posts so interesting. Thanks for another good one!

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