the Reverend Charles Stephens (3)

Last time I showed you some more of the photographs left to us by the Reverend Charles Stephens, a keen photographer who captured many aspects of the High School, both boys, buildings and activities. Some of the most striking ones were taken in early 1960 when the new block on the northern side of the West Quadrangle was opened.

We have already looked at the bottom floor and the top corridor with their absolutely amazing block parquet flooring, which was not just shiny but even reflective. That incredible quality of being polished so highly as to be reflective seems to have been really widespread in the school at the time. Perhaps whichever company polished the floors of the new block was given free rein with some of the other rooms. Here are the floorboards of one of the Chemistry laboratories:

Here is the Music Rehearsal Room. Notice how all of the boys are wearing white plimsolls, which they have presumably had to bring from home, along with their trombones:

The Old Gym was pretty much the same as the new West Block rooms. Just look at those boys at the top of those ropes! If I’d been able to do that, I reckon my application for the French Foreign Legion would have gone a lot better than it did:

The Reverend Stephens didn’t just do buildings though. He did groups of boys such as his Tutor Set, seen here in 1953-1954:

How clever! He got them all to autograph the back of the photo:




Filed under History, Nottingham, The High School

16 responses to “the Reverend Charles Stephens (3)

  1. One of my form photos has signatures on the back

  2. I remember that the school that I went t had a highly polished floor in the main hall. Everywhere else was tiled (I think) except for the Headmasters office which was carpeted. I know it was carpetied because I had several opportunities to inspect it whilst receiving a punishment caning.

    • I don’t think many schools had carpets back in the day. This was, I think, for ease of cleaning, given that there were always lots of boys who brought sandwiches for lunch and no matter how many times they were told, some of them would always try to eat them in their form rooms rather than walk to the dining hall. Nowadays the High School has carpets everywhere which are hoovered every evening after school. I look forward to reading one of your blog posts about your life as a criminal. All I ever managed was lots of lines for making smart Alec comments at inopportune moments!

  3. I love old photos of the culture of schools, the architecture, the expressions of faces, etc. A boarding school sounds challenging and scary. I can’t imagine what it must have been like.

    • This was just a day school which means that all the boys went home at 4.00pm. although that may have been quite a distance. Boarding schools at the time could be very challenging and scary with some very dreadful things going on. If I remember rightly, Donald Strurrock’s “Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl” contains at least one chapter on his experiences at boarding school.

  4. Jan

    I think Chas must have airbrushed the photo of the gym. Anyone ever foolish enough to forget their gym kit will recall the wooden crate that lurked on the stage. Full of the ripest, mankiest selection of left plimsoles and monster shorts known to boykind.

    Happy memories of HVW who, as a pioneer of English rugby in the 60s and 70s, might I suggest, be worthy of a post in his own right.

  5. I note with interest the boys in uniform. Did all schools have a Cadet Corp back then?

    • The biggest and best public schools had had what were then called Officer Training Corps since the days of the Boer War. Lesser schools often started them in imitation of their perceived betters, a process which went on for decades. The OTC in the High School began around 1905 based on three things. The availability of young staff to run it, boys who wanted to attend and above all, a patriotic desire to improve on a pretty miserable showing in the Boer War, although, of course, the Boers always cheated by wearing camouflaged clothes and knowing what they were doing.

  6. Those photos really take me back to times I had almost forgotten! White plimsoles (I always seemed to be adding Whitener) are a thing of the past and that gym layout could have been taken directly from my own school! They were the days!

  7. I must admit that I used to dread lessons in the gym because I had this ridiculous idea that falling from the wall bars or a rope ten feet onto a wooden floor was dangerous. How silly! One lesson though, legend has it, two boys both fell off and broke an arm. One left, one right.
    In actual fact, it has been noticeable over my own teaching career that the gym has gradually been used less and less for climbing and such activities, and people now tend to play ball games in there. Much safer!

  8. Thank you for sharing. Regards

  9. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I think this gentleman, Charles Stephens, was as close as the Church of England got to the “holy men” of religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. All the boys realised that he was worthy of their respect, such was his manner with them. And he was naturally kind, which is always a good thing to be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.