Groups of people at the High School

On my home made CD of old photographs of the High School, one of the constant recurring themes is that of “groups of people”. Here is the staff in 1885:

It’s not one of my best scans, but it is possible to recognise Dr Gow in the middle of the five who are seated. In front of him, like a faithful great hound, is the new Drill Serjeant, George Holmes, an ex-army man, who was responsible for “…the usual manual exercise and marching drill, bayonet exercise, sword drill for infantry and cavalry and Indian club exercise.” His appointment was “…to the great advantage of all our games.”

This group are pupils but I don’t think  anybody knows who they are. The variety of dress is quite astonishing:

Some seem to have school badges. They are worn on a….

“cap fitted close to the head, and bore the quaint lozenge shaped crest of the school, with its three black birds on a white ground, a badge restored to use by Doctor Gow, and of which the boys were proud. It was known by the vulgar boys of the town as the “three crows”.

One boy, No 2 sitting on the bench, is wearing a Scottish or French tam o’shanter and there is an Ed Balls lookalike if you study the faces carefully. And is Boy No 1 on the back row, a person  of colour, if it’s OK to put it that way?

Not all groups are from 139 years ago. Here is a picture about which absolutely nothing seems to be known. Was it taken on a School trip abroad in the 1930s?

And this is probably the First XV but in an unknown year. Notice the 1st XV official caps and blazers awarded when the players were given their colours:

The master is Mr Joseph William Lucas Kennard who joined the High School in November 1910, as a teacher of Modern Languages . He was employed primarily as the Form Master of a newly created Fourth Form which, presumably, had been operating without a fixed Form Master up to that point. He had previously taught at the Liverpool Institute and then in Switzerland. I found only one description of Mr Kennard’s methods in the classroom around this time, from Roy Henderson who said that

“He had the unfortunate habit with smaller boys of pulling them close and then tugging their hair very hard. It was extremely painful.”

Mr Kennard’s main rôle was to introduce rugby into the School. He was quite highly qualified to do so, having captained Lancashire, and having played for the North of England XV. On one occasion he had played for the North against the South in an England trial. The school duly switched from football to rugby in January 1915.

Let’s come forward a little. Here are some members of 2K, caught by the Reverend Stephens as they rehearsed “The Island of Doom” in 1958:

The last group comes from four years later in 1962, when the Reverend Stephens took a photograph of the School’s rather large Scout group.:




Filed under History, Nottingham, The High School

15 responses to “Groups of people at the High School

  1. Excellent pictures. In second picture is Ed Balls look-a-like front right? I wonder why one boy is wearing a master’s mortar board?
    Did the school have trips abroad in the 1930s?

    • My Ed is back row third from the left, but if you prefer your one, I wouldn’t argue about it. I think you’re probably losing a lot of the quality of the scan when you look the post as a finished article. The scan was a lot better as I wrote the post.
      I think that the boy with the mortarboard is just wearing what he wants to! The Headmaster I mentioned, Dr Gow, laid down the law about wearing proper caps and badges and conforming to the dress code. I think Mortarboard Boy is having his last fling before it’s back to schoolboy caps.
      Yes, the school did have trips abroad during the 1930s. They went on separate trips to Belgium (1929), Denmark and France, including Paris, Rouen and Provence where they saw Algerian troops massing at Avignon in summer 1939. The school’s first ever trip abroad was to the Collège Universitaire de St.Servan near St.Malo in Brittany in 1904

      • Jeff Tupholme

        Are you sure this wasn’t a commemorative photo for ‘Wear your own hat to school’ day?!

      • Gradually, the idea of uniform came into the school! ‘Back Row Left 2’ has what looks to be the approved cap and ‘Middle Row 3’ has the approved short trousers and long woollen socks. ‘Middle Row 7’ has the approved very large white Norfolk collar which will be very widespread by 1900.

  2. Hopefully a reader or two will spot something

  3. What great memories, John. I keep checking on-line for my school pictures as my yearbook burned up in my house fire.

    • I would try “ebay” where there seem to be a lot of yearbooks on sale. Here in England we don’t have yearbooks, and I struggle to remember the faces of the many boys I met in those seven golden years. Well, Electro Plated Nickel Silver, anyway.

      • I hadn’t thought of ebay, thanks.
        With you fantastic universities, I would have thought yearbooks would be like history books in the UK. Learn something new every day!

  4. C F Waller

    The man at the top left in the first picture looks as if he has just come from the gunfight at the OK Corral. What a character!

    • The secret is that every single person without a mortarboard HAS just got back from the gunfight at the OK Corral. Actually, some of those people stretched a long way back into history. The new Drill Serjeant was a veteran of the Crimean War. Mr Leopold Compline Wilkes played professional football for Sheffield Wednesday.
      She isn’t on the photograph, but Madame Lionnet, the school’s French teacher, had lost both her husband and her father, killed in the battles around Paris during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

  5. OH how I enjoyed clicking on each picture to make it bigger so I could really study each one, John!! Fascinating just fascinating! The second picture I kept on going back to. Phenomenal post! Thank you!! I really quite enjoyed myself here today!

    • I’m delighted, Amy. There is nothing like an antique photograph to get the mind working, making up stories in your head about what relationships the people had, and, above all, what could the subjects of the photograph see as they looked out at the photographer?

  6. Good evidence for writing on the back of photographs! I do think these days will pass soon, with photos being stored ‘online’ or saved electronically, boxes of old photos like these will gradually fade away. No longer will we trawl through box after box, wondering who is who, or graze through the collections at antique fairs. It’ll be a sad day indeed but one I hope never comes.

    • You have hit the nail right on the head there! So many photographs will be lost and so much writing will be gone for ever. Some of my blog posts have raised quite serious points about important events in the school’s history such as the school’s foundation and the school’s badge. What I have written will be lost for ever as soon as we move from one electronic storage system to another.
      In a similar way, I have hundreds of old photographs that I have scanned in, but many of them may be “beyond use” as they say. I knew very little about scanning in 1990 and the technician told me to put them all into ClarisWorks. There’s a lot of that about nowadays!

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