Strange Days Indeed

The Reverend Charles Stephens has left us a lot of photographs and some of them are rather strange, to say the least. We’ve already had a look at the men in white coats:

And the Zombie Attack :

But there are plenty more in the same vein. When I scanned these photographs in 1992 or thereabouts, I had to give many of them my own rather silly titles. This is called “The Skull Society”. I have absolutely no idea what it is:

This photograph is called, rather imaginatively, “Boy with a chair on his head”. Again, I have absolutely no idea what it is, although it may well be the Headmaster’s chair, normally kept on the stage of the Assembly Hall :

Very similar is “Two boys and a Dustbin”, the second title in a row that sounds like a pencil sketch by Salvador Dali:

I wanted to call this  “The School Home Brewing Society” but I don’t think that even back in 1957 there was any such body. I have absolutely no idea what the photograph is, nor, indeed, the brand of beer :

I think that this one was taken on a field trip somewhere. It is entitled “The Longest Legs in Showbiz”:

Just two more to go. This is “Unknown Happy Boy” AKA “Unknown Boy Dancing”:

I hadn’t noticed when I scanned these photographs into digital form in the early 1990s, that the photograph above has actually been flipped. Not by me, as far as I know, but by the Reverend for some reason we will never know. Here is the original location, immediately much more recognisable:

And now, the strangest of the strange. Something we will probably never see again in our lifetime. This is entitled “Car Parking in Arboretum Street, 1961”:

I think this photograph was taken at the western end of the street, and the building set back on the right is the now demolished old Music School. The rather beautiful building on the left must have gone the same way, I suppose, although I have no idea what it is. The nearer car is an Austin Cambridge, or maybe a Morris Oxford. and the further one is a Hillman Minx. Why were there no traffic wardens in those days, to clamp down on untidy and reckless parking like that?

Always finish on a song. And which song could be better than this?





Filed under History, Nottingham, The High School

21 responses to “Strange Days Indeed

  1. Jeff Tupholme

    Where do you think the “Unknown Happy Boy” was taken, John? I can’t place the conjunction of the wall and the doorway, and the crest above the door doesn’t ring any bells.

    • Jan

      The photo has been flipped – look at the buttons on the boy’s jacket – and once you reverse the mirror effect you will recognize the location immediately.

      • I was about to write my answer when I noticed Jan’s reply. He is absolutely right. I will edit the post to include the pre-flipped version. Incidentally, I am not the guilty person here as far as I know. When the picture was scanned in during the early 1990s, it was the same way around.

  2. More entertainment, John. Jackie reminds me that in our street in 1968 mine was the only car parked in the road. Now it is full of cars of commuters driving into the suburbs of London and catching trains into the centre

    • Thank you, Derrick. After researching the deaths of 125 people for the last five or six years, WW2 is beginning to wear a little thin.
      In Nottingham, six years or so ago, the (Labour) council introduced a scheme to charge everybody who parked at work to pay, I think, £500 per annum, for the privilege. Hardly anybody paid up, and instead, they all park in the streets near to their workplace.
      We live near to the City Hospital so we are overwhelmed 7.00 am to 6.00 pm, six days a week. Next month, the Council will give us all permits to park in front of our own house, so we’ll perhaps see an improvement.

      • When Jessica was being treated for myeloma in City Hospital, I was appalled that I had to pay for parking to visit her. The problem with those permits you hope for is that there still has to be a space available – as we found in London when Jackie still worked for Social Services

  3. I hate when I don’t make note of pictures, they end up like these with me saying -“I have no idea”.

    • Don’t worry, we all do that. The Reverend Stephens, who was a very meticulous man, has left us at least a dozen pictures in this rather frustrating category: “Unknown Geography class”, “Unknown Boy Scouts”, “Unknown teacher” and so on. The only problem is that the oldest of the retired teachers go to the great staff room in the sky, there is nobody left to identify even the most important of people. Only five years ago, I was asked to take a look at the staff photo for 1975 and see how many I knew. (Almost all of them, with just a couple of sports coaches having slipped my memory)

  4. Jan

    Those are quart bottles, so they have to be from a Midlands-based brewer. To my eyes, wearing a pair of CAMRA-approved beer goggles, they look like Hardy and Hanson’s (Kimberley Ales).

    • Thank you very much for that. I was hoping that somewhere out there, there would be somebody who could make an educated guess. I thought that perhaps the badge would be a help.
      Much to my shame, I have on a couple of occasions identified distant airliners in an airport panorama by the logo on the aircraft’s tail, but I am not proud of that.

  5. Brilliant John. With titles like that you should have written a Monty Python sketch!

    • Flattery will get you anywhere! In actual fact, I can remember that with classes, the thing that made them laugh the loudest was when I projected a picture on to the whiteboard but then supplied them with a silly caption. They seemed to enjoy having their train of thought grabbed and then sent off in a completely different direction.
      On a more serious note, I have been very impressed with the knowledge shown in the “Comments” section. When people put their minds to it, they can always come up with some ideas to solve a puzzle.

  6. Jan

    The splendid building at the corner of Arboretum and Waverley Streets was called “The Chestnuts”. A rather modest name for such an imposing pile. I shall try and find out more.

  7. Chris Waller

    I think the photograph of ‘The Dancing Boy’ may have been flipped for purely compositional reasons. Speaking as a photographer I always prefer to put my portrait subjects on the left of the frame looking to the right. It seems to ‘read’ better. These photographs are fascinating. They capture a brief, fleeting moment in a life. I wonder who the boy was? Did his life turn out as he expected?

    • Hello Chris. My ex-art teacher wife told men that “The photograph has been flipped to make the picture better balanced. Apparently most portraits tend to be left to right facing, because we read left to right.” Which means that you are in agreement and I’m sure that that’s correct.
      I have heard that supposedly in horror films, the baddy often enters from the right to make him more unexpected and therefore frightening.

  8. Excellent mate, your titles to the pics was spot on, agree you should start thinking about professional work like Monty Python sketches as suggested.

    • Thank you, you’re very kind. My wife actually things I should write a TV comedy series called “Grumpy Old Bugger” but I suppose the title alone is enough to have it taken off air.

  9. Ed Grummitt

    Charlie’s Arboretum Street photo brought back memories, thank you!
    Old age creeps on, but I think the building on the right of the photo is the old dining hall – Charlie took another one of the packed interior at lunchtime which features several pupils I recognise. I may even be on it somewhere.
    The building on the left is Turpin House – as its name implies, built for a former headmaster. In the early sixties it was the haunt of Robin Williams (not that one – geography master), and I believe Joe Neville, biology and CCF officer and driver.
    Robin’s geography lessons were legendary – a born teacher who resembled the young Rudyard Kipling. His account of magma forcing lava out of a volcano was hilarious. He was also a dab hand with a board rubber. On one occasion his classroom door creaked open during a lesson and Robin hissed “Come INNNNNN, Dr. Turpin!”
    The NHS Model Railway Society, after some time under the stage in the old gymnasium, migrated to Turpin House – and was unsupervised. One pupil brought in a large and ancient spirit fired Bassett-Lowke locomotive (how??) and we ran it minus track, scarring the floor. Another young gentleman brought in some calcium carbide – we placed this on a windowsill, dripped water on it and lit the resultant acetylene gas – luckily no conflagration followed.
    The house was gently settling into dereliction in my time and contained several artifacts such as pickled dogfish in coffin like metal boxes, and a human foetus in a large bottle.
    I recognised the house’s sibling when I first watched Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” – was Hitch an ex pupil?

    • Thank you so much for all that information.
      Between 1807-1947 we have had only one Hitchcock, Nicholas John Benedict Hitchcock, born 1935 whose father was one of “H.M. Inspectors”. They lived near Wollaton Park.
      As regards ghosts, my daughter was at the PNEU, now Lovell House, which she said was very strongly haunted by, probably, a caretaker, who would open the door of her classroom, and others, on a regular basis.
      What you know as the old dining hall became the music school in 1975 or thereabouts. When I came for an interview in February 1975, they were already serving food in the Founder’s Hall.
      As regards your photograph of the Dining Hall, it may be this photograph at
      The flipped photograph, I am told, is to make the picture better balanced. Apparently most portraits tend to be left to right facing, because we read left to right. Supposedly in horror films, the baddy often enters from the right to make him more unexpected and therefore frightening.

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