The Best of CHS (1)

I thought I would share with you what I personally considered to be the best photographs that the Reverend Charles Stephens took during his years at the High School. Firstly, he took many pictures of various groups of boys. This is a bicycle ride to Southwell in 1952:

Here is a group of boys eating their lunch while out on a field trip during the 1950s. It is a Form called “3 Red”:

A couple of years later, the Reverend Stephens, like all staff, known by his initials, CHS, took two slightly overlapping photographs of a different 3 Red. This is the left side of the Form, as he looked at them:

Here is the other side, nearer to the window. Only one boy manages to crane his way into both photographs:

This picture shows an unknown group of boys almost ready to play rugby at the Valley Road playing fields, probably back in the late 1950s. One brave little chap will be playing in his white plimsolls by the look of it. I wish I knew the supervising Master’s name:

The last group of boys is the Combined Cadet Force in 1957, practicing their drills near the old Green Shed. This huge edifice was first erected by the army during the severe winter of 1942.  It was in the north-west corner of the playground which the school had hitherto used for its cricket nets and practice wickets. The shed was used to store searchlight units and sound ranging equipment, which was brought out for drill in the daytime. The High School’s classrooms were used for the army’s theory lectures.
After a while, despite the snow and ice, the army began to dig the foundations for a second shed in the middle of the playground. According to popular legend, it was only when Mr Reynolds, the Headmaster, lined up the entire school and carefully explained to the foreman that the boys might well pelt them with snowballs as they worked was the idea given up. Protests were also made to the War Office through more normal channels. Until the playground received a new coat of asphalt in the late 1980s, the exploratory marks left by the army’s engineers could still be seen:

Here’s the Green Shed in the 1980s and it really was green.:

The last photograph is of a group, but not a group of human beings. This is the queue of trolleybuses waiting to take boys back from Sports Day to School at four o’clock, probably in 1957:

That type of vehicle, with rubber tyres, and powered by an overhead electricity supply,  would have been a bit cheaper than building our present tram system, where, apparently, only 10% of the cost goes on the overhead wires.




Filed under History, Nottingham, The High School

22 responses to “The Best of CHS (1)

  1. Priceless records, John. The rugby picture sent me back in time:

    • You obviously have a great love of the sport, Derrick, but not so much perhaps, the rugby of the Leicester Tigers as the rugby of the Old Rottinghamians. Do you remember “The Art of Coarse Rugby” ? That’s the level where players acquire the most lasting memories I suspect.
      The rugby picture here dates back to around 1955 I think. Notice how the experienced teacher, well used to a whole year of 120 boys getting changed in just one very closely packed room, has opened the window at the back probably as far as it will go.

      • My Dad told a story from his schooldays when a master came into the room, rushed across to the windows, flung them open, turned and asked “who’s the boy who has been making smells?”. Yes – you have my level pegged 🙂

  2. He would need permission these days to take those pictures!

    • In a state school he would, but when I was at the High School pre-2013 at least, they had an arrangement whereby parents who did not want to have their son photographed were asked to opt out. Hardly anybody did, as far as I remember.
      Over the years it tends to be the same teacher who takes photographs, and the pupils get used to seeing them at special occasions such as Sports Day or School Concerts. Thus, up to 1980, it was the Reverend Stephens, then Mr Thomas after him, and, when we had our first video camera, it was me. The only member of staff who could work it !

  3. hah, we both decided to go with a pictorial post today. Great job, John.

    • Thank you so much!
      I am a firm believer in the idea that “A picture is worth a thousand words”. With these old photographs, they seem to capture a moment in time so perfectly. The would-be young soldier who has forgotten his uniform. The boy with a sick note standing next to the teacher, glad he doesn’t have to play rugby in the mud and the cold. And most strikingly perhaps, those boys all with a sandwich each, every single one thinking, “He’s got chutney on his cheese, why don’t I ever get that?” or “Why can’t I have smoked ham?”
      Every single moment forgotten within the hour, but captured for ever by a man with a camera.

  4. I really enjoy candid shots of people, John. I am very nervous about photographing children and avoid it if I can. Today that can land you in a lot of trouble.

    • Yes, it can, but if I were absolutely intent on taking a photograph of that type, I would ask the parent if it was OK. I would do the same with an adult as well.
      One idea might be to offer them a copy of the picture if they supply their email address.

  5. What great photos of enjoyable times out. How many schools take youngsters out on bikes these days stopping to have sandwiches at the roadside? Just think of the ridiculous risk assessment you would have to do for that one!

    • You are so right! During my time at the school, the majority of boys would do the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and lots of them, given where Nottingham is, would opt to cycle as a small group to the Peak District and then spend a couple of days there hiking around. It never occurred to anybody that that might be dangerous.
      And despite all those “No-nos” in the Risk Assessments, the records show us that in actual fact, it was not dangerous! Not as dangerous as crossing a busy road in the city on foot, that’s for sure!

  6. Jan

    Those must have been some of Nottingham’s top-secret clockwork trolleybuses – the ones that didn’t need an overhead power supply for traction. The nearest “trackless” route to the sports field was the one that ran along Radford Road to Bulwell. 🙂

    You are right about the “knitting” being a relatively small part of the capital cost of a new tramline. The big, big money is spent moving utilities from beneath the permanent way.

    All of which reminds me of General Studies with EK. But that’s a different story.

    • I’ve never come across trolleybuses that didn’t need an overhead power supply but the three in the picture seem to me to have aerial type arrangements on their roofs and there are also obvious overhead wires above the street. They don’t look different, to me, from the ones I used to see in Derby when I visited the shops there as a child.

  7. Oh my goodness. How I remember Cadet parade when I was at school. Although we would never have been allowed if we weren’t in uniform. We paraded with Lee Enfield 303s but in the shooting range which was in a shed at the back of school we learnt to fire a rifle with a Lee Enfield with a .22 barrel and magazine.

    • I think they tended to be relatively lenient, particularly over first time offences, as the boys had plenty of other things they could do at that time. They could go off and do scenery making for school plays or an activity called “Community Service” which, because the High School is in a very poor area, consisted of going to help in a local school or visiting an old person, doing their shopping and so on.
      For the cadets, the school had a “Morris Tube” rifle range built along the western edge of the playground and opened by the Duke of Portland and Lord Baden-Powell on Thursday, December 13th 1906. Total cost, paid by the Old Boys, was £134.

  8. Chris Waller

    I completely agree with your comments on trolley-‘buses. They solve all the problems of exhaust emissions, they are quiet and, as you note, the cost of installing the wires is relatively minor. I would imagine also that existing ‘buses could be converted to electric traction without too much difficulty. Quite why they are not being adopted is a mystery.

    • I remember them from our relatively rare family visits to Derby in the early 1960s. Purple, I think they were, and I seem to remember that they were just like the ones in the photograph here in that they had six wheels.
      In Nottingham, it has been decided, quite rightly in my opinion, to “green up” the buses in various ways and this page is quite interesting:
      As for Nottingham trams, the lines took so long to build here that businesses were going bankrupt through no fault of their own while they waited and waited and waited. I don’t know if the council have plans for any more tramlines, but they certainly cost a lot of money for some world class disruption the last time they built any.

  9. The buses look fascinating and the photos are wonderful.

  10. Thank you so much. You are very kind.

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