The Best of CHS (2)

Last time, I shared with you some of the photographs which I considered to have been the best ones that the Reverend Charles Stephens (CHS) took during his many years at the High School. You saw a number of pictures of various groups of boys. This time, I’m going to be looking at his photographs of individuals. The first one is of a Master called Adam Thomas who was a history teacher. He has one thing in common with me, in that we have both chosen to write a history of the High School.

CHS produced a very nice second photograph of the same person. It seems to capture a moment during Sports Day at the Valley Road playing fields as Adam Thomas appears to be thinking about something really sad, something probably not related to the day’s events:

My favourite sporting photograph is “Burney wins the mile”. I know that you’ve seen this photograph before, but the young man just looks so muscled and so tough, so active and so young. He looks as if he could run for ever:

The other portraits I have enjoyed are of the people I have respected, mostly for their dedication to their duty and their desire to work for the common good. This is the Bursar, Mr Gerry Seedhouse, sitting at his desk. An ex-Royal Navy man, it should come as no surprise that he always kept the School afloat financially, and managed to remain a thorough gentleman at the same time. He was a delightful man :

The second person is Geri Thomas who himself took more photographs of the High School than any other person. Here he is, in 1969:

I have also appreciated an unnamed photograph which I have always called “two boys near the Assembly Hall” because it shows two boys who are actually quite near the Assembly Hall:

The very best photograph in my opinion, though, is called “July 1955 O-level Stoneman CF in foreground”. It captures all the differing moods of candidates for a really important examination. CF Stoneman does look though, really rather scared, but in a very determined kind of way:

I liked it enough to crop it and change it into a portrait format rather than landscape :

These are both photographs to be extremely proud of.






Filed under History, Nottingham, The High School

23 responses to “The Best of CHS (2)

    • They certainly are. I don’t know a single person who has seen CHS’ photographs and doesn’t like every single one.
      For many years he took head and shoulders portraits of the boys in his pastoral group and I have a great many of those, but I don’t know what the legal position is for putting them into a blog post. I’m sure, though, that all the friends of any given boy would enjoy a really good laugh at his 1975 haircut.

  1. Boys with a bright future and everything to look forward to.

  2. Loving the photographs John, what an excellent record they are. I must admit though, to preferring the landscape version of young Master Stoneman to the portrait one. He is the antithesis of his companions with his quite pensive or scared look compared to his more relaxed and laughing companions. For me it creates quite an atmosphere that the portrait doesn’t. But that’s just me!

    • Looking again, I think you may be right. The portrait version does rob us of all the different reactions to pre-exam nerves. The boy with the fancy jacket who is laughing about how easy it’s all going to be, the boy reading something on his lap, perhaps last minute revision notes. The boy on the right practicing his writing in case he has forgotten how to do it. I bet his short sleeved pullover is cable knit. Nobody ever seems to wear short sleeved pullovers nowadays. Perhaps they have been replaced by the gilet.

  3. These are really good pictures, they seem to reach into the very soul of the subjects. I especially like the photo of Mr Seedhouse.

  4. Yes, Gerry Seedhouse was a lovely human being. Born and raised in a rough area of Nottingham, he won a scholarship and left the school in 1941 to join the Royal Navy and serve on warships in the North Atlantic. Then he came back to the school as the bursar and ran the finances until he retired around 1985. He was a really decent man, rather shy and self effacing, but loved and respected by everybody.

    • Tim Dibdin

      I concur with your comment John, Gerry was a lovely fellow – always very humble and approachable. Great photo of Geri – not dissimilar to how he looked when I joined the school in 1983. Thanks John.

      • Hi Tim! You are absolutely right, Gerry was a gentleman through and through and a credit to his parents. which is pretty much the same thing as you’d say about Geri.

  5. John, I’ve noticed you don’t see my replies over at my blog so I am leaving this information for you. The structure you saw in my photograph is actually a house that was built by Dr. Reinstein …. see link below and read HISTORY.
    The building presently is inhabited by bats. Now you won’t have to wonder.

    • Thank you so much for taking the trouble, Amy. It was a very kind thought. It sounds to me as if Dr Reinstein is one of those people who deserves a little statue if anybody in the area feels the need to set one up. He and his helpers must have been really nice people.

      • John, I know how much of a history buff you are so I made sure you saw this information. This Nature Preserve holds fascinating history. To actually walk the ground that this man in his vision created a Preserve is an incredible experience. I think he deserves a statue too, but so far there isn’t one.

      • So many good, nice people deserve statues but somehow so many statues celebrate soldiers who have conquered foreign lands or politicians with dubious histories. And statues are almost always of men!

  6. Chris Waller

    CHS’s photographs capture perfectly that late fifties, very early sixties ambience which was soon to disappear.

  7. Yes, they do. And when he and his friends, who had all come from the war to teach at the High School, when they retired in the late seventies or early eighties, that world was gone for ever.

  8. Jeff Tupholme

    I’m pretty sure the “two boys near the Assembly Hall” is the same photo that was posted to the School’s Facebook page several years ago. One of my compatriots, David Boorman, identified himself as the figure on the left, and that would mean it was taken in the mid-80s. Is that possible? If so I believe the figure on the right could be Niall Griffin.

    • It’s impossible, I’m afraid. CHS left in 1978, having given his working life to the High School since 1945.
      The picture itself is in the School Archives where I took scans of many photographs in the late 90s, hence the relatively poor quality.

  9. John Rickett

    Dr A W Thomas – Adam – inspired my love of history, which has stayed with me for over half a century. Years later, I bought a complete set of the Oxford History of England, which we fought over in the School Library in order to complete our essay assignments; ie. copy chunks. Guess what? I still haven’t read them. Better start soon!

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