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Memories - (taken from our first web pages)

Peter Ashford

Over the weekend, being all things Royal, I watched a documentary about Nepal, and the great work that Sir Edmund Hillary performed there over many years, especially for children and their schooling. That got me thinking about Mt Everest, and the Queen being crowned on the day it was announced that Everest had been climbed.

That then got me thinking about Hillary's 'boss' on that climb in 1953, who was Sir John Hunt.

You possibly know about him? He was a real military man, and highly regarded. It was something of a surprise in mountaineering circles when it was announced that he'd lead the expedition up Everest, as it was supposed that Eric Shipton would be made leader. Shipton was experienced in the Himalaya mountain region.

In the mid 60s, I was a member of Hunt House at Clark's Bristol, which had been named after Sir John. One day we were told that the great man would visit us for Assembly, and so it was that the Head, Albert Dupe and Sir John walked in, and he spoke about Everest and other things. At one point a photo existed of the 2 of them entering Assembly, but now I can't find it.

Hunt had the distinction of being made the first Director of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, and I think he enjoyed working with young people.

Fast forward to 1997, and my mother's 75th birthday. A BBC series called 'People's Century' was being aired at the time, and a book had been published to accompany the TV series. My mother was a great student of history, and so I bought a copy of the book, as a gift, to take with me to her birthday bash!

Prior to going, I had read some of it, and the Foreward was written by Sir Edmund Hillary. I wondered if he'd sign the book, and called his home to ask if he would. After work one day, I went to his house, armed with the book, and to my amazement he asked me in to have a cup of tea! He said 'June and I are having a cup of tea...would you like to join us?'

He duly signed the book, and I was fascinated to listen to him talking about all things Himalaya. When I told him that Hunt had come to Assembly in the 60s, he smiled and said 'yeah...Hunty and I didn't always see eye to eye!'

Sir Ed. Hillary has now gone, but his name will always be synonymous with Everest, along with Tenzing Norgay's name. Neither one would ever say which one of them put their feet on top of Everest first. It was always a 'joint' effort.

I don't know if this is worthy of an entry in the Clarks' website, but I think it was significant that the Head, Albert Dupe managed to entice him to Clarks' to make a speech.

Being at Clark's in the 1960s, we knew of other branches, but didn't really have much knowledge. The only thing that seems to stick in my mind is that the town of Bromley comes up now and again. In the early 1970s, when I was working in Sydney, OZ, I worked with a lady from Bromley; when we started comparing notes about schooling in the UK, we were amazed to learn that we had both been Clark's pupils, at the same time; she in Bromley and myself in Bristol. We're still good friends; I must send her an email to ask more details.

What I do remember well is taking the train to Cardiff on 2 occasions to play Clark's College, Cardiff at hockey and football; it was a similar size to the Clifton, Bristol school. The building in Clifton is still there, although when I walked past it last Oct. it looked in need of repair. As Clark's College, it was always spick’n span, with lovely gardens, and a school hall which the BBC used for various functions. The BBC offices are about 300 yards away, which is where David Attenborough works out of, with his nature programmes. In the late 80s, I visited my old school, and was unaware that the school was closing; the Head was very courteous, asked me in for a coffee, and was obviously upset that the owners were selling up. The school had an auction the next day, auctioning off school chattels, all very sad.

The Reunion I attended, on a Sunday, was a grand affair; the Lord Mayor was the guest speaker, and a professional impersonator dressed as I.K Brunel was there. Most people were older than me, going back to the 1920s 30s and 40s, who had been pupils when Clark's was very much a business/commercial college only. It had been used by the War Ministry to supply shorthand typists in the 30s apparently, when war seemed unavoidable. One lady I met was in her 90s, and had perfect recall about her time at Clark's in the 1920s.

The Head in my day was Albert Dupe; he married Freda, who was about 20 years younger than him. Freda is very much alive, [Albert died many years ago] and she and I had a good chat over lunch at the reunion. I believe the reunions are organized on an annual basis.

I see that a new photo of lunchtime in Bristol has been added recently; I'm keen to know who posted the photo? This lunch room must be from an earlier period than my time, and my guess would be it was in the previous building when it was purely a commercial/secretarial school.

My history of Clark's Bristol will be a younger history, as I was there 1963 to 1967; many of the people at the reunion were there in the 1940s and 50s, when I think it was mainly a commercial school.

I think 'Who do you think you are' has stirred many people to search their family history; I watched one last night, about David Suchet [M. Poirot!]; so interesting. I had quite a revelation last year, via my cousin in Windsor, near London. My maternal grandmother and her 2 sisters were a trapeze act in the music hall days, and an historian in Tonypandy, South Wales faxed me a copy of the 'Bill' at the local music hall, full of miners' families, from 1911, and here they are on the bill. Tremendous for you to have your grandfather's WW1 diary; you might like to take it to 'Antiques Roadshow' for valuation.

Funnily enough, after I sent my previous message, I did a bit more surfing in the site, and found an entry confirming that Clifton was the last to close. Was in another area on the website; can't remember where now.

I visited the Clifton branch in 1991, and the Head [forgotten his name] made me very welcome in his study with a cup of tea and let me read a few 'day books' from the 1950s and 60s. Albert Dupe was the Head then.

I've got a photo of Mrs Dupe cutting the cake at the Reunion in 2006, which I attended in Bristol. She looks amazingly youthful, and we had quite a chat over lunch. On my last day at the school in 1967, myself and 2 other guys went AWOL in the morning, and when we got back Albert marched us into the study, lined us up and slapped each one on the face. Then, a few hours later, shook hands with us and said 'good luck!'

He died some time later; maybe mid-80s I think, but his wife is still well.

Until I'd read the very interesting history pages on your website, I had no idea just what an entrepreneurial and interesting person George Clark was.

Clark's College school photo of the Clifton Bristol branch in 1964 was kindly sent in by Peter Ashford who comments:

Not much about Cardiff, Bristol, the website. Bristol was the last to close; I was there the day after they had an auction of all the chattels in the school; quite sad to watch it all going out the door.

For your information: Mr Michael Barber took over as Head Teacher of Clifton Clarks Grammar in Bristol, UK. He took over from Mr Dupe after he passed away. Deputy Head was Mr Pritchard and I also remember other teachers such as Mrs Thomas, Mrs Greenall, Mr Wood who later became Stevens-Wood, Mr Webb, Miss Frost…….. I hope this helps to jog your memories.
Alec Cashley attended 1984 – 1989

Peter Ashford

Diana Burridge

My time at Clark's College Bristol was approx mid 40's to mid 50's. I started at Alma Road and the headmistress was Miss Boyce. We had a basement class, on the ground floor was three classes and the office. Upstairs was another three classes, we had no tuck shop or science lab.

Then I went to Pembrook Road where the headmaster was a Mr Duke (he was very tall!) and the secretary was Miss Rees whose office was on the right as you go in. We played hockey and netball on the Downs. Tennis was in Westbury and on the Parkway. We also went swimming in an open air unheated pool. Gym was held in the canteen, all in the vicinity of St John's/All Saint's Road. I then finished my last two years across the road for secretarial studies.

Diana Burridge

Pam Cupper

Pam Cupper

Penni Haberfield-Smith

Peter Ashford in NZ sent on to me the most interesting e-mail from Charles Sage with all the pictures of Clarks.

I left Clarks in 1967. When my husband and I (Michael Stevenson, also an ex Clarks pupil) are rarely in Bristol we always have a nostalgic stroll past the old school, nobody seems to live there though, and the gates are always locked tight at both ends of the drive.

I thought the Westlake family rented the school to Clarks in my time, as Sally Westlake was a fellow class mate.. As we now live in Inverness in the Highlands, we have only been to one reunion, that in 2005, which was great fun. Myra Baty is always hopeful we can make it to another one, but it is a little far!

Penni Stevenson (Penni Haberfield-Smith, Hunt House)

Charles Sage

Bristol Branch ( 21 Alma Road, Clifton, Bristol )
Churchill House
September 1970 to June 1975

It was only recently that I discovered your site. There is virtually nothing about the Bristol Branch, so I hope that my contribution will be welcomed and published by you, and eventually added to by others.

I attended the Bristol branch from 07 September 1970 to June 1975. I can remember walking to school in my uniform, with school cap and satchel. I think I was pretty nervous as I walked through the gates and made my way up the steps to the main entrance, but I soon made friends with some of the other ‘new’ boys. Nonetheless, it was a shame that no one had come to this school from my former school, Selborne House School, which was only a few minutes away in All Saints Road, Clifton, Bristol.

On my first day I joined other pupils in Form 111, a classroom on the top floor in the Coach House, a separate building backing onto Alma Vale Road. This was a much smaller two storey building that also housed the Preparatory classroom and cloakroom on the ground floor. The cloakroom had named pegs for each pupil. It was here that we had to hang up our shoe bags, coats and satchels.

Access to my classroom on the top floor was via an external metal staircase, and I can’t recall our room ever being that warm, although it did have some pretty big storage heaters.

There were also two store rooms in this building, but they always seemed to be locked.

The school bike shed was alongside the wall behind the Coach House, and contained many bikes of different styles and ages. One pupil, Andrew Young, had an orange ‘Chopper’ bike, famous for the elongated saddle and gear stick!

To the right of the Coach House, was the art room and science lab. The science lab had fixed wooden benches, each one having a piped gas supply to which we would attach a Bunsen burner during chemistry lessons. Chemicals were kept under lock and key behind the blackboard.

On the school lawns adjacent to the science lab and art room, we would practise cricket in the nets during summer term. During break time we sometimes played British Bulldog, and several pupils brought ‘Clackers’ into school. I think these were soon banned as being too dangerous

In the basement under the main school entrance, the school tuck shop was to be found. Does anyone remember how big Wagon Wheels were in those days? The tuck shop also doubled up as the school stationary office, where pupils could buy the famous Platignum school ink pen, and replacement ink cartridges.

The basement also housed the girls and boys cloakrooms. The boys cloakroom was a very poorly lit space, with no natural light, apart from small windows at the far end of the room. This room was always full of pupils shoe bags, coats and satchels of all sizes. Some mornings boys could be seen finishing off their homework that should have been completed the night before, often with the help of others!

Leaving the cloakrooms, the doorway led to another smaller area where more shoe bags etc could be seen.

Opposite this was the hatch to the kitchen where hot, appetising school meals would be served to pupils whose parents had paid for them. Pupils who resisted the temptations of a school dinner, would take their packed lunch straight into the dining hall.

From the kitchen serving hatch, a small flight of steps took pupils into the Dining Hall, which was quite a modern wooden extension to the side of the school. This room also catered for morning assembly, examinations and PE. At the far end of this room, was a stage upon which there was a piano and glass fronted book cases. Along both sides of the hall large tables (with a blue surface) and chairs were stacked on top of each other. At the beginning and end of each lunch session, these had to be laid out and then restacked.

On the main entrance level, there was quite a large hall way. This had three classrooms, and was also the floor that led to the Headmasters office, which was down a corridor. The school bell button was also to be found in this hall.

I remember the stairs leading upstairs. They were build in around the internal walls and had wrought iron spindles. They led to the teachers staffroom, the library, two further classrooms and another storeroom.

Albert Dupe was the headmaster. I remember having to attend an interview with him where I had to read a passage of English out loud. On that basis, and my mother paying the required registration fee, a place was reserved for me. In my later school years I recall him taking our class for mathematics. As he entered the room, we would all stand as a mark of respect to him ( as in fact we had to do for all our teachers ). With him he brought a large blackboard ruler which he would hang on top of the board, and use it when he wanted to draw straight lines for geometrical figures. I think I also recall a large blackboard compass

Mr Williams took us for rugby. Our ‘home’ ground was the Saracens Rugby Ground at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol. I remember playing a match against Clifton College, Bristol on their pitch in College Road. We lost heavily! We also played football on Durdham Downs, on the council owned pitches. After Mr Williams left the school, moving to Lydney I believe, Mr Lovell took over the role of sport supremo.

Mr. Newton took us for French, using the W F H Whitmarsh series of books. He sadly died and his place was taken by a lady, whose name I cannot recall.

Throughout my time at Clark’s I recall the following teachers and subjects:
Art / Religious Knowledge Mrs Bradford
English Language/Literature Mrs Woolley, Mr Wilson & Mr Woodruff
French Mr Newton
Games / PE Mr Lovell
Geography Mr Lovell
Handwriting Mrs Thomas
History Mr Marsh, Mr Lovell
Mathematics Mr Marsh, Mrs Williams, Mr Dupe
Physics / chemistry Mr Williams, Mr Gratland

Life at Clark’s seemed to be a strict regime, with lots of rules including ones about the style of hair cut a boy could or could not have, and even the type of shoes to be worn inside and outside of school. Homework was required to be completed, up to a maximum of two hours per evening. Completed work was given to the ‘homework monitor’ the next morning, who in turn handed it to the appropriate teacher.

Then there were the tests and examinations. Pupils were required to sit the internal examinations for the Preliminary and Intermediate Certificates showing that pupils had attained third and fourth year standard of Grammar School Education in the subjects studied. GCE Ordinary level exams were taken in the final year, through the University of London Board

I remember the Honour Card system, a folded piece of white card which had to be kept safe by each pupil. Pupils got ‘Black Marks’ on their cards, and even detention, if they misbehaved.

In September 1974, in my final year in Upper V class, I was appointed a prefect. There was a Head prefect, and Vice Head Prefect called Paul Culton. I still have my badge.

I have also still got my multicoloured school cap and tie, along with my Report Book containing handwritten term reports which had to be signed by parents before being brought back to school for the following term.

After leaving Clark’s in the summer of 1975, I attended South Bristol Technical College (also now to be demolished) to study for my ‘A’ Levels. In September 1978 I studied at Norwich City College, taking an HND in Hotel & Catering Management,

Although the branch closed some years ago, the current owner of the property allowed me access to the property and said that I could take some pictures of the buildings and grounds.

The old science lab, art room, bike shed and dining hall have all been demolished. Also gone is the large greenhouse, where Mr Palmer seemed to spend much of his time during the day. The Coach House building still stands, but looks as if there is much work to follow. In the playground area to the side of the main building, the sand pit has been filled in, but the ‘goals’ marked on both walls can still be seen. It was quite an emotional return. Some of these pictures are attached.

Finally, I was interested to read on your site the piece written by Peter Ashford regarding his attendance at one of the school reunions. I would love to attend one of these. Are these reunions still held and, if so, where and when is the next one?

Charles Sage, 05 April 2011

Happy for my email address to be published - torquaybadwolf(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk

George Haley

Good Morning, I managed to attend with no distinction whatsoever Bristol, Croydon and finally Southend on Sea, which you don't mention strange to say. I do recall Croydon especially when looking at the 'blockhouse' photo. Bristol I didn't recognise the outside but it fits with my memory of the classroom I occupied. I can only remember a few names from Croydon, Martin Devonish or Devonshire and a lad called Gaillard [pronounced Guy-yard]. I also remember the headmaster but not his name and an English Teacher a Miss Armstrong I always thought she was very attractive, that I do recall. From Southend I seem to recall a red haired lad with a family name of Butler whose father owned a Garage on the Arterial Road just past Jones Corner towards the Eastwood side. Also, a Sports Day at Prittlewell Park. I don't recall the dates at the moment other than late 50's early 60's. My father was a musician and we moved all the time probably that is why I do not remember many other pupils. I would be interested in any photographs of Southend, it was situated on the main road into the Town Centre, I think it was Victoria Avenue. All a bit vague but that is why I am looking to find any memory triggers. Hope some of the info was useful, all the best,

George Haley 


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