A school memory from Denys Gaskell, pupil Up Holland Grammar around the end of world war 2.
The destination was Snowdonia in North Wales. The date was the 3rd April 1945, 72 years ago, and I was getting ready to go on a week's school excursion the following day. I was 18 years of age, in the 6th form of Upholland Grammar School near Wigan in Lancashire and this must have been the very first organised school excursion/holiday ever to take place by the school and we were to stay in the Christian Endeavour Holiday Home at Plas-y-Nant , near Snowdon. It was just one month before the end of the war in Europe.
The group comprised 4 lady and 3 male members of staff together with 32 teen-age pupils. Each of us had been given a small, simply printed booklet on poor paper outlining the 5 excursions, which I still have today. Food, clothes and petrol were still on ration so nothing was on a lavish scale. A note at the back of the booklet reminded us that “rationing does not allow for the supply of preserves” and that due to the difficulty of supply guests had to supply their own soap and towels. In addition, in order to assist depleted staffs, guests were requested to make their own beds, keep their room tidy and take turns to assist at tables etc.
The objectives of the excursions were wide ranging and included the study of relief and topography of the region, evidence of glaciation, rocks, lakes slate quarries situation of towns and villages, houses and building materials, mining, and finally “healthy outdoor exercise – walking and climbing”. The one warning given to us in the brochure was to “Keep together on the excursions – don't straggle or stray. There will be ample time allowed for sight-seeing and rests.” How times have changed with health and safety regulations!
We travelled by train from Orrell station, changing at Liverpool for Caernarfon, with the final 8 miles by bus to the Plas Y Nant Holiday Home at Bettws Garmon.
The booklet we had been given shows that for each of the 5 excursions planned for us we covered 10 or 11 miles each day mainly walking on the fells, looking at lakes, slate quarries, small settlements and fantastic views.
The excursions certainly fulfilled one of the aims stated, that of “healthy outdoor exercise – walking and climbing”. The outline of excursion 4 shows how much exercise was involved in each of the daily excursions.
Excursion 4 West Snowdon and Llanberis.
A walk of a mile and a half will bring us to the Cwellyn Lake Station of the now disused narrow gauge railway. In crossing the railway we climb the zig-zags of the Snowdon Ranger Track to a height of about 1200 ft. Here we leave the main track and strike almost due North. This leads to a col between one of the main Snowdon spurs and Foel Goch, a much lower height to the west. Here we gain our first view of the Llanberis Valley with its lakes and the Glydyr Range beyond. An easy descent of some 3 miles leads to Llanberis and the twin lakes of Peris Padarn.
There is a splendid view of the Dinorwic Slate Quarries, cut into the opposite slope but unfortunately [because of the war]we cannot visit them. After lunch and a walk by the lakes we return by a somewhat easier route which crosses the range further to the west and leads us to Bettws Garmon. A mile or so along the road will take us back to Plas Y Nant.
[distance 12 miles, height 1250 feet]
One day we set off in the early hours of the morning, before it was light, to walk up Snowden via the Pig Track to see the sunrise from the top of the mountain. As far as I can remember, we used storm lanterns to show us the way but we never saw the sunrise as we were engulfed in cloud at the top! I can also remember we were advised to wear pyjama trousers under our trousers to keep warm. Things one remembers!
Sadly, memories of most of the week are lost after 72 years but the original booklet and a photograph show how forward thinking A.J.Maggs, the headmaster was in allowing the trip to take place. The party was comprised of:-
Miss Goode K. Ball B. Beilby B. Holt N. Forshaw
Miss Penman M. Mather M. Cadman D. Gaskell F. Unsworth
Miss Horrock B. Birks J. Clarke P. Hesketh K.Watson
Miss Holford M. Bamforth F. Dickinson I. Crease C. Kenworthy
Mr Smith J. Gaskell M. Forrest G. Robertson P. Bayliff
Mr John M. Aspey S. Metcalf D. Bray M. Hardman
Mr Searle H. Baxter K. Taberner J. Birch N.Elliot
From Peter Taylor - As one of the guards in the photograph of the school play, (see below) I can help out with some of the details. It was, I think, 1967. The play was Antigone directed by a very young Miss Lowe ( Andrea?)The cast was chosen from various years and as is often the way, you remember those above you at school but not those below. I was in the year below those that the site was initially aimed at and suspect that few readers wil remember me.Starting from the left, I do not recall the name of the narator sitting on the steps. I regret to say that I cannot name the tall dark haired guy to his right, despite knowing him quite well at the time.I recall that he travelled from Rainford. Welsh name. Taffy? Is the young lady to his right Irene Danson? Surely I would remember that ! Although, I did only have eyes for Jennifer Atty at the time.We then have the guards. The one at the back is of course Steve Clarke, without whom no photo on this website seems complete! I can't name the guard in the centre however to his right is Mick Halliwell. Seated on the floor in front of Steve is John Gaskell and to his right is me. I had forgotten that my hair was ever that dark. Centre stage is the leading lady, Susan Till. Not sure about the girl seated to the right of the guards. Pat Heaton? Sorry, no idea who is standing to her right.Looking pensive on the throne is I believe Fahid. Apologies if he reads this and I have got that completely wrong. No idea who the young chap at the front is. I think that could be Peter Birchall standing to the right. The presence of the dog in the photo troubles me. I have absolutely no recollection of it being there and it appears to have wandered in from the set of The Wizard of Oz.The party after the last performance was held at my parents house in Gathurst Lane. Steve Clarke was there but thankfully it was not like those he describes being held at his parents house. All cast members were given a a small painting depicting either Romeo or Juliet. I still have mine. Sadly, 5th guard was the pinnacle of my acting career and I never trod the boards again. As for people I am still in touch with; My sister Ros and her husband John Turner were both at UGS. I see that John won prizes in Art and Woodwork. He was clearly ideally suited to his later careers as an art teacher then picture framer. I regularly see my old school mate Rick(Ricky) Wilson who has lived in Cornwall for over 30 years. I left UGS with a fairly undistinguished academic record ( No point in looking for my name under Prefects and Prizes) and then surprised everyone, myself included, by qualifying as a Chartered Surveyor and more latterly as an Arbitrator.I have worked in London for the last 15 years and live just outside Henley on Thames with my partner Jane, a couple of Alpacas, the occasional sheep, turkey and a few hens.If anyone remembers me, I would be delighted to hear from you. There is unfortunately a sad postscript to this. I was aware that John Gaskell was a succesful journalist, having been awarded young journalist of the year in the 1970's and writing for the Telegraph. I googled his name and very sadly I found his obituary. It appears that he died in 2008 after a period of illness.
From Steve Clarke - I don't know if there have ever been better parties than those that
took place at my house from about 1966 through 1969. They were spectacular, with beer and wine flowing by the gallon as well as crap like Cinzano Bianco or Sweet Vermouth - anything to get the
The biggest party had over a hundred people in the smallish three bed detached on Shevington Lane. It took several "whip rounds" and multiple trips to the Plough and Harrow to keep the drinkers happy. As if by magic, when my parents came home, the house was more or less back in order.
The longest party we had was in 1966 when my parents (foolishly) took a two week vacation to Spain while I had one week at Billy's Brothel in Pwhelli. Amazingly, I was left to fend for myself for a whole delicious week. We only had one party but it was a week long. People showed up at noon on the Saturday the old folks left and didn't leave until the following week. The names of the guilty parties probably should remain a mystery except for Helen and Peter Burchall who eventually made it alright by marrying each other. One night four of us boys drunk an entire bottle of my father's scotch and spent the rest of the night sliding down the stairs, laughing and throwing up. Peter was the house captain and had to go to school the next day to umpire a house cricket match. I don't know how he could even stand up he was still so drink. Gosh those were grand times.
If that house could talk what tales it could tell. Our behavior had a lot in common with a Roman orgy and I was disappointed to learn as I watched I Claudius that we hadn't actually invented the orgy after all. But, for sure, many a young teen made their first forays into adulthood at 54 Shevington Lane.
Now I am older and wiser, I realize that my parents must have had a fair idea what was going on. The aromas alone should have been enough to give it away, never mind the ruffled sheets in their bed (I could never remake their bed like mum used to make it). But, they never said anything about it. Not one word. Not even about the red wine on their bedroom floor! I can only assume that they thought everything we were doing we would do anyway and it was better if I was not driving to get home afterward. If you have a better theory I would love to hear it.
From Greg Long - I was a prefect at the notorious final assembly in 1965 when the whole of the ceremony was sabotaged by the Upper 6th. Sitting on the stage with Headboy Jim Jones I watched HBE's lectern fall to bits, Miss P.E.N.M.A.N fall through her chair and Mr Boman's piano play 'Lord Dismiss us completely out of tune. I'm not sure whether we were expelled or not! Now living in Rotherham in semi-retirement with ex Up Holland Sec School raving blond, Jean Harris - married 40 years.
Extracts from email received by David robinson from Steve Wright in Sydney, Australia. - When I came to Australia in '66 I lost contact with almost all my friends but seeing the photo's from the reunion and looking through the website has fired up many fond memories. David, did you and I try our luck in a rock band with Steve Clarke and Peter Normanton, and did we dare to enter a talent contest on a holiday at Pwllhelli, what were we thinking? A couple of photos from the holiday attached. I am desparately dissappointed that I missed the MUGS school reunion in October last year ! You sent me a message through Friends Reunited and I unfortunately overlooked it at the time.... I would have come over to rekindle some of those valuable friendships.Whom do I remember from the photos of the reunion? ..... Yourself David, Peter Normanton, Steve Clarke.. who was a very good friend to me, Mr Ellis of course .... the click of those heels walking into assembly still rings in my ears, Joan Smith.... who was my neighbour across Shevington Lane, Helen Ryder... we met on the school bus from standish and went out together for a while, Alison Gill, Harry Holcroft, Tommy Derbyshire, Jean Danson, George Ishmael, Geoff Hilton, Phil Banks.
I was a year ahead of your more social year. Who else do I remember, perhaps I can name a few : - Ray Holland (Sol), Graham Morley (Mog), Phil Roby, Bill Lyon, Jim Dutson (Dutty), Peter Edwards (Jimmy).... I can still hear Fenella .. "Wright and Edwards come and sit at the front", Chris Evans, Margaret Unsworth, Alison Caunce, Marjorie Mort, Susan Parker, Susan Green .... Susan would swoon over any passing sports car whilst waiting for the school bus at Shevington, Jaqui Blanchard .... I used to clean Jaqui's Mum and Dad's windows for 2/6d a week, John Blackledge .... for losing the cricket ball in the "rhinocerous bushes" near the tennis courts, Alan Beswick .... for rejecting my "sundie mate butties" (sunday meat sandwiches) one lunchtime, David Dickson ....for outrageously fast bowling, renditions of The Kinks "Louie Louie" and dragging me along to the "Skelebones" concerts at Billinge Hall, Fred Beale ...for his scouse accent and amazing transition from soccer to rugby, much more ably than i was able to do, Reg Dulson.... for his wicked sense of humour. Great times, great memories
As mentioned in Steve Wrights email above I was part of a group with Peter Normanton, Steve Clarke and Phil Rickman. Steve Wright replaced Phil when we went on holiday to Butlins to enter a talent contest. I could never understand why they let me be part of their group when I had absolutely no musical talent whatsoever. I recently asked Peter and he informed me that I was the only one they could persuade to buy a drum ! (David Robinson)
Do you remember the "Weekly Scandal" - a magazine written, drawn and edited by Phil Rickman with a little help from a few others including Trevor Hughes, David Robinson and Peter Normanton. (Untill H.B. Ellis found out)
Here's Phil Rickmans recollection of it ..... "what a great publication that was, containing lots of libellous stuff about the staff and essential info on who fancied whom. I was never in it on account of (a) I wrote most of it and (b) I was so small that nobody fancied me anyway. I have a bitter-sweet memory of somebody once telling me that Irene Danson (Irene Danson!) had said I'd be one of the best looking boys in the class if only I was taller. I spent the rest of the day beating my head on the desk and wondering if cuban heels might work!"
News for Phil Rickman - Nearly 50 yrs on Irene sends her profound apologies and says he was one of the best looking boys in the class !
Tommy Derbyshire remembers an incident from 40years ago in the late Autumn of 1965 - Tommy recalls - "At that time many events were held in order to raise money for the Pavillion Fund. As well as the daily "penny socials", several Saturday night dances were held as well. I recall one group who regularly played at these dances contained Michael Briggs (2yrs above me) on drums and Graham Finch (1yr above me) on guitar. I forget the name of the group, but they were excellent. I saw them perform several times at "Wigan's Room at the Top" and Hindley's "Monaco" as late as 1968. Anyway back to my tale of 1965. Do you recall one Monday morning assembly which followed one such Saturday dance? Mr Ellis addressed the school, his face like thunder, as he raged about "a quantity of empty beer bottles" which had been found in the cloakroom adjacent to the main hall, in the corridor which led to the prefect's room. He demanded that the perpetrators should own up to this heinous act "this very day", or all further dances "will be cancelled forthwith". No-one ever did own up, as certain expulsion would have followed, but thankfully Mr Ellis relented and the dances continued antway. Now after 40years I can reveal that Mick Harvey and I were the guilty parties. The two of us called in at the off licence in Moor Road, Orrell, as we walked to the dance. We purchased 8 bottles of Double Diamond pale ale (4 each), which were easily concealed in the gargantuan pockets of our fish-tailed parkas. It was then just a question of preventing the bottles from clinking together, as we paid our entrance fee to Mr Kilner in the foyer. I'd already had the forsight to bring a bottle opener with me, so once in school we just hung our parkas in the cloakroom. Mick and I then proceeded to adjourn there from the dance, as thirst periodically dictated. I must add finally that Mick and I who were always generous souls, allowed various others to have a quick swig of our Double Diamond, yet no-one grassed us up to Mr Ellis after his assembly rant. That was very gratifying."
An email from Graham Finch regarding the above story - Tommy Derbyshire's memory whilst kind in comment about the group which by the way was originally called the Fyrd but thru error became the Feared was erroneous. I sang, Frank Porter- guitar, John Ashcroft- guitar, Bill Worthington- bass, Mike Briggs- drums, and we never played Room at the Top mainly because you couldn't get anything up the stairs!!!