MUGS61
MUGS61

UpHolland Grammar School in the 1960's had some fine teachers who helped to shape our future lives. - Please send in your memories of favourite teachers.

My favourite teacher had to be George Lythgoe who taught maths. With George we had  great fun in class and some crazy moments, but he was always in control and made sure that the work was done. George not only helped me get my maths O level but he helped me and many others to revise for other subjects. George was responsible for giving me the nickname "Cowman" later shortened to "cow" because my father was a herdsman at College Farm UpHolland. (David Robinson)

On my first day as a junior reporter on the Evening Post, I was sent, with a senior reporter, to cover Wigan Quarter Sessions, as it was then. Who should I see across the courtroom but our beloved former P.E. teacher, Jock Anderson. So they've caught up with the sadistic bastard at last I thought. Unfortunately, he was on the jury !    (Phil Rickman)

Does anyone know what happened to Fred Barker, who not only got me through Latin O level but also tuned my three-quid guitar and taught me my first chord (it was C)   or Keith Barnes, the English teacher who despite a low fourth-form tolerance, was a good bloke.   (Phil Rickman)

 From Diane Thomas - Found your website. Great - or as they used to say at UGS in the sixties - belting!
I was a very young teacher at Up Holland from 1960 to 63, teaching girls' P.E. I well remember Mr. Ellis, Mr.Anderson (referred to by one overawed first former as "looking like a greek god!", Mr. Studdert who was truly one of the most learned men I think I have ever met, Miss Penman, Miss Stephenson, Mr. Bowman etc etc. I really enjoyed my time at the school and have many fond memories of Saturdays spent with hockey teams, summer afternoons of tennis and track, teaching sixth form boys to dance and accompanying a group to Italy in '63. I especially remember Miss Doreen Young who became a close friend. She taught English and directed several memorable productions,including "She Stoops to Conquer" and the play within a play from "A Midsummer Night's Dream". I think it is probably the only time Pyramus and Thisbe were ever played by twin brothers. They were hilarious! I have lost touch with Miss Young and would love to contact her again. I hope that your web site might unearth some information.
I was looking through your list of teachers and found the name Les Atkinson. He was a good tennis player. I was worse than useless. We were both members of the same tennis club and on one trip to Kendal there was no-one else to be his partner but me. He suffered in silence and to tell the truth we did not do too badly. He was a good friend.
I emigrated to Canada in 1966 and moved to the west in 1967.1 retired from teaching in 1997, having spent the final 20 years at an elementary school teaching English, Math, French, Music etc. Red Deer, Alberta, is a city of 75 000 people, halfway between Edmonton and Calgary. We are between the prairie and the foothills of the Rockies in an area that is known for agriculture and oil wells. ( now living in Ontario )
I can be reached at
portiaact2@sympatico.ca  and would love to hear from. anyone who remembers me.

A memory from Peter Normanton regarding teacher Frank (Bullwinkle) Smith - It was during a class 2B geography lesson with Frank Smith around 1963ish. We were doing something on the history and formation of the Grand Canyon when Pete Burchall piped up that there had been a documentary about it on the TV the previous night covering it's formation. Frank was pleased at such a rare meaningful contribution from Pete and wanted to know more. So Pete obliged by rambling on about it - being the serious helpful boy he was at that time! What Frank didn't realise was that the "documentary" was the Flintstones. Fred Flintstone was looking at a tiny stream labelled The Grand Canyon and in a one liner to Barney Rubble said "they're expecting great things of this one day!" Everyone had seen this - except Frank - and he could not understand why there was uproar! Poor old Frank.

From Dave Atherton  - I have just spotted your picture of Frank/Fred Green on your website. He did teach me and we became good friends after I joined the staff. You may be interested in one or two interesting points about him.
During the war he was a Flight Lieutenant teaching Navigation to bomber crews on the eastern front, i.e. Scarborough. Resources were so scarce that the crews had to sit on the grass in a tent and make notes on toilet paper. Frank had to clean the board with a sod.
Frank had a distinctive style of teaching. He selected what he called a "datum level" pupil and made sure that he/she understood fully, so ensuring that all the class grasped the topic. Receiving "the treatment" for such a pupil was not always enjoyable.
He had a number of distinctive phrases such as "use a coin of the realm" when pupils were required to draw circles. Two people, in their 50s, realised that they had been taught by the same person when one of them trotted out this comment. One of them had been taught by Frank at Leigh Grammar School before coming to Upholland. Other phrases included "crate egg" and "pie can".
In his youth he was quite athletic being a good cross country runner. He used to exercise in the bedroom swinging Indian clubs until he was banned by his wife after destroying the wardrobe door.
He had a quick brain and had developed sarcasm into an art form. One day when the staff were having lunch, there were two pieces of meat pie left. Frank took the much larger one. A colleague said to him "Do you know Frank, if that had been me I would have taken the smaller one."
Franks reply was "What are you worrying about - you have got the smaller one."
Someone asks about Keith Barnes - he died in his mid 40s.

Ronnie Eastham (1931-2010)

From Dr. Allan Miller 21/12/2010 -

I was overwhelmed and honoured when Mrs Eastham asked me to deliver the eulogy at Ronnie’s funeral on Wednesday 8 December 2010.  It was obviously a sad and emotional day for all who attended the service at the Methodist Chapel in his beloved Croston.  I had known Ron for nearly half a century; we taught together at UGS and later at Wigan College.  We remained the best of friends; we actually both contracted colon cancer at about the same time around the Millennium.

Since the funeral service was a celebration of Ron’s life, I focused on a few personal thoughts and precious memories.  Because time was short I was not able to include everything I wanted to say and I am delighted to have this opportunity to expand upon some of my sentiments

1963: UGS

I first met Ron Eastham in 1963 when I went to teach at UGS, where I had been a pupil before going up to university.  I can remember being very apprehensive about entering a staffroom, which included many of the teachers who, just a few years earlier, had imposed grades of verbal abuse and inflicted actual minor GBH of various parts of my anatomy, e.g. Mr Kilner clipped me round the ears once for having no writing implement in his lesson – he could not do it now but I never forgot my pencil and biro again and GRK is still my friend today.

‘Big Brother’

I need not have worried about going back to UGS.  My former teachers were totally professional and I came to know them as real people over the next six years.  Sadly, most of them have died but their very names evoke such special memories – Miss Penman, Miss Stephenson, Mr Melling, Mr Jones, Mr Anderton, Mr Green, Mr Lythgoe, Mr Bradshaw, Mr Studdart ... But I gravitated towards a corner of the staffroom where Ron was based, surrounded by a group of younger colleagues.  I discovered that Ron and I had much in common and there was a natural empathy between us; when he discovered that ‘Sir Tom’ (Tom Finney of Preston North End) was my hero also we were friends for life.  He was my ‘big brother’, my mentor and my inspiration during the regime of Mr Ellis and his deputy, Mr Kilner.

Excellent History Teacher

Everybody agrees that Ron Eastham was a brilliant teacher, the result of the following:

his expertise and knowledge of History – acquired at Liverpool University and via wide reading

his thorough and careful lesson preparation

his use of memorable phrases that tended to be retained in the memories of his pupils

he always marked pupil’s work conscientiously and constructively

he (and I) marking ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels for various examination boards; we knew what gained marks

his firm but fair discipline – a product of his time in the forces

his personality, character, sense of humour and popularity

Successes

Ron achieved excellent examination results at a time when ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels really meant something and were difficult to attain.  His students allocated him his deserved share of their success.  Many went on to university and into professional careers; two of my solicitors (Stephen Magrath and Alan Bowden) were former students of Ron and they always ask about him.  But it was not just the brightest pupils for which Ron had time.  I recall Joan Houghton, who lived on the estate where I resided.  Joan was very shy, introverted and unwilling or unable to communicate; she never spoke to me but I have seen Ron share a joke with her and make her smile.  This was a remarkable achievement and Ron was justifiably proud of what he had done for her and for many years he always asked me about her.

Fags and Toecaps

Ron Eastham was equally very popular with less academic pupils.  In fact, I know that he relished and enjoyed the extra challenges of teaching them.  I still see many of them in the Up Holland area, where I continue to live, and they all remember him with deep affection and especially two of his characteristics.  After a lesson Ron would nip into the storeroom at the back of the classroom and light up one of his famous roll-your-own cigarette.  He would try to dissipate the smoke by opening windows and by waving his teaching gown – it never worked, we all knew.  Ron always wore brown shoes with toecaps that shone like glass, the product of the spit and polish technique he had acquired in the forces.  He used to boast that you could see your face in his highly polished shoes – and you could!

Housemaster

Traditionally, UGS was divided into four houses – Clive, Drake, Nelson and Wolfe.  In the 1960s, Ron was Head of Clive House and I was Head of Wolfe House.  We enjoyed friendly house competitions.  On one occasion, I refereed a rugby union game between Ron’s Clive house and (I think) Drake house.  Clive were expected to win easily and I am afraid I committed a cardinal sin by siding with the weaker Drake side – really to avoid their humiliation.  I made some controversial decisions, disallowing ‘tries’ scored by the Clive players and when I blew the final whistle Clive had lost.  After the game, Ron accused me of bias and of not knowing the complicated rules of rugby union (coming from Wigan I was more into rugby league).  But he soon forgave me and forgot it – that was the nature of the man.

Extra-curricular

Ron was a willing participant in a range of extra-curricular at UGS, including inter-school social events (dances, parties etc) and all sports, especially cricket.  He could bowl a lively leg break and I think I still have the bruises to prove it.  He meticulously planned and organised visits and trips, e.g. to Fountains Abbey and Ripon Cathedral.  There was no need to undertake a risk assessment. When Ron made the arrangements nothing ever went wrong unlike the trip organised by one of our colleagues to a stately home only to find it closed when they arrived.  In his early days at UGS, after working late, he would accept a lift from a colleague, who shall remain nameless, and when they descended a hill, to save petrol, the driver would switch off the engine and the passengers all had to lean forward in the car.  On other occasions, when we had to go back to school in the evenings, Ron would come to my house for tea after which he always thanked my wife – that was the character of the man.

Free lunches

For a while in the 1960s, Ron and I were probably the most popular members of staff amongst our colleagues.  We volunteered to do dinner duty every day.  Each day, we took it in turn to say grace: “For what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly thankful.”  In return for overseeing several hundreds of students scoffing their lunches, Ron and I received a free lunch and the other members of staff were able to enjoy their meals in peace and to benefit from some quiet time.

1969 Exodus

In the summer of 1969 Ron and I (and another beloved colleague, Colin Wiggans) left UGS together.  We like to think that we left a huge void but I am sure that it was soon filled.  For us it marked the end of the happiest years of our professional lives.  Pursuing our professional ambitions, I went to Wigan College and Ron attained the zenith of his teaching career ambition by becoming Head of the History Department at Hindley Grammar School.  He continued to be successful and popular with both colleagues and students but I do not think he was as happy as he had been at UGS where his heart remained.  Whenever we met, our conversation inevitably returned to those halcyon days at UGS in the ‘swinging sixties’.  He was delighted with the book I wrote on the history of UGS, despite its ‘catchy’ title: “From Up Holland Grammar School to Winstanley College”.

1970s Re-organisation

During the 1970s, Wigan MBC in its wisdom, decided to re-organise education throughout the borough.  Hindley lost its Grammar School and its sixth form.  This presented Ron with a dilemma. Senior teachers, like Ron, were offered a choice.  He could either stay at Hindley and teach 11-16 year olds but not ‘A’ levels or he could move to Wigan College and teach 16-18 year olds only doing ‘A’ levels.  Ron missed working with the full 11-18 cohort – seeing them come through and mature and getting to know them personally.  However, he opted to transfer to Wigan College where he adjusted quite well, meeting me each day for a chat, fag and coffee.  Even though not as happy as he had been in schools, he was equally successful as a College lecturer.  Medieval History (Ron’s specialist subject) became one of the most popular courses at Wigan College – no mean achievement in a former Technical College and testimony to Ron’s skills, his professionalism and his charisma.

Farewell Old Friend

It was my pleasure and privilege to know this lovely man as my friend, my ‘big brother’, my mentor and my inspiration.  I was proud to know him for so long.  Whenever I told him that I had been in the Croston area he would rebuke me for not calling at his home.  We never really had a cross word and we remained friends right to the end.  He encouraged me to fight my cancer and he fought his long battle bravely to the last.  I will miss him but I have so many happy memories.  I pray that these personal thoughts might stimulate your own memories of Ron Eastham.  God bless and reward him.

- Dr Allan Miller