08 June 2005

New member, Peter Emery

I am pleased to welcome Peter Emery as a new member. Here is an email I received from him by way of introduction:-

My name is Peter Emery and I attended Peter Symonds 1967-72 (joined in 3rd grade – Pa Watts as form teacher), was in Northbrook House (Green). Reading the message board content of your website has brought back many memories. I would like to join your group, in part that I may browse your inventory of photos. After working overseas 1973-76 I moved to Canada where I still reside.


I will share some memories of my attendance at Peter Symonds. I remember most of my teachers - Pa Watts - "On the bloomin' fiddle again" (History), Tom Pierce (English), Oink Griffin - "Come along now, we have a lot of work to do today" (French), Chalky White - great dexterity with his fingers (Math), Ted Taverner - Crow (Geography), Mr. Rolfe (Stats), Tweedy Harris (Pure Maths), Kenny Redmore - "Just shut up will you there uh...." (Chemistry), Jack Woolmore (Chemistry), Pongo Cox -"Come along now laddie" - sometimes made students sit on the leg of an upturned lab stool (Biology), Mr. Faulds - with the huge snozz - to show who was boss punched a student square in the face when we were lined up waiting for our first class with him - would be serving jail time today for such an offence (Biology), RI teacher? -  once held the blazer jacket over the head of a student, but continued teaching, while he had an epileptic seizure, Mr. Hirst - "Brick" - would bounce several boys on his knee to test the strength of the stool they had made (Woodwork) - I still have my stool and book holder, Peter May - always enjoyed talking about the stock market with him - "ICI , very good dividend" (Economics), Neddie Bray (Phys Ed), Mr. Batchelor  - in the purple track suit - sometimes whacked boys on the rear end for misbehaviour (Phys Ed), Jake Ashurst - a tough, but fair Headmaster - at assembly one morning stated, "It has come to my notice that someone has written the word 'FUCK' on the lavatory door and I'll not stand for it" - I believe that we each had to pay a shilling to clean up the mess! - in 6th form if you were spotted in a pub, Jake would confront you and say "You're a man about town", Mr. Cooksey - the slippery second in command with greasy slicked back grey hair who would creep through the hallways, peer through classroom windows and gesticulate with his finger for boys to step outside and then demand his hair be cut. Other teachers who I did not take classes from were, Clanger Laing with the rumour of a Luger pistol under his gown, Hettie Hammond - "Been there", Biffer Smith, Jack Northeast, Mr. Renton. For the life of me I cannot remember my Physics teacher during those days.


Through my school days I was in the same class group as Roger Ault, who I sadly hear passed away last October. I would be interested in learning of the circumstances of his death. Rog was wonderful with his impersonations of all the various teachers.


I enjoyed my cadet days in the Army group - Signals section. I got my Marksman badge first time out at the range on the Lee Enfield 303. Back in those days we could sign out a Lee Enfield with .22 barrel insert and ammo from the Armoury near the cafeteria and perform target practice after school. I also remember mock battles with blank ammo on Farley Mount, visits to Salisbury Plain and helicopter trips, Arduous Training in the Lake District and Field Days.


I would be interested in perhaps returning for a class reunion one of these days. I see the class of ‘71 did something recently - I find that everyone now looks so old in their class photo, but I guess I have also been the wrong side of 50 for several years now!

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2005 4:30 AM
Subject: new member

Hi Peter,
We are very pleased to welcome you to the list. Please add a message introducing yourself. It would be much appreciated,
best regards,


  1. Hi All ...
    Would just like to endorse Jim's message by way of welcome to a new member of our Group, Peter Emery ...
    Although just a few years before you Peter, (1944 - 1950), I too, was in Northbrook House and can remember quite a few of the Teachers you name, although some that you mention, were obviously after my time ...
    You mention Peter May as an Economics Teacher ... was he an Old Symondian, with a brother Michael (affectionately know as 'Barrel' May) ???
    I sincerely hope you 'meet up' with a few old pals through this Group and that a 'Class Reunion' becomes reality ...
    Take care ...
    Doug Clews
    Western AustraliaSend instant messages to your online friends http://au.messenger.yahoo.com

  2. Hi Doug,   Thanks for your welcome message. It seems that both yourself and Jim are ex-pats living "down-under". I have an older brother , Richard, living in Melbourne for the last 27 years or so.  I emigrated to Canada about 2 years earlier in 1976. My brother is not a Peter Symonds graduate, but attended Andover Grammar School (where I also went for 2nd year).   I believe that Peter May is still active with the Old Symondians (I see his name listed for some of the London reunion dinners). I do not have any recollection though of a possible brother, Michael, that you mention. I always enjoyed my 5th form Economics classes with him and discussions of the workings of the stock market, something I have yet to figure out to this day! I regret not having taken Economics, History and Geography for A levels - I instead was swayed by peer pressure and chose Maths (Pure & Stats), Biology and Chemistry.   I have enjoyed looking at the photos posted and somewhere tucked away I have a CCF Field Day photo (c. 1970) and also a rugby team photo (c. 1971) which I may post, assuming I fdind them!   Take care,   Peter Emery    

  3. Peter, some of the names you mention stimulate memories, even though I left PS in '63. Tom Pierce: he was in charge (I think) of the air section of the CCF. I remember, the first year I missed summer camp, his jovially drawing attention to the fact. He knew why I wasn't keen to go: I'd just got my corporal's stripes and I knew what sort of fate I would meet at the camp. Oink: I once drove this gentle man to violence. I just couldn't get into classical Greek, even though I'd opted to take it in preference to a second modern language. When I talked out of turn just once too often, he clouted me. It was a small set, and we all sat within striking distance. Tweedy: we made his life hell. I recall him once with his arms clamped on the top of his head and crimson-faced in pure frustration as his class ran riot. I think that was the time that Jock Shields (Jake Ashurst's predecessor) stormed in, the noise stopped as if switched off, and Tweedy was called outside. When he returned we completed the class in silence. > For the life of me I cannot remember my Physics teacher during those days. Would that not have been Biffer? Or 'Doberman' White?

  4. In my years taking French from "Oink", I remember him generally being a very friendly, fairly mild mannered man, but at times when irritated by students, prone to becoming rather high strung. I believe I read  a post on this message board that indicated Oink died relatively young, which would be unfortunate.    I too remember the Pure Maths classes of "Tweedy" Harris sometimes getting quite out of control and his inablity at times to lay down the law and settle people down.   Tom Pierce was usually a fairly calm "father figure" type, who I only remember getting upset if he caught people using crib sheets during tests when we had to memorize and write down rather long poetic extracts, e.g. Thomas Gray - Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard - "The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea.....".   No, my Physics teacher in 3rd, 4th and 5th forms was not not "Biffer" Smith or 'Doberman' White (who I do not recall - only "Chalky" White - Maths).   I wonder if anyone can remember who my Religious Instruction (RI)/Scripture teacher might have been 1967-70? I always did  very well in RI, which is surprising considering my abstinence and lack of reverence for any type of religion today.    Also, does anyone recall what became of "Brick" Hirst the Woodwork teacher/Rugby coach  for us  non-Latin types (I actually arrived in 3rd form, so missed out on any opportunity to participate in Latin). I always found him a fairly decent, down to earth man - "not a bad bit of wood , mate", although I remember rumours existed that he was missing a certain vital part of his anatomy!    Peter Emery

  5. RI in the late 60's early 70's would've been "Captain Clarkson" I believe....   Physics ?? Dan Block, perhaps.....???? (real name escapes me....)

  6. Hi
    I was at PS as a boarder from 1965 to 1970, left
    before sixth form.
    "Brick" Hurst became 2nd housemaster for Kelso
    House, in 1967 I think. He lived in Barton Seagrave. I too remember the rumours
    about his missing bits!
    He also used to harp on about how we had it so
    good, he having grown up in the war.
    "I never saw an orange till I was twelve!" was a
    favourite saying of his.
    Last I saw of him was in about 1975 when I went
    back for an OS do, and he was still housemaster.
    I was crap at woodwork, and both he & I were
    glad when I gave it up in the 3rd year!
    The RI teacher you mention, could have been OO
    Postgate "Noggin", rumoured to be brother of author of Noggin the
    I too am unreligious, but remember how he managed
    to enthrall us with his stories, as he had actually visited most of the places
    mentioned in the Bible!
    I now live in Vermont USA, so it seems OS's are
    spread around the globe.
    Tim Cheevers

  7. Im sure we had Mr Postgate for RI in the mid to late 60s (no relation to Oliver, but it never stopped us talking about Roger the Cabin Boy and Master Bates!!)

  8. Tim


    Hi, I was known as Joe Brown when I was at
    Kelso House/Barton Seagrave between 1962 and
    1969.  Scrum, as a result his nuts had been removed.


    I thought that it was RI Teacher Nog  I
    never cared for the way he taught RI, and decided to give up religion as soon
    as I could when I left PS.  In fact,
    I gave it up well before then by managing to miss Mattins by pretending to go to the Communion Service
    beforehand!  I remained
    anti-religious even when I became a Christian in 1972, and am still just as
    unreligious today. 


    I wonder if you remember the films we used
    to have on Sunday Evenings in Varley Hall, shown on
    the 16mm projector at 7.00?


    I am an OS who
    has remained in EnglandWinchester.  I do not think I
    would recognise it now, it looked very different when I stopped by in about


    Andy Brown (AKA Joe Brown)

  9. Hi All

    I wouldn't mind betting that the Physics teacher you mention was none other
    than 'Pengy', who's real name escapes me and is of little consequence. He
    had an unhealthy interest in the CCF I seem to remember, and an
    extraordinary pomposity for a man who's feet pointed at 10 to 2.

    >From: "JoeBrownK40"
    >Reply-To: "peter symonds, winchester, unofficial nostalgia corner"
    >To: "'peter symonds, winchester, unofficial nostalgia corner'"
    >Subject: Re: New member, Peter Emery
    >Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2005 11:00:40 -0700

    Winks & nudges are here - download MSN Messenger 7.0 today!

  10. The two physics teachers I remember were Biffer Smith and Ken Redman (He might have taught Chemistry).  Biffers favourite expression, if I remember it was Ha Wretch!  Can anyone else help?

    Andy Brown AKA Joe Brown

  11. Hi Joe
    I well remember the Sunday night film show,
    "Robbery" was about the first one I can remember which was about the Great Train
    Robbery. The projector often used to break down, & I also remember sneaking
    in the dark into one of the labs & stealing magnesium ribbon, I still have a
    piece somewhere!
    Then there was Sunday supper which consisted of a a
    stale sausage roll as the cook had the night off.

  12. Hi Tim,   I do remember you. Thanks, the RI teacher was definitely "Noggin" aka O.O. (Oliver?) Postgate, and what really stands out for me is his absolute calmness when he continued lecturing as he held the blazer jacket over the head of a certain individual (PC) who had the misfortune to suffer an epileptic seizure during the class. I remember that same person having a similar episode and ran headfirst like a raging bull into a lab door, rendering him unconscious for a while.   I also believe the Physics teacher was "Pengy" (???? name) the penguin, who I seem to remember was in the RAF CCF section. Kenny Redmore was my 5th form Chemistry teacher.   As a boarder, you probably also remember Simon Herring, who tragically died in a motorcyle accident not long after he transferred from Peter Symonds. He used to flog us Chinese firecrackers which he brought back from Hong Kong? when he returned from his holidays. Simon certainly could be a real little "shit disturber", but his attitude sort of appealed to me. I remember Jake Ashurst's sad address to the morning assembly the day after Simon was killed.   Bye for now,   Peter Emery

  13. Hi Peter
    I remember Pengy but not for the life of me his
    real name!
    Simon Herring was in School House, and was
    definitely "one of the lads". He had a younger brother at the school too. I
    think Simon left when I did in 1970, before the 6th form, as I knew about his
    demise from friends, but was not present for the announcement.
    There was also  a guy called (forgotten his
    first name) Norman-Smith who likewise cocked a snook at authority. I remember
    after his last O level he lit up a fag as he walked out of Varley Hall. It may
    have been him that wrote "fuck" on the toilet door!

  14. I remember Simon Herring he was younger than me, but what of his demise?

  15. Pengy was Brian Fletcher....  Chemistry / GenSci

  16. Hi Peter,   I was at PS pretty much the same time as you. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your first message, although only recently, having only just joined this group myself.   Might the physics teacher have been John Richens? He taught me in that subject for a while. He was also in charge of one of the junior hockey teams.   I remember Hetty Hammond clouting me around the chops one day. We were standing outside the physics lab waiting to go in when he walked past and went upstairs with a very attractive female assistant who was temporarily over from Germany. Of course, he was met with a number of vocal suggestions and encouragements as to what he ought to do with her. I was impressed with his lack of response - until he re-appeared by himself, in a towering rage. I don't know why he confronted me but he asked me if I had said anything. I replied with the mandatory look of surprise, coupled with "no sir". This wasn't what he wanted and he replied with "well that's for (something completely irrelevant)" and gave my pink little cheeks a slap they have never forgotten. Made a man of me, I can tell you! It's funny how you look back on events like that, not only without any anger or recrimination but almost with a kind of affection. Why should I feel warmly about someone who hit me so hard that a still photo of the impact would have shown my face looking like that of a dover sole!

  17. Well, here we go again ... MORE memories !!!
    Bringing red to the cheeks ... in my case, however, not Hetty, but Tom
    Pierce ... not the face, either, but the bum, with the aid of a size 12
    plimsoll ... it was my turn to 'Keep Cave' in Morris and I saw 'Tom'
    strolling towards the room and for some reason, still not understood, I
    started singing, in coloquial jargon, a bit from 'Widdecombe Fair' ...
    on his arrival, Tom asked if it was I who was singing ... of course, I
    replied in the mandatory "Me Sir, No Sir" ... he was not convinced !!!

    Oh happy days !!! ... I would not have missed them for anything and I
    believe I am a better person for all that I learnt at PSSW by way of
    'Character Building' ...

    Cheers all !!!

    Doug Clews (Still in West Oz)

    Do you Yahoo!?
    Yahoo! Photos: Now with unlimited storage

  18. Having sat quietly and thoroughly enjoyed and mused through the nostalgia for a bit - I would just like to add a few snippets re the "Masters of the mid sixties".

    'Pongo' - once entertaining us in the biology class with his demonstration of the strength of the osmotic membrane of an egg: With the shell removed by dilute hydrochloric acid, the egg had swollen to twice the size after sitting in saline water for a couple of weeks. To demonstrate its strength, he bounced the egg a couple of times on (Anthony) Sherrington's head - unfortunately the experiment failed since it broke and covered the poor lad in an extremely smelling sloppy goo and he was sent off to shower.
    His trick of making one sit on one leg of an up side down lab stool was the reward for leaning back on the stool such that the front legs came off the floor.

    'Harry' Hawkins - maths teacher with his famous equilateral equation phrase of "square the first twice the product square the last" . Sherrington again (where there was mischief afoot 'Sherry' as he was known was usually pretty close to the epi-centre) for some reason used to bring his pet rat to school and this thing which lived in his blazer top pocket once escaped in Harry's class. Harry was not happy as he chased the animal across the floor.
    Harry was also a dead shot with the wooden blackboard duster as I remember and woe betide the student with slow ducking reactions.
    He used to teach in a tired grey suit covered by a chalk encrusted long black gown; one time Sherrington stapled the rear sections of the gown together. Next day, in the maths class Harry was stalking ominously around the room in a very sinister fashion, the quite in the room was deafening and all eyes were held dead ahead not daring to deviate from the blackboard. Then a mighty crack echoed around the walls and Harry had let forth with one of his famous open handers against the head of an unfortunate innocent, knocking him clean out of his seat. The lad was one the quiet 'goody' types whose only crime was to neatly arrange pencil, ruler eraser sharpener and . . . . (shock horror) a stapler along the top edge of his desk - Harry had incorrectly assumed the worse.

    Tweedy 'Harris' - his classroom in the bungalows along the edge of the playing fields was used by the Whyke Lodge seniors as their evening prep room. Senior Prep was prefect-less and therefore self entertainment was required to relieve the boredom. Apart from bouncing the newly invented (in the late 60's) super balls around the room, with the object of bouncing it against all four walls before it touched the floor – (causalities included at least one ‘mysteriously’ broken window pane and several lamp shades – usually fixed back together with sellotape). However the most popular 'prep' game was to attempt to climb around the room without touching the floor. Thus along the front wall it entailed perching toes along the top of the skirting and hanging onto the top of the long blackboard with finger tips - until one day the 8 foot long black board came clean off the wall. It was hurriedly wedged back in place with gobs of wet tissue packed around the rawl plugs and seemed secure enough by the end of prep. We heard that the board fell down during a junior’s Tweedy maths lesson the following afternoon (presumably as the tissue dried out) and at the inevitable inquest we understood that it was probably due to the day-boys mucking around at lunchtime. Shame on the day-boys Shame.

    Did someone mention Norman-Smith – I don’t know if he was the ‘expletive’ culprit but I do remember his stink bomb episode in the boys toilets next to the old assembly hall (Norfolk?? Hall). Unfortunately he was found out and was subsequently tattooed with 6 horizontal black bruises that lasted for weeks across his backside as an expression of Jake Ashurst’s displeasure.

    I shall be heading back for a quick trip

  19. Hi Mark !!! ... how are things 'Down the Hill' (Greenmount, that is,
    which won't mean a thing to anyone, apart from Mark and myself) ...

    Re 'Harry Hawkins' ... from memory, a very likeable teacher, but for
    some unaccountable reason, prone to the odd 'prank' or two ... I
    vividly remember the 'Case of the Herring' ... it was after the School
    Cert Object Drawing Art Exam, which had been held in Bigg ... the
    Herring, which had been on a plate at the front of the class, for all
    would-be budding artists to draw, had, somehow, mysteriously, found its
    way under the 'platform' supporting Harry's desk ... it was there for
    at least a week to my knowledge, the 'smell' getting stronger by the
    day, until 'Harry' could stand it no longer and 'ordered' a complete
    search of the room until the offending Herring was eventually found !!!
    then there was the case of the 'Winter fading light' ... someone
    (regrettably I cannot remember who), realised that water was an
    excellent conductor of electricity, but at the same time, with the
    application of heat, water evapourated and eventually dried up, thus
    becoming a poor conductor...small 'wads' of blotting paper were well
    soaked in water and placed between the contacts of the light globes and
    the light sockets in all the lights in Bigg ... when the lights were
    switched on (usually just a couple of minutes before 'Harry' was due to
    arrive at Bigg), all was fine , but as heat from the lights was
    generated, the blotting paper dried out, electrical contact was lost
    and the lights in Bigg went out one by one !!! ... it was a LONG time
    before the cause for this phenomena was realised !!!

    Keep smiling all of you !!!

    All the best from The Perth Hills, West Oz

    Doug Clews

    Send instant messages to your online friends http://au.messenger.yahoo.com

  20. Hi Mark....   Here's a nice picture you might like to share with some of your colleagues downunder....       or not...

  21. Wow, Peter Emery mentioned a few staff I had forgotten - "Horrace" Batchelor in purple, oh and all the others! There was also a French teacher we nicknamed bog-brush - I do recall his son starting at school and being christened tooth-brush within the day!
    Also smiled at Mark's tale of Harry and the stapler.... remember it well! I, too was questioned by Harry upon seeing me stapling something - quick as a flash I retorted with "Oh no sir, my staples are a different size" ( being acquainted not only with the prank, but also the item used to carry it out!) upon being dismissed I made a hasty retreat - but remember a puzzled look on his face as I rapidly escaped!


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