04 January 2011

The Ignominious Pupil Revolt of 1956

Not our finest hour perhaps but a part of our history nonetheless. I was there but find it hard to recall, maybe because being a day-boy with plenty of other interests my memory card was already maxed out - that and the fact that these days I'm rubbish at distinguishing true memories of long past events from hearsay, or even wishful thinking! For example, I remember as a young child being played with and fed candy and gum by American soldiers while they waited for D day - well, no, actually I don't remember, however, I do have a photograph to prove it!! - but that's another story.

Doc's death that year brought a sudden end to the 'old order', which probably affected us more deeply that we realised. With the resentment felt over what was thought to be an unnecessarily harsh interregnum during which time Mr Simpson, I believe, held the reins, and the uncertainty about our future, things started to unravel big-time. There were various peaceful protests, such as hymn-singing strikes, and I did hear a certain uncorroborated report of an incident involving Mr Simpson being lowered out of the chemistry lab window in a basket! One day there was, I believe, a boycott of lessons and a general milling about outside when newspaper reporter(s) showed up and were hurriedly shooed away by staff. I was told that at least one piece on our 'troubles' was published in the 'Telegraph', but I don't remember seeing it.

And that is about all that I can bring to mind, which is very irksome, so I hope that some of you guys can confirm, correct, and elucidate?



  1. I don't know about 1956 as I left in 1953, but you are probably right about the Yanks. They used to get off the train at Eastleigh, go to the Rec by the Town Hall where lads like me cadged gum (in strips not like
    The coated English kind) and sachets of lemonade power and then they went off to camps in Hiltingbury woods.

  2. The news takes some time to reach the Antipodes and can add nothing as I was in Cyprus in 1956 and The local rag failed to report the revolt, presumably because they were too involved in their own riots.
    John Scott Brisbane

  3. So, all of the 'Johns' have posted !!! ...
    I left even earlier, in 1950, so did not witness the 'Pupil Revolt', nor do I recollect ever hearing or reading about it, even though younger brothers of some of my School Chums were still there in 1956 ...
    I do, however, recollect the American Troops in Chandler's Ford, in fact, for a while before D-Day, all the 'back' streets were full of Jeeps, Ducks, Tanks and various types of Lorries, nose to tail, parked up in waiting on 'cinder verges' built up over the normal kerbs, along virtually every roadside in the Village (well, it was a Village in those days) ... had 'Jerry' known, I doubt I, or possibly any of Chandler's Fords citizens, would be here now to tell the tale ... luckily, either Jerry didn't know, or perhaps was not in a position to do anything about it ... we had 2 MP's tents on the Leigh Road/Bournemouth Roads corner, one English and one American ... some of the locals, including ourselves, used to offer them the use of our bathrooms for a good soaking from time to time ... the 'favour' did not go unrewarded, as we were plied with tins of Pineapple, Bacon, Jam and other items ... SSHHH, don't tell a soul ... all against the rules !!!

  4. Yes, I clearly remember the 1956 "revolt". I was in the 5th form and there was an almost feverish atmosphere around the place, that it was possible to get away with such behaviour. I do remember the problems in assembly, but not that Mr. Simpson was lowered in a basket. Working later as a teacher myself I came to realise just how fragile and precarious is the discipline in a school.So easy to lose, so difficult to re-establish once lost. David Cockman 1951-1959. (p.s. I see from the paper today that poor Janet Yeats was a formal pupil of PSSW)

  5. I do remember some of the reasons being in the fifth form at the time (V1Sc). I seem to remember that Mr Simpson, as acting head, had banned pupils from using their form rooms during break times, as 5th formers we would spend our break times playing table tennis, cards etc. so it was a blow. Someone phoned the national newspapers and said we had been locked out of our classes and had to work in all weathers Several Fleet street reporters turned up took a few photos of boys doing their homework on the field and departed disappointed. Cant recall the Simpson in a basket incident but the assembly protest was true.

  6. I didn't see it, but I recall at the time the gossip being he was lowered in a dustbin.

  7. Interesting post John. I left before all this happened and didn't find out about it till very recently. To be honest it all seems very alien to what I was used to in my time there.
    I was in my second year of national service and was under canvas in Cyprus. Work in the morning drawing maps and play in the afternoon in the sea off the pier in a village called Zigi on the south coast. At the time of Eoka but before the partition of the island.

  8. Interesting aside James as I mentioned earlier I spent 1956 in Cyprus with Artillery Battery based outside Nicosia at a village called Ayios Dhometios, Horse Guards camp next door and when Suez was being organised both Brit and French paras were camped just down the road. Our only relaxation time came from a monthly visit to Kyrenia Beach & Bar the journey was well protected but did have one incident in which a young buxom lass displayed her wares at her open cottage door and when, naturally, the convoy slowed down out jumped a couple of locals with the customary Spry fat tin filled with some sort of explosive and lobbed it at the convoy but as happened 9 times out of 10 it was a dud.


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