Mirfield Grammar School Teachers
Mirfield Grammar School
Mr. Hepworth was still headmaster of the Grammar School when I transferred there after a re-sit of the eleven plus and he took us for the occasional lesson when our regular teacher was absent for any reason. His favourite punishment for eating in class was to have us write 100 lines or more. His favoured line was 'Masticating movements of the mandibles are reminiscent of ruminant animals'. His favorite hymn was Jerusalem. When he came to the school in 1920 to take the post of Science specialist he was the youngest master. He worked his way up to become Headmaster's right hand, and then Second Master before becoming Headmaster in his own right. He worked untiringly for the school for 37 years before retiring in 1957.
The headmistress was Miss Jeffrey who was a rather large lady and I remember her lifting her ample bosom onto the top of her desk after she sat down. She was also in charge of lost property and we had to pay one shilling to have an item returned. Her nickname was 'The Net'. This was possibly due to the fact that she always wore a hairnet but I remember one morning at assembly she was reading from the Bible and the passage she chose was about Simon Peter fishing from his boat but having no luck. Jesus told him to cast his net on the other side of the boat and the net came out full. This conjured up a vision to us of Miss Jeffery pulling out her hairnet full of pens and other lost property and gave rise to a spate of sketches which turned up on the notice boards under the heading of THE NET.
The science master was Mr. Raymond (Sammy) Saywell, a very tall man with broad shoulders who would stand at the back of the stage during assembly with his eyes shut and rock back and forth. We were sure that one day he would rock too far and fall over but we were never to see this happen. He lives on Pinfold Lane and is a regular guest at our annual reunions.
The French master was Gus Elliott. He was a small brown skinned man with a thin face and was a real tartar. If you were good at french then you were treated well but if you couldn't grasp the subject, as I couldn't, then you were in deep trouble. If you failed to complete your homework to his satisfaction then his method of improving you was to have you remove your slipper (plimsoll) and bend over in front of the class to be beaten with it. I had missed the first year of french due to having come to the Grammar School by way of the Modern School and a resit of the entrance exam and never did manage to catch up with the rest of the class I was placed in. Thus I became very familiar with the slipper throughout the whole of my time there. Gus would have been totally lost in today's schools where his methods have been made illegal. He was the major reason, amongst other lesser ones, why I left school at the earliest possible opportunity.
There were some excellent teachers who helped to redress the balance. Mr. Alec Barker who taught English was a prime example. He was a tall imposing man who was much respected. He always made his lessons interesting and we would take a poem and dissect it line by line to find out what the poet was trying to convey. I am much indebted to him for teaching me how to find pages of description and vivid pictures from just a few lines of well written poetry. In my later life I always thought that he reminded me of Mr. Chips of 'Goodbye Mr. Chips' and I could never think of any vocation that would have suited him better.
Our Latin teacher was Tom Rowland who had been a tank driver during the war. For one year he was our form-master and we developed a good relationship with him. He would regale us with tales of his exploits and explained the intricacies of driving a tracked vehicle that had no steering wheel but steered by varying the speed of either track in relation to the other. He once told us in graphic detail how his light tank with steel tracks travelling on a wet road was unable to stop on a steep hill because of the tracks sliding and ended up through a wall at the bottom. He was ambidextrous (could write with either hand) and would stand in the centre of the blackboard and swap the chalk from one hand to the other as he wrote. He could also spin round and throw the chalk with deadly accuracy at the sound of anyone talking. He left the school in 1960 after seven years to take up a post at Ripon Grammar School as Head of the Classics Department.
Mr. Evans was a Welshman with a strong accent who taught maths. He was nicknamed Mr. K. because he appended a 'k' to all words ending with 'ing' such as 'talkingk' and 'thinkingk'. I had mixed feelings for Mr. Evans as he was mostly alright with me but had a way of taking a boy by the ear, or the hair just above the ear, and marching him to the front of the class if he thought he wasn't paying attention or was misbehaving in some other way.
Miss Hellawell also taught French. She was a pleasant woman but was easily taken advantage of by an unruly class and it was not unknown for Gus Elliott to have to march in and instantly quell the unruly element. Her nickname was Flossie, probably due to her bleached blond hair. She sang with the Huddersfield Choral Society, renowned for its rendition of The Hallelujah Chorus.
Miss Smith taught History. She was known for her rimless spectacles and the way she would peer over them at her class. Born in 1926 she later became Mrs Hopwood and lived at Lightcliffe. She died at 81 years of age on 13 November 2007, following an illness, leaving her husband Norman, 3 sons and 5 grandchildren.
Mr Jessop taught geography and lived on Shillbank Lane. He would write comments on our homework which were mostly indecipherable. Once when I had to give in and ask what his comment said, it turned out that he had written "this writing is scrawny". Well, Mr. Jessop, so was yours.
Mr F. J. Walker (Freddie) was our music teacher and tried his best to give us an appreciation of classical music. I believe his favourite composer was probably Elgar and the Enigma Variations featured heavily in our lessons. It was widely rumoured among the pupils (though never proven) that he played the piano in the Black Bull Hotel. He left the school in 1959 after 15 years of part time service.
Mr. Jones taught biology. He was destined to marry Miss Kirk (below). They bought a house on Crowlees Road near its junction with Westfields Road and still live there today. Mr. and Mrs Jones celebrated their golden wedding in August 2005 and are both regular guests at our reunions.
This was Miss Kirk when I first went to the Grammar School and she taught domestic science to the girls. She became Mrs Jones in 1955 when she married her colleague Mr. Jones (above). She left the school during the summer of 1959.
Mr. Jack Charnock taught maths. He lives near the Baptist Chapel on Water Royd Lane. Mr. Charnock is also a regular guest at our reunions. He has the same shock of hair but it is now as white as mine.
Mr. Eric Hargreaves was the physics teacher and a very good one at that. He later left Mirfield to teach in Batley.
Mr Booth was the Art teacher. What else can I say?
This was the boys' PE instructor, Mr Young.
This was Jean Chappell the girls' sport and PE mistress.
Miss Sheard was the school secretary.
Mr. Beaumont was the school caretaker. He retired in 1959 due to ill health.