Published: 12/10/2010
ISBN: 9781848764606
Format: Hardback



"A nostalgic, humorous acccount by a former pupil who became a scientist..."
University of the Third Age Magazine

"A fascinating look back from the school's creation to its demise ... will no doubt be a winner with old pupils."
Doncaster Advertiser


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About the Author



After leaving the Percy Jackson Grammar School, Ken became a biologist and enjoyed a career in the chemical industry, largely with the French multinational Rhône-Poulenc. He travelled widely and ... read more

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Percy Jackson's
History of the Percy Jackson Grammar School 1939-1968.
by Ken Cooke

The opening of the Percy Jackson Grammar School in September 1939 coincided with the onset of World War II, an ominous start for the life of his old school, which the author chronicles in this ‘informal’ history. It was a coeducational school (boys and girls) and with a light touch he considers whether school days are indeed the ‘best days of your life’. He draws upon abundant recollections from former pupils, many of whom, like him, were the children of mining families and the first generation to attend grammar school.

The first head, Mr Field, with the responsibility of establishing the new school, had to cope with the complications of a world war whilst his pupils decorated their gas masks and speculated on a romance between their teacher and the captain of a battleship. His successor, ‘Chas’ Elliott, was obliged to cram sardines into prefabricated buildings and to worry about high wages and rock n’ roll diverting pupils from staying on in the sixth form. And the last head, John Atherford, was daring to impose the comprehensive system on the more privileged, more upfront generation of the Baby Boomers.

Topics covered include war-time evacuee children, the school visit to the Festival of Britain in 1951, the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II, reactions to the conversion of the school into a comprehensive, a look at the social and cultural circumstances of the era, as well as the achievements of some of the school’s alumni – from scientists to bandmasters, to an Olympic cyclist.

This history is faithful to the facts and true to the sentiments.

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The launch and signing for the revised edition was held on Thursday 4 November from 15:30 hours in the Old School, now the Outwood Academy Adwick, Windmill Balk Lane, Woodlands, Doncaster. Sixtyfive people attended, including former teachers Alan Dixon and Ron Cockroft.

This is a revised and extended second edition - "The 70th Anniversary Edition", marking the school's Grand Reunion held on 19th September 2009. This edition contains a full report of the Reunion.

Visiting the old school again after forty years evoked many memories. The ever familiar building wrapped me in a warm embrace. "Walk - don't run" echoed the old school rule, as I proceeded along the corridors past the quadrangles, and "At all times act with due consideration for others". On these rules rested the ethos of the school - rules devised to civilise its raw recruits from the hard-working families of the surrounding mining villages. It was this visit that inspired me to delve into the school's history.

The first head, Mr Field, with the reponsibility of establishing the new school, had to cope with the complications of World War II whilst his pupils decorated their gas-masks and speculated on a romance between their teacher and the captain of a battleship. His successor, "Chas" Elliott, was obliged to cram extra pupils into prefabricated buildings and to worry about high wages and Rock 'n Roll diverting pupils from staying on in the sixth form. And the last head, John Atherfold, prepared to impose the comprehensive system on the more privileged and more up-front generation of the Baby Boomers.

During the War eighteen-year old boys were called up to serve their country, whether in the armed forces or as Bevin Boys, cutting coal. Gas-mask training and air-raid shelter drill became integral parts of the timetable and the school acquired a new German teacher who had managed to escape from Nazi oppression on the Continent.

Sixth-form geographers in the 1940s had the opportunity to learn weather-watching on the school roof with an RAF officer - "Not the most glamorous type" reflects one of the girls disappointedly "carefully chosen as such, I imagine, by the Senior Mistress." Another 40s boy wonders if the "Splat!" marks remain in the classrooms where he and his colleagues held their crab-apple fights, whilst travellers on the 1949 school trip to Switzerland will never forget the "impression" of the slatted wooden train seats of the third class carriages on their thirty-hour journey home.

In 1951 half the school entrained for a visit to the Festival of Britain whilst in 1952, facing neighbouring Hemsworth Grammar at cricket, our school bowler took Geoff Boycott for a duck. In the mid-1950s popular music, especially Rock 'n Roll, ushered in changes in fashion, in attitudes and in behaviour. It exposed the talents of "Robbo" who, some lunchtimes, would entertain on the piano at the local pub rather than hand in his homework on time.

So much for the pupils. There was the French mistress who over-indulged in corporal punishment - only on the boys - who got her come-uppance when one of her victims "expired" of alleged heart failure. A young English teacher was wont to tease fifth-form boys with her offer of chocolates and an excessive show of stocking. We were privileged to have as senior maths master Biggles's pal, Algie, with his goggles and leather flying helmet. Another maths teacher during morning classes seemed inordinately concerned with the contents of his open briefcase - the day's crossword, one supposed.

A late-night jazz-playing history master tended to doze off during class and a history mistress was confident enough to assure us the the textbook was wrong! Wilf, the woodwork teacher, could wrap your mortice and tenon frame round your head, whilst physics master "Deadshot" Dixon, would refresh the attention of chattering girls with an accurately-pitched piece of chalk. Things were not so terribly PC in that era.

Those were the days! Read all about it in "Percy Jackson's" second edition which includes a full report of the 70th Anniversary Reunion, 19 September 2009.

www.percyjacksons.co.uk

Yorkshire Post

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