Memories of Mansfield Tech from 1955 - 1960

I went to Mansfield Tech from 1955-1960. There were 5 classes in my first year, 1J1-1J5, filled alphabetically by name. Being a “B”, I was in 1J1. Each class had about 30 pupils and they were approximately evenly mixed with boys and girls. I still remember the boys register for 1J1 (Alcock, Alvey, Anthony, Astill, Bailey, Bingham, Bond, Bonsall, Booth, Bradley, Bramley, Brown, Butler, Cannon), but only a few of the girls (Janet Bloomfield, Carol Brannon, Barbara Clifton, Irene Hoy). We had a form room and a form master, Mr Wood, where we had registration each morning. Some lessons were given in the form room and some in classrooms in other huts or where specialised facilities were required. The end of every lesson was announced by a “hooter” (air raid warning system) operated by designated senior boys.

The headmaster was Mr Palfreyman and the Deputy Head was Mr Joe Radford. In general, the teachers were quite rigid and not particularly inspiring. I can’t remember them all, but we had Mr Haslam/Mr Croft for Maths; Mr “Bulldog” Davis for Physics (he was Welsh and I remember him talking to us about “eyon wyer”); Mr “FAB” (his initials) Branston/Mr “Nunky” Solway for Chemistry, Mr Rob Bonnett for Biology (who also ran an after school stamp club); Miss Luckman/Mr Ibbotson for English; Miss Brunskill/Mr ‘Ali’ Barber for French; “Billy” Barham /Mr “Noddy” Caplan for History; Mr Kerr/Mr “Baccy” Pope for Geography (he had a moustache that always stank of tobacco); Mr Granger for Art; Mr ‘Killer’ Wilson/Miss Joy Hollingsworth (young and good looking) for Music; Mr ‘Pip’ Lemon for RI; Mr ‘Alec’ Grant for PE; Mr Bentley for Metalwork; Mr Plackett for Woodwork; Mr “Clem” Marriot for Tech Drawing.
I heard that Mr Caplan subsequently obtained a doctorate after I had left the school. Many years later I also heard that Baccy Pope had married Miss Brunskill, and I saw Mr Pope as a contestant on Mastermind on the telly.

For good work, we were awarded distinctions. For punishments we had order marks and detentions (“doghouse”). There were also more serious, and painful, punishments. Micky Bingham and I each received 3 strikes from the headmaster’s strap in our first year for throwing a girl’s beret about on the bus. The Chemistry teacher, Mr Branson, preferred to use pressure tubing for punishment and other teachers (and the prefects, particularly one called Snell) used the slipper.

I enjoyed being in a mixed school for the first time and being able to get to know the fairer sex a little better. Sadly, in September, 1957, a new school, Sherwood Hall, was opened in Mansfield for the girls and we became a boys only school after that.
I left school after O-Levels, went to work at the NCB lab in Cinderhill, spent 6b ears at Nottingham University reading Chemistry and doing a PhD, and then had a career in forensic Science, for which I was awarded a CBE. Not bad for a lad from Hucknall!

Comments about this page

  • Correction to my last comment, Mr. Wells was known as “rocket” not Mr. Stevenson. Don’t know where I got that name from. Also enjoyed the summer camping trips into Derbyshire and North Wales organised by Mr. Jones (french), Mr. Woods (russian), and Mr. Mills (subject?). And who can forget wonderful Mrs. Hollingsworth getting us dressed up as girls to perform in the Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas, for myself that was HMS Pinafore, The Gondoliers and Ruddigore (The Witches Curse). She even got us (the choir) to Birmingham to compete in the National Schools Choir competition in which we came fourth!
    Don’t forget the coke burning “pot-belly” stoves in each class room, we used to warm chestnuts on in the winter. There was also a yacht/sailing “Club” that used to build, I think, GP14 class yachts and sailed them on the reservoir; when we weren’t running round it on a cross country run!: As I said before, so many memories, even at the new school at Sherwood hall with it’s modern design, having to wear sandals inside to protect the floors, watching the girls playing hockey instead of paying attention to the lesson! I remember Mr. Croft was very accurate with the board rubber if you were “distracted”! We even had a real French “girl” one term helping to teach French. I think she took the classes in the library.
    Football in the tennis courts at dinner time, sneaking a “fag” behind the little hedge, surveying the field with ranging rods, tape measure, theodolite or Dumpey level, can’t remember which one, playing “Shinty” with what looked like walking sticks in the Dutch Barn, circuit training in the Gym, then after another full day of education the walk home, back down the hills we climbed to get to school, across the town centre then out the other side along either Westgate or Stockwell Gate to either Westfield Lane or Ladybrook Lane and eventually home.
    Time kinda stood still in those days, now we can’t keep up with it!
    As a footnote, I found this site by sheer accident looking for something else and I have to say I am pleased to have found it. I am shocked to see what has happened to the town, disapointed to see so many changes that have been allowed to take place but not entirely surprised. It is all done in the name of progress they tell us but I have yet to be convinced.
    I left the town to join the army in 1969 and stayed in the north; Darlington; when I left the service. I still visited family through the years until the majority of them had passed and my wife and I moved to the U S A in 2003. Our eldest lived and worked here, was married here, we had an opportunity here, so we took it. As we used to jokingly say about the French, nice country, shame about the people, so it is here! But that’s a whole different story!! Looking at the maps of the old town now it’s very hard to recognize some parts. No brewery, gas works, Shoe co., Empire Cinema, Vallance Photographic works, Rosemary School, Broomhill School(where I went), the bowling green at Newton town, Metal Box Co., Sid Booths, too many shops to even begin to list. At least the Alms Houses on Notts Road, opposite what used to be Lucas Cars, that I used to pass almost daily going to my Grandmothers’ on Duke Street (now demolished) are still standing. Oh! well, as I said before, it’s all in the name of progress? Enough from me, thank you for publishing my comments and thanks to all who have taken the time to read them.

    By Philip Ambrose (23/02/2024)
  • Sorry, my mistake, not Stephenson but Mr. Wells who had that nickname. I have included other info on one of the other sites for the school so I won’t repeat it all again here.

    By Philip Ambrose (06/02/2024)
  • I had two years in the “tin huts” on Sutton Road, 1959/1960, before going to the new school at Sherwood Hall. Don’t forget Mr. “Rocket” Stevenson! Great times!

    By Philip Ambrose (03/02/2024)

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