AHGS Staff

Hugh Bracey

One of the hats that I wear these days is that of a Governor of a "modern" Boys Grammar School. One of the biggest differences between today's schools and schools like 'Archies' in its days at Lord Mayors Walk is the length of time spent at any one school by the teaching staff.
I think it is fair to say that the majority of the staff who were at 'Archies' in the 50s were probably still at the school long after its move to Hull Road. On the other hand, at the school that I serve on the board of Governors, I doubt if more than 25% of the staff who were there during my sons time 1987-95 are still there now in 2002.

The following items are edited extracts from the MITRE in the early 60s

MR. J W. Saunders,

It is with great sorrow that we record the death during the Summer Term of Mr .J. W. Saunders. It seems so recently that we shared his ready wit, and joined in his infectious laughter in the Common Room, that it is difficult to realise that no present pupil member of the School had the privilege of being taught by one who served the School faithfully from January 1920 until July 1952
Old Boys will especially remember his activities, both as actor and producer, with the Old Boys Dramatic Society, or his readings in the classroom, where his appreciation of good characterisation was vividly and sincerely communicated.

It was, however, in the more serious teaching of the scriptures that he most excelled. Many a boy who thought that he had asked an awkward question was treated to a lucid exposition of doctrine that was the product of long thought, hard-earned wisdom and, above all, common sense. It is perhaps in this context that he would have liked most to be remembered.


Mr. Arthur Benjamin Hodgson, headmaster of Archbishop Holgate's Grammar School, York, for more than 20 years, died on Sunday at his home, in Southampton, at the age of 62. His health had been indifferent for some years and he had retired much earlier than he need have done.
Hodgson went from Leeds Grammar School to Leeds University, then to Oxford, where he read Modern Languages and took the diploma in education. He played Rugby football for his school XV, the Leeds University XV, the Yorkshire Wanderers and Headingley, and played in the Oxford University trials in 1921 and 1923. His enthusiasm for the game and belief in its merits never waned throughout his life.
He began his teaching career at Bury Grammar School and continued it at Cranleigh School and Christ's Hospital, Sussex, where he became senior housemaster and commanded the Officer Cadet Corps.
In 1937 he went to York as headmaster and almost immediately was faced with the onerous task of guiding his school through the difficult war years and then the period of transition afterwards when the school became controlled by the York City Authority. He never lost his sense of perspective or of humour, or an ambition to enhance the quality and the reputation of his school by drawing on what he thought best in both public schools and grammar schools.
A keen Freemason, he was a member of a number of lodges, and the founder of one, which recruited its members from old boys of the school. As a mason, as a schoolmaster who loved teaching, and as a Justice of the Peace in York - an honour that he relished, but insisted on attributing to his school - he made and kept a huge circle of friends. He spent lavishly on his school and the city qualities that might have made their mark on a wider world.
He leaves a widow and young daughter, and a son by a former marriage.

(As printed in " The Times ")

Mr. R. G. Currington (or 'Fungus' as he was better known)

At the end of the summer term, Mr. R. G. Currington, a member of the staff for 27 years, left the School to take charge of a larger classics department in Scunthorpe.
A southerner by birth, he began his education at the City of London School and from there he gained an open scholarship to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he achieved the distinction of a First Class in Part I of the Classical Tripos. His first teaching post was at Kingston-upon-Thames Grammar School and then, in 1934, he joined the staff of the School as assistant Classics master.
During the war he served in the R.A.S.C. in India, rising to the rank of Captain. No doubt many Schoolboys will remember his stirring tales of wartime activities in the Far East.
Returning to the school in 1945, he became head of the Classics department, the post he so ably held until his departure this year.
By nature a strict disciplinarian, Mr. Currington always carried out his work in an imposing and efficient manner, and his stern methods will surely be remembered with a feeling of dread by those who attended the weekly drill in which he made no concessions to feebleness.
To know Mr. Currington was to like him, and, above all, to respect him. Both masters and boys alike will remember his supreme devotion to the School and his unyielding spirit during his recent severe illness, and his familiar, bearded figure will be much missed around the School.

Alan Etherington

The serious illness mentioned was in our 4th year when he contracted TB and we all had to troop off to the hospital for a chest X-ray.

Rod Shaw

Drill was where you stood in the hall motionless for 30 minutes, as I recall, while Fungus marched up and down between the rows armed with a cane.

Hugh Bracey

I had forgotten all about Fungus's TB and our X-rays for it. The bit about his army life brought back memories of how we used to try to get him to talk about the Army or the Romans in an effort to reduce the amount of time spent on learning Latin.
One other thing that I do remember about Fungus is that he was a good Clarinettist!

Alan Etherington

He was also a darn good pianist.

Bob Foster

The teachers who I remember with fondness were particularly Jock Caley who taught me German , which I still use from time to time and Young Robbo who taught maths. Another older history teacher I liked was named Adams. DAB Berryman taught us English Lit & although I did not really appreciate Shakespeare & Wordsworth at the time I regularly go to the RST & climb in the lakes now.
Does anyone remember the punishment of "Subtractions". Stan Tilsley the woodwork teacher would regularly give the whole form one hundred subtractions and the number to use was 398.

Geoff Portas

Yes I remember subtractions and the tricks we tried to save time, like doing the first 10, then the last 10 by working backwards from 0, then filling in the rest with random numbers! I can't recall if we ever got away with it though.
I remember Stan best for his instructions for getting the keys to the bench cupboards: "One, Two, Three, Four" (pause while keys were collected) "Five, Six, Seven, Eight" (another pause), then with a finality of tone "Nine to Twelve".

Hugh Bracey

I for one do indeed remember "398 the form" (see the caricature on the SKULE DAZE program.) Maths teacher Dennis showed a complete lack of imagination when it came to numbers and used to let us pick our own, whereas Spike Milligan, I am sure, used to research number sequences and often gave difficult 4 figure subs which took the experts longer that 10 minutes to do.
I can still remember Spike doubling up (100, 200, 400) for daring to protest at being given subs. I never got more than 200 more than once from him!

Bob Foster

Does anyone remember the rhubarb fight, which happened I think in 1957.

Rod Shaw

Probably about '57 or '58. End of summer term riot, large sticks of rhubarb imported from over the back wall in Brook Street, used as weapons and then left all over the yard and Boney coming out and marching us all into the hall and reading the riot act with a not very straight face. We weren't allowed home till every single bit had been picked up. Probably related to the Goon Show, I suspect.

John Foggin

The rhubarb is well remembered! Jordan got his mother to bake a rhubarb pie and he presented it to Coleman, our math teacher at the time. That earned him another class dismissal. (Whatever happened to Jordan I wonder?)

Alan Etherington

It was Dennis Coleman, do you remember getting 22/20 for homework and 10 Oral if you got it all right? I remember Horner being turned out of the class on a regular basis.
"Horner, go and stand in the middle of the hall and don't move till you get there" was one of his famous phrases. One hot sunny day he was thrown out as usual. All the windows were wide open and Horner sneaked round to the nearby bins and threw a bin lid through the window. Dennis was so startled; everything stopped. He then rushed to the window. No-one there. It could only be Horner so he rushed to the door and there was Horner nonchalantly reading a book in the middle of the hall, he had thrown the bin lid in and rushed back into the hall almost before it landed knowing that Dennis would be startled so he had plenty of time. Dennis had no evidence and so the case rested, unproved, although the world knew what had happened, (even Dennis despite his being rather unworldly).

Rod Shaw

He once asked us to tell him the results of two maths tests, geometry first, algebra second, and make absolutely sure we got them the right way round. He got to Rob Corbett who asked Dennis several times which way round he wanted them, Dennis got exasperated and told Rob to just get on with it and get them the right way round, so Rob said, OK, sir, 17, 17... Dennis was actually a nice guy, we used to meet him in a pub down Monkgate years later and have a laugh about it. He was amazingly sane.

Hugh Bracey

I recall the day that a group from the form took the afternoon off (or at least double maths with Dennis Coleman) to go train spotting by getting a 1d (remember them?) platform ticket then getting on the next train to Doncaster/London. I can still remember poor Dennis being perplexed because he was teaching a big chunk of empty desks that afternoon.

Alan Etherington

I hadn't realised that there was a picture of the Staff in 1960 on the site. What an august bunch! If you recall, we used to have to kow-tow to the likes of little Noddy Dearman, raising caps etc!
I remember A Holderness (of fond memory) going into his chemical store in Room 12 for the Acetaldehyde and coming out with an empty bottle with a loose cap and saying something to the effect that "some idiot has left the cap loose and when I get hold of him..........."
From this I learned that Acetaldehyde has a low boiling point and evaporates readily given the chance, I have never forgotten this! (B.Pt. 21C). - AH was a bloke that I would still raise my cap to for his knowledge, teaching ability and attitude.

Hugh Bracey

Other teachers I remember were; our English Teacher who was an ex destroyer lieutenant and knew how to throw a board rubber. Forster the physics teacher who was the author of one of our text books? ---- And who could forget Mr "LULU" Mayes the music teacher who ran the school choir and orchestra.

Rod Shaw

I think Albert Holderness, chemistry, was the textbook writer. He also persuaded me that science offered a better future than Latin (I got about the same marks in each) so off I went and did biochemistry at Sheffield.

Frank Laurence

I've a few memories, which might prompt others.

Brook Street, with Messrs. Truscott (of Lynton on Ouse) and '398-the-form' Stan (Jock) Tilsley (already mentioned by one or more of your contributors). I used to leave the profile of the latter wherever I found a steamed-up window - not that most realised who it was meant to represent.

Dennis (Daddy) Coleman was too nice a bloke. We used to take advantage. One of the tricks in my form was to leave a satchel in the aisle, the satchel containing a brick - not easily kicked aside. I was part of the torment until I met 'Daddy' in town and discovered what a decent a chap he was, after which I was ready to do battle on his behalf. He had a daughter (at Mill Mount ?).

Who remembers 'Mad Acko' Atkinson (Latin) and Alf 'Galloping Major' or 'the sacred river ran' Galleymore (Physics) ? - the latter was a perfect gentleman, a really nice man. He was forever holding up a former pupil, Proctor, as an example to us all - if only I had known Proctor, life could have been so different!

The teacher I best remember as having a good grasp on what makes youngsters tick, was George ('Gus')Robinson. I was sorry to hear from Neil Guppy that GR has passed away - a great guy.

The most professional teacher in my opinion was Holderness ('Nero'). He had a sense of humour, once deriving great amusement from Jonathon Selby's reference to a 'loose pair', as opposed to a 'lone pair.' I had the distinction in the upper school of being called a spiv by Nero (his house was on the way to my then girl-friend's house, which might have explained his assessment). He was an excellent teacher, but, hopefully, not such a good judge of character. There were many good teachers at AHGS but I hold Nero in highest regard.

Other names I haven't seen mentioned yet are 'Bug' Allen (Biology), 'Bogey' Baines (Geography), 'Cis'Wilkes (French), Ken Parsons (Art) and A. Foster(apparently renowned for taking a metre rule to a whole form - and breaking several in the process -rulers that is)(His son was at AHGS, Dean, leaving1950/51).

There were some teachers who gave us a hard time and it's not appropriate to dwell on what we thought of them. However, despite his 'drill' reputation, I would say that I found 'Fungus' Currington to be excellent company outside school - Ye Olde Starre Inn, Stonegate, comes to mind.

Barry Atkinson

The staff picture lists the short, bald guy on the back row as Atkinson, I think it should be Anderson (Bodkin) (That's now been corrected - Geoff)

Alan Etherington

Barry Atkinson is right. I can see where the error is, it is that when the good Mr Anderson (History and Architecture) joined the staff there was a notorious murder case in full swing and every now and then there was a picture of a little bald fat bloke purporting to be the said murder suspect, called John Bodkin Adams. As the likeness to the new Mr Anderson was so startling he became known as "Bod" or, indeed, "Bodkin" on Sundays. So in effect you were on the right lines but tripped at the last fence, as it were.

Hugh Bracey

I am pleased that errors are being pointed out - my own memory is getting worse but that is mainly short term memory ! Bodkin Adams features in the 1960 6th form pic too! (Got the name wrong there too!)

Alan Etherington

Brook St was taken over for our school and housed the gym (Fraser), Room 16 (Taffy Evans), Room 17 (Trussy), Room 18 (Bloss Ward, maths), Room 19 (various) and, of course, the woody lab with Stan (the Man) Tilsely of whom it has often been said.