The 'Old Sexonians' Magazine'and 'Sexonian' magazines hold a wealth of information about times gone by...(This page contains information from school magazines up to the end of the 1940's.)
( Remember to check the top of the home-page to see if there have been any recent additions to this section.)
Fortunately, for those of us looking back in time, the school's Old Sexonian Association, formed in 1925, decided to produce its own magazine, which was first published in 1926. These magazines can now be regarded as primary, historical sources and give us a great insight into what went on at the school over the years since that time. The magazines have either been called 'The Sexonian' or 'The Old Sexonians' Magazine'.
The Sexonian, 1926 (Archives)
There can be no doubt about it that in terms of the Sexey's school magazines, this particular issue, being the very first, is the absolute 'cream of the crop'! The Sexey's archives contain just one example of it and I only know of one other in existence - what a find!.
This magazine's design, needless to say, heavily influenced all those that came after it, right the way through to the last magazines in the 1970's. One interesting difference, though, is the 'Lent Term' description on the front cover, as opposed to 'Autumn', 'Spring' or 'Summer' term found on the vast majority of the later magazines. As with many subsequent school magazines, the Weston Gazette had a hand in its printing - I wonder how much they charged?
I have decided to show the first page of the magazine in its entirety. It appears they decided to have two editors, one handling matters of the past and the other the present. The occasionally amusing 'Editorial Notes' carried on for the best part of two and a half pages.
This initial section was followed by a report on the Prize day held in November of the previous year (1925). From the Headmaster's report we are told that - 'This term we have 100 pupils in the main school and 10 in the Preparatory class, this being an increase of 12 on last term.'
This section went on to mention the numerous successes by pupils in a variety of examinations etc - I have included details of the form prizes here -
Forms V1 and V Upper: 1st FM Gray ; 2nd JR Parker.
Form V Lower: 1st D Bowles ; 2nd E Pitcher.
Form 1V Upper: 1st V Robinson ; 2nd N Webber.
Form 1V Lower: 1st m Carter : 2nd J Tyley; 3rd J Poole.
Form 111: 1st E Abram; 2nd FJ Poole
Farm School: 1st JM Robertson
These were followed by a 'General Literacy Test' by Mrs Bullen who had been a former Senior Mistress. Mrs Bullen wrote out six questions that were 'only to be attempted by Sexonians who were pupils of Sexey's from 1915 to 1921.'
The next article, 'Nutshell Criticisms', makes amusing but rather surprising reading as the author doesn't hold back and says what he thinks about the individuals that make up the school's Cricket and Football teams.
He said of Packer - 'A good bowler but apt to get 'rattled' if hit frequently. Must improve his batting.' This was signed 'E.E.' - similar 'no holds barred' articles followed for both the Hockey and the Football teams - interestingly 'Packer' came in for a bit of a verbal bashing as a member of the Football team as well! - ' Much too slow. Needs to show more speed and decision in tackling.' (Assuming it was the same 'Master Packer' I don't think he could have been too overjoyed at reading those comments!! - MJ)
Fortunately, the articles do give us the names of the pupils who made up of the various teams -
Cricket:- Walsh, Curtin, Burrows, Pierce, Packer, Fear, Moon, Norman, Passmore, Duckett and Todd.
Hockey:- Jennie Comer, Ethel Duckett, Ida Hansford, Amy Hansford, Mary Curtin, Winnie Board, Emma Moon, Mary Merriman, Phyllis Duckett, Blanche Hembury, Grace Deane and Marion Coleman.
Football:- Curtin, Packer, Moon, Binning, Cottiel, Norman, Robertson, Tucker, Durston, Burrows, Brown and Walsh.
According to my calculations (as at 2009) any surviving members of these teams would have recently been in line for the queen's telegram for reaching the magic '100'. (Does anyone have any information about these early team players or indeed know if any of them survived to receive their special telegram? - MJ)
The next article, entitled 'My Visit To Niagara Falls, Canada, 1921' was written by Old Sexonian, Austin Champeney who had previously emigrated to Canada. His detailed, three page article tells of the time he went on a visit to Niagara Falls.
The next major article was by Edward Smith, the school's first headmaster. Titled 'The Log Book', Mr Smith begins a three page article about how he became headmaster of Sexey's. He tells us that the candidates for the post were three men and two ladies who... 'were met at Cheddar station, by what was then known as 'Crease's Express' - a four wheeler, drawn by a grey steed'…
Mr Smith tells us that the candidates consisted of himself and his wife a Mrs Mackenzie, Mr William Aldridge and Dr JW Knife. The post was advertised was for both a Headmaster and Headmistress and these posts went to Mr Smith and Mrs Mackenzie.
In the afternoon the two of them along with Mrs Smith were taken to the small, local hamlet of West Stoughton where they were shown - ' an empty farmhouse and outbuildings with an overgrown derelict garden, a small lawn and a lovely cedar'…. Across the road a barn, with stable and cart-house below, an orchard, and a very fine Weeping Ash, quite 30 feet high….this was to be Sexey's Technical School for boys and girls.'
Mr Smith goes on to tell us that during that afternoon a certain Hurman Cock 'offered himself as first pupil in the school'. During the next three months, Mr Smith visited the Barn to watch developments. - 'At length, on August 12th, 1897, the School opened its doors and 12 pupils presented themselves for admission, 7 boys, 5 girls, one boy as boarder. The Boys worked with Mr Smith in the Barn, the stable was their cloakroom, the cart-shed the carpenter's shop. The girls were taught by Mrs Mackenzie in a room of the house overlooking the Cedar. The first name on the roll of the school was Hurman Cock, the first boarder, Clifford Champeney.'
Many of the facilities at the 'barn School' were basic to say the least - 'The bathing for the boarder boys was a great problem, so a large iron bath was fixed up in the kitchen, supplied with hot water dipped from the copper and cold from a tank over the bath. That bath was used in other ways, for Mrs Mackenzie wanted 'Cookery' for her girls, so a top had to be made for the bath to form a working table for the making of Sexey's 'Rocks' and casseroles. Indigestion was unknown and life in general was very pleasant.'
(Because of the importance of Mr Smith's article, which runs for a number of magazine issues, I have decided to show it in its entirety (ie photographed) in the 'History of the School' section - MJ)
The magazine continues with two poems, the first by Mr Bullen who had been a Senior Master at Sexey's and the second by J. Packer who wrote about his form -
The Mighty Sixth
The Sixth now reigns with intellect and 'swink',
With Upper Fifth to share its brighten'd bow'r.
All decked with blackboards, smoky stoves and ink,
Wherein doth sit the students, hour on hour,
And so display their knowledge , wit and power,
That they may goad the lower forms to work,
To labour hard and never try to shirk.
Distempered green with wainscot hazel brown,
Our realm in carbonate of lime doth team,
Which, when by careless step is trampled down.
The blame falls on the faultless Sixth I deem,
Which lives through all and still appears as keen,
This needing grit and absence of all vices,
To fight all 'Curious Constitutional Crises'.
Concerning French, the tongue we love so well,
Je ne dirai rien ici, monsieur,
Or History with sweet enchanting spell,
Or Algebra which causes many a tear.
But rather speak of Soccer, game so dear;
Our form can boast of pro.'s in number four,
A goalie, back, half, forward and no more.
Of feminines our Form contains not one,
And, therefore we can work in silence sweet.
So there, I've had my little bit of fun,
And now with great relief I soft retreat.
The next article in the magazine list the names of the members of the newly formed Old Sexonians Association. It begins with a statement of its aims - 'The renewal of old friendships and the welfare of the school'. One of its members, a G Hole from Blackford suggested some annual activities - .. ' a special occasion must be provided to attract old pupils to the neighbourhood …. A summer meeting at this school is an obvious solution…A cricket match Past v Present…. As well as tennis for the girls… In the winter a good dance.'
The last five or six pages of the magazine were given over to 'Form Notes' written by 'Correspondents' of various forms. There was also a report on the Farm School.
Isabel Drake was the correspondent for Form IV, Lower. She begins her article - 'Our form mainly consists of new children, and a few of the old scholars from the Third Form, In number we are 28 - 11 girls and 17 boys. Though there are very few of the feminine tribe in this class, we are by far the cleverest.'
Correspondent, Joan Poole wrote about Form IV, Upper. Much of her article is about her fellow pupils where she feebly attempts to provide some anonymity by leaving out some of the letters in their names! - ' The most amazing girl in the Form is M-b-l Rog-rs, who loves making up poetry and turning up her nose when the mistress or master is not looking. The merry girl of the form and the girl who likes giggling is R-th Du-l-ing, but the teachers generally get annoyed with her laughing at her own jokes.'
Next came the 'Farm School Report' by F. Emery. He/She begins - 'The sow and pigs getting into the poultry house is a very common incident which causes great damage. But, of course, it upsets the pupils very little, because a couple of handy voluntary carpenters arrange to miss some abominable lesson by coming over to repair the damage.'
The Lower Vth report was written by PM Carter. - 'Even in this noisy form, silence sometimes gets the upper hand of everything. We have won our reputation of being the noisiest form in the School and we do our very best to keep it up.'
The Form V, Upper report was written by VW Curtin. ' As a form we are unfortunate enough to share a room with the Sixth. At least one advantage may be noted; we are now able to make a careful study of several different modes of ladies' hairdressing. There are bobbed, bingled, shingled and even one Eton Cropped head. In fact, all the girls are disfigured in some such way.'
The Form VI correspondent was JL Burrows. - 'After the frequent threats of ejection from the VIth and Upper Vth room last term, we are pleased to note that the Headmaster seems fairly satisfied with the condition in which we are keeping our newly renovated abode. We are rather devoid of humorists in our form this term, but L----l, the comic man of the Upper Vth, favours us with his presence occasionally….We are proud to state that we have amongst us the Football Vice-captain and the Cricket Captain and vice. We also possess three out of the four boy prefects and three of us are on the Committee of the Debating Society. This we consider is a rather good record.'
This report ended the school's very first magazine, which was 23 pages in length.
(Compared to the school's later magazines, of the 1970's say, this early magazine (and a number that follow it) seems to lack any form of 'political correctness' and, surprisingly, the children seem to be able to say what they like about one another with very little apparent editing. I certainly would not have expected to read some of the more personal comments that can be found within its pages - MJ)
The Sexonian, 1927, (Archives)
The cover of this magazine was identical to the 1926 issue in that it used 'Lent Term' to describe its precise time of publication. Interestingly, on the inside of the front cover is the 'triangular' advert for the school as seen in the write up of the 1934 issue. In addition to this, over the page is the photo of the front of the school and hostel as seen in the school prospectus. Here it is titled 'School and Hostel. General View' - this suggests that the copy of the prospectus came from around this period.
Page one of the magazine begins with the 'Editorial Notes' and begins by congratulating Mr Abram - 'on the excellent progress he is making after his recent dangerous illness'. The article goes on to mention staff leaving and joining the school and continues to make somewhat amusing 'non PC' comments about a variety of things - ' We have just received official notification that our lady golfers have now completed the course at Burnham. A chartered accountant has been engaged to add up their score cards.'
Next is a report on the Prize Day of November, 1926. The Speaker was the son of the Rt. Hon. Henry Hobhouse who had been Chairman of The Trustees and Governors and was a key figure in setting up the school. Mr Hobhouse 'advised all pupils to make the best use of their school days, cultivate the habit of reading and learn to use their hands as skilfully as their eyes and head'.
A list of the academic successes was then shown along with sports caps and Colours - Jennie Comer received the Somerset County Hockey Shield.
Comments on the Cricket, Football and Hockey performances followed which showed that the Cricket X1 had 'excellent results last season'. Football obviously hadn't done quite so well as what followed was a full two page article by NTW, presumably a Master, outlining their shortcomings and giving some constructive criticisms on how the team could improve their game.
The Hockey article written by BM Herbert was a positive 'nutshell criticism' of the team players and gives us the names of every player. They were J Comer (Capt), E Duckett, G Deane, E Moon, P Carter, B Hembury, M Curtin, W Board, A Hansford, M Merriman and M Coleman.
There follows a piece of verse, some two pages long, written buy one of the teachers (NTW). (I am seriously considering creating a new section based on Sexey's poetry that is 'school related' as it often gives us snippets of information and glimpses into school life that would be lost without it - MJ)
The next article, 'Boys' House Notes', is particularly interesting as it gives us the names of the very early team 'houses' that were used within the school. I believe that these were the very first names for houses at Sexey's as the article begins 'The Sexey's House System is now in full swing….' The houses were Hadspen House, School House and Wellington House. The articles that followed written by the house captains (all of which are girls - it appears there were boy and girl captains of each house) (in order, these were Grace Deane, MJ Comer and Mary Curtin. In 1926, School House won the house shield.
The next article was written by Edward Smith, the school's first headmaster, who by that time was the Rector of Enmore. His article, titled 'The Bishop's Cup', went on to describe how the cup came into being, Smith himself being directly involved in the process - 'In the year 1903 the Headmasters of Wells Blue School and Sexey's School, Blackford (Mr Smith himself) approached the Lord Bishop of the Diocese, Dr George W Kennion…. and asked him to give a Challenge Cup for (football) competition amongst the Secondary schools of Somerset. The Lord Bishop fell in readily with the suggestion.'
The next article was a description of a visit, presumably by one of the staff,
to the Ford production line in Manchester. He was very impressed by what
he saw. This was followed by Mr Smith's second part of his 'look-back' at
the background to the school's beginnings.(This will appear in the 'History
of the School' section and is not printed here.) Immediately prior to his
article was this photo of the Old Barn at Stoughton, where the school first
began. The barn was in the grounds of Cedar Tree house.
The Correspondent for Lower 1V, JAF Rich, tells us -' The Lower 1V is thought to be one of the best Forms of the school…. The boys are more brainy than the girls. Our Form Master is Mr Williams who very often sets the form laughing with jokes….In conclusion, I must say that, if the brilliance of the Lower 1V really continues, next year's Upper V1 will be much cleverer than the last one. (Our Master Rich certainly wasn't backward in coming forwards!!- MJ)
The Correspondent for the Upper 1V (M Woodgate) began the form piece with -'We are sorry that one member of the staff has had occasion to liken us to a menagerie, but I think this title is largely due to the efforts of the veritable 'Laughing Trio' near the back of the Form-room.'…'We are quite well off for games enthusiasts in our Form….we have four boys in the1st X1 football team…
Lower V's Correspondent, M Rogers, wrote -'Our most prominent member is Mary Curtin, who has won a place in the County hockey team.
GH Deane was the Correspondent on the Domestic Course. She tells us - 'The Domestic Course' is commonly known as 'The Sexey's Wanderers'. We are but seven in number. Our work chiefly consists of Domestic Science and Crafts, the latter being a most interesting subject. We have no boys in our class, so naturally we consider ourselves the luckiest form in the school.
The Upper Vth Correspondent, WJ Board, wrote - 'Our Form is the best behaved in the school, doubtless because it contains all four girl prefects. All the girls except two have been sensible enough to be shingled,(for male readers, a shingle was a type of ladies' hairstyle popular in the 1920's and 30's - MJ) and we hope to convince these two to have theirs done also… The girls outnumber the boys in the proportion of 3 to 1….The boys occupying the back seats have not yet learned that 'Tidiness must be our last thought'.'
JL Burrows was the Correspondent for the Sixth Form and wrote -' It is a rather remarkable fact that there have been no girls in the Sixth for two years….There is one thing which we think should be mentioned with regard to last year's issue of the magazine. Our friend Curtin insinuated, rather nastily, that we occupy too much space in the room which we share with the Upper Vth. We wish to point out to him that our superior genius should be taken into account, and the room be divided accordingly.'
The very final page of the 1927 magazine was an interesting one as it was perforated down its left hand edge. This was a diary of the many Cricket events in the Summer term of 1927 and contained the dates of no less than 23 school cricket matches between May 11th and July 23rd. This had been put together by the Cricket Secretary, AG Duckett, with the intention that people would tear out the page and use it 'calendar style' as an extra reminder of the games ahead.
The Sexonian, 1928 (Archives)
The front cover describes this issue as 'Autumn Term, 1928' - the first not to use the 'Lent' description. On the inside of the front cover is the school's 'triangular' advert.
The 'Editorial Jottings' tell us that the editor in charge of the 'past' has now left and that the magazine is now under the sole guidance of one editor, Emlyn Brown.
Staff 'goodbyes' consisted of Miss Burwood (Domestic Science), Mr Williams and Miss Evans (due to poor health).Staff 'hellos' were given to Miss Bryer and Mr Knott.
The first full article was a description of the 1928 Prize Day which had been held on November 2nd. - 'Mr Abram was able to give an excellent account of continued progress in all the branches of school work.'…. 'The prizes on the day were distributed by the Dean of Wells, who gave a delightful address to the scholars.'
The prize winners are too many to list but the 'Form Prizes' were won by the following - V1. and V. Upper - E Duckett, M Carter, A Hansford. V. Lower - D Board, I Drake, E Abram. 1V Upper- ? Rich, F Heal, M Duckett. 1V Lower - ? Puddy, E Porter, ? Cook, ? Thiery, . Form 111 - ? Gillard. Farm School - E Edney. Domestic Course - G Herring, O Withers. Preparatory School - ? Vowles, ? Williams.
There follows an account of Victor Curtin's experiences in Australia which comprised of extracts from early letters.
Next came the sports reports which included the usual sports 'criticisms' , this time of Cricket and Hockey. The school's tennis team were particularly good - 'Our tennis team was exceptionally strong and was successful in winning all the tournaments played against other schools. Colours were awarded to Winnie Board and Phyllis Duckett.'
This was followed by Mr Smith's 'Log Book' (which can/will be found in the 'School History' section) - it is titled 'In the Year 2' and describes the school based events of 1898.
An article by the school's Dramatic Society came next. - 'The chief event of the season was the production of 'Brown with an e'. Main parts in the production were taken by Emma Moon, Phyllis Carter, Winnie Board, GJ Tucker, FT Terill and A Rich. This was produced by Miss Thrower and Mr Peacock.
The following article in the magazine, written by Emlyn Evans, was titled 'A Great German University' and describes the university of Heidelburg and the various duels that used to take place there.
This was followed by 'The 'Past' Editor's Lament' and was written by Lionel Brown. The piece begins with a poem and finishes with over a page of reminiscences.
Getting out an Annual Magazine is no picnic.
If we print jokes, people say we are silly;
If we don't , they say we are too serious.
If we publish original matter, they say we lack variety.
If we publish things from other papers, we are too lazy to write.
If we don't print contributions, we don't show our appreciation.
If we do print them the magazine is filled with trash.
What in thunder is a poor editor to do, anyhow?
Like as not, someone will say we pinched this from another magazine - So we did!
This was followed by a poem (a limerick?) about the Farm school and was written by PR Packer.
The Farm School
On the farm, it is delightful to be,
As everyone there will agree;
What with feeding the hens,
In their sloppy old pens -
Well - you might as well try in the sea.
In the dairy it's a jolly sight worse,
When cheese-making we've got to rehearse.
And we try not to mutter,
When making the butter -
A desp'rate soul-satisfied curse.
Of course there're the cocks that we kill,
Their blood we must try not to spill,
Though it's really exciting,
When they all start a-fighting,
We 'ring' them and make them lie still.
We used to have plenty of bees,
But into their heads came a wheeze,
And, one winter, they froze,
From their ears to their toes,
Now, they lie in their coffins at ease.
But now I should think it's quite time,
I started to finish this rhyme,
So good-bye for a while,
And we'll still try to smile,
In the midst of this glorious grime.
Before the 'Form Notes' articles, a quick mention was given to 'Our Distinguished Visitors This Year'. These were, The Countess of Caernarvon, The Director of Education for Cypress and the Inspector of Schools for Palestine. The foreign visitors were interested in seeing how Sexeys combined its agricultural/domestic education with the academic side -Sexey's fame had really spread far and wide!
The 'Form Notes' began with the Lower 1V and was written by Eileen Mogg. This was written, start to finish, as a 'play on words' at the same time mentioning the surnames of class members. These were, Board, Popham, Duckett, Curtin, Wall, Coles and Hatch.
The Upper 1V contribution was written by K Puddy. - 'The numbers of the form have greatly increased since last year, these now being sixteen boys and nine girls.'….'One thing for which we must think ourselves lucky is the fact that we are amply supplied with blotting paper and pen-nibs. For all this we must thank our form Mistress, Miss Lewis.'
Notes from 'The Domestic Science Form' were written by D Carnell. She says - 'This course is quite an interesting one, and has attracted seven members …. We are unfortunate in sharing a room with the Farm School boys. One of the Farm School boys, who is also a prefect, is so tall that the Matron was obliged to lengthen his bed to prevent the frost from nipping his toes! The Farm School boys are frequently of assistance to us. For example, they killed the poultry for our lesson in 'Poultry Dressing'.
J. Binning covered the goings on at the Farm School. - 'The Farm School consists of nine boys …. We take many subjects apart from our farm work, but French, Algebra, Geography and Geometry are omitted because we have no examination in view. We have amongst us the best athlete in the school, namely George, who won the Sports Cup for us last year…. Amongst us we have a few brave men like Holliday, George and Henderson who, without a blink, can kill a chicken by dislocation. Last year the top of the Form was a girl but she has now entered the Cannington Institute for a course of farm work …. The Domestic girls, who are eight in number, take some lessons with us, and then the 'yapping' starts ….'
Notes from the Lower Vth were written by A. Rich - 'Nothing really very noteworthy happens in this Form, but, like a country without a history, it is a very happy one. Our Form Master doesn't seem to be very benevolent …. he has given us one nib and one piece of blotting which he expects to last the whole term…. The girls are very pretty. In fact, it seems strange that they do not enter for beauty competitions….. As a form, we are fortunate in not getting many punishments but the other day two of our 'good' girls were given a thousand words to do as a punishment.'
I M Drake wrote up the events from Upper Vth. - 'We are eleven girls and five boys. Now we are Seniors we have to curb our high spirits and set a good example to the Juniors. …. Congratulations to M Curtin, who has been again selected to represent the Somerset Schools' XI and to M Merriman, once more a County Reserve. Binning, the Hadspen House Captain, left us early this term to pull mangolds for Mr P at the Farm School….. We are losing our only 'plait' at Christmas, as well as two other girls, one of whom is the Head Girl.
Goings on in the Sixth Form were covered by W Board. -, 'The Sixth Form still maintains its reputation and consists only of a few select members….. we lost our only male representative …. The three members enjoyed a period of comparative peace….. We must heartily congratulate Vera Robinson on her obtaining Exemption from Metric, and so reflecting glory on her form. We wish her the best of luck in her college career. The addition of flowers and bulbs to our window sills, on the suggestion of our Form Mistress, is certainly an improvement…. Whilst speaking of Miss Evans we should like to thank her for her 'Punches' which are greatly appreciated.'
After a further two articles, 'Life at Halton' and 'A Cruise in the Norwegian Fiords' by L. Leigh and PE Denbee respectively, the 'House' notes began. M Merriman and F Poole, the house captains of School House started the article. -'another year has gone, and we have again won the House Shield…. We should like to thank Emma Moon, and Lane, for all they did to make our House a success, during the last year. This year we are fortunate in having for our House Mistress and House Master, two keen 'sportsmen', Miss Bryer and Mr Knott. …We congratulate Mary Merriman on being chosen as reserve centre forward for the Schools' County Hockey team, Ruth Durling on passing a music examination and Elsie Abram on passing one in Dancing.'
The Wellington House notes came next, written by the captains G Mary Curtin and H Tyley. -'The Hockey team have won their first match, the House having five members of the first eleven including the Captain. We also have the Senior Boy Prefect the Senior Girl Prefect, two other Girl Prefects and two Dramatic Society officials.'
Marion Carter and J Binning wrote the notes for Hadspen House. -'The boys have played one match against School House, when they drew, the score being 1-1…. There are four new girls in the House this year, and as two members have had their hair shingled this term, it is hoped they will not catch a chill this winter.
Following the House Notes came an article titled the 'Old School Association', written by Jessie Comer. Jessie summarises the events at the Summer and Winter reunions of 1928. -'The Summer Reunion was held at the school on Friday, June 8th and proved a very enjoyable day. 'Old Boys' played 'Present Boys' at cricket and won by a big margin… After tea everyone took part in a treasure hunt…. The events of the day wound up with a dance in the main school.'
Regarding the Winter Reunion -' There was a good meeting of members and their friends at the dance held in the Institute, Wedmore on Friday, November 30th….Music was rendered by the Harmonic Dance Band of Bridgwater, and their excellent playing helped the evening go with a real good swing …. The dancing came to an end by 2 a.m.'
The last two pages of this 24 page magazine contained a list of new Association members. Two ex pupils, William 'Spider' Tinney and Ronald Curtin were dealt with in some detail. Williiam Tinney had been an 'immensely popular' pupil at Sexey's from 1906-13. William eventually emigrated to Canada where he entered the church and was ordained in 1926. Ex pupil Ronald Curtin BA - 'fell in with a company of (gold) prospectors journeying to New Guinea…. The leader offered 'Ronnie' the position of geologist….'
The final paragraph in the magazine contained news of some of the past pupils.
The Sexonian, 1929 (Archives)
In the Editorial, 'Goodbyes' were said to Mr Peacock and Miss Lewis along with Miss Stone who left to get married. New staff arrivals were Miss Bussell, Miss Madge and Mr Sims.
The next article was the next episode of Mr Smith's 'Log Book' (This appears/will appear in full in the 'History of the School' section.)
This was followed by the various sports articles, beginning with the cricket. Apparently, illness took its toll on the team although - 'we had our fair share of victories against neighbouring schools'. Colours were awarded to H. Inman. At football the team came third in the league, colours being awarded to Hill and Holiday. There followed a detailed account of a football match between the school and the Old Sexonians. At half-time the score was 2-0 to the Old Sexonians but the school managed to pull the score back to a 2 all draw by the end of the match. At hockey, the 'Old Girls' fared rather better and beat the school 7-3. At tennis, winners of the senior tournament were O Carnell and D Greenslade. Netball was also played with the day-girls beating the boarders 6-1 - 'largely due to superior passing'.
The next article was about Ronald Curtin's trip to Australia where he was able to meet up with his brother, Victor. Ronald worked for a gold? mining company and he - 'pegged two leases for the mining company and one piece of ground has been called 'The Wedmore'.
The article that followed outlined the Annual Entertainment which took place that year on the 12th and 13th of December. The entertainment opened with a comedy by the kindergarten class called 'The Little Man on the Moon'. Next came a one act farce by CE Jennings titled 'Five Birds in a Cage'. The concert ended with a school adaptation of the opera 'Maritana'. The headmaster was congratulated for the 'high standard of the orchestra and chorus.'
This was followed by 'An Ode to the Cheddar Brake' by Philip Packer.
The famous Charry now behold,
Its engine runs so sweetly.
Her bonnet, diamond-studded gold,
Outshines a 'Rolls' completely.
And there its body is displayed,
In racing style so bonny,
With strong oak, ebony inlaid -
It's driven by little 'Sonny'.
His gleaming eyes are shining through
The windscreen so crystalline'
The road ahead he has in view,
With optics amethystine.
The whirling wheels entice a ride,
With spokes all silver plated,
The seats and cushions found inside,
With silks are inundated.
But ah! I cannot well describe,
The apex of this splendour,
Perceive the students who imbibe,
The studies they've to render.
But now I think this ode is o'er,
My pen is running dry,
I'm sure that it begins to bore,
So - Cheddar Brake - good-bye.
(These 'school-based' poems, more commonly written in these earlier magazines as opposed to the later ones, give us some delightful and very interesting snippets of information about the goings on at the school at the time from a child's point of view. I for one am surprised that the school Brake was a motorised vehicle back in the 1920's. With Sexey's being a country school 'out in the sticks' I would have thought it more likely to have been horse drawn (as we know the earliest ones were) - it would be smashing to identify the exact type of vehicle this would have been - MJ)
'House Notes' came next, this began by naming the house captains for the three 'houses'. These were - Hadspen House: Marion Carter and Douglas Thomas; Wellington House: Olive Carey and Frederick Porter; School House: Dorothy Board and William Holiday. School House won the shield for the third year in succession. (As far as I can tell, School House was made up entirely of boarders, hence the name - MJ.)
The article that followed was written by Miss E Shire, who had been a one- time Senior Mistress at Sexey's but left to work at a Methodist College in Ceylon. She wrote a long, five page account of her experiences there.
The next article, written by M. Woodgate, titled 'The Senior Picnic' tells of a cycle ride and ramble taken by about 30 senior pupils along with Miss Bussell and Mr Evans. This included a walk on the Mendips above Cheddar and an 'excellent tea' at Tynings farm before the cycle ride back to Blackford.
Jessie Comer wrote the article that followed about the OSA Reunion which was held on June 14th. The day's programme opened with a cricket match between the 'Old Boys' and the 'Old Girls' with the 'Boys' eventually winning by 34 runs. In the evening - 'Edward Tucker and a few other Old Students gave a farcical play entitled 'Brown with an E'. Apparently, this very humorous farce was extremely well done. The day's activities - 'concluded soon after midnight with the singing of the National Anthem and Auld Lang Syne'.
FM Heal wrote about the school's Sports Day which had been held early, on the 16th of May so as not to 'interfere with the studies of the 'Oxford Candidates''. On this occasion a points system was used - 'This year, prizes were not given to the winners of each individual race, but points were given, six to the winner, five to the second, four to the third and so on, and at the end of the Sports, the person with the greatest number of points had the first prize.' The Senior Girls first prize went to Mary Curtin and Ruth Board won it for the Junior Girls. 1st prize for the Senior Boys was won by George i (not a misprint) and Boulton won 1st prize for the Juniors.
IR Packer followed the Sports Day article with the following poem -
A Lament On Leaving School
And how the years slip fast away;
How clear to me
Comes the memory
Of my first day.
The Cheddar horse-brake nears the gate;
How calm and wise
Those grey stones rise;
For us they wait
The School's year now begins apace,
Yet many have gone,
And more anon
Will fill our place.
And though my five years' stay seemed long,
T'was but a day
Of work and play,
Then I was gone.
Now I'd return if I could find
'Old' faces there,
My books and chair,
And the same old grind.
But though for past years we lament,
Let's look ahead,
And smile instead -
All time's not spent.
So to the past I wave a fond adieu;
A link was cast in that old forge - the School,
Binding for aye the old up with the new.
(As if on cue, this second poem adds to our missing knowledge of the School Brakes. The first line of the second verse tells us that five years earlier (1924?), on the author's first day at school, the Cheddar Brake had indeed been horse powered! - MJ)
The next major article was 'Prize Day, 1929', written by Marion Carter. This was held on Friday, November 1 - 'Mr Abram reviewed the events of the year and was able to give an excellent account of progress in all departments of school work …. 'Professor Cock, after presenting the prizes, gave what must have been one of the finest speeches ever delivered at a Prize distribution.'
This was followed by 'Examination Successes' (with too many names to mention) although I will mention the successes in the 'Oxford School Certificate', these were - Marjorie Woodgate (with Distinction in English), Marion Carter, Evelyn Duckett, H Tyley, FC Porter, Dorothy Board, Emma Moon, Isabel Drake and Mary Curtin.
The next article, 'Wanderlust' was written by ex Sexonian, Denys H. Robinson who'd attended the school from 1916-1918. Denys told of his journeying from the time he went to sea in 1919 up to the point where he became an Inspector for the East India Railway.
The next few pages covered new members of the School Association as well as Births, Marriages and Deaths.
The next major article was titled 'Egg Laying Trials', written by Robert S James who had attended the Farm School at Sexey's from 1921-2. Robert became Manager of Hampshire County Egg-laying Trials and wrote an informative article about this competition whereby chickens and eggs were judged and their owners awarded with various cups and medals.
The 'Form Notes' were preceded by a photograph of the prefects at the time. Amazingly, the lad on the left of the front row has been identified as Jack Rowland Hill. Sadly, Jack joined the RAF and was shot down and killed in WW2 . At the time of writing (April 2012) there is a campaign to get Jack's name included on the school's Roll of Honour which still hangs in the Middle School - for some reason Jack's name was never included.
David Cypher has contacted me to say that the girl on the right hand side of the back row is almost definitely his grandmother, Elsie Abram who was the daughter of the school's headmaster.
The 'Form notes' began with Form111 and were written by M Cox - …'one morning we had an exciting chase after a mouse, which disturbed our religious studies. Tilley caught it by the tail, thinking he could do a trick with it … We have six 'babies' in our Form and they all sit in the corner. Our Form Master has appointed a 'nurse maid' to look after them and promised to pay this person a penny a day. However, the wages have not been paid, neither have the duties been done.'
Form1V's offering concluded with some reasonably informative school-based poems along with the names of the students who wrote them. Unfortunately, it isn't clear who wrote the main article.
' Our Form is composed of 37 pupils…. We are very proud of our classroom with its antique furniture, wonderfully carved desks bearing evidence of the industry of previous occupiers and a very antique clock…. Above the piano presides a very well known gentleman - our former Headmaster- who, like a guardian angel, always smiles benignly on us….. Life in school is very pleasant on the whole - even detentions are not too serious.'
The clock above the time-table
Is always fast or slow.
And we are never able
To get the time, you know.
The bell it goes an hour too late -
French lesson is too long,
Then goes a clatter of a plate -
And soon our dinner's gone.
Then off we go to the tuck-shop door -
For there they sell pure pickles.
They always have a splendid store
The boss is named 'Ma' Nichols.
Elegy Written In The Fourth Form
The school-bell tolls the knell of parting day,
And weary boys do on their desks recline;
And restless, look upon the clock
To hear it slowly go tick-tock.
Our cheery poet on his pen relies,
For writing out some simple lines;
And still they look upon the clock
To hear it slowly go tick-tock.
The 1V Form clown who to his audience looks,
Whilst hunting for his scripture books;
Shoots 'Tuskers' with a click
- And still the clock goes tick-a-tick.
The 'Dormouse' on his seat doth sleep,
Huddled in a nodding heap;
-And still the clock goes tick-tick-tock-
Will it ne'er be four o'clock?
At last it comes th' awaited hour,
And out we rush at full horse power;
The schoolboy homeward plods along the lane,
Boarders alone are left to take the strain.
Jock of Ubley
Our Jack he is of robust build,
With muscles firm and wide,
He goes down to the river cold,
And swims against the tide.
He is a pro' at woodwork'
And made a picture frame;
The master thought it wondrous work,
So on it put Jack's name.
The master was so proud of it'
He showed it on Speech Day;
It gave Jack's mother such a fit,
She nearly went dotty.
A report from the Farm School and Domestic Science group came next - once again this article wasn't 'signed'.
'This term began with the 'awful period of apple eating' …. With the coming of the colder weather, one of our boys was told officially by Mr A. to 'clothe himself properly and to wear his pants'.
'A little time ago one of the chickens met a mysterious death…. Coleman, Kitley and Edie were closely questioned, but fortunately left the court (the stable) without a stain on their characters. The deceased hen was very popular amongst us and we all liked her pretty little ways.'
Lower Vth's report followed - 'Our new arrivals since the last magazine was published, are two boys and a girl, the boys being J 'Percival' Todd and R 'Charlie' Mogg, the girl Elsie Studley…. 'Percival' is a good mathematician. Elsie is a brilliant linguist….'Charlie' is a keen footballer and he immediately found a place in the First X1.'
A.Rich wrote the report for the Upper Vth - 'We are fifteen, nine girls and six boys… Several members represent us in sport. Six of our girls play in the hockey and tennis teams. Four boys are included in the football and cricket elevens….. We feel quite sure we should have more examination successes were we supplied with more comfortable desks. We find it difficult to be good and study always but to quote the Head ' the great day will soon be here, so we must push on - push on - push on.'
Next came 'News of Old Sexonians', compiled by the head master. Mr Abram mentioned a number of old pupils who had either written in or paid visits and some were complete with the dates of when they attended Sexey's. These were the Rev Tinney (1907-1914), WC Brookes (1908-1911), Neville Denby (1925-1926), Denys H Robinson (1916-1918), Gerald DF Robertson (1925-1928) and Robert S James (1921-1922). In the article, Mr Abram writes that the Rev Tinney moved to Canada and eventually became Principal of the Chooutla Indian Residential School in Carcross, Yukon. (By 'Googling' these key words it comes up with a website showing a picture of the very school as well as articles relating to the (very contraversial) education of the Indians by the Anglican church. The school had an unfortunate end and burnt to the ground in 1939 - MJ)
The Sexonian, 1930 (Archives)
The inside front cover consists of Mr Abram's usual 'triangular' advertisement for the school. The first page begins with the editor, Emlyn Evans BA , remarking on the fact that the school had increased the magazine contract with the printers from 24 to 36 pages and the extra cost involved - 'And twelve extra pages at 6/- a page!' (Unfortunately we are not told the actual number of magazines produced.)
Mention was made of the leaving of Miss Bussell who left to get married to become Mrs Jones. She was to be succeeded by Miss Thrower as Senior Assistant Mistress.
Two more silver cups were added to the sports trophies, a cup for the Junior girls and a Boys' House cup presented by Mr and Mrs Comer and Nurse Hemens respectively.
At the time Mr Abram gave a number of successful, public lectures which were felt to show Sexey's in a particularly good light.
Page 3 of the magazine shows Mr Smith's 'Log Book' which dealt with year 4 of the school's existence. Mr Smith explains that the school begins to settle down although there was quite an increase in both pupils and staff with staff additions including Mr Rees, Mr Sellwood and Miss Latcham.
In order to fulfil the Charity Commissioners' Scheme the whole school underwent an annual examination. The result was that - 'progress was considerable though perhaps somewhat slow'.
School inspectors suggested that the school should adopt a course of study in 'organised Science' with the provision of Agricultural Science - 'which ultimately made the Farm School idea possible and advisable'.
Mr Smith went on to explain that in order to receive Government grants a proportion of the pupils had to take examinations in Mathematics, Chemistry and Drawing. He goes on to mention the boys who received the first of the Junior Agricultural Scholarships, these were Andrew Tibbs (Gibbs?), Reginald Nelson, and Tom Tilly. - 'Everybody knew Andy Gibbs. He used to ride to school on a high bike (Penny-Farthing) the last of this type seen in Wedmore, and he was the first to fly about in a 'Little Morgan' car of his own manufacture'. Nelson went on to receive an MBE for his work in the War Office and Tom Tilly followed an agricultural career.
Apparently, no mention of 'sport' had been made in the 1900-01 Log book but according to Mr Smith it did flourish, he explained that - 'Tennis was regularly played in the Central Court Yard and in the Girls' Playground'.
Mr Smith's article ends with a comment on school numbers - 'It is interesting to note that an entry on October 15th, 1901 reads: Number of Pupils on Books, 99. Number of Boarders, 35.'
Page 5 gives us a detailed account of the Cricket season and the players involved. The captain was J.A.F. Rich and the Vice Captain J.R. Hill. The team was Rich, Hill, Henderson, Boulton, Mogg, Bailey, E. Duckett, Wickham, Inman, Todd, E. Coleman and Waitt as twelfth man. - 'The 1930 season was exceptionally good and the X1 must be congratulated on their consistently excellent play.' A run down of how the individual players performed then ensued with most players getting positive reports. Colours were awarded to Wickham, Coleman, Hill, Mogg and Bailey.
The Hockey report followed - 'This was a good season (1929-30), in that we played 20 matches of which we won 12….' The Tennis report followed which stated - 'Our tennis season was not an excellent one, but quite good. We played 6 matches, winning 3 and losing 3….Tennis colours were awarded to :- M. Carter, O.Carey, E.Abram. Hockey colours were awarded to :- K.Moon, J.Comer, R.Board, K.Cottrell, P.Puddy.'
The Football report by FC Porter said - 'This season our results have been much better than those of last year.' Most of the report was a description of a football match between the school and the old boys which was played on November 26th- it must have been played in atrocious conditions - '….owing to the weather, the game ended ten minutes before time. The result was :- Old Boys, 3; Sexeys, 0'.
This was followed by an obituary for Mr William Owen of Wedmore which was written by Mr Smith, the school's first headmaster. Mr Owen had been one of the school's earliest managers and Mr Smith spoke fondly of his support - 'The writer can speak feelingly of the welcome to Wedmore and encouragement given to him in August 1897 when only one boy had offered himself as a pupil of Sexey's school - Hurman Cock of Wedmore. Mr William Owen was a very constant friend ….'.
Next came a report on the 1930 Prize Day which took place on November 7th. In the head's report Mr Abram said - 'This term we have 110 pupils on the registers of the Main School…..We have 14 pupils in the Preparatory School. At present we have 47 boarders in the Main School and 6 in the Preparatory Department'.
The prizes were handed out by MrThursfield of Wells. At the end of the proceedings there was - 'a short programme of dramatic and musical items'. This included several songs, an action poem by the Preparatory form and a comedy sketch, played by Edith Porter, JAF Rich and JR Hill…'
Next came the Examination Results, the exams being the Oxford School Certificate, Royal Air Force examination, Diocesan Scripture Exam, Special Certificate Exam for Farm School and Domestic Subjects Courses, Form Prizes and lastly the JC Smith prizes, which were given for outstanding merit in work and in sports and which went to Marion Carter and JAF Rich.
This was followed by 'Oberammergau and Its Passion Play' by Mr Abram who had viewed the play that year. Mr Abram's detailed, five page article did not attempt to describe the performance - …. 'words would completely fail me if I were attempt to do so' - but described the play's origin and history and all the organising that took place behind the scenes.
Page 17 sees a description of the 'Annual Entertainment',written by Phyllis Puddy and R Bailey. The school concert took place on February 14thand 15th. 'Enthusiastic boys and girls hurried to the practices and tried to make it another successful event …. Later, came the day for erecting the platform, and hammering and the creaking of boards were heard in the Third Form room.'
On this occasion the concert was held at the school itself ….'as the hall in Wedmore is no longer available….. The programme consisted of a number of musical numbers and dramatic sketches'…. The concert began with the school choir which was followed by a comedy sketch by Dorothy Greenslade, RF Cook and W Gillard and a second sketch involving Elsie Abram, Nada Guest, Cicely Young, Monica Cox, JR Hill and H Inman. These were followed by a play by the Preparatory School and sketches by Mark Dramatic Society who were nearly all Old Sexonians. -…. 'The curtain fell at about 9.45pm and we all left the Main School thoroughly pleased with our enjoyable evening'.
The page following sees a poem written by AJ Crust who writes about one of the boarder's unfortunate early morning experiences on a cold, November morning.
A November Morning
It is an icy winter morn,
Williams has toil begun,
For he, with scrubbing brush and mop,
Is working 'Just for fun'.
And by him lies upon the ground
A pool of water large and round.
And this is how it came about,
in case you'd like to savvy,
That Williams kneels upon the floor
A'scrubbing like a navvy,
Complete with football knicks and hose,
Plus sodden hands and crimson nose.
Now he had risen late that morn,
Later than was his habit,
For he had dreamed of luxuries
- Of dumplings and of rabbit;
And he wished to finish his pommes-de-terre
Before they vanished en l'air.
He saw, with great surprise,
That even Carter had got up,
-At this he rubbed his eyes
And jumped out like a fairy queen,
Knowing the second bell had been.
He arrived at the washing place,
At the speed of an express train.
His washing water away he threw,
And half went down the drain,
And half thereof went on the floor.
Then our young friend dashed through the door.
But who is this he meets en route,
Who fills him with confusion,
Making him wish he could obey
Graham's law of diffusion?
The words of Justice are pronounced
And Williams parts, severely trounced.
This was followed with a 2 page caving article by Ian Packer. Ian outlines a difficult, nine hour caving session on the Mendips.
This in turn was followed by a clever nonsense rhyme by 'EE' (which, presumably refers to the the editor, Emlyn Evans BA) aimed at the Upper Vth and V1th forms -
To The Upper Vth (and V1th.)
In spontaneous outburst lyric
I've composed this panegyric,
As an offering prosaic,
To the muse of verse trochaic.
Though the rhyme be idiotic,
And the rhythm most chaotic,
You can't quash my zeal lunatic
By your diatribes fanatic.
Though their beauty's so magnetic,
Yet, I'm sure it's not synthetic,
For they scorn to use cosmetic,
In this coterie aesthetic.
'Tis their wisdom dietetic,
And their energy kinetic,
Give them figures so athletic,
And a freedom automatic
From all illnesses stomachic.
Their behaviour is monastic,
But, at times, their features plastic
Show that discipline scholastic
Has not squashed their verve elastic.
In contention syllogistic,
Mathematics, things linguistic,
Quips and quizzes humoristic,
They show genius gigantic
-Though they're not a bit pedantic.
Now I'm tired of rhyme metallic,
Mono-, dis-, and trisyllabic,
So I'll toast this form bucolic,
In ginger-ale (non-alcoholic).
This was followed by the report on the Sports Day which took place on June 5th. It seems they were very fortunate with the weather -… 'The weather was glorious. The sun poured down upon the hockey field….' The prizes were presented by Mr F Curtin of Wedmore. -…'This year the competition between the three houses was very keen, and after a hard struggle the shield was won, for the first time, by Hadspen House.'…. (There were too many cups and prizes to mention them all so I'll just cover four - MJ) -
The Mrs JC Smith Cup (Senior Girls) - P.Wall
The Comer Cup (Junior Girls) - P.Puddy
The Burrough Cup (Senior Boys) - JR Hill
The Ball Cup (Junior Boys - RA Duckett
This was followed by Births, Deaths and Marriages. Sadly, in the Deaths section two fairly recent pupils had passed away, namely Lionel Collins and Lionel Rogers who were aged just 24 and 20 respectively.
On a happier note the next article, by Marion Carter, was entitled 'We Visit The Talkies' which recounted a visit by some of the pupils to watch 'Under the Greenwood Tree' at the Tivoli cinema in Weston-super-Mare. The account of 'Bluebird's' journey was quite amusing -…. 'Those wishing to go to see the picture to give in their names so that Mr Wall, the owner of the Bluebird could be notified…. 'at 2 o'clock the Bluebird crawled along the road and stopped outside the boys' entrance …. there was a rush towards it, everyone 'bagging' the back seat…. after a long journey in which the Bluebird had to be pushed up all the hills, one person, 'Sausage', was so eager to see the picture that she couldn't wait to get out in a stately manner, so she fell out…. happily she was uninjured …. the journey home in the Bluebird was one of thrills. The speed at which we travelled was truly frightening, but at 8 o'clock, thanks to the skill of the driver, we reached School safely.'
Marion Carter also wrote the article that followed entitled 'House Notes'. The Houses at the time were Hadspen, Wellington and Avalon (Avalon being the renamed 'School House' which had originally been intended just for the boarders but due to an increase in boarder numbers and some of them having to be put in other Houses, the name was dropped).
The next article outlined the three aims of the Old Sexonians' Association. These were - 'To keep old pupils in touch with the school; To keep them in touch with one another and To help the Old School along by their united efforts.'
The two articles that followed dealt with the OSA Winter and Summer reunions which had been held at the Cliff Hotel, Cheddar and the School respectively. The Summer reunion consisted of a 'fun' cricket match where 18 Old Girls took on an Old Boys X1 -…. ' The Old Boys', despite the handicap of having to use only their left hand, gained a decisive victory'.
Next came a three page article, written by Miss E Shire BA, ( a past staff member or pupil?), who wrote about her fascinating experiences teaching in schools in Ceylon.
Next came a poem about a rather frightening experience on board one of the school brakes -
The Highbridge brake to Mark drew nigh,
With the noise like a clatter of thunder,
When, all at once, 'Fire!' was the cry
Which tore our hearts asunder.
Full many a mind of species rare
Within this brake was stored;
'O save us!' was the fervent prayer -
'Get out!' the driver roared.
Stiff were the doors of this well-known brake.
In fright the pupils blundered.
They began to shiver and shake.
'Could it ever be opened?' they wondered.
By the time that Jasper had straightened his tie,
And smoothed back his locks once more.
With a splutter the fire began to die
As the water they started to pour.
Still the Good Old Brake, though badly bift,
And greatly despised by many,
You'll find if ever you want a lift,
Is quite as good as any.
Following this came the 'Form Notes' beginning with Form 3. The author, D Wood, tells us that - 'Billy Brown - a weekly boarder - used to leave school at 3 o'clock on Fridays to walk to Wedmore, to catch a 'bus at 4 o'clock, until it was discovered that this very 'bus passed right in front of the school gates at five minutes to four.'
The Form 1V notes which followed were written by M Cox and C Young - …. 'Tilley, who was our magician last term, has now tried his hand at a little high-flown work -he tried to blow up Sexey's - with his wonderful (damp) gunpowder. We are still here - and more strangely still - so is Tilley.'….
Lower V notes were also co-written, this time by K Cottrell and R Board. - … 'We take this opportunity of publicly thanking the owner of the 'Tuck Shop' for allowing 'Fins' to use her front window as a mirror. Harvey often visits Woolworths, where he obtains his supplies of hair oil. Judging from appearances he uses half a bottle every morning…..'
Upper V and V1 notes were written by JA Rich - …. 'Now a word about the form-room. Alas! It is not one to be desired. Continually we are being disturbed by noises from the environs. It's either the sound of hammering from the woodwork shop or beds being moved in the dormitory above. If the cows in the orchard cease bellowing the babes in the preparatory school begin singing. Far more disturbing, however, are the aromas which reach our room from the adjoining laboratory.'….
Next, DM Greenslade and EE Porter wrote the Boarder Girls' Notes. - 'We are now nineteen in number, somewhat an increase on the thirteen of last term. In some ways, this is a great advantage, as we can 'get up' a good Hockey X1….'
This was followed by a poem by FW House about some daring boarders out 'scrumping' for apples.
Not a sound was heard, not a single chirp
As we stealthily crept to the orchard;
Not the slightest noise disturbed our task,
But there wasn't a thing we ventured to ask.
Through the hedge at the back of the school,
Then into the orchard turning -
The night was cold but as we felt bold,
You bet, we were inwardly burning.
Half of our weary task was done,
When we ran right into disaster,
For coming back by way of the hedge,
We met our wood-work master.
Few and short were the things we said,
As we hastily dropped our apples;
We took to our heels and ran back to bed,
Sadly to think of the morrow.
We thought as we lay in our narrow beds,
And smoothed down our stony pillows,
What a narrow escape we'd had from a whippin
Just for the sake of an orange pippin.
This was followed by another poem, this time by Hilda Andrews -
The Seats of the Mighty
The Form-room of the Seniors
So says the Golden Rule
Should be a good example
To the Juniors of the School.
The Scholars, 'tis true are Models,
But the room is a problem bitter,
For everywhere, both desks and chair,
Are always in a litter.
The windows are cracked and broken,
The lock from the door has vanished,
The forms they creak at every turn
And we long for the desks to be banished.
The door is devoid of a handle,
And has to be wedged with a book.
The inkpots are battered and empty,
At the dust we dare not look.
The noise from the Workshop is deafening,
And from the Preparatory Room
We hear the strains of some voices,
Singing Sea Chanties, much out of tune.
On the walls are several mud stains,
How they came there is quite unknown.
Near the door is a chest for the Text Books,
Into which all the rubbish is thrown.
The boys use the Form-room for changing
And leave desks and forms very muddy;
But, in spite of all this, we don't take it amiss
That our room is remote from the Study.
This was followed by a piece of creative writing by nine year old Esme Edwards entitled 'The Pirates' Hoard'. Next it was the turn of the girls to give a report on the goings on for those pupils studying the 'Domestic' course -
'So far this year we have had a very exciting period. One of the most enjoyable things was a dinner which we cooked ourselves. It was prepared and cooked in the Cookery Kitchen, and eaten in the Laundry, and presided over by Miss Bryer.' J Duckett and O Carey.
This was followed by Annis Lockyear's poem -
An Ode To The Lower Fifth Form
We are a wonderful Form you know,
To beat us you'd have far to go,
We have the one and only Joe.
And a great musician of the back row.
We still have the Dormouse quiet,
(He would never start a riot!)
And when the 'Foghorn' starts, we wonder
If 'tis an earthquake or - merely thunder.
There is Bailey and gentle 'Fins'
Always kicking someone's shins,
Williams, who spoke in our grand 'debate',
And Miles who always comes in late.
Curtin, always neat and bright,
To all Boy Scouts 'is a guiding light'
While Harvey of the Cheddar Brake,
Is a budding Sexton Blake!
Coles, who always wants to play,
Happy when 'tis holiday;
Then there's Wride, of the raven curls,
And we mustn't forget the girls.
Their beauty 'twould be hard to limn,
With their dainty faces and figures slim;
Five of them for the first team play,
But now - I can find no more to say,
So I'll bid you goodbye till another day.
Next came the report on the 'doings' at the Farm School, written by AJ Board and R Henderson -
'We have two new friends in 'Dorothy' and 'Buttercup' - the pedigree heifers. A certain governor was heard to remark, 'More beef than milk'…. A special pig has arrived from Mr Carter of Chewton, so that the old sow has a rival…'
The final section of the magazine was 'News Of Old Sexonians' which included letters from Captain Fisher, Alfred G Duckett, Lionel Walsh, Evelyn Duckett, Amy Hansford, Marjorie Woodgate, Robert S James, W Murray Wickham, AJ Lane, HD Cottell, CR Kilby, Mary Curtin, FJ Poole, AH Waitt, JP Todd, Alec Merriman, Vera Robinson, Eileen Duckett, Dorothy Board, Arthur Curtin, Elsie Abram, Mabel Rogers, Dora Dance (Mrs Booker), Kathleen Duckett, WC Holliday, Lilian Tincknell and FT Terrill.
This article ended this 44 page edition of the 'Sexonian' magazine.
'The Sexonian', 1934 (loaned by the family of JGW Foster)
From the details on the bottom of the front cover, it appears that the Weston-super-Mare Gazette had something to do with the publishing and printing. Inside, on the other side of the cover, is the nearest thing I've seen to what amounts to be an advertisement for Sexey's School.
I suppose this was quite an eye-catching design for those days.
In the first pages of the magazine, Mr Abrams takes a look back at the school's logbook between the years of 1911 and 1914, the early days when Mr Smith was in charge.
Mr Abram writes about the high standards that Sexey's had achieved in rural education and that there was a lot of outside interest in the good work that was going on at the school. Some parents, however were 'a bit sceptical' about the subjects taught and the methods used. On one occasion when a prospective mother had brought her son to visit the school, she saw a group of girls pass the window 'Oh, what is that?' she said .. 'Girls' said the Headmaster….'Oh, really, do you have girls here? I could not allow my son to come where there are girls. I abhor early engagements!' Another prospective parent was under the misapprehension that her daughter would have to 'wash, iron and mend the boys' shirts'!
Mr Abram goes on to write about the adaptability of some of the school's buildings - 'The Old Piggery (I'm almost certain Mr Abram was talking about the 'outside' Art Room of the early 1960's - MJ) in the Hostel Garden was first attacked. Its walls were built up, it was re-roofed and a floor and windows put in, and since the completion of these operations it has served as a Day Boys' Dining Room, Kindergarten School and Girl Boarders' Study and Playroom, truly a remarkably useful list of services.'(This building continued to be well used and highly adaptable right the way through to its demolition - what a shame it had to go. - MJ)
Still looking back, Mr Abram mentions some of the important characters of those early years - ' In 1912 Edward Jas. Smith, B.Sc. returned to the school as Science master and Thos. K. Reith joined the Staff at the same time as Agricultural master. This latter, with his chief willing pupil, Victor Leche, of Axbridge made the Farm School literally 'hum'.'
In terms of Sport for the '32-'34 seasons, Cricket, Hockey, Tennis and Football were mentioned.
In Cricket, G.E. Curtin was the captain. The season was 'quite a successful one, the record being: Played 11, won 7, lost 1, drawn 3.'
In Hockey (32-33), the captain was P.Puddy. 'Six matches won, seven lost and one drawn'. The team came within a whisker of winning the Shield for the League finals that year. In the following season, P.Puddy wrote that, by this time, many of the good players had left - 'To date we have won three matches and lost five.'
The captain of the 1933 Tennis team was J.Comer - 'Our tennis season was not an exceptionally good one, as our victories were not quite as plentiful as last season.'
In Football, the captain was George Curtin and the Vice-Captain, RH Bailey. Bailey writes - 'So far this season, five keenly contested games have been played. We have won 1, drawn 2 and lost 2.' Apparently, the team was plagued with injuries at the time.
A number of articles and poems appeared from pupils past and present. Contributors were May Trask, Dorothy Parr, Gwen Stone, D. Harris, Grace Chamings, RH Bailey, GE Curtin, S Lovell, E Thomas, EJ Smith, AE Board, J. Foster, Mary Moon, RH Bailey, M. Lee, M. Hutton, J. Clapp, H. Heywood, B. Smewin, Janey Pierce, Cicely Schroeder, VM Collins, L.A. and E.E.
One article which is particularly noteworthy is about the school's new Music Teacher, Frederick Brooks. It stands out from the others because it deals with a rather unusual subject matter and also includes a photo of Mr Brooks himself, seen here (I think it a great shame that the school magazines didn't contain more photographs - if they could manage it in 1934…. MJ).
The article was titled 'Teacher Puts The World In A Box'. Apparently, Mr Brooks spent his lifetime collecting samples of every element known to man. The article states - 'The world is made up of 92 elements. Three, which are known to exist, have not yet been discovered, Mr Brooks has all the rest'. Mr Brooks said - '…it has taken me years to obtain rare metals….tiny specimens of some of these metals have cost me as much as £20 or £30.' (Wow! - £30 was about 2 months wages in the '30's - MJ).
According to the article - 'Some of the specimens are the only ones of their kind that have ever been isolated.' The article then goes on to say 'Radium is the unwelcome guest of the collection (Did they have 'Health and Safety' then ?!? - MJ) '….it is so active that its mere proximity causes a film to form on the bright surfaces of its neighbours.' 'When the collection is complete …. I shall try and find a home for it in some scientific institution of the West.
An article covering 'Sports Day' tells us that it was 'held on June 9th in brilliant sunshine.' Cup winners were E.Mansfield (Mrs Abram Preparatory Cup); J. Comer (Mrs JC Smith Cup); M. Vowles (Comer Cup); Curtin, Duckett and Puddy (Burrough Cup); Clapp (Ball Cup); Hadspen (Victor Bracey Cup); Wellington (Headmaster's Cup); Avalon (Mrs Abram Cup); Hadspen (Hemens Cup); Avalon (Hickman Cup).
One of the poems included in this magazine was a poem written by EJ Smith, the son of the school's first headmaster. The poem had been written many years earlier in 1906,when Edward was a young lad of 15, ten years before his untimely death in World War 1. Here is Edward's poem - (He could never have dreamed that it would go on to be read by such a wide audience, over 100 years in the future - MJ)
Our forwards all are very fleet;
Their passing too is fairly neat;
But sometimes they don't keep in line,
and there's confusion for a time.
Sometimes our half-backs kick the ball.
Instead of that sometimes they fall;
But up they get, and then they charge
At which is heard the cry of 'Barge'!!!
Our backs have oft their work cut out
To turn their forward foes about;
One takes the man and one the ball
And 'tween the two they clear the goal.
The goalkeep, though not very tall
Always seems to stop the ball,
We all say 'He's a plucky chap'
Who well deserves a hearty clap.
With such a team I'm sure we ought
To win the Cup for which we've fought;
Although we've never won it yet,
this year, on it our hearts are set.
EJ Smith, 1906
Joe Foster (see the1930's section for Joe's story) wrote two articles for the magazine. He was in Form 3 at the time. His first article, 'The Beachcombers' is about Joe's walks along the beach at Berrow and Burnham on Sea and the various items that he and his father discovered, washed up on the shore. Joe wrote - 'The most startling, was when we saw the body of one of the crew of a Dredger which sank in the Severn Channel.' His 2nd article, 'Nature At Work On Our Coast' was also about the local coastline. He comments on how its shape continually changed - '…the rivers Parret and Brue, in bringing down mud, is gradually building up the sandbanks, so that now only the very highest tides cover them….'
It's a pleasant surprise, to me anyway, that a number of the school-based articles in the magazine clearly convey the pleasant, caring atmosphere and the sense of fun and enjoyment that the pupils experienced in the school at that time (I'd always imagined that all schools of the 1930's would still be largely based on the Victorian 'seen and not heard' model). Surely, much of this had to do with Mr Abram's leadership style and management.
One pupil wrote - 'Our large doses of French and Algebra etc. are helped down by the Headmaster and Mr Evans with little jokes, which we greatly appreciate.' Another article, titled 'Boarder Boys' Notes', starts off - 'Hello, everybody! Here we are again, still looking for something to do; not an unusual thing for the Boarders. We have put away all our quiet amusements, as they do not bring us enough excitement.'
Surely, this relaxed and relatively carefree style of writing wouldn't have been tolerated in that many establishments in those days. To my mind, it gives us an important insight as to what the atmosphere in the school was really like in Mr Abram's time. From the tone of these articles, Sexey's really does seem that it was a very nice place to be.
It appears that the boarders had an annual party (not done in my days! - MJ) which was held in the school's Art room. - 'The schoolroom was beautifully lit up with fairy lights. At 8.30 o'clock the Staff and Seniors retired to the Art room where they dined in style as the room was set out like a restaurant. These were followed by the Juniors who enjoyed the clearing up. Dancing was then resumed until 10.30 o'clock when 'Auld Lang Syne' and the 'National Anthem' were sung. Heywood, Curtin, Monica Cox and Phyllis Puddy proposed votes of thanks to Mr and Mrs Abram for the enjoyable evening and also to Miss Tomb and the Domestic Staff.' (To me, this article further reinforces the fact that Mr Abram had made Sexey's a very happy place to be. - MJ)
The 'News Of Old Sexonians' article is definitely worth a mention as anyone included here would have been very early pupils indeed. Dorothy and Ruth Board, FT Terril, (an ex boarder), Alan Methuen, Alfred Duckett, Lionel Walsh, Kenneth Puddy, Marion Carter, Ruby Cottrell, Hilda Andrews, RC Mogg, TG McMahon, SCJ Padfield, Ronald Curtin, H. Packer, CJ Knowles, WM Wickham and Esme Edwards all wrote into/visited the school to tell of their successes and of their lives since leaving the school.
Needless to say, due to the very old age (and rarity) of this particular magazine I have given it a fairly comprehensive coverage. Even so, there are still a number of articles that I've not made reference to, as space just doesn't allow it - the magazine is 37 pages long after all! Will we ever come across an older copy, I wonder?
Perhaps the most important and exciting aspect of this magazine is that it really does give the reader a 'feel' about what it was really like to have been a pupil at Sexey's all those years ago - which is what this website is all about. Being in the position to read it through in its entirety, leaves me in little doubt that Sexey's school, under the leadership of Mr Abram and his staff, was a caring and enjoyable environment for those pupils fortunate to have been there at the time.
1935 Sexonian Magazine (Archives)
The front, inner cover of the magazine showed the frequently used 'triangular' advertisement for the school itself.
On the first page Mr Smith, the school's first headmaster, continues his 'Log Book' article covering 1914 to 1918 - this had been a very traumatic time for the Smiths owing to the loss of their son, Edward, during World War 1. The article showed a photo of him with the caption, 'Capt. Edward James Smith'. (The full collection of Mr Smith's 'Log Book' articles will eventually be placed altogether in the History section of the website.).
Page four of the magazine shows the Honours Board of Sexey's School showing the 21 Old Sexonians who fell in the Great War -
The following page showed an 'Ode On Winning The Bishop's Cup'. Apparently, this had been written around 30 years earlier by Mr Jenkins who had been a master at the school. This was followed by John W Smith's poem/song which outlines a football match between Sexey's and Huish school.
Meet me by moonlight alone
And then I will tell you a tale,
How Sexey's to Bridgwater went
And put Huish for once 'Off the Trail'.
Yet we lost on the spin of the coin,
Which gave Huish occasion for mirth.
Then the whistle called all to the line,
And to battle for all we were worth.
We lined up in splendid array,
The Red and the Yellow so clear,
Awaiting the call to the fray,
With spectators all eager to cheer.
The Vicar, with friends on the line,
And Masters and Mistresses bright,
All gave us good tips in due time.
And helped us to show a good fight.
Our Captain, of course, played the game,
But all held red Huish in check,
Though they tried very hard just to tame
Hearse and Curtin and Smiler, you bet!
'Ere full twenty minutes had gone,
Or Lloyd full of pluck could get free,
The ball Buckton I. passed along
To Joe Comer, who netted with glee.
After half-time the Huish men pressed,
Though their backers were dull and full sore,
But Binning, Jim Hicks and the rest
Were determined to add to the score.
It happened like this you may know
That 'Our Curtin' with eye on the ball,
From Smith trapped and passed on the wing,
Then rushed and recorded one more.
But all through the game Pople tried
To defend his own goal with great skill.
The Huish men often replied
With 'Spiffers' but 'Toes' took 'the pill'.
As time passed poor Huish got bored,
But friends cheered us up with a will,
For all felt the vict'ry assured
And we won a great game 'Two to Nil'.
The review of the previous cricket season came next. The captain and vice captain were RH Bailey and DG Harris respectively. … - 'out of the twelve played, seven were won and one drawn. Bailey proved a very able captain.'
Hockey Notes came next, the team captain being J Goodridge and J Pierce the vice. This year's team was a victorious one and won the League shield and their photo appeared in the magazine article -
The shield winning team was: Goal, M Trask; R.Back, M Drake; L. Back, B Smewin; R.Half, C Young; L Half, I Pole; R Wing, K Walsh;R inner, J Pierce; C.Forward, J Goodridge; L Inner, D Parr; L Wing, M Hutton.
Tennis and Football reviews followed with both teams having somewhat disappointing seasons. According to JP Matthews, the writer of the football notes, the football team were about to get some professional help - 'Another interesting item of news is the coming of the ex-Arsenal and Sheffield player, Mr Bradshaw, who is coaching the team in some of 'the tricks of the trade'. (A little research shows that this would have been one of the Bradshaw brothers, Joe or William, who would have finished their football careers and been in their early 50's at the time - MJ).
Sports reviews were followed by a poem by Ruth Channings and a comprehensive report by M Trask on the school's Prize Day which had taken place on November 2nd, 1934. ' Mr Burrough (Chairman of Governors) congratulated Mr Abram on his excellent report. There was much applause from the pupils when the forthcoming holiday on November 29th, the occasion of the wedding of the Duke of Kent and Princess Marina, was announced. (The marriage was only to last 8 years as the Duke was killed in an air accident in 1942 - MJ). The Chairman then called upon Mrs Porcher to distribute the prizes.' She 'caused roars of laughter by relating a humorous Somerset anecdote in broad dialect.' Entertainment followed which consisted of - A Pianoforte Duet - D Parr/E Stott, Recitation - Mervyn Fear, Pianoforte Solo - M Trask, Scenes from 'The Queen of Hearts' (produced by Miss Duckett) involving Brenda Rosser, Geoffrey Massey, Hubert Duckett, Hartley Jenkins and Roger Wallace, A Recitation - E Edwards, A Pianoforte Duet - J Pierce/ M Trask, scenes from 'The Tempest' (produced by Mr Evans) involving RH Bailey, M Hutton, HR Heywood, H Waite, R Chamings, M Drake, C Young, dancers - D Parr, M Dodge, D Waite, M Alvis, B Gunstone, BWookey , Reapers - Hemmens, Standing, Moore, Clark, Harris.
The report was followed by a poem by A Lunn which was followed in turn by Victor Curtin's account of Australia entitled ' Australia As It Seemed To Me, 1927-1935'. After his school days at Sexey's, Victor headed for Australia to take up farming. He spent a year at Bathurst at a training farm which was followed by a hard eight months of casual labour and eventually got a permanent job on a Moree Sheep Station. He really enjoyed his time there and at the end of his article he wrote the following - 'School-days are popularly quoted as the best days of one's life. For me, the last six years in Australia have it, and I certainly enjoyed my school-days.'
Next came a report on the 1934 Sports Day, written by Hilda Pearce. The various Cup winners were listed with Hadspen House winning the majority of the cups over Avalon House.
The class reports followed, beginning with Gwenyth Blake's report from Form1V. She mentions a few of the class members and makes reference to their French lessons - 'Although we find our French lessons become more difficult each year our French Master always makes them interesting with his numerous jokes, and before long we all hope to speak French fluently.'
Heather Waite wrote the report for Lower V. It appears that the amount of schoolwork increased in the 5th year - 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy - and so say all of us. The large amount of work given to us by the Staff is received by the various members of the form with mixed emotions'.
The Farm School report was written by J Moxey and J Clapp. 'The Autumn Term started with mangold pulling and this was skilfully carried out by six sturdy lads. The apple picking season passed away without a mishap although many 'poachers pockets' bulged after our strenuous labours.' The lads also had some interesting experiences with the livestock - 'One morning George announced that the big pig had to be rung, and we adjourned to the sty. After many shouts and squeals, the sow was duly captured and haltered. George brought out the rings and rung the sow and then something went wrong, for the pig suddenly sprang forward and knocked George down, 'poor fellow!' and mounted guard over him. 'Git out, you varmint!' bawled George. Then we came to the rescue and hunted the erring animal off.'
'We have our exam in July 1935. Mr Abram calls it ' facing Mr Merchie's bowling' as that gentleman sets the paper.'
The Upper Vth report appears next and was written by 'RM'. ' Hello everybody! Let me introduce you to the Upper Vth pupils. There are 11 girls and 6 boys, forming one happy family! ….. 'We receive special tuition in Geography by means of a wireless programme every Tuesday. Such programmes cause great amusement…. The feminine 'beauties' seem to have their share of fun. As the boys never look across to them to see what's happening, I am at a loss to relate any particular instance of their vivacity! So greatly was and is the antagonistic feeling between the two sexes that they came into violent contact with each other. Water pistols, home made pea-shooters and even 'Odol' toothpaste pots filled with water were used as weapons of war! The whole form had a thorough good wash!
Believe me or not we work quite hard. Our academic work always comes first. Sometimes we provoke the members of the Staff to anger, but generally speaking their wrath soon 'blows over'. We are brought back to earth by the word 'Oxford'. It is our duty to keep up the high percentage of passes, as in 1934, and show those Sixth-formers that 'We ain't as daft as we look!'
Next came the report from the |sixth form, written by 'Myect'. 'We are greatly indebted to Miss Collins for lending us her wireless, and so enabling us to listen to the modern talks arranged by the BBC for sixth forms. 'Johnnie' the sole male member of the community exhibits his Herculean strength by scornfully refusing all offers of help in carrying over the above mentioned wireless.'
The names of some of the female members of the form are also mentioned . These are Cicely, Eileen, May, Joan and Monica. 'Myect' (who ever she may be!) then went on to write a poem entitled 'Guerilla Warfare' which appears to record four of the girls getting up to no good in the Vth form room!
One afternoon the studious four
Tip-toed down to the Upper Vth door,
And entered into that form-room queer
To peruse the books they held so dear.
They sat them down at the empty desks
And never so much as even guessed
That in the Lab some boys were trying
To turn them out of the form-room flying.
Quite suddenly there arose a smell
The cause of which was hard to tell.
But by mischance the beaker upset
To the great delight of the said quartet.
So after wasting their precious time,
These boys mopped up the filthy slime;
And four proud girls looked on with glee
To watch the sweating, grunting three.
Ex pupil, KW Puddy then went on to write a letter about his initial experiences at Hatfield College, Durham. 'With regards to the inmates of the College, I have never met a more boisterous crowd in my life. Their chief delights are divided between common-room meetings, when the only business ever done amounts to such things as the election of the captain of ping-pong, etc. or the appointment of a man to sell university magazines… 'We had that particular obnoxious ordeal known as the Freshman's concert last week, when each Fresher is called upon to sing a song of at least 2 verses, the first to be sung in silence and the second to the accompaniment of the Hatfield College Choral Society.
Next came Marriages, Births and Deaths which included many local names such as Packer, Vowles, Duckett, Puddy to name just a few. These were followed by 'Boarder Boys' Notes', written by H Heywood. He mentions two of the boys who are proficient tap dancers called Flem and Show who used to strike up occasionally when 'an extra lively tune' came over on the wireless. 'The Sports Master has lately become very keen that the Boarders should have plenty of football practice especially on Tuesdays after school. Of course, he does this to improve our football, but that is not the only reason; he has of late become very musical and has an appointment with Mr Brooks every Tuesday to enter into the study of music'.
This was followed by a letter from an old boy, Thomas G MacMahon, who wrote about his early employment experiences. This in turn was followed by a poem 'Toothpaste' by RM. Next came an article about a winter's ramble on Berrow beach by Joe Foster from Year 4 and a poem entitled 'Books You Must Read', by A Lunn. The poem that followed these was written by M Trask and includes the names of a number of her schoolmates. It was entitled 'The Clique' -
Yes, we have been named 'The Clique'.
The reason really is unique.
We're friends, you see, and cannot be parted,
No matter where we're ta'en or carted.
There's Drakie with the genteel voice,
And 'Cis' - for whist partners has 'her choice'.
'Bet', she's wearing glasses, you know,
And 'Marjorie' is studying 'the Crow'.
'Adoree's the one who makes us 'roar',
And 'Janet's' voice-box is sometimes sore.
'May' the piano tries to play,
While 'Cox' is usually quiet but gay,
Here you have us all complete,
And if in years we chance to meet,
Even when we're all antique,
We'll always remember we're 'the clique'.
The poem was followed by 'Re-Unions Of Old Pupils', author unknown. 'Two reunions have been held during this year. The summer event, as usual, was held at the School. Quite a large number attended, and after various games, dancing was enjoyed in the main school….. 'The Winter re-union was held at the Elysee Café at Weston Super Mare. Everything was carried out excellently and another thoroughly enjoyable evening was spent'.
This was followed by 'News of Old Sexonians', compiled by the Headmaster. It mentioned Mr Peacock an ex Science teacher, Victor Curtin, JS Clarke, LA Hatch, DG Harris, Kenneth Puddy, Elsie Abram, TG McMahon, JAF Rich, WJ Patch, Hugh Duckett and Esme Edwards.
The final two pages of the 33 page magazine contained the various examination results from 1933 and 1934 for which there are too many names to list.
Old Sexonians' Magazine, 1948 (loaned by Joyce Huett)
Joyce arrived at Sexey's in 1949, an older brother and sister had already attended the school before her.
In terms of the 'Old Sexonians' Magazine' this is the cream of the crop! This is the very first edition of this magazine, Volume 1, No 1 . The previous (and later) school magazines had been given the 'The Sexonian' title.
This has some really interesting sections including some fascinating, autobiographical entries by both Mr Tomlinson and Mr Smith - yes, Mr Smith himself, the school's very first headmaster!! The appearance of his article was mainly due to the fact that 1947 had been the school's Jubilee year (bearing in mind that the school had begun on the Stoughton site in 1897) and the school was collecting as much past information as possible.
Dealing with Mr Tomlinson first, he wrote an article of his very first days at Sexey's, when war had just been declared and everything at school and 'roundabout' was organised chaos! Here it is -
Mr Tomlinson's article gives us a flavour of the extreme pressure that he was under from the word 'Go'. It's no small wonder he felt he couldn't cope with the Farm School as well - its closure must have been a very difficult decision for him.
Mr Smith was also asked to make a contribution to this 'Jubilee' issue. His article begins with a lovely 'pen and ink' sketch of the Stoughton site - in the absence of any photographs this is probably the nearest we're going to get to a likeness of the 'barn school' on the website, although this does appear to be copied from a known photograph taken of the building in 1897.
I love the personal bit about how he spent 'many hours with a cup of cider and sandwiches' wondering if the whole venture was going to work - it was definitely a brave decision to say 'yes' and take the job!
On page 17 of the magazine was printed an 'In memoriam'.
At the time of printing they were four names short. They were, actually, well aware of this and stated - ' If you know of any other names would you please forward them, so that they may be incorporated in any form of War memorial which may be decided upon at the next Annual General Meeting.'
(Was this the same war memorial that was unveiled in 1952? probably, but it does seem a long time in between. - MJ)
In the 'News of Old Sexonians' section it mentions the previous headmaster, Lawrence Abram - he was 'very busy with bands and orchestras and now principal of the college, Weston super Mare'.
Vera Penrice had also written in. she was a 'one time history and geography mistress at Sexey's.'
Mention was made of the 1947, Winter Old Sexonian Reunion (see picture in the 1940's section) where everyone thought that the school would be closed in 1956...
The summer reunion of the 6th of June, 1947 was also covered. this seems to have been a 'fun' day for all concerned - ' most amusement was caused by the cricket match, ladies v gentlemen, which resulted in a draw. This was followed by the play 'Grannie's Hundred', produced by Miss EJ Padfield. Mr E Evans organised 'twenty questions' with a team of six volunteers.
The winter reunion of 1948 was also mentioned where the head girl of the time, Pat Hunt-Braddock, proposed the toast.
This issue also covered the retirement ceremony of Miss Thrower - 'during the evening a presentation of a wireless set, cheque and an honorary life membership of the association was made.'
The 28 page magazine finished with a long list of association members.