Memories of Billericay School

1959 - 1964

By Terry Lockhart

Photo:The author today

The author today

I attended this school from 1959 to 1964. In my first year, Miss Killeen taught us geography. She was a short elderly lady and I remember her giving me my first house point because I was the only one in the class who knew how many acres there are in a square mile! Mr Ellis taught us history in my 1st year and after he spoke for 15 or 20 minutes, he would write notes up on the blackboard for us to copy, but leave gaps in the text for us to fill in. This would reveal whether we paid attention to what he had said. Very shrewd! And we can’t forget dear Mr Drage who mass produced his own ‘music points’. In WW2, he suffered as a POW in a Japanese prison camp. My form teacher for the first 2 years was Eric Huggett. He was of the ‘old school’ and tried to instil some old fashioned values into us. He was well known for his involvement with scouting and amateur dramatics, but was also a keen chess player. He bought numerous chess sets at his own expense and started up a lunch time chess club. Mr Huggett did not always conform to the status quo (which I admired him for) and on one hot summers day when the Head (John Goldwin) and the Deputy (Monica Garton) were both away, we took our chairs out into the playground where we formed a circle and he continued the lesson in the sunshine. It was rather nice really. He disliked his lessons being disturbed and he entrusted one boy in our class with an ‘Interruption Book’ which was secreted in his desk. After each offender left the room, his name and time of the disruption were duly logged into the book.

I remember Mr Dennis Hewitt with affection as he was my Sunday school teacher at South Green Chapel in the 1950’s and by coincidence he was my R.E. ‘O’ level teacher at the School in 1963/64. Reverend Holley came along on a few occasions to preach at assemblies, in his words: “to give us all some religion”! In 1972 he conducted my wedding service in his church at Gt. Burstead. My R.E. teacher in 1962 was young, quietly spoken lady, Mrs Margaret Bell. A few years afterwards, she left and moved to Cardiff, where she tragically died in a car crash.

In the early 60’s there was quite an influx of new teachers. Four of them taught me and they lived near each other on the South Green council estate. In Langham Crescent there was Mrs ‘Zilla’ Westwood, my form teacher in 1961/62 (who taught maths and was married to a Curate), Mr Jim Ince who taught metalwork, Mrs Elspeth Lawson who taught geography and in Maple Mead lived Mrs Betty Simpson who taught English. In the main building (now block A), Mrs Simpson’s classroom doubled up as the library. In those days it just consisted of half a dozen book cases along one wall. One bookcase contained a set of Encyclopaedia Britannica and a few pages in it beginning with ‘S’ were well thumbed! Len Rosslyn and his wife joined in 1960. He taught me physics and she taught biology but only stayed a short time because she became pregnant. After the birth, she brought the baby back into school for the girls to ‘coo’ over.

When I started at the school in 1959, the new hall was under construction. It was interesting to watch, but the disruption and noise was not very conducive to our concentration in nearby classrooms. The cooks did a brilliant job pushing the heated food trolleys across a building site from the new kitchen block and then negotiate a steep ramp into Block A and along the corridor into the dining hall. The food was still warm and edible when it reached our plates.

For a couple years Mr Stan Elias taught me Technical Drawing in the new 2 storey art & craft block (now demolished). We used 3H pencils on cartridge paper pinned to old fashioned drawing boards with Tee squares. A far cry from the hi-tech AutoCAD technology of today. Stan later married Nora Beddingfield the cookery teacher. A new photographic darkroom was built between the 2 science classrooms in Block A and rumour has it that a couple of pupils used it for improper purposes during one lunch time! The so called ‘Cinderella’ subjects were not taken too seriously in my final year. During these periods, I together with a few others would surreptitiously disappear into an empty room somewhere so that we could immerse ourselves in some intense revision for our GCE ‘O’ levels. Once, Len Rosslyn (on his regular patrols) caught us but he didn’t take any action.

Photo:Irene Wooldridge

Irene Wooldridge

Terry Lockhart

Although she is not mentioned in Sylvia Kent’s excellent book about Billericay School, probably the most internationally famous luminary from the school was Irene Wooldridge.  As a teenager, she was a talented singer and in the year below me.  Irene lived in Bellevue Road and is now is very famous in Germany where she lives using the stage name of Ireen Sheer. She sang in the Eurovision song contest in 1974 & 1978 and can be seen on YouTube singing many of her songs. Irene does appear however in the school photo on p.73 in Sylvia’s book. (top photo, very top row). I am in the same the same photo too, but not in the picture – if you know what I mean.

In 1960, the school arranged an outing to Clacton. It cost 12/- (60p) and we could pay by 12 instalments at 1/- (5p) per week. Buses were laid on to take us to Southend, where we alighted and walked (with some groans) the full length of the 1.3 mile long pier to embark the paddle steamer, The Medway Queen. It was very crowded and during the trip, John Goldwin had to use the tannoy to instruct children to disperse as the boat was listing too much to the port side! After disembarking at Clacton Pier, we spent an hour or two amusing ourselves in a park (and probably annoying the locals too) and then travelled back to Billericay Station via Shenfield in a specially chartered train. In assembly, the following morning, John Goldwin admonished us for our behaviour. He said we were supposed to enjoy the Essex coastline from the boat but some of us “spent too much time down below filling ourselves up”. I can admit to staying on deck at all times.....

During the 1960’s, the school had its own in-house newspaper called The Millside Recorder which only appeared about twice a year. My first foray into amateur journalism occurred when it printed a short article I had written on the subject of the School Camera Club, of which I was a member.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Memories of Billericay School' page

Terry Lockhart

The above photo shows the class in my final year. I am standing on the right hand side next to our form teacher Norman ‘Nobby’ Butler. I can remember names of most of the boys in the photo and some of the girls.

Photo:All the pupils signed the back of the photo. Is your signature here?

All the pupils signed the back of the photo. Is your signature here?

Terry Lockhart

Mr Butler taught general science and he lived in Hunter Avenue, Shenfield. He always cycled to school in the rain, wind, snow, fog – you name it, even though he owned a car. When I occasionally cycled to my second job in Shenfield after leaving school, we would sometimes pass en route and wave to each other. During WW2, Norman was the navigator in a Lancaster bomber. On one sortie, the plane was hit and he parachuted out landing smack in the middle of the German factory his plane was trying to bomb!

John Goldwin was appointed Head Teacher in 1955 and became Head of the Lower School under Mr Lingard when it became comprehensive in 1968. He was a religious man and he drove to school each day in an Austin A35 van from his home in Alexander Lane, Shenfield. I personally owe him a great debt of gratitude as he found me my first job with John Strong, an architect and Rotary Club friend of his who had an office in the High Street. He was devastated when his daughter, Gillian committed suicide in 1974. John Kilgour Goldwin was a caring and honourable man. He died in 1976.

After 2B1, and having agreed to stay on into the 5th year, we were split into 3F & 3E and I think the chaps who wanted to leave after the 4th year were put into 3T. 3E became 4E and then 5E and below is a photo of 5E class taken in 1964.

Photo:Class 5E - 1964

Class 5E - 1964

Terry Lockhart

This page was added by Terry Lockhart on 02/06/2014.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Terry Lockhart's brilliant childhood recollections will certainly unlock so many memories for those who attended the Billericay School during the 1960s. What we learn and experience in those early years really do stay with us for life - good or bad. So how many acres in a square mile, Terry?  Look forward to learning more about your school years at Billericay. 

By Sylvia Kent
On 05/07/2014

When I last looked Sylvia, there were 640 acres in a square mile. I can still remember the formula to solve a quadratic equation - but don't ask me now what a quadratic equation is because I haven't got a clue!!

By Terry Lockhart
On 09/08/2014

Very interested to read your article, took me back a year or two! I was in class 5F. Margaret Gentry front row, third from the right. It would be interesting to hear what the rest of our class did during the interim years. Maybe you could find out.

By Margaret Mead nee Gentry
On 29/01/2015

Really enjoyed reading Terry's article.Terry had a Knickname 'Terry Tuffers' because of the large orange shoes he wore. Nice guy

By Ray Durrant
On 31/01/2015

I have very vague memories of Billericay High which I left in 1965. My previous school was a boarding school in Chigwell, but due to my parents moving to Billericay they decided to move me to a local school which unfortunately did not settle me well as I had been in the Boarding school since I was eleven and it was rather disturbing to be moved to such a large school, anyway I did make some new friends which I still keep in touch with today. I remembered some of the Teachers mentioned and did in fact belong to the Chess club and had very fond memories of those days. It was very strange for me at the time as I had not experienced girls being in the classroom and seeing them everyday at school, it was when I was experiencing what all boys experience the puberty period, and the change of voice octave which often came out shrill. I loved the farm set up as I was an E4 boy and not used to fields all around me. I loved sport but preferred running which I continued to enjoy in my time in the army. Unfortunately a lot of the Teachers I came into contact with did not make such an impact on me probably due to such a short time at the school. I still remember Reverend Holly, and his talks, also he presided at the Funeral of a dear friend of mine Ray Brown who was taken when he was only 17 years old, very hard for all us friends to understand at the time; Ray is buried at the Great Barkstead cemetery. There are other fond memories which I will always treasure which are probably shared by many who spent there time at the school. My life now is in Australia and has been since 1982, I still hold dear my life in the UK but Australia is where my children and there families are, so here I will stay.

By Raymond Simpson
On 29/09/2015

So many names of staff I remember. I went with Miss Killeen to Switzerland on a school trip. She might have been small but she made us 'toe the line' at all times.

One person I would love to know what happened to was Gillian Hope. She was a such a fine musician. 

 

By Barbara Bethel(nee Potter)
On 09/02/2016

Hello Terry, I really enjoyed your articles about Billericay School and Great Burstead Primary. I left the latter in 1955/6 to attend Brentwood High but my brother Bill Wortley who was two years younger than me went from Burstead to Billericay Secondary School.

 I live in Canada and have recently been writing some stories about our Billericay years. We lived there  from 1949 to 1968 (Mill Rd - I am sure there were Lockharts on our street)  Anyway I have  got to the point where I am writing about Bill's school years (he died in 1999) and though I have some vague recall of some of his teachers wondered if I could ask you  a few questions  since you obviously have a great memory!!

 If you are willing to clarify some things for me  please could you contact me at aileenwortley@rogers.com?

 Thanks so much

Aileen

By Aileen Wortley
On 21/02/2016

Hi Terry, I was in your class for 2 years with Mr Huggett and well remember the after school chess club. I played practically every day in the 2nd year (2B1?), and have never played a game since! I do remember some of the teachers you mention, although I can't place Mr Drage, although when we lived in Billericay from 1978 to 1982 (Bush Hall Road), my wife worked with his wife in Billericay Library, although we didn't realise that until later (she spoke of his terrible war experience). Some teachers you didn't mention were Mr Legg (woodwork), and Mr Jones (Welsh guy - maths teacher), who made me captain of Chantry House in the 5th year (which I hated!). Dick xxxxx? was vice captain. Might be in the back row in your picture. Remember the Houses, Chantry, Stockwell, Blunt and Norsey. Len Rosslyn of course went on to become headmaster at Mayflower School, which I think had just started to build 1964. I have an end-of-term photograph of the other 5th year class 5F (which I was in). Our teacher was Mr Howard. I will try and upload it to this site, if I can find how to do it. I know some of the guys in 5E, 2nd row 2nd in fm left is Dave Clewlow. I have kept up with him since 1964. He lives in Inverness and just retired from BR/Scotrail after 51.5 years service! I will tell him about this web site, his memory might be a bit sharper than mine. Next to him is Peter Dolphin who became a bit of an amateur magician, although I didn't keep up with him. He used to mimic Norman Butler (although we didn't know he was in a Lancaster crash in the war) I think next to him is Jeremy Purkiss (father was a doctor), next is Dave Cottee (father was a coal merchant), next is Dave Moreton?? (a Liverpudlian). 5 in on the 3rd row is Wayne Boughen, who ran some sort of shop/business in Billericay High St in the late seventies/early eighties. I lived in Crays View on the South Green estate. I attended the sunday school run Mr Hewitt in the South Green Chapel (was it baptist/evangelist or what?) We met in South Green memorial school (still there). Dave Cottee and Noel Hunter also attended. Mr Hewitt was assisted by Alan Butcher who lived in Grange Road. We formed a football team and played other church groups. I remember the Chapel in Outwood Common Road was extended to include a full immersion baptising pool.

I have to close now. More comment this afternoon.

               

By Graham Fry
On 22/08/2016

More comments continuing from previous comments.

I was in goal for the school football team in year 5, and we won some sort of inter school competition, beating Felstead in the final. The team were paraded on the stage at morning assembly. The other thing I remember about the school was the one way system around Block A rigoureslesly enforced by Len Rosslyn. Other odd things was a cross country run which every pupil in the school had to take part. I think I came 4XXth out of 5XX hundred! I can't remember what the point of it was. I remember a rugby match between the staff and 5th year, which everyone had to watch. I also remember a part time French teacher (fairly elderly) who drove Morris Bulldog. He wore a black berry (presumably to like a Frenchman - though he didn't have a string of onions around his neck!). He taught me good basic French though.

If you want to get in touch with me Terry, my e-mail address is fry561@hotmail.co.uk

I think I've got the class wrong. I was in 5E not F

Regards

Graham Fry  

By Graham Fry
On 22/08/2016

i was in Mr. Elias class in 1963 as an 11 year old. I remember the swimming pool was being built but I was only there for one year as I relocated to Romford and it was a very poor school district... Will always remember taking the train into London with Mr. Drage for a concert at the Royal Albert hall. Is there someone who perhaps was in my class 1963 1st year?

By Ronald Kozaryn
On 21/09/2016

I was interested to read your comments Graham. I have put together some further memories which can be seen here Memories of Billericay School II 

By Terry Lockhart
On 22/11/2016