Heath Old Boys Association


Letters from Old Boys


Harry L Breaks

The culture shock from moving from a Primary School to HGS was quite a shock to the system. The first morning assembly, all gowns, mortarboards etc., was really something. At the end of the day, the guardians of the gate (prefects) were there to ensure that caps were worn and that eatables were not being chewed.

Oscar Byrde was Headmaster, a portly gentleman, who once caused barely concealed mirth by taking a Latin class with his watch chain fastened to his braces with a piece of string. On another occasion on a very cold and frosty day he had to decide whether or not Rugby could be played. He was hacking away at what he imagined was the lawn, but was really the stone edging. Result — no rugby.

As ever was, even my time at Heath saw numerous changes in the teaching staff. Mr Dudley, Mr Phoenix (Bill Stinks), Biddy Taylor, C.O. Mackley, Harry Gains and Tobusky Haigh lasted the course. Of Mr Brown (Oddy Giant) word was put about that his degree was from the University of Michigan (by correspondence course). We never saw eye to eye, and he once came at me with a Laing’s Arithmetic when I questioned his sanity. He did his hand no favours when I ducked and he hit the wall.

Berkly S Frazer, H.V. Wiseman, Mr Corney (he could bowl very fast) were of my time. Master Collinsen prowled the Physics Lab wielding a length of bunsen burner tubing indiscriminately. I wonder who pushed a potato up the exhaust pipe of his beloved Alvis. Maybe it was the same person who put the sugar in the petrol tank of the aforementioned Mr Brown.

In the early 1950s my wife and I on our travels called to see Bill Phoenix at his retirement home in North Wales. A real gentleman. Harry Birchall came to Heath from Carnegie College. Not much older than some of the Upper Sixth, or so it seemed. Harry Birchall followed Arthur Bilborough (a fine singing voice) in the PT Dept. School camps were excellent. I went to Primrose Valley and three camps at St Helens in the Isle of Wight. D.J.D. Smith ran the camps very efficiently, morning tent inspection, kit inspection. The lighter side was good. Treasure hunts, evening sing songs, enough food to keep very hungry youths happy. At the dedication of the Memorial Gates at school, D.J.D. Smith, whom I had not seen for many years, said, Ah, Breaks, you have put some weight on.

Further to the remarks regarding school secretaries, my sister was in this post in the late 1930s, probably as Peggy Benson for some of the time. She was followed, I think, by Jean Shoesmith, whose brother was a Heathen.

I saw my first Test Match at Headingly in 1935 in a party organised by dear old Tishy Holt. England vs S Africa. Very hot. I got sunstroke, which must be worthy of note for a match at Leeds.

I hope that you can find things of interest in these jumbled recollections.

Sent to the Editor on 29 April 2004.