KBGS Old Boys' Forum

A place to discuss Keighley Boys' Grammar School. 

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KBGS Old Boys' Forum
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1935 - 1941 Era

Last week, I had a visit from Tom Bell, the son of Tom E Bell who attended KBGS from 1935 -41. The visit came about as a result of his enquiries via this web site regarding Harry Harpin, one time Art Master at the school, and my desire to acquire one of Harry's watercolours. Tom has several pictures in his possession which are family heirlooms and naturally he doesn't want to dispose of them. However he brought them along to let me have a 'look see' together with a wealth of information contained in a bound set of The Keighlian magazines dating from 1935 to 1941 [the years that his father attended school]. Tom Sr. was joint editor of the magazine for the last couple of years he was at school and he evidently chose to have the magazines bound and presented as 'The Shakespeare ter-centenery Prize for English Literature' which he was awarded on 10.12.40. I wish I could reproduce every word - it provides a fascinating comment of school life in those difficult years immediately prior to and at the start of WW2, but that is impossible. Tom also left with me [temporarily] photographs from his fathers collection and he has kindly let me scan many which relate to his time at school. I'll be sending more in the next few days but first a couple of shots of 'The Old Man' with his Prefects, one dated 1939 and the other 1940. I recognise very few apart from Tom who on the 1939 photograph stands in the middle of the back row wearing a dark suit and in the 1940 picture he is seated, legs crossed on the extreme left of the front row. I also recognise on that photograph, a more pugilistic looking young Frank Wellock on the right of the front row.

Perhaps Tom Punt can put names to a few more - he'd be a junior about that time.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 45 - 50

Current location (optional) Norfolk

Re: 1935 - 1941 Era

Thanks for posting the photos of the prefects. I can help with names for some of the people.
1939 L to R
top row :- George Connelly, ?, Tom Bell, ?
bottom row :- ?, possibly Peter Ratcliffe, Nick, John Graham Holmes, Eric Taylor.
1940 L to R
top row :- ?, ?, possibly Earnshaw or Hardacre, ?
bottom row :- T E Bell, J G Holmes, Nick, G Connelly, F Wellock

I'm sorry there are too many question marks. I hope someone else might identify these. Whilst on the phone to my brother this evening we went through both photos and it was he who confirmed the identity of Holmes, Taylor and Connelly, who were nearer his year than mine.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 37-44

Current location (optional) Huntingdon

Re: 1935 - 1941 Era

Browsing through the bound copies of the Keighlian which once belonged to Tom Bell, I was amused by an article entitled ‘School Alphabet’. It bears no name and I doubt if the author would have harboured any ambition to become the Poet Lauriat, but it made me smile. For example:-

B is for Birch, who when not at the wicket
Will tell you that cribbing is simply not cricket.
G is for Gilbert, who gives us short shrift,
His aim in the gym is to make us all Swift.
K is for Kenneth, who in a nice way -
If an essay is not done, there’s hot stuff to pay.
N’s for our Headmaster, reserved and refined,
Under his eye at our work we all grind.

And so it goes on……… but bearing in mind that this was published in March 1939, one entry had me intrigued.

P is for Peter, our Head Prefect dear,
A good friend of Hitler, whom he visits each year.

What had Peter done to deserve the description ‘Good friend of Hitler’? My question was partly answered by another article published in December 1937 attributed to PR. Peter Ratcliffe ? - pictured on the 1939 Prefects photo seated 2nd from the left, next to Nev. The article runs to four pages and it gives an insight into the way that many people, not just Peter R, were influenced by the propaganda emanating from Germany at the time. He writes, ’Since one of the cardinal maxims of Hitler’s foreign policy is friendship with Great Britain, I do not see, merely because he occasionally tears up an obsolete treaty or two, that we have any reason to doubt his good faith in the future, still less his oft repeated desire for peace. I am convinced that no-one realises better than the German Chancellor that even a successful war is a profitless undertaking’. Chamberlain clutched at straws and hoped the Nazi menace would go away, but it didn’t.

In issue 149, Summer 1940, some two and a half years after he wrote his article, 2nd Lt. Peter Ratcliffe is mentioned, together with 119 others, in a list of Old Boys serving with the Forces. Disillusioned? Most probably, but he did his bit for King and Country. I hope he made through to 1945 unscathed.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 45 - 50

Current location (optional) Norfolk