West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
Pontefract Letters Page



Reading Jim Hardcastle’s letter in the January issue of the Pontefract Digest magazine, brought memories of King’s School, Pontefract, flooding back.

I was a couple of years behind Jim, but I remember him well. He was a character, ‘once seen never forgotten’. I doubt if he would have known me, but being from Tanshelf he would have known the Battye family - my grandfather Harry had the newsagents shop in Tanshelf, and Jim would have known my late cousins, twins Harry and John Battye, whose father Bernard had the off-licence and general store.

The passage of time plays tricks with the memory and there are a few errors in the names on the photographs accompanying Jim’s article. In the Form VB photograph, the boy third from the left on the back row is my late cousin Gerald Hiorns (not his brother David who was a couple of years older). Third from the left in the middle row is not Marcus Hookham, as Marcus was in my year. Also in the same row, the first boy on the left looks very much like Herbert Slater who lived near me in Lime Tree Avenue. (Ray) Blatherwick was of course called ‘Reed’ - a fearsome fast bowler who terrorised not only schoolboy cricketers but later, many batsmen in league cricket.

In the Rugby 1st XV photograph, the three players to Jim’s right are Jack (Snap) Appleyard, Ray Evans and Bill Williams. As a point of interest, Jack and Bill were also in my year and in 1947/48 would have been fifth formers playing in the 1st XV with boys two years older, which says something for their talent. Jack went on to play Rugby League for Castleford. Similarly in the 1946 2nd XI Cricket Team, Ray Pawson was also a contemporary of mine and at that time would only have been in the third year. Ray, a good all-round sportsman, went on to be a fine local cricketer.

The majority of the pupils who attended King’s School when it was a grammar school, left with, and will still retain, many happy memories of the school. I still recall, as if it was only yesterday, all the good times we had and the excellent education we received from some fine teachers, many of whom I suspect were quite proud to carry the fond nicknames they were labelled with down the years. From ‘Geogger’ Hudson, mentioned in Jim’s letter, to ‘Rocker’ Done (Chemistry and Deputy Head); ‘Cocky’ Lovett (Biology); ‘Spitfire’ Edwards (Physics - we were led to believe that his speech problems were the result of being gassed during the Great War); ‘Benny’ Hebb and ‘Judd’ Hunter (French); ‘Ester’ Dunne (Latin); ‘Tojo’ Myers (Latin and History - after the WWII Japanese General); ‘Gec’ Cawthra (History) ‘Johnny’ Horner (Maths); ‘Sammy’ White (PE) and ‘The Boss’ himself, (Head: J.D. Lean).

King’s gave lots of lads from ordinary backgrounds like my own, the opportunity to break away from a future of working in a factory or at the pit (although many went on to work for the NCB and were very successful) - opportunities that were not always available to our forebears. There were boys who became doctors, high ranking Army Officers, RAF pilots, held down senior posts in industry and banking, or became school teachers and headmasters themselves. In my opinion it was a sad day when King’s and Pontefract and District Girls High School, along with other local ‘grammars’, lost their grammar school status; but still, we who were fortunate enough to be King’s School ‘Kippers’, as we were known, will be forever grateful.

Bob Battye.
King’s School September 1943 to December 1948.

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