Westlain Grammar School

Photo:Westlain Grammar School 1968: click on photo to open a large version in a new window

Westlain Grammar School 1968: click on photo to open a large version in a new window

From the private collection of Dave Crockatt

Photo:Westlain Grammar School 1968:  click on photo to open a large version in a new window

Westlain Grammar School 1968: click on photo to open a large version in a new window

From the private collection of Dave Crockatt

Photo:Westlain Grammar School 1968:  click on photo to open a large version in a new window

Westlain Grammar School 1968: click on photo to open a large version in a new window

From the private collection of Dave Crockatt

Photo:Westlain Grammar School 1968  click on photo to open a large version in a new window

Westlain Grammar School 1968 click on photo to open a large version in a new window

From the private collection of Dave Crockatt

Progressive school

By Dave Crockatt

A pupil from 1961-68

Here are four pictures of the staff and pupils of  Westlain Grammar School taken in 1968. All these were taken from a long picture of the entire school which I have in my possession. Unfortunately it is the only photograph I have whilst a pupil at Westlain. I was a pupil at the school from 1961 until 1968 when I left to study at a teacher's training college. Unfortunately there appears to be very little information on the site about Westlain, so I have tried to fill in a few gaps.

Friction with Stanmer School

The school was sited adjacent to the old Stanmer Secondary School and I remember there being a lot of friction between the pupils of the two schools. In fact the approach road, from the Lewes Road, through a tunnel under the Brighton to Lewes Railway, was divided down the pavement by a handrail, Westlain pupils using the pavement whilst Stanmer pupils were told to use the road in order to try and stop any abusive behaviour from either group of pupils. The school was built in 1957 but not sure when it amalgamated and was subsequently demolished. 

A progressive head teacher

The head-teacher at the time was a Mr  C Ferguson; he had a beard, seated to the left of the second picture above the word 'grammar'. He was a pretty decent and a seemingly progressive Head, even to the extent to doing some teaching himself. I remember him teaching astronomy to all first year pupils, which was quite unusual. Other teachers I remember were Geoff Sears ( geography), Miss Ritson ( history), Mr Gloyne ( languages), Miss Penghilly ( Maths), Mr Brown ( English), Mr Matthews ( PE) to name a few whilst I was there.

From free milk to a pint

We had extensive playing fields at the back of the school, tennis courts and an annexe for school lunches. We still had free milk at morning break. Later on in the sixth form we used to go to the Hiker’s Rest for a pint and a pie at lunch-time. I'd be interested in reading any other stories about Westlain from other ex-pupils.

 

This page was added on 12/12/2014.
Comments about this page

I was at Westlain from 1967 to 1974, though the school merged with Stanmer in 1972 to become Falmer High School. "Gus" Ferguson was Head until 1972 when Mr Hockton took over.  Deputy Heads were "Nobby" Clark and Miss Berry.  Teachers I recall include Miss Stone (RE), Mrs Yates (History & Geography), Miss Cole (Maths), Miss Tippett (Biology), Mr Alcock (Maths), Mr Goldsmith (Chemistry), Mr Colwell (Physics), Mr Matthews (PE), Mr Brown (English), David Lepper (English and later a Labour MP), Geoff Sears (Geography), Mrs Alabone (Art), Mr Wright (Art), Miss Pengilly (Maths), "Pop" Longley (Woodwork) and Mme Daffern (French).  I too recall the friction between Westlain and Stanmer pupils.  For the first couple of years I was at the school, boys were required to wear a cap to and from school and we quickly learned to stick our cap in our pocket once out of sight of the school before it was snatched by a Stanmer boy and hurled onto the railway line! Westlain was only 10 years old when I started there, with a modern building and facilities, so I was very surprised a few years ago to hear it had been demolished.  Former pupils on Facebook may be interested to know that there's a very active Westlain Facebook group.

By John Wilkin (15/12/2014)

Hello Dave, long time....! I was in your year. I’m in the photo: if you look along the row directly behind Mr Ferguson, the first lad in a jacket wearing the specs is Kenny McNamara who became a geologist I think. Then there is one of the three Aylward brothers who were all at Westlain. (The middle brother, John, a mate of mine, was tragically killed in a car accident when he was just around 20 years old. He’s at the top right hand corner of the first photo, slightly cut off). Then Bill Bishop who worked all over the world and was more recently based in France and worked for the Channel Tunnel Company. Next to him is Chris Luff who became a senior engineer for East Sussex County Council and is now a Seagulls season ticket holder for his sins. Next to him I don’t know, then Robin Mann in non-regulation jacket. Robin was always non-regulation! I recognise the next four. Then Dave Walters who went to Lancaster Uni and then lectured, also still a Seagulls supporter. Dave married Louise Emerson who is 3rd from the other end, seated. Then Robin McLaughlin wearing specs who I recall managed to lose the tent while we were on a DoE hike! I can’t remember the name of the lad next to him. I remember the next one well as it’s me! (Check me out on Linkedin if you’re interested). Next to me is Greg Elmes who is currently a professor at the University of West Virginia. Then Bob Noakes who once went to Canada for a holiday and came back with a Canadian accent. I’ll stop there for now; perhaps I’ll add a few words about Westlain in the new year as I have lots of memories about all sorts of things.

By Roger Hogbin (18/12/2014)

I too was a pupil between 1968-1975 and all the teachers mentioned by John Wilkin above I was taught by and remember well. Pity the school was destroyed by the comprehensive moment as I am sure it gave me a working class boy a very good education that I doubt the current replacement does and the unlamented Falmer never did.

By Philip Wood (18/12/2014)

What didn't help was that ROSLA (Raising of the School Leaving Age) happened at the same time as Westlain and Stanmer merging to form Falmer High School.  So as well as everyone having to get used to the new arrangement there was a group of 15-year-olds who would previously have left school but now had to stay for another year who could be seen wandering aimlessly around, or in a few cases, determined to cause as much disruption as possible.  It soon became apparent that certain ex-Westlain teachers hadn't a clue how to manage them.  A case of a "perfect storm" in retrospect.

By John Wilkin (19/12/2014)

Hi Roger, it's been good to read your comments on my page. I remember you well and the other names you mentioned. I ended up being a teacher for 35 years in London but have since retired. I am still friends with Roger Pettit, who is  a regular visit to Brighton. I'd still like to know what happened to the building itself, I believe it was demolished some years ago. Shame. It was a great school with some great teachers; some not so great! As for names, Ian Weller was in our year. I sat next to him in class 1a. I believe he did very well, becoming a professor and working for a big pharmaceutical company. Other names I remember were Dave Groom,  also from Woodingdean, Roy Clarke, Les Harvey, Steve Lloyd and Dave Creamore. 

By Dave Crockatt (19/12/2014)

Hi guys. Lovely to see any news about Westlain Grammar School. I was there from 1965 to 1971 and was known as Sonya Thorpe back in those days (now married and use my middle name of Ann).  I too remember most of the teachers mentioned above, I had Miss Pengilly for Maths, Mr Goldsmith for Chemistry, Miss Swan for cookery, and Mrs Cooper for sports. Whilst I was there we had a new outside swimming pool put in and I remember Mrs Cooper making us all go in for a swimming lesson whilst she was standing there muffled up in her coat as the weather was freezing. I remember well the friction between us and the Stammer school and had my bus fare home taken from me several times leaving me with no option but to walk home. I remember the lovely Robin Hood style hat the girls had to wear and managed to get a detention from a prefect for not having it on one day when I was on the bus going home. I moved to Kent when I got married and had not realised that the school had been demolished until a few years ago. I am on the Westlain Facebook page and it's great to see photos and hear news of the school. I was in several of the annual school plays and have great memories of the school. Likewise I am in the big photo above, fourth picture down, third row back behind the four girls in the white blouses near the centre. I remember the day the photo was taken. 

By Ann Noble (19/03/2015)

Trip down memory lane from reading previous posts whilst idly Googling! I was at Westlain from 1962 to 1968. Loved it. Same class as Ian Weller, Bill Bishop, Spencer Swaffer (antique shop Arundel), Jane Daffern, Jenny Jones (Green Party, London Assembly & former deputy Mayor, now Baroness Jones of Moulscoomb). Still in touch with friends like Jenny and Jane (and her mum Eileen Daffern who taught French and died a couple of years ago), and with Phil Smith, English teacher, Alan Skull, biology and Joyce Cooper, PE whom I spent the day with a couple of weeks ago in Yorkshire, where I now live. We talked about when she brought her big heavy sledge to school in the deep winter of 1962. Her memory is phenomenal, especially for people who were in her canoe club. Will follow this site. Does anyone know if Pam McKernan (Cleopatra) is still in Brighton? Would love to hear from her. It was a brilliant school, we were so lucky. I remember hanging around the sixth form common room at the end of the day, reluctant to go home.

i also remember running a hamster, rat and mouse hire service at lunchtimes from the vivarium with my friends Sandy House and Jill Lassetter. We used the hire fees to buy food for the animals and forbade Alan Skull to kill the rats for dissection. Does anyone else remember this?

By Lynne P (25/04/2015)

I remember the Vivarium! I used to take out Venus the rat some lunchtimes - for 10p, I think it was! She was a beautiful animal. I was at Westlain for a relatively short time: 1969-1972, when we moved along the coast to Seaford, but I have very fond memories of my time and friends there. I was Keren Dunsmore at the time, and remember Jane Yeates, Sarah Jezzard, Jackie Morrisey, Susan Prince-Iles, Lorna Hill, Lesley Hebborn, Linda Finch, Julie Carey and Susan Coggins, among others, and many of the teachers mentioned above. Would love to get in touch with Phil Smith again. I was knocked down by a car and had to have quite a long time off school. He was so kind, and wrote to me several times when I was feeling tentative about coming back after the accident.
Would love to hear from anyone who remembers me!

By Keren Harrold (nee Dunsmore) (21/06/2015)

Hello Dave. Well done for this page. I have lots of happy memories of Westlain and I had no idea the school was demolished. I'm still in touch with Lynne, who is on this thread, and am now in the House of Lords for the Green Party, using the name Moulsecoomb in my title as a reminder.

By Jenny Jones (10/12/2015)

Hi again Jenny, is been a long time! Thanks for your comments on my page, it was a pleasure writing it. So very glad to see how well you've done in your political career. I too have very fond memories of Westlain and most of the teachers there. 

By Dave Crockatt (28/02/2016)

Personally, I hated the place. It was very handy though as I literally lived next door. I think that the standard of education was deplorable, but sports action very good. As I was only interested in sport this suited me very well.

By Peter Bryan (01/03/2016)

Just a correction to the entry by Roger Hogbin. John Aylward was killed by a hit and run driver, whilst walking back to Coldean along the Lewes Road. Barbara Aylward, his younger sister was killed in a RTA approximately a year earlier on the coast road at Brighton.

By Peter Bryan (15/10/2016)

Hi ex-Westlainers! I didn't enjoy my years there (1969 to 1974) but was so sad to hear it had been demolished. What a waste of a perfectly good building of only some 60 years old? I used to be Cheryl Corthorn. My best times were bunking off over the station at Falmer and the exhilarating sense of freedom once on the bus home from there! I remember Mr Smith and Dr Skull, both of whom were at the reunion in 2015. I remember Miss Cooper, Miss Alabone, Mr Alcock, Miss Hewitt, Mrs Capildeo, Miss Ritson, Miss Swan, Miss Pengilly, Miss Berry, Miss Tippett, Mr Wright, Mr Matthews, I also remember Venus the rat, Dumpy the hamster and Thumper the rabbit. I hope they all lived out their lives naturally! I used to hang around with Karen Gates, Janette Pitt, and sometimes Jackie Dinnis and Catherine Child. Worked in a bank, got married, had two sons, did nurse training, got remarried, had three daughters, all emigrated to Australia, came back 4 years later, then moved to Lincolnshire, but I do get down to Brighton to see family now and again.

By Cheryl Felix (07/02/2017)

I was only at Westlain for one year (1969-70) but I remember it well. Hello to Keren Harrold nee Dunsmore  who made an entry here back in 1915, if you're still checking in on this site, I remember you very well. My family moved back to Ireland, where I finished secondary school and went on to Uni. I ended up working as an Assistant Lecturer for the Open University, which spread its operation to Ireland back in the early 1990s. I remember Keren, Sarah Jezzard, Frances Henderson (who came from the same primary school as me). Came across this in a fit of idle browsing and nostalgia for my Brighton days. Hi to anybody from back then!

By Jackie Morrissey (06/03/2017)

Just to add to my previous post - I remember Susan Prince-Isles too - I will probably remember others now that my memory has been jogged by the site.  I can't say I loved the school - perhaps I wasn't there long enough to settle in - but I have fond memories of Mr Smith, who taught English and was always very kind and encouraging. A lovely man. Good memories, too, of Venus the rat, who obviously had star quality-I notice she appears in a lot of reminiscences here.

By Jackie Morrissey (06/03/2017)

Hello Dave, thanks for this opportunity to say a few words about Westlain Grammar. In passing a big hello to Roger, Jenny and Lynne. I'm not sure if I appreciated Westlain in the early years. I was a rough kid from a council estate who made it through the 11+ and got elevated to grammar school, while most of my contemporary primary schoolmates went to the secondary moderns. I admit to having a chip on my shoulder about it at the time and felt a victim of the class war. Gradually with the academic and sporting opportunities offered by Westlain I came to appreciate my time there and eventually went on to university. My particular memories include cross-country on freezing winter mornings with a good half-inch of frost on the ground and clad only in shorts, athletic vest and plimsolls (today's sporting footwear just did not exist in 1961). The cross country route used to go along besides the railway line then go up towards the Falmer Road, exactly where the Amex stadium now exists. Makes you think doesn't it - "and did those feet in ancient time ......". My memories of the teaching staff include Geoff Sears - a wonderful man who loved his subject (geography), Miss Ritson - History, never knew her first name - still don't, but she used to terrify me into doing my History homework, (must have worked though, I got an 'A'), Mike Matthews, PE, (a lovely man who sadly parted this world far too early) and Eileen Daffern, who although not my French teacher inspired me with her passion for France, and all things French. Whilst at Westlain, I took up many roles in the theatrical productions (an interest which I continued at university then during my career overseas) and represented the school in all the sport disciplines, football, rugby, cricket, boxing, athletics. (I have kept many photos of that period, I'll get round to sending them to this site sometime). I have fond memories of classmates, Roger Hogbin, Robin Mann, Les Harvey, the Aylward brothers, Dave Walters, Steve Lloyd, Chris Luff, Jane Daffern, Jenny Jones, Louise Emerson, Lynne Brewer, Hilary and Alison Paton. After university I worked in Manchester and London, then in 1974 started working overseas on major construction sites in Libya, India, Bangladesh, Qatar, Nigeria, Cameroun and Gabon before returning to Brighton in 1988 to work on the Channel Tunnel project (London office). I transferred to the French side in 1992 and I've lived here ever since. Divorced from first wife I remarried in 2003 to Béatrice, - now 14 years of married bliss. I have two children from my first marriage, and an adopted daughter from the second. I'm now 68 years old, retired, totally francophone, francophile, no intentions to return to UK, and I presume I will finish my days here. Good luck and best wishes to all ex-Westlainers wherever you are. Regards

 

By Richard (Bill) Bishop (02/05/2017)

I was at Westlain from 1963 -1968. Mr Ferguson's departing words to me were " Well Cook, I expect you will be a pleased to see the back of us as we are of you". I was caned by him when reported by Mrs Daffern for "not trying hard enough at French"  as I was not as good at it as my older brother who preceded me there. Miss Cooper got me into canoeing, Mr Mathews was great and I have good memories of Mr Sears and Mr Goldsmith and the biology teacher whose name I forget. Sadly I am only sort of in touch with one ex pupil, John Goldsmith now in NZ. I would love to hear how ex classmates are doing. I am now living in Malta but visit the Amex once a yar. It does seem odd thinking of that awful cross country route.

By Gordon Cook (04/06/2017)

Hi Bill, it's always interesting to see what other people have been up to. The last time I spoke to you would have been approximately 40 years back in The King & Queen! After travelling extensively in the East and Far East, I settled down with a pub in Brighton. I ' retired ' after 13 years, to France. Firstly near St Malo, then in the Limousin [ a vast hill farm ] and finally Le Manoir near Dieppe. The latter was built by Richard 1st in 1197, and was magnificent. I miss it very much. I was sad to see Robin Mann had passed away. I seem to recall he partnered you in the second row? I am not surprised that you have taken to the French way of life. Time just seems to slip away over there. I live in Henfield now and have no plans to travel again. I would call my house ' Dunroamin ', but it's a bit too much of a cliche'! So, bonne continuation en France. Best wishes. 

By Peter Bryan (20/06/2017)

Hi Bill, many thanks for your comments on my Westlain page. I remember you well from Westlain days. All the people you mentioned in your comment again I remember well. Truly sad about Mike Matthews, after leaving Westlain he went to teach in Southampton, coincidently in the very same school that my sister was teaching and she got to know him quite well. Apparently he remembered me at Westlain and was surprised to hear that I was also a teacher... small world. Have fond memories of Westlain although have not visited Brighton for some years as I have now retired and living in rural Lincolnshire

By Dave Crockatt (20/06/2017)

Hi Dave and everyone.

Since I last posted (couldn't remember how to get into the site) Joyce Cooper has passed away, sadly. However, it's Alan Skull's 90th birthday next week and we're celebrating with him. Met up with him this August and can report that he's an excellent and inventive chef. Met up with Phil Smith too, though he's quite poorly so if anyone has messages to pass on to both or either, I can do that.

I keep in touch with Jacoba Vyse, daughter of Deirdre the music teacher, who also passed away this year, in India where she had spent several years. Phil told me that Ken Gloyne is no longer with us either. I always found him a bit scary, when he taught us Russian (I was useless but I'll always know some of the words to Kalinka), so it was rather sad to learn that lately he had wondered whether he should have been more relaxed with pupils.

I miss Brighton, though I didn't really appreciate all it had to offer when I lived there. Quite a few of us had a summer job at the seaside cafe in Saltdean run by Mrs Marchini (copious use of Diorissimo scent) where the hours were long and tips were scant. Ran along the undercliff from the Sheepcote Valley camp site in August (can't afford hotels) and it's now a rather odd bar, but at least it's still there. Brighton looked a little unloved on this visit, lots of litter and crumbling buildings. But there again I'm getting a bit crumbly myself.

Interesting to hear from Mr Bishop. What a busy boy!

Met up with Jenny earlier this year but we don't see enough of each other - distance and demands of The House! What we need is a reunion - does anyone still around in Brighton have the energy to organise one please, if only to name a pub and a date, before we all go dust to dust?

It's lovely to read posts here, as I don't do social media sites, so keep it coming.

By Lynne P (08/10/2017)

Brighton play Huddersfield here in Yorkshire on December 9th. Tickets are as rare as hens' teeth since their elevation. Dilemma who to root for!

By Lynne P (10/10/2017)

Wow. I'm in the picture too (picture 3, second from the right, bottom row - in a blazer). I was Maggie Nickisson then and you all have me in awe with your memories. I left and joined Sussex Police as a cadet before going on into the Army etc etc. So sad about Miss Cooper. Sport (high jump and trampolining especially) and the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards were my thing. She regularly saved my bacon when I missed my bus in Hollingbury and she'd pick me up, saving me from being late (yet again), and was so good to me that she got me a scholarship to an Outward Bound Centre in Mid Wales. I remember Karen Pentecost (senior to me) who I travelled on the bus with most mornings, and Angela Dobson as a class mate. I've only just returned to live in Brighton and was wondering what had happened to the school. Thanks for bringing me up to date. Time flies.

By Maggie Evans (16/10/2017)

Hi all, great to read so many appreciative comments on my Westlain page. Hello to you Lynne, I believe we were in the sixth form together in 1966-68. Like you I have moved away from Brighton, to rural Lincolnshire, and rarely visit Brighton. Last time I went it was expensive and seemed shabby in places. Still in touch with Roger Pettit, in fact we met up in London earlier this year and our chat did revolve in part around Westlain. I was sad to hear about the passing of Ken Gloyne; he was my first form teacher in 1961 and also my French teacher. I'm sure Mr Smith was my English teacher at some stage and remember Alan Skull; quite amazed to hear that he's still around! Mr Matthews, PE, went on to teach in Southampton, coincidently in the same school as my sister taught! Small world; she did say that he remembered me and was  surprised to learn that I became a teacher. Sad that he passed away so young.Look forward to more responses on my page.

By Dave Crockatt (18/10/2017)

Hi Dave. So glad you've set up this page. It helps me remember people whose names have been hovering at the back of my memory. I enjoyed celebrating Alan Skull's birthday and he told me that there was to be another reunion, which has probably passed now. It was for folk who were there at the opening of the school, so before my time. Rural Lincolnshire, eh? Not so far from us in t'hills above 'Uddersfield. Have spent some good stays in Lincoln city. My Brighton trips are usually in our VW camper on the Sheepcote valley site. Do you remember when they filmed "Oh what a Lovely War" there? Quite a few Westlainers got in as extras, but my mum wouldn't let me. Spencer Swaffer used to scour the tip looking for antiques. He now has a very posh antique shop in Arundel. Called in on him a couple of years ago. Did you ever go on the school trips to Burwash? They were fun. Remember we were holding a "seance" with a home made ouija board in the sitting room by the fire with all the lights off. Suddenly a cat came skidding across the lino into the board and set us all screaming. Alan Skull had quietly opened the door and chucked it in. What a wag.

By Lynne P (14/11/2017)

Hi Lynne, thanks for your comments on my page. We've been in Lincolnshire for over 3 years now and yes, not a million miles from Huddersfield, strange how some of us end up in places quite different from our home turf and Lincoln is such a great city.  For us it makes a change from 42 years in London.

Yes I certainly remember Burwash. Spent a week there on a history and geography field  trip, both taking place in the same week. A fantastic week. I remember Miss Ritson telling us off for chatting late one evening. She appeared in a long white night-dress, scared the life out of us! What ever happened to Miss Ritson; no-one knew her first name.

I also took a trip to Sheepcote valley just after they had finished the filming. We went down the 'trenches', very realistic and also the field where they planted all the crosses in many, many rows. The field I believe, was near Ovingdean. It was very moving.

 

By Dave Crockatt (25/11/2017)

Just enjoyed an excellent football match between Huddersfield Town and Brighton, at Huddersfield. One of the Brighton players is Lewis Dunk. Is he related to Pete Dunk who was at Westlain around our time? Anyway, he played well! Sadly, Brighton didn't score, but they deserved to.

By Lynne P (09/12/2017)

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.