My first day at Severn Beach School by Richard Stedman aged 61 and a bit

Yesterday I was asked to write a little bit for our local History Group. They / we are doing a display as part of our Nostalgia day to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the School opening. I, of course, was happy to do this and this is what I wrote.

In September 1969 I was 10 years old and in my last year at Junior School before we went up to Patchway. That last year was a very special year for all of us who were the oldest pupils in our brand new school. It felt like it had been built especially for us. When we walked through the front doors on our first day I can remember some things as if it were yesterday, not fifty years ago.

It was squeaky clean. By that I remember the floors in the main hall would squeak as we walked across them for the very first time. To be fair we were also squeaky clean, because our Mums had made sure we started with the new school clothes. I stared around the hall and everything looked totally brand new. I wanted to be the first to climb up the wall bars, the first to kick the footballs that I knew must be in that store cupboard. I wanted to be the first to score a goal at break time in the playing field. At Pilning we had to carry the goal posts from the school and put them up before a game and now we had a proper pitch marked out on a field that was right next to the school. We even had a cricket square that Mr Beasant looked after all year so we could play properly on it.

In our first assembly Mr Tapp told us to look after the school as best that we could. Then we were put into our classes. We were the top juniors so we got what looked like the best class. It was upstairs and we either had to be taught by Mrs Fraser or Mr Griffiths. We were sat in alphabetical order so I had to sit next to Clive Simmons. He liked drawing tractors for fun. Even those new classroom smelt and looked better than the ones we had left behind in Pilning. No more were we going to temporary “Terrapins” in the playground which stank of oil fires and damp. We now had clean tables without names carved into them. For the first time we had a proper football kit when we played for the school team. Mr Griffiths was an Everton fan so he chose a kit that had royal blue and yellow. I would have preferred blue and white and definitely not red but at least it was a proper matching kit and we all wore the same.

There were some things that were exactly the same. The food was like the stuff we had at Pilning. We could tell what day it was by what was for school dinners. Squashed fly pudding and concrete custard with prunes were not the best. We also had the same metal cups for drinking squash but now they were brand new and not all dented and scratched. We also had our old friends from Pilning School who lived in Severn Beach and Hallen. I was going to miss my Pilning friends but we would all meet again when we went to Patchway. When we were at Pilning we used to catch the bus to Pilning every morning. We would all meet at the stop opposite the chip shop and race to get the front seat upstairs. Now I could just walk two minutes from my home in Albert Road and be home straight after school. Not that I went home quickly after school because I wanted to be there as long as possible doing everything that we could do. We had choirs where Mr Tapp conducted us. We did plays in the school hall and did a big production of Jesus Christ Superstar and the Jungle Book. As well as all that and more importantly we had a school football team that beat every one; even the big schools in Patchway.

We were really lucky to have that year At Severn Beach. My younger brothers would have longer and in later years my nephews and nieces also went to the school. It is quite possible that your grand-parents would have been in the same class as me.

Here are some names I can remember from that class:-

Hazel Miller

Hazel Meachin

Colin Done

Jemma Done

Chris Thompson

Clive Elliott

Ian Barton

Clive Simmons

Phillip Hutton

Susan Williams

Suzanne Priestley

Andy Hallett

George Shufflebottom

Tina Stutter

Danny Dawkins

Clare Hollyman

Tom Webb

John McLeod

Debbie Leaver

David Dalton

Maureen Smith

Sarah Pick

Debbie Porter

Our Nostalgia day is this Saturday, October 19th at Severn Beach Village Hall from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

2012: A working life? Website management and field research.

14th April 2012

This week I wrote on Facebook and Twitter:-

Sunday 8th April

Richard Stedman added a new photo. Piano is home. Thanks to Helen Lowe and Mark Lowe at gorgeous giggles for looking after it so well.


2012-04-08 Piano is home. Thanks to Helen and Mark for looking after it @gorgeous_giggles

Richard Stedman likes Hops – Belgian Bar’s post. Happy Easter everyone. The Easter bunny has left the following cask ales for today: Townhouse Enigma 3.5%; Acorn Yorkshire Pride 3.7%; Mobberley Barn Buster 4.2%; Redwillow Wreckless 4.8%; Raw Dark Peak Stout 4.5%.


2009: Settling back into a Bristolian life

Monday 23rd March 2009

A quiet Monday at home at last. I bought a paper from the beach shop and took a short walk along the sea wall. Gave the lawns a first cut and managed to sit outside for the first time this year. Wrote a bit on the beer of the year for my website. Will be going up to the Rodney next week as Dan and Dave want a holiday and I am happy to step in for them. These visits are fewer and less welcome but I can keep an eye on the building and check my stuff isn’t being abused. Rovers’ season seems to be over, no late run for promotion this time. Been writing up pages for the new smaller versions of the guide for friends and other users of the old guides. They are more like update sheets than the real guide.


2008: Stedders recrosses the North South divide

Thursday 13th March 2008

Bought a new phone and spent the day doing Facebook type things. Will be uploading loads of photos and finding old friends to make it look like I have some in the next few days. Bought the phone in Burnley, an IPhone that is quite up to date. The cyclists were in this evening. This meant quite a late night sitting outside chatting to them and watching them set off safely at the end of the evening. Called Ray to arrange for him to come up on the 25th with Colin. Takings quite good for a Thursday.


Crawley Town 5.11.16

Or: Thankfully no fireworks at Crawley.

The Journey

Ronnie arrived the customary three minutes late but I was able to make up the time and pick up Coventry Bob as the stroke of Ronnie’s watch reached 3 minutes past 8 and the radio played the  8 o’clock pips. This was a rare Saturday where we were taking our own strain courtesy of striking Southern Train Rail Staff and a 12 o’clock kick off. This would also have explained why the travelling hordes were somewhat fewer than normal as the guarantee to get to the game by 12 must have been severely limited by the intransigence and poor management of Southern Rail. Another three of our gang were being driven by Geoff the unnamed. Their car would arrive and deposit them on the terrace. Not literally of course but as the photo shows, Geoff, The Real Lord Powell and Peter de Meteor were together and happy to win the prize for spotting Roger Radio first and standing with him throughout the game. We decided the seated tent that ran along the side would offer more protection from the biting cold and maybe afford a better view. Neither of those factors were true.


1977: Thoughts of University and last days of school.

Monday 4th July 1977

School was all but finished. I had left the envelope for exam results to be posted but in any case would go to school when the results came out. I had offers of BCC from Southampton and CCC from Liverpool. Both were to do Geography. When the results came through later that summer my BBD was accepted by Southampton and I was off the following September. In the meantime there was a summer of part time work, cricket and planning to do. This particular Monday was one where I was taking more than giving back.

Rode moped to school for 10

Common room till break time – White Riot on again continuously.

Nets till 1 with anyone who was around – Spence, Wislon, Mas, Studs and Jonny Evans.

Then off to BAC for interview at 2 re groundsman job.

Got the job starting next Monday.

Back to Severn Beach – let Mum know about job.

Took Sam for a walk along sea wall.

Need to open bank account – Lloyds in Westbury looks best. Will go tomorrow.

Went to find Lewis – see if he wants a bike ride in to town. His Yamaha FS1E is new while my Puch Grand Prix is definitely not. His is reliable but mine takes some temperamental love to keep it going. I don’t love it so it doesn’t keep going.

We went into town up Blackhorse hill, down Cribbs Causeway, over the Downs, around the docks and back along the Portway through Avonmouth and along the coast road.

Watched TV from 9 till bed.

Patchway Community College, Hempton Lane, Patchway, Bristol.
Patchway High School

At the end of my school life I was definitely not in the “in” crowd. I was particularly envious of those who spent their times forming bands, clubbing in town and having the social life that goes with living up the hill. The band did blow the sound system when they did their only gig in the school hall. I didn’t play or sing so was never going to be asked to join with them on the classic guitar and then Saxophone and keyboard punk band. They came back on Monday morning with tales of the Dockland Settlement in St Pauls and clubbing in the city centre. A fifty against Old Cathedralians no longer cut it with them as cool. Car versus Moped? No comparison. University  versus a job that paid? That was also something that I was having to get used to very early. I wasn’t the only one off to University but it seemed a long way to a proper job in four years time. I had a plan but didn’t know if it could be shared so I didn’t share it, with anyone. If things went well John Butler was also off to Southampton. Studs would be going to Cardiff. My other mates were destined for jobs in Bristol.

Why Southampton? At the interview I was asked that very question. Yes, the official reply given to the panel included wanting to work in a department with R.J.Small, author of our ‘A’ level text books, and my rating the department as the best Geography department in the country at the time. Also I remember saying that geographically it was far enough away from home to not go home every weekend but close enough should emergency demand. Other more pressing factors came from the promotional handbook. One of the halls of residence had a direct view over the Dell, little did I know it was for postgraduates only. Southampton were in the second division so at least I could see one Rovers game. What did Southampton do? They only went and won promotion to the First division so I had a diet of watching them in  the First Division on a regular, usually evening match, basis. My first year home was to be E block in Glen Eyre Hall of Residence. John Butler was to have the room next door. My record collection consisted a few Supertramp albums and some Bob Marley. Kitchen equipment was cobbled together from donations in Albert Road. I still have some pots given kindly by Mrs White across the road. The most important factor was that I felt comfortable in Southampton. I had interviews for Oxford and failed uncomfortably. I had met a future Tory politician in my interview and was thoroughly unimpressed. Liverpool would have been good but was distant and disconnected from my rural reality

white riot

White Riot? Yep. Every break time White Riot and then God Save the Queen until the record player was turned off in a fit of teacher pique. I never told anyone that I had bought Supertramp’s Even in the Quietest Moments, it just wouldn’t do. We were given free run of the cricket nets for a while. So long as there wasn’t a lesson we would go and bat for as long as the rest would bowl. Wislon was Martin Wilson, known as Wislon not Wilson. We four, Jon, Spencer, Wislon and myself, had recently taken a holiday to Port Talbot / Aberavon. For a weekend away it took some beating. Armed with Johns C.I.U. card, and a space to rest our heads at his Nan’s house we set about sampling the working men’s clubs of Aberavon. We learned plenty of the skills of cigar smoking, chatting up Welsh “ladies” and drinking Federation Bitter until bells were ringing. The chatting up was of course purely theoretical, given we were drinking with welsh Welshmen in Welsh Union Clubs in the seventies. Followed by impromptu cricket in the park beneath the sea wall, we dined on fish and chips and micky taking until the Inter City 125 whisked us back home on our last ever child rate tickets.

Saving for University was essential for me. I had applied for a student grant and would get a full one. I also had access to the family allowance allocated to me and saved for years in my post office account. I was on my own with finance unless in a dire emergency. In my time at Uni. I never needed to ask for anything extra. I am a fervent supporter of a grant system, long lost to modern student life. I benefited enormously from the security of knowing that the grant would cover essentials of accommodation and fees. It was one of life’s learning experiences to budget and keep my own earnings for the next year. The order from the bank manager when I opened the account was to make sure I was never an incorrigible spendthrift. I chose Lloyds solely on the basis of free gifts and my anti Barclays stance (apartheid and South African investments and all that).

This entry has an oddity. It says I walked the dog. Sam, our poodle / terrier mongrel, rarely entered my circle of friends. The Mutt would have been dragged by me to the sea wall due to losing some sort of bet. It had no reason to be, let alone reason to be seen, with me. I learned far later that dog walking generated pulling power but for now a chance meeting with any of the beach beauties would have produced only extreme embarrassment in me.

even in the quietest moments


1976       Old Georgians H Ab

1981       Civil Service H W 30

1982       Kempston Ramblers H W 0 9-3-21-1

1987       Newport Pagnell Town A L 9

1976: Norman no mates, work and a poem

Saturday 19th June 1976

Worked at Jefferies in the morning. Easy deliveries until 11 and then sweeping up and saw dusting the boards. We got the news that cricket was rained off when we arrived at the ground to get lifts to the game. We are playing tomorrow at Patchway and at least the forecast is good for that. What to do instead? The cricket at Lords was off as well so couldn’t even watch it in the T.V. Golf at Ashton Court? By the time we got there it would be time to come home again, and would be wet anyway.

Decided to go home and watch some television. My God Severn Beach is boring when it rains. We planned to meet up at the Cross Hands at 7. Studs went to see if ICI were playing. When I got back to the beach the train was just coming in so I told Mum I was out for the afternoon and jumped on it to go into town. Here I was again, bored and on my own and on this flipping train to nowhere. We screeched as usual around the bend at Avonmouth. What are the chances of meeting anyone in town? No chance, that’s what. Got off at Clifton Down, walked along Whiteladies road and went in to the Victoria Rooms to see what was on. Nothing was on, that’s what, not even a poxy model railway exhibition. It was empty and closed. Next stop the Museum. There is only so much of Alfred one can take so did a quick tour around and on to Park Street. Went up Brandon Hill and back down to the Library. I fancied a beer so risked it by going in the Hatchet. Didn’t stay long. Didn’t even buy a beer. It is always a bit threatening in there. Went along to Christmas Steps and down to King Street. Had a beer in the Old Duke. A pint of Courage Best.

Sat in the Corner and wrote this:-

 old duke bristol poem

Old Duke Bristol June 7


Bristol, home of ships and Pirates looking out to see,

What have you found and kept for me?

Lines of history that are closed,

Streets of value shut firmly against my age,

Houses of doubtful virtue, open to those who want,

Shops of welcome to those who cannot afford,

Like dripping rainfall from a holy canopy,

You promise refreshment from your uncomfortable touch,

But when drops hit my head, all I get is wet,

And a look of laughter from your knowing face.

Bristol, now home of tramps, human not steam

I can’t wait to go, to leave and be gone.

You have nothing for me to keep or believe.


Richard E Stedman


On to Temple Meads and a train home for 6. Bike up to Northwick for 7. No one in the White Horse, not even Studs. Had a pint, Oops, wrong pub, race to the Cross Hands, too late, they had all gone. Home by 9.

Bored, Bored, Bored.


On Jefferies the Butchers: I had a job in this family butchers in Meadow Street in Avonmouth.  It was a short term holiday job. I had to do some of the following. Slicing bacon; making up delivery orders; helping Mel with the deliveries around the docks or Avonmouth plus general cleaning of the shop. I was too young for serving customers but not too young to be shut in the cold store with the hanging meat as a joke at least once a day. On Saturdays it was just house deliveries. I liked the days when we went to all the canteens on the docks dropping off tons of bacon and sausages. The worst part was sorting out chitterlings and other offal.

Other Holiday jobs 1976 – 1980 were:-

In no particular order:-

BAC Sports ground at Filton: Groundsman responsibilities. Painting Rugby posts, cutting outfields, painting lines, sweeping changing rooms. Clocking Southmead Les and Shane in and out when they were late or wanted to leave early. Laughing at their jokes, the same jokes every day.  Pretending to see the girl who stripped every day at 4 for Shane and Les in the house opposite the tennis courts. Brushing those courts. There was strictly no cutting of wickets or bowls greens. Apparently this was far too responsible.

Builders mate: Working for a local building team with Denzil Roylance. I helped do the following. Tiling a new roof on a house in Old Down; renovating a barn in Olveston; replacing a flat roof on a chalet in Woodlands Park in Patchway; and rounding up sheep in a field without a sheepdog in Olveston. In this case I was the sheep dog being whistled at, because I was the quickest at running around the field.

Plymouth Chemicals in Portsishead; Loading Lorries with Chemicals for Don Baker and Colin Reeves to drive all around the South West. Sometimes navigating and being a driver’s mate, i.e. getting the cakes and bacon butties en route. Filling Carboys with acids. Usually Sulphuric acid or a mix of Hydrochloric for use in swimming pools. Being the butt of their posh boy jokes. I deliberately brought in the Times to read, just to wind them up when they read the sun in tea break times.

Plant Hire Firm: Next door to Plymouth Chemicals in another year: Cleaning cement mixers when they were returned after hire. This was a grim job because there was not established method of chipping away at cement in a mixer with needle guns, chisels, whatever would work, and then cleaning them with high pressure hoses. If I was lucky I could have a go at cleaning a larger dumper truck.

How did we get by in in the days before mobile phones? Looking at this example, I didn’t. The piece of doggerel hasn’t seen the light of day and deserved really to stay unearthed. I am however, writing this in the spirit of opening up thoughts, good and bad so perhaps it fits with my then 17 year old self. In those days I did carry around scraps of paper and a notebook just to record thoughts. How very pretentious but there we go. Poetry was there somewhere but, not to be exposed to the world in these pre-punk, self-conscious teenage days. I didn’t help myself much by going off on my own like that without any real plan. Bristol in 1976 was a depressing city. The docks were a downright dangerous place to just stroll around. There was always a risk of walking around the wrong corner to meet up with some rampant football fan looking for some fun at your expense. Getting a beer was never a problem. At 6 foot 4 tall I could get a beer in most pubs, no I.D. was needed, only a bit of self-confidence. Not that solitary drinking was much fun though.

The White Horse was my favourite local pub at the time. I had my 18th Birthday celebration there. I say that but in fact we were “barred” when I said it was my 18th, as I had been going in there for the last two years or so. We would play darts sometimes but usually just talk about things, the usual teenage stuff, of football and cricket. We later had occasional female company in the form of Belinda or “Fi-Fi” Hignell. I can safely say that I was not the focus of their attentions. It was the younger Malpass who caused their fandom to our little group. In the Cross Hands we would more likely meet up with other members of the cricket team but it was often the older players who would just as well cope without our company. Strangely enough, in the land of the ever present skittle alley, I never once rolled a ball in anger. I did some sporadic “sticking up” for the Black and Tans in the league but playing was left to others. In later years Studs and Neil had a car to get us out of the village. Neil has a Triumph of some sort (TR7), with an aluminium exhaust of which he was very proud. Studs was more likely the one to get us to a pub in his car. The usual destination a year later would be somewhere like the White Hart at Littleton. My only form of transport was my hated Puch Grand Prix Moped. It saw the roads of the Severn valley a few months after this post. It provided a form of independence in getting to school or work. It died a death, as I almost did, when I rounded the bend at March Common one evening, over cooked the corner, and took an option to drive into the ditch rather than the headlights and front bumper of Celia Kilminster’s Dad’s car.  My parents never did get the full details of why I stopped riding my super moped. It did however, get sold in 1982 when I wanted the deposit of £100 for my first house. For that it was very useful.


Of the weather: This day was to be the last wet day of the summer. The summer of 76 that had drought, bank fires, swarms of ladybirds, stand pipes in the street and late night conversations about loves and futures. There was very little to bore me from that day on in this summer.

1978       Geography Staff V Stoneham W

1993       Wolverton Town H L 0

1994       Linslade A L 42

1996       Russia v Czech Republic ANFIELD

2005       Northamptonshire v Gloucestershire Stowe School

2009       Middlesex

2010       Hampshire

2015       Essex