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.

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

ON THIS DAY:-

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

1972

Saturday 27th May 1972

These photos were taken on the day before this diary entry.

second 7ear rugbyNot the biggest Rugby Team in the world.

Back. Greg Bishop, Steve Williams, Cameron Wilson, Martin Wilson, Chris Reynolds, John McCarthy, Terry Allen, Gary Phillips, Steve Baldwin, Geoff Sargeant

Middle: Trevor Parker, Geoff Dawson, Gavin Madle, Me, Spencer Lee, Geoff Smith, Nicky Saunders,

Front: Chris Studley, Colin Done, John Butler, Neil Catford, Robert Stevens

second year football

Mr Potter

Back: Gary Moore, Steve Williams, Geoff Diamond, Phillip Sage, Leonard Williams, Mark Stone, John McLeod, Gary Phillips,

Middle: Martin Wilson, Me, Gavin Madle, Spencer Lee, Nick Saunders, Adrian Underwood, Gerry Lawrence,

Front: John Evans, Colin Done

second year cricket

And a quick change of kit for this one.

Barry Potter

Back: John Butler, Chris Studley, Colin Thorne, Gavin Madle, Colin Done, Gerald Stedman

Front: Martin Wilson, Adrian Underwood, Me, Gary Phillips, Spencer Lee

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1968

Monday 6th May 1968

In May 1968 I was fully aware of my place in Pilning School pecking orders. My position was seriously challenged by my stupidity of this day. My diary for the time would be somewhat extended from that of my Letts diary. Mr Taylor, our class teacher, was encouraging us to write in detail, avoiding the word nice and using commas and colons like they were breathing apparatus.

The extract is given in full as it would have been written for a Monday morning after a weekend. You know it was of the “what did you do at the weekend?” type of letter to Sir. I was a clever little sod so didn’t write about my weekend at all. I had something to get off my chest.

I spent this weekend thinking very hard and long about my essay of last week. I am very sorry Mr, Taylor for hitting you. I didn’t mean to hurt you and I am very very sorry. I did not, as you said I should, tell my parents about it. It would not make it better for either you or me because I would only be told to apologise to you. This is what I am doing here. I hope that will be enough of a punishment.

I should explain why I was so annoyed that I hit you. You are still wrong about the argument. Bristol is a City and a County. The road sign at Henbury says “Welcome to the City and County of Bristol.” You marked my essay as only worth a B and gave Christopher Studley an A. I wrote 20 pages on the City Of Bristol and it took me two days to write out in full. It was much better than Christopher’s essay of only 10 pages and I had also told him what to write. You said I didn’t get full marks because it had a glaring obvious error of fact and I should check my facts before writing about things. To check my facts this weekend I rode my bicycle to Henbury and the sign there still says “Welcome to the City and County of Bristol.” I am sorry for hitting you but I am not sorry for writing what is correct.

city and county of bristol

As I am writing about my weekend I should also say that I have finished my map of the school. I spent most of Sunday drawing it out again to scale of 1 to 4. I like drawing this map but my Mum says that she wonders why I am spending so much time on the map when I should be doing Maths and writing. I have also thought long and hard about this. I know that I do the map on my own and I like being trusted to do it. Am I missing work when I do this? Christopher won’t tell me what you have been doing when I am doing the map. To do the final map I will need to have a very big piece of paper or do it at a better scale.

I see that the hobbit is coming. It is written on the blackboard and I am told it is a very good story. I wanted to buy the book at a bookshop in Westbury-on-Trym. It was too expensive for me at the moment. Westbury on Trym is in the City and County Of Bristol and was the destination of my fact checking bicycle ride. I did have enough money for some coloured pencils and a rubber that was useful for drawing the map.

On Saturday, when I returned from Westbury on Trym, I watched Severn Beach Wanderers play Eden Grove FC in the Severn Beach Playing field. The score was 4-4. Bristol Rovers were playing Swindon Town but I wasn’t allowed to go to watch. I went to get the Green Un as usual and the older men said Rovers didn’t play very well and deserved to lose. On Sunday, after drawing my map, I played football in the field before we went to church in the evening.

I am looking forward to this week. I hope I will still be able to do my map and can sing on Wednesday. Mr Tutton says I can either sing or play a musical instrument. If I play an instrument I won’t be able to play football for the school, team. I promise to be much quieter and not wave my hands when I answer questions. I won’t shout out the answer any more and will let other people answer even if I know they will get it wrong I expect to be told off for writing this essay. This is not my best essay. I think it is only worth a C mark because I haven’t put enough detail in my description. I could have added that the Severn Beach fought back like tigers but that would be a bit of an exaggeration. I could have told you who scored but I couldn’t check my facts with the referee. My Mum has not read this piece of work. Please do not let her read it.

Of course I didn’t write it exactly like this. I thought it and was really angry about the incident. In any other school I would have been given a very hard time. A year earlier I would no doubt of been caned but we had a new Head Teacher, Mr Tutton, who looked hard but was very soft on us. The sentiments are true and I did get on my bike instead of being at home and having to tell my Mum. I remember vividly swinging the punch, connecting, crying and the class going silent as I ran back to my desk. I hid my head in shame and waited for the inevitable abuse that was to come my way as a consequence. They didn’t do anything. They must have missed it. Chris Studley must have seen it. Mr Taylor must have felt it. Mr Taylor told me to go and carry on with my map. I left the classroom very quickly. Mr Tutton found me and asked me what had happened. I told him the truth. He told me to apologise and all would be o.k. I did and it was. I never did tell my Mum. When I met Mr Taylor in 2010 he didn’t mention it either.

ON THIS DAY

1976       ICI A W 15

1982       Old Bletchley II H D 29

1991       West Ham a 0-1

1994       Cutler Hammer II A L 13 11-1-35-2

2004       Hull A 0-3

2009       Leicestershire

2010       Leeds a 1-2

1966


Thursday 21st April 1966

In 1966 the World Cup was about to be ours but at the time I was more interested in playing than watching it on the television. A Thursday in April would have been a fairly typical school day for this 7 year old. By now I would have been in Mrs Hayman’s class in the old bit of school. During that year a few memorable events stand out that wouldn’t have occurred exactly on this day but typified the education we received and had a lasting part to my life.

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1965

16 April  Good Friday 1965

Alan is my eldest brother.

How I imagine Alan’s diary of that day

Woke up late after a lie in to 10. Too many beers in the Kings last night but its Saturday and the weekend. Planned to go to the Rovers on the train but Mum wanted me to take Richard so I drove the car and took him to the game. We had to leave earlier than normal and went to the South Stand where it was a bit quieter than the North Stand. We were soaked walking from the car and back again and couldn’t get a beer with the boys as they were on the other side. Green Un at 6.

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