"Pate's Past" is a 44-minute video produced from old films made by Pate's Grammar School for Girls. It depicts life in the school in 1939, 1950 and 1955, plus some excerpts from joint musical and theatrical productions of the late 1950s-early 1960s.
Honour the Founder
This is an interesting period in the history of Cheltenham Grammar School during which the school was relocated from the High Street to Princess Elizabeth Way. The date of the move was April 1965 and within a year or so there was little or no trace of the Grammar School which had stood next to the brewery in the High Street since 1887. The original 'Schola Grammatica' had stood on the same site since 1574.
The 'old' school had been a typically Victorian structure whereas the 'new' school designed by the London Architects Chamberlin Powell and Bon (who also designed the Barbican in the City of London) was somewhat typical of 1960's architecture although the extensive use of load bearing brick was unusual for the time in a public building.
Some shots of the field in Princess Elizabeth Way (on Sports Day and the CCF Annual Inspection for example) show the site prior to the building of the new school with Hesters Way in its early pristine state. The new school was not universally admired in the locality and it was said that the architects were encouraged to create cloistered feel within the structure.
Dr A.E. Bell (1953-70) was the Headmaster for much of the time during which the film was shot and he was closely involved with the plans for the new school. His imprint is seen for instance in the Domed Library. Mr B. Wilkinson Headmaster from 1971 can also be seen in the closing sequence.
The 'new' school lasted only three decades a substantially shorter period than that of 'old' school in the High Street. It is ironic that 20th Century technology was its downfall as rapidly-setting concrete newly employed in the 1960's disintegrated in the 1980's. Thus the 'new' Cheltenham Grammar School (for boys) was demolished in 1996 having been replaced by the even newer Pate's Grammar School (with boys and girls since Secondary School Reorganisation in Cheltenham in 1986).
Much of the film is shot by Mr G.H. Campbell and it is a sadness that this Head of History does not appear in any of the sequences. (Pleasingly he is recorded elsewhere in the archives) Over the years the quality of the film has declined and for a time the spools were lost only to be inadvertently found in some distant corner of the present school.
Nevertheless whatever the blemishes former pupils, staff and others will recognise and sense the many facets of the school community captured in a variety of shots from the sports field and the dramatic production to the melee of the corridor and the canteen. There are views of presentations but sadly none of Speech Day when all were encouraged to sing loudly 'Honour the Founder, honour the fellowship, honour the name of Richard Pate'
PRE 1965 - THE 'OLD' SCHOOL IN THE HIGH STREET
The early parts of this video were filmed in March 1965 in a particularly dry and sunny spell of weather which benefits the lighting and clarity of the film. This section records the school in its last weeks of existence in the High Street and Charles Campbell was particularly active with the camera at this stage. To place this period of time in a national and local context Winston Churchill had died and the whole school marched to Pooles Coliseum in Albion Street to see a film on his life and times. St James railway terminus not far away had recently closed.
The opening sequence shows the portrait of Richard Pate then in the Hall (currently in the boardroom of the Trustees Office) followed by the statue of Richard Pate overlooking the High Street. This statue was rescued by Old Grammarians and brought to Princess Elizabeth Way where it currently overlooks the Courtyard of the new Pate's Grammar School. The main entrance, the tower and the school hall overlook a High Street with a local bus passing eastbound on the two-way street of that time. 1960's redevelopment soon transformed this scene into that which can still be seen today (2001).
The buildings viewed from the rear are a reminder of the quality of the brickwork and the steeply pitched roofs. The larger windows gave light to the Cheltenham Art College attached to the northern end of the school buildings and also about to be vacated for new premises at the top of Albert Road.
The proximity of the brewery can also be appreciated. An abiding memory of Old Grammarians who attended the school in the High Street must be the all pervading aromas of the brewing process. The brewery were anxious to expand into the area vacated by the school and had already encroached in the area of the Tives' court.
It is possible that the shot of pupils emerging into the school yard is their departure on the final day of the Spring Term 1965 and thus the final school day in the High Street. The sequence of pupils is particularly interesting with one pupil donning his mortar board (or dabber). Headgear had been compulsory in earlier years but the dabber was soon to disappear. Elsewhere pupils wait in the lunch queue wearing their caps. Support staff in the form of Mr Brown (Caretaker) and Mr Savery (Biology Technician) are also glimpsed.
The cramped, crowded and therefore noisy conditions of the dining facilities were substantially offset by the provisions of the kitchen staff under the guidance of Mrs Finlay. Meals were prepared for Pate's Junior School just along St Margarets Road as well as for CGS. Mrs Finlay worked wonders in the kitchen and was much appreciated after a long morning of five lessons. Amongst the staff at the dining tables are Mr J.J. Stanton (History) and Mr E.J. Ford (Art).
The congested corridor at break time can be seen in any school but the interest in this shot is that it shows R.M. May the Head Prefect and later Deputy Head at the new Pate's Grammar School (1986) surrounded by the throng. The assistant school secretary Mrs Meyer battles her way through the melee.
The Headmaster is seen (somewhat indistinctly) working at his desk followed by a glimpse of the model of the new school at that time under construction in Princess Elizabeth Way. Mr F. Jessop Deputy Head also views the model distinctively lighter in colour than the resulting external appearance of the new school.
There follows five shots of lessons in progress including Mr D.P. Bennett (Biology) Mr W. Thomas (Chemistry) Mr J. Lee (English) and Mr E.S. Waine (Woodwork), The first lesson viewed is second year Geography with Mr N.C. Furley who retired in 1998 the last of the CGS staff who taught in the High Street.
The camera pans around the staffroom and initially alights on Mr R.J. Robinson (Geography) and Mr H.W. Cook (English) both of whom ran the Cricket XI. Then in the foreground the camera reveals Mr J. Featherstone (English), Mr F. Comstock (Chemistry), Mr C.L. Duckworth (French), Mr W.J. Neve (Music), Miss B. Lewis (School Secretary), Mr B. Page (French), Mr F.S.M. Wright (Science), Mr G. Edwards (French), Mr B.J. Boardman (Maths), Mr D. Brewer (Physics) and finally D.W.W, Picksley (R.E.). Other staff may be identified further away.
Field Studies and Visits: The next section shows pupils on visits and expeditions starting with the Biology Fieldcourse to East Devon led by Mr D.P. Bennett and Mr F. Dempsey (probably in 1958). Fieldcourses were an annual event usually held in the Easter Holidays and in this area included fieldwork on the heathlands of Woodbury Down on the shore at Ladram Bay and in the Exe estuary. Many a pupil will remember the energetic game of football which concluded the day on this and other fieldcourses! Mr HW Cook and Mr J.H, Curtis are seen leading a visit to Rome (Easter 1959) and a History Trip explores Tintem Abbey, the Castles at Chepstow and Goodrich amongst a number of locations visited on a day excursion from the school (probably about 1960).
Sporting Activities: There follows film of some of the sporting aspects of the school year at CGS. Sports Day was held on a Saturday afternoon with plenty of support from parents. Against the distant backdrop of Leckhampton Hill and elm trees still to be seen near Coronation Square the athletes perform under the watchful eye of Mr I.W. Pearce (PE) and the Headmaster presides at the presentation ceremony. The Swimming Gala was held at the Alstone Baths which lasted into the early 1970s when it was replaced by the pools at Pittville. Similarly the Athletic Ground has also disappeared, the venue for this example of an Old Boys Rugby match referred to by Iltyd Pearce.
Combined Cadet Force: The CCF was a popular and a well supported extra curricular activity. Boys were recorded by Cadet Sergeant B. Sandford (1958/59) parading in the school yard (most in step!), on a field day at Ashchurch and on arduous training in the Brecon Beacons. Squadron Leader Gerry Edwards MBE i/c CCF is seen escorting the Inspecting Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel W.G. Lyon at the Annual Inspection which took place on the school field in 1959.
Music and Drama: Some music and drama productions appear next many of which employed the talents of the girls at Pate's Grammar School in Albert Road. Mr W.J. Neve (Head of Music) was heavily engaged in a series of productions. He is seen rehearsing the orchestra for 'The Daughter of the Regiment' (1958/59) while other members of staff help pupils with stage set preparation and the allocation of costumes. The productions were held at Cheltenham College as there was limited space at the Grammar School in the High Street. Other shots include scenes from 'Henry IV Part 1' (1960/61), 'Trial by Jury' (1959/60) and 'the Sorcerer' (1961/62) in which Felicity Lott can be seen at an early stage in her operatic career.
Parents' Association Fete: The Annual Fete usually took place in November and was a substantial fund raiser. At the time of filming the main target was the School Re-Building Fund and parents were very supportive (as ever). Arthur Bell joins the Chairman of the Parents' Association on the rostrum to open proceedings and Miss E. Murray (Bursar) is glimpsed by the Rebuilding stall. Within a year or two the considerable efforts of many fund raisers had helped to establish the new boys' grammar school overlooking Princess Elizabeth Way.
POST 1965 - THE 'NEW' SCHOOL IN PRINCESS ELIZABETH WAY
Introduction: After April 1965 relatively little film was taken or if it was, it is no longer available. In this brief section Charles Campbell is still behind the camera for much of the time but some clips are from a commercial company who came into the new school in the late 1960s. There is no film of CGS available after about 1972 or 1973.
The Building: The sequence starts with a dim and distant view of the new school, presumably shot from the top of one of the tall blocks of flats next to Coronation Square. The 'commercial' film commences with views to the small hall and pupils crossing the courtyard in a very orderly fashion. A senior pupil climbs the stairs in the library, probably the most architecturally attractive area of the new school. The library saw some teaching and also private study for the Sixth Form who are seen in the Richings Room with its stained glass window in the background. (This window can now be seen in the library of the new Pate's Grammar School).
The Cricket Match: The final film available shows the annual cricket match between the 1st XI and the Staff in 1973. For many years the Summer Term ended with final assembly followed by the match.
Charles Campbell pans around the school field showing the new school with the domed library, the maturing poplars at the perimeter and the completed housing beyond. By tradition the Staff batted first and Mr R. Elgood (English) and Mr G. Minett (Languages) open the batting while Mr D.W. Picksley (Patch) (RE) and Nigel Garner (a pupil) umpire. The close catching positions are heavily populated for what is clearly a posed shot. In the background the Second XI's do battle!
The Headmaster Mr B. Wilkinson played cricket regularly for the Staff XI in the mid-week evening matches against he villages beyond Cheltenham. He is seen essaying a couple of shots in a cameo innings.
In front of the pavilion Mr R.M. Brown (Geography) and Mr G. Parsons (Maths) are padded up while Miss M. Hawker (School Secretary) keeps the scorebook tidy. The Staff reach three figures and Richard Elgood and Malcolm Brown lead the players in for tea.
The School reply against the staff opening attack of Mr R. Knott (English) and Mr N. Furley (Geography). Mr R.D. Beale (English and later Deputy Head) stands with arms akimbo while Mr I.W. Pearce is brought on as first change.
The shadows lengthen, the match culminates in another close draw and the school year concludes.
ABOUT THE DVD
The DVD is a selection of clips made by Mr N.C. Furley who taught at the school from 1964 to 1998. It should be remembered that the film was mainly shot by amateurs and that the quality of the film has been affected by aging.
Some details about the film have been omitted from the written commentary in the cause of brevity.
We acknowledge the help of Mr N.M.C. Anderson (History 1967-1997) who helped in the editing process.
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