The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Cottesmore Teachers - Boys' School


In Lenton Times No.44 [June 2022] we reported on a current project designed to generate brief profiles for those members of the teaching staff who worked at Cottesmore Boys’ School between 1947 and 1961. If you think you can add to what we already know about the following individuals then let us know.

We have so far drawn on information collected from various sources including local newspapers from this era; reminiscences from former pupils; and a set of names culled from a school sports day programme dating from May 1961. The reminiscences of Jim Gamble (1955-59), who kicked off this project are acknowledged by the initials [J.G.].

Cottesmore Boys' School Staff - 1947/48

Front Row - Mr J.H. Hornbuckle, Mr P.J. Fox, Mr J.T. ‘Jock’ Smillie, Mr C.W. Leaning (head), Mr J. ‘Pop’ Mason, Mr G. Happer.

Middle Row - Mr P.R. Badham, Mr ‘Ron’ Humphrey, Mr T. Hodgson, Mr ‘Les’ Butterworth, Mr M. Tarlton, Mr ‘Jock’ Galagher, Mr ‘Ken’ Allen, Mr H.G. Tuchler.

Back Row - Mr J.M. Gill, Mr ‘Stan’ Rogers, Mr J.W.B. Everitt, Mr G. Dixon.

Senior staff members

Leaning, Claude William, (1892-1952), was already headmaster of People’s College, when his teaching staff all moved to Cottesmore Boys’ School and he became the school’s first head in 1932. Educated at Mundella Grammar and Westminster Training College he had taught at Southwark Street School and Bluebell Hill Council School before serving with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps during the Great War. He then returned to Bluebell Hill School and went on to be awarded a B.Sc. in economics in 1926 while studying as an external student of London University. During the last few years of his headship at Cottesmore Boys Mr Leaning suffered from ill-health but was still in post when he died, aged 60, in February 1952.

Mason, John, (1893-1961), taught English and Religious Education. He was probably already at Cottesmore Boys in 1939 and would later become the deputy head teacher [principal assistant] and, for a short while, he served as acting head following C.W. Leaning’s death in 1952. He retired in July 1953. According to Mike Frost: Pop Mason taught many different subjects and was an amazing personality, having lost a leg in the first world war. He was extremely well liked by the pupils.

Skilbeck, Ronald William, (1908-1992), was appointed headmaster in 1952 following the death of Claude William Leaning, who had been headmaster of Cottesmore Boys’ since 1932. Prior to his appointment Mr Skilbeck had been headmaster of Berridge Road Boys School in Hyson Green. He left Cottesmore in 1956 when he became headmaster of Greenwood Secondary School in Sneinton.

Happer, Gordon, (1914-1984), taught Geography. He was already at Cottesmore Boys’ when he was appointed headmaster following the departure of R.W. Silbeck in 1956. He was an ex-rugby player of some repute and helped found Nottingham Moderns Rugby Club in 1956 - serving as the club’s first chairman. He was a disciplinarian of the ‘old school’ and apparently rose to the rank of Major during the Second World War. On demobilisation from the Army he joined the staff of Cottesmore Boys’ in 1946. He went on to become headmaster of William Crane Secondary School in Aspley.

Crossley, Joseph Richard Doull, (1915-1983), had been the headmaster of one of the smallest secondary schools in Nottingham namely St Mary’s Voluntary Secondary School on Barker Gate. After it was closed in [195_] Mr Crossley moved to Cottesmore Boys’ and took over as the deputy headmaster. He was still at the school in 1961.

Other Staff members for whom we have now constructed profiles (not necessarily complete)

Ashmore, Stanley, (1919-1984), had been awarded a B.Sc. degree and taught Science and Sports. I believe he was a qualified referee and he was also chairman of the Notts. Schools F.A. Stan was a nice chap and a good teacher. [J.G.]

Badham, Peter Richard, (1921-2001), probably taught English. In 1951 for a term he swapped places with Robert Bennett, of Euclid, Ohio, U.S.A. Ted Marriott wasn’t impressed with Mr Badham’s replacement and described Mr Bennett as ‘a complete waste of time. He spent most of the lesson either reading the New York Times or typing letters on his noisy typewriter.

Baxter, Julius, (1905-1969), taught Mathematics and became head of the department. He arrived at Cottesmore about 1951, having previously been at Highbury School for twelve years. His last year at Cottesmore Boys’ was 1966, when he chose to retire from teaching. I found him a lugubrious and somewhat inactive individual. Mr Baxter only taught me for one year and I found his teaching methods difficult to follow but that probably says more about me than him. [J.G.]

Dixon, George, (1911-2007), taught French. In the 1939 National Survey he was lodging at 80 Sherwin Road, Lenton. It is not clear whether he was already employed at Cottesmore School at this time. He seems to have left the school in the early 1950s.

Everitt, James William Brown, (1913-1992), taught metalwork and was a good, yet fairly strict, teacher. He never varied the sequence of items we had to manufacture. Everyone started with a coat hook, followed by an ash rake, then a dustpan and so on. The boys knew him as ‘Rivet Head,’ a happy combination of the school subject, his shiny bald head and his name. Mr Everitt left Cottesmore Boys’ in about 1957. In the 1939 National Register his occupation was listed as ‘pedagogue.’

Fox, Percy John, (1899-1976), who taught woodwork had joined the staff of Cottesmore Boys’ when it first opened in 1932. My father was also taught woodwork by Mr Fox during his own brief time at the school. ‘Foxy’ had a whiny, nasal drawl and he had his favourites - namely those who were good at woodwork. There were apocryphal tales of him throwing chisels at boys failing to pay attention - not a likely occurrence - but he definitely threw the occasional bit of wood across the workshop. [J.G.] Mr Fox was still teaching at the school in 1962.

Gill, John Michael, (1925-1987) was an art teacher who, for the most part, didn’t seem to do much teaching. He would simply suggest a topic for you to draw or paint and then leave you to your own devices. When we did clay work he provided you with a lump of clay and similarly directed you to get on with it. [J.G.] Away from school he played cornet and fronted his own jazz band known variously as: Mick Gill’s Imperial Jazz Band or more simply Mick Gill’s Jazz Band. These bands were quite successful and played gigs throughout the East Midlands and even put out records under the Delta and Esquire record labels.

Hewitson, Edwin, (1910-1993), taught R.E. He was a genuinely decent chap who had difficulty controlling the class - generally referred to as ‘Arthur’ owing to his physical resemblance to Arthur Askey. I think most people liked him. [J.G.] Back in 1939 he was a chemist’s assistant dispenser, living with his wife and daughter in Harrogate. In the 1950s there are several references in the Nottingham papers to ‘E. Hewitson’s’ activities as a local preacher. He was still at Cottesmore Boys’ School in the early 1960s.

Hopkins, Harold James, (1907-1951), taught Music. John Dixon mentioned Mr Hopkins because they lived a few doors from each other on Harrow Road, Wollaton Park. John also recalled that Mr Hopkins had devised a special musical arrangement of the Lord’s Prayer, which was sung every day in the school assembly. Hopkins had also composed the music to the Cottesmore School Song with words provided by Mr R.C. Harrison (English and Music teacher). Back in March 1932 the Nottingham Evening Post credited H.J. Hopkins with providing the piano accompaniment when the Cottesmore Boys were involved in a public concert in the Nottingham Arboretum one Sunday evening. This would indicate that he was among the original members of staff when the school first opened. He was still on the staff of Cottesmore Boys when he died in the General Hospital after a short illness in February 1951.

Hornbuckle, John Henry, (1913-1978), taught Art and Science. He was a local man, who as a boy attended Mundella Grammar School; he was school captain when he was awarded a Nottingham University College scholarship in 1931. He was already employed at Cottesmore Boys’ School in 1939 when he gave a talk to Nottingham Society of Artists. His talk recalled a three months’ sketching holiday in Central Europe which he undertook on a bicycle and the whole trip only cost him £15. A keen amateur painter he exhibited at a number of local exhibitions held across the East Midlands and after the war he served on the committee of the Midland Group of Artists. It is not entirely clear when John Hornbuckle left Cottesmore Boys but during the 1960s he appears to have been on the staff of Bramcote Hills Technical School.

Keyte, Peter James, (1932-2002), joined Cottesmore Boys’ in 1955 and taught English and Geography. He began as Class 1B’s form master and kept the same class through to 4B. He retired to the Isle of Wight and attended a very successful class reunion c.1990. [J.G.]

Smillie, James Thomson ‘Jock’, (1890-1951), taught English. A Scotsman who came south to Nottingham in 1928 and after working in a number of city schools he moved to Cottesmore Boys’ in August 1941. He went on to become the school’s senior English teacher. He took a great interest in the Nottingham Shakespeare Society and spent much of his leisure time at Stratford-on-Avon. Alan Foster recalled that: Mr Smillie took our class to Trent Bridge to watch the Australians play cricket but even better than this were the occasional trips he organised to a little theatre in Nottingham to watch several of Shakespeare’s plays, which were more my cup of tea.’ Mr Smillie died in a Nottingham hospital in September 1951 while still on the staff of Cottesmore Boys’ School.

Tuchler, Hans George, (1916-2001), taught history, science and social studies. Born in Vienna, he and his wife, Helene Franziska, left Austria in 1938 and at the time of the 1939 National Survey were both employed as ‘domestic servants’ at Packwood Haugh School a private preparatory school based in Solihull, Birmingham. During the war Hans Tuchler served in the Pioneer Corps. Soon after the end of the war he joined the staff of Cottesmore Boys. Alan Foster commented: Hans Tuchler taught us chemistry and was a very good teacher. He was also assigned to teach the boys about the human reproductive cycle. Were anyone to snigger at any point in the lesson then they would find themselves standing out in the quadrangle until the lesson was over. He left Cottesmore Boys in the early 1950s initially taking up a post at St Edmund’s Church of England School in Mansfield. He went on to become headmaster of Ravendale Secondary School in Mansfield (later converted into a middle school) and in 1977 was awarded a O.B.E. for his services to education.

Cottesmore Boys' School Teachers clearly lacking some additional relevant information - in some instances we have yet to establish the correct spelling of their surnames

Barnes, ? , taught Mathematics and Physical Education. A man of widely varying moods; he could be interesting and quite jovial, yet on other occasions glum and bad-tempered. He once deliberately walked into me and gave me quite a beating for getting in his way. Sport was his primary interest and anyone who showed any talent in that direction would gain his keen support. I later learned that he had served on bombers during the war and had had a bad time. [J.G.]

Bolton, ? , taught Physical Education. I really don’t remember much about him. He was a young man who seemed rather apart from the rest of the staff. [J.G.]

Burnet, ? , taught English and ran the school library. A nice chap, rather academic, and a good teacher, but had difficulty controlling the class. [J.G.]

Charles, ? , taught Music. Probably nearing retirement and not really suited to a school like Cottesmore. The poor fellow was totally ineffective as a teacher and he was played up mercilessly. I used to feel quite sorry for him. [J.G.]

Davidson, ? , taught History and English. Known as ‘Davo.’ Personally I found him to be an inspirational teacher particularly when teaching History. he had no time for ill-discipline and administered reminders of this with a sharp blow on the top of the head using a stick about a yard long. When not in his hand he kept it on top of the wall mounted blackboard at the front of the classroom. Somebody, I don’t now recall who, had the bright idea of nailing the stick in place. The ensuing scene as he reached for his feared disciplinary aid can be imagined. Sadly Davo failed to perceive any humour in the situation, an attitude for which the whole calss suffered. He left in 1957. I beleive to take up a post as head or deputy head at a school somewhere in the south of England. He also told us he served in the tank corps in North Africa during the war. [J.G.]

Davies, John, taught Metalwork. Followed Mr Everitt. A Welshman with an easy-going manner, who gave you freedom to pursue little projects of your own. I remember him helping me to make a new part for a model aero-engine. [J.G.] He was still at the school in 1963. Like Sam Lewis, his fellow Cottesmore schoolmaster, John davies played an important role in the establishment of Nottingham Modern Rugby Football Club.

Gilliver, ? , taught Mathematics and English. He never taught me but seemed to have a rather reserved nature. Another teacher told us that Mr Gilliver had served in the forces during the war and had been captured by the enemy. He subsequently escaped and journeyed half the length of Italy to get back to the Allied side - something that was referred to as ‘Gilliver’s travels.’ I wish I had known more about that. He left in 1956. [J.G.]

Graham, ? , taught History and Maths. A good teacher. He could be very funny/comical and on occasions would tell us little adventure stories he had made up. Left in 1957. [J.G.]

Hayward, F. , taught Mathematics. Known as ‘Hank.’ Although not a particularly good teacher, as far as I was concerned, but he was certainly a character. I don’t know any details but he served in the Army throughout the war and on occasion could fairly easily be distracted into reminiscing about military matters. He had good class control - any infringements were likely to be dealt with a ‘cut.’ This was a rather painful single strike across the palm of the hand with a short stick which he usually carried about his person. [J.G.] Was still at the school in 1961.

Hodgson, Trevor Strickland, (1922-2006). Featured on the 1947/48 staff photograph. At the time of the 1939 National Survey he was living with his parents in Durham and a ‘student clerk.’

Potter, ? , taught Science. He was not an inspirational teacher, although I do have a vivid memory of him cleaning copper coins in nitric acid and dropping a fragment of potassium into the sink, causing it to explode. Physically he seemed older than most of the other teachers and possibly retired before I left in 1959. [J.G.]

Tarlton, Michael, (1921-1995), probably taught History. He features on the 1947 staff photograph.

Taylor, ? , taught English, History and possibly French. A good teacher - he left in 1956. [J.G.]

Ward, ?, taught French and History, a dapper, mustachioed individual, I would describe him as an ‘R.A.F. type.’ He left in 1956. [J.G.]

Winter, ?, taught Music; enthusiastic, a really good teacher. Sadly he left in 1956. [J.G.]

Teachers identified in the 1947/48 photograph for whom we have little if any information

Allen, ‘Ken’

Butterworth, ‘Les’

Galagher, ‘Jock’

Humphrey, ‘Ron’

Rogers, ‘Stan’

Watson, ‘Jim’

Teachers that Jim Gamble recalls being at the school while he was there but who never taught him

Harcourt, William Geoffrey Alan, (born 1932) taught Physical Education. Was still at the school in 1961.

Killemback, ? , taught Geography and History.

Kingsbury, ? , taught Music.

Lewis, ’Sam,’ taught Physical Education. Was still at the school in 1963. Sam Lewis was heavily involved in the establishment of Nottingham Moderns Rugby Football Club in the late 1950s.

Millwood, Michael Jim, (1938-2001) taught English and History. Was still at the school in 1961.

Proud, Peter, taught Mathematics.

Other members of staff listed on the 1961 Sports Day programme - where we know little more than a surname and an initial

Bond, D.

Delacassa, William Michael, (1934-2004). He was definitely employed at Cottesmore Boys in 1961.

Ferrelley, M.

Fletcher, W.

Marsden, J.

Preston, P.

Sharman, M.

Tanner, C.

Wragg, R.

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