Memories of Technical High School

By Alan Ellis

I was visiting Gt Y in May 2016 as I was visiting my mother on the occasion of her 92nd birthday - she now lives in Needham Market and my sister Marilyn Hale lives in Stowmarket.

I was able to visit the Time and Tide museum and found that it brought back a flood of memories of my time in Yarmouth. I essentially left Gt Y when I went up to London University in 1965.

I went to the Technical High School from 1960 to 1965 (Priory School 1954 to 1958; Styles Secondary 1958 to 1960). Being an unexpected 11+ failure I owe much to several exceptional and talented teachers - at the Styles - Mr Kenyon; and John Gear in particular. At THS Wally Harmer was an exceptional English teacher - reading Silas Marner and changing into each character! "Chip" Roll was an exceptional math teacher (and bridge & poker!) - I still recall his first calculus class - great illustration enabled me to get "it" immediately. History came alive through Mr. Simpson and Ms Smedley, Arthur Bowles was the PE teacher; Margaret Cranshaw was a classy lady - English/lower sixth and girls headmistress. "Waggy" Wagstaff headed up the chemistry/physics dept. Dave Butcher woodworking & fencing;  "Pop" Parkin was the quintessential head master ably assisted by JC Wilkins. My form teacher for 3S and 4S was Alan Allsopp - not a favourite of mine from the moment he chose  to attempt to embarrass me in front of the entire class for a minor infraction with the chess club - what a bulging eyed idiot!

A memorable moment in 5A was getting myself into a fight with the school bully/steet-wise heavy "Budgie" Peake - I would not yield to his bullying and found myself at lunchtime on the playing fields squaring off against him. Much to the surprise of many including "Budgie" I floored him with my first punch catching his eye; nose and mouth all in one major impact. We then ended up in a scuffle on the ground with my having him in a headlock - only for me being eventually dragged off him by the school prefects who had taken their sweet time arriving. To my surprise at the next morning assembly "Budgie" came over and shook my hand - we had a kind of friendship from that moment onwards.

Class mates and rugby teammates included Terry Brackenbury; Jonathan Bloomfield; Guy Poynton; Stalkey Packham; ? Dinsmore.


This page was added by Alan Ellis on 27/07/2016.
Comments about this page

Thank you, Alan Ellis for stirring my memory bank of the Gt. Yarmouth Technical High School. I went there in 1947 to 1952 when it was located next to the Edward Worledge School  at the end of Gorden Road, Southtown.

A few years ago I wrote an article, not about the school, but I was making enquiries about a shop called Weldon's where I worked from the age of 12 until I left school at the age of 16. You may find the responses of interest to you. However, I thought it might be an idea to write something comparing the old school with the new which I hope you will find it interesting

Raymond Brown


By Raymond Brown
On 25/09/2016

Following on from the Alan Ellis article ref. Great Yarmouth High school, I thought that comparing the time I went to the Great Yarmouth Technical High School (as it was known then) with that of Alan Ellis may make interesting reading.

The conditions of the ‘Old’ were nothing to write home about but they turned out some good students.

What was the Old School like? It was co-educational with strict rules. There were two playgrounds – one for the girls and one for the boys separated by a high brick wall. There was, however, a gate to get from one side to the other and if caught lingering, particularly the boys, it was immediate detention.

The overall facilities were not too great. For example, the toilets were outside and very cold during inclement weather.

There was no gymnasium and during the summer months, we were allowed to go into a large field frequented by cows. Also a series of ‘dykes’ or streams causing many a mishap, particularly to the boys, of going back to class with wet feet. I went one better – I fell in and got soaking wet.

To make way for an increase in the number of pupils, extra prefabricated classrooms were built next to the main building. Four of these were ‘workshops’ to be used for teaching Carpentry, Brickwork, Plumbing and Engineering. These workshops were primarily for the boys. The girls used the main building to learn typing and office skills – no such things as computers. The boys spent their third year in each of these workshops to help them to decide what ‘craft’ they would like to pursue. There were, however, two or three boys who preferred to learn office skills.

As I said before we did not have a gymnasium but the boys would be taken to a local playing field for Football or Cricket lessons. During inclement weather, the sports teacher  Mr Baker would assemble us in the canteen and read us a story. He was very good at it and I remember the first book was ‘Three Men in a Boat’.

After a snowfall he would take us to the ‘field’ for a game of snowballs – he usually got the worst of it. For Health and Safety reasons, this is definitely not allowed now.

At the end of the five years, most of us sat for the GCSE exams and then went our separate ways.

Returning to the teachers, I am sure most of you would remember – Taffy Evens who taught French, Mr Whitehead who taught music, Mr ‘Chip’ Roll who taught Maths. He was aware his nickname was ‘Chip’ and he asked  us Why? We replied that he was a heavy smoker and his fingers were discoloured and indeed, they looked like a cooked chip. He saw the funny side of it and accepted his nickname.  Then there was Wally Harmer who taught History and R.I. He also acted as a Careers Master and helped pupils to find work. In fact, he wrote a very nice letter  for myself  and a friend of mine with the same surname as me which I am sure helped us to secure a five-year apprenticeship with BOAC (now called British Airways). Frank Hindes taught Biology and Mr Green was our General Science teacher. For the practical subjects, we had Mr Chauner for Engineering, Mr Porter for Brickwork, Mr Knott for Woodwork and finally Mr Mace for Plumbing.

65 years is a long time ago and I hope I have their names spelt correctly.

Adjacent to the school was a large orchard and every lunch time Mr Mace would warn us not to steal the apples but if we did we were asked to bring him some. Another one of his favourite tricks was that if we were caught eating sweets in class he would confiscate them and pass them around the whole class so the owner ended up with none.  The trick worked  - no one ate sweets in class.

The 5 year apprenticeship was first class not only learning the practical skills but attending college where I studied Maths, Theory of Machines, Strength of Materials and Thermodynamics.

My thanks to, not only the ‘Tech’ but also to Mr Harmer who pointed me in the right direction.

Raymond Brown


By Raymond Brown
On 30/09/2016

1929  Mr. John Parkin was appointed Science Master at the Edward Worlledge Senior School and Principal of the  Municipal School of Science.

1943  The Great Yarmouth Education Authority established  the Junior Technical  School under the headship of Mr.J.Parkin.  Opened  4th May 1943 at  the Hospital School by the mayor  Alderman Debbage for boys aged 13+.

1944   The  Education Act.  known generally as the  ‘Butler Act’  after  R.A. Butler MP (Rab)                        Under the Act the tripartite system was established which created three types of state funded secondary schools.   The results of 11+ tests would determine which school the pupil would attend.   Academic pupils would attend Grammar Schools,  Technical pupils would attend Technical Schools  and Practical pupils would attend the Secondary Modern Schools.    ( original wording )  In reality very few Technical  Schools were built and in most areas of the country a two-tier system of a Grammar school for pupils passing the 11+ tests and a Secondary Modern School.

1945  In September the school moved to premises on Lichfield Road previously known as the Edward Worlledge Senior School.

1946  The Great Yarmouth Education Authority used the Act to re-organise the Junior Technical School and established the Technical High School.  The age of admission was lowered from 13+ to 11+       Ten places became available by selection from the County of Norfolk

1947  The T.H.Sbecame the first co-educational school  in the Borough and Miss Margaret Crawshaw was appointed to the staff.   (The first intake 24 girls) 

1950   As accommodationfor the school was shared by the Technical College conditions became increasingly un-satisfactory. In 1953 /1954  “almost intolerable”    The  new School was designed by the School’s Architect  Mr. F. Jackson A.R.I.B.A. in the spring of 1950 with Mr.H.R.Lister A.R.I.B.A. as Principal Assistant. Following Mr Lister’s resignation in January 1954 the school was completed under the direction of Mr. P.H.Liversidge M.A. A.R.I.B.A. who became Principal Assistant in place of Mr. Lister.   A   national shortage of steel 1952/53 delayed the completion of the buildings by approx. a year.

1952/53   Subject staff appointed to the T H S were responsible for advising on every detail relating   the equipment and materials required for their subject to furnish the new buildings. Also required was the subject syllabus and details of examinations/assessments at the end of the course.

1954    The Duke of Edinburgh opened the school on 2nd December 1954.   The buildings were the first in the country to provide the facilities for courses with a vocational bias.

 THE  CURRICULUM     Pupils from 14+ spent two years in the region of 20% of the curriculum time on a course with a strong vocational bias. Each course would involve at least 3 related subjects,  for example the  subject contents for two of the courses available were;

(1)   Business Studies   included    Accounts/ bookkeeping with Shorthand  and Typing. 

(2)   The Building Course   with  Practical Carpentry & Joinery, Brickwork, & Plumbing, together with associated  Theory & Building  Construction in the drawing office.

 1966  Following the retirement of Mr. Parkin some ‘vocational’ subjects were retained but not linked as part of a co-ordinated course.  Mr. Porter  ( Brickwork) retired and the Building course was closed.

By Richard (Dickie) May
On 15/07/2019

Reg Baker a teacher at Gt Yarmouth Technical college in the 1960s and mentioned in the text above was my uncle I would love to hear from people what he was like.  

By Ian Baker
On 15/10/2022

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