The school of 64


This image is around four feet (1200mm) long, about six inches high and seems to be of around 400 pupils and staff at my estimate. Image kindly supplied by Clive Roberts. Click for a larger version – but please be prepared, it’s a huge photo.

This is a quick one, but being as it’s Christmas holidays, I think this will prove an interesting one to ponder on for locals of a certain age.

The above image is an old-style wide panorama school group photo taken of what I believe to be the entire of Shire Oak Grammar’s pupils in 1964. This photo has featured here before, but courtesy of local history author Clive Roberts who’s scanned an original four foot print (from which I’ve stitched them back together), I can now share a high quality version above – click on it to see full size, but be patient, it’s huge.

To make things easier, I’ve chopped it into chunks, twice with different numbers of parts so if someone falls on an image edge in one set, they won’t in the other. Both sets are the same quality.

Click on any slice to see the image full size:

The same image, cut into eight:

If you’ve got memories of the school, or indeed this photo, or you recognise yourself, or someone else – please do get in touch, either by commenting here or mailing me. BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Thanks to Clive for his patience and hard work here – please don’t forget that his current book, ‘Old Public Houses of Brownhills (Part One) is available now and selling fast – so you need to move fast to bag a copy. To find out more, click here.

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to The school of 64

  1. Sheila Norris ( nee Jones) says:

    Thanks, Clive! I didn’t go to SOGS until 1967 but recognise some of my fellow VI Formers here (Can’t always remember names now). Also some members of staff. I don’t have any photos of my time there, so this was good to see and made me chuckle!

    • stgreenuk says:

      Dear Sheila, I have faint recollections that we were in the same year at SOGS, as I too passed through those scary doors in 1967. Hope you and yours are all well. Steve Green

  2. John Anslow says:

    Hello Bob. Happy memories!

    If we label your 8 sections of the photograph a to h, and the 8 rows from the front A to H, we can number from the left of each section to identify any person.

    So, Headmaster E.B. Merriott, (always known as “The Gaffer” in my time) appears at eC1.

    Here are the other members of staff:

    cC 1-3 Administrative and Support Staff?
    cC4 Mr Wimbury (Art)
    cC5 Miss E Langley (Biology)
    cC6 Mr N Hunt (Geography)
    cC7 Mr Maddocks (French)

    dC1 Miss E Marsh (Head of English)
    dC2 Mr J Birch (Head of RE)
    dC3 Mr RF Langley (English)
    dC4 Mr FG Butler (Physics)
    dC5 Mr Cooper (English?)
    dC6 Miss S Tibbetts (?)
    dC7 Mr J Wemyss-Holden (Deputy Head)

    eC1 Mr E B Merriott (Headmaster)
    eC2 Mrs Read (Deputy Head, Girls)
    eC3 Mr J Gorman (Boys’ PE)
    eC4 Mr Crompton (History)
    eC5 Mr H Poulsom (Chemistry)
    eC6 Miss Ellis (Domestic Science)
    eC7 Mr White (Maths)

    fC1 Mr J Hough (Maths)
    fC2 Miss Spicer? (Girls’ PE)
    fC3 Mr DCB Roberts (Head of Maths)
    fC4 Miss Whiteman (German)
    fC5 Mr Dickenson (Woodwork and Technical Drawing)
    fC6 (?)
    fC7 Mr Stirt? (RE)

    The School Secretary, Mrs Horrobin, is at gC1

    If I get an hour or two today, I’ll see how many of the pupils I can remember.
    John Anslow

  3. Martin Littler says:

    Hi Bob
    At that time i was at the Brownhills Central School, (we were far to clever to go too Shire Oaks that will start them writing in), but i can see a few that i knew, Alan James, Eric Sumnall , Barry Warner should be on there and Valerie Scoffham , there are many faces on there that i recognize, but can not put names, we all went our different ways.
    Kind regards.

  4. Clive says:

    Hello Bob, forgot to inform you the photo kindly loaned to me by Terry Basford. Nice one Terry.

  5. Dave Heeley says:

    My father-in-law Bob Shirley is on the far right of the photo. He’s over the moon as he never had a copy and hasn’t seen it for 50 years or so.

  6. John Hopkins says:

    I recognised Haydn Poulson, and Mr Wemyss-Holden. I taught with both of them at Shelfield- Mr Poulson was head of science and Mr Wemyss – Holden was Headteacher. He later moved to The Lord Gray school in Milton Keynes. He was I believe a fighter pilot in ww2.

  7. Mick Jobburns says:

    I spent my first year of secondary school at Aldridge Grammar School while Shire Oak was being built . We were the first intake at Shire Oak , our year & the year above us . In my year my closest friends were Michael Arblaster , Lynn Anchor , Brian Corbett , Keith Wilcox & Robert Hopcroft & Keith Taylor . Funnily enough I met Lynn Anchor’s uncle who you probably know on the blog Jeff Harrington the Powder Hall sprinter at a Turkey & Tinsel week & he looked really well for 95 . A lot of the pupils in the photo keep in touch & have held reunions . I think Brian Eustace & his wife are the driving force behind that .

  8. John Anslow says:

    Hello again, Bob. Just a couple of corrections to my comment above. My brother, Paul, tells me that the bearded young man I thought might have been Mr Stirt was, in fact, a music teacher known to the pupils as “Manfred”, though Paul cannot recall his real name. Also, “Miss Whiteman” should have been “Miss Wightman”.

    Between us Paul and I think we’ve put names to about 150 pupils. I still exchange Christmas cards and the occasional email with a few school friends, so I’ll mention the picture to them and ask for their help in identifying who’s who.

    Strange how memory works, isn’t it? The rows of young faces cause names I’ve not thought of for over half a century to come rushing to mind.

  9. Malcolm Kelly says:

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the great photo. I moved up to SOGS in September 1963 from Ogley Hay Juniors.
    So on this photo I have just started 2nd year (long trousers too thank goodness). I am seated on the floor on the front row 15th from the left between John Franklin and Keith Walker.

    I can recognise most of the boys from my year but sadly few of the girls.

    SOGS was a great school to go to and I have many fond and happy memories there – I met my wife of 41 years there too.

    Keep up the good work and all the best for 2017.

    Cheers .

  10. Hi Bob. I transferred from Ogley Hay Girls School the day Shire Oak opened. My best friends were Lynn Jellings and Cheryl Hart. I am directly behind the headmaster. I recognise most people, but struggle to put names to them. I remember this being taken and the decision as to whether the girls should wear sweaters or not. Brought back many memories….

  11. Ian James says:

    Hi Bob,
    My brother Jim James is in front of Mr Gorman and I am on the front row. Miss Wightman married and became Mrs Black. The others that I recognise include Stephen Cook, John Deely, John Craddock, Michael Hunt, Michael Turner.

  12. Lynn Franklin says:

    Hi Bob

    I am now married to John Franklin who was in the second year in 1964, while I was in the first year. John is on the front row sitting near Malcolm Kelly, who sent you a photo of Ogley Hay Junior School from 1963. I am on the first section, third row down, second from the left. I recognise a few people nearby – Celia Gutteridge, Ann Rigby, Vicki Hanson, Christine Littler, Caroline Archenhold and further along, Joy Edwards, Joyce Smith and Sue Bullock. There are others that we recognise too and it’s interesting to try and name as many as we can. I still keep in touch with Ann, Joy and Janet Ensor (who doesn’t appear to be on the photo for some reason). I also remember Terry Basford, who was on our dinner table.

    Lynn Franklin (nee Hopley)

    • Sally Jobson (nee Biddle) says:

      Hi Lynn. I don’t think Janet started at the school until later. I still see Ann occasionally – and I used to live next door to your husband, Beverley and Jill. My brother, Michael Biddle is on the second row on the right.

    • Ann Moughan says:

      Hi Lynn, I am standing next to you in the photo, Ann Shakespeare. I remember all the girls you mention, and I have often wondered what became of you and the few others from Norton, including John Field and Kevin Wilford!

  13. Mike Lillywhite says:

    Wow,just came across this website…..I joined Shire Oak GS in 1962. Been staring at the photos especially 1964 and have started to put names to faces.I cleared my roof last year and found the Shire Oak magazine first to fourth editions ( 1965-1968) …..with photos ,stories etc

  14. Sheila Norris ( nee Jones) says:

    Yes, I have a magazine somewhere too. Only joined in the VI Form though. I remember you well, Mike. Louis and Pat too. I used to bring my accordion round to your house sometimes and I’d try to play current pop songs and everyone would sing along! Hope all three of you are well. I also went to Primary School with Louis when I was 4ish and have vague recollections of your childrens’ parties. Better stop here before I turn Brownhills Bob into Friends Reunited! Sheila Norris nee Jones.

  15. Mike Lillywhite says:

    Hi Shelia nice to hear from you …..I seem to remember you lived on the Chester road? I don’t think friends united exists now so this forum may be the only way now to track down friends of a certain vintage! Have you kept in touch with anyone from SOGS? I was on the science side in the V1 form …I’m guessing you were on the Arts side? I’m also starting to remember particular teachers and their idiosynchronies,nick names etc

  16. Sheila Norris ( nee Jones) says:

    Sorry for late reply, Mike, have been away in Edinburgh visiting the grandchildren. Yes, that’s me, living near Sam’s cafe on the Chester Road. My parents moved to the IOM in 1970, so I didn’t get back to the Midlands much after that and sadly lost touch with most people from SOGS. I mostly used to hang around with Annette Jones, Anthea Baggot and Lesley Boulton – are you still out there girls? I’m still in Christmas Round Robin touch with Martin Hearne though – I emailed him the link to the school photo post. I also remember Lesley Barber, Kate Hawkins, Andy Coleman, Dave Williams, Pete Eardley from my year ( Arts VI) Dagmar Bates was my Godmother’s granddaughter, and Linda Proffitt is my cousin’s cousin on the other side of his family. I think you became a vet, if I remember rightly? I lived near High Wycombe for about 30 years before moving here and someone told me after I had left that your brother was based near there in his army days. Is that likely? If so we possibly passed in the street without recognising each other! Do you still live in the area or, like me, are you keeping in touch from afar? Quite enough for one post, I think! Perhaps these names will get people reminiscing.

    • Mike Lillywhite says:

      Hi Shelia, yes I remember the cafe …..also I remember the Sandhills between Holly lane and Chester road.Although it had private no entry signs we used to sneak in and play there as small kids….I have been reading it had been used for tank testing in the war….buried munitions ? probably why the notice was there!!!! It’s a wildlife park now.We lived in Castlefort road just down from Holly lane and once our parents retired and left the house it became a nursing home. I have lived in Barnet and worked in London for some 35 yeas now but visit my sister Trish who lives and still works as a nurse in Sutton Coldfield.
      You’ve mentioned a few names I remember …I knew Annette Jones and Lesley Barber quite well.Peter Eardley was big lad who provided much needed ballast for the school rugby team ….I enjoyed the sport …I joined the school in 1962 as a late entrant and Mr Gorman was the PE teacher.He used to arrive at school in what we called a bubble car, a noisy three wheeler with a transparent roof which opened up to get in and out.I remember he introduced boxing to the school and my initial excitement at being selected was tempered when I found out our first tournament was against a local ‘ Borstal’ school! Mr Day replaced Mr Gorman as head of PE and he introduced Rugby for the first time….I switched from football to Rugby and have/ had a photo of the first ever Shire Oak rugby team ..1965 I think.
      I lost touch with school friends once I moved away and started working but just recently traced Keith Pointon and have exchanged emails ….also I remember Alan Shaw,Robert Henworth,Mick Bullock ….
      Louis being in the Army was always moving home not just in the UK but abroad too.He did very well and eventually was appointed Surgeon General of the UK armed forces.I think he may still have contact with Annette Jones …I will check

      • Sheila Norris ( nee Jones) says:

        Yes, saw Louis on TV once being interviewed outside Houses of Parliament about fact that army wounded were now being treated in ordinary NHS hospitals rather than Military hospitals. I thought he was a dead ringer for your Dad! Strangely enough there is a Dr. Lillywhite here in the IOM – we have asked him if he is a relative of yours but apparently not.
        I don’t remember the bubble car but do remember all hell breaking loose because the Rugby Team ( I think) had managed to bodily pick up Mr Bell’s Volkswagon and carry it right down to the bottom of the sports field ( or something like that!) He taught English.
        Yes, I remember those lads’ names you mentioned. Between us we’ll soon have the whole VI Form named!

  17. Mike Lillywhite says:

    Hi Shelia you mentioned primary school in an earlier message …I think that was St Johns school in Lichfield! We went there from the age of 4 till about 7/8 …It seemed old then and I only found out a couple of years ago that the school building had a history dating back to the late 1700s. It is now a boutique hotel and we all went back there a couple of years ago to stay overnight and reminisce ……The cobbled playground and walled garden are still is the hall ( now a bar ) It all felt so much bigger when we went to school there.I remember the assemblies in the hall with the gramaphone player which had a funnel shaped speaker and you had to wind it up in order for it to play a record and the classrooms ( the class sizes were only about a dozen or so children) are now bedrooms but I could remember the wooden desks with sloping lids,ink wells and pens with metal knobs to write with ……we’ve come a long way over these last 60 years .Trish thinks you would have known Ann Marie Roberts and one of you cut off the others pigtail with a scissor …True or false?

    • Sheila Norris ( nee Jones) says:

      True! Anne-Marie was my best friend and was “testing” the scissors! We were about 5. I had been begging my Mum to let me have plaits like the other little girls and my hair finally grew long enough to just about get them into plaits only 2 or 3 inches long. Didn’t last long! I took it home, still with the bow on the end and my Mum had to cut off the other one to match. I later grew my hair really long again, so got my plaits back. Trish has a wonderful memory, I had forgotten all about that. Made me chuckle. Still sending Anne-Marie Christmas cards.
      School was Borrowcop, but I believe it later changed its name to St. Johns. The two youngest classes were held in a nearby hall of some sort, not in the school. We all trooped off in a crocodile each lunchtime to MacNulty’s cafe. When we moved from Gentleshaw to Chester Road when I was 6, I changed schools, so never actually went to the main school although I remember the outside as you describe it from going for some sort of joining interview. I remember there were broken windows! Incidentally, I came home from school soon after I started there and told my Mum “Mummy, oh I do love Louis Lillywhite!” When asked why I replied ” because he has such lovely freckles” ! Brownhills Bob is turning into Lichfield Lore here. We’ll get thrown out if we are not careful! Best wishes to you all.

      • No, never! It’s all welcome. We’re a broad church and please do feel free to keep the discussion going – it’s lovely


      • Louis Lillywhite says:

        Dear Sheila – you should have said at the time! I do recall the trip to MacNulty’s cafe, if only for my earache that started there, and led to a small operation in hospital, when we were eating bacon sandwiches – put me off them for decades! Also recall at least one of your parties at your house and the Transport Cafe on the Chester Road – when I worked at Collins loading lorries the drivers would congregate there at the end of the day to fill in time before ‘clocking off’.

        • Sheila Norris ( nee Jones) says:

          Hi Louis, perhaps I did! The only other person I can remember from Borrowcop, apart from Anne-Marie, is Lindsay Saddler who arrived every morning on the back of her Mum’s bike. We were in touch right up until the 70s when she was working in London for the DoE and I was doing a similar job for one of the London Boroughs. I mentioned to Mike that I heard you were once stationed near High Wycombe. I lived at Hazlemere then Penn/Tylers Green for 30 years before moving here. We were practically neighbours! Good to hear from you.

  18. Kevan Done says:

    Hi Bob,
    My name is Kevan Done, and I was also one of the first intake at Shire Oak Grammar. Unfortunately, I was only there for the first two years but I do have fond memories of those times ans also remember quite a lot of the other guys. My class was 1alpha, so obviously I remember the names of those classmates more than some of the others.
    Books were a liitle short in those days and so we had to share. The person I used to share with was Linda Proffitt, who went on to marry Brian Eustace. I have moved around the country quite a lot, so when I was in invited to the 50th anniversary of SOGS, I was intrigued to to know what had happened to the others. After retirement I moved back to the Midlands, and have met Brian and Linda a couple of times, along with one or two others from that period. I was at the club when Brian reunited with his group ‘SIGHT AND SOUND’.
    At the time I lived in Pelsall, and so I knocked about with some guys who also lived in the area. For example……I played tennis at the vicarage with Richard Chatham (vicar’s son), ? Mills, Mike Davies, John Holdcroft. I also worshiped a girl called Vibeka Hanley from a far… chance.
    I met Fred Skellern aka FRED at the reunion, we chatted about the time we played football for SOGS. I also joined the boxing team, but at the time we were to fight against the boarding school, it co-incided with a cricket match, so never had the pleasure.
    Only just discovered the site, so great to read the comments from the guys and see the school photo. Still got a few stories to tell from those early days.

    • Michael Jobburns says:

      Kevin, If you pick up this reply could you send me a private message. It’s about a school reunion

  19. Does anyone remember Marie and Janet Brown from Brownhills, they are my cousins ! They both moved too Wales after they got married I would.ove to get in touch with them, unfortunately I don’t know their married names.

  20. Carol Jackaman says:

    I was at the school from year it opened and into year 6 . I am on both the sets of pictures .

    • Gillian Aziz nee Craddock says:

      OMG! How lovely to read the chats from SOGS. I remember when the school photo was taken….seems like yesterday. I was one of the first intake to the new school and came from Hednesford with my friend Penny. It was a great school with some fantastic teachers….yes, at first the head was known as The Boss..It felt like the walk of shame, to head down that long corridor and knock at the door at the end.
      By the way the guy known as Manfred is Geoffrey Leigh, music teacher. He taught me , or tried to, A level music, but I was the only pupil so our lessons were held in the hall and often overlooked by The Boss staring in through the windows at the back.
      Can anybody tell me why the area used as a dining room was called the Crush Hall….? It always sounded odd. But we used it for private study as well, again often overlooked by the head who discouraged any kind of chatter….there was a lot of laughter, I remember.
      I have a school photo of 1962 as well as 1964 if anyone is interested. I’m happy to relinquish ownership.
      I left in 1965 and went to teacher training college, worked my probationary year and then got married and spent the next twenty years working abroad. So I lost touch with many old school friends.

      • Carol says:

        I remember you Gillian I was also in first year of it opening . I also went to teacher training college , got married but carried on teaching until I had children well three of them to be exact ! One daughter became a teacher . I was terrified of the head .

  21. Madeleine Sedgwick (neeHughes) says:

    I have only just come across this site, strange, as having recently moved house again I found the rolled up photo of intakes, made me wonder where everyone scattered to after leaving. I also found 3 b&w photos of my year- as I started as a first year when the school opened, these 3 photos were taken in year 1 of the vi’th year- if anyone would like to see them. I left at the end of that year.
    It was interesting to hear a few names which amazingly I still recall.
    Hope everyone is well… only feels like a decade ago rather than 57 years… can that possibly be true?
    Best wishes to all

    • Derek Broadhurst says:

      Hello, Madeleine…
      You may remember me from our time at Shire Oak. I think you were in the year below mine, but we used to share the same dinner table. I am helping to try to trace former pupils and your name is on the list We are hoping to arrange a 60th reunion at the school on 4th September, 2021. Please get in touch, as we would love to see you there or, if you are not able to attend in person, perhaps as part of a ‘zoom’ event. Please reply if you can…
      Derek Broadhurst

  22. Nick Jackson says:

    Hi John

    What a memory you have! I was really pleased to see the school photo, and was able to remember a few of us, including yourself, Brian Price, Keith Wilcox, Tony Bull, Ronnie White, Smiffy, Virginia Ratcliffe, Jennifer Arrowsmith, Susan Craddock and a few I’m struggling to put a name to. I ran into Dagmar Bates, who was Pete Dowen’s girlfriend back then, many years ago in Somerset. Happy days!

    • Michael Jobburns says:

      Hello Nick, I hope you pick this up as we are arranging a school reunion & would love to see you there. Get in touch if you can

  23. Sheila Norris says:

    As soon as I saw the name Madeleine Hughes I got a mental picture of you aged about 17 when I joined the school! I guess we are all frozen in time in our teens although I for one will be 72 next month! I wouldn’t be able to come to a reunion probably ( especially as IOM borders are closed for Covid at present with no end in sight) but zoom might be a possibility for me too so please keep me in the loop. Sheila Norris nee Jones

    • Michael Jobburns says:

      Hi Sheila,
      It’s Mick Jobburns hear, I’m helping with Derek, David Hughes & Bob Hopcroft to arrange the reunion. Could you drop your email address on a private Facebook message to me & I’ll keep you posted on the arrangements

      • Sheila Norris says:

        Thanks Mick. Have done so. Accidentally hit send before I signed it but guess you’ll know it’s me!

      • Michael white says:

        Hi Mick it is such a long time ago that we played football together and enjoyed train spotting trips to LTV.
        Hope you are well

        • Michael Jobburns says:

          Hello Michael,
          How are you, where are you living now?
          Would you be interested in the School reunion
          It would be great to have a longer chat with you.
          Drop me a private message on Facebook if you are on there. If not I’m sure we can find some other way of communicating.
          I await your reply

          • Mike White says:

            Hi Mick good to hear from you we are living in Surrey happily retired.
            Would love to come to the reunion but unfortunately currently planning COVID allowing to be out of the country. I will come if circumstances change.
            I am on Facebook so let’s try and catch up.
            All the bst

  24. Steve Watts says:

    I’m a bit late to this particular party but I wonder if one of your contributors is Stephen Green, star of stage, screen and Howdles Lane? If so, I think that our respective SOGS intakes (’66 and ’67) are woefully under-represented here. There must be other ex-SOGS inmates out there from that era who haven’t yet joined the choir invisible and who would like to contribute a tale or two. It’s possible, of course, that they haven’t heard of Brownhills Bob and his blog.
    To kick us off, a question: When did the panoramic photos cease? I honestly can’t remember my intake year (’66) being marched out and photographed. Perhaps the school cohort had grown too big by then. Anyway, best wishes to all ex-SOGS out there and I hope you have survived Covid and are enjoying your retirement/impending retirement.

    • Linda Smith says:

      Hi Steve. We are very late to this post! You were best man in 1976 to fellow SOGS classmates Linda Ewins and Larry Smith. What a fine job you did and 46 years later we are still going strong and living, happily retired, in Shropshire. Would love to catch up sometime?

      • Steve Watts says:

        Hi Larry and Linda
        Great to hear from you. Still alive myself as you can probably
        tell and living on the Isle of Wight. Have also been retired quite
        a while and loving it ! Hope you are both well and enjoying your
        retirement. Best wishes.

  25. Lorraine Adams (Jones) says:

    Hi all
    This is the first time I have seen this, I started at Shire Oak in September 1965 so I don’t recognise so many of the pupils from the 1964 photos but do remember most of the staff. My year called the Head “the Beak” presumably due to the nose. My favourite teachers were Miss Wightman who married and became Mrs Meredith and Mr Cooper. I returned with my family to South Wales in 1972 and have lived here ever since. I wonder if anyone has photographs from the 1965 intake? I would love to see that xx

  26. Joy Daly (nee Wycherley) says:

    Hello from Australia
    I just found this site with the 1964 photograph of Shire Oak Grammar students and staff. I am so excited to see this after all these years as I lost my copy in a house move. I migrated to Australia with my family in 1965 and am still living here. My name was Joy Wycherley then and is now Joy Daly. My closest friend was Julia Bradbury and my boyfriend, for a while, was Alan Shaw. I lived in Brownhills.
    It is a lifetime ago really since those times but I still remember so much about the school, the school dinners. I remember we used to call one of the desserts ‘cement pie’, I can’t imagine what it was actually made from!
    I kept in touch with Julia Bradbury for a couple of years after moving to Australia but gradually our lives got in the way. I will never forget Alan Shaw, my first love and the time we went to cinema to see ‘Hard Day’s Night’.
    Thanks so much for allowing me to see this photo again and to reminisce.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.