The Portman Collection – part three: Final forms, and on with the sport


Image 7: Another class with some great clothes, and some remarkable collars. Photo generously supplied by Tony Portman via David Evans. Click for a larger version.


Tony’s notes for image 7. Click for a larger version.

In the third serialised article of what will turn out to be quite a few, here’s the next three photos from Walsall Wood Secondary School in the 1950s with accompanying notes, as introduced in this blog post here – This time, I am including the handwritten notes by Tony himself below each image.

I shall post the photos in batches of three so we aren’t swamped with too much information at once – and these ones feature he last two form groups for now, and the first team photo.

I shan’t comment on the notes directly, or attempt to transcribe: these are clearly a matter for readers as they obviously raise questions as well as answer them – and the last thing I want to do is lead the witnesses!

Thanks to Tony Portman who generously granted access to a remarkable collection, and to David Evans for scanning them so diligently. People like you gentlemen are keeping local history alive. Thank you.

Please, any comments, contributions or observations welcome. Either comment here, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.


Image 8: This seems to be the last form photo for a while. Love the Walsall Wood Colliery chimney belching smoke in the background. This form teacher looks a bit uncomfortable! Photo generously supplied by Tony Portman via David Evans. Click for a larger version.


Tony’s notes for image 8. Click for a larger version.


Image 9: Walsall Wood Secondary Modern First 11 – the first team photo of the collection. What a cracking bunch of lads these look. Photo generously supplied by Tony Portman via David Evans. Click for a larger version.


Tony’s notes for image 9. Click for a larger version.

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9 Responses to The Portman Collection – part three: Final forms, and on with the sport

  1. david oakley says:

    Hi Bob,
    Once more I am drawn to the Portman Collection, and further thanks to yourself, Tony and David for allowing me this privilege.
    As the senior male member of the Oakley tribe in Walsall Wood, I blazed the trail at Walsall Wood Senior School, for five younger members to follow me, true, the succession lasted for fifteen years, but I had hoped, one day, in this crocodile of Oakley’s, to see a familiar face grinning back at me from a Portman photo, but up to today- nothing! But today is different ! There, on the very first photo, sixth on the top row, is Winston, my brother, eleven years younger than me and last but one in the crocodile. God ! He’ll be 75, this year, ‘tempus bloomin’ fugit’ as they say.
    This family succession in the old mining villages, fascinates me. Large families, limited means of employment, and the pride of ‘following dad’ were the economic stimuli for this. How often on the first day of school could one hear, ‘yes, I taught your brother, two years ago. I knew all his little tricks, so don’t come here with them’, uttered by the teacher, half in jest. Making the pupil half-proud that he had been singled out for notice, and half –afraid that the good advice given by his brother was now to be set at naught. Then there was the ‘Eternal teacher’, Mr Hamer, in my book. Mr. Hamer had always been there, since the school was built , and in years to come, after the school had been knocked down, would walk across the vacant space and say, ‘I used to teach here’. If Mr. Hamer had told me he taught my great-grandad, I would have readily believed him.
    But wait a minute. Who else is on the same photo ? Roger Mosedale, top row, number 10. I, never knew Roger, but the grief and tributes on the blog at his quite recent passing, and the talent of this young man after hearing some of his music, saddened me immensely. But why Walsall Wood Senior School ? According to the blog, Roger was an Aldridge bloke, with the ‘Elms’ and other popular Aldridge visitations clearly outlined. School catchment areas were clearly defined between ‘The Wood’ and Aldridge. Why the Walsall Wood upbringing ? Could Walsall Wood teaching methods have fostered and encouraged the love of music, which later became so prevalent , and created so much joy for others in his later life? I would love to think so.
    On photo two, I picked out young Glenda Dorsett, formerly of Salters Road, a relation of the famous ‘Dickie’, and David Vale. Didn’t know David, but in terms of family ‘crocodiles’ at the school, I noted more than one ‘Vale’ in earlier pictures. The Vales were a large family, living on, or near the old ‘Fold’ in Friezland Lane, The forerunner to the resultant crocodile was Betty Vale, my age, and fellow- scholar. Betty, alas, did not have any ‘little tricks’ as described earlier, but was a sound scholar. I noticed many names that suggested ‘Stonnalite’ to me, but surely they would have their own Senior School by now. Altogether, an enjoyable wander down memory lane. Thanks for opening the gate for me.

    • Hello David,
      To follow on your “crocodile” I am a few years after you but can add Roger Dorsett, Susan Vale and probably the youngest Oakley
      Dave (Eddy) Edwards

      • david oakley says:

        Hi Eddy,
        What ! Our young Michael ? 71 now. Still about. Slipped his tether and headed towards Shelfield about 50 years ago.
        Cheers. David.

  2. Caz says:

    i recognised my cousin Margaret Hollender, image 8, 4th from the right. She lived in New street, later called Pauls Coppice, just up from Mansells butchers.Lovely Lady,Me and my sister were her bridesmaids if i remember correctly. She ran the Willow Vale ? garden centre in Norton with her husband Roy for many years. Now to scour the other pictures for her siblings, Pete, Reg and Betty. Thanks to all concerned for sharing them.

  3. David Vale says:

    In reply to David Oakley comments about the Vale family here is a list.
    Elsie and Bert Mom and Dad, then came Mary,Bert,Louisa,Betty,Charlie,Brian,Alicia,Anthea,Fred,David,Susan.
    Sorry to say but only four still living. Charlie Fred,David,Susan

  4. Derel Blakemore says:

    I am in one of the two Walsall Wood school photos, (image 7) I think that I must have been in both of those classes during my few years of state education as I remember having those people in image 8 as classmates too. What lovely days, no homework, no worries and out to play in the streets at night.
    The Ramsell student is Roy. I think Gerald was his older brother (image 8) and David Clay is No 7 on (image 7)
    I left school in the summer of 1956 aged 14 with a reasonable grasp of the 3 Rs and practical skills that I have put to great use over the years. A bit different for the young kids leaving school now.
    My dad went to the same school and was also taught by Mr. Hamer. In the background of one of the photos you can see the smoke billowing from the colliery chimney where my dad worked as a power house attendant. It reminded me that my girlfriend, who had a pony, was always going on at my dad about how cruel it was to have ponys working undergroud at the pit. He disagreed and said that they were always well looked after and happy. Just after we were married he said that he would ask the manager if we could go underground and she could see for herself, the manager said ok and the next Sunday we did. We were kitted out and the decent in the cage was a bit fast and scary although my dad said it was much slower than normal. It was hot down there but he was right about the ponys, they all seemed quite healthy and contented and treated like pets by the miners.
    I suppose our experience wouldn’t be allowed now in this day and age. It would be very difficult to fill in a risk assessment for a start.
    I saw a photo on here a couple of months ago of the Walsall Wood Junior school Orchestra but I can’t find it now. I was in that too. I was disappointed when Mr. Faid, the school headmaster told me that I couldn’t join the Senior School Orchestra, but later after hearing them play I was glad that I wasn’t taking part in it.
    All good times so easy to forget, but rekindled by a couple of photos.

    • David Evans says:

      Hi Derek
      search “School Daze” article, September 11th, 2011 for the fiddlers..and more

  5. Derek Blakemore says:

    Got my name wrong. Nothing to do with my education, I should have put my specs on.

  6. Len says:

    Hello, My sister Jean put me onto your blog and I am in the 1st photo, back row. My name is Leonard (Len) Stanway and used to live on Hall Lane. I left the area in 1968 and now living in Australia.

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