Memories of the thirties

[by Wilf Mellors, 1929-1939]

     Any article about the School in the thirties is bound to be very much a personal view, and in consequence no apologies are offered to anyone - but I hope are very few - whose views differ significantly from those expressed here. In looking back to LGS over a period of more than sixty years, even after having discounted the rose-coloured spectacles which inevitably come with age, one's main feeling is still one of gratitude on two counts. First, that LGS existed, and secondly, that one was fortunate enough to spend time there. My firm belief is that at that time we were given an excellent grounding not only in basic knowledge, but also in how to keep fit, and many other aspects of civilised living.

     To quote Field Marshal Slim "there are no good units or bad units, there are only good officers and bad officers", and at LGS, during my time, we were blessed with a group of officers [masters] who deserve nothing but praise, and in retrospect one can only be amazed at their dedication and patience. It may be invidious to cite individual names, but from my point of view this article would be incomplete without mentioning the Headmaster, Sidney Russell Pullinger [known as S. R. P.] who, of course, set the whole tone. He was a strict disciplinarian with an insistence on precision in language, whether English, Latin or French. Additionally I retain very grateful memories of 'Freddy' Gray, the chemistry master, with his single minded and passionate determination to ensure that what he taught was learned to the extent that it would be permanently remembered, and 'Bill' Trowbridge for his warmth, understanding and quiet Christian wisdom.

     There was never any doubt as to who was in charge, and, as far as the school was concerned, no one could have accused SRP of being a democrat, but there was one occasion when he succumbed to the vox populi. This was in 1937 [I am open to correction on the date], when a song, which the whole school considered to be far beneath its dignity to sing, was selected as an item at the annual prize giving. There were several protest meetings, and eventually SRP conceded, but the words with which he announced the surrender left us feeling somewhat small rather than victorious.

     What would now be termed the school infrastructure improved steadily during the thirties. When I arrived the swimming bath had just been completed, and this was followed by the new science block, the gymnasium, the covered cycle shed, and many other minor improvements. Extra curricular activities such as a debating society and facilities for various hobbies were introduced, but would probably seem very limited to today's students. The only loss of an amenity that I can recall was that of most of the trees in the Burton Walks which surrounded the first eleven field, due to Dutch elm disease. Finally, reflecting the political philosophy of the early thirties, the Officers' Training Corps was disbanded and replaced by a scout troop : a change that appeared somewhat ironic when a few years later the more senior members of the school spent the first two weeks of the autumn term of 1938 digging air raid trenches round the edge of the junior field.

     To sum up, although I, and I suspect many of my contemporaries, like to think that what we experienced at LGS was unique, I doubt whether it was in fact. Taking into account the social changes that seem to have been taking place continuously since 1945, it seems to me that in terms of the general school environment and our development, our experience at LGS was not so very different from that of subsequent decades of students. In other words, LGS was an excellent school then, and has continued ever since.