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OLD MODS
THEN AND NOW

Well, there's no point in pretending they didn't exist!

There were very few ways you could see boys during the school day. You could -
1. Catch a glimpse of them leaving the swimming pool as we went in.
2. See them through the hatch in the upstairs dining room.
3. Meet them at the bottom of the field.
4. Hang onto the railings in the yard and peer through the space between the swimming pool and the dining room.

We rarely saw them in the swimming pool. I think the schedules were arranged to prevent it. But occasionally -

"I remember the passageways under the school where we used to get changed for gym or playing hockey, and the terrific swimming pool, where we hoped to be able to flirt with the boys' class as they were just leaving." Maureen Whitehead '59-'64

"We never ever got a glimpse of the girls in the pool as when I was at the Mod our pool lessons were timed with military precision to avoid such glimpses. Occasionally however items of female attire were left behind which we dutifully handed in to the PE teacher after discussing the possible attributes of the wearer." Nigel Byrne '63-'67

The upstairs dining room was a good place, especially if you were a server. For a few fleeting seconds, you were face to face with a boy-server across the hatch. Nothing but a red-faced dinner-lady and a pile of steaming mashed potatoes between you! If you were lucky enough to be sitting at one of the tables nearest the hatch, you could possibly look at them whilst you were eating. However, in my recollection, this was rather like a Chinese meal - all anticipation and no fulfilment!

Were there any romances that first blossomed through the dining hatch?

"The only good thing about school dinners as far as I was concerned was looking through the gap for the boys - none in particular - all in general." Joyce Latto'59-'64

Going to the bottom of the field was definitely a better option. The middle of the field was, as we all knew, 'no man's (or girl's) land'. An invisible strip, equivalent to the width of the swimming pool block and as dangerous as a minefield, kept us apart. But the field was curved, not square. So, if one kept strictly to one's own side of the field, but went right down to the bottom, it was possible to meet boys. But prefects were always on the watch, so meetings rarely happened (except of course between the prefects!)

"I remember going down to the bottom of the playing fields to meet the boys. It wasn't fair - we got done by the prefects and they were doing exactly the same thing!" Jocelyn Laws '59-'65

"As a junior and senior prefect, I do not remember any fraternizing on the south end of the playing fields and was only aware of the demilitarized zone between the upper areas." Edric Clarke '31-'38

Eventually, it came to pass that boys and girls got together for ballroom dancing and for school plays. Very daring!

"I also remember one [play] we did where Katy Brady did my hair up in something Greek and I felt transformed." Gill Crossley '59-'66

"As we progressed up the school we were allowed a link with the Modern boys in the form of after school ballroom dancing lessons, culminating in a tea dance type party when we could change into our own clothes." Sheila Galbraith '60-'67

"I also recall ballroom dancing lessons with the Modern School boys. A dating opportunity at last! I didn't have much luck." Katy Brady '59-'66

"I remember the ballroom dance lessons with The Mods..........slow, slow, quick, quick, slow! Rusty music coming from a record player with one of the teachers giving instructions but can't remember which one. I was lucky enough to have a handsome, blond 5th former called Paul and he apparently had quite a reputation at the Modern School. All happened when we were in the 5th form, after school hours in our hall or gym." Jackie Rowe '59-'64

"The ballroom classes were held in the main hall at Lawnswood. 4th year girls and 5th year boys. I suppose that was the only time we were allowed during school hours to talk to the boys!! My partner was a friend who I had known since primary school days and we went through junior school together - Sunday school & youth club. We still remain friends and meet up quite often for meals out with our respective partners and at the moment are planning to celebrate our 60th birthdays on holiday together. Back to the "tea dances" - how could we be expected to enjoy this event dressed in school uniform - and I doubt that stilettos will have been allowed on the parquet, polished hall floor." Margaret Eastwood '59-'66

"... and a middle brother called John. He was the object of my desire for many years but alas he never knew I existed which is a shame because there were not many good looking boys next door and he was one of the very few." Christine Pickup '59-'66

"It was against the rules to be seen walking home with one of the boys from the Modern School, I remember – even if he was your brother!" Joan Hardy '58-'65

"When [my sister] Sylvia was there, you weren't allowed to speak to boys from the Modern, even outside. She had a lift in a neighbour’s car whose son went to the Modern. She was shut in the tennis courts as a punishment. She wouldn't have dared to go out." Barbara Catton '57-'62

"One of the 'old boys' has ended up as my brother-in-law, and another is now married to one of my best friends." Sue Hudson '68-'71

"A strange story concerning the boy's school relates to my husband's best friend in the army. His name was Frank Allen and he was a real character. My husband was telling me about this friend, casually mentioning that he came from Leeds - like me. He then said this friend's headmaster used to say, "I like boys that make things happen - not boys to whom things happen!" Of course I immediately guessed that it was Dr. Morton and that Frank went to the Modern School. Frank was a person to whom things happened! Dr. Morton was also reputed to say (according to my husband's friend) "Even in darkest Africa they dress for dinner!"" Bridget Hoare '46-'49

"One thing I remember - because the bus stops (on Otley Road) were at the Boys' School end of the site, the girls were allowed to walk along the path in front of the Boys' School when they left - but we weren't allowed to walk in front of the Girls' School! Didn't the girls finish at 3.30 and the boys at 4 - 'to avoid congestion on the buses' - or to give the girls a chance to avoid the boys!" Colin Robinson '66-'72

"I actually attended the boys' school in my final year in the sixth form. This was brought about because Miss Murdoch, my maths teacher, was in hospital with TB. My teacher at the Modern School was Mr. Adams and he was a very good teacher. I think the boys were rather put off by my presence! When I worked in the Education Department in Manchester, the Assistant Education Officer for Schools was Gordon Hainsworth. He was an old boy of the Modern School, a bit younger than me. He recalled my presence in the boy's school and said it caused quite a stir further down the school!" Bridget Hoare '46-'49

"Not all of your girls behaved in a lady like manner in order to get our attention. I can assure you they succeeded every time though! Resourceful lot, your girls." Nigel Byrne '63-'67


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Paul Brownett ('61-'66) has sent the following memories.

"Life at the MOD was not a happy one for a lot of us. I must admit I envy the Girls recollections of Lawnswood - they obviously had a good education and fun at the same time.

Me, I had many problems. I only found out when I was in my twenties that I had been treated for epilepsy for the first 12/13 years of my life. The fact that I didn't have it was not a problem - I was fed Phenobarb every morning.

My brother (4 years older than I) went to the MOD first. We had little money in those days and my parents couldn't afford to send me to Central - cost of uniforms and bus fares etc. So what happened was that I followed my brother and got all the hand me downs. I therefore looked usually a little scruffy - big brother got all the new stuff. On top of that I used to get colds in winter and hay fever in summer. So I spent a lot of the summer sitting in a classroom or on a bench.

Big brother was many things; sporty and adept at languages. At the Mod there were a number of distinctions in the way they treated the boys.

Academics - wonderful - but better if you came from a family with a little money and private housing. A little aristo blood would help. If you were sporty and played Tennis, cricket, rugby, etc., and were academic then you were in.

We were Council House kids and therefore less than acceptable - however the brother realized much faster than I that a fairly broad Yorkshire accent and a tendency to be Yorkshire Blunt would not get you anywhere. Also the ability to memorise after one reading and parrot back at exams to get good grades. He was apparently better looking than me and had no problem getting girls. He changed his mannerisms and accent to a POSH type and that got him accepted.

I was therefore at a disadvantage and when, at the end of the first year, he got made a Prefect then I was in serious trouble. Brother used to hand out sides (of lines) as punishment to other boys. As he was bigger than them and a Prefect they used to take exception to it and came to see me. I learned to fight rapidly. I used to complain to "Big" Brother so he went and gave them more sides to do. Net result - they started coming for me in bigger numbers. I was ok up to 3 - occasionally 4 - but 5 or 6 and upwards got a little tedious. So I decided to rebel a little.

Brother was good at things but I was not, so he was a teacher's pet and a nark and I was not. Rule One: never go to the same school as your elder brother.

I and other luminaries - John Shapley and Allan McNaught - spent an inordinate amount of time sitting outside the office of Frank (Cheesy) Holland. According to Holland we should all be like my brother and not be troublemakers.

Cheesy had another nickname "Prait". Or should it be prat.

We accidentally broke a window in his office with a cricket ball and got caned for it - so me being me I went back that night and stole the entire stationery store (took three trips). Everything was ok until we got caught selling it at school and got soundly whacked for our troubles. Upper crust types rarely got caned; council house kids - well you can guess.

Cheesy was a tyrant - even more so when made a member of the Headmasters' Conference. He was a Local Authority Grammar School Head and most of his contemporaries were Eton and Harrow Public School types. That was where he believed he should have been and not dealing with the likes of oiks like me.

Some of the names in the LHS Site:

John Linstrum. The man believed he was a God. He was (apart from being a teacher an actor of some renown). He could imitate Richard Burton doing a Dylan Thomas "Under Milkwood" better than Burton. He was flamboyant and an excellent Drama Teacher, but too full of himself.

E B King. Ebby. I have no fond memories of the man whatsoever. Although not sporty, I used to have to do the cross country run - down through Weetwood, across the arches, up through Adel and back down the Otley Road. Ebby used to run behind everyone with a plimsoll in his hand and seemed to delight in whacking little boys bottoms with great gusto. He was a terror in the showers and could turn the water cold just for the fun of it.

There was a trick to the Cross Country. You used to run like crazy to avoid the plimsoll and get to the bus stop opposite Lawnswood Cemetery; recover a little and catch the bus back to school; get off quickly and hide across the road until three-quarters of the boys had got back; then run across the road looking puffed out. Worked for me. You had to be devious to survive the Mod if you weren't one of the cognoscenti.

We were streamed - the smart arses were all in the L for Latin classes and the rest of the boys in the P classes. Even though the whole school population were in the top 2% of the population academically, we were further streamed and if you were P1 or P2 it determined how you were treated.

E T Smith - French Teacher. Very soft mannered and lover of all things French - if it was a holiday he would be in France. If you couldn't get the accent right you were placed at the bottom of the heap.

Mellor - Biology Teacher. Total Tyrant. His favourite occupation was to throw a board rubber at any unsuspecting boy who did not pay attention. Another favourite trick was to pick you up with your arm behind your back and slam you against the wall. He did this once too often I remember, and ended up in Court for assault - the kid's father had money and connections apparently.

A L Parker - Religious Knowledge Teacher. ALP was weird. I note from the LHS site that the girls actually got a sex education - what a wonder - no surprise that they were far ahead of us boys. This is ALP's sex education. He drew two drawings on the blackboard - stylized human reproduction organs. The story went, "When you are married boys, and not before, you get into bed with your wife. You then get a little excited and this here" (pointing to the penis) "gets a little firmer - then you put it into here" (the vagina) "and wiggle it a bit, feel warm and then 9 months later you have a baby. However if you put this thing into this thing and you are not married there is a little guillotine in here that chops it off." Frightened me rigid. Also we were shown a couple of medical pictures of Syphilitic and Gonorrhoeal chancres and got told that unprotected sex outside of marriage did this to you. You would then go mad (King George) and it would drop off. Charming. No wonder we had hang ups.

There were some wonderful teachers like Jock McMenemy (Maths) who were a joy to listen to but on the whole no - Jock was much better than "Juicy" Adams.

The masters all had gowns and some wore the caps. You stood up when they entered or left. You didn't talk back or you got a visit to Cheesy.

When I was there, there was a yellow line painted at the middle of the roadway below the swimming pool all the way up and over the wall to the Pool. This was the 'Death Line'. Shapley and I made a game out of having another boy keep lookout whilst we scooted across into the girls' cycle sheds. Don't want to upset the girls but there was a honeycombed airbrick between the cycle shed and the girls' showers. And we had a box! I suppose we were nasty naughty little boys really. It beat going down to the end of the field and getting caught by the Prefects. What was better was that we borrowed some wire cutters and cut a hold in the fence - then you could go to the "Chocolate Box" at West Park and meet girls there.

The school plays were my escape. I was Assistant Stage Manager on a number of them including Romanoff and Juliet at the Civic. I was also the lighting controller for that one. We only got the Civic because Linstrum had a friend there. I also did 'The Lady's not for Burning' by Christopher Fry. The leading lady was my brother's girlfriend. It was whilst making the coffee during the rehearsal that I heard on the Radio that JFK had been shot. Funny things you remember.

The Dancing classes. Well where else can you legitimately get your hands on a girl? That is what we thought. A lot of the girls used to dance together. We had a short, tubby lady called 'Nan' from the Mark Altman School of Dancing as a teacher. If you accidentally trod on her toes (I have two left feet) she kicked you sharply in the shins.

I remember Peck, Potter and Bleasdale very well. I would have preferred that John Brownett be my brother instead of Tony (two different families and people).

In the 'Lady's Not for Burning', Martin Potter played a serving wench. And a very pretty one too - bit hard to think he was a boy. He got a little upset when one of the mums put a bra on under his costume and stuffed it with socks to give him a cleavage.

Never did get recognition for my services to drama in the School Programmes. I did however get some later when I was involved in a number of local theatre groups and a TV Show called 'Hold Tight'.

I met Miss Longworth several times during my school years and after. One thing I do remember is that all of the female teachers at Lawnswood were "Ladies" and not of the ilk of the male teachers at the Mod.

Strange how looking at one Website brings the memories flooding back.

I did four years 'Hard' at the Mod and fortunately managed to escape into the Royal Navy. After the MOD discipline in the Navy was much easier." Paul Brownett '61-'66

All of which has prompted Tony Chatterton ('57-'64) to add the following:

"His remarks about cross-country are well factual and indeed we played the same tricks. When you got back to school after the C.C. you could go home {assuming it was a pm sports session which it usually was}. So instead of 3.55pm you could with a bit of ducking and diving be released before 3.30pm, what a bonus.

E.B. King, Ebby, was a quite old man when I arrived in 1957, it was debatable if he or "Flecky" Fletcher the music master {and notator of the Alma Mater} was the oldest of the staff, however looks can be deceiving. Ebby however once performed a hat-trick at basketball down in the gym and he got quite a lot of respect from our form for that. KING HOUSE along with SIMPSON HOUSE are nowadays sports houses at LAWNSWOOD SCHOOL.

English master and Actor, Mr Linstrum was most disturbed when Trevor Leach and I moved his old black Rover car [with running boards] to the Girls' School Car Park. We never got punished because fifty years later he is still trying to find the culprits.

And Chewy Mellors, Biology, was indeed a sadist: nearly took Brian Emmott's eye out with an airborne mounting needle blown through a glass tube." Tony Chatterton '57-'64


"Mr Wraith organized a group of students to bicycle tour the Belgian Lowlands summer of 1950 (I believe) Reputed to be a commando in the war he was fit and tough – no messing-about in his class, although he never talked of his wartime exploits. As I remember it was open to 4th, 5th and a prefect joined the group. There were about 15 students who took the challenge – not including Mr Wraith or the prefect.

We took the over-night ferry to Ostende in very rough seas with most of the group becoming seasick. The plan was to stay at youth hostels and ride about 50 miles (approx. 100 kilometres) a day. The war was very fresh in peoples' memories and it seems that every place we went we were given food and a very friendly welcome. People asked our names, where we were from and if we knew the soldiers who had been billeted with them.

The places we visited are now dim in the mist of time but I remember Bruges town hall and being taken down into the dungeons by the keeper and seeing the skeleton being unearthed from below the dungeon floor. I also remember the rounds of cheese, baguettes and fruit at stops during the day." Peter A. Green '47-'52

"Mention of E. B. King reminds of the days that I have not seen mentioned before when the Modern was in the back of the Albert Hall. Two things. In the old gymnasium there which was two stories high, we would be messing around in there and E. B. would come in an upper door and yell us into order, then come down the iron circular stairs and take over. The other one was, in one of those sessions, I got dressed again, and could not find my gym shorts until one of my friends pointed out that I was wearing them under my regular short trousers. But all that was in the fall of 1931." Edric Clarke '31-'38


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This next item was supplied by Jean Dunbar. It's from the Yorkshire Evening Post of Saturday 21st December 1996.

"The party season is already in full swing, which gives an annual opportunity for some to enage in flirtations with colleagues they secretly admire.

In Northumberland, Douglas Burns, MBE, has been thinking of a Christmas party almost 60 years ago when he was given permission to approach members of the opposite sex to hold a mixed Yuletide gathering.

From his home in Ponteland, Douglas recalls: "I occasionally see cuttings from the Yorkshire Evening Post relating to Lawnswood Modern School. I smile when I read 'in those days boys and girls were not allowed to fraternise'.

"In 1938 a few sixth formers got the blessing of Dr. Morton for us to approach the girls' school to hold a mixed 6th form Christmas party. The party was held in the girls' school on December 20th, 1938. Geoff Stuttard was head boy, and Jean Dunbar was head girl. My diary mentions Isabel Cathcart, Aileen Wilkinson and Betty Wilmer. I would be pleased to hear from anyone who recalls what, apparently, was a one-off event."


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Old Mod Edric Clarke (’31-’38) tells me that Headmaster Dr. G. F. Morton (’20-’47) led some of his pupils on treks across Canada in 1928 and 1936. Subsequently, Dr. Morton wrote of his experiences in books entitled “Hike & Trek”, “Hike & Hero” and “Highlands & Backwoods”. Edric himself is pictured on the dust jacket of “Highlands & Backwoods”. These books are now out of print but are easily found from on-line booksellers. Maybe these treks and Dr. Morton’s love of Canada explain why so many Old Mods live either in Canada or the northern states of the USA. (See also Ian Jackson’s anecdote and his comment about Mary Bosanquet speaking to the Mods about her journey across Canada by horseback in 1939/40. Her book was called “Canada Ride”.)

"After reading “Hike and Hero”, I am left with many questions that will probably never be answered because of the lapse of time. On page 170 for anyone who is lucky enough to have a copy, there is a photo of the 1928 Canadian trek showing some of the Modernians on that trek standing on an engine of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and two of them look like younger versions of Cockaine and Green who were also on the 1936 Canadian trek. It is also possible that Frank Thompson was on the early trek and by 1936, he was living and working in Canada, and joined us in Montreal to share that trek with us. I later found out, probably in a letter from Uncle Geoff [Dr. Morton] that Frank was teaching at the Achimoto College in what was then the Gold Coast in West Africa. As I was stationed a couple of hundred miles or so from where he lived in Accra, I took the train down there and spent a very pleasant few days with him.

... "The other name was that of Geoff Stuttard, who was with me in the VIth and another of the gang that went on the Canadian Trek in 1936. The last time I saw him was during the war when I changed trains at Grantham and met him walking down the platform.

... "I still keep hoping that I can make contact with any of the old gang who may still be around - Geoff Stuttard, John Gordon Hubert Fielden (last reported being seen during the war in a swimming pool in India, floating on his back with a martini on his chest. Amazing how the old boy network operated even in wartime), Pat Haire, Tony Morton, Albert Bryan, and any other member of that era or the Canadian Trek of 1936." Edric Clarke '31-'38


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As The Mods have no Old Boys website of their own at present (aw, shame!), this page includes some basic info. about Leeds Modern School.

The Mod grew out of The Mathematical and Commerce School, which was established in 1845 by The Leeds Mechanics' Institute, i.e. nine years before our school was founded.

The motto of The Modern School was Fortem Posce Animum. The original interpretation of this was Pray For a Brave Heart, but by the fifties it was understood to mean Seek For a Strong Spirit. Like us, they had four 'houses': they were Prince, Dakin, School and Turner.

For a potted history of Leeds Modern School, extracted from 'The Owlet', click here.

"I remember standing in Mr. Holland's study looking at the row of swishy canes he had in a pool rack on the wall." Henry Alken '48-'51

"Striped blazers for the junior forms and plain black for the more senior ones starting at 5th year as I recollect. Many of us cheated on the guidelines and got rid of those frightful vertically striped blazers in exchange for the more senior looking black ones. It was a way of showing your lot we were older than we were and therefore more deserving of the attentions of a Lawnswood girl." Nigel Byrne '63-'67

"Deportment was always considered anywhere, any time in the vicinity of the school. One morning at assembly, Dr. Morton reported seeing a Modern School boy, walking up from a store in West Park, eating an ice cream. To emphasize this infraction, he referred to him as a 'guttersnipe'. Strong words, but that was pre-war." Edric Clarke '31-'38

"… Juicy Adams, who was incidentally my favorite math master in the VIth, and I can remember when he first came to teach at the school. I always remember that he would write with a fat fountain pen, and as the first of his students, we probably gave him that name." Edric Clarke '31-'38

"Many of the masters who taught when the school was down in Leeds moved into the new school in 1931. There was Johnny Berry, Freddy Howarth, Dicky Dawe, Heuter Morgan, Gabby Birk, Punch Thornton, Bug Willie, Algie Greenwood, Cammy Mountford, Mephy Hardy and those who never seemed to accumulate a nickname - Fritchi, Bergier, Hill, York, Hewerdine, Allen. Miss Hoisie, Fielden, Thomas, Andrews, King. There must be more names but those have slipped my memory over the last 74 years." Edric Clarke '31-'38

"In the spring of 1932, we were established in the new school, and there were still large piles of soil along the road that ran along the playing fields to your school. The future playing fields were covered with dandelions in bloom. The master for form I was a new teacher named Clark and after recess one day, most of form I and form IIA, IIB, IIC picked dandelions by the handful and took them into the classrooms. The harassed form masters told all of the offenders to throw the flowers out of the windows. Within five minutes, the stentorian voice of Freddy Howarth, complete with irritated moustache was demanding that all the boys come right down and clean up the mess." Edric Clarke '31-'38

"Fortem Posce Animum is still on the old cup and saucer sold during my time at the Modern, probably as a fund raiser, but which is now in pieces awaiting my getting round to having it repaired." Edric Clarke '31-'38
[Edric has now had the cup and saucer repaired. Click here to see a photo of it.]

"I was at the school from 1941 through 1946, although I was born in London. I remember the headmaster, Dr. Morton, of course, with his many idiosyncrasies, and especially his tales of trekking across the Rocky Mountains with the school Boy Scout troop. Others whom I can recall were my form master, Harry Hewerdine; Mr. Fritsche, who taught us German; the science master, Mr. Andrews, who for some strange reason had the nickname of Lizzie; and the PT master, whose name I forget, would swipe us on the butt with an old violin if we failed to meet his expectations. He was eventually replaced by a Mrs. Russell-Jones, who was a gorgeous blonde with a perfect figure, always dressed in shorts and a sports shirt. She raised the morale and the amorous life expectations of the whole school. Another master, whose name I also forget, was very pompous. Whereas most masters would say grace in English over lunch, his grace was in Latin (Benedictus benidicat preasum christum dominum nostrum. Amen.) Latin was not one of my subjects, so I didn’t understand what he as saying, but the words of that grace are burned indelibly into my memory." Reg Groves '41-'46

Having read the above (…and the PT master, whose name I forget...), another OM has commented as follows:
"I believe it would be Mr E B King (we nick-named him "Ebbie") who seemed quite elderly in the late 50s- early 60s. By then he used to use any left-behind rubber strap for the bottom twanging. He was mainly restricted to teaching swimming by then, and so thank you girls, because I recall his favourite instrument of torture was one of those cast-off rubber straps from your swimming caps that some of you left behind in the cubicles." Roger Bolton '57-'64

"We spent the wartime living in Leeds, where my father was an air-raid warden. Leeds received some bombing, but along with the adjacent cities, it produced so much smoke that the whole area was often shrouded and the bombers could not find their targets. Even so, it was scary at times. One night, I remember that a V-1 buzz bomb that had gone off course from the south of England fell and exploded in Leeds. The next night, I awoke to shaking of the bed and trembling of the house, and we wondered what kind of a weapon the Germans had now developed. Listening to the BBC News the next morning, we found that there had been an earth tremor in northern England.
… … During the war years, the Modern School had organized harvest camps in the summer, for two weeks, at Stratford-on-Avon. I went to camp in two consecutive years, 1944 and 1945. We camped in large army-style tents on a private estate, and worked on local farms during the day, mostly picking fruit. On the days that we had to work at the camp (we called it ‘fatigues’), one of the tasks was to take wheelbarrows down to Pargetter’s Bakery on High Street in Stratford, and struggle back up the hill with the barrows loaded with large loaves of bread. During the 1945 camp, the Pacific War ended. Stratford was a favorite for many American soldiers, and on V-J Day, they went crazy!"
Reg Groves '41-'46

"In 1945 I was one of the Dutch boys who went on a program after the war for better health to Leeds. While being with an English family we went every day to Leeds Modern School (for boys). I have very good memories of a teacher with the name "Mr. Wilson", he especially learned Dutch for the occasion." John van der Torn 1945


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I’m very grateful to Ian Jackson (’44-’53) who has written the following account of his time at The Modern School. Ian’s recollections are especially interesting as they span the end-of-the-war years and the time that the two schools changed from being fee-paying, independent schools to state grammar schools. Thanks Ian!


"I arrived at the Modern in September 1944. This was, if I recall correctly, the year of R.A. Butler’s Education Act, which was to change both schools and all our lives profoundly, and certainly from my point of view for the better. At the time, however, it was a fee-paying school, though with city support; fees were 5 guineas a term. I was lucky that the school had recently gone over to a 5-day week: until recently it had been Saturday mornings as well.

At that time, though we were all housed in the same building, the school was divided into 2 parts, the main school and the preparatory department. The latter consisted of four forms: 1 & 2 Prep (both taught in the same room by the same teacher); 3 Prep and Form 1. I started at 9 years and 5 months in Form 1, and would normally have taken the entrance exam to the main school (2A, 2B etc and up) at the end of the year. However the first reform that affected us was the end of fees, and the second was the arrival of the ‘11 plus’. Since in 1945 I was 11 minus, I spent a 2nd year in Form 1.

There was also a war on, which had several implications for us. One was that classes were large (typically around 35) because teachers were called up and new school building was non-existent. Another was that many of the teachers we did have were women. This didn’t last of course, but one teacher that I do remember was Mrs. Russell Jones. She had us for gym and swimming and she was, I believe, one of the British team (hurdles?) in the 1936 Olympics.

1944-45 was the last year of the war, and by the spring of 1945 it was evident that air raids were a thing of the past (and Leeds was not a primary target at any time). So, with or without Official Permission (and rather like a miniscule version of pulling down the Berlin Wall) we fixed old razor blades in scrapers made of Meccano, and joyfully scraped off the fabric and glue that had covered all those huge windows, in case they were shattered during an air raid. We could see out!

In April of 1945, we were told that if the end of the war in Europe was announced during school hours, we would all go home and have the rest of the day and the next day as holidays. If it was announced after school hours, we would get 2 full days. We were lucky: it was announced, I think, on the 9 p.m. news!

1945 was also the centenary of the Modern, and the main event was a special service for the whole school in Leeds Parish Church. I’m surprised that the ‘Old Mods’ page on the website has no mention of ‘Samuel Smiles, our founder’ for whom prayers were regularly said in Assembly. If you hear his name it is always as the author of ‘Self Help’, but for Modernians we knew of him for another reason. It was, I think, the centenary Speech Day that the speaker was Clement Attlee, then Deputy P.M. in the Coalition Government.

I was there in the latter days of Dr G. F. (Geoff) Morton. By then probably past his best as a headmaster, but at 9 or 10 how was I to judge? Certainly a formidable figure. On occasion, he would extend assembly throughout the whole of the first period, so that the whole school could hear a visitor. The most memorable one was Mary Bosanquet, who had recently published a book about her time riding a horse (in 1939 and 1940) across Canada from Vancouver to Montreal and then down to New York. Many years later I picked up a 2nd hand copy of ‘Canada Ride’ (1944). She was a great speaker.

It is easily forgotten now how much education was the subject of experiment at the time. The ‘11-plus’ exam, which we in the prep department had to take if we were to get into the main school, was in 3 parts: Maths, English and an Intelligence test. The year I took it, the Intelligence Test came about 3 weeks before the other two. The day before the other two, we were told to bring our swimming trunks next day, because there might be time to swim after the exams. When we turned up the next day, we found that those of us who had scored high on the I.Q. test were being exempted from the Maths & English, and spent the morning swimming instead. But the story had been given out differently the day before, so as not to discourage those who had to take the Maths and English. (I never learned what my I.Q. was, but I happened across a test on the Internet a few weeks ago, and, although it was a brute, I wound up with a score of 139, which at the age of 70, I will accept with gratitude!)

The next main piece of experimentation was early specialisation. By the second form, I had already decided that my future was on the arts side rather than science, mainly because I was a very fast reader (up to 240 pages an hour in those days, though I have slowed down somewhat since.) Normally that specialisation wouldn’t have come until the Sixth Form, but we arrived in a Fourth Form that was henceforth to be 4 Arts, 4 Science, 4 Optional. We couldn’t of course completely give up maths and science, but we took just enough (in my case maths and physics, leaving biology and chemistry happily behind) to meet future university entrance requirements. Ironically, the previous year in 3A, I had the best mathematics teaching ever, from ‘Juicy’ Adams. If I could have had him for the rest of my stay at school I might well have switched: he was a superb teacher. Meanwhile I opted for Latin, something that I (like most other people who have ever studied the subject) will never regret. We had been taught about Datives, Genitives, Subject and Objects in regard to English back in Form 1, but I never understood it until I did Latin. The downside was that we were taught by the efficient but tyrannical Seaton (‘Satan’). He was supposed to have got one Cambridge hopeful from zero to School Certificate in 3 weeks, and I can believe it, but I wouldn’t want to have been the student!

Has everyone forgotten that the School used to have an annual farm camp at Stratford-on-Avon during the summer holidays? Picking fruit etc. on the estate of Sir Archibald Flower, and accommodated in bell tents. I remember going there for 2 weeks in 1947, and hearing the news of the start of the Cold War, and expecting that it would soon cease to be cold.

Next piece of experimentation was the replacement of School Certificate and Higher SC by the General Certificate of Education. In the past, one had to pass SC to get into the Sixth, but GCE came with another minimum age requirement: 16. The Modern felt that holding people up for a year was unfair, so we continued into the Sixth, took 4 ‘O’ levels in 1951 (English Language, Maths, Physics, French - minimum requirements for university entrance) at the end of 6 Arts 1, then the ‘A’ level subjects (Eng. Lit, Geography, History) at the end of 6 A 2 and again in 6 A 3.

By then, of course, Mr. Holland had become headmaster, and he certainly brought a breath of fresh air. The higher we got in the school, the more we came in contact with him. Two anecdotes stick in my mind. He happened to remark one day, in a 6th form class he was taking, that it was virtually impossible for an Englishman to be taken for a French person by a Frenchman: the accents were so different. But, he went on, it was much easier to be taken for a German by a German, as he well knew because his life had once depended on it. That was all he ever said in my hearing about his wartime, but all of us would dearly like to have known more. The other anecdote was when we were walking along the corridor to the tiny room where I would sit the exam for an open scholarship to LSE at London University. The Head remarked amiably that ‘You haven’t a hope in hell of getting this, you know’, or very similar words to that effect. I agreed, but pointed out that it only cost £2 to enter, and someone had to win. I was happy to remind him of his remark when I did get that Open!

By then I was a prefect, and a year behind Alan Bennett. The Prefects’ Room was a cheerless place behind the platform/stage, intended as a costume and make-up room, and used for that purpose during school plays. Alan was, in the 6th Form, almost the identical character he appeared in later life, both in physical appearance and eccentricity. My happiest memory is that, tiring of our childish ways, he would take one of the folding examination desks and a chair up to the top of the large cupboard in the Prefects’ Room, and try to ignore us while he worked. We meanwhile lobbed paper gliders etc. up at him.

But it also needs to be said that, certainly by the 6th Form, we were a pretty serious lot. If we were heading for university we were, in virtually all cases, the first generation in our family to do so, and we were aware of the tough road ahead. Many of us, from the grammar schools throughout Leeds (Roundhay, Thoresby, Leeds Grammar, Leeds Girls High ... etc.) would be found most evenings until 9 p.m. in the Leeds Reference Library atop the Art Gallery in the centre of the city. We never got to know one another, but there was something very comforting and supportive in the fact that we were there.

But here I am, virtually on the train to King’s Cross and LSE, and nary a mention of the Adjacent Girls! One of the Great Innovations while I was in the 6th was an annual party for the Sixths of both schools. We found it good in principle, less so in practice, not least because staff outnumbered students, or at least it seemed that way. I and others felt that it might have been more productive if there had been more educational interaction at that stage. After all, there were about 6 of us doing ‘A’ level geography and presumably another half dozen or so over the hedge doing the same thing. Wouldn’t it have been sensible to join forces?

I did have girl friends, but from Allerton and LGHS rather than LHS. But it was difficult to combine such friendships (and in the strait-laced 50s that is all they were) with pressures of working towards ‘A’ and ‘S’ levels (‘the most difficult exams you are ever likely to take’ we were told, and the advice was good). On the whole, I tended to agree with the remark in Edmund Crispin’s mystery ‘Love Lies Bleeding’, still on my shelves from that time:

‘The Platonic halves,’ said the Headmaster firmly, ‘are best kept apart until they’ve left school. Apart from anything else, a little enforced abstinence makes the eventual impact much more violent and exciting.’" Ian Jackson '44-'53


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"FOUR SQUARE SHE STANDS"

The school song of Leeds Modern School was written sometime prior to 1957; words by Frank Holland (Headmaster) and music by Bernard Fletcher (Music teacher).

Grateful thanks go to ‘Chat’ (aka Tony Chatterton ’57-’64) for providing a stirring rendition of ‘Four Square She Stands’, played on a 1960s Baldwin organ. I’m told it goes intro – verse – refrain – verse – refrain – verse, so please feel free to click here and sing along.

Thanks to Michael Plows (’59-’66) the full words and music are available. Click here to see them. (If anyone is willing to try recording a vocal version, please get in touch.)


"On the school song: Bernard Fletcher, who was my form master in my first year at the school, used to rehearse it with us shortly before occasions such as speech day when we were due to sing it. There used to be an alternative, smutty, version to the words of the song, which was composed by a friend of mine with whom I have lost touch, Richard Scales, the son of Dick Scales the senior maths master." John Penny '58-'65

"‘Four square she stands to all the winds that sweep the northern skies ...’ I read out the school song at my late brother's funeral. He may have been a bad Old Mod but he appreciated and valued his education there as I do." Nigel Byrne '63-'67


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In 1963 the two schools performed a Summer Concert together. This was followed by a short speech by Mr. Holland, the Headmaster in which he thanked the choirs, etc. There is an audio recording of the concert and the speech! The recording of the concert is virtually unlistenable, but if you’d like a copy, please get in touch. Click here to listen to Mr. Holland’s speech. The sound quality of the speech is not good, so if anyone is able to transcribe it, I’d be very pleased to add the transcription to the website.


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I've gathered together some information about a few boys from the Mod. If you have info about any other famous or infamous Old Mods, please send an e-mail to lhs.alumnae@gmail.com

"My schooldays sweetheart who went to the Mod was Colin Penrose who lives near Melbourne and we're still friends after nearly 40 years!!!" Ann Hutchinson '59-'64

MARTIN KETTLE is Assistant Editor of The Guardian. You can see his byline in the paper most days. Martin was in the school plays in the sixties. He was in 'Antigone' with Valerie Pickup. Martin told me that he was in 'Macbeth' as Banquo's son Fleance, and in 'Hamlet' the next year when Martin Potter was Hamlet and Bob Peck - a famous actor who sadly died of cancer - was the King. Martin was chosen to officially open the new school buildings on the 18th October 2003. (See Return To School page.)

ROGER MUNDELL has lived in Canada since 1967. For those who remember him, he tells me that he was in several plays including 'The Merchant of Venice', 'Macbeth' and 'Twelfth Night' - usually playing the female lead! In 'Twelfth Night' Roger played Lady Olivia and Bob Peck was Viola. Roger remembers Bob Peck playing Viola in black gym shoes and struggling to keep his breaking voice high!

"No, I didn't go out with him, [Roger Mundell] I just drooled from a distance! I was far too mousy for him to notice me! He used to wait on the corner of Moor Grange Drive and we had to walk past him and his mates with our knees knocking! Sadly (for him!) he moved on and so did our passions - first to Martin Potter, then to his brother Stephen, who went out with Susan Watson - how I hated her for it!" Gill Crossley '59-'66

"I remember Roger Mundell; I think I also drooled from afar." Susan Rolfe '58-'63

And we can't bring up the Modern without mentioning

MARTIN POTTER !!!

Martin was born in October 1944, so must have started at The Modern in ’54 or ’55. After the Mod, Martin went to the Central School Of Speech & Drama. Those of us who hung on the railings and drooled over him remember that he starred in the cult film of 1969, "Fellini's Satyricon". In 1977 he played opposite Koo Stark (Prince Andrew’s ex-girlfriend) in ‘Justine’, an adaptation of a novel by the Marquis de Sade. His acting career spanned the ’60’s ’70’s and ’80’s. He has been in many film and television productions, including several episodes of ‘Dr. Who’. The most recent reference I can find is to a 1988 episode of ‘All Creatures Great And Small’. After that — nothing.

Find Martin's filmography by keying ‘Martin Potter’ into a search engine.


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Apart from Martin Kettle, Roger Mundell and the (in)famous Martin Potter, other well-known Mods are -

ROBERT BLACKBURN (Aero-Engineer)
http://www.eazhull.org.uk/BAE2/robert_blackburn.htm

REG PARK (body builder, Mr. Universe and actor)
http://www.regpark.net/

"Reg Park was a model in the life class at Leeds College of Art! (Some time from 1947 on.) But male models did wear a little doo da over the essential bits....!" Janet Rawlins '38-'44

"I have always known that my Mum, Betty Rowe, nee Carter and Lawnswood Old Girl, knew something about Reg and his family so I phoned her and she recalled, as if it had been yesterday, that in the 1940's, her Mum, my Grandma, Flora Carter, used to go on a regular basis to Fuller's on Bond St, Leeds, for lunch or afternoon tea - I remember later on in the '50's my Grandma used to take me - just the two of us - and Dolly, the waitress always let me choose a delicious cream cake. Anyway, it transpires that my Grandma, shortly after the war, used to meet Reg Park's father at Fuller's to acquire her black market supply of sugar. Mum describes him as a bit of a 'spiv' type, and the Del Boy character from Only Fools and Horses comes to mind! Reg used to accompany his dad and one day my Grandma invited the two of them to her house in Headingley - probably for afternoon tea (with sugar!). It is there that my Mum remembers meeting Reg Park and described him as a guy who thought himself to be the bees knees - well I suppose he had to think he was special to get to where he was going, ie. Mr Universe!! Just another little interesting snapshot of history in Leeds in the 1940's." Jackie Rowe '59-'64

ALAN BENNETT (playwright and national treasure)
http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/B/htmlB/bennettalan/bennettalan.htm

JOHN CRAVEN (Newsround)
Find information on John Craven by keying his name into a search engine.

PETER RIDSDALE (former Chairman of Leeds United)
Find information on Peter Ridsdale by keying his name into a search engine.

BOB PECK (actor), famous for the groundbreaking TV spine-chiller 'Edge of Darkness', and for his part as the warden in 'Jurassic Park'. As we've said, Bob died of cancer in April 1999. Find Bob’s filmography by keying ‘Bob Peck’ into a search engine.

"I used to help in the school plays backstage, for instance looking after the costumes for Hamlet when Martin Potter was performing to full houses. I still have a scar on my right hand from a sword fight with Graham Binns I once had in the dressing room (Prefects Room) behind the stage using the steel swords for the play." John Penny '58-'65

"I knew Bob Peck, John Brownett and Martin Potter very well. I always thought that Martin had the eyes of an over bred spaniel, the voice of an angel and the brain of a fruit fly - but he got all the girls and I didn't - so I concede an element of bias there. I acted in 'Hamlet', 'Antigone', and 'Romanov and Juliet' at the Civic - as well as earlier stuff. In fact, when I come to think about it, I played Sir Toby opposite Bob's Maria when we were about fourteen. The arrival of John Linstrum on the staff of the Modern did an enormous lot for drama - he treated us as professionals and we rehearsed and performed 'Antigone' in ten days from start to finish.

... "I remember Pam Teal, Sally Fletcher and Val Pickup (both played in 'Antigone') as well as Jo Barwick, Pat Guest and Norah Murray - and Brenda Gilbert, who played Ophelia in 'Hamlet'. I played Polonius and so I was dead by the time her funeral scene came along and was below the stage, ready to move her to one side before Hamlet jumped in the grave with her, shouting, "It is I, Hamlet the Dane!" The stretcher she was on got jammed and Martin landed on her at full tilt, knocking the wind out of the poor girl.

... "I am now a retired teacher, crusty, bad tempered, and apt to throw things at the cat. I once saw Mart (Potter) in 'Doctor Who?', brandishing a plastic ray gun. That was when I realised that I'd made the right choice when I decided to teach, rather than act." Ian Stuart '56-'63

"John Fletcher was Head boy & went on to Pembroke College, Cambridge. His Father, Bernard taught Classics at the school & was a keen musician. John joined the BBC Symphony Orchestra on leaving Cambridge & then went on to be principal tuba in the L.S.O. He was also a member of The Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. He became, according to the Gramophone magazine, the world's foremost tuba player & travelled the world giving concerts & master classes. In 1967 he married the mezzo-soprano Margaret Cable. They had a daughter & son. Sadly in March 1987 John suffered a massive brain haemorrhage & died in October of that year." Gilly Marshall '55-'62

"Alan Schiller, the concert pianist, is an old boy of Leeds Modern." Gilly Marshall '55-'62

"I got a great education from Dr Street in Physics, Mr. Bispham in Chemistry and from 'Juicy' Adams in Maths." Henry Alken '48-'51

"My little brother was at the Modern School and now is his Honour Judge Peter Fingret." Sheila Fingret '41-'47