Newsletter No 17 (July 2013)

(Editor - Malcolm Williams)

John Everett (1927-36) has written about The School Song by John Drinkwater. He can recall nothing about it but he believes that it was sung on Prize Giving Day at the presentations (usually in the Town Hall – at least in the early thirties). He wonders what happened to it and does anyone remember it.

He recalls that it was not very popular with his fellow schoolboys even though Dykes Brown (music master) did try to make them learn it. He left in about 1935 to become organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Due to much hard work by Neil Jopson (1958-61) the words have been traced and are shown here. Neil has also obtained the music so, maybe, someone can sing it at the next AGM. A copy will be placed with the COSA Archives - Ed

Song for the City of Oxford School

Mother of learning, let us be

Good scholars all in serving thee,

Good fellows too;

So teach us that our enterprise

May be both merciful and wise

In all we do.

When Tudor s sat upon the throne,

That manners maketh man was known

In Oxenford,

And may the Oxford names we bear

Be duly  spoken everywhere

For sweet accord.

And be it work, or be it play,

Let us remember every day

One golden rule -

That whoso keeps his honour bright

By sparing not his utmost might,

Honours the School.

Saint Giles, Saint Clement, and Saint John

Bless the beds that we lie on,

An bend our bows;

City of Oxford sons, awake,

Sing up to life, her beauty take,

And scorn her blows.

   John Drinkwater, 1930

In the course of the research for Drinkwater’s Song I have found the following which is possibly the first School Song although there was a cautious footnote when it was written that it should not be thought of as an official one-  Ed.

‘Tis often well and wisely said, that of life’s span of years

The happiest are our boyhood days, when we’ve few griefs or fears,

And when we ponder over the past, that joyous time recall,

‘Midst present cares, the thought of school returns to one and all.

Now everyone doth laud his own, as ‘tis but right to do;

So let’s not leave our own unsung, e’en though we be but few,

For ours is just as dear to us, whate’er her size may be:

Then let us voice her praises, and that right heartily.



    Here’s to our School, in honour increasing!

    Good fortune attend her sons without ceasing!

    Let’s not forget, but as brothers unite

    To keep year by year her memory bright.

    At work or at play with each other let’s vie

    In upholding the fame of the dear old ‘High’.

No idle praise is this we give, as each report makes clear;

Our School’s success is well maintained, increasing year by year.

For everyone, what’er his gifts, has always done his best.

Not seeking his own glory, but the honour of the rest.

And some have loftier heights attained, life’s fairest prizes won

By genius or industry. To these we say ‘well done’.

Yet, though we cannot all be great and cannot all excel,

We’ll all strive to be worthy of the School we love so well.

In sports we’re not behindhand, and we’re striving might and main,

Recalling past traditions, the high standard to maintain.

And boys and masters daily in good fellowship combine,

All working for the common weal, permitting no decline.

Then let there be no laggards, for our labours must not cease;

‘Tis thus our School’s renown has grown, ‘tis thus it shall increase.

And thus in perfect harmony our watchword we’d obey,

For ‘Labor vincit omnia’ in work as well as play.

The words and music were by E.J.Zacharias, though later he was to be known as Jessell who became one of the outstanding medical authorities of his day. The arrangements were by A.F.Kerry.

This song was sung at the second dinner of the Old Oxford Citizens following the formation of the Old Boys’ Club in 1903.

Hopefully we can publish more School Songs in future Newsletters Ed.


On 11th. April, 2013 42 members attended COSA’s AGM in the Lecture Theatre of the former School. Mike Chew introduced Professor Lyndal Roper, the Regius Professor of History who talked about her work on Martin Luther and how he had kept in touch with his friends from his school days. She said it was important to do likewise as friends from school should be thought of as special friends. She hoped that the History Faculty would be able to remain in such a historic building as our School for some time.

Mike Chew then welcomed the members of COSA to the AGM saying ‘I should like to welcome you all here today. I should like to thank Vice Chairman, Ken Powell for organising the slide show. I should like to thank Professor Lyndal Roper and the History Faculty for inviting us to hold our AGM once again here in the Old School. We are indeed grateful to the History Faculty which always extends a warm welcome to us. Our thanks in this respect go particularly to Jane Cunning, PA to Lyndal Roper and Joseph Lowe, Facilities Manager here.

I shall now read out the list of Old Boys who have passed on in the last year. If the list is incomplete, I should be grateful if further names could be offered afterwards from the floor of the meeting.

John Robins (1933-39), Fred Ayres, Michael Blackler (1935-39), Gerald Haggis (1938-43) Michael Phelps (1941-48), Clive Holloway, Robin Kemp, Neil Russell and Tony Jennings (1945-52). We miss them all. I should like to make special mention of Tony Jennings who was a stalwart member of our Committee and managed our Reunion gatherings with great professionalism and enthusiasm.

We also lost two members of staff during the year: David Walker, who actually came to teach at the School after I left in 1951, and Jock Sutton, who was my form master for two years in the forties.

Requiescant in pace. Rest in Peace.’

The Chairman asked Malcolm Williams to talk through the proposed changes. MW said that there were no changes which had not already been approved at Annual General Meetings. The revised constitution was just to bring into one document the alterations. These were the addition of two committee members without portfolio and the election of Honorary Members of COSA

In the Chairman’s Report Mike Chew said ‘ It has always been a privilege and pleasure to present the Chairman’s Report and this year is no exception. What makes it such a pleasure is that I have always been supported by an excellent committee whose members have done a fine job with great enthusiasm.

It was very sad to lose Tony Jennings during the year. I am pleased to say there was a pleasing turn-out of COSA members at his funeral, which was a very fitting and dignified occasion, attended by a large congregation, many of whom were from the motor manufacturing world.

During the past year we have had a very successful AGM and lunch thereafter, and an equally successful and enjoyable Reunion Lunch. Our Newsletters, fashioned by our hard-working and talented Secretary Malcolm Williams, continue to enjoy great popularity with the readership. Thank you Malcolm.

Our event of the year was probably the installation of the Blue Plaque at the former home in Church Cowley Road of Ronnie Barker. COSA paid for the plaque and this is acknowledged on the plaque itself. As Chairman of COSA I was invited to share the unveiling of the plaque with the Lord Mayor of Oxford. The ceremony was well attended by members of the committee and ordinary plebeian members of our Association, and I am grateful to them for their support.

Given our ages there is a limit to what we can offer our members. We find it takes a long time to recover from rugby injuries, the furthest we can raise our arm is not to bowl a quickie, but to get a glass of wine or beer up to our lips. Nevertheless there is still a fine community of spirit among our members and that is evidenced by the attendance at the functions we do organise.

This coming year we are expecting to organise a visit to the House of Lords at the invitation of Lord Philip Hunt, deputy head of the Labour faction in the House of Lords, and we are grateful to him for making this offer.

This is my last function as Chairman of COSA. Time to pass the baton on to the younger generation. It has been a memorable experience for me, and I thank all of you for the support you have given to the Association and me personally.’

The Chairman said he was delighted to ask Brin Harvey to submit his annual report.

The Treasurer said that he would summarise a few points in the accounts which had been made available at the meeting. He said that the Bank Balances at 31st. January, 2013 were – Current Account £1407 and Deposit Account £4538. The financial transactions according to the accounts showed a deficit of £55.

Subscriptions received in the year for annual and life memberships were £750 and £200 respectively compared with £840 and £400 in the previous year.

There was a small surplus of £56 on the Annual Dinner and a surplus of £3 on the AGM lunch.

The combined expenditure on Committee expenses, the Newsletter and website were £724 compared with £475 in the previous year. There was exceptional expenditure of £313 which was the cost of the Blue Plaque erected on the house in Church Cowley Road where Ronnie Barker lived with his family from 1935 to 1949.

With regard to membership only 71 Annual Members had paid the subscription for last year. There were no new Annual Members and 2 new Life Members and in addition 2 members converted from Annual to Life Membership. The total membership at 31st. January, 2013 was 232 namely 162 Life and 70 Annual Members. He would like to express his thanks to Tony Goddard for carrying out the examination of the accounts.

The following officers were then elected: Chairman Peter Hills, Vice-Chairman Ken Powell, Secretary Malcolm Williams, Treasurer and Membership Secretary Brin Harvey, Committee Members Alan Trinder and Roy Parsloe (who has taken over the role of Dinner Manager following the untimely and sad death of Tony Jennings and Alan Trinder will be working with him). Ron Baker had agreed to continue to work as a co-opted member of the Committee.

Mike Chew said that it was his pleasure to propose on behalf of the committee that the widow of Tony Jennings, Julie, be elected as an Honorary Member of the Association. Julie had always been heavily involved alongside Tony in the organisation of the Annual Reunions at the Four Pillars Hotel and he would like us to acknowledge her contribution to the well-being of the Association. He proposed that Julie Jennings should be elected as an Honorary Member of COSA and this was seconded by Roy Parsloe. The proposal was carried unanimously.

Ken Powell said that he would like to thank Mike Chew for the marvellous job he had done as Chairman and this received unanimous acclamation.

In closing the meeting Mike Chew thanked everybody for attending the AGM and said that many were going off to the Living Room at Oxford Castle for a convivial lunch and natter.

The following photo courtesy  of Peter Hewitt (1958-61)  shows those members who attended the AGM:


The Committee would like to hear from anyone who remembers what is known as The President’s Chair which was made for the President of Old Oxford Citizens in around 1938. Did the Headmaster use it during morning assembly in the Hall and was it on the stage?

Was it moved to the other end of the Hall by the fireplace when Busby, the music master, rearranged things and positioned the piano (and orchestra and choir) at that end of the Hall?

Was it kept elsewhere in the School and just used when OOC held Dinners or other events at the School?

Any information will be gratefully received.


I have received two photographs from Stephen Hill which include his father, Kenneth Mannock Hill, who was a pupil at the City of Oxford School from 1926 to 1931 (or thereabouts). Reproduction of the photos is not of the best quality in view of their age.

The first one shows the under fourteen cricket team in the summer of 1927:

Kenneth Hill is second from the left in the back row

The second shows a football team from an unknown year:

In this second one Kenneth Hill is sixth from the left in the back row

Stephen Hill also has a school medallion on which is inscribed 'Junior Team Back - 1928.' And some of his school books are inscribed 'Upper 5th modern' and 'lower 6th.'

The Hill family lived at 56, James Street. After finishing school Kenneth worked for the City Council. The family left Oxford in 1949 for Bournemouth and  in 1952 emigrated to Australia.

Kenneth married Clarice Elizabeth May Strover, and her mother's maiden name was Cox. Stephen’s grandmother's father was Edward Cox a fishmonger in Oxford.

Does anyone have any memories of the Hill family. Ed?


Glyn Frewer (1943-50) has written about his friend Neil Russell (1943-50):

Neil died on 12th. September, 2012  aged 80. Although his school escapades are still remembered, notably his painting of ornamental stonework on the School roof he is chiefly remembered as an outstanding all-round sportsman and Captain of the 1st. XV. After HSC he won the Lawrence Exhibition to read Geography at Jesus College, where he rowed and played rugby for the Oxford Greyhounds, not quite making the Varsity team. This was followed by two years National Service in RE digging tunnels in Cyprus and Gibraltar. He then worked for OUP for two years producing atlases before taking up a teaching post at Dover College, during which time he took pupils across the Channel in a whaler to Ostend and back. He retired in 1993 after 27 very happy years at Bearwood College where he was Housemaster and his wife, Penny, was Sister. The courageous way he coped with encroaching Parkinsons was an example to all who knew him and he is greatly missed by his many friends and all his family.

Glyn Frewer has also written about the School’s Scout Patrol visit to Echternach, Luxembourg in the summer of 1947. He writes:

‘As far as I know, only once in the School’s history did it produce a Scout Patrol to send to a camp abroad. Mr. P.E.Nash, classics master, had kept in touch with Epsom College, where he had previously taught. When it was organising a Troop of some eighty Scouts to send to Echternach in Luxembourg, Mr. Nash was asked if he would like to form and Oxford Patrol to join them.

He formed a Patrol of seven of us, who were all Scouts, a very exciting post-war project for all of us. The night before departure I stayed with Mike Tregonning at his London house and we met the others on the London train to Dover, to sail to Ostend. We crossed Belgium by train to arrive in a thunderstorm at the camp in Echternach which had been already set up by the Epsom Troop. We put up our tents and soon settled to the routine, one objective of which was to win the daily CampTrophy, which we did the first day.

Each morning a swimming party went to the nearby river, beyond which was Germany and the Siegfried Line. We visited a section of this fortification, established in the Great War and fought over in the Second, and were impressed by the massively-built bunkers and gun placements.

The Oxford Patrol was the first to go on a three-day hike and we covered fifty kilometres. We spent the nights in a barn, a hayloft and the attic of a church building where a friendly Catholic priest told us of his war experiences. During the hike we came across many scattered graves, bullet-riddled helmets and scores of shell cases.

Back at camp, we were invited one night by a troop of Antwerp Girl Guides to a camp fire and they sang ‘Home on the Range’ for us in English. Language, in fact, was never a problem. Everyone was friendly, all the shopkeepers spoke some English and we could manage with our school French and German. There was no rationing, with cakes and sweets more plentiful than at home.

The Deputy Chief Scout of Luxembourg visited the camp and commended us all on the way we were running it. We also had an unforgettable visit from Robert Schnaffner, Minister of Reconstruction, Burgomaster and a leading light in the Luxembourg Scout Movement and a legendary hero of the country’s underground resistance. We gathered round the camp fire to hear a riveting talk. He recalled that he had led refugees across the very spot where we were camping to the safety of the woods and gorges around us. He had survived concentration camps and being tortured by the Germans who broke both his shoulders and suspended him by his thumbs, which we could see were deformed. His memories of the oppression he and his countrymen suffered and his passionately-expressed gratitude to the British were moving and left a lasting impression.

When the fortnight was up we trained back across Belgium to Ostend while Mr. Nash journeyed on to Italy. As we made our way home from Dover after the crossing, we all felt a profound sense of gratitude to Mr. Nash for an experience none of us would ever forget’.

The following photograph shows the members of the Scout Patrol:


Colin Tustin (1951-56) has written the changes he had to make when moving to a Grammar School. He writes:

1. Wearing a uniform for the first time. The uniform and sports kit were bought from Shepherd and Woodward or from Reed and Sons in the City centre. I always felt a little self-conscious wearing the uniform and cap while going to School in my first year.

2. Being addressed by surname only always felt strange, and even now I can only recall old classmates by surname rather than Christian name.

3. Getting used to lessons on a Saturday morning.

4. Receiving homework, unheard of at my old school (St. Bernards). However in those days it was much easier to do the work as there wasn’t so many distractions there being no television set in our home until 1957.

5. Wednesday afternoon sport at Marston Ferry Road. I remember cycling from home to the ground down a narrow lane, past a school playing field being used by girls. This was before Marston Ferry Road was widened a few years later.

6. I was used to playing soccer at my old school and was never keen on playing rugby although I did eventually enjoy the game. I was happier playing cricket and was lucky enough to get my colours for the school second eleven. By the way, when we played away games, did we travel by coach?

Lessons: I liked doing Maths, French and Geography but was not very keen on Physics and Chemistry. ‘Pongo’ and Mr. Coleman were excellent teachers but these last two subjects were too much for me. As for Music lessons the only thing I recall is singing Old English Folk Songs together. Basil Fields’ art lessons were always interesting but ‘Flea’s’ were a bit scary with his lambaster at the ready.

Do you remember?;

1. The Headmaster reciting the weekend’s sports results at Monday morning Assembly.

2. Someone sticking down a coin on the steps leading up to the stage hoping that a teacher would try to remove it – I don’t think it was noticed by anyone.

3. The Headmaster announcing the death of King George VIth at a special assembly.

4. Walking through the City Centre for the annual Christmas Carol Service at St. Mary’s Church in the High Street.

5. Playing shove-halfpenny coin football on the long desks in the Geography Room.

6. Open Day for parents to have a look round the School before we started our first year there.

Looking back I recall that my class (B form) hardly ever used the classrooms in the Library block of the School but I don’t know why.

I never saw any of my old teachers after I left except ‘Eddie’ Swire who I used to see in the record department of Russell Acotts in the High Street.

Grammar School Days were certainly very different but, all in all, they were enjoyable times.

Does anyone have similar memories – Ed.?


Colin Janes (1961-66) has given me three photos of a production of ‘Gallows Glorious’ which are reproduced below. Does anyone remember the production and can fit names to faces?

I look forward to receiving your replies for inclusion in the next Newsletter and I do realise that the reproduction of the photos is not very clear – Ed


John Drinkwater wrote a wistful little poem on O.H.S which is perhaps worth quoting for its references to the games of those far off days:

‘And facing so the spears of fate

One dream shall be inviolate

Of golden days ere yet began

The tragic Interlude of Man.

A little plot of gravelled ground

Tall crumbling walls that gird it rouns

Mellowed in immemorial rains –

A thousand leaded window panes.

A bell not very true of tone

Yet sweet as thrushes mad with June,

A motley host, high-hearted, free,

Wild simply with the will TO BE.

Tor! Alley! Pass! Smith, don’t play back.

Brown’s got his colours, Jones the whack –

I’m picked to go to Abingdon –

A rotten shame the house has won!

O shades of Milky Thornton tall

Broken by Spear against the wall (1)

And Muggy Holliday I see,

But where, O where is Muggy’s Tree (2)

And Buster Gee and Ginger White

And Zacharias (Jessel hight)

And Murray on the stars intent,

And all the curly tribe of Kent?

Dear fellows of an earlier day,

Rowell – What news Wood Eaton way? –

And Hurcomb i, and Hurcomb ii, -

I, Dater (3) lift my cap to you.

1. In a memorable wrestling match, Thornton versus Spear, the former was thrown against a wall and broke his leg.

2. Muggy’s chief claim to distinction was by virtue of his hockey stick. It was, possibly, the largest hockey stick ever known. It was called the Tree.

3. Drinkwater was considered by  one of the master a name too long for use in the bustle of class life. So he sheared it.

In the same poem he goes on to make acknowledgements which most Old Boys would have difficulty in putting into words but which all would endorse. Even in spite of the slight irrelevance no one will begrudge half a page’s space to focus a beam on a group whose proudest and most satisfying contemplation is the success of Old Boys.

‘And you O gracious dominies,

Who sought in vain to give me ease

In classic tongues and used to vex

My soul with screeds of y and x –

Albeit not The Scholar’s crown

I bore from out your storied town,

Yet something of a man in me

You forged against the days to be.

Some courage comely faith to wear,

To bear what lance might be to bear;

Some laughter in the teeth of wrong,

A memory to shape in song.

O gravelled plot, O crumbling walls,

O playmates whom the great world calls

To this or that, O masters gowned –

Though now no longer is the sound

Of all your voices in my ears,

And news comes dimly down the years –

Unscarred, unbroken by the fret

Of days, the dream is with me yet.’


Special Notice

Lord Philip Hunt is hosting a visit to the House of Lords on 15th. October, 2013. This will include a tour, Lords’ Questions and High Tea (at a cost of £.13.20) There is a limit on the number for this visit and requests will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have previously indicated a wish to take part in this visit will you please do so again now as this was first mentioned well over a year ago and circumstances may have changed. My contact details are on page 1 of this Newsletter. If the limit on numbers is not reached then wives can join the group. Members will be expected to arrange their own transport to London.



In the photo are

Back Row: Les Upstone, Pat Allen, Mike Tregonning, Glyn Frewer & Alan Stokes,

Front Row: Derek Ivings & John Hobday