Staff Memories circa 1941 from Francis "Fruit" Gibson
A number of Mundella teaching staff have stayed in my mind for various reasons and probably the most charismatic of them all was Barton Hart who addressed us as "Little Doncs" and was responsible for music (including the school choir). He lived in his fortress on the topmost floor and endeavoured lustily to instil some brief knowledge of musical theory into us. One did not take any liberties with Barton and he was truly a "character" who appeared to be of a totally independent nature. When providing the music for assembly, he did not play the piano as such but rather appeared to beat it into submission with great panache.
I also have a strong recall of Mr. Stace (inevitably nicknamed "Stacky") who taught French and was, I believe, the senior officer when the school's A.T.C. squadron was formed around 1941 or thereabouts. He was a Francophile and spent his holidays in St. Malo about which he waxed lyrical at any opportunity. For some reason I never felt comfortable with him but I do not think that I was alone in this....
There was also of course "Debby" Barlow, the Art mistress who did her best to extract from us what artistic ability we may have possessed, however meagre, and despite wartime restrictions on artistic supplies. She was forever exhorting us to introduce people into our efforts and to give some life to our pictures .I think that we were all a bit vague as to just what she wanted but in my case it suddenly hit me when I was studying a Lowry and realised that this was what she had meant. Ever since then, whenever I admire a Lowry I think of "Debby" and as I love Lowry's work this is quite often. She was obviously a close friend of Miss Onions who joined the staff around 1941 and regrettably this gave rise to some scurrilous rumours! There was a period of time, just pre-war I think, when for some reason we did not have a regular art teacher and had to suffer the ministrations of a sub (who may have been called Heath but I'm not sure). This fool caused us week after week to sit in the hall drawing time after time what he (in a pathetic attempt at humour) called Mr Plantpot..... Needless to say this ridiculous practice did not foster any great love of art in any of us. Why on earth this silly man could not have changed the subject or even taken us outside for a different scenario is beyond my reasoning but we dreaded these sessions with this utterly unimaginative "teacher".
Another mistress who looms large in my memory is Miss Mosley who was responsible for English lessons in our School Certificate year. A lady of ample proportions she would sail into the classroom, heave herself with some effort on to a high stool, plonk her elbows on the desk and read to us. Incredible but true! I don't ever remember any read-throughs of Shakespeare, encouragement of discussion or, indeed, anything of a stimulating nature but something must have worked as most of us got a decent grade. I recall one hilarious incident arising whilst we were being read an excerpt from Conrad's "Youth" which had the request "pass the bottle" in the prose. Miss Mosley read this in such an incredibly convincing and to the manner born attitude that the whole form got the giggles. Alright, I know, simple things please simple minds but the incident has stuck with me.
There is mystery regarding the school library which has never been explained and that is why no one was ever known to use it or indeed even enter it. For some reason none of us ever saw fit to question its isolation but I really would like to know what purpose it served and indeed if it really did contain books!
I now seem to have run out of memories for the time being but I think that you now have the bulk of them .