SOME MEMORIES OF MUNDELLA SCHOOL 1931 - 1938by Eric Dalgleish
I joined the school in 1931 in the second form, as I had already spent a year in the Long Eaton Secondary School before the family moved to Nottingham early in 1931. As a new boy I was something of a novelty to those who were just entering their second year at Mundella. When asked my name it was immediately converted to Dog-leash - a nickname that stuck from thereon.
My memories of my time in Lower School are somewhat dim, but there is one event, which was really out of school, that I shall never forget. The Deputy Headmaster, Mr Winfield, proposed to run a School Holiday visit to North- Wales during Whit week. The first time such a proposal had been made as far as I know. The proposal was well supported, and a party of about 30 set off by train, first to Chester, where we had a break and a walk round the walls, then on to Conway. We were to stay at a Holiday Fellowship Camp on Morfa beach, about a mile or so from the town. The buildings on the site were, I believe, ex-army huts, where we slept on straw paliasses.
The weather was hot and sunny all the time, and few people escaped sunburn, but it was ideal for bathing, and it was there the extra buoyancy helped me to swim for the first time.
On most days we were taken in old Crossville open-top charabancs to visit famous places, including the castles at Caernarvon, Harlech and Conway. One day was taken in climbing to the summit of Snowdon. Return journeys were enlivened by singing the popular songs of the day, like Red Sails in the Sunset, Wagon Wheels, etc.
A brilliant holiday and the total cost, believe it or not, £2.00!
The following year was to Abergavenny, this time a house run by the HFA. A good holiday, but nothing would ever match that at Conway.
Staff I remember.
Mr Wight or was it White? - Headmaster
Mr Winfield - Senior Master
Mr Thorpe - Maths and Applied Maths
Mr Stacey - French
Miss Morris - Geography
Mr Thomas- English
Miss Wallis - History
Miss Mosley - English
Mr Page - Physics
Mr Bird - Chemistry
Mr Jones - Physics
Mr Clarke - Music
Mr Cowdhall - French
Mr Thomas was a Welshman, and was responsible for creating the house competition, the school Eisteddfod. There was a very wide range of categories where work done in one's own time could be entered. There were ribbons awarded as prizes and each carried house points, a red one, 5, for a first, a blue one,3, for second, and a yellow,1, for third. The climax was an open day, which began in the lower school hall, where the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress presided. One of the first items on the agenda for them to judge was an impromptu speech competition. Those who entered had to give an impromptu speech for three minutes. On the year I entered when we got on the stage we were told to pick our own subject, rather than being allocated one. I spoke about Hore-Belisha, I won and totted up another five points for Hardwick House. I also won the Victor Ludorum prize for the one who made the most points from all categories. The prize for this was to have the Eisteddfod Crown to hold for one year. Somewhere there is still a photo of me wearing the crown - what a sight! I wonder where the crown is now?
In the fifth form I took over the stage lighting in the Lower Hall. In those days it was a temporary set-up, controlled from a large box of switches. There were two, permanent, floodlights at the front above the stage, portable sidelights at each side, and a similar set of portable footlights. By means of manipulating the switches, if you knew how, it was possible to switch the footlights or sidelights into a series or parallel condition, the former having the effect of a one-step dimmer. It was somewhat of a Heath Robinson affair, and what a present day Health and Safety inspector would have had to say I shudder to think. After using it for a year I pointed the dangerous situation out to the staff, with the eventual result that a proper set of permanent switches, with a dimmer, were fitted at the side of the stage. The portable footlights and sidelights were still used, but with proper plugs instead of the dangerous barrel connectors previously fitted.
Through this work I became involved in doing stage work for the Old Scholar's Dramatic Society, of whom Miss Mosley was the producer. There first production in my time was Arms and the Man by GBS, where I only looked after the lighting. The second I took on the added responsibilities of set designer, stage manger, carpenter and general dog's body. This involved a lot of work after school in the woodwork room to modify the four flats that were all the available scenery.
The production was of Pygmalion, also by GBS, but not as well known then as it became later. It happened that this was the year I had to go to London for a practical Physics exam, and I took the opportunity the night before, to visit Covent Garden and the church portico where the first scene opens. I was able to see that the church had four pillars, the outer ones square and the inner round. The outer ones were easy to represent with a simple narrow tall flat, but the inner much more of a problem, as Eliza had to sit on the bottom plinth. This took a long time to solve, until my Father offered to supply two old lorry tyres to form the base of the circular pillars. These did a fine job, but were unpopular with the staff that presided over the school lunches. Their table was on the stage, and I must admit the tyres did smell a bit strong in an enclosed space.
I was never good at ball sports or athletics, so I jumped at the chance of joining the small group under Mr Page who did rowing. We used the facilities of the Union Rowing Club on the nearby Trent. As well as learning to row there was a target of winning the inter-schools Spencer Cup competition held annually. . There were not many boys who took rowing and I was able to qualify as a member of the school crew. During my matric year we were entered into the inter schools race for the Spencer Cup, and we trained fairly hard in our own time - such as we could spare! The school had competed unsuccessfully for many years and no one expected us to win. The race took place one hot summer evening, and we were as astonished as everyone else when we won the first heat. We expected that the final would be held at another time, as the other crew in the competition had not had to row in a race and we felt rather shattered. However it was decided that the final would be held that evening, so we had it all to do again! Although buoyed by our earlier success, it was expecting a lot for us to put up a good show in another race so soon, but we did and we won! I think it must have been the elation that carried me the four miles back to home as I was really very weary! Unfortunately the next year the rules of the race were changed at a late stage, so we had insufficient time to upgrade effectively to the junior class boats from the tub fours in which we had been trained, so we lost the cup. We did however compete at Stratford-upon-Avon in their regatta, which was an enjoyable experience.
There are probably other memories not yet recalled, but the above have been put together after discovering the Mundella site yesterday.