Old Swinford Hospital School Staff Photo 1971

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October 8th 2018
Published: October 8th 2018
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Chris Crookes, a former student of Old Swinford Hospital (in Stourbridge, West Midlands), the school where I taught before going overseas, has just written to me about my ‘School Nicknames’ blog, most of which is devoted to the weird and wonderful nicknames concocted by the boys of Old Swinford. He has corrected several of my assertions and given me extra information about Old Swinford teachers between the years 1967 and 1972. I joined the school in 1975, and most of the teachers who were there in Chris’s time were still there when I began.

The most interesting thing, however, in Chris’s email was the 1971 staff photograph - taken in front of Founders Building - and a list of teachers' names from 1967. I was astounded by how long some of those teachers had already worked at Old Swinford when I joined. And several of them carried on at Old Swinford till retirement.

Back row: Jean-Jacques Genre, Peter Davies (?), Dave Tustin (?), Brian Holliday, Phil Price (1967), Neville Richardson (?), 'Dopey' Davey, Keith Longstaff (?), Unknown

Middle Row: Jane Rowlatt, Mrs Oldham, John Rutter, Denis Haggett (1959), Peter Mansell (1957), Brian Kennedy (1965), Lance Naylor (1966), Betty Johnston (1953), Unknown

Front Row: Ken Ison (1955), Len Krukowski (1955), Harry Johnston (1953), Bertie Vowles (1950), Spud Bartlett, L. W. Sheppard (1951), Jim Prince (1952), Jessica Watson, Griff Bradley, Bob Wood (1952), Ben Kirton (1961)

I have highlighted the teachers who were there when I joined in 1975, and I have put in brackets the date each one of them began at the school.

A notable absentee from the photo is Ray Milner, who did his teaching practice at the school and then spent his entire career there from 1952 until retirement.

So many of those teachers spent most, or all, of their careers at Old Swinford. Peter Davies, Phil Price, Denis Haggett, Ken Ison, Len Krukowski, Harry Johnston, Bertie Vowles, Mr Sheppard, Jim Prince, Bob Wood and Ben Kirton stayed put until either they retired (most of them) or died (Ben Kirton, Ken Ison).

It was unusual for an Old Swinford teacher to leave after a short time. In that respect my departure after only (!) ten years was unusual. I will always remember the gasp from the assembled audience at St Mary’s Church, Stourbridge, when it was announced that Mr Kevin Mulqueen would be leaving for a new job in Egypt.

Now let me reminisce about some of the teachers in that photo.

Bob Wood was my Head of English. I could easily write a long essay about this talented yet slightly tragic man. He was a consummate director of school plays, an excellent literary critic and had a wonderful sense of humour. However, he was trapped in an unfortunate marriage and was an uninspiring and lazy teacher. The boys called him ‘Dozy’ because he would nod off in class, especially during the summer when he was under the influence of hay fever tablets. He retired when a new Headmaster, Chris Potter, took over. After Bob’s wife died, he moved into an old people’s home and died shortly afterwards of leukemia. Bob’s lessons were terribly dreary. He would invariably ask the boys to get their reading books out and carry on reading. I remember one boy assigned to my class pleading with me to “do something” in English. There is no doubt that Bob knew his subject inside out, but he was not motivated to teach interesting lessons. I put this down to two factors: his troubled home life and sheer staleness from having been at the same school for so long. Bob, however, came alive when putting on a play. I will never forget the rehearsals for “12 Angry Men”, where I assisted him. He knew how to get the best out of his actors, often getting up on stage to show them how a part should be performed. Bob was a keen collector of old Victorian bottles, and one of my prize possessions is a bottle he gave me. He also used to make very tasty fruit wine. One of my jokes was that he would spend all year making it, and I would drink it in a couple of sessions.

I didn’t see much of Bob after school, but in my first few years I used to go drinking with Phil Price. He was ten years older than me and a kindred spirit. We shared a love of real ale, and we used to visit the local pubs: The Waterloo (Simpkiss), The Royal Exchange (Bathams), The Vine (Bathams), The Bird in Hand (Banks), The Longlands Tavern (Banks). We sometimes went drinking during school lunchtimes, which were 90 minutes long, and four pints later I would be unfit for afternoon lessons. Somehow I always got away with it. Phil was a great Biology teacher; the boys would sing his praises. He spent his entire career at OSH – from 1967 (the year of Sergeant Pepper) until he retired.

Another drinking companion was Lance Naylor. He drove me to Stratford-upon-Avon several times to watch Shakespeare. I remember watching the Henry V1 cycle with him. I would read the play the day before we went and summarize it for Lance as he drove. He had a colour TV, on which we watched The Mayor of Casterbridge with Alan Bates. He enjoyed his food and had a big belly. The boys respected and feared him, which I envied, because, as a young teacher, I was a poor disciplinarian. Lance and I shared a love of jazz. He adored Benny Goodman, and we used to swap LP’s. Lance drove me to Birmingham Town Hall to watch the Stan Kenton Orchestra and Oscar Peterson. The latter concert – Oscar in a trio - was sensationally good, and I remember Lance quipping on the way out: “They do a good turn.” He had little time, though, for modern jazz and walked out of a Gil Evans concert at the Hippodrome. He had a dry wit and a way with words. I briefly shared a room with him on a school holiday to France, but his snoring proved intolerable, forcing me to move in with the coach driver.

Peter Davies was a card. He taught Religious Education (which he called “Scrippy”) and was in charge of Foster House. He spoke polished, rather pretentious English, and dished out corporal punishment liberally. He used to hit boys on the backside with a small bat or paddle, which they would sign afterwards. He was a chain smoker and a big drinker – mainly of sherry. He was an OSH institution until his retirement during the reign of Chris Potter. On the whole, I thought he was rather too full of himself and often supercilious in the way he spoke to people. We never really connected on a personal level even though we dined together in the Oak Room for seven years.

Neville Richardson was a decent enough bloke but a hopeless teacher, taunted by the boys and with no real friends among the staff. He was obsessed by his native Batley.

Keith Longstaff, the Head of French, was another good person who was hopeless as a teacher. He was academic and erudite but had no control over the boys, who baited him unmercifully. He eventually left teaching for another job.

Dave Tustin taught Rural Science in a shed adjacent to Phil Price's Biology hut. I didn't know him at all.

I shared Founders boarding duties with Denis Haggett for seven years and got to know him well. He liked to sit down in my flat and listen to music. He was proud of his physique and was a keen golfer, so it was a terrible blow when he contracted multiple sclerosis. After his marriage broke up he had an affair with Mrs Shorter, who was in charge of school cleaning.

Peter Mansell took early retirement because of a back problem. He lived in a vast house on Hagley Road opposite the school, where he used to sit in his kitchen drinking endless cups of tea. I often visited him there. Peter had been a good cricketer in his day and loved to reminisce about old cricket. I enjoyed listening to his memories of the West Indian batsman George Headley. Peter adored classical music, especially Mozart, whom he referred to in his emotional farewell speech at the Headmaster's house.

I never really knew Brian Kennedy. He had married a woman working in the school kitchen and used to commute every day to school from his house in Droitwich. I remember the evening when the two of us, in Brian's car, did a tour of country pubs listed in the Good Beer Guide. Brian, like me, managed to escape from Old Swinford, working as a computer salesman for Dudley Education Authority.

Ken Ison was the woodwork teacher, but his principal job was running the CCF (Combined Cadet Force). I never socialized with him. He was an alcoholic, apparently. I remember his ruddy complexion and smelling the alcohol on his breath.

Len Krukowski, the Polish Head of Maths, was a disciplinarian, feared and mocked by the boys, who called him ‘Kruke’. He spoke English with a pronounced Polish accent. I was invited to his house once – along with Lance Naylor - and met his wife, a formidable Polish lady. I believe he still lives in the same house on Heath Lane, a stone’s throw from the school.

Harry Johnston was the Head of Science and a boarding master, in charge of Prospect House. He was married to Betty. I had little to do with him.

Bertie Vowles was the school bursar, a most unpleasant man who savaged me for complaining about the lack of heating in my classroom one cold winter’s day. I remember that his office had the only photocopier in the school – at a time when the rest of us were using banda machines.

Ben Kirton had a reputation for being aggressive and macho. He and his fellow Maths teacher, Denis Haggett, used to play golf together. He once told me he’d taught golf to the great Duncan Edwards (the Manchester United legend). I had little to do with Ben, but he verbally abused me one day for not releasing a boy from my English lesson to help him with CCF. He died of a sudden heart attack.

Jim Prince was a kindly man whom I got to know through our mutual love of old books. He put me on to John Sparry’s book shop in Wall Heath. When I joined the school, he was the most venerable and respected of all the teachers and was close to Mr Sheppard, the Headmaster. I remember the eloquent appreciation of Mr Sheppard that he wrote for the school magazine the year Sheppard retired. Jim had beetling eyebrows, which earned him the nickname ‘Poke’ (short for hocus-pocus). He used to wear a baggy combat jacket during the winter months, and he had his own personal chair in the staff room. When he retired, he sold me his Oxford gown.

L. W. ‘Peter’ Sheppard had been Headmaster of OSH since 1951, the year of my birth. In 1975 he was presiding over a ramshackle and old-fashioned school. He taught ‘A’ level English literature, always opting for the Victorian period, which he knew best. I met him once in Stourbridge Public Library, and he bemoaned the lack of books by and about Thackeray, saying that “there were reams by lesser authors.” He used to visit Founders Building in the evening, always accompanied by his dog, Sam. We had few conversations, but once, at a staff party, he sat down next to me and said: “Mr Mulqueen, a lot.” I had no idea what he meant, but then he explained that I had been spelling “a lot” as a single word in my school reports. Before he retired, I asked him to write me a reference and he did, damning me with faint praise: “Mr Mulqueen has the makings of a fine English teacher.” In truth, I was a bad teacher in my first couple of years, and it is surprising that he did not admonish me for my excessive drinking and poor discipline. However, he was at the end of his career, and so many things at Old Swinford needed improvement.

Looking at that old photo, I count myself lucky to have escaped from OSH after ten years. All those teachers who spent their entire careers there knew nothing about the delights of teaching girls, not to mention the delights of teaching overseas. And then there was the added burden of Saturday morning teaching, which meant it was impossible to escape on Fridays for a long weekend.

So why did so many teachers begin and end their careers at OSH? Well, on the whole, it was a cushy number compared to most state schools. Teachers joined OSH and got into a comfortable rut from which they never broke free. I think of Phil Price, an admirable man with a healthy interest in life and the world, who would have enjoyed gallivanting around the globe as I have done. At least Phil had a life outside of school, because he was not a boarding master. I feel especially sorry for all those OSH teachers who spent their lives as boarding masters, living next to boys’ dormitories. Peter Davies was one of those. So was Lance Naylor until he took early retirement. So was I for ten years. I used to call it “boardingdom”.

That 1971 photo is a memory of my first and most memorable teaching job, but ultimately it is a reminder of what I might have become – an institutionalized old bachelor boarding master, a Mr Chips. I thank my lucky stars that in 1985 I broke free from the tentacles of OSH to discover a new and better life elsewhere.

Kevin Mulqueen October 8th 2018

Postscript January 22nd 2019:

My articles about OSH have caught the eye of several former students, who have emailed me with descriptions of the time they spent there. Most of these students were boarders during the reign of Mr Sheppard (1951-1978). There can be little doubt from the various testimonies that certain masters abused their power.

The name of Ray Milner crops us again and again; his use of corporal punishment on younger boys was legendary.

Peter Davies was another master notorious for beating boys with a wooden paddle.

‘Spud’ Bartlett, for many years the Deputy Head, made liberal use of the cane. One of my correspondents put it memorably: “Mao Tse Tsung said that power came out of the barrel of a gun. In Spud’s case power came at the end of a bamboo cane.”

The worst offender, however, was ‘Griff’ or ‘Cud’ Bradley. Like Milner, Davies and Bartlett, he was sadistic in his use of the cane. He was also a paedophile. While there is no evidence that he raped boys, he enjoyed fondling them. One old boy told me: "Cud Bradley would squeeze the inner thigh of every boy in the TD room." And a former boarder wrote this about him: “His stock in trade was fondling your inner thigh with his little finger perilously close to your genitals while sitting on your bed just before lights out.”


28th November 2018

What an couple of interesting blogs you have written ! I did time at OSH 1965- 1971 . I love your description of the school as a “rum place”. I never thought of it as evil but it was an odd rather demented environment , outside the railings it was the 1960s but inside almost a Edwardian time warp. Love the insights into the staff , explains a lot. Thanks for the insights. Regards Lewis Ottewell
1st April 2019
OSH Staff 1971

OSH Staff.
OSH Staff. I was a student at OSH from I think about 1959 to 1967 and finished as Foley House Captain and Head Boy of the school. I loved reading your very true writings about the staff, the staff that I knew anyway. I especially loved your description of "Bruiser" Bradley Foster House Master, cricket coach (hopeless) and thorough bastard, he would stand on two steps higher than the student to cane your hands. He was also a hopeless drunk who would return to the school with a guy called George Heslop a rugby loving rotund chain-smoking useless teacher and my house master. Ison, Milner, Krukowski, Wood, Mansell, Prince, Johnstone were all easily playable but harmless enough, there were others. One was sadistic miserable guy called "Tex" Hunt he was house master of Prospect House where all the new intake of borders were housed. Hunt used a slipper and absolutely delighted in belting the new kids into submission he was the original sadistic sad guy, he must have been bullied mercilessly when he was at school. Headmaster was Sheppherd a decent enough ineffectual bloke who once had to "gate" me for drinking in a local pub. I remember him saying he had no idea what to do with me as. I was the Head Boy I then had to meet with the Feoffies which was a laugh and they "gated" me for a term which I totally ignored and was caught again in a local pub by Bradley and Heslop who threatened me with expulsion but myself and others had too much dirt on the pair of them. My absolute favourite and great all around guy was Spud Bartlett, who when he wasn't picking his nose and rolling snot was a good senior boarding house manager who in reality ran the school. Spud caught me many times returning to school late in the evening but was very decent in warning me every time. Ray Milner was a good drinking mate of Ken Ison and the pair of them loved getting into their cadet gear and play at being army officers. Mansell was also a decent guy who didn't really fit in with the rest of them. Prince, Wood and Johnstone were there but didn't really do a great deal. I have to say I enjoyed my time at OSH, loved the sport, I was fortunate enough to have some great guys in my years at the school, we all loved our cricket and rugby and did our fair share of hopping over the fence and going for a drink. I have always wondered if after I left the school my name was rubbed off the list of head boys in the Great Hall. I must go back one day and have a look. I have lived overseas in various places since I left the school in 1966/67.
1st April 2019
OSH Staff 1971

OSH Staff 1971
The woman sitting between Prince and Bradley is Penny? Watson who was the House Mistress incharge of all the domestic staff. She lived in the main building and was not so friendly, Milner was closely involved with resident nursing sister for a number of years.
30th April 2019

What a find
I was a blue coat 1971 - 76, and cannot believe I found this post - many thanks for your memory and research. I'm embarrassed to say, I don't remember you at all! Perhaps you didn't teach the 'remedial day boys' that I was definitely part of! Greta to read more about the staff i DO remember: Dozy Wood who directed me in 2 scholl pays, 'The Hag' Haggerty that encouraged my theatre ambitions, 'The Kruk' who terrified me. Mansell's son was part of my year. I have been fondled by Griff Bradley and caned often by 'Noot' Davies. He had his cane blu-tacked to a sign over his flat desk that stated "It;s what your right arm is for." Of course, I never knew about the staff personal problems, but your 'bad teacher list' now makes sense.I remember leaving 6th formers taking Longstaff's bike apart with a wrench and presenting it to him in component form in a bag! Your unknown on the left of the middle row was one of the school nurses. Nicknamed 'Randy'? There was always school gossip on whom she was having sex with among the staff. We use to call Richardson 'Bread' and 'Lamb' because of his love of hymns. Kirton was my first Golf teacher. Naylor was nicknamed 'Nutty' or 'Zutty', the latter due to his speech pattern. My biggest shock? How young they all were! Many thanks again - great memories. Hope you are well.
18th May 2020

Thank you
I really enjoyed reading your piece on OSH where I was a boarder (69-76). I agree with pretty much all of what you said about people.Lance Naylor was inspirational and I went on to do a history degree at Birmingham Uni and through that had a successful career. It was Interesting to read your negative comments and I'm pleased Ray Milner was highlighted. He was certainly a blot on my seven years that were largely happy ones. That's mainly due to the friends I made and still have. Right now our year group has turned into a big Whatsapp chat room that led me to your blog. Thank you
18th May 2020

I think I remember you, Dean. The name has a familiar ring. You were there in my first year, 1975-76. Thanks for the compliment. I have written several blogs about OSH. If u want me to send u links, I will. Stay safe from corona. Here in Vietnam we have had zero corona deaths, and life has gone back to normal. All the best, mate ...
18th May 2020

Your other blogs
Kevin, Thank you for responding and yes, I'd like to see your other blogs. I just read one in which you said at the beginning that you hadn't got the place out of your system. That goes for all of us! You might remember me because I was quite sporty and captained the first XV in 75/76. I was always in trouble too and got moved from the lax Richardson regime of Prospect (where it was easy to sneak in and out of school) in January 76 to Founders to be a dorm leader there. Milner was the block master. I had been trying to remember Betty Walsh's name who I liked, so thanks for that, Our Covid class of '76 WhatsApp group have really enjoyed your blogs. Having been trying to visit Vietnam for a while now (other trips seem to have taken precedence) I will hopefully be there soon to travel from HCMC to Hanoi or vice versa by train. Best, Dean
19th May 2020

OSH ...
Dean, I have emailed u links to my other blogs.
22nd July 2020

Since then, I have kept the same photo in one of my albums. When I saw your blog entry, I took it out and I discovered that I had written the names of all the teachers of the 1971 staff on a piece of paper stuck on the page behind the photo. It's still a pleasure for me, because you can see me standing in the back row : I'm the first on the left. I'm not "unknown" any longer. The ninth person's Christian name is / was "Ken". As for the second row, the ninth person's name was "PARSON", and in the front row, the lady between Jim Prince and Griff Bradley is/ was Jessica WATSON"
23rd July 2020

Your comment ...
Thanks or the info! I've added your name and that of Jessica Watson. Do you know the surname of Ken? And the christian name of Parson?
24th August 2020

I attended OSH school for 5 years, and that 1971 school photo you kindly posted, is the only photo that I have of my time there. I did manage to find myself on the photo as the quality wasn't great, but what surprised me was I was unable to recognise a single fellow pupil. Very strange. I have great memories of OSH and consider myself very fortunate to have attended such a great school as a day boy, even allowing for having to wear short trousers for the first 2 years, and having to go to school on Saturday mornings. Great times.
2nd February 2021

I was particularly happy to read your article about OSH and to remember some of the teachers i met there in 1967/1968.I was at the time a French assistant at OSH and at the Grammar school down high street in Stourbridge(i have forgotten its name).and I lived in a small but comfortable flat in the school. My next door neighbour was Phil Price and Lance Naylor, Peter Davis, Len Krukowski, Terry Mahon and some others whose names I have forgotten, were boarding resident masters. Tony Kent, who was nicknamed "Kony Tent" by the pupils who had chosen to study the french language at O or A levels , was Head of the French department. I also remember Brian Kennedy who did not live at the school but who sometimes joined us when we drove in Lance's wauxhall Viva, for the exploration of neighbouring pubs.It did happen on the way back to the school that the driver, whoever he was, was invited to blow into the breathalyser. Fortunately he had been reasonable enough to do with a half pint. Very often when we got back to the Staff Room around ten thirty we had a bridge game, and Brian Kennedy who knew a few french words asked:"à qui c'est de bidder?" which had to be understood as whose bid is it? I didn't meet you,Kevin ,but I am very grateful to you for this chronicle of years long gone, for reminding me of the smacsing twelve months that I spent in Stourbridge.It enabled me to meet and get to know nice people and to improve my spoken English mixing with both the teachers and the pupils . As I was at the time only two or three years older than the pupils I could get the" informal" language on the one side and Peter Davis's polished English on the other. I could meet two specific characters : Mr Sheppard and Mr Bartlett . To me they fitted the descriptions of old style characters I had read in British novels. Miss Watson was another picturesque lady who regarded me not as a teacher but as a pupil until somebody in the Oak Room prayed her to mind her own business. Which chilled the atmosphere. It s a long time ago but the memories are still vivid in me. I am 73 years old and after teaching English in Morocco and France I retired in 2008. My wife and I had two children a boy and a girl. Our daughter married an english man and is living in London . We have two granddaughters aged 15 and 11.They are the sunshine in our life but with the strange times we are living we haven't hugged them for too long a time. Thank you once again Kevin and take care. PS How come Terry Mahon is not mentioned in the list of teachers? ,
3rd February 2021

OSH ...
I am glad u enjoyed my reminiscences. After a total of 39 years in schools all over the world, I remember OSH more vividly than any other school. If Terry Mahon is is one of the photos, please direct me to him. I never met the man.
27th March 2021

Hugely interesting as an old foleyan 1979-1985
Very interesting to read about these teachers I am so familiar with from my time at OSH. I remember you also though I don't think that I was in many of your classes. I left OSH and eventually joined the RAF where I have been for 32 years now. Loved reading your blog and remember Peter Davies for his chain-smoking. As one of the few given permission to smoke in 1984, he also scrounged fags off me on occasion. Thankfully, I gave up smoking years ago. I also remember there was a 6th form club with a licensed bar! Bet there is not one now. Also it was all boys when I was there and now obviously girls and boys. The OSH website and pictures paint a good picture of a thriving school, will have to go back and visit soon.
27th March 2021

Hugely interesting as an old foleyan 1979-1985
Very interesting to read about these teachers I am so familiar with from my time at OSH. I remember you also though I don't think that I was in many of your classes. I left OSH and eventually joined the RAF where I have been for 32 years now. Loved reading your blog and remember Peter Davies for his chain-smoking. As one of the few given permission to smoke in 1984, he also scrounged fags off me on occasion. Thankfully, I gave up smoking years ago. I also remember there was a 6th form club with a licensed bar! Bet there is not one now. Also it was all boys when I was there and now obviously girls and boys. The OSH website and pictures paint a good picture of a thriving school, will have to go back and visit soon.
19th April 2022
Staff Dinner in the Oak Room Xmas 1975, Lance Naylor Centre Left, Ray Milner Centre Right

Rose tinted glasses - tinted from the blood splatters of corporal punishment.
OK, perhaps not, but in todays world of headline grabbers. I was there from 76 to 81 (ish) I ended up back at OSH this weekend (Easter 2022) for a wedding reception being held in the great hall, and as one does, head straight for google as soon as work goes quiet. Coming across your pictures first and then the article, it brought back many wonderful and terrifying memories. You did teach me English for at least one year and I have always stated that you got me into the world of Science fiction novels, though whether this is true, I cannot be sure. Interesting to hear your take on other teachers, because when one is 11 year old 'day boy' coming from a working class family, that school and all its teachers and senior students were fairly intimidating, including your goodself who I recall as reading to us, swaying to and fro from one foot to another (not forgetting those side burns). I lived 2 doors down from ‘Pixie’ Price and would babysit his two boys (neither went to OSH) and I am pretty sure he was best drinking buddies with JCB who along with Laurie Benge you don't mention here (though I will read again to be sure after work). In fact Laurie Benge is the one teacher I always wanted to meet again as he was my form master for all 5 years and it's not till afterwards you realise that you'd like the opportunity to thank various people you meet in your life (or tell the opposite sometimes). I have been back to the Old Folyeans meals perhaps half a dozen times over the last 30 years (where have those years gone?), and thus met a few of the old teachers. I understand that Len Krukowski has only just gone into a home, how old he is, one can only marvel given the story he would tell about how it’s a miracle he’s here at all and the line jumping saga of a concentration camp his parents did. I adored Ben Kirton and had I of listened to his warnings about the idiot I was becoming, my life may have taken a different direction earlier than it did. I still recall his stories of being in the RAF and bombing of Peenemunde in WWII (whether true is another matter), shaming me for being seen over the park with a girl who was wearing my school scarf. Pretty sure Haggett knew little about Mathemetics but was in fact a grocer as he would frequently talk about apples and oranges. Too many of the Teachers there were bullies and or tired of teaching, frequently taking out their frustrations on the young vulnerable kids.

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