Robert George Coles

AWAY TO SCHOOL

On 9th September 1943, Mum took me into war-ravaged Plymouth, dressed in my brand new school uniform. I was to join a large contingent of boys who had recently passed the Scholarship and who were now being organised for a rail journey to Cornwall bound for a number of evacuated schools, where we would be boarders until the Christmas holidays. We assembled in the hall of a school in North Road. There we were allocated our groups and marched to North Road Station. I had never been far from home before, having experienced the worst of the Plymouth blitz with my family and only a brief separation from home in


Gunnislake in 1941, so I found that parting from my parents was a painful process. However I dared not show any emotion but tried to concentrate on the hilarious exploits of my favourite fictional character William Brown, whose many books by Richmal Crompton I had borrowed from the library. Some of the quirky situations he was involved in would reduce me to gales of laughter and I tried to fight back the tears of parting with such happy memories. I found myself in a compartment with five of my fellow students bound for an autumn term at Devonport High School at Penzance. The Sutton High School boys were in the same train but they had to get off at St. Austell. Three of my fellow travellers, Terry Bossom, Peter Northcott and Raymond Brown already knew each other very well and were already regaling us with stories, so the journey passed fairly quickly.


At Penzance we first formers were herded into three separate groups. Those bound for the Royal Hotel overlooking the station had only a few hundred yards to walk. Those for the Marine Hotel on the Esplanade and my own group for the Mounts Bay Hotel also on the sea front next to the majestic Queens Hotel, had to walk carrying our suitcases all the way round the quayside and up to the sea front round by the swimming pool.



All the area of the sea front was cut off from the beach by huge rolls of barbed wire fencing to hinder a possible Nazi invasion. I soon located Peter Caines, Alan Reed and Brian Northcott who had been with me at Victoria Road School. The Mounts Bay Hotel had been requisitioned for the use of the first formers and was known to us as D.H.S. Hostel, Mounts Bay Hotel.


We were met by the housemaster and his wife, Mr and Mrs Hutchings and allocated our rooms in strict alphabetical order of surnames. So I found myself sharing a third floor back bedroom with Malvern Cooke and Peter Cokely. I got on alright with them but I would have preferred to have been allocated the front room with the bay window overlooking the sea where my old school mates, Caines, Reed & Northcott had somehow organised themselves.

Mr Hutchings our housemaster and his wife had the large room to the left of the main entrance overlooking Mounts Bay. Across the corridor was our Common Room with easy chairs a piano and a large bay window opening on to the Esplanade. The old hotel office at the rear was the boot room where we had to make efforts to ensure that our shoes were highly polished. Further to the rear opposite the stairs was the large dining room with a huge polished sideboard on which we were to keep in airtight tin boxes any food we had brought with us or any tuck sent to us from home. One of the first things I did on the first day was to buy a bottle of Quink blue-black ink from the small shop in the block along a few yards from the hostel, next to the Queens Hotel. The smell of that ink still reminds me vividly of that particular time. The shop also sold postcards on which was the Cornish Litany: “Of ghoulies and ghosties and long leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us.”There were also attractive models of lighthouses carved out of serpentine rock on sale.

Over the next few weeks we settled in to an energetic wartime routine of lessons in a variety of different buildings all over the town. Assembly was at Richmond Hall beyond a country lane at the top of Causeway Head. This meant a walk every day up through Morrab Gardens past the slaughterhouse caverns behind the statue of Sir Humphrey Davy and up through the shops of Causeway Head. Anyone dallying on the way risked being late and being punished with several strokes of the cane on “the seat of understanding” as Mr Hutchings delicately phrased it. All the first formers were in a large requisitioned Edwardian terraced house called “Pendarves”. I was in form 1A which was the front sitting room with several rows of desks running across the room from bay window to the opposite wall with the facing wall painted to serve as a blackboard. Forms 1B and 1C were upstairs in the bedrooms. Among our teachers I remember Nobby Clarke, a thick set man with dark crinkly hair and black horn rimmed spectacles. He taught us French from a book called “Mon Livre”. Mr Beckerleg who taught us history actually wore his mortar board, though most teachers wore their gowns without cap. Mr Sparrow a kindly and gentle speaking man taught us biology and Mr Hutchings taught us scripture. Second formers who boarded at “Ponsondane” on the outskirts of Penzance had their lessons in some old non-conformist rooms in Causeway Head. Our science laboratory was in another part of the town and for P.T. we used the gymnasium of the Penzance County School, several 100 yards beyond Richmond Hall.

As September declined into October, I felt I was adjusting reasonably well into this new life. We were disciplined with regular letter writing sessions every Sunday afternoon in the dining room when we had to write to our parents. I received regular postal orders from home to spend on sweets and the cinema. We were allowed Wednesday and Saturday afternoons for leisure pursuits. Saturday mornings were part of the working week and the whole school was marched from our various houses and hotels to St Mary The Virgin’s Church for Matins on Sunday mornings. Inside this church was one of the most gruesome statues I had ever seen. The sculpted bleeding head of John the Baptist rested on a charger dish adjoining the gallery and overhanging the pews where we sat. The altar in those days was ensconced in a display of green corrugated plasterwork hiding the east window. When I revisited this church in 1988 I was pleased to see how different it looked with a glass screened Narthex through which can now be seen the fine stained glass East window dedicated to the Virgin Mary as Stella Maris- Star of the Sea. Gone were the green corrugations and the gruesome head. The church itself had been rebuilt inside following a disastrous fire caused by an unbalanced youth in 1985.

On the first floor of the Mounts Bay Hotel was a large Games Room where we could play table tennis or board games such as Monopoly. All this routine was soon to be shattered when one of the lads in the bedroom adjoining ours was diagnosed ill with diphtheria. Immediately the whole house was quarantined and instead of walking up through the town to our lessons we were taken for long country walks by Nobby Clarke. He took us once to see an old prehistoric fort called “Castle en Dinas.” I think it was on this occasion that I lost my purse containing all my worldly wealth about 8 shillings and sixpence in silver and copper coins. I used to keep my money in an old leather cigarette case which Mum had given me. On it in gilt letters was impressed the words “Let your sorrows drift away in smoke”. I had been frolicking in the grass across a cow field and assumed that the purse must have dropped out of my pocket as I was turning head over heels on the damp grass.


On the following Saturday afternoon I decided to retrace my steps all the way along the route of our weekday excursion. I kept my eyes fixed on the ground and like a miracle I came across my purse resting in the middle of a field where it had fallen. The gilt lettering had faded a bit with the damp but the money was all there. I was absolutely thrilled that I had found ‘a needle in a haystack’. My luck was not to last. As half term drew near, I was looking forward to a visit from Mum, Dad and my 5 year old brother Ron. Towards the end of the week we had just returned from another outing.


The waves were crashing over the promenade and as I went through the front door Mrs Hutching beckoned to me to follow her upstairs into a small bedroom near the games room. It was here that she broke the news that the results of the throat swabs which had been taken some days before had revealed that I was a diphtheria carrier. I felt no symptoms of the disease but was in the unenviable position of being able to infect others with it. So arrangements had been made to transport me to the Isolation Hospital at Truro until I was free of the diphtheria germ. I had to wait in that room alone for several hours until the dreaded ambulance came to whisk me away from my new life into God knows where. There were some comics left for me to read, The Wizard, The Rover, Champion and such like. Next door I could hear my school mates having a splendid time in the games room, but no one was permitted to enter the room where I was incarcerated like some kind of leper.


I was brought my evening meal and I explained that my parents were due the next day to visit me. The housemaster immediately arranged for a telegram to be sent to them advising them not to come - a letter of explanation to follow immediately. This must have caused a great upset at home in days when telephones were luxury items and not owned by the majority of people. Fortunately the school’s head prefect called Adams was sent to reassure my parents that I was not ill in any sense of the word that could cause concern.


It was dark when the ambulance finally arrived. A nurse in a red and grey uniform with a white starched headdress escorted me out of the hotel and into the back of the ambulance. We had a long bumpy ride calling at several villages on the way to pick up other young carriers of the disease. Anthony Parish and Ivan Lawson from the outskirts of Penzance were to join me together with two baby boys called Wavell and Alexander at Truro Isolation Hospital for the next 6 months.

BACK TO MOUNTS BAY

It was the beginning of the summer term and somehow I had to try to catch up on all the learning that I had missed. Early Summer 1944 was an exciting time for an eleven year old. American G.I.s were everywhere preparing for D Day though we knew nothing of this. It was just great to collect the fancy names displayed by the Yanks on the dash boards of their jeeps and to watch the target practice out in the bay from the window of the front lounge of Mounts Bay Hotel. On our free Wednesday and Saturday afternoons I would spend my pocket money at the Ritz Cinema at the top end of Morrab Gardens or in the “Savoy” in Causeway Head. I was an avid film fan and enjoyed such classics as “Lassie Come Home”, “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp” and “The Lamp Still Burns”. We had to do our prep every evening in the dining room and then finish off the day with mugs of cocoa. Beans on toast was a frequent breakfast food which we christened “Bullets on Concrete”. On rare occasions we had eggs and bacon, but one day someone left their bacon on the plate and wouldn’t own up. When our housemaster demanded to know the perpetrator of this deplorable waste of food with no reply forthcoming we all had detention. Some evenings we would walk over to Newlyn to see Will Hay films at the little cinema there which stood on a sort of island accessed by a small footbridge. It was essential that we should get back to the hostel before cocoa was served and that sometimes meant leaving the film before it had ended and racing back along the Esplanade at top speed. At this stage in the war the Germans rarely flew as far as Cornwall but on rare occasions the siren would go and we had to drink our cocoa in the murky cellars of the hotel.


Back up at “Pendarves”, the ritual of morning prayers in Richmond Hall continued. On my first day back, some potty-minded first formers said I had missed the lovely songs that they had to learn like “Trees where you sit, Shall crowd into a shade”only they used a rude word that rhymed with sit. I also found to my disgust that the bible which Mum had given me had during my absence had the covers ripped off it. Nobby Clarke still droned on in French in his very deep voice and kept us little blighters in check, but Mr Beckerleg had sadly become a victim of first formers -playing up. He appeared to find it difficult to keep order in his immaculate cap and gown. I wasn’t aware of anyone being punished except for the usual 100 lines for ill discipline in class, but back at the hostel things were harsher. I was now in a room on the top floor which I shared with Harold “Granny” Kenshole and Peter Donaldson. We had been fooling around with a tin of black boot polish which had somehow got shoved into Kenshole’s face. I can’t remember whether Donaldson was involved but we both had to report to the housemaster and I received the cane on each hand for misbehaving.

Sometimes on our leisure afternoons we first-formers used to sit in the big bay window of Mounts Bay Hotel, now wide open in the summer sunshine. As the Yanks walked by from their base, the former Pavilion Theatre just past the Queens Hotel, we tried to cadge chewing gum of which they seemed to have an abundant supply. At the back of the requisitioned theatre was an improvised camp kitchen where the Americans made their doughnuts. The delicious aroma wafting out from this place tempted us to hang about in the hope of a free sample.

One Saturday sitting in the window and gazing across the sunlit bay we noticed a large black cloud billowing across from the direction of the swimming pool. Taylor’s Garage had caught on fire. We ran along the promenade to where the crowd was being kept back. I watched fascinated as the large clock over the front of the showroom melted in the heat like a Salvador Dali painting and fell into the conflagration. I never knew whether this fire was a nasty accident or the result of enemy action, but as air raids in this vicinity were hardly known, I suspect the former.

The long summer holidays of nearly eight weeks at that time saw me at St Budeaux where I enjoyed our usual day trips to Torquay and Paignton zoo. The Nazi raids on Plymouth had by this time ceased, the last one recorded was in April, but now the allies had landed in Normandy and we were on the way to victory. Devonport High School was however to remain in Penzance for another year and so it was that I took a tearful farewell again in September to return as a second-former.

This time we lived in a large detached country house set in its own grounds. The house was called “Ponsondane” near the railway engine sheds where St Michael’s Mount stood across the bay from Marazion. In the 19th century Ponsondane was the home of Richard Bolitho Esq, situated in the Ponsondane House, Penzance area known as Gulval on the outskirts of the town not far from the railway station. I was to live in this house for three months until the Christmas holidays.


The traumatic events of first the blitz, then separation from home, and then Truro Isolation Hospital were catching up on me and I yearned to be home with my family, so Mum set in motion the processes whereby I could be transferred to the Emergency High School in the Sutton High School building in Regent Street Plymouth. However there was still another term for me to work through.


At Ponsondane I was in a large first floor dormitory with about 15 other second form students. Our housemaster was called Captain Webb. I’m not sure whether Captain was a nickname or an actual rank. He had two pretty daughters of about 10 and 12 years old. We had a cook and a handyman called Mr Bridgeman. There was a large dining room at the rear of the house with a hatch to the kitchen beyond. I sat at a table with about 5 others. The only names I remember are Badgery and Tony Soper who was probably in the third form. In later life he became well known as a nature specialist on the B.B.C. A prefect sat at the head and he allocated us all numbers and expected us to fag for him at table when he called out “Tool 1” or “Tool 2” etc. A special treat was on Saturdays when we had fish and chips. The boys took it in turns to carry a large two-handled black cauldron up through the town on the way to school, through Market Jew Street and Causway Head to the fish and chip shop at the top. We were entrusted with a One Pound note and for this the shop would fill up the cauldron to the brim with chips, which we then had to collect after Saturday morning lessons and carry back to Ponsondane as quick as we could before they got cold and this would be our lunch treat. Presumably the fish had been prepared elsewhere.


The temptation to lift the lid and pop a hot chip in our mouths on the way back was irresistible. We boys however did not escape in the preparation of meals, for a rota was drawn up so that each day a pair of boys had to get up early, go into the back yard and pile a large number of potatoes into a commercial grater connected to the water supply. We then had to turn the handle of this grater vigorously until all the skins of the potatoes for the evening meal had been grated off. Then we went for our breakfast and the hurried walk up through the town to Richmond Hall for assembly. Some of us were late one day because we had dawdled around the slaughter house at the top of Market Jew Street. Our names were taken and when we returned to the house after school we had to line up in the dormitory and receive the cane on both hands. The agony was diminished slightly after a quick run to the bathroom and plunging our hands under the cold tap. That was the only time we were late.


Our lessons were no longer held in Pendarves but in the old non conformist chapel half way down Causeway Head. The ‘bell’ to summon us to each period was in fact the hanging hub of a car tyre hit by an iron rod. Some of our teachers were elderly ladies who had been called out of retirement because the men were away on active service. They were more tolerant of our lapses and gave us just five or ten lines instead of the usual 100. During some lessons I remember counting my money or playing battleships by dropping ink spots from a fountain pen on to a sheet of paper on the floor. Other chapels around the town were used for lessons such as Religious Instruction or music.


We shared the physics laboratory with Penzance County School as well as their gymnasium. This was one period I detested as I had difficulty in climbing a rope and when we had a wheelbarrow race and I was the wheelbarrow I was so roughly manhandled that my chest was scraped on the floor and my breath came out in wheezes. To add to my misery there was a bully in the dormitory called Tom Russell. He always picked on the younger pupils and ordered us to run the gauntlet while the older ones attacked us with pillows as we ran the length of the dormitory.


The town was being decorated for Christmas and on our afternoons off we would wander around the shops to gawp at the enticing things to buy. Some of us got involved with older less morally minded boys who did some petty pilfering and showed us how we too might try our hand. This at first appeared to be exciting and in Smiths I picked up one or two Christmas tree decorations, but my conscience was warning me all the time that this was wrong. Afterwards we younger ones agreed that we had been led astray and this was to be the first and last time that we would get involved in law breaking. However we had not seen the last of the matter.


There had been a big outbreak of stealing in the town and the police had been called in. Our lockers were searched and to my distress I was accused of stealing a piece of sheet music which I had genuinely bought for my mother. It was called “Lullaby of the Bells” from the current film hit “The Phantom of the Opera” with Susanna Foster and Nelson Eddy. They also took a book that Mum had given me for my 11th birthday called “The Boy Next Door” by Enid Blyton. Fortunately the real culprit and instigator of the outbreak of stealing was caught and those of us who had had our belongings taken soon had them restored.


Saturday afternoons were sometimes spent around the nearby engine sheds. A friend called Brian Lock had one uncle who was an engine driver and another uncle who manned the signal box. We were privileged to climb up into the huge steam engine and move the bar which set the wheels turning. We then would take a walk over to the signal box. It was fascinating to watch the signalman manipulate the levers for the signals when the bell rang. He never touched the gleaming levers with his hand and always used a cloth. He gave me a musty smelling old bible one day and explained the virtues of reading the good book.

Before we left for the Christmas 1944 holidays there was a party for us at Ponsondane. One of the games was a treasure hunt throughout the house. One particular clue was a reference to a Monsieur Ponthomme. Those of us studying French made a bee-line for the handyman Mr Bridgeman’s cupboard where we found the next clue leading us to the games room. That is as far as some of us got because the housemaster’s two young and attractive daughters were on the lookout for any young blood entering the games room, a large panelled room containing a huge fireplace with inglenooks. So once we were waylaid we seemed to loose interest in the rest of the hunt. The only game I remember fully was pass the parcel in the large dining room, because I won the prize, a much sought after tin of sardines and a rarity in those wartime days of rationing.


BACK TO DEVONPORT

Eventually Devonport High School moved back from Penzance to the old Stoke Military Hospital buildings near Stoke Damerel Church. With some relief and excitement after the rigours of a spell at the Emergency High School in Regent Street, I started my autumn term in form 3L (for Latin) in September 1945. Instead of catching the Plymouth bus I now had to catch either the school special or the green bus that went from Saltash Passage to Hooe. Quite often I missed the school special due to my inability to get out of bed in the mornings. I would hear Mum and Dad get up very early. Mum would prepare Dad’s breakfast and when he had gone to work Mum would go back to bed until it was time for me to have my breakfast and run to St Budeaux Square to catch my bus. Despite many anxious cries resounding up the stairs from Mum I was always late. Ron‘s school was just down the road so he could remain in bed. Quite often I managed to get to the bus on time and do the 20 minute journey before the prefects started to take names. Sometimes I wasn’t so lucky.


There were all new masters teaching us who had just been demobbed from the forces. Mr Mallinson taught English, Mr May (Piper) taught French, Mr Berry who wore a wig took us for maths. Mr Nicholas was our Latin master, Elmer Whitfeld taught English. The headmaster was Mr W.H.Buckley B.A., BSc.He had an electric light bulb fitted over the door of his study and when anyone was summoned to his presence they had to wait outside his door until the light flashed on when they were to knock and enter. During that first school year we were allocated our houses. I was in Drake. The others were Raleigh, Grenville and Gilbert. If I had been more inspired in those days I could have joined a variety of clubs at school including the Literary and Debating Society, the Stamp Club, the Gardening Club and later the Arts Club and Dramatic Society, but sadly I was somewhat lacking in that outward looking and motivated kind of character that my excellent school was seeking to draw out. Maybe the damper on everything was not being good at games and in the gymnasium on which there was a strong emphasis. I noticed that those who excelled in sport also shone in other ways and seemed to become the all round favourites. Lady Astor, M.P. for Plymouth sometimes gave out prizes at Speech Days but I never won prizes or ever appeared in the top 10 in class as I had done 5 years earlier in my elementary school. A combination of puberty and the traumatic experiences of the war years seemed to put a suffocating hand on my spirit and it didn’t get any better.


I did try to improve my outlook by volunteering to study ancient Greek instead of Geography and History. A class of about five or six of us was formed with Mr Nicholas as our tutor. This elite group included, Peter Northcott, a handsome and accomplished young man who later went for naval officer training at Dartmouth. There was also Guy Nuttall, a likeable friendly sort, again very intelligent. I don’t remember the others but we were a very small group. I enjoyed the lessons introducing us to the Greek alphabet and the History of Greece, and Greek Drama but when it came to translating the Anabasis of Xenophon, my staying powers began to diminish. Mr Nicholas had the demeanour of an ex army officer of the no nonsense type. He would yell at us and put the fear of God into us. Once he complained that Nuttall and I sitting in the front desk were staring at him like rabbits hypnotised by a snake. He was a good teacher though and over the years since I studied Greek I have been grateful to him for building up in me a very good foundation for understanding the English language from which so much from ancient Greek is derived.


Despite my quiet introverted nature, I did make a friend at this time of Brian Paul, mainly I suppose because neither of us was keen on games and when our form had a games afternoon, usually on a Friday, instead of catching the school bus to the playing fields we would skive off and go to the cinema. Sometimes this was the Belgrave in a side street off Mutley Plain. Brian lived nearby and we used to call in at a billiards room and buy chocolate ice creams, then make our way to the Belgrave. Sometimes we would visit the Plaza in one of the streets near the Barbican to see H films usually with Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster.


In the summer of 1947 we experienced the hottest weather since 1911. My school had a Garden Party and Concert in July. One of the highlights of this concert was our English master dressing up as Gracie Fields and singing “Walter, Walter Lead me to the Altar.” His hilarious performance became a talking point for Mum and Dad for a long time afterwards.

Live theatre came to my notice at this time with a school performance of “The Zeal of Thy House” by Dorothy L. Sayers. It was held at the Globe Theatre in the Royal Marine Barracks at Stonehouse. I was very impressed with the whole performance especially the medieval scenes showing the building of the cathedral and incense billowing from a swinging thurible on stage. It was in March 1948 that we endured the ordeal of mock examinations for the School Certificate. The actual exams were due in the summer, but these were designed to prepare us for the big event. After this came the end of term Speech Day at the Central Hall in Plymouth and my first symphony concert on 8th March at this same venue. I was thrilled with Delius “First Cuckoo in Spring”, Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony and the Max Bruch Violin Concerto played by Ethel Hamilton Akaster. The Plymouth Orchestral Society conducted by Auberry Pryor put on this concert which ended with massed singing of the Olympic Hymn, Non Nobis Domine words by Rudyard Kipling set to music by Roger Quilter. My appreciation of the arts really began to take off in 1948, which was of course the year that London hosted the Olympic Games.

MY LAST YEARS AT SCHOOL

In July the time I was dreading had come. I had to sit for my Cambridge School Certificate Examinations. From the 5th to the 12th I answered papers on English Literature, involving Macbeth, Poetry and A.G.Street’s “Farmer’s Glory”, English Language involving an essay and a precis, Physics, Greek translation, Science, Chemistry, Arithmetic, Latin translation, Mechanics, Algebra, French translation, and Geometry, all involving some 36 hours of concentrated effort. When the results came out I found that I had three passes in English, Mechanics and Physics, and four Credits in Latin, Greek French and Elementary Mathematics. So I did pass but without matriculation (i.e. the necessary credits in English). I was thus still able to continue with my studies into the 6th year and was pleased to be given the choice to specialise in Arts subjects instead of Science. So it was that I began the new School Year in September 1948 in form Lower 6 Arts. The numbers in this form were not as great as before because of the division into Arts and Science. I felt especially privileged to be with this group of students and made my first real friend for a long time. Ronald Boote came over to me and introduced himself very formally and called me Mr Coles instead of Coles or Colesy.


It was usual in those days to call each other by our surnames with the addition of ‘y’ if the name ended in a syllable. We shared an interest in music and both lived at St Budeaux. I joined the music circle and was very impressed by Ron’s playing of Chopin’s Nocturne in E flat and the last movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata. He played brilliantly and I wanted to be able to do the same, so into 1949 I practised continually at home on Mum’s piano which I hadn’t touched since I was 10.This all coincided with the 100th Anniversary of the Death of Frederick Chopin and the vast amounts of his music on the new BBC’sThird Programme. I so much wanted to interpret the music that I heard at school and on the radio that I would practice continuously all my spare time on the piano learning the music parrot fashion, like poetry.


It was in 1949 my last full year at school that I became involved with the preparations and rehearsals for the school’s most ambitious play so far “Murder in the Cathedral” by T.S.Eliot. This play was produced by our English master “Elmer” Whitfeld and one of my classmates Terry Bossom played the part of Thomas Becket murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. The music chosen for the play was very apt. I particularly remember “Jupiter” from Holst’s Planet Suite, “On the Banks of Green Willow” by Butterworth and “La Calinda” from “Koanga” by Delius. Each one of the Tempters in the play entered to his own theme tune which was one of these themes. We were using the newly invented long playing records and one of the new Decca record players with a large 33 rpm red playing head. After each rehearsal R.B. and I would walk along Union Street to catch our bus at Derry’s Clock. In my last few months at the school I entered form 6 Arts but I became more and more isolated from my classmates as it was known that I had decided not to take Higher School Certificate. Instead I was advised to use the school library in order to keep learning and to attend the music classes. One of my last memories of the school is the redecoration of the music room at the time of the 1950 General Election in February and the reading of Ibsen’s plays in the library. I finally said goodbye on 28th April having spent six and a half years at Devonport High School. I started work in the Civil Service on 1st May

Thanks to the high standard of education which I had gained from Devonport High School in those early years, I have always to been able to appreciate the best things in life, especially in art music and literature.

Robert George Coles









Now Then