Choir School memories

Chester Cathedral Choir School
Reminiscences Sept 1956-July 1960
Andrew Randall

The Terms
The autumn term was ‘Michaelmas Term’; the spring term was ‘Lent Term’, the summer term was ‘Trinity Term’.

The Fees

For a ‘non singer’: 15 guineas a term in 1956, 20 guineas from Sept 1957

First day at school

  • walking across Abbey Square to the big iron gate held shut with a mob of ‘old timers’ clustered round, and receiving an aggressive challenge ‘do you support Aston Villa?’. The only acceptable answer, from an 8 year old who wanted to survive to day 2, was ‘yes’.
  • being shown my peg in the cloakrooms by an older boy who had been tipped off to look out for me (Martin Wood)

The Uniform (bought at Brown’s of Chester; Andrew’s uniform cost £10 9s 6d in July 1956)

  • Red cap, green badge, ‘Laudate Pueri Dominum’ (Boys Praise the Lord). The crest was 3 bishop’s mitres
  • Grey knee-length socks with green/red/gold bands at the top
  • Grey shorts worn with ‘snake clasp’ elastic belt in green/gold/red
  • Grey long-sleeved shirt
  • Tie: red/green diagonal stripes
  • Grey v-neck pullover with green/red stripes on the ‘v’
  • Navy blazer
  • Black lace-up shoes
  • Gym shoes
  • Navy mac
  • Navy football shorts
  • Green/red chequered or white football shirt (you played as either ‘colours’ or ‘whites’
  • Green football socks
  • Chilprufe vests

The Playground

  • smooth asphalt
  • iron railings down the side facing the King’s School
  • sandstone walls on 2 sides
  • gate to the bike sheds, with parapet overlooking The Garth
  • doorway down to the refectory (out of bounds during break)
  • doorways to the Remove classroom and Cloakroom
  • raised ledge on 2 sides wide enough to stand on (ideal as sanctuary/home/base)
  • one end overlooking steps down to the Cloisters
  • mysterious, sinister vent pipe with conical metal cap, reputedly giving off ‘poisonous gases’. Boys were often held over this as part of routine playground fun!

The Playground Games/Crazes

  • Conkers (mine’s a 100er!)
  • Dinky toy car racing in the playground; red Maserati & Alfa Romeo, blue Talbot Largo, green Vanwall (the smooth surface was perfect)
  • Marble stalls in the playground. The length of the ‘pitches’ was carefully delineated; so much for a 1er, bit further for a 2er, further still for a 3er. Sometimes the full length of the playground was used to roll at a stall of 25 or even 50. In the height of the craze, the playground rang to the cries of ‘Roll up! Roll up!’ If you ran out of marbles, you stuck a halfpenny or penny upright in a crack in the tarmac, and opened up a money stall for boys to roll marbles at.
  • Small derringer-style cap guns, sometimes carried in a mini leather holster
  • Water pistols, frequently confiscated and stamped on by Mr Lampard (Lamps)
  • British Bulldogs, with the line of ‘stoppers’ stretching right across the playground
  • Tennis ball football, with the ball frequently going through the railings down onto the coke heap that marked the boundary between Choir School and Kings School territories. Retrieval was a brave act, because the coke heap was out of bounds, noisy and highly visible
  • Yo-yos
  • shuttlecock in the Refectory (3 courts)
  • most boys collected things: stamps, coins, cigarette cards, tea cards, Dinky toys etc and school provided the opportunity for much trading and swapping

The Rooms

  • Boys stayed put in classrooms, each with an assigned desk, and masters moved from classroom to classroom. The exception was science/art lessons with Mr Mellalieu in his special room in the Undercroft
  • With an average total roll of around 60 boys, class sizes averaged 12-15
  • Forms 1, 2, 3 & 4: across the playground, up the steps to the door to St Anselm’s Chapel, cross the back of the Chapel and up the steep winding stone stairway to the door opening onto Form 3. Walk through Form 3 to the door on the right leading to Forms 1 & 2, or straight ahead for Form 4 (also used for Saturday afternoon detentions). Mrs Storrar complained to Canon Hardy at a parents’ meeting about the hassle of having to bring and collect her boys from detention: ‘Can’t you just beat them instead?’
  • There was a bookcase with cupboards underneath between Forms 1 & 2 that contained text/reading books for distribution during class. Against the wall in Form 3 were similar bookcase units with cupboards below. The cupboards contained stationery eg exercise books. The bookcases contained a rudimentary library with classic adventure authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Captain Marryat, GA Henty, Richard Henry Dana (Two years before the Mast) etc
  • The Remove classroom, seating 12 in 3 rows of 4 desks, was across the playground next to the Cloakrooms
  • Door from the playground with steps leading down to the dining room, where we waited in line before going into a crypt-like room with low vaulted arches, and the peculiar musty condensation smell of damp sandstone.
  • On the same level as the dining room was a room used for science and art lessons with Mr Mellalieu.

The School Houses
Named after composers/musicians.

  • Byrd
  • Boyce (my house: Boyce for ever, Byrd never!)
  • Wesley
  • Tallis

The Masters

  • Headmaster: Canon Basil Augustus ‘Pop’ Hardy 1901-1973. Resident at 13 Abbey Street, with the red front door. Effortlessly commanded awe and respect. Taught Maths and Bible Studies and General Knowledge. Who can forget his relentless ‘Quickies’, 50 rapid-fire questions on maths, spelling and other general subjects? Also the way he drummed in spellings of difficult words with chants or incantations, like ‘Egypt’ (Eejeewoppity) and ‘beginning’, with the stress on the ‘double n’. Led morning prayers in the Chapel, and made announcements. One I recall was his homily on the unacceptability of bad behaviour outside school, and the fact that he had recently ‘had to cane one boy pretty heavily’. This was reputedly John Whittingham, for kicking and breaking a cello carried in the street by a pupil from one of the girls’ schools.
  • Frederick Norman Stocken ‘Lamps’ Lampard 1895-1979: a significant physical presence, short and stout, red of face with penetrating eyes, dark brows, bristling moustache; always seemingly on the verge of a monstrous explosion of wrath. A fine disciplinarian and showman in the classroom, with a sense of drama. Taught French and Latin. I remember starting Latin in Form 3 aged 10, using the Civis Romanus textbook to study chapters like ‘The Soman Roldier’ as Lamps would say. Also the short French stories from Aesop’s Fables such as The Fox & the Crow. He was not above throwing an errant pupil’s books out of the window when provoked, and indifferent work was often met with the scornful rebuke ‘that sort of work wouldn’t get you into the skipping squad at Cherry Grove Junior Mixed’. Referred to Germans as ‘the Boche’ and ‘the Hun’. At the height of the water-pistol craze, Lamps would confiscate the weapons and stamp on them. At the same time, he was at heart a kindly man who understood well the workings of a small boy’s mind. We listened spellbound to his readings of ‘Lorna Doone in the afternoon’ and his anecdotes of life before the First World War (in which he had a distinguished career, joining up in 1915 as a private in the Durham Light Infantry, promoted to lance-corporal, commissioned Dec 1915 into the 3rd Northumberland Fusiliers, winning an MC in 1916 and finishing the war as a captain). He saw Colonel Cody take to the air in a biplane shortly after the Wright Brothers flight. Once we were set the task of composing a poem for prep. My classmate John Cottle was struggling with this, until Lamps came to the rescue and produced in a few minutes the following, which has stuck in my memory for some extraordinary reason:

I’ve lost my marble
What shall I do?
Sit down and cry
Boo hoo hoo

I’ve found my marble
What shall I say?
Jump up and shout
Hooray! Hooray!

  • Rev Eric H Yates: glasses, saturnine mien, short fuse, purple socks, taught English. There was a boy Simon Yates at the school, was this Eric’s son?
    Eric Yates left the Choir School in 1961 and went to Dover Grammar School to teach a variety of Arts subjects and Scriptural studies. In 1970 he went to St Stephen’s College, Broadstairs as Chaplain and Science teacher
  • Jolyon Dodgson: a young master, started in March 1957 and stayed till summer 1958. To the boys, he was closely identified with his shoes, which appeared to have turned-up toes. These ‘curly shoes’ where the butt of endless sniggering and general merriment, and wildly-exaggerated drawings on the board, done for him to find at the start of a lesson. Did he know what was going on? He, or more probably Brian Runnett, awarded me the punishment of 1000 lines on the last day of the summer term 1958. I was caught redhanded flicking a paper pellet across the room via a rubber-band catapult twisted across the fingers. The calculation of the punishment was arrived at by doubling the preceding one and passing it on to the next offender, starting with 250 lines. As I was copped right at the end of the lesson, there was no chance of passing this on! On the first day of the following term I handed in about 500, and this was judged to be enough.
  • Fred Mellalieu 1930-Sept 2012: science, arts & crafts. Bookbinding, glue, paint, lino knives. Making papier mache heads based on a plasticine mould worked around a bogroll holder for the neck.
  • Dr John R ‘Doc’ Middleton the music master. Not being a chorister, I had little to do with him. He took the singing lessons, belting out the Community Song Book favourites Hearts of Oak, Rule Britannia, Uncle Tom Cobley, There is a Tavern in the Town, In Dublin’s Fair City etc
  • Brian Runnett 1935-1970: no specific memories. He was assistant organist. He went to Norwich after leaving the Choir School and was killed in a car crash soon thereafter

Speech Day/Prizegiving

  • Usually late November, in the Refectory. Only speech I can remember was Michael Gibbs, Dean of Chester, saying ‘Boys, keep your speech and your hair short!’
  • Prizes awarded by subject and by form. Remark by Mrs Storrar: ‘I get fed up clapping other people’s children’

Sport

  • going in crocodile to the Atlantic or Pacific Baths on Weds pm for swimming. Never having been to a swimming pool before, I remember being stunned by the noise, the splashing and the smell of chlorine. Non-swimmers like me huddled shivering/teeth chattering in the shallow end, clutching the rail and making feeble attempts to kick our legs. The other memorable thing was the drawing inside the cold, wet slimy changing cubicles: idealised graphics of the female form, with helpful arrows labelled ‘big tts’ and ‘hairy c*t’. What more did you need? This sex ed was supplemented by a graffito chalked on a wall at the bottom of Bridge Street: ‘Fook Of’.
  • Football on our superb sports field a few minutes walk from the school. Clattering over the cobbles in Abbey Close in real studded football boots. The disaster of forgetting to bring your games kit to school on a games day. One of my friends finding a piece of clay tobacco pipe on the field and excitedly reporting to the games master ‘Look sir, I’ve found a Roman soldier’s clay pipe!’
  • Gym in the Refectory; also games of shuttlecock and indoor football

Other Classroom Memories

  • Inkwells fitted into the top of the desks, invariably at least half-full with blotting paper sludge. Penholders and separate nibs in different formats: fine, medium & thick. These nibs often became bent or twisted after the inevitable desk-top abuse. My first Osmeroid fountain pen. Refilling the china desk inkwells involved a huge bottle – possibly even made of earthenware and a lot of spilt ink. I cannot remember whether one of the boys acted as an ink monitor, or whether it remained in the hands of the teachers. Propelling pencils with spare leads in a special cavity. Wooden pencil boxes. Leather satchels worn on the back for transporting homework etc to and from school
  • Paper darts & planes in a variety of designs chucked about the classrooms and sometimes launched from the Form 3 windows above the playground, or from the bike-shed parapet overlooking the Garth. These latter launch areas were not allowed!
  • Practising italic handwriting using special nibs, and copying from a sheet printed with the names of towns.
  • Clearing out desks on the last day of term. Disposing of unwanted stuff through the time-honoured tradition of Quis? and Ego! Leading to squabbles: ‘I egoed it first!’. Chuckable stuff like marbles or conkers could be distributed via a ‘scramble’. The shout of ‘Scramble!’ was guaranteed to bring out a swarm of loot-seekers.
  • The annual Recitation Competition in the Cathedral Refectory.
  • There was also a fire in the ‘crypt’ area which burnt out the dining room or kitchen and meant that we could not use Mr Mellalieu’s room.
  • ‘half-termly orders’ pinned up in the classrooms to show the ranking of each boy’s academic performance

The Boys: Where are they now?

  • Athol Birch
    Father ran the Deva Dairy farm on the way to Blacon; had an elder brother Nigel. Emigrated to Portugal to establish a restaurant and many other businesses
  • John & David Starkey (farmer’s sons)
  • Nicky Kneale
    Spell in the army after Mons Officer Cadets School. In the 80s ran a company providing chauffeur-driven limousines to society events. More recently chief exec of Fired Earth, the posh tiles emporium, reputed to have sold his stake for a fortune. Sisters Heather (older) and April (younger). Lived in Guilden Sutton. Bought me fish & chips at Hignett’s on his birthday
  • Robert David
    Best man at my wedding. Went to The Wrekin and Exeter Universiyt to read history. Married Sue, also at Exeter. Both teaching in Kendal, Cumbria. Left teaching in 1987 to lecture in teacher education at colleges in Ambleside and Lancaster. Acquired an MA and PhD, both in history, and in recent years has been freelancing as a lecturer in adult education, a research fellow at Lancaster University, an educational consultant working in Cumbria and in Africa. Currently downsizing towards retirement! Robert keenly interested in industrial archaeology, fell-walking and art. Was a member of a Lake District mountain rescue team. Fond of hols in bleak spots like Iceland/Greenland.
  • Andrew & Christopher Storrar ( Vet’s sons; Andrew sadly deceased, Christopher a lawyer in Chester)
  • David Seymour
  • Roger Bithell
    Father ran Bithell’s Boats in Chester.
  • Nigel Campbell
    Father managed the Pied Bull in Chester
  • Geoffrey Chance
    Father managed the Queen Hotel, Chester. Geoffrey had a signed photo of Diana Dors, who had stayed at the hotel in 1959, also an acoustic guitar which he brought to school to be envied.
  • Michael & Peter Radcliffe
  • Sandy Blair
  • Darlington
  • Cartwright
  • CTC Jones
  • Salmon
  • Downer
  • Julian Maddox
  • Chris Evans
  • David Bradbury
  • Timothy Jones
  • Lindop i & ii (John & Peter)
  • James, Maurice, John & Philip Cottle (farming family)
  • Harvey Stears
  • Martin Wood
  • Colin Davidson
  • Nigel Harden
  • James Birchall
    Fanatical about cars.
  • Jim Davies
  • Colin Pym
    Another farming family. Reared pheasants as well.
  • DJ (David) Clarke
    Bright boy, always first or second in class
  • Norman Dutton
    A skiffle enthusiast
  • Roger Clarke
    Elvis Presley fan
  • Peter Simpson
    Very sporty boy. Sadly disabled in an accident and has spent most of his life in a wheelchair
  • Alastair Greatbanks
  • ? Whibberley
  • Richard Aldous
    Shamelessly persecuted in Form 2 by the rest of us.
  • ? Mercer
  • Stephen Vickers
  • Humphrey Morris
  • Peter Morris
  • Yates
  • Marsden
  • Roger Higson
  • Paul Ward
    Another farming family
  • Robert Moss
  • Francis Reynolds
  • John Connah
  • Taffy Jackson
    One of the boys selected to help serve food onto our plates from the kitchens at lunch. A sought-after post
  • ? Parry
  • ? Horsfield
  • John Whittingham
  • Andrew Porter
  • Nigel Nussey
  • Edgar
  • Stuart Walker
  • David Capper
  • John ‘Curly’ Coppack
  • Sparks
  • Nigel Grace
  • Peter Pownall?
  • Trevor Williams
  • Churton
  • Rimmer
  • The Garner brothers (very naughty boys)
  • John ‘Woody’ Woodward
  • Lyons
  • John Frankland
  • Andrew Duckworth

The Culture

Radio/Wireless
The Light Programme; The Third Programme & Home Services
On the same dial, you could find Radio Hilversum, Radio Peking, Aircraft, Radio Luxembourg and many others

  • The Archers: Gwen Berryman as Doris Archer, Chris Gittins as Walter Gabriel
  • Mrs Dale’s Diary: ‘I’ve been worried about Jim lately…’
  • Listen with Mother (When the music stops, Daphne Oxenford/Eileen Brown/Dorothy Edwards will be here to speak to you again): ‘Are you sitting comfortably?….Then I’ll begin’
  • Journey into Space (Charles Chilton)
  • Paul Temple & The Vandyke Affair (Francis Durbridge), starring Marjorie Westbury as ‘Steve’ and Peter Coke as ‘Paul’. Theme tune Coronation Scot
  • Children’s Hour: Uncle Mac
  • Toytown: Laaaaarry the Laaamb
  • Radio Luxemburg: Horace Bachelor and his amazing infra-draw method. Keynsham spelt K,E,Y……….dj Alan Freeman
  • The Goon Show: Spike Milligan & Peter Sellers
  • The Clitheroe Kid: Jimmy Clitheroe
  • Music While You Work
  • Workers Playtime
  • Forces Favourites
  • Family Favourites: dj Sam Costa?
  • Saturday Night On The Light
  • Have a Go with Wilfred Pickles: Mabel on the piano, ‘give him the money’
  • Round the Horne/Beyond our Ken: Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick & Betty Marsden: ‘I’m Sandy & this is my friend Julian’
  • The Navy Lark: Leslie Phillips ‘left hand down a bit’, Bill Pertwee & Heather Chasen
  • Life with the Glums: Ron & Eth
  • Educating Archie Peter Brough
  • Gunsmoke: Matt Dillon, Frontier Marshall
  • Ray’s A Laugh: Ted Ray & ‘Kitty’. His boss ‘Step into my office a minute, Ray’
  • Hancock’s Half Hour: Tony Hancock, Sid James & Bill Kerr
  • The Billy Cotton Band Show: Wakey, Wakey!! Billy Cotton & Alan Breeze
  • Animal, Vegetable & Mineral: Lady Isobel Barnett
  • Dick Barton, Special Agent
  • Sherlock Holmes’ Greatest Mysteries: Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce
  • Much Binding in the Marsh: Richard ‘Stinker’ Murdoch: ‘Morning Windy, windy morning’; Can I do you now, sir?
  • Edgar Lustgarten’s World’s Greatest Mysteries
  • Life with the Lyons: Ben Lyon & Bebe Daniels
  • Down Your Way: Franklin Engelmann
  • Top of the Form
  • In Town Tonight
  • Ludwig Koch’s bird imitations & Percy Edwards’ dog imitations
  • Johnny Morris: raconteur and animal impressions
  • Al Read
  • Semprini Serenade
  • Sandy McPherson
  • Jimmy Shand & The White Heather Club
  • Brain of Britain: Hobday?

The Bands

  • Victor Sylvester’s Dance Orchestra
  • Ted Heath’s Big Band
  • The BBC’s Palm Court Orchestra
  • The BBC’s Symphonic Orchestra
  • Jack Parnell
  • Frank Chacksfield
  • Mantovani: Sounds for Swinging Lovers?
  • Bert Kaempfert
  • Billy Cotton (Wakey wakey!)

Cinema (the Odeon, Regal, Majestic/Classic, Music Hall opposite the Cathedral in St Werbergh Street)

  • The Alamo (remember the craze for coonskin caps with the tail?) John Wayne as Davy Crockett ‘King of the Wild Frontier’
  • Where no Vultures Fly: Anthony Steel & Dinah Sheridan
  • Old Yeller
  • Battle of the River Plate

Music

  • Lonnie Donegan: Battle of New Orleans, Rock Island Line, Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour, My Old Man’s a Dustman, Last Train to San Fernando, Cumberland Gap
  • Tommy Steele: Oh Boy
  • The Kingston Trio: Tom Dooley
  • Elvis Presley: Jailhouse Rock, All Shook Up
  • Little Richard: Shake,Rattle & Roll, Tutti Frutti
  • Cliff Richard: Livin’ Doll
  • Alma Cogan: Dream Boat
  • Helen Shapiro: Walking Back to Happiness
  • Anne Shelton: Lay down your arms & surrender to mine!
  • Peter Sellers: Any Old Iron
  • The Harry Lime Theme from The Third Man
  • Connie Francis
  • Tex Ritter
  • Frankie Lane
  • Frank Ifield
  • Chet Atkins
  • Bert Weedon
  • Pat Boone
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Johnny Ray
  • Russ Conway
  • Winifred Attwell
  • Matt Monro
  • Doris Day
  • Eddie Calvert & his trumpet
  • Rosemary Clooney
  • Pearl Carr & Teddie Johnson
  • The Inkspots
  • The Platters
  • The Mudlarks
  • The Dansette record player & Garrard pick-up

TV
Can’t do much here as we didn’t have one! But remember watching at friends:

  • Muffin the Mule
  • Bill & Ben the Flowerpot Men
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Ivanhoe
  • Zorro
  • On Safari with Amand & Michaela Denis
  • Six Five Special with Jim Dale
  • Barry Bucknall: Do it Yourself
  • Sooty & Sweep
  • Wagon Train
  • Laramie
  • The Quatermass Experiment
  • ‘Professor’ Jimmy Edwards: Whacko!

The Sweets

  • Spangles (peppermint & fruit-flavoured)
  • Blackjacks
  • Trebor Chews, Banana Splits, Fruit Salads
  • Liquorice in plain hard sticks or soft fancy shapes (pipe, catherine wheel)
  • Rowntrees Fruit Gums (don’t forget the fruit gums, Mum)
  • Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles
  • Murray Mints (the ‘too good to hurry’ mints)
  • Gobstoppers
  • Fry’s 5 Boys chocolate
  • Cadbury’s Motoring chocolate
  • Aero
  • Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts
  • Mars Bars
  • Milky Ways
  • Dolly Mixtures
  • Barleysugar twists
  • Walnut Whirls
  • Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum
  • Beechnut chewing gum
  • PK gum
  • Bazooka Bubblegum with the tightly folded cartoon strip inside the packet
  • Sweet cigarettes (with cards of cricketers or footballers in the packets)
  • Aniseed balls
  • Bulls eyes & humbugs
  • Everton mints
  • Sharp’s toffee
  • Palm Toffee bars
  • Sherbet Fountains, with liquorice dipstick
  • Lemon sherbets & lime sherbets
  • Fox’s Glacier mints
  • Toblerone
  • Liquorice comfits
  • Nougat (pronounced ‘Nugget’ in Chester)
  • Mint Imperials
  • Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate (a glass & a half of full cream dairy milk…)
  • Fry’s Turkish Delight
  • Fry’s Peppermint Cream
  • Nuttall’s Mintoes
  • Jelly Babies & Jelly Beans
  • Cadbury’s Caramac
  • Chocolate Buttons
  • Boiled sweets (Fruit Drops?)
  • Meltis Newberry Fruits, sold in a box
  • Pear Drops
  • Acid Drops
  • Maynard’s Wine Gums
  • Smarties
  • Sweethearts
  • Trebor Refreshers
  • Polos, peppermint and fruit flavour (the mint with the hole)
  • Chocolate éclairs
  • Opal Fruits (made to make your mouth water)
  • Clarnico’s Peppermint Creams & Toffees
  • Fruitella: ‘the chewy, juicy flavour in Fruitella…..lasts the whole day through’
  • Cadbury’s Hazelnut Whorls
  • Nestle’s Milky Bar: The Milky Bar Kid
  • Rowntree’s Rolo
  • Black Magic
  • Quality Street
  • Cadbury’s Milk Tray
  • Cadbury’s Dairy Box
  • Cadbury’s Flake
  • Crunchie
  • Maltesers
  • Penguin biscuit bars
  • Pontefract Licorice Cakes
  • American Hard Gums
  • Tiffin
  • Jujubes
  • Payne’s Poppets
  • Payne’s Toffees
  • Callard & Bowser toffee & butterscotch
  • Keiller’s butterscotch
  • Batgers Jersey toffees
  • Needlers toffees
  • Fuller’s toffees
  • Cadbury’s Bourneville plain chocolate
  • Nestle’s Superfine plain chocolate
  • Glace Fruits
  • Milk Drops
  • Parma Violets
  • Fisherman’s Friend throat lozenges
  • Allen & Hanbury’s blackcurrent lozenges

The Toys
(often bought at the Arts & Crafts Studio in St Michael’s Row)

  • Airfix plastic model kits of planes, ships & tanks (and Frog, Revell)
  • Cap-firing cowboy guns (Lone Star)
  • Cork-firing pop-guns (double & single barrelled)
  • Hula hoops
  • Roller skates
  • Triang, Dinky, Corgi, Mettoy & Matchbox Lesney toys
  • Britain’s lead toy soldiers, farm animals & farm equipment, zoo animals and military eqipment eg 25-pounder that fired alloy shells and matchsticks by pulling back & cocking a spring-loaded plunger
  • Hornby 0 & 00 train sets & equipment
  • Meccano kits
  • Bayco building bits
  • Water pistols
  • Spud guns
  • Pea shooters
  • Rubber tomahawk & Bowie knife
  • Cowboy uniforms
  • Scooters
  • Marbles
  • Catapults
  • Bows & arrows
  • Airguns: BSA, Webley, Diana
  • Tricycles (trikes; mine was a blue Raleigh’James’ model from the Davies cycle shop in Garden Lane;
  • Frido plastic footballs with Stanley Matthews signature printed on
  • Mamod steam engines
  • Glove puppets: Sooty & Sweep
  • Clockwork toys eg clockwork mouse
  • Chemistry sets
  • Conjuring sets
  • Playing cards/card games (Contraband, Snap, Happy Families)
  • Dominoes
  • Plastic toys in cereal packets eg soldiers, and a submarine you filled with baking powder in the conning-tower and it rose up and down if you put it in a basin of water
  • Balsa-wood model planes

Board Games

  • Cluedo
  • Chess
  • Monopoly
  • Totopoly
  • Snakes & Ladders
  • Draughts

The Literature

  • The Children’s Newspaper
  • News Chronicle’s I-Spy books, (and for a shilling you could be a member of the I-Spy Club, with a badge etc)
  • Beano, Dandy, Lion (Paddy Payne – Warrior of the Skies, Karl the Viking, ), Tiger, Girl, Eagle (Dan Dare & The Mekon, Jeff Arnold, Luke & Jim in Riders of The Range, PC 49 & Uncle Knocker, Sergeant Luck of the Legion), Swift, Bunty, Hotspur, Robin, The Beezer, The Boy’s Own paper, Radio Fun, Film Fun, Picturegoer, The Radio Times (incorporating World Radio)
  • The ‘William’ books by Richmal Crompton
  • Jennings & Derbyshire
  • Enid Blyton
  • The Ladybird series
  • The Observer Book of…… series
  • Ian Allen trainspotter guides

The Groceries

  • Spam
  • Unox Pork Luncheon Meat
  • Fray Bentos Corned Beef
  • PG Tips tea: 1/9d per quarter, look out for the picture card between the wrapper and the lining
  • Lipton’s Teas
  • Mazzawattee Tea
  • Lyons Teas
  • Camp Coffee
  • Bourneville Cocoa
  • Tinned Fruit
  • Instant Whip
  • Brown & Polson Blancmange & Custard Powder
  • Bird’s Custard Powder
  • Royal Chiffon
  • Cerebos & Saxa Salt (illustration of boy sprinkling salt on chicken’s tail)
  • Crosse & Blackwell tinned soups
  • Heinz tinned baked beans & soups
  • Campbell’s soups
  • Hovis loaves (shop door signs: Open for the sale of Hovis….Closed even for the sale of Hovis)

The Ads

  • Go to Work on an Egg
  • Drinka Pinta Milka Day
  • The Guinness toucan
  • Strand cigarettes (you’re never alone with a Strand)
  • Consulate Menthol ciggies:‘Cool as a mountain stream’ Brylcreem: Denis Compton
  • ‘Today’s cigarette is a Bristol’

Other odds and ends (courtesy of Robert David & John Connah):

  • Going to and returning from school on the single decker Crosville Bus from Abbots Park stop on Liverpool Road. The bus stop in town was by the Odeon. The fare was 1.5d – a penny ha’penny
  • The annual pantomime at The Royalty Theatre in City Rd.
  • Quaintways restaurant/café burning down – this may have been when we were at Miss Wakefield’s.
  • The fair on the Little Roodee
  • The Shropshire Union Canal
  • Train spotting at Chester General – waiting for the arrival of The Irish Mail, and the one train a day from Paddington (a different colour from the rest). Also Chester Northgate station, the Cheshire Lines “Hub” where John Connah’s father said you only got a job if your feet were permanently at “Ten to Two” and you walked at the same speed as the trains, which was very slowly
  • The noise and machinery of the metal window frame factory on the opposite side of Liverpool Road from the Davids (Williams & Williams?)
  • The old lady (Miss Hill) who lived next to the tiny shop along Parkgate Rd where we cycled to get ice-creams and sweets. I think she also babysat us. I do not think her house had any bathroom or indoor toilet.
  • The shops (Mr Chesterman – the green grocer) at The Bache and also the National Benzole petrol station there.
  • Rag and bone men with horse and cart coming along Abbots Park. Also a three wheeler van that delivered fish, and the coal merchant had a three wheeler lorry.
  • Dodds café by Northgate Arch where we had lunch while at Miss Wakefield’s. Also I think there was an auction room somewhere near there.
  • children at the Bluecoat School near Northgate Arch wearing their traditional bluecoat uniforms.
  • The Christmas Fair in the Rectory
  • The Milk Bar just outside Abbey Gate where ‘Zoobs’ could be purchased
  • Clarke’s the ironmongers in Frodsham Street. They used to regularly re-tin the insides of the copper kitchen utensils from the Grosvenor Hotel. Andrew Randall’s father remembers going in there one morning to buy a coke hod. They asked him what size and could he draw a rough sketch; it was 9.30am. ‘’If you’d like to call back at 1pm, sir, we’ll have one made up for you by then’’. Out of galvanised steel; talk about service!
  • the butcher’s shop in Watergate Street, near the Cross on the right-hand side walking down. Andrew Randall’s father Stanley remembers being in there and overhearing a conversation between the butcher and a customer that indicated the butcher was short of sugar (1950s rationing). Stanley told the butcher that the Randalls had a lot of spare sugar. The butcher traded meat for the sugar; especially memorable were the oxtails cooked to perfection by Mrs Randall in a pressure cooker so the meat fell off the bone
  • Cochrane’s the tailors at the Cross
  • tram rails visible in the tarmac of the roads round the Cross in the early 1950s, even though the trams were long gone
  • a rough pub ‘The Monk’s Retreat’ in City Road
  • Dutton’s Sigarro grocer’s shop, one of the first Chester shops to stay open after lunch on Saturdays
  • an off-licence near the Northgate, where Canon Coad was a regular for bottles of Scotch which he swept off the counter and under his hassock in a lightening move
  • Hoole Hall off Hoole Road, requisitioned by the Army until 1950
  • Canadian Avenue, a very posh road lined with beech trees
  • the Delamere Restaurant
  • Quaintways
  • the Kardomah Café
  • Hignett’s Fish & Chip shop
  • Mr Stubbs corner shop in Cheyney Road alongside the canal bridge
  • Mr Rigby the grocer’s in Garden Lane
  • the Co-op in Garden Lane where change was dispensed via a vacuum tube that whizzed payments around the shop at ceiling level to a cashiers office