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Memories of
Chigwell House School

Chigwell House School

Chigwell House School: 5, Highfield Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham   (Closed circa 1974)

I attended Chigwell House School from 1963 to 1969, following both my brothers, Roger & Peter, there. It was a private, fee-paying school and was considered one of the top junior schools in the area. It was a subsidiary of Greenmore College (Edgbaston) and was housed in an old (?Victorian) house on the Calthorpe estate. However, it seems the school increasingly had financial problems. The building became quite run-down by the start of the 1970s and was demolished soon after the school closed.  The site has been redeveloped and you'd never know there had been a locally famous private school there now.

Unfortunately, I do not have any school photographs dating from the period I was there, though I'm sure at least one was taken. If anyone has a school photo from this period, please contact me. Ironically, my brothers have 3 school photos dated 1959, 1960 & 1961, from which I'll be taking the photos of the teachers for use here.

My class and my form teachers:

Below is a listing of the classes I was in, the years and the form teachers:

Class Years Teacher
Junior 1 April 1963 - July 1964 Mrs M. Evans
Junior 2 September 1964 - July 1965 Mrs M. Jacobs
Form 1 September 1965 - July 1966 Miss S. M. Richardson
Form 2 September 1966 - July 1967 Mrs Barton / Mrs M. Jacobs / Mrs G. Hancox
Form 3 September 1967 - July 1968 Mrs S. Cohen
Form 4 September 1968 - July 1969 Mr E. McKernan
Other Teachers:    
  Music Mrs Reece
  P.T. Mr G. Pye
  Headmaster Mr F. Cade / Mr H. Hamilton (1964 onwards)

Some notes about the above table:
According to my earliest school reports (1963), the headmaster was F. Cade as far as I can tell from the signature. I don't remember him, only Mr Hamilton, who appears to have taken over the role at the start of 1964.
In Form 2, I remember being taught by Mrs Barton, but my Autumn term report is signed by Mrs Jacobs & Mrs Hancox, so I can only assume Mrs Barton left suddenly, partway through the term and her workload was taken on by Mrs Jacobs until a replacement (Mrs Hancox) was employed. Mrs Hancox signed both the later reports for that school year.
I think Mrs Evans left the school in 1965 and was replaced by Miss Fear. Mr McKernan joined while I was at the school; he predecessor was, I think, Mr Linnell.

The Teachers:

I don't have any unpleasant memories of any of the teachers. Generally they were fair but firm. However, I think I was quite well-behaved and generally respected adults (brought-up proper, me!). The teachers all seemed quite old, but then, anyone over 13 seems old when your only 6!

Teacher's Name Photo Notes
Mrs Barton    I have a fleeting memory of Mrs Barton being very strict, and I wasn't too keen on her, but perhaps she told me off about something which I felt was unnecessary?
Mrs. S. Cohen CHS - Mrs Cohen.jpg (26118 bytes) "Coco" was a quite formidable Jewish lady, though not tall and tending to plumpness! Stood no nonsense, but was fair and her human side was often on show.
Mrs. M. Evans CHS - Mrs Evans.jpg (38789 bytes) I remember Mrs Evans as very kindly and I liked her a lot. Being J1 form teacher, she had to cope with a lot of small children experiencing their first break from their mothers. Some of the boys cried a lot. I never did - school had been explained to me by my Mum. Mrs Evans made it much easier to be away from the comfort of your family. She lived in Harborne - not far from me and I often saw her shopping when I was older, but I never took the chance to speak to her, in case she couldn't remember me.
Mr. H. Hamilton (Headmaster)   "Hammy" Hamilton suffered with Parkinson's disease. He kept discipline in the school. As well as teaching the 4th form Latin and some other subjects, he also took a small group of us on Friday afternoons to groom us to take the King Edward "main" school exam. (Friday was a half-day for everyone else). These lessons were quite enjoyable. I remember Mr Hamilton reading us stories by "Saki" as well as teaching us more advanced maths etc.
Mrs. G. Hancox   I think Mrs Hancox took over from Mrs Barton. I remember liking her a lot more than her predecessor, but don't remember much else about her
Mrs. M. Jacobs CHS - Mrs Jacobs.jpg (31876 bytes) Mrs Jacobs was another strict teacher. I remember her as being quite a sharp person, but I don't recall disliking her particularly, though I remember preferring to be taught by Mrs Hancox
Mr. E. McKernon CHS - Mr McKernon.jpg (12550 bytes) Our 4th form teacher - an Irishman whom I remember referring to as Scottish in a school essay. One of my most embarrassing  moments was reading out that essay. Standing in front of the class reading your essay was bad enough without everyone laughing at you. I was never very good at recognising Celtic accents (still can't).
Mr. G. Pye (physical training)   He was a good sort. PT generally meant football in the winter and cricket in the summer. We had to travel to the YMCA sport grounds (by Pebble Mill - I remember seeing the new BBC centre being built at the time). If it was cold or wet, Mr Pye used to ask if we wanted to go the "long way round" to get there. (Of course we did). My overriding memory is of being crammed in the back of the minibus (often sitting on the floor) and we all used to sing The Scaffold's"Lily The Pink" which was very popular at the time. A couple of times we went swimming - at Greenmore College. Mr Pye was the one created some of the nicknames like Neil  "Smudger" Smythe and "Speedy Gonzales" for Peter Eckersley.
Mrs. Reece (music)   I still have my Chigwell music book. It is a note book with all the songs we learned written in. I used to enjoy singing and still do. I had a good voice as a boy soprano and could sing reasonably in tune. Mrs Reece would recite the words for us to write down, then teach us the song (playing the piano) bit by bit. 
Miss S. M. Richardson CHS - Miss Richardson.jpg (44651 bytes) Another "fair but firm" teacher but I don't remember any stories about her. However, I believe she was the most senior teacher at the school, having been there since the later 1940s.


My Fellow Pupils:

A couple of years ago, I bumped into an old school friend who went to both Chigwell House & Five Ways, Peter Eckersley. He was trying to trace all the people in his first year class at Five Ways, but he also sent a list of all the pupils in our form at Chigwell. This, combined with my own memories has been used to form the list below. However, it numbers 24 children and I don't recall the classes being that big (They were usually about 12 or 13, I think). There was some movement between years;  if pupils were bright, they moved up a year. I DO remember Form 4 being quite a big class, however, some of whom stayed on until the following year, probably due to their age?

Update, May 2009:
Thanks to my old school friend, Timothy Mears, I can now add some photos to the names below. By some chance, he had a full set of the individual photos we had taken while in Junior 1, dated 1964. These would have been taken early in 1964, I think. The photos are thumbnails, so click on any to see a bigger version.

Name Picture Senior school attended Notes
Derek Barnett      
Lindsay Batten   I think he moved to the year below at some point
Simon Bursey King Edwards Five Ways School  Stayed on at Chigwell an extra year ?
Nicholas Crockett    
Peter Eckersley   King Edwards Five Ways School  Nickname: Speedy Gonzales.
Kevin Grainger      
Simon George    
Mark Hadley    
Anthony Jacques    
Clive Jenkins      
Malcolm Livingstone (boarding school)  
Timothy Mears King Edwards School  
Michael Mills   King Edwards Five Ways School  
Jeremy Mortimer   I think he left Chigwell early on
Robert Nelder     His family owned an hotel on the Hagley Road.
Michael Raine      
Kevin Roberts   King Edwards Five Ways School Stayed on at Chigwell an extra year
Jonathon Skinner King Edwards School  
Neil Smythe   K. E. Camp Hill  Nickname: Smudger
Timothy Stafford   King Edwards School  
Reno Stylianou King Edwards Five Ways School  
Mark Taylor      
Michael Thomas King Edwards Five Ways School Nickname: Tortoise
Paul Thompson   King Edwards Five Ways School  
Andrew Thorne      
Christopher Waldron   King Edwards Five Ways School Nickname: Waddle
Mark Watts King Edwards School  
Tony Whitehouse      


At Christmas 1964, like many primary schoolchildren, we took part in a Nativity play. This was covered by the local newspaper, The Birmingham Evening Mail And Despatch, and my parents ordered a copy of the original photograph, which is shown here:

The pupils are:
The shepherds, left to right: Simon Bursey, Michael Thomas, unidentified, Tony Whitehouse.
Mary (seated with doll): Andrew Taylor.
Joseph (kneeling): Andrew Thorne.

Jeremy Mortimer is the boy with glasses seated in the foreground. The other boy is Lindsey Batten.

In 1964 and 1966, my father took some slides of my birthday parties and of Chigwell Sports day. Here they are... My thanks to both Timothy Mears and Peter Eckersley for helping with some of the identifications.

For my 6th birthday party in May 1964, I went to Cannon Hill Park in Edgbaston with some of my school friends.
The photo shows my Mum (in spotted dress) talking to my brother, Roger (with football). At the back is Sylvia Wright, my father's cousin, a close family friend.
The boys are: at the front in the striped shirts, left to right: Christopher Waldron, Myself (dark hair), Malcolm Livingstone (taller blond boy). Behind us is my cousin Charles Hippisley-Cox in pale blue. I don't remember who the boy behind my Mum is. Then at the back, the boy in green shorts is Simon Bursey and the one in red shorts is Timothy Mears.
At the zoo in Cannon Hill Park they had a camel. Here, from left to right are: Chris Waldron, Charles Hippisley-Cox, unknown and myself; looks like I'm enjoying my birthday!
In the summer, we had school sports day. Here is a motley crew lined up for a running race. Mrs Evans is the lady teacher and the man is probably Mr Pye, the P.E. teacher.
The boys, left to right, are: possibly Jonathon Skinner, Nicholas Crockett, possibly Reno Stylianou, Mark Watts, me, unknown, Simon George, Malcolm Livingstone, Timothy Mears, Simon Bursey.
An action shot taken during the race. From left: Mark Watts, Jeremy Mortimer, unknown, Me, Simon George, Timothy Mears, Malcolm Livingstone (with presumably Simon Bursey hidden behind).
The bunny-hop was a strange race. I seem to be winning, which is pretty amazing as I am not very sporty. From left: possibly Jonathon Skinner, Mark Watts (feet on ground), me at the front, Simon Bursey (looks like he's flying) and Nicholas Crockett in the grey socks.
This seems to be some sort of hoop race. I think you had to run along to the hoop and then pull the hoop over your head and then run to the next hoop. Anyway, from left (in the background) unidentified, me, Timothy Mears (in the background), Nicholas Crockett (grey socks), Simon George, not sure who's running off the picture.
In May 1966, for my 8th birthday, my Mum and her friend, Joyce Nock (my godmother) took us to the Lickey Hills to take part in some semi-organised sports. Joyce, being a teacher herself, was well able to keep us all under control! Here you can see, from left, my Mum, Simon Bursey, Clive Jenkins, Me, Malcolm Livingstone, Mark Watts, Tony Whitehouse.
It's the same day, and we are almost ready to go. From the left, Malcolm Livingstone talking to my Mum, don't know, Nicholas Crockett, Tony Whitehouse, Mark Watts, me, Clive Jenkins, Simon Bursey.
Finally, a rather blurred action shot of the race, and it doesn't look like I'm even in the last five! The winner is Malcolm Livingstone with a rather graceful running style, closely followed by Tony Whitehouse and Mark Watts; I'm not sure who the other two are.