For worse, rather than better, I sat the Manchester Grammar School 11+ three months before my 10th birthday – and failed! But then that was why we had two years for these exams and I did get a scholarship to William Hulme’s G.S in Moss Side Manchester the following year. I still wonder how I won this award because on the day of the first examinations the 7.50 bus to Manchester was full and didn’t stop at Glen Wood, nor did the 8.05 and I was some twenty minutes late arriving at one of the exams.
In case anyone might think I am highly intelligent, I had another crack at Manchester Grammar just before I was 11 and for Hyde Grammar as well – and I failed those!!!.
Leigh Street had educated me well, even in drama when I played Jan in “Jan of Windmill Land” and somewhere in our attic there is a postcard of the “cast” to prove it but I have no real memory of it. This gave me confidence for school plays and concerts at the new school – and later – in the pulpit!!.
Nowadays, junior schools have big trips over huge distances. We had only one – a bouncy ride in an SHMD Thornycroft single decker with the seats arranged around the sides of the vehicle (for cramming standing passengers in during the war) – and then a journey via Mottram to Melandra, a Roman Fort between Woolley Bridge and Glossop. This was part of our history studies on Roman civilisation and there we learnt our first Latin words!!
Memories of Leigh Street School continue to come back – ink monitor duties on a Monday moring, milk monitor duties at other times, boring assemblies and the singing of “Strawberry Fair” and something called “Tarah’s Halls” – the sight of Mrs Gaunt’s red Biro, something very new in 1948! School reports, Moray House exam papers, the smell of school dinners and mad playground games.
All this ceased when I started school days with the daily 7.35 SHMD bus to Manchester and then another one out to Moss Side. The new school co-incided with a new bike. This was NOT given because I had “passed the Scholarship” but because at 11 years of age I was deemed sensible enough to be careful in the heavy traffic.
Well! that was like letting a cat out of the house for the first time.
I set off up Mottram Road, through Hollingworth and Tintwistle to Woodhead Tunnel and then over the top to Dunford Bridge and Holmfirth. Little heed had I taken of the terrain home via Holme Moss TV transmitter and a late arrival home and a good telling off for being out so long! Then, other long days in the Cheshire countryside and by the time I was 14 I was cycling the 13 mile round trip to school in the summer term. With no gears, the hills around Hyde were hard work but then I was young and strong and used to exercise. I knew every blade of grass on Green Lane, past Dove House Farm, Glendarach, Godley Green to Mottram Old Road and up the Hackingknife to Idle Hill, Apple Street, Bothams Hall Wood, Broadbottom and then a train ride back to Godley. I loved the view across the Etherow valley to Charlesworth, Combs Rocks, Monks Road and Kinder. Other walks come to mind - up to Sulby Glen, Thompsons Wood, Matley, Harrap Edge and over the top of Hobsons Moor and then home by the SHMD 4 Service from Carrbrook to the Hippodrome in Hyde!
During the summer holidays I cycled everywhere with a best friend from Hulme Grammar who lived in Denton. We got as far as Oxford when we were 12, Whitby the following year and sundry other Youth Hostelling holidays in the Peak District. Nowadays, even lads together would not be allowed this freedom and certainly not on solo walks. But we always felt safe and there was always somebody you could ask for help. I well remember a 40 mile ride from Hyde, through Ashton, Oldham, Rochdale, Bacup and Burnley and Colne to Skipton to stay with another friend. Within sight of Skipton I stopped at a pub and asked the landlord if he could give me some water. I was really tired and needed sustenance. “Come t’ut back dooer”, he bawled out and then regaled me with tea and cheese sandwiches in his kitchen. “Yuv come from wheah? Hyde? Oh aye, that’s where all’t flies from Denton go to in’twinter in’t it. The good man would not charge me a penny.
Need I say more.
Great memories, once again, Roger !
Also, thanks to Carl's Cam for the photo of Hyde Grammar!
Many thanks :)