City Grammar 1960 (March)
Yorkshire Life Feature Article


The photograph above (1890) shows Orchard Lane the site of the soon to be built Pupil Teacher Centre

Back row - 01 Mr Fuller - 02 Mr Nicholls - 03 Raymond Tolley - 04 XXX - 05 XXX
06 David Pointon - 07 David Revill - 08 Peter Butler - 09 Brian Oldfield - 10 Robert Hague
Front row - 11 Miss Dolby - 12 XXX - 13 Mr Mangham - 14 Joyce Goodman - 15 Mr Taylor

The above photograph is of the male portion of the chorus for the school's production of
"Trial By Jury" rehearsing. At the piano is Mr Edward Taylor, music master, and beside him
is Joyce Goodman, assistant accompanist. On the left is Miss J Dolby, the producer.

01 Robert Bunting - 02 John Kelsey - 03 Mavis Earnshaw - 04 Margaret Evans
05 David J Marshall - 06 Pat Richmond

A vigorous part of the school's life is its Literary and Debating Society, which often chooses novel
themes for discussion. In the above photograph a group of children form an unofficial debating
society beneath a notice board announcing rather more formal meetings.

Back row - 01 Pauline Russell - 02 Pat Turton - 03 Michael Hodgson - 04 Raymond Tolley (standing)
05 Eric Brightmore - 06 Brian Grice - 07 Keith Bennett
Front row - 08 Pat Cooper - 09 XXX - 10 XXX
Sixth formers at private study in the Library. As one might expect in Sheffield, the boys have a
strong leaning to the sciences.

01 Miss Iredale - 02 Mr Harvatt
Miss M K Iredale has been secretary to five headmasters at the school over a period of thirty two

Until the school moves to its new home, students must travel to their playing fields at
Ringinglow, five miles away, by bus.

Back row - 01 Peter Butler - 02 Philip Dover - 03 David Revill - 04 David Pointon - 05 XXX

Front row - 06 XXX - 07 XXX - 08 Brian Oldfield - 09 Mr Webster
10 Robert Hague - 11 XXX - 12 Fred Ford
During a sixth form biology lesson students discuss modification of plants to suit climates.

In a second form chemistry lesson Mr C Mangham demonstrates the use of animal charcoal
to remove colour from solutions.

01 Pauline Barker - 02 Pat Turton - 03 Christine Dack-Smith - 04 XXX - 05 XXX - 06 XXX - 07 XXX

Scrum halves - 01 Philip Dover - 02 John Moss


Seated front - 01 Michael Mease

Clockwise around the easel - 02 XXX - 03 Keith Robinson - 03 XXX - 04 Jennifer Allen
05 Beatrice "Trixie" Armstrong - 06 Miss Johnson - 07 Derek Tomlin

Seated at the easel is Janet Stone

The City Grammar School

"Why", demanded a very direct young woman at the City Grammar School, Sheffield, "are you putting our school in Yorkshire Life?"

I saw her point.  There are about a dozen grammar schools in Sheffield, some of them, no doubt, possessing royal charters, ancient traditions and impressive buildings.  The City school's history, on the other hand, extends over barely eighty years;  it functions in old buildings in the centre of Sheffield, from which sports parties are taken by bus to playing fields five miles away.  Yet to me it is one of the city's most interesting schools.

To start with, it was co-educational at a time when it was considered revolutionary for the sexes to mingle in class, and it remains the only co-educational school of its type (apart from a newly founded temporary school) in the city.  Furthermore it developed out of a system of teacher training now abandoned.  If a third reason were needed for writing about this school, it would be that there is a solid, down-to-earth atmosphere about it that fits the character of the city, and its pupils have the friendliness and assurance one expects from Sheffield's hard-working, self-respecting citizens.

A little of this atmosphere of hard work, hard play and no frills may, of course, be due to the surroundings.  Within three years, those surroundings should change, for the school is scheduled to occupy new buildings, away from the city centre, at Handsworth.  The Headmaster, Mr. L Harvatt, M.A., looks forward to better air and pleasanter surroundings for his charges, but there is no sense of grievance that long promised changes have not proved possible sooner.  Plans for new buildings were made over twenty years ago but the war intervened, and post-war population conditions, too, produced their snags.

"It's certainly not the fault of the Education Authority," said Mr. Harvatt.  "They've been very sympathetic and have made us as comfortable as possible,"  One great advantage of the new site will be the close proximity of playing fields - on two occasions other schools have been built on this schools former playing fields, but this is viewed with amused resignation rather than grudgingly.  So far there has been no move to build on the present fields at Castle Dyke (almost in Derbyshire).

Mr E H Taylor, who has been at the school for thirty-six years, told me of the days when it was a Pupil Teacher Centre, one of many established in the late nineteenth century to provide teachers in sufficient numbers to cater for the newly-formed Board Schools.  With this aim in view, a building was erected at the corner of Orchard Lane and Holly Street to accommodate all pupil teachers from Board and Voluntary Schools, together with preparatory classes composed of candidates for pupil-teachership.

The building was opened in 1899 by the Duke of Devonshire.  Mr Taylor referred me to an article in which Mr L C Dudley, another veteran of that era, has written as follows:  "The enthusiasm for the new building . . . is hard to understand . . .  it had originally no provision for science classes it had no hall, no free space for staff or student, narrow steep stairs, and but one entrance.  Its alleged ventilation system necessitated the intermittent puffing of damp heat from vents in the walls, by a clanking engine in the basement.  But, strangely, its inhabitants grew to love it . . ."

A two-year course was held there, explained Mr Taylor, for pupils who spent about half their time in teaching at the Board Schools.  At the end of the course they were admitted to teachers' training colleges.

Mr Taylor, recalling his own days as a pupil teacher, told me that his wage then was ten pounds a year.  The system had many defects, but one of its virtues was that it provided a test of vocation before the aspiring teacher had committed himself to college.

The centre's first Principal was Mr A J Arnold, who was succeeded in about 1920 by Mr Joseph Batey.  Every school of consequence seems to have at least one great name among its list of headmasters.  In this case the name is Batey.  It was during Mr Batey's headship that the Centre expanded to its greatest extent, and then gradually changed its form.

Numbers had been declining for years as changes in the educational system gradually squeezed out the pupil-teacher method of training.  Eventually it became the practice to admit to the Centre pupils who would now normally proceed to grammar schools.  The pupil teacher system persisted in one form in the school until 1944.  The city was, in fact, to quote Mr Dudley once more, "one of the last two surviving urban authorities to see any great value in its maintenance."  The school, which over the years had conformed more and more to the "secondary" pattern, moved into its present home in 1933, changing its name to the City Secondary School in 1935, shortly after the appointment of Mr S Northeast as Head.  It is now, of course, the City Grammar School.

Mr Harvatt, the present Head, who succeeded Mr R H Davies, M.Sc., in 1956, is an old boy of King Edward VII School, Sheffield, and studied at Sheffield University.  It is hardly surprising, therefore, that he has a sound understanding of the 756 boys and girls in his charge.  As one might expect of a school in such a centre of industry, the boys have a strong leaning towards the sciences.  "It seems a pity," Mr Harvatt remarked, "that more girls don't take advantage of the excellent opportunities for studying science which this school offers."

Although he admits that he "entered a mixed school with mixed feelings", he now sees the co-educational system as making for better balanced personalities and a more sensible attitude to the opposite sex;  and it certainly facilitates social ventures.  "Our Christmas dance is a delightfully happy tradition," says Mr Harvatt.

Another tradition concerns music.  There is a Senior Mixed Choir of 120 - the only school choir in the city with four-part singing.  Sheffield cathedral is packed each year for their carol service, and their production of Britten's "Let's make an Opera" was an event in the city's life.

Former pupils include Rowena Ramsell, principal 'cellist with Sadlers Wells;  Terence Sharpe, baritone, and Audrey Graham, contralto, who have both broadcast;  Roy Jowett and Judith Brough, who have played with the British National Youth Orchestra.  Dramatic productions, too, benefit greatly from the presence of both sexes.  The dramatic critic of The Sunday Times, incidentally, Harold Hobson, is an old boy of the City Grammar School.

As for sport, at least nine teams are fielded a week, playing a wide range of games including both soccer and rugby, and two C.G.S. Boys were chosen this season to play with the South Yorkshire Rugby Union Under 15's.

The intellectual life of the school is vigorous, and members of the Literary and Debating Society are by no means as sedentary as its name might suggest.  One day they will attend a Quaker meeting, later to discuss it, on another they will be dissecting a popular women's journal, in very forthright terms.  There is a lively school magazine, The Holly Leaf.

To borrow once again from Mr L C Dudley's article in that magazine, "Few schools have endured so many temporary and makeshift arrangements [but] we have emerged at all stages and at all points the better and stronger for our experiences."  One is happy to think that a more settled existence is now on the horizon.  It has been well deserved.

Yorkshire Life, March 1960

Back to Memorabilia Page