After St John's Junior School, I moved to Ings Road Secondary Modern, having not fared too well in the entrance examination for Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, (or 'Quegs' as it was known.) To be honest, I didn't try too hard as I didn't like the very staid, old-fashioned and somewhat intimidating atmosphere surrounding Quegs. A very large school with dark, neo-gothic architecture, it felt cold and unfriendly. Instead I was packed off to Ings Road Secondary Modern School which, while smaller than Quegs, still had a disciplinarian air about it.
I didn't enjoy my first couple of years there. The school had a strong emphasis on sport and rugby, neither of which interested me in the least and I used to get my mother to write notes to give to the PE teacher to say that I had a cold and "please excuse William from physical education today." The teacher would look at me with suspicion but had no option but to do as my mother had asked. Of course, this ruse couldn't be used every single time sport or a PE lesson came around, so more often than not I had to endure those classes. I dreaded them appearing on the timetable, especially the Rugby games which I thought were brutal. My father, a keen soccer player in his youth, said Rugby was "all brute force and ignorance." He had a way with words, my dad...
Towards the end of my time at Ings Road, I had settled in a bit more and actually found some allies in certain teachers. Mr Smithson, the English teacher, liked my imagination and would let me write rather lurid science fiction stories when all the rest of the class had to do grammar or comprehension exercises, (which didn't go down well with my fellow pupils.) Mr Smithson also ran the school's camera club and I won the club's shield one time. He also lent me his Django Reinhardt albums. It was the first time I'd heard Django.
The music mistress, Miss Kirkham, was great too. She would let me bring my guitar and Shadows records into her class. She was young and quite hip.
The art mistress, Miss Cooper, was very helpful and influential. She encouraged my painting and drawing and it was she who suggested I should go to Art School after leaving Ings Road.
Mr Carr, the woodwork teacher, allowed me to build a guitar in his woodwork class. I decided to make an electric 12-string but never finished it. I still have it, though it has no frets, pickups, tuners, bridge or electronics fitted.
I also remember Mr Craggs who liked music and played guitar. He was a very decent man who I've recently been able to correspond with after many, many years.
Here are some pictures of Ings Road School. The first is a side view, taken from the lane that ran along one side of the building. The Second is of a class, (not mine,) posing for a photo' with the headmaster Mr Oxley in front of the school's stage. That stage was the one on which I made my first ever public performance, playing at the school's Christmas concert with my school pal Ian Parkin. We were so nervous!
The third picture shows the pre-fab outbuildings which housed the music classroom. This photo' was taken not long before the school's demolition.
The fourth picture is of the school as the demolition was under way. The final picture is taken from inside the school hall and shows the stage in a state of demolition, the procenium arch having been removed. I find that photograph very sad as that stage obviously held a nostalgic memory for me...