• Welcome to this forum . We are a worldwide group with a common interest in Birmingham and its history. While here, please follow a few simple rules. We ask that you respect other members, thank those who have helped you and please keep your contributions on-topic with the thread.

    We do hope you enjoy your visit. BHF Admin Team

George Dixons Grammar School

Harry Flashman

knowlegable brummie
Scanning back through my memories of GD, I remember happy times and one particular episode rather vividly. I've typed it out and called it 'Snow Day'. I hope it's not too long and wonder if anyone else can recall those happy times.


There are few joyous moments for a 12 year old boy, attending grammar school. I suppose I can number the truly happy occasions on one hand.

One would be being taught French by the very gorgeous Miss. Lewis, who’s mini skirts and exposed legs were the the stuff of legend and much speculation. Then, of course, there were the days when we were liberated from the drudgery and repression of the educational Gulag, for periods of time called the school holidays. School holidays gave us captives a reprieve from the many unhappy and spiteful souls (excluding Miss. Lewis of course) whose responsibility it was, to impart knowledge to us “empty vessels”, as we were often called.

The only other joyous time was one that was not easy to predict and as a result was the most treasured for its absolute spontaneity. The snow day.

I believe it was a particularly cold dark Tuesday afternoon in February. It stared badly enough as always. After digesting a disgusting school lunch, we of Class 2C were now expected to apply ourselves and enthuse over a double class of Algebra. Two 40 minute lessons, or if you like, 80 minutes of mathematical purgatory starting at 2:00pm. However, on this particular day our savior came some 20 minutes into the lesson. A quick glance out of the large Victorian leaded windows confirmed that there was a God after all, although it was not manna falling from heaven, but huge snowflakes. Naturally, there was some mumbling speculation from we at the back of the classroom, or “back benchers” as we were called. We knew the ropes. Snow like this meant school was going to be let out early. The unknown was just how early. Naturally, our mathematical taskmaster told us to, “Shut up and keep your heads down." However, twenty minutes or so later the classroom door opened and the deputy head master gave our teacher the nod. School was closing early.

Oh joy. We packed our brief cases with the books we needed for homework and joined the happy throng of other pupils who were now exiting the school. My way home was via the number 7 to the Ivy Bush, then the number 8 to Five Ways followed by the number 1 to Bristol Road. In those days the double deckers had a conductor who stood on the open platform at the back of the bus…but more about that in a moment or two. By the time my friend Terry and I reached the bus stop on Portland Road, just around the corner from the school, the snow was at least four inches thick. Not only that, but the girls school had let out earlier and there must have been at least two dozen females of varying ages talking, laughing and having a great time while queuing for a bus. This what is now referred to as a target rich environment. With merely a look between us, Terry and I decided on our next course of action and accordingly took up a position behind the low hedge in St. Chads churchyard. This was directly opposite our targets who were now about 20 yards away, across the other side of the road. The snow was perfect for our needs and after a couple of ranging shots we got our aim where it needed to be and started a steady rhythm of bombardment. We were greeted by a mixture of screams, catcalls and threats of bodily harm. Two groups of lads who had been engaged in their own snowball fights now saw how much fun Terry and I were having joined us. Soon there were perhaps a dozen of us engaged in the barrage. However, it was not all one way. Some of the more fun loving of the girls were giving as good as they got and scored direct hits on the us lads. Shouting terrible threats of violence, a couple of the senior girls decided to put an end to this unwarranted assault and started to make their way across the road towards us. This was unfortunate, because now all of our attention was focused on them. With terrifying accuracy, a white storm of biblical proportions was visited on the two, who quite sensibly, retreated back to their compatriots.

By this time, a double decker bus had pulled up opposite us, shielding the girls from our attentions. As they and some boys who had joined them got aboard, the bus driver opened his small side window and began to shout some abusive 'suggestions' to us. Clearly he must have seen our ghastly treatment of the two big girls. Sadly, he too was treated to the storm of biblical proportions and disappeared temporarily in a veritable whiteout. Just then a shout of “you boys” was heard in the distance. This from a teacher (never did identify) who had come to investigate the source of all the shouting and hooraying. Immediately, we dirty dozen scattered going our separate ways, laughing, slipping sliding and falling as we made our haphazard escape.

Terry and I continued on our way, deciding to walk home as it was more fun than waiting at a bus stop, with its inherent danger of being ambushed by people like ourselves. Most of the journey was relatively uneventful although we did take advantage of a couple of unsuspecting bus conductors standing on their open platforms. It was now dark and although illuminated, these were moving targets and far more challenging. But our snowballs must have hit their marks because on both occasions we were met with the gratifying shout of “ba$tard$” from the receding buses.

St James’s Church was our final port of call. By now it was dark and the snow was well over 6 inches deep. The church was built on a hill and was the ideal venue for sledding. Being resourceful lads, we employed our briefcases as sleds and for the next half hour or so had a most excellent time whooshing down the steep slope, eventually coming to a crashing halt against a stone wall. Eventually, feet numb, hands beyond numb and soaking wet from head to toe, we decided to call it a day. I arrived home half an hour later cold wet, but very happy. What a great afternoon. We had pelted and had been pelted by, a group of girls. Had seen off a determined attack by the two Amazons who had been bent on doing us bodily harm. Given the nosey bus driver a mouthful of snow. Escaped a wrathful teacher. Given two bus conductors a flying surprise and topped it off with a very enjoyable period of sledding.

I suppose their is always a price to be paid for naughtiness. Mine came later that evening when I resigned myself to crack a couple of books and do some homework. The resourcefulness of having used my briefcase as a sled, was not without its consequences. On opening it, I found that every book in there, text and exercise were sopping wet. As I dried the books one by one with a hairdryer, I wondered how I could explain my wrinkled books and lack of homework the next day. I needn’t have worried. It snowed that night and school was cancelled the next day.
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
I am a little puzzled by this story as I don't understand why you changed to a no. 8 at the Ivy Bush when you could have got the 7 (or 5A as it was in my day) all the way to Five Ways. By St Chad's Church I presume you meant St Germains Church. St James Church was a little off the no. 1 route.

I am not doubting your story, just checking some of the facts.
 

Harry Flashman

knowlegable brummie
David you are absolutely correct. The church on the corner in question was St Germain's Church. Terry and I were good friends and as he took the number 8 bus to Lee Bank Road and to his home on Ryland Road. During my time at City Road, I would take this minor detour so that we could spend time together, usually buying sweets from a newsagent at the Ivy Bush. The number 1 was good for me as it got me to Bristol Road. On snow day Terry and I did catch a number 8 to Lee Bank Road and then on to St. Jame's church. From there it wasn't a difficult walk to my home on the corner of Sir Harry's Road and Bristol Road. 56 years ago and while some facts remain clear, others of Brum, perhaps a little hazy due to my residing in the United States for the past 34 years.
 
Last edited:

Annd

New Member
I was at the girls school from 1963/68 and in 1D Miss Dyer. Name then was Ann Hayes. Still in touch with Liz (Chancellor) and Denise (Hunt) and this week caught up with Christine (Palmer). I went back to the school a few years ago to discuss how they were dealing with mentoring and behaviour as we were amending our in-house practice. At this time my role was an Asst. Head of Year in another inner city school. It definitely had changed. The hall looked much smaller and all the boards with the names of past pupils had been removed.
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
Ann Welcome to the forum and in particular this thread.
Yes, when I went back in 2004 for the centenary of the City Road building, I noticed the names of previous pupils removed or blanked out. Although in fact, back when I was at GD (1955/60), the names were way out of date as more and more pupils went to university and got degrees. The old Boys hall was much smaller as additional class rooms had been built into it.
 

Harry Flashman

knowlegable brummie
I was at the girls school from 1963/68 and in 1D Miss Dyer. Name then was Ann Hayes. Still in touch with Liz (Chancellor) and Denise (Hunt) and this week caught up with Christine (Palmer). I went back to the school a few years ago to discuss how they were dealing with mentoring and behaviour as we were amending our in-house practice. At this time my role was an Asst. Head of Year in another inner city school. It definitely had changed. The hall looked much smaller and all the boards with the names of past pupils had been removed.
Do you remember Susan Meanwell and Fiona MacDonald?
 
Top