Progressive school

Westlain Grammar School 1968: click on photo to open a large version in a new window
From the private collection of Dave Crockatt
Westlain Grammar School 1968: click on photo to open a large version in a new window
From the private collection of Dave Crockatt
Westlain Grammar School 1968: click on photo to open a large version in a new window
From the private collection of Dave Crockatt
Westlain Grammar School 1968 click on photo to open a large version in a new window
From the private collection of Dave Crockatt

A pupil from 1961-68

Here are four pictures of the staff and pupils of  Westlain Grammar School taken in 1968. All these were taken from a long picture of the entire school which I have in my possession. Unfortunately it is the only photograph I have whilst a pupil at Westlain. I was a pupil at the school from 1961 until 1968 when I left to study at a teacher’s training college. Unfortunately there appears to be very little information on the site about Westlain, so I have tried to fill in a few gaps.

Friction with Stanmer School

The school was sited adjacent to the old Stanmer Secondary School and I remember there being a lot of friction between the pupils of the two schools. In fact the approach road, from the Lewes Road, through a tunnel under the Brighton to Lewes Railway, was divided down the pavement by a handrail, Westlain pupils using the pavement whilst Stanmer pupils were told to use the road in order to try and stop any abusive behaviour from either group of pupils. The school was built in 1957 but not sure when it amalgamated and was subsequently demolished. 

A progressive head teacher

The head-teacher at the time was a Mr  C Ferguson; he had a beard, seated to the left of the second picture above the word ‘grammar’. He was a pretty decent and a seemingly progressive Head, even to the extent to doing some teaching himself. I remember him teaching astronomy to all first year pupils, which was quite unusual. Other teachers I remember were Geoff Sears ( geography), Miss Ritson ( history), Mr Gloyne ( languages), Miss Penghilly ( Maths), Mr Brown ( English), Mr Matthews ( PE) to name a few whilst I was there.

From free milk to a pint

We had extensive playing fields at the back of the school, tennis courts and an annexe for school lunches. We still had free milk at morning break. Later on in the sixth form we used to go to the Hiker’s Rest for a pint and a pie at lunch-time. I’d be interested in reading any other stories about Westlain from other ex-pupils.


Comments about this page

  • I was at Westlain from 1967 to 1974, though the school merged with Stanmer in 1972 to become Falmer High School. “Gus” Ferguson was Head until 1972 when Mr Hockton took over.  Deputy Heads were “Nobby” Clark and Miss Berry.  Teachers I recall include Miss Stone (RE), Mrs Yates (History & Geography), Miss Cole (Maths), Miss Tippett (Biology), Mr Alcock (Maths), Mr Goldsmith (Chemistry), Mr Colwell (Physics), Mr Matthews (PE), Mr Brown (English), David Lepper (English and later a Labour MP), Geoff Sears (Geography), Mrs Alabone (Art), Mr Wright (Art), Miss Pengilly (Maths), “Pop” Longley (Woodwork) and Mme Daffern (French).  I too recall the friction between Westlain and Stanmer pupils.  For the first couple of years I was at the school, boys were required to wear a cap to and from school and we quickly learned to stick our cap in our pocket once out of sight of the school before it was snatched by a Stanmer boy and hurled onto the railway line! Westlain was only 10 years old when I started there, with a modern building and facilities, so I was very surprised a few years ago to hear it had been demolished.  Former pupils on Facebook may be interested to know that there’s a very active Westlain Facebook group.

    By John Wilkin (13/12/2014)
  • Hello Dave, long time….! I was in your year. I’m in the photo: if you look along the row directly behind Mr Ferguson, the first lad in a jacket wearing the specs is Kenny McNamara who became a geologist I think. Then there is one of the three Aylward brothers who were all at Westlain. (The middle brother, John, a mate of mine, was tragically killed in a car accident when he was just around 20 years old. He’s at the top right hand corner of the first photo, slightly cut off). Then Bill Bishop who worked all over the world and was more recently based in France and worked for the Channel Tunnel Company. Next to him is Chris Luff who became a senior engineer for East Sussex County Council and is now a Seagulls season ticket holder for his sins. Next to him I don’t know, then Robin Mann in non-regulation jacket. Robin was always non-regulation! I recognise the next four. Then Dave Walters who went to Lancaster Uni and then lectured, also still a Seagulls supporter. Dave married Louise Emerson who is 3rd from the other end, seated. Then Robin McLaughlin wearing specs who I recall managed to lose the tent while we were on a DoE hike! I can’t remember the name of the lad next to him. I remember the next one well as it’s me! (Check me out on Linkedin if you’re interested). Next to me is Greg Elmes who is currently a professor at the University of West Virginia. Then Bob Noakes who once went to Canada for a holiday and came back with a Canadian accent. I’ll stop there for now; perhaps I’ll add a few words about Westlain in the new year as I have lots of memories about all sorts of things.

    By Roger Hogbin (16/12/2014)
  • I too was a pupil between 1968-1975 and all the teachers mentioned by John Wilkin above I was taught by and remember well. Pity the school was destroyed by the comprehensive moment as I am sure it gave me a working class boy a very good education that I doubt the current replacement does and the unlamented Falmer never did.

    By Philip Wood (17/12/2014)
  • What didn’t help was that ROSLA (Raising of the School Leaving Age) happened at the same time as Westlain and Stanmer merging to form Falmer High School.  So as well as everyone having to get used to the new arrangement there was a group of 15-year-olds who would previously have left school but now had to stay for another year who could be seen wandering aimlessly around, or in a few cases, determined to cause as much disruption as possible.  It soon became apparent that certain ex-Westlain teachers hadn’t a clue how to manage them.  A case of a “perfect storm” in retrospect.

    By John Wilkin (18/12/2014)
  • Hi Roger, it’s been good to read your comments on my page. I remember you well and the other names you mentioned. I ended up being a teacher for 35 years in London but have since retired. I am still friends with Roger Pettit, who is  a regular visit to Brighton. I’d still like to know what happened to the building itself, I believe it was demolished some years ago. Shame. It was a great school with some great teachers; some not so great! As for names, Ian Weller was in our year. I sat next to him in class 1a. I believe he did very well, becoming a professor and working for a big pharmaceutical company. Other names I remember were Dave Groom,  also from Woodingdean, Roy Clarke, Les Harvey, Steve Lloyd and Dave Creamore. 

    By Dave Crockatt (19/12/2014)
  • Hi guys. Lovely to see any news about Westlain Grammar School. I was there from 1965 to 1971 and was known as Sonya Thorpe back in those days (now married and use my middle name of Ann).  I too remember most of the teachers mentioned above, I had Miss Pengilly for Maths, Mr Goldsmith for Chemistry, Miss Swan for cookery, and Mrs Cooper for sports. Whilst I was there we had a new outside swimming pool put in and I remember Mrs Cooper making us all go in for a swimming lesson whilst she was standing there muffled up in her coat as the weather was freezing. I remember well the friction between us and the Stammer school and had my bus fare home taken from me several times leaving me with no option but to walk home. I remember the lovely Robin Hood style hat the girls had to wear and managed to get a detention from a prefect for not having it on one day when I was on the bus going home. I moved to Kent when I got married and had not realised that the school had been demolished until a few years ago. I am on the Westlain Facebook page and it’s great to see photos and hear news of the school. I was in several of the annual school plays and have great memories of the school. Likewise I am in the big photo above, fourth picture down, third row back behind the four girls in the white blouses near the centre. I remember the day the photo was taken. 

    By Ann Noble (19/03/2015)
  • Trip down memory lane from reading previous posts whilst idly Googling! I was at Westlain from 1962 to 1968. Loved it. Same class as Ian Weller, Bill Bishop, Spencer Swaffer (antique shop Arundel), Jane Daffern, Jenny Jones (Green Party, London Assembly & former deputy Mayor, now Baroness Jones of Moulscoomb). Still in touch with friends like Jenny and Jane (and her mum Eileen Daffern who taught French and died a couple of years ago), and with Phil Smith, English teacher, Alan Skull, biology and Joyce Cooper, PE whom I spent the day with a couple of weeks ago in Yorkshire, where I now live. We talked about when she brought her big heavy sledge to school in the deep winter of 1962. Her memory is phenomenal, especially for people who were in her canoe club. Will follow this site. Does anyone know if Pam McKernan (Cleopatra) is still in Brighton? Would love to hear from her. It was a brilliant school, we were so lucky. I remember hanging around the sixth form common room at the end of the day, reluctant to go home.

    i also remember running a hamster, rat and mouse hire service at lunchtimes from the vivarium with my friends Sandy House and Jill Lassetter. We used the hire fees to buy food for the animals and forbade Alan Skull to kill the rats for dissection. Does anyone else remember this?

    By Lynne P (25/04/2015)
  • I remember the Vivarium! I used to take out Venus the rat some lunchtimes – for 10p, I think it was! She was a beautiful animal. I was at Westlain for a relatively short time: 1969-1972, when we moved along the coast to Seaford, but I have very fond memories of my time and friends there. I was Keren Dunsmore at the time, and remember Jane Yeates, Sarah Jezzard, Jackie Morrisey, Susan Prince-Iles, Lorna Hill, Lesley Hebborn, Linda Finch, Julie Carey and Susan Coggins, among others, and many of the teachers mentioned above. Would love to get in touch with Phil Smith again. I was knocked down by a car and had to have quite a long time off school. He was so kind, and wrote to me several times when I was feeling tentative about coming back after the accident.
    Would love to hear from anyone who remembers me!

    By Keren Harrold (nee Dunsmore) (20/06/2015)
  • Hello Dave. Well done for this page. I have lots of happy memories of Westlain and I had no idea the school was demolished. I’m still in touch with Lynne, who is on this thread, and am now in the House of Lords for the Green Party, using the name Moulsecoomb in my title as a reminder.

    By Jenny Jones (09/12/2015)
  • Hi again Jenny, is been a long time! Thanks for your comments on my page, it was a pleasure writing it. So very glad to see how well you’ve done in your political career. I too have very fond memories of Westlain and most of the teachers there. 

    By Dave Crockatt (28/02/2016)
  • Personally, I hated the place. It was very handy though as I literally lived next door. I think that the standard of education was deplorable, but sports action very good. As I was only interested in sport this suited me very well.

    By Peter Bryan (29/02/2016)
  • Just a correction to the entry by Roger Hogbin. John Aylward was killed by a hit and run driver, whilst walking back to Coldean along the Lewes Road. Barbara Aylward, his younger sister was killed in a RTA approximately a year earlier on the coast road at Brighton.

    By Peter Bryan (15/10/2016)
  • Hi ex-Westlainers! I didn’t enjoy my years there (1969 to 1974) but was so sad to hear it had been demolished. What a waste of a perfectly good building of only some 60 years old? I used to be Cheryl Corthorn. My best times were bunking off over the station at Falmer and the exhilarating sense of freedom once on the bus home from there! I remember Mr Smith and Dr Skull, both of whom were at the reunion in 2015. I remember Miss Cooper, Miss Alabone, Mr Alcock, Miss Hewitt, Mrs Capildeo, Miss Ritson, Miss Swan, Miss Pengilly, Miss Berry, Miss Tippett, Mr Wright, Mr Matthews, I also remember Venus the rat, Dumpy the hamster and Thumper the rabbit. I hope they all lived out their lives naturally! I used to hang around with Karen Gates, Janette Pitt, and sometimes Jackie Dinnis and Catherine Child. Worked in a bank, got married, had two sons, did nurse training, got remarried, had three daughters, all emigrated to Australia, came back 4 years later, then moved to Lincolnshire, but I do get down to Brighton to see family now and again.

    By Cheryl Felix (06/02/2017)
  • I was only at Westlain for one year (1969-70) but I remember it well. Hello to Keren Harrold nee Dunsmore  who made an entry here back in 1915, if you’re still checking in on this site, I remember you very well. My family moved back to Ireland, where I finished secondary school and went on to Uni. I ended up working as an Assistant Lecturer for the Open University, which spread its operation to Ireland back in the early 1990s. I remember Keren, Sarah Jezzard, Frances Henderson (who came from the same primary school as me). Came across this in a fit of idle browsing and nostalgia for my Brighton days. Hi to anybody from back then!

    By Jackie Morrissey (05/03/2017)
  • Just to add to my previous post – I remember Susan Prince-Isles too – I will probably remember others now that my memory has been jogged by the site.  I can’t say I loved the school – perhaps I wasn’t there long enough to settle in – but I have fond memories of Mr Smith, who taught English and was always very kind and encouraging. A lovely man. Good memories, too, of Venus the rat, who obviously had star quality-I notice she appears in a lot of reminiscences here.

    By Jackie Morrissey (05/03/2017)
  • Hello Dave, thanks for this opportunity to say a few words about Westlain Grammar. In passing a big hello to Roger, Jenny and Lynne. I’m not sure if I appreciated Westlain in the early years. I was a rough kid from a council estate who made it through the 11+ and got elevated to grammar school, while most of my contemporary primary schoolmates went to the secondary moderns. I admit to having a chip on my shoulder about it at the time and felt a victim of the class war. Gradually with the academic and sporting opportunities offered by Westlain I came to appreciate my time there and eventually went on to university. My particular memories include cross-country on freezing winter mornings with a good half-inch of frost on the ground and clad only in shorts, athletic vest and plimsolls (today’s sporting footwear just did not exist in 1961). The cross country route used to go along besides the railway line then go up towards the Falmer Road, exactly where the Amex stadium now exists. Makes you think doesn’t it – “and did those feet in ancient time …...”. My memories of the teaching staff include Geoff Sears – a wonderful man who loved his subject (geography), Miss Ritson – History, never knew her first name – still don’t, but she used to terrify me into doing my History homework, (must have worked though, I got an ‘A’), Mike Matthews, PE, (a lovely man who sadly parted this world far too early) and Eileen Daffern, who although not my French teacher inspired me with her passion for France, and all things French. Whilst at Westlain, I took up many roles in the theatrical productions (an interest which I continued at university then during my career overseas) and represented the school in all the sport disciplines, football, rugby, cricket, boxing, athletics. (I have kept many photos of that period, I’ll get round to sending them to this site sometime). I have fond memories of classmates, Roger Hogbin, Robin Mann, Les Harvey, the Aylward brothers, Dave Walters, Steve Lloyd, Chris Luff, Jane Daffern, Jenny Jones, Louise Emerson, Lynne Brewer, Hilary and Alison Paton. After university I worked in Manchester and London, then in 1974 started working overseas on major construction sites in Libya, India, Bangladesh, Qatar, Nigeria, Cameroun and Gabon before returning to Brighton in 1988 to work on the Channel Tunnel project (London office). I transferred to the French side in 1992 and I’ve lived here ever since. Divorced from first wife I remarried in 2003 to Béatrice, – now 14 years of married bliss. I have two children from my first marriage, and an adopted daughter from the second. I’m now 68 years old, retired, totally francophone, francophile, no intentions to return to UK, and I presume I will finish my days here. Good luck and best wishes to all ex-Westlainers wherever you are. Regards


    By Richard (Bill) Bishop (01/05/2017)
  • I was at Westlain from 1963 -1968. Mr Ferguson’s departing words to me were ” Well Cook, I expect you will be a pleased to see the back of us as we are of you”. I was caned by him when reported by Mrs Daffern for “not trying hard enough at French”  as I was not as good at it as my older brother who preceded me there. Miss Cooper got me into canoeing, Mr Mathews was great and I have good memories of Mr Sears and Mr Goldsmith and the biology teacher whose name I forget. Sadly I am only sort of in touch with one ex pupil, John Goldsmith now in NZ. I would love to hear how ex classmates are doing. I am now living in Malta but visit the Amex once a yar. It does seem odd thinking of that awful cross country route.

    By Gordon Cook (03/06/2017)
  • Hi Bill, it’s always interesting to see what other people have been up to. The last time I spoke to you would have been approximately 40 years back in The King & Queen! After travelling extensively in the East and Far East, I settled down with a pub in Brighton. I ‘ retired ‘ after 13 years, to France. Firstly near St Malo, then in the Limousin [ a vast hill farm ] and finally Le Manoir near Dieppe. The latter was built by Richard 1st in 1197, and was magnificent. I miss it very much. I was sad to see Robin Mann had passed away. I seem to recall he partnered you in the second row? I am not surprised that you have taken to the French way of life. Time just seems to slip away over there. I live in Henfield now and have no plans to travel again. I would call my house ‘ Dunroamin ‘, but it’s a bit too much of a cliche’! So, bonne continuation en France. Best wishes. 

    By Peter Bryan (19/06/2017)
  • Hi Bill, many thanks for your comments on my Westlain page. I remember you well from Westlain days. All the people you mentioned in your comment again I remember well. Truly sad about Mike Matthews, after leaving Westlain he went to teach in Southampton, coincidently in the very same school that my sister was teaching and she got to know him quite well. Apparently he remembered me at Westlain and was surprised to hear that I was also a teacher… small world. Have fond memories of Westlain although have not visited Brighton for some years as I have now retired and living in rural Lincolnshire

    By Dave Crockatt (19/06/2017)
  • Hi Dave and everyone.

    Since I last posted (couldn’t remember how to get into the site) Joyce Cooper has passed away, sadly. However, it’s Alan Skull’s 90th birthday next week and we’re celebrating with him. Met up with him this August and can report that he’s an excellent and inventive chef. Met up with Phil Smith too, though he’s quite poorly so if anyone has messages to pass on to both or either, I can do that.

    I keep in touch with Jacoba Vyse, daughter of Deirdre the music teacher, who also passed away this year, in India where she had spent several years. Phil told me that Ken Gloyne is no longer with us either. I always found him a bit scary, when he taught us Russian (I was useless but I’ll always know some of the words to Kalinka), so it was rather sad to learn that lately he had wondered whether he should have been more relaxed with pupils.

    I miss Brighton, though I didn’t really appreciate all it had to offer when I lived there. Quite a few of us had a summer job at the seaside cafe in Saltdean run by Mrs Marchini (copious use of Diorissimo scent) where the hours were long and tips were scant. Ran along the undercliff from the Sheepcote Valley camp site in August (can’t afford hotels) and it’s now a rather odd bar, but at least it’s still there. Brighton looked a little unloved on this visit, lots of litter and crumbling buildings. But there again I’m getting a bit crumbly myself.

    Interesting to hear from Mr Bishop. What a busy boy!

    Met up with Jenny earlier this year but we don’t see enough of each other – distance and demands of The House! What we need is a reunion – does anyone still around in Brighton have the energy to organise one please, if only to name a pub and a date, before we all go dust to dust?

    It’s lovely to read posts here, as I don’t do social media sites, so keep it coming.

    By Lynne P (08/10/2017)
  • Brighton play Huddersfield here in Yorkshire on December 9th. Tickets are as rare as hens’ teeth since their elevation. Dilemma who to root for!

    By Lynne P (08/10/2017)
  • Wow. I’m in the picture too (picture 3, second from the right, bottom row – in a blazer). I was Maggie Nickisson then and you all have me in awe with your memories. I left and joined Sussex Police as a cadet before going on into the Army etc etc. So sad about Miss Cooper. Sport (high jump and trampolining especially) and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards were my thing. She regularly saved my bacon when I missed my bus in Hollingbury and she’d pick me up, saving me from being late (yet again), and was so good to me that she got me a scholarship to an Outward Bound Centre in Mid Wales. I remember Karen Pentecost (senior to me) who I travelled on the bus with most mornings, and Angela Dobson as a class mate. I’ve only just returned to live in Brighton and was wondering what had happened to the school. Thanks for bringing me up to date. Time flies.

    By Maggie Evans (15/10/2017)
  • Hi all, great to read so many appreciative comments on my Westlain page. Hello to you Lynne, I believe we were in the sixth form together in 1966-68. Like you I have moved away from Brighton, to rural Lincolnshire, and rarely visit Brighton. Last time I went it was expensive and seemed shabby in places. Still in touch with Roger Pettit, in fact we met up in London earlier this year and our chat did revolve in part around Westlain. I was sad to hear about the passing of Ken Gloyne; he was my first form teacher in 1961 and also my French teacher. I’m sure Mr Smith was my English teacher at some stage and remember Alan Skull; quite amazed to hear that he’s still around! Mr Matthews, PE, went on to teach in Southampton, coincidently in the same school as my sister taught! Small world; she did say that he remembered me and was  surprised to learn that I became a teacher. Sad that he passed away so young.Look forward to more responses on my page.

    By Dave Crockatt (17/10/2017)
  • Hi Dave. So glad you’ve set up this page. It helps me remember people whose names have been hovering at the back of my memory. I enjoyed celebrating Alan Skull’s birthday and he told me that there was to be another reunion, which has probably passed now. It was for folk who were there at the opening of the school, so before my time. Rural Lincolnshire, eh? Not so far from us in t’hills above ‘Uddersfield. Have spent some good stays in Lincoln city. My Brighton trips are usually in our VW camper on the Sheepcote valley site. Do you remember when they filmed “Oh what a Lovely War” there? Quite a few Westlainers got in as extras, but my mum wouldn’t let me. Spencer Swaffer used to scour the tip looking for antiques. He now has a very posh antique shop in Arundel. Called in on him a couple of years ago. Did you ever go on the school trips to Burwash? They were fun. Remember we were holding a “seance” with a home made ouija board in the sitting room by the fire with all the lights off. Suddenly a cat came skidding across the lino into the board and set us all screaming. Alan Skull had quietly opened the door and chucked it in. What a wag.

    By Lynne P (13/11/2017)
  • Hi Lynne, thanks for your comments on my page. We’ve been in Lincolnshire for over 3 years now and yes, not a million miles from Huddersfield, strange how some of us end up in places quite different from our home turf and Lincoln is such a great city.  For us it makes a change from 42 years in London.

    Yes I certainly remember Burwash. Spent a week there on a history and geography field  trip, both taking place in the same week. A fantastic week. I remember Miss Ritson telling us off for chatting late one evening. She appeared in a long white night-dress, scared the life out of us! What ever happened to Miss Ritson; no-one knew her first name.

    I also took a trip to Sheepcote valley just after they had finished the filming. We went down the ‘trenches’, very realistic and also the field where they planted all the crosses in many, many rows. The field I believe, was near Ovingdean. It was very moving.


    By Dave Crockatt (24/11/2017)
  • Just enjoyed an excellent football match between Huddersfield Town and Brighton, at Huddersfield. One of the Brighton players is Lewis Dunk. Is he related to Pete Dunk who was at Westlain around our time? Anyway, he played well! Sadly, Brighton didn’t score, but they deserved to.

    By Lynne P (09/12/2017)
  • Sad news to end the year. Philip Smith, English teacher, passed away peacefully on Boxing Day. I’ll miss him a lot.

    By Lynne P (31/12/2017)
  • Wow - a Westlain website! Have only been online for few months, so still learning. I was there from ’59-66, so before most of you, but remember lots of teachers though. Mr. Skull taught us non O- level biology and tested our blood groups. Two lads offered to be first knowing they were both AB positive, so poor Mr. Skull thought he’d made a mistake! Mrs. Swan taught me how to cook, so grew my son to 6′ 5″! Still making Christmas cakes. Sadly lost touch with my year as moved from Woodingdean to Hove but made friends with later.

    By Janette Kipling (08/01/2018)
  • Reading about the vivarium brought back rather sad memories for me. We spent hours there feeding the rats & mice, letting them swim in the sink while we cleaned their cages and breeding the mice to get different colours. I had 2 beauties I named Bubble & Squeak! They both had pink eyes but Bubble was a light grey colour while Squeak was fawn. Finding out that they had both been murdered was devastating – I never went near the vivarium again. Good to hear that later students banned this horrible practice! 

    By Janette Kipling (01/04/2018)
  • Hi again, just reading the later comments from fellow Westlainers and I too remember the vivarium and hiring out the animals at lunchtime. There were two large rabbits there called Sid and Suki, one black and one grey and I took the grey one home over the Christmas holidays one year to look after. She stayed indoors with us and I remember her sleeping on the hearth stretched out in front of the fire just like a cat. I didn’t want to take her back. Likewise I was quite upset when I realised what happened to the rats in biology classes later on. I also went to Burwash one year for a week, we were rehearsing a school production play, can’t remember which one but again was a great laugh, the girls got caught trying to sneak into the boys dormatory,  can’t remember which teacher caught us but we thought they were a ghost because they crept up on us so quietly. Scared us all witless!   Happy memories. Viv Alyward was with us on that trip and Pandora Clark, can’t remember who else.

    By Ann noble (Was Sonya Thorpe) (09/04/2018)
  • So pleased to have found this site. Well sone Dave for starting us off. I was at Westlain from 1967-1972, have happy memories of my time there and remember so many of the teachers as reminded to me by previous comments. I read Maggie Evans entry and wanted to say I was Angie Dobson (now Coleby) and delighted you remembered me. I am still in regular contact with Annette (Fears), Katy Emerson, Kathy Holloway, Anita (House), Elaine (Scott) and Wendy ( Boxall) and we have often wondered how and where you were. We are planning a reunion for 9th March 2019 so would be great if you could make it. This is also a ‘shout out’ to all those who started with or joined our year group to let you know our intention. I will revisit the site later to see if anyone has left a comment and to give further details.

    By Angela Coleby (14/06/2018)
  • There is a Facebook page about Westlain Grammar School which also contains reminiscences and stories covering the years from 1957, when it opened, and its later years following its merger with Stanmer School becoming Falmer High School.

    By Hywel James (05/08/2018)
  • Thanks Howell. I’ve had a look at the public pages and see that Pam McKernan is a member. But I have a mistrust of Facebook so would rather not join. Does anyone remember the route of the Four Beacons walk that the sixth form did every summer? The half way point was Mr Ferguson’s house in Lewes and his wife used to lay on soft drinks, and possibly sandwiches. It started at Wolstenbury, then Ditchling, Firle, Caburn and finally Firle. I’d really like to walk that route again, but I can’t remember the details too clearly and it doesn’t seem to appear on walking sites. I know it was an early start and took all day. Might be able to run it in rather less. Re Philip Smith, I wasn’t able to attend the memorial service but I understand from Pam that it went very well. I’m sure Phil would have been pleased. I saw Alan Skull just over a week ago and we went to Glyndebourne Opera House to see Vanessa. We had a great time. He’s as sharp as ever he was and was performing a “gig” with his double bass at a church in Lewes yesterday. it must be all those years of Morris dancing.

    By Lynne P (26/08/2018)
  • Loved reading all this and reminiscing. Such a shame the school was demolished, it really wasn’t that old. What a waste of resources. Wonder what they did with all those books in the library.

    By Cheryl nee Corthorn (22/02/2019)
  • Wow!! Just idly looking as it is my 60th this weekend. I was at Westlain between 1970 and 1976. It became comprehensive in my third year when we were selecting our O Levels. I remember not being allowed to do drama as I was from Westlain and not Stanmer – ironic as ended up being a drama teacher. Key teachers for me were: Miss Mullinger, Mr. Skull, Mrs Allabone, and later Mrs Davies and Mr Smith both of whom helped me through very difficult personal time. Worse part was Mrs Berry who having found in 1976 that I was living with a young man – an ex-Westlain pupil – told me I either had to get married or leave. I left! Be great to catch up with anyone – Amanda Redman went to Westlain Grammar.

    By Serena Smith (13/11/2019)
  • I was in the 68-75 cohort at Westlain and had a great time on campus, in sports and (sometimes) in class.
    I remember many of the teachers mentioned fondly, though one or two could be a little too punitive. We got a good all round education and I no longer had to put a book down the back of my trousers in later years, so it worked out well in the end.

    By Greg Hart (08/01/2020)
  • What a fantastic surprise to find your page! I was idly googling Westlain Grammar School to see what came up and – bingo! I was one of the first intake of pupils in 1957 and (generally) loved my two short years there before moving to London with my family.
    The school uniform, in grey and cherry red, was a refreshing change from the usual navy blue and yellow though the winter hats for girls were a bit quirky, being modelled on an airman’s hat found on the construction site when the school was built.
    I well remember being taught Astronomy by Mr Ferguson. It was the one of the worst experiences of my life! We would have a quiz every lesson. He would go round the class asking for the circumference of the earth, the distance from the earth to the sun etc., etc. Having no head for figures then I failed abysmally. If you got a question wrong, or didn’t know the answer you had to put one hand on your head, then the second hand, then stand on your chair and so on. I was always the one, at the end of each lesson, standing on the desk on one foot with both hands on my head! I think the stress made my memory worse!
    I do remember the vivarium with fondness. We didn’t have rats when I was there but were allowed to keep kittens and guinea pigs or mice. It was a good place to hide when you wanted to miss netball on a cold day – until you got caught! More than one detention! We also had ballroom dancing lessons in the lunch hour; I wish I’d been able to continue those!
    And I still remember, after all these years, all the words of the first verse of the school song, ‘Non nobis Domine, not unto us O Lord’. Stirring stuff!
    I had heard that the school was no longer standing. A real shame; it was a lovely building, with great playing fields and surrounded by countryside. The only drawback was being so close to Stanmer Secondary School. There was no railing dividing the road in those days and we were subjected to a lot of harassment from the secondary school kids. My younger brother was one of them!
    If any of my former classmates read this page (I haven’t seen any comments that go back that far) do get in touch. I remember a few names: Vera Onion, Ruth Maskery (Ruth and I were at junior school together) among others though, like me, they have different last names now. I can be contacted through Facebook or Messenger.

    By Barbara (Babs) Rudall (nee Moreton) (25/02/2020)
  • You won’t know how glad I am to find this site! I am hoping someone will stop me going totally round the bend trying to remember a particular fact about Westlain.
    I was only there for two years (1959 – 1961) and since my father was in the army I attended other high schools. My only clear memory of a member of staff was Mrs Swann as she was my form teacher and the best cookery teacher I ever had.
    Does anyone remember the names of the four houses? I think two were Lewes and Arundel but for the life of me I cannot recall the other two. I Will keep my fingers crossed that someone can save what little sanity I have left.

    By Sandra G (07/04/2020)
  • 4 houses,think they were Caburn,Wolstonbury,Firle ,Ditchling.Not too sure if last one is correct (now am 71! ).Mr Ferguson told me I wasted my education when I joined the Gas board in 1965.I later made and fitted gas lights on Palace Pier Theatre for “Oh what a lovely war” and a few years later fitted central heating in Mr. Ferguson’s house in Lewes!!!!!!!!

    By Jeffrey Gillam (21/04/2020)
  • How lovely to find a Westlain web site. I am Alex Fredericks, Alex Keen as was at school. I was sad to find out the school building had been demolished as it has featured in my dreams over the years and one day hoped to go and see it. I was a pupil from 1962-69. I came from Whitehawk junior school and went on to secretarial college and then Sussex University to study English. I have very fond memories of being at Westlain and remember many many names and quite a few people as well. The school was an escape from an oppressive home life as my mother had major mental health issues . I remember most of the staff mentioned but also Mr Corbett was my English teacher early on and Mrs Lawrence was an inspiring English teacher in my O level years. She is the main reason I went on to study English. I remember the three Aylward brothers, we were doing our A levels at the same time. I also remember Bill Bishop. He and Bob Durrant were a couple of years ahead of me. I worked with Bob until the early 80s and was friends with Tom Freeman (whose mum was a French teacher at the school) until his death a few years ago. I went on to have two marriages and four boys. I came from Belgium and was bi-lingual French-English. French lessons at school were always weird. I went on to live in Brussels for a number of years teaching English and then working at the EEC as an administrator. We came back early 90s and I was hoping to go back there to retire. My eldest son has lived in Brussels for many years and is bringing up his family there. Back to Westlain. I remember the beacon’s walk, the inter-house sports and school athletics fondly. Athletics in the summer and hockey in the winter. The school plays I remember as being brilliant: The Caucasian Chalk Circle; the Fire Raisers and Mother Courage in particular. Mr Brown had good taste in plays!
    I have fond memories of classmates, Vera Timar (who I still see often), Mary Evans, Jim Cobbett, Jane Hudson, Hazel Kirby, Jack Everett, Steve Jones, Janet Healey, etc etc. Any way, kind regards to you all, lovely to see this site exists.

    By Alexandra Fredericks (11/06/2020)
  • What a great trip down memory lane! I was there from 1960-67 and still meet up with friends I met in my first year there. My first form teacher was Miss Pengilly in room 12. Who else reminds the lunchtime checks to see if you were wearing your ‘outdoor’ shoes? What a pressure for poorer families for a child to have 2 pairs of smart shoes.
    My three brothers, Bruce, Trevor and Stuart, attended the school too. In total our parents turned up for parents’ evenings for 19 years. My second form teacher was Mr.Armstrong who was on an exchange from Canada. Our form room was the biology lab which had a bucket of skinned frogs in one corner. Not a great accessory for any room. The next year, in room 3, we had Miss Harmer who instilled in me my love for the French language. Thanks to her I won the Junior French Prize. During our fourth year we persuaded Mr.Atkins to take us on a coach trip to see the new Coventry Cathedral. Seeing the altar of the destroyed building engraved with the words ‘Lest we forget’ was incredibly moving. Then we had Mr. Caruth in room 10. He introduced us to modern classics like Animal Farm, Brave New World etc. A group of us went to Preston Church to see his wedding to Miss Batt. We went to his/ their house to make the soldiers’ jackets for ‘Mother Courage’. People are often surprised at the plays Westlain school produced; not a Shakespeare in sight. Lots of other great memories keep popping up, like the first inter-house drama competition. My house, Wolstonbury, won with a melodrama called “Hiss the Villain’. Great piano playing from Pete Hardcastle, a fellow alumnus of Lower Bevendean Primary.

    By Gail Smart (22/06/2020)
  • I was at Westlain from 1957 -1963 and loved every minute there. Great teachers in the main and fantastic sports facilities as it was a brand new school. I arranged a couple of reunions back in the 90s and am still in regular contact with Pam Denman (Eggleton), Carol Harding (Fowler), Lynn Wickens(Roberts), Marion Hamilton (Ulph) and Christine Thorpe(Leonard). I was Hilary Valentine and was in Firle house and was lucky to be sports captain for Firle girls.

    By Hilary Wells (27/06/2020)
  • I was a pupil from 1957 – 1962. We were the first intake to be there by passing the 11 plus. I lived in Kemptown then, and it was over an hour to get to school. Bus down to Pool Valley, then on the dedicated school bus to Stanmer. Lewes road was only single carriageway then, and buses had a job trying to U turn into the school lay-by.
    I was in ‘Pop’ Longly’s class, and Ditchling House. Never really enjoyed my time there, apart from the rugby. I was lucky to be in the school team.
    I remember several of us used to go round in a group after school: Ian Botterill, Jill Winstanly, Jack Dunkerton, Susan Sutton, Brian English, Susan Brown, myself, and Shirley Griffin.
    Anyone still in touch with any of them, or knows how they got on? Only photos I have are the official school ones, so any others would be really welcome.
    Now 73 and retired, but still have many memories of those days.

    By John Partridge (1/07/20) (01/07/2020)
  • I was among the first intake of pupils at Westlain Grammar School. We girls had spent three years at Margaret Hardy School in central Brighton and the eventual male component of our 4b class had experienced the same three years in Fawcett. When we eventually arrived at that wonderful Westlain School we were well prepared for any difficulties that Stanmer School presented. Our form Master was Mr Scull, who for reasons I don’t remember was referred to as ‘Jim’. He was wonderful but we, as a class, must have been very disappointing. I think we had lost all sense of discipline in our ‘school’ in town and possible we where bored. The wonderful Mr Smith eventually taught English to us after having established that, regardless of our bad behaviour, he would still get paid and if we didn’t settle down he would be off to the staff room and we would all be at a loss. He was great. I remember Lunch time in the canteen, real pleasure after the arrangements in previous schools, a part of education taken for granted but so essential as a rounding off of life’s formative experiences. The one thing that sticks in my mind was that after all the earth moving equipment was gone from the emerging games fields at the front of the school we were required to spend a few lunch breaks picking up the loose stones on what was to be the cricket pitch; I think that would be termed ‘slave labour’ today. But there we all were in a wonderful new school with brilliant teachers. The world at our feet and all was perfect. What happened! I was expelled, got married had two kids and emigrated to Australia. So glad I have found your page.

    By Pat Kimber (nee Novis) (09/08/2020)
  • I attended Westlain from 1963 to 1967 and recall many of the teachers mentioned. Mr Smith was my first form tutor in Room 10, teaching the class, English, History and Religious Instruction. In later years I was taught English by Mr Caruth and Miss Edwards. Miss Curzon was my first Maths teacher. Later Mr Adkins patiently taught the intricacies of the subject. Mrs Swan taught cookery in my second year. In the first year I struggled with the needlework taught by Mrs Ray, who wore a fur coat and arrived in a taxi. In the first term we made a skirt, the second term a cookery apron and the third term a cookery white hat in preparation for our second year. My memory of Mrs Cheffings for music relates to learning the Hallelujah Chorus for Speech day in October 1965. Music lessons were taken in the dining room annexe. Sometimes Mrs Cheffings brought her guitar and sang songs to teach them to us. Miss Cooper I remember vividly. My preferred sports activities were tennis and ahtletics. I remember Mr Sears and later Mr Roberts taught Geography. Miss Thelma Thicke taught Art, who apparently had paintings displayed in a London Art Gallery. Mr Goldsmith taught Chemistry, as did Miss Stone. In the late 1990s I returned to Brighton for a couple of years. I visited Westlain and the only rooms that really looked the same were the hall and the Physics lab, where I could almost see Mr J.J.G. Clarke standing at the front telling us we were going to wire a plug. Room 6 was sometimes used for detention. I once received a detention for removing my hat before leaving the school drive. It was nearly 6 pm as I had stayed behind to chess club led by Mr John Merrick. Miss Berry the Deputy Head pulled up next to me to ask where my hat was. She told me to take a detention and closed the window of her car. Some lovely people were in my year group though I am not in touch with anyone from school now as I lived in France for three years and now live in the North of the country. Very interesting to see the posts about Westlain and also the pictures, including those of former teachers. Thank you for creating this page.

    By Margaret North (05/11/2020)
  • I’ve not posted for quite a while as it seemed everyone had migrated to Facebook and I’m still not a believer.
    Many will be pleased to hear that Alan Skull is still going strong and has emigrated to a safe corner of Wales, and not far from where I too spend much of my time, being Welsh born, though I soon lost my accent when my fellow Westlainians poked fun at it. I was lucky to be able to have lunch with him on his birthday last year and he’s perennially bright and sparky.
    His favourite pub in Lewes was the Brewer’s Arms, and my maiden name was Brewer. He noted that Covid prevented us from hugging and said it was a matter of great regret not to be able to spend time in the Brewer’s arms!

    Since I last posted I have tracked down both of my closest friends, Jill Lassetter and Sandy Easterbrook, and we had a pre-Covid meet-up the last time we went camping in Sheepcote Valley.
    Jill is a long-standing and loyal supporter of Leeds United so we’ve spent a lot of time together since I found her – I even went to a footie match. Sandy is a talented gardener and puts me to shame.

    I read a couple of Facebook pages without having to join and saw that David Groom and Pam McKernan are active on that. If anyone else on this page on it too, kindly ask them, pretty please, to drop a post here.

    It’s extraordinary how many people remembered the mouse and rat hire service. We’d probably be banned by Health and Safety rules now. But do you remember anyone getting hideous disease as a result? No, I thought not.
    I still see the odd rat around the garden as we keep five Shetland sheep as pets, and of course that attracts the scavengers. Don’t fancy giving any of those wild things a cuddle though. Sheep, on the other hand, are the ultimate comfort blanket.

    Let’s hope that we all survive the dreaded bug and that a grand reunion can take place one day, even if we all have to be on a separate boat out at sea … or separate carriages in the big wheel.
    Take care everyone, and may your Easter celebrations be chocolaty.

    By Lynne Pollock nee Brewer (30/03/2021)
  • Hi there everyone there!! I was a pupil between 1960 -67….. with very many fond memories of being there. I think it was a fairly strict establishment compared to today’s ‘educational’ institutions. I do recognise many of the names (Hi Gail!!) and many of the teaching staff too! My, how we are all getting so old now? Doesn’t time fly? I have recently returned to UK from about 45 years in Africa. I went out for a three year contract as an accountant and ended up spending about 25 years in church ministry….. am still a committed Christian. I don’t really mind if someone picks up my email address……. would love to hear from you wherever you are far flung???
    I now live in worthing, up the road from my son and his family in Hove. Every blessing to you all…. precious memories!

    By martin strange (07/09/2021)
  • Hello Martin Strange, I certainly remember you as a great character actor, and singer, the ‘Sorcerer’ and ‘Roots’ productions at Westlain, and if I had hazarded a guess at your future employment I would have thought something in theatrical production, small screen actor perhaps, stand-up comic even! but an accountant ….No I don’t think so!. But then I never imagined that I would quit UK in 1974 and then spend 14 years working overseas in project management on major construction sites. Lived in France now for last 30 years, totally francophone, when I think how far my french ‘o’ level has got me. I’d like to visit UK sometime, I have a 2 year old granddaughter there that I still haven’t seen in the flesh, (other 4 grandchildren are here in France) but only when this Covid thing is completely finished. Good luck to you Martin. Richard (Bill) Bishop, St. Gildas de Rhuys, France.

    By Richard Edwin Bishop (10/05/2022)

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