John Hinchliffe The 'Hards' Sir Rous Jackie Gibbs Harry Wymer
John Hinchliffe will best be remembered as the lead designer of the electronic cricket scoreboard, but he was also responsible for other innovative projects and ... er ... experiments.
'John Hinchliffe was a talented electrical wizard who invented a system for using the electrical 240 volt mains wiring to transmit 'radio' around the school. Connection from his apparatus was made by a standard three-pin plug into the power sockets. 'Hinchliffe's Half Hour' was broadcast from Canterbury House in 1966 (I think) and could be picked up by a select band of like-minded pupils. The rumour was that it was stopped after a broadcast was picked up on Miss Mair's radio.'
'A forerunner of Hinchliffe's system was a far simpler hard-wired phone system throughout Canterbury House in 1964/5(?). The radiator pipes were used as one wire, the other was provided by a network of thin copper wire unwound from an old electric motor and run around the outside of the building and over the roofs. The distribution network was installed using a 'borrowed' first former's toy battery-operated tank to travel unnoticed across the flat roofs, under the windows of the staff flats, dragging a wire behind.'
A couple of nice tricks:
Use a 2KW electric radiator connected between Live and a metal rod in the ground; worms surfacing at a vast rate of knots outside Butler Hall.
Second, use the same circuit but include the largest polarised electrolytic capacitor you could find - (located at a safe distance) and see how long it took to blow and how far the aluminium foil was projected! Remember some were oil filled, also producing a great burst of flame and puff of smoke!
Extra trick at home only - put the earth rod (no capacitor) In a large metal container full of coke (anthracite - ish) and watch the millions of carbon-arcs which were produced as the rough edges got red hot).
Basically I must have been the ultimate "Don't try this at home" idiot! It all taught me lots of Physics though.
Fun days indeed.
John Hinchliffe (aka Sparky for obvious reasons)
Fatty Mallett .... for it was he. This seriously hard 'Godfather' of the CGS lived in Hethersett if I remember correctly. Many others were involved in shoplifting, but 'Fatty' was 'the Man.' My mate Steven Moss in the CGS, who I was very pally with at Costessey Junior and used to hang out in the holidays with, was a close lieutenant of Mr Mallet and thus commanded much 'respect' himself. He and his gang did a pretty good line in Levi's where you could specify colour and size. No problem at all to Fatty. You had to shrink them to size yourself in the bath though (do you remember doing that?).
Fatty had a very attractive and refined girlfriend, whose parents were very rich (no fool our Fatty) and she did much to 'straighten him out.' So much so, that when he left he went to work in Harrods in London as a Management Trainee (the mind boggles). I can just imagine Fatty in Harrods Customer Service: 'Are you f***** complaining about something? Want to step outside mate?' Fatty in a smart suit at Harrods seemed about as unlikely to us who knew him as Sid Vicious getting a job as a Royal Equerry at the Palace!
Brian Ellis also remembers that in the first year there was a lot of hyping up of the fight of fights (fights in breaks were a serious pastime) to decide who was the 'hard of hards,' between Tony Cronin for the College and ... wait for it ... Fatty Mallet for the CGS. Come the big day and they seemed to both chicken early and shake hands pretty quickly, calling it a sort of honourable draw. A bit of a non-event really, as it turned out, but honour was definitely upheld on both sides
Brian also recalls that when Pat Sparks turned up in year two, Garner and Tony Cronin nearly killed each other over her. She went out with Garner first, then chucked him and went out with Cronin. They were a very seriously in love couple - and I believe that they are still married.
P.S. As Pat Sparks (rather unwisely I thought ) put her phone number on FriendsReunited, I just phoned and spoke to Tony Cronin who she is still married to - as I said previously. In most of our cases it was teenage lust, but in their case it really did seem to be true love. Aaaaaaah isn't that sweet?
Ian Gomeche (1963-70)
Who remembers "Sir Rous," who, I believe, was in the County Grot fifth or sixth year, in 1970? He wore a Crombie, staypress, white socks, loafers, carried a black brollie and seemed to think he was well 'ard, not that I ever, as a mere hebe dared stay around long enough to find out!
Well Barry, I can remember the 'Hard Lad' called Sir Rous. His dad, if I recall, had plenty of dough (and I don't mean he was a baker). It seems that this Sir Rous was a bully, however I can remember when a certain boarder gave him a very good hiding and this knocked him off his 'perch' for a period of time. I know 'cos I wasn't the one.
"Sir Rous" is Kett/New (1972 panoramic photo) on the back row 12th from the right.
I can remember quaking in fear, having to negotiate him and his cronies between the nissens and the sports hall, although I don't recall ever having suffered at his hands; it was more a case of his reputation preceding him. He probably runs a little corner shop somewhere and is a devoted husband and father of four very bright young things. Or lives in a cave somewhere south of Tazikistan and north of Pakistan and may have upset a few people of late ...
I think it was all show really; everyone was scared of him because his dress style was a cross between what was then called "suedehead", who were hard people in places like Manchester and Liverpool (but they were over the age of 15 and didn't come from Norfolk!!), and a kind of "clockwork orange" effect. He also swaggered around the place with an entourage following behind, with his brolly and illegal white socks, brave as anything.
I was always terrified of him at school, but bumped into him at Norwich City College some time later and he just seemed a normal bloke, quite likeable actually, but still dressed just as nattily.
I recall very well the famous fight when he got a pasting from Chris Parnham. SR produced this steel cosh he had made in metalwork before the fight started, which just made Parnham very angry. After being kicked hard about half a dozen times, SR limped off as fast as his legs would carry him, which was pretty fast. It was all over in seconds and ended with Parnham stomping on the steel cosh, which flew from SR's hand on the first kick, into a U-shape.
Chris Parnham was the hardest guy I ever met, and I think became a soldier. Thankfully he wasn't at all the bullying type. On another occasion he also gave a pasting to our House bully ---------, who at the time I thought was totally invincible.
Contrary to Barry Hipwell's suggestion "Sir Rous" is not running a small corner shop somewhere!
He has in fact become a prominent Norfolk Entrepreneur and was listed in the EDP's Power 100 league table for 2007. He recently sold one of his companies in a multi-million-pound deal. And yes ...... he was a bully! At one stage in the 2nd or 3rd form he had his leg in plaster and came to school with a walking stick and used the hooked end on at least one poor unfortunate victim's nether regions to the vast amusement of his entourage. I think this neatly disproves the biblical saying about "the meek shall inherit the Earth".
Graham Wilson (1969 to 1976)
Jackie Gibbs ( Worcester 1964 - 71)
Jackie really was an amazing character with a great bubbly personality. She was the only person I have ever met who seemed to be almost permanently on another planet totally without the aid of any mind altering substances whatsoever. She really did enjoy living in a serene world of her own much of the time and the staff just seemed happy to let her get on with it. Jackie sort of just 'floated' though her time at the College, totally unfazed by anything much, as far as I recall. She seemed to be totally unaffected by the pretty tough regime prevailing at the time and just went her own sweet way much of the time.
She had (has?) the most amazing crinkly black hair which any self-respecting hippie would have died for. She would wander round in her dream-world with a massive roll of skirt round her middle so that she could yank it down if Miss Mair, the Headmistress, suddenly appeared and subjected her to one of her many skirt length measurings where she would have kneel down in front of everyone while Miss Mair checked that her hem was less than 2 inches above her knee. All the girls had this inflicted on them but Jackie seemed to get more than her fair share of Miss Mair's inspections.
Jackie preferred to hang out a lot with the likes of Ken Armstrong and myself even though she was a year below us . She was very gifted in English and Arts subjects generally. She used to have private extra-mural classical music appreciation sessions with Mr. Paxton (Tampax) in his chalet - well at least that was their story! Jackie would rave: 'Ah! Rachmaninov!' so much that Ken and I actually started teasing her by calling her 'Rachmaninov' at one point! I was actually quite jealous of the effect that this Rachmaninov guy seemed to have on her I must confess!. This was at a time when the rest of us were into Pink Floyd , The Beatles and other 'boring' stuff like that .
Unlike her superfit, very sporty younger sister, Pauline Gibbs, Jackie was totally non-sporty 'and refused to 'conform' much of the time (bit like me in fact - perhaps why we were kindred spirits?).
When she left WyColl, Jackie got quite heavily into the 'Sealed Knot Society' which re-enacts English Civil War battles around the country. She usually played the part of a 'camp-follower'. Perhaps she is still into all that? (the 'Sealed Knot', I mean, not 'camp-following!').
Alas!, the last time I saw Jackie was when she came to stay with me at Bristol University in 1972/3 . We lost contact for no good reason that I can recall. Jackie lived at that time in Ribblesdale Avenue, Garforth, Leeds. I can even still remember her house number after all these years!
Ian Gomeche (Gloucester 1963 -70)
Harry was the principal school driver from 1951 to 1982, when he retired through ill-health. A character he certainly was and is remembered fondly by staff and pupils alike. This photo and article appeared in the 1982 College Magazine. Please send in your own memories of Ol' Harry and we'll add them.
One of the best-known characters on the site, without a doubt, is the school driver Harry Wymer, who this summer completes his thirty-sixth year at the college. Unfortunately ill health has forced him into early retirement. In his time Harry has worked in a nursery, been an assistant gamekeeper and a rodent exterminator extraordinaire, including in his repertoire rats, moles, rabbits and even wasps.
Some years ago rats plagued the college but Harry's successful campaign has seen this problem resolved. Among the rats Harry has an infamous reputation as a marksman, having killed as many as nine with one shot. The Main Dining Hall figured as the major battleground, and after one concentrated attack, involving some one and a half stones of poison, about eighty rats "snuffed it". He also remembered the time when, having received daily complaints about vermin from a certain matron, he dealt with the problem by propping up a dead rat on her windowsill — she troubled him no more!
As a driver Harry had the privilege of bringing the first pupils on to the site, a memorable occasion for all concerned. Initially the college boasted a twenty-five seater bus which had to be replaced, Harry said, because "I'd jus about run outta string." Later the school acquired some minibuses and Harry told us, in his rich rural accent, of the time when Mr Mullenger and Mr Seeley "was a-goin' down Prince O' Wales and Bob went to change gear an' the gearlever came away in 'is hand." At the opening of the King's Lynn Technical College Harry and his mate were invited to sit at Sir Licoln Ralphs' table. He turned to them and inquired whether or not they wished to remain in the places they had chosen. "I say, 'Yes sir', an' 'e say to me, 'Then you is a-goin' to 'ave to make a speech, Harry boy, 'cos yew's a-sittin' in my place'."
In his thirty-six years of driving Harry has had only one accident. " 'E wus a-comin' straight fer me!" Harry said. "I braked as 'ard as I could an' as 'e 'it me I turned my motor inner 'im so tha 'e took me with 'im." This swift action certainly saved the life of the other driver, who was to blame for the incident, and probably the lives of Harry's passengers as well. In addition to this heroic act Harry also foiled a plot to steal about £5000 of equipment from the workshop stores some years ago — "As I got round tha corner a motor was backing up to tha stores an' tha bloke was leanin' in tha boot. Thass when I slipped up. 'E sorta looked round an' says 'Everythin's alright ol' mate.' 'In that case why is yer nummer-plate covered up?' I says." Unfortunately the thieves escaped, but empty-handed.
Although he is retiring this summer, Harry intends to keep working in the countryside he so loves. He placed another piece of wood in the old burner as we stood there in the garage chatting, and it was clear from the twinkle in his eyes that this character who is so much a part of school life will be around for many years to come. We wish Harry all the best in the future.
Martin Giles & Justin Philcox
Another photo of Harry is on the Transport page.
Wymondham College Remembered