Proud memories of school’s pageant and celebrations

Syd Rapson, seen here third from the right holding the second E, at Southsea Modern School in 1953 in a pageant for the Queen's coronation
Syd Rapson, seen here third from the right holding the second E, at Southsea Modern School in 1953 in a pageant for the Queen's coronation
Opening of the new school by the home secretary in October 1927. The headmaster, Canon Barton, is on the lowest step, on the left. Dorothea Barton is possibly there, somewhere. (PGS Archive)

NOSTALGIA: A red bluestocking at Portsmouth Grammar School

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Take a close look at the lad holding the second E in Elizabeth.

Now see if you can recognise the boy third from the right in the other picture – the one wearing the winged paper crown.

Syd Rapson, third from the right (in front of the girl wearing the garland), dressed as a clown in Jessie Road, Southsea

Syd Rapson, third from the right (in front of the girl wearing the garland), dressed as a clown in Jessie Road, Southsea

It’s the same person.

This short-trousered young man went on to become a long-standing member of Portsmouth City Council, the lord mayor and finally the Labour MP for Portsmouth North from 1997 until 2005.

Of course, it’s Syd Rapson and he not only wanted to share these photographs with readers, but would also like you to solve a conundrum.

Syd, now 70, was a pupil at Southsea Modern School when the first picture was taken.

He says: ‘We put on a pageant to celebrate the Queen’s accession to the throne.

‘I’m the good-looking one holding the second E and I remember ‘‘E is for England so proud and secure’’. The rest has evaporated with my brain cells.

‘We were also marched down to the Odeon cinema, Southsea, to watch Conquest of Everest, a film about the event made to celebrate the coronation.’

Now, here comes the puzzle.

Syd says the second photo was taken in Jessie Road, Southsea. He is convinced the event was to celebrate the coronation, but written on the back of the original print was September 22, 1951.

‘The children all look familiar, but I can’t name any of them. It would be nice to know why the date was September 1951 and not 1953.’

At the time Syd lived at 58 Jessie Road and he recalls that every child was given a book written by Richard Dimbleby called Elizabeth Our Queen.

He says: ‘I have retained my copy and am proud of it.’

Back to the picture, and Syd adds: ‘I’m the idiot dressed in the clown suit made of paper, in front of the girl with the garland around her neck. The lad in the picture looking over us was Hugh Futcher, who became a successful actor.’