Portsmouth schoolboy caned for 'stealing' a peach | Nostalgia

The photograph of the boys from Portsmouth Technical College back in September brought a memory of a vicious teacher, a Mr Dunn.

Saturday, 21st December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 21st December 2019, 6:00 am
Wallace Bowden, top, with brother James, bottom, at Portsmouth Technical College.
Wallace Bowden, top, with brother James, bottom, at Portsmouth Technical College.

Wallace Bowden dropped me a line to say that Mr Dunn, a chemistry teacher, did not suffer fools in any way whatsoever.

Wallace says: ‘During a lesson we had to make hydrogen sulphide gas. We had to sniff it and write down our conclusions.

‘Mr Dunn left the room, I sniffed the gas and fell on the floor and made loud noises of disgust.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

‘Mr Dunn walked back in the room and was not amused.

‘I had to go to his room where I received two whacks on the hand from his cane. I couldn’t work for a couple of hours.’

Wallace adds: ‘On another occasion he once gave a boy six strokes across the backside with his cane while the boy was bent over a chair on the stage of the assembly hall.

‘This act of barbarism took place in front of the whole school gathered in the hall.

‘To a stunned silence Mr Dunn berated the boy for theft. The offence? He had stolen a peach from a tree that grew outside Mr Dunn’s office window. Does anyone else remember this?

‘I often wondered if Mr Dunn was ill. He was always bad-tempered and had a red face.’

•My recent picture of Fratton Grove, Fratton, Portsmouth, has prompted many memories, including one from Gerald Fox.

He recalls: ‘It was a narrow road running up the side of the then Co-operative department store, now the Fratton Centre and Asda.

‘The office tower was on the other corner and its original entrance was in Fratton Grove (I worked in that building).

‘At the top of Fratton Grove as it turned sharp right was the Co-op milk depot which is now part of the Asda car park.’

Gerald says the map of the area I included sparked memories from when he was a child until he was well into his twenties. I know how much you all like my old maps.

Gerald continues: ‘The picture showing the Railway Hotel, then thriving, and Jeram’s coal merchants on the corner of Claremont Road, I used to pass while walking to my nan's house in Liverpool Road.’

Meanwhile, Larry Nicholas, of Baffins, Portsmouth, was also delighted to see the Railway Hotel photograph.

Larry says: ‘It really was a blast from the past, especially when you mentioned the groups who played there.’

‘My best recollection is of Manfred Mann who played there often, I think on a Thursday evening.

‘In 1963 I saw them there at the time they released on HMV their first record.

‘This was an instrumental number entitled Why Should We Not, which had a strong and driving drum beat.

‘At the end of the interval they played the record through their PA system before joining in and then accompanying it – a great stereophonic sound.

Larry continues: 'Interestingly, I played organ with a popular local R&B group called the J Crow Combo who followed Manfred Mann in playing Sunday evening sessions at Kimbells Ballroom in Southsea.

‘This group went on to find some brief fame professionally (I think we were as good as Manfred Mann). Those were the days and many thanks for the memories!’

• Regarding my question about ratings’ uniform, Morag Humpleby tells me that black caps were worn as standard during the Second World War.

‘The number of creases in the trousers was either seven or five alternating inwards and outwards depending on the height of the wearer not, as commonly thought, to represent the five oceans or seven seas,’ she says.

Modern uniforms have fore and aft creases and are not bellbottoms so are not as smart in my opinion.

• More memories of Lake Road in its heyday came from Mr M Mason who tells me his family lived at 259, Sultan Road from 1940 until 1963.

The corner shop in the picture I published was an off licence run by a Mrs Smith who had little stock with just a few bottles on the shelves.

Mr Mason says: ‘On the other corner was a shoe repair shop owned by Mr & Mrs Marsden. Next door was a doctor’s surgery. Just farther along was a barber’s owned by a Polish gentleman named Joe.’

Please keep the memories coming.

• You might recall I have mentioned my forthcoming book The Portsdown & Horndean Light Railway Then and Now several times. Unfortunately there has been a delay at the publishers.

But I can tell you I have now received the proofs of the book for checking so I am hoping it will be on the shelves before Easter. Thank you for all your inquiries.