Another era – the recollections of Malcolm L Hall

In Old Stops’ Review issue two, Malcolm L Hall (OS 1936 and former governor) wrote in from his home in Tenerife with his memories of school. Malcolm’s fascinating and personal recollections are available in full below.

I stood at the door of the school wondering what I would find inside

I was just 12 and a municipal scholarship pupil from Heaton Moor Council School. It was September 1932. I need not have worried.

The headmaster at Heaton Moor, Jimmy Moult (father of Old Stopfordian John Charlesworth Moult) was a lacrosse fanatic. When I joined his school aged five I had a lacrosse stick put in my head before a pencil, was stuck in goal and was immediately welcomed by the lacrosse players.

The whole school then was smaller than the present sixth forms and, of course, boys only. It was in two streams, Latin and German – and I chose Latin. You still had to study Science and Physics which “Cocky” South and “Berty” Boakes tried hard to instil into me and they succeeded in getting me through the exams.

My memory is of a highly qualified and dedicated group of masters.

We used to tease the Geography master “Ben” Varley, but that was out of respect and affection. Behind his table the wall was covered with a huge map of the world and he kept a long fishing rod to indicate places on it.

Someone would ask “sir, what is the difference between Omsk and Tomsk?”, and out would come the fishing rod with a floating paper fish at the end!

I made many friends but two in particular were Jack Sugden who became a headmaster, and Bert Sidebottom who became a solicitor like me.

We were always the top three but I was always second or third – never top. Except I always got perfect marks in Latin Scansion. A skill which, throughout the rest of my life has not been of the slightest use to me.

I enjoyed History possibly because we had in “Johnny” Johnston a brilliant teacher. He and his wife ran the drama group of which I was a keen member.

One year we did George Bernard Shaw’s On the Rocks and I played the wife of the prime minister. I still recall the consternation when, at the interval, I went into the lads’ loo and hoisted up the front of my frock.

There were no computers or calculators and no parking problems because many parents did not have a car. We gazed with wonder when Teddy Drabble’s doctor father dropped him off from the first Chrysler Airflow seen in the north-west.

Drugs were unknown, smoking rumoured but never proved and drink was something your parents gave you to taste at Christmas.

Discipline was good.

Having matriculated, I left at 15 because I was 16 during the summer holidays and was accepted in the Law faculty at Manchester University.

As the university term did not start until mid-October, “Cobbie” Goddard, who was one of the masters who also had administrative duties, persuaded me to go back so that the school could get a further term’s fees on my scholarship. I was issued with all new text books which I handed back when eventually I left, except a Latin dictionary which would be of great use to me at university where I would study Roman law in the original.

Yes, my schooldays were happy but I sadly look at the photograph of the lacrosse team of 1936 and realise how few of us survived the war.

The best was still to come – the 15 years I spent as a governor.

Malcolm L Hall LLB, OS 1936

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