Your Memories

We’d love to hear from you – what are you memories of St Ambrose College – from any of its incarnations? Do you remember having lessons in Woodeaves, or were you taught in the everlasting temporary First Year block in the 90s?

Let us know below.

(All comments are moderated before posting)

32 thoughts on “Your Memories

  1. What you call the ” Old College ” was nor even built when I was at St Ambrose. We had classrooms in Woodeaves – including one with an open log fire in the former billiard room – as well as pre-fabs built alongside the old playground. Mass was held in the Brothers’ chapel for both pupils and Hale Barns residents. Where Holy Angels now stands, there were the derelict remains of the 1879 Manor House and its outbuildings, where we often played after school. Between what is the current Prep School and the Church car park ran a narrow, gated track emerging opposite the Bull’s Head with wooded grounds on one side and a barn and a sizeable pond on the other.

    Beyond the Brothers’ sunken rose garden was an overgrown coppice with some residual, ornamental trees and, beyond that, grass tennis courts. Further to the right of the courts was a kitchen garden which provided vegetables for the household. And still further – leading down to Broad Lane – was a large field – which was eventually converted to additional rugby pitches – which originally grew potatoes and other root crops that the boys were sometimes dragooned into harvesting.

    • With great pleasure I have just read Tony o`Neil`s missive. I Was part of the same class as Tony, Indeed had the desk next to him in one of our later years. After school I spent happy times with him at his parents` home in Prospect Drive, Hale Barns
      Unlike myself Tony was a brilliant pupil, flying through every subject . Although I haven`t seen him since our last day at St Ambrose in 1957? I have often wondered how he has gone on in his working life and indeed in his personal life.
      School Life at St Ambose was firm but fair with the odd moment of self inflicted trepidation! Headmaster Brother Phelan`s fearsome disciplinary weapon “the strap”, Standing outside his study before the afternoon session lunch. waiting for your punishment was a stomach retching time You would walk in, lying on his desk in full view would be the STRAP. A fearsome weapon brought straight from medieval prison dungeons. Waiting for 6 of the best outside his study after the lunch break build up the heart rate, The pain lasted much longer!! It was no use complaining to your parents. They were always on the school`s side.I well recall Brother Ring calling us “pregnant ducks” during Rugby training. Mr Glynn our geography teacher gaining our waning attention by the liberal use of the board duster. His aim was usually on the mark! or rapping us over our finger tips with the EDGE of a ruler.
      We all respected tall Brother Ryan who guided us through Chemistry and Physics.
      Brother Ring taught History. My first teacher in 1950 was Elderly Brother Heally. I well recall that first year Pope Pius 12 passed on. Great sadness everywhere .Young Brother Leonard fell for our trick of distracting him asking for explanations of obscure subjects. It took him months to figure out what we were up to. A plump “civilian” lady attempted to teach French. She did not succeed too well. Brother Owen never taught me.
      I played a decent game of Rugby, captaining the school side through the age groups.
      Our Rugby foes included St Joseph`s on the Wirral, fearsome opponents and Terra Nova at Alderley Edge, who wore grey flannel “shorts” Happy days. Only rugby of course in those days with cricket in summer I enjoyed Cross Country.
      When it snowed enough some of us would go to Hale Golf course .We had found a nice long slope, ideal to toboggan on.
      John Shippam, Paul Dunn, Tim Wilson, Peter Curbishly from Sugar lane, Knutsford, Pete Holroyd, I well remember I hope I have their names spelt correctly.
      I hope we might meet up and share a pint, Good health to you all, please get in touch I live near nr Chester best regards to you all.
      David warburton


      • PIus XII died in 1957, just after I have left St. Ambrose to go to De La Salle. You must have been in a different stream since the only people I recognise in your email are the Brothers. Our form master was Brother Allan (Gandhi).

  2. It was interesting to read comments and the article relating to some of period in which I attended St Ambrose in the 50`s. Academically limited would sum up my time ,a big disappointment to my teacher brothers.
    I did attend a number of old boys dinners but sadly never met any classmates as communication of the events to my peers was impeded by lost school records in the tragic fire at the school .
    I often read with sadness of the Brothers and Sisters who taught generations of Catholic children during bygone years having an unhealthy enjoyment of the strap but my personal experience tells me whenever
    I received a taste ,it was deserved .
    I have a class photo which I would love share with you.
    Time has taken it`s toll on names but in the photo were Michael Stoneman.David Platt .
    We went to Lourdes in 1958 .This was my only trip to the shrine ,I keep promising to make the pilgrimage
    again .Next time not sleeping on the perforated luggage rack .
    My elder brothers Michael and John were also educated at S A .

    Best wishes to all especially to my classmates

    • Hello Peter
      I remember you and like you only a few class mates. I left in 1959 and I no longer have any school photographs taken during my time there.
      I lived in Baguley and cycled to school daily.
      Class mates I remember:-
      Russell Johnson, Lewis brothers, Peter Motler ,Noel Hodson and Alan Regan.
      .Brothers Casey (Joe Tub head when I joined), Ring, Ryan, Healey, “Gandi” the old brother who taught the first year.Brother Phelan came later.
      I did leave a similar comment in September 2014,
      I am retired and now live in Dorset.

      • Tony, I was in the form below you but remember Alan Regan who oddly was younger than me! I am in regular contact with him as he visits his daughter over here every Spring for a couple of months. He has lived in Vancouver since 1967. We get together with Jim O’Brien, Tony Camm and Martin O’Brien annually.

        Mike Carney

        • Just accidentally came across your post, Martin and Swamy’s (Jim) O’Brien, Alan Regan and Tony Camm were a big part of my life and, indeed, we all went to each other’s weddings! St. Margaret’s Tennis Club Bowden was where we all met up most Summer weekends. If you are still in touch please give them my love.
          Barbara Bebbington nee Creighton-Kerry.
          I live in Corfu now and my husband Tony died 2 years ago.

          Would love to hear from them.

      • Hi Tony
        I recall being in your class at S A. I travelled from Northwich each day by train. I’m in touch with Alan Regan who emigrated to Vancouver in 1967. Also Martin O’Brien who you may recall. Seems like a million years ago! Would like to say how much I enjoyed those years but truthfully I didn’t!

    • I attended St Ambrose in Hale Barns just after the School moved from Dunham Road, Bowdon in 1946, at age 7. I left in 1950 for De la Salle.
      As mentioned by others the classrooms were in the old house “Woodeaves”. Brother Dowling was Headmaster.
      Some of the older boys were involved in the cutting down of trees around the fields to make them suitable for rugby and cricket, and to provide fuel for the wood fires in the classrooms. I remember the Hardiman brothers Michael and John. I think one was older and the other just a little younger than I.
      Contemporaries were Paul Crisp, Dennis Huff, Peter Knight, Mike Moss, Mike Etherington, Peter Smart, David Cockrane, David and Michael Swinton, Peter Jennings.
      Joe Ravening, onetime chairman of the OBs was also a friend outside school in the 8th Altrincham (St Vincents) Scouts. Overall there must have been about 140 pupils.
      In 1968 my career took me away from Altrincham to Bristol and I now live in Wiltshire.

  3. Reading others’ recollections of their time at St Ambrose, jogs the memory, quite powerfully! I started in Bro Owen’s form, in 1964. Mrs Kinsey-perfume-scented and gown wearing lady,taught me a love of English grammar, whilst Mr Hibbert inspired a love for woodwork ( and the mysteries of hot bone glue, melted in a kettle), and allowed me to join the school sailing club.We had a wooden Enterprise, sanded down each winter in the classroom, which we sailed on Tatton Mere.
    In my first year, and before my voice broke, Mr Dennison (Music), (reluctantly), allowed me to join the school choir. Demanding, certainly, but he also taught me an appreciation of classical music, which remains. His favourites (musical: not pupils) were Peer Gynt, Elgar (Nimrod), and Bach. Both he, and I, hated my recorder “skills”
    Cross country running, under the eagle eye of an ex R.N. PE instructor, who really understood how to inflict pain (outstretched arms holding a medicine ball, or hanging off the suspended rings in the gym, until muscle fatigue kicked-in), was always preceded by a pump inspection, to make sure they were truly white.Not sure of the rationale behind this, as 2 miles on, after negotiating the muddy banks of the Bollin valley, everything was brown.
    Bro Ryan was my (very tolerant) form master in the 3rd and 4th years, and a David Burton in the 5th. Even more tolerant.
    My nemesis was Mr Quinn (Jnr), who taught Latin. His critique of my abilities, over 5 years, was scathing, to say the least. He also wielded a mean strap.Regularly.
    Mr Fleming tried to teach me the joy of history, but as we started off with Neanderthal Man, at the age of 11, my interest was never really galvanised. I think I missed out, as a result.
    I am only in touch (we are professional colleagues), with one other pupil: Paul Wear, who left after his second year.but who started at the same time.

  4. I remember Peter Hardiman, I was in the same year, leaving in 1959.
    Brothers I remember were headmasters Casey (Joe Tub) and Brother Phelan.
    Teachers- Bro Ryan was my favourite but I remember in the first year an old brother whose name escapes me who we called Gandy. I do remember a lady trying to teach French and failing miserably.( I failed as well). Also I remember a male lay teacher who tried to teach English. He was a tweed jacketed leather elbow patched type who patrolled up and down during lessons. We used to squirt in on the back of his jacket when he passed. I was involved with placing his chair on the very edge of the raised platform so he fell off.
    My academic achievements were not great as a result.
    I remember Peter Motler who travelled from Middleton, Manchester each day, Russell Johnson and the Lewis brothers of the ice cream company of the same name. Another boy Doug ? cycled to school each day from Heaton Moor near Stockport. I cycled back with him part way and then turned off for Baguley.

    • I left St Ambrose in 1960 and assume I was a year younger than you although logic wasn’t a priority there!
      I was a year older than Alan Regan but in a class lower than him! Either he was very clever or I was very thick!
      Probably the latter!

      I remember someone called Reynolds in my year but not sure it was Anthony! Other boys were Bill Gooch, Mick Smythe, Martin O’Brien, John Dare, John Vause and Brendan Cosgrove just to name a few.

      Like everyone else I was frightened to death by Bro Phelan and felt the force of that evil strap on one or two occasions usually for not knowing a theorem!

      I’m still in touch with Alan Regan, Martin O’Brien, Jim O’Brien and Tony Camm. We get together when Alan comes over from Vancouver. They recall a boy cycling from Heaton Moor to school everyday but I think they said it was Noël Hodson! I could be wrong!


      Michael Carney


      • The Reynolds you remember could be me Tony Reynolds (see earlier posts). I was at St Ambrose from 1954 to 1959.
        Thanks for reminding me that Gandy was Brother Allen and the unfortunate English teacher was Denis McCarthy.
        I have fond memories despite the discipline but left with only 3 O levels! More intense study followed after I left.
        Tony Reynolds

    • Having read your missive again, Gandy was Brother Allen and I think the English teacher was Denis McCarthy!

      Michael Carney

    • Yes, Gandy was Brother Allen whose class I joined in 1955 for two years before having to go to De La Salle in Pendleton because Cheshire Education Authority refused to accept that St. Ambrose was “efficient” or “valid” (fill in fatuous bureaucratic excuse du jour for requiring an 11-year-old to have to travel 80 minutes each way by train and bus to Salford ).

      So, anyway. Brother Phelan was the HM and I was only strapped once by him (for writing an essay in pencil since I had lost my pen). Brother Owen taught biology and demonstrated feather plucking. Brother Leonard (Lennon?) “You poor unfortunates” taught history. Mr. McCarthy taught Maths.

  5. WOW Indeed
    Reading this brought so many memories flooding back. I recognised all the names and yes, I remember the smell of Mrs Kinsey’s perfume 🙂
    – that and the wood working class room where Mr Hibbert ruled.

    And the Quinn’s, where if you miss behaved in class, got their own back on the rugby pitch!
    – I remember a particular song around at the time
    Manfred Mann – The Mighty Quinn

    So many memories 🙂

  6. started in prep 2 sept.1962 thru to may 1971 fondly known as oscar throughout the whole school by teachers and every friend and foe.recall so many of the names discussed bro.owen healey games monaghan foley the new head then became glesson.who remembers with no affection what so ever the dragon mrs lily biology she took miss davies chemistry she would have been described as fit as boys turned to men but surely benny oregan was the best so many fond memories

  7. I left St Hughs in Timperley 48 years ago to start my first year at St Ambrose in Brother Owens form.Reading the posting above has stirred the memory cells and alot of names mentioned are remembered In particular Mrs Lily a dark haired beauty striding down the corridor with her white coat billowing behind her, she made such an impression on an 11 year old.
    I remember the crosscountry training sessions on a lunch time with the sprint finish from the gate at the bottom of the playing field up to the playground.I also remember the day Sir Matt Busby came to open the first ever football pitch at the school
    I would love to hear from anyone who was at the school at that time it would be good to remember more
    Regards to All

  8. I joined in 1955 in Brother Allan’s form. We were lucky enough to be taught chicken slaughtering, defeathering and disembowelling by Brother Owen, Maths by Mr McCarthy, History by Brother Leonard, Corporal punishment by all staff. The only women were the canteen staff, one of whom sweetly made me a meal when I arrived late and everyone had left. We were taught in those exciting prefabricated huts to which British architecture owes so much.

    We built “dens” in the woods at lunchtime which the village kids kindly demolished overnight. We expressed our gratitude by throwing stones at them as they hid by the bus stand where the entrance to Holy Angels is now. Elderly residents of Hale Barns also waiting for the bus expressed their delight at our actions with little cries and waves.

    There was talk of a swimming pool. Brother Phelan announced that the wooded hole next to the pre-fabs would next day be cleared of trees in anticipation of this event. The school clearly needed a swimming pool far more than chemistry labs, a gym or classrooms, so we were happy with this, particularly as Brother Owens announced we all needed to move away from the wall next to where a bull-dozer was pulling downm trees with a cable lest the cable snap. Broither Owens told us of just such an event he had witnessed while serving in the Navy in Malta. In retrospect I think Brother Owens probably had a bit more nous in this matter than Brother Phelan.

    I have a marked up pic of the form in 1954-5 if anyone wants a copy.

  9. I have fond memories of St Ambrose (1975-1982) and the caring and considerate attitude to me and my love of music.

    I joined the school when JG Smithson was music teacher and Brother Ring headmaster. After JG Smithson retired several unsuitable music teachers were appointed and an eagle-eyed peripatetic brass teacher called Peter Leary (Trombonist with The BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra) spotted that it was unlikely any of the 3 music students entered for O level music that year were likely to pass. He approached Brother Ring who organised external extra tuition for the three of us – and we all passed grade ‘A’ as a result. I went on to study music at York University, became a professional musician and still play to this day.

    If it wasn’t for the dedication of JG Smithson, the attention of Peter Leary or the professionalism of Brother Ring I would not have had the years of musical enjoyment that I have been privileged to experience.

    Fond memories indeed – including the delights of having ‘Billy’ Knight as form master !

  10. My last post was over 3 years ago, and reading further, later contributions from other pupils, has jogged the (often unreliable) memory.
    Football was “banned”, in favour of Rugby, with those of nervous disposition/weak of frame, allowed to run cross- country, instead. The enthusiasm of the PE master, recently retired from the Navy,(Ark Royal), who used nautically themed threats – “If you drop that ball, I’ll tear your arm off and hit you over the head with the soggy end”- for gymnastic excellence, was legendary and he remains the only man I’ve ever seen complete 360 deg rotations on the high bar. Repeatedly. For his own amusement.
    The fragrant Mrs Kinsey had a hated word which she never wanted any of her pupils to use – “Quaint”- but never explained why.
    Geography in 1965 was taught by a Mr Lloyd, who kept a billiard cue in his stationery cupboard for the purpose of attracting the wandering attention of any boy unwise enough to doze, by banging it hard across their desk.
    The previous reference to Mrs Davies (Paul Robinson , Nov ’14), is accurate, and she certainly attracted my attention, but unfortunately without my ever grasping the subject of the Periodic Table. In my defence, she was distracting.
    Mike Quinn, the younger, (and unrelated) of the 2 Quinns then teaching, was keen on rugby, and taught Latin. As neither subject appealed to me, he and I didn’t get on, to the point when he announced to the rest of the class one day, that my translation of the Aeneid was pathetic, and I was a “cretin”. I don’t think we ever had a conversation after that new low.
    Mr Sean Fleming- History- was, I recall, a natty dresser, routinely wearing a shirt with a pin through the collar, under his tie. No one else in the school was that “on trend”.
    Mrs Lilley taught “combined science”, to the First years, in a wooden classroom, next to the woodwork room. The mysteries of atmospheric pressure, and the lengths of fulcrums were carefully explained. Perhaps if she had taught Chemistry in Year 2, I would have understood the subject better, than I did with Mrs Davies, but not necessarily have benefited from the experience.
    Mr Hibbert- whose room always seemed to smell of hot horse- hoof glue, owned a Riley saloon (Maroon, from memory), fitted with a steel rod and bar contraption secured to the chrome rear bumper, which served the purpose of a tow bar, for taking the school’s sailing club dinghy- an Enterprise- to and from Tatton Mere.
    A contemporary of mine, Paul Wear, recently admitted his responsibility to me for inserting a raw potato into the exhaust of a teacher’s car, and then hanging around long enough to watch the drama of the car starting, stopping, the potato being expelled, and the culprit later being identified. I think he was punished, and later left the school after the second year. He retires from professional life later this year.
    I can clearly recall the assembly we had after the death of Winston Churchill was announced, the first visit and talk by Matt Busby, and the infamous public flogging , on the stage, in front of the entire school, of two of my classmates for their repeated crimes of smoking near the bike shed, As an anti smoking lesson, it certainly made on impact on them, and definitely on me.

  11. Quite wonderful to meet up with all the short biographies of chaps I may not have known but my experiences at St Ambrose’s until I left in June 1955 were generally very happy. Particularly, joining the first Chemistry class, in one of the new external buildings to take an excess of students in the early 1950’s. That super Rugby player + English plus other subjects teacher: the Brother Ryan, created an environment very, very, conducive to science studies and personal development. I’m only sorry that other science subjects, such as Physics and Biology were not available at that time. Very sad really as I followed a science based career to begin with and had to study my Physics at home.
    The Father Ambrose Murphy (Peter Murph, my classmate), who conducted my marriage to Maureen my Wife on 13th July 1963, was a good friend & helped to give a grand start to our great lifelong marriage, and if anyone knows where here is I would love to have his contact details? Thank you, for this opportunity to make contact.

    • Good to read Kenneth’s comments. I was in the same class, doing O Levels in 1955. I too remember being in that first class to sit Chemistry. But in addition Brother Ryan gave me one-to-one tuition in Physics in that year, even though it was not on the syllabus, to enable me to sit (and pass) the subject at O Level. (As the school did not then have a sixth form, I then spent three years at Prior Park doing A & S level Maths,Physicsand Chemistry.) Others I remember from that final year at Ambrose were my very good friend John Redmond (R.I.P.), Jim Hall, Eddie Waterson, Peter Murphy, Freddy Bell, Brian Hockenhull, John Grensinger, Conrad Nelstrop, Nicholas Warburton, David Rebbitt, David Moon, John Smart and Celestin Cikomski. Bro. Phelan was headmaster. I started in 1948 in Prep. B, and spent the first three years in the old Billiard room at Woodeaves, where Preps B, A and Form 1 were all housed in the one room, and taught by the one teacher! Being with two older classes, I remember some of the names such as Michael Hardiman, Michael Etherington, Julian and Adrian Wontner. A couple of my early classmates were Denis Dooley and Michael Keegan. Teachers I remember well were Bro. Ryan, a brillliant and versatile teacher, Bro. Lennon (a fantastic Maths teacher), Bro. Alllen (my first French teacher), Bro. Quirke (who sparked my interest in Australia) and Malachy Glyn (the Latin teacher, who got me through O Level). I cycled to school most of the time and remember the historic building (now sadly gone) we used as a bike shed opposite the “manor house”. I had a very happy time at the school, and am very grateful for the educational foundation provided by the ICBs. I moved to Australia with my wife and three children in 1975, have six grandchildren, and retired last year. A month ago, I caught with another Old Ambrosian, John Hogan, who was visiting Melbourne.

  12. Enjoyed a couple of years in St Ambrose before ’emigrating’ to Ireland in the early 70’s (73).
    Loved the fact that my Woodwork teacher was Mr. Mallet and will always bemoan the fact that it was Physics (and not Biology) that was taught by Mr.Cartilage.
    Biology was of course one of the all time greats Mr Wilkinson – or Sam as he was affectionately known. He also introduced me to Drama, and I recall some fun classes in both subjects .
    Vaguely recall German Teacher – Possibly Mr Heneghan? but struggling to remember many others..
    Managed to avoid Rugby for a year – but was then press-ganged into it by Pete Riley – who at some time over the next year or so introduced the ‘professional code’ into the game, by handing out ‘cash’ rewards for the MVP after games! Sixpence I think! ..
    Kept in touch with Pete via mail for a spell as he wended his way into the Rugby League ranks if I’m not mistaken .. we compared Rugby achievements for a spell ,, then lost touch back in the late 70s.
    Also remember attending youth club / disco in Loreto .. where I was treated to the *’fab four’ performing the same carefully choreographed dance moves .. (to every song) .. but mostly Slade?!
    *Mark G; Chris M; Brendan C; Dave W
    Funny what you remember!

  13. Hi. You may be interested to know that I did take over the Sailing Club from Mr Hilbert, when he retried in 83. I support the Sailing Club while living in the Area and support the weekends at Taten which was arranged by the Cheshire Schools Sailing Club. They still lets us in even though we were classed as Trafford. I left the area in 85 sadly. But I did enjoy spending time with the guys who wanted to learn how to sail.

  14. Where are all my contemporaries from my formative years at St Ambrose during the mid and late 60s?
    There are no “ Memories” posts newer than Oct 2018. Those who were pupils 50 plus years ago might have lost their hair, and gained a bit of weight, but surely have retained their faculties!
    Admittedly I do struggle to remember their names ( and most only by their surnames, as was the custom then), but where are the following?
    Paul Ransome
    Bill Blackledge
    Ian Richardson
    Terry Carr
    Chris Gilvray
    Mike Reeve
    Phil Fleming
    Peter Blyth
    Paul Adamski
    Paul Willan
    I very nearly met by chance a contemporary of mine, Paul Strelezki(??), at the Southampton Boat Show 3 years ago, but missed him by minutes. I think he has retired now.
    If anyone recognises themselves, or knows the above, I’d love to hear how they are, having not seen any of them for the last 50 years.

  15. I am the son of Mr Calder ,the infamous ex Royal Navy PT teacher of the 1960’s
    He fondly spoke of his time at St Ambrose explaining that it was his motive to return to university to obtain a full teachers qualification.
    He later achieved the status of headmaster of a small school in his native North East of Scotland.
    Unfortunately,despite being exceptionally fit, he died at the early age of only 44.
    I would be extremely interested in hearing from any pupils/teachers or others who may have come across him during his time at SAC.
    In particular would anyone know of the whereabouts of Richard Beckett .He was in Mr Calders gymnastic club and won several awards during his time at SAC ( he was ca 17 years in 1968)
    Best regards
    Alan Calder

    • Alan, I remember Mr. Calder!
      He was PE teacher when I was in form 1O (Form master Brother Owens) in 1966, and possibly when I was in 2M (Form master Mr. McCammon “Mackers”). I believe that he departed in 1967.
      Mr. Calder was strict, and he expected all pupils to arrive on time, to line up without talking, and to be wearing proper singlet, shorts and crepe-soled gym shoes. He did not accept excuses, and he brooked no cheek or disobedience. On one occasion, our entire class was punished for not promptly coming to silence: we had to line up about 2 m apart, with our arms fully extended to each side, while Mr. Calder prowled with a gym shoe in his hand, warning us to keep those arms horizontal. It was easy at first, but as the seconds ticked away, my arm muscles soon started to protest. I don’t think that he applied his shoe to anyone – but I never forgot that lesson.
      My favourite gym lesson was the legendary chase game he called “pirates”, in which most of the gym equipment was set up to form a circuit, and all us boys had to scramble to evade being tagged or touching the floor. Similar to British Bulldog, but played high on the climbing frames. A delightfully exciting game, which (probably for reasons of safety) he allowed our class to play only once.
      I remember Mr. Calder as an athletic, wiry man with an intense personality. He spoke clearly and concisely, and could project his voice without shouting. He was patient with those who tried. He often demonstrated on the vaulting horse or the parallel bars before assigning our lesson. To this little 11-year-old boy, his athletic skill was amazing.

  16. Dear Mr Calder,
    I’m pretty sure I was in Form 1,O, Brother Owen’s form, in what was then a newly built 2 storey high school extension, when your father, ex RN, first joined the school, teaching PE., in 1964.
    I remember him well!
    PE lessons that first and later term were “ rigorous”, to say the least, with very clear, unambiguous direction from your father as to the completeness and cleanliness of kit, even before the lesson started.
    The showers were rarely reliable for hot water supply, but any complaints about temperature post lesson were swiftly rebutted, with a salty expression
    His own“ working out” sessions between lessons, in the hall on the rings, parallel bars and horse were impressive enough to attract attention from boys waiting for the start of the lesson, or during lunch break.
    I remember in particular his skill in holding position for a sustained period, performing what I think was called the “ crucifix”, on the rings.
    Those boys who were physically not “ rugby material”, me included, were designated cross country runners. The same gym shoes worn earlier in the week for PE, for which they had to be re- whitened to pass his inspection, were pressed into service running through the Autumn and Spring terms , as running shoes, negotiating a mix of pavements, before descending to the Bollin valley where it was particularly muddy, and then back across Hale Golf course, onto pavements again, before returning to the school.
    Athletics on the larger of the two fields were rigorously supervised by Mr Calder, comprising the 100 yards track laid out closest to the school buildings, and incorporated into the 440 yard oval. The long jump was laid out close behind the bike shed, and parallel to the short drive off the main road.
    Personal times/ distances were recorded and heats run , but I cannot remember any outcome such as “ Fastest 880 yd , Form 3, “ etc, or “Longest long jump under 14“.
    I cannot recall any “ training” as such, nor encouragement to do better. But I can remember withering criticism of wimpy performance in both PE, and running in particular, but perhaps that was a reflection of my lack of ability, rather than directed at boys generally.
    Taciturn would be a good description of Mr Calder. I cannot recall him ever engaging in small talk, nor of him being amused by our skills or antics.
    Those who ignored his instructions repeatedly, and there were quite a few, who thought that his demeanour was bluster, did experience his enforcement from time to time, comprising an old , very large, gym shoe. In a school which used a leather strap for punishment, this was an unusual variation. I have to say I only saw evidence of Mr Calder’s gym shoe use very rarely, as his reputation for no nonsense quickly grew.
    I remember one of his gruesome threats dished out fairly regularly:
    “ If you don’t stop….., I’ll tear your arm off, and hit you over the head with the soggy end”. I never saw this threat executed, but neither did I see anyone prepared to test its validity!
    The fact that I can remember all this more than 50 years after I last saw him, is, I think, a testament to the high regard and respect I had for him, (and others), during my time at St Ambrose, and which I’m confident was, and is, shared by my contemporaries.
    Michael Davy
    August 2020

  17. I sent a letter to Mr Calder Jnr, with my recollections of his late father, but it doesn’t seem to have been passed on. Has it been overlooked, inadvertently please? I would hope that my memories will be of some interest to MrCalder despite the memories being more than 50 yrs old!

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