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News > Alumni News > Ghosts from the past, and Bernard Pickup springs a surprise

Ghosts from the past, and Bernard Pickup springs a surprise

Drama at Oswestry School dating back to 1961 was revealed in a six page letter, misplaced for over six decades, as we sat down for a recent lunch at our latest gathering of Old Boys in Selattyn.


1950's OOs

For many years now our small Band of Old Oswestrian Brothers and wives have been meeting regularly for Sunday lunch, and what began as a group of eight has steadily grown in popularity and, at times, upwards of thirty attendees have enjoyed the bonhomie of the occasion. 

Latterly we have tended to restrict our numbers to around twenty in order to retain the sense of intimacy of the gathering. The simple format of sharing good food, wine, and reminiscences from deep in the past is the blend that gels the group together, and our recent return to The Docks in Selattyn proved to be no exception, and was full of surprises. 

Preparing for lunch at The Docks.

Glasses were raised to our friends, Bruce and Sandie Morgan, John and Doreen Robbie, and Tony Hughes, all of whom were confined to home owing to illness, and we wish them a speedy recovery.

In the meantime, and quite by coincidence, hot on the heels of Archive Open Day at School, several items of special interest have emerged from deep in the past in the form of original newspaper cuttings, letters, and even an edition of The Oswestrian magazine, dated April 1921, produced at that time under the new editorship of Mr Head, a Master at Oswestry.

The Oswestrian, April 1921.


 In it he makes special mention of R Williamson, MA, who had arrived as Headmaster just a year earlier from Hereford Cathedral School, bringing with him DGW Felton and other teachers. He goes on to say in his editorial that great progress had already been made at Oswestry School following Williamson's arrival at the helm, which augured well for the future.

How prophetic this turned out to be as, with the benefit of hindsight, it is now plain to see that R Williamson' s thirty-eight year shrewd stewardship steered Oswestry School, with its falling numbers of pupils, out of choppy waters following World War One, through yet more World conflict from 1939-45, and he even managed to tame my bunch of unruly classmates in the fifties!

As a matter of interest, the photograph below shows 1933 images of Major DGW Felton, back row, 2nd from left, and Headmaster Williamson, back row, far right, looking very different from the Masters I remember from the 1950s. By the time I arrived at school in 1952 Duncan Felton had dropped the 'Major' from his title, and anyway, we all knew him affectionately as 'Fatty'.

Speech Day, 21 July, 1933.

Copies of a large number of cuttings taken from the Border County Advertizer by John Robbie's father during the 1950s were laid out for all to peruse at leisure, and I must thank John Robbie for letting us have sight of them. More than 60 photographs are contained within the pages of newspaper cuttings, adding interest to various topics, and I will expand on them in a future article as there are too many to cover here.  

There are, however, just a couple of sport-related stories I would like to feature as they involved some of us here in Selattyn.

My eye was drawn to two particular Press reports from circa 1954 as they involved John Robbie, George Roberts-Jones, Bernard, and myself. The first one, headlined Battle of Schools, describing Senior and Junior cricket matches against our arch-enemy, The Boys' High School, completely escapes my memory, but the Junior scorecard tells me that I managed to take 7 wickets for 17 runs, with George helping me dismiss their top-scoring batsman.

Better still, whilst all around him our batsmen, including myself, were collecting DUCKS like they were the last ones in the shop, my brother Bernard carried his bat for a magnificent innings of 35 not-out, thereby single-handedly surpassing the Boys' High School total of 31. John Robbie is pictured here, back row, far right in the winning Senior First Eleven team; a satisfying clean sweep for Oswestry School.

Junior scorecard.

Senior team.

I do remember the match mentioned below, another one versus 'the Cabbages' termed the Local Derby, as it was my first appearance in the Senior football team as a very young teenager playing outside right, with John Robbie on the left flank. Unfortunately the result did not go our way.

D Pickup, front far left, J Robbie, front far right.

Just over six decades ago, and penned in Sept of 1961, the year after we left Oswestry, my brother and I received a long letter from a boy at school outlining the drama, in graphic detail, of the events and widespread destruction of school property leading up to the resignation of the Headmaster of the time.

The letter, which had been mislaid during all those intervening years, suddenly turned up out of the blue in pristine condition, and our Band of Brothers were treated to its contents by my brother. In the photograph below Bernard looks on in amusement as memories come flooding back for two ex-School House boarders who remember the turmoil.

Bernard Pickup, Roger Morgan, and Douglas Jones.


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