Updated 19 Jan 2009
Retford Grammar School
by Roy Cordall
Roy Cordall was at Retford Grammar School from 1942-49.
He very kindly supplied the webmaster with copies of The
Retfordian July 1947 - July 1950 (scanned) and his Higher School
Certificate exam papers 1949 (some of which have been scanned).
Roy also sent the description of school life below, and the
Having come from a non-academic background, I've always considered myself
fortunate to have had a Grammar School education and to have been a pupil
at G.G.S. from Sept 1942 to July 1949. My memories of school life are now
very fragmented - I achieved a School Certificate in 1947 but failed my
Higher School Certificate in 1949. I enclose my exam papers should you wish
to archive them. I played cricket for Edward House and the School
(encouraged by my grandfather as my father was a serving soldier) and
continued playing (as an average performer) until my early 40's.
After the war, various inter-school rivalries were renewed and we played
cricket against Mansfield Queen Elizabeth, Mansfield Brunts, Newark Magnus,
Lincoln Grammar, Sheffield Woodhouse and Scunthorpe Grammar and a variety
of adult teams including Danehill Training College, Firbeck Colliery,
Retford Wednesday, Barnby Moor, Wiseton and Retford NALGO.
Wartime schooling was difficult - for a period we shared our days with
Yarmouth scholars who had been evacuated to the area, involving a shift
system and limited timetable. Air-raid warnings resulted in more
interruptions with the occasional need to sit in almost complete darkness
in the shelters whilst declining French verbs!
To the best of my recollection the Gym was never used whilst I was at
school, other than for non-gymnastic activities. Obesity wasn't a wartime
problem - I cycled to and from school as did many other Retford lads.
The Worksop area lads came in by train and those from elsewhere used buses
where necesary. I have no recollection of a School Dinner Service - there
was a nearby 'British Restaurant' for those who could afford it but many
brought sandwiches. The School Magazine of July 1947 includes the comment
"the School Canteen, like the Nation's Post War Recovery, grows by fits and
starts, but at long last seems nearly ready"
The Post-War 'Retfordians' have, as a title page, a photograph of the School
Porch, taken from the road. Each time I look at this photo, I am reminded
that the iron railings to the right of the gate remain in existence whilst
those to the left were removed when the Government ordered they were to be
used to sustain the war effort (in 1941?). Those to the right were 'saved'
when it was found that the ironwork was totally unsuitable for its intended
The 1947 panoramic photograph which has triggered so many memories for me
also prompted a re-reading of The Retfordians in my possession, especially
the July 1947 issue which reflected on the worst weather of my 16 year old
life - the great blizzards with ten weeks of unbroken frost and deep
snowdrifts followed by severe flooding which effectively separated East from
West Retford. What I now do not recall is whether it prevented me from
going to school at any time! Perhaps one of your readers may have the answer.
Please thank David for his contributions - whilst we were never friends
as such, we are, at the very least, Old Boys.
Roy Cordall of Nottingham.
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