Archive for February, 2015

Teaching at the Dean School, Alresford

The following account is provided by Chris Pines, who remembers his four years teaching the Juniors at the Dean School in Alresford, from 1968-73. Chris writes:

“My first teaching post, back in 1968, was in New Alresford Junior School, in The Dean – half way down the road on the right, just after the caravan park. It was an old, 1887-built, flint and brick building, with a tarmac playground at the front of the school, and two huge beech trees, with a small grass area at the rear which also housed two huts, the outside toilets and the caretaker’s store and coal room. Just before I arrived, the infants’ classes had moved out, and were established in a brand new school building on Sun Hill Lane.

I arrived in 1968, and stayed for four years, joining – among others – the headmaster Ron Longley, deputy head Arthur Hodkin, and teachers Lionel Ginsburg, Grace Strong and Cathy Phillips. My feeling is that a lot of time was spent preparing the children for the eleven plus, and a strong “them and us” feeling was present – that may just have been my view though. My memory says that during the first year there, I caught the train from Winchester to Alresford every day, but after the railway closed, I then used the bus, going along the old Winchester road.

The building was well past its sell-by date even in the 1960s. In the winter the boys’ toilets froze up (they were in an outside building) and this produced no end of inventive solutions, which included the use of buckets of hot water etc.

A picture of the school from the www.alresfordheritage.co.uk website, which is from a Hampshire Chronicle newspaper article around the time of closure of the Dean School: Chris Pines thinks the fugure guiding the children across the road would be Mr

A picture of the school from the http://www.alresfordheritage.co.uk website, which is from a Hampshire Chronicle newspaper article around the time of closure of the Dean School: Chris Pines thinks the fugure guiding the children across the road would be the deputy head, Mr Hodkin 

My classroom was in the main building, and was a long high-ceilinged room with windows way above our heads. The children sat at old beech desks, in front of the teacher’s high desk: there was a coal burner stove with a rail around, and this always smelt of sour milk. This came from the children’s one third of a pint milk bottles, which were lined up around the fire to warm them up, for those children who liked it that way: these were then issued by the milk monitors at morning break. Several times each winter, especially in October/November, we had a minor flood when it rained – from a little outside passage surrounded by walls, where the drain regularly blocked up with fallen leaves. My job would be to take a long stick and poke away at the drain cover until the water ran away freely.

At the back of the main building, and on the rising ground, were the huts – and a small field of grass, which was used for breaks and lunch-breaks. There we buried my first class “pet” – a guinea-pig which somehow escaped from its cage one night and stuffed itself into its jar of food, where it ate itself to death. For months after the small grave was marked by little crosses that the children made from lollipop sticks and shiny sweet wrappers.

Games and sports were held in a field that seemed to be half way across the town – the trek there reduced the time we had for sports by half every afternoon! But, during the summer term we were able to take nature walks along the river path – going not quite as far as the eel-house in one direction or the swimming pool in the other, but it was always a pleasure to go past the beautiful Fulling Mill, set straddling the main river flow.

Many of the children attending The Dean came from smaller villages such as Old Alresford, Kilmeston, Beauworth, Bishop’s Sutton – so were always a wide mix of experiences and local farming backgrounds – including at least one lad whose main diet seemed to consist of whatever was in season on the farm where his Dad worked. Several of the children had special traditional skills and commitments – every year in July several of the older boys disappeared for what seemed like a long weekend, which coincided with the Alresford Sheep Fair – my guess is they were earning a few shillings helping out.

Although this was over 40 years ago, I still occasionally bump into some of the children I taught then, and have followed their (sometimes glowing) careers with interest.”

Editor’s comment:

Chris Pines went on to teach at the Winnall Primary in Winchester, where he says he spent many happy years: he also became a local City Councillor, and then eventually a Mayor of Winchester (apparently number 808!). Chris still lives in St Cross.

From Chris’s comments, one of the fascinating aspects of teaching in one area over many years, appears to be seeing how the children grow up and develop in later years, and then even teaching their children! One young lady he taught at the Dean School in Alresford, Carol, had three children who went through his classes in Winnall: similarly a young man, Clive, from the Dean School in Alresford, later became a City Councillor in Winchester, and sent his own four children to Chris’s school in Winnall. Some of Chris’s students have developed along previously unexpected lines – one runs an Art Shop, and another developed to be a well-known film star!

A further comment comes from Godfrey Andrews, still living in Alresford, and a member of the Facebook Group “I went to the Dean School, Alresford”, which regrettably only has 12 members currently. Perhaps I should say that I asked Godfrey to comment particularly on the children’s toilets at the Dean School, as I had heard rumours! He comments:

I do remember the school toilets, oh so well! They stood on their own in the small yard at the rear of the old school building. If you needed the toilet during school time you had to face the humiliation of putting your hand up in front of the whole class, to request a toilet visit and then face the further humiliation, as the teacher would issue you with the regulation ‘three sheets of toilet paper’.

I also remember one playtime when it was raining heavily and water was gushing down from a broken drain pipe in the boys’ urinal, and my friend Roger and myself were stood under the full force of the water, getting absolutely soaked. When we were caught by one of the dinner ladies, Mrs Cox, we were instantly sent to the headmistress’s office, to be punished: which meant to receive the cane. We hadn’t expected that, as Mrs Cox was actually Roger’s mother!

Sun Hill Schools:

Your Editor moved to Alresford in 1981, and my son, also called Nick Denbow, went to the Sun Hill Infants School, when Mr Longley was Headmaster there: he enjoyed being taught by Grace Strong, who Chris Pines says has now retired. If anyone else has memories of the Dean or Sun Hill Schools they want to add here, please send them in, either via the NATT website, or direct to nick@nickdenbow.com.

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The Winchester Riot of 1908

Audrey Chalk has provided some postcards and information about the Winchester Riot of 1908: the story was told in a report published under the header “Snapshots of the Past” by the Hampshire Chronicle.

This report focused on Joe Dumper, who was the leader of this riot: “Some said he was an anarchist and rabble-rouser, others that he was a God-fearing Englishman acting in a noble and self-less cause.”

Whichever was true, Joe (Joseph) Dumper was the heartbeat of The Great Winchester Gun Riot of May 1908, when for three days and nights, mobs rampaged through the streets of the normally genteel Cathedral city.

Its cause was trifling enough: for over 50 years a Russian Cannon had stood in the Broadway, at its junction with East Street. Captured at Sebastopol, it was seen as a monument to the Winchester-based Rifle Brigade soldiers who had fought in the Crimean War (1853-1856). To the townspeople, it became a symbolic soapbox, where meetings were held and bands played.

The Winchester Riot crowd, triumphant on top of the gun, with Joe Dumper.

The Winchester Riot crowd, triumphant on top of the gun, pulled from the carriage behind.

In May 1908, anticipating the city’s National Pageant, scheduled for that summer to raise essential finance for the Cathedral’s structural repairs, the Mayor, Alderman Billy Forder, and City Council decided on a face-lift for the gun and carriage, and planned to remove the railings around the gun, to display it better, and to re-gravel the site and re-paint the gun and carriage.

However there were many townspeople who felt that removing the railings would mean the gun would become a ‘nuisance’ with children. A protest meeting was rapidly convened, led by local house painter Joe Dumper. Before a citizens’ petition was considered however, the railings were removed. Another public meeting was held, and quickly got out of control – it turned into a riot. The Rioters used ropes to pull the gun from its carriage, and then embarked on an orgy of destruction, breaking street lamps and windows of shops and homes owned by councillors. Dumper, as ringleader, was carried around the town by a mob several thousand strong. The City Clock, windows and streetlights were smashed. A ‘chariot’, which was to be used in the forthcoming National Pageant, was thrown into the river from the City Bridge. At Wolvesey Palace, they wrecked preparations for the pageant, and one man tried, unsuccessfully, to torch the band-stand.

The gun barrel displaced from the carriage

The gun barrel displaced from the carriage

The disorder was only calmed when more police were brought in, and the ringleaders, including Joe, were enrolled as special constables, and ordered to help restore the peace.

But the people had their victory, marked in the first photo above. [Here the report went wrong, as it was suggested that Joe was the seated figure, centre left. His great great Grandson, Steve Dumper, has sent a picture of Joe, see below!]. Next day, to defuse the crisis, the authorities quickly enrolled the riot leaders as special constables and peace was restored. The gun and its railings were replaced and survived until melted down during the Second World War.

Replacing the cannon onto its cariage

Later, replacing the barrel of the Cannon onto its carriage

Audrey Chalk’s postcard of the crowd, which was said to show Joe Dumper, is embossed with the name Fred Wright, Photographer, of Winchester, just visible at the bottom right corner. The picture below is from another postcard, supplied by Steve Dumper, which shows his Great-great-grandfather Joseph standing on the gun carriage, some time after the riot!

Joseph on the cannon

It seems likely from these photos that the gun carriage was positioned around where the statue of Alfred now stands, before the roundabout was created.

What happened to the gun?

Steve Dumper was able to add some comments about what happened to the gun later. In February 2016, Steve wrote:

Some years ago I obtained from the Hampshire Record Office  a copy of the letter that Joe Dumper sent to Winchester City Council protesting about the removal of the railings from around the Gun and they kindly sent me that together with some other documentation.
Included in that documentation was an “Account of the Winchester Gun Riots (25.05.08)” written by someone with the initials AGW. This account records the fact that the large Russian Gun was acquired in 1857 as a trophy from the Crimean War. It also includes the following comment:-
‘Sadly the great gun – beloved by many generations of Winchester people – was quietly taken away in 1940 to be melted down for munitions of war. So disappeared a cherished part of the Winchester scene.’
There is also mention of the railings (and presumably the gun) being melted down in the Hampshire Chronicle – the article is dated 30 December 1999.
According to ‘Bloody British History – Winchester’, the City Council, mindful of earlier events, approached Joe Dumper before the gun was taken away: his response was “There have been enough arguments. Let them have it.”

Encouraging school projects in local studies

For local schools to encourage students to take up studies of local history, the Arthur Stowell Fund, part of the Alresford Museum, is able to provide support with finance and ideas for suitable projects. Enquiries are encouraged from students or teachers.

Arthur Stowell

Arthur Stowell

Alresford and the local district has been an area that has triggered many local studies, covering topics such as local history, natural history, railways, and rural studies covering watercress, fishing and farming. Local books on the history of the area have come from a Canon at St John’s – some time ago – Canon A.J.Robertson, with “The History of Alresford”, plus Arthur Stowell with “The Story of Alresford, Its Changes and Continuity”. Arthur Stowell also wrote “The Story of Selborne” in 2003, from his rôle as a Trustee of the Gilbert White Museum in Selborne: Gilbert White was perhaps the first person to publish a major local study, 200 years ago, with his “Natural History of Selborne” books.

Arthur Stowell

Arthur Stowell spent his lifetime in education, and in his retirement in Alresford was also involved with the National Trust, the Local Population Studies Society, plus he took part in many “Digs” with the Royal Archaeological Society.  He was keen to pass on his enthusiasm for the study and recording of local history to schoolchildren in the area, and any others who expressed an interest.

Arthur Stowell story of Alresford coverIn order to encourage this, Arthur agreed with the Alresford Historical and Literary Society that the profits from the first publication of his book would be used to create a fund, with the objective to encourage and finance any local Alresford school or educational interest in study projects into the history of the area. This money is held in trust and administered by the New Alresford Town Trust, and ideas for local school study projects are actively being sought.

This search is particularly appropriate as the Alresford Museum, another part of the Town Trust, is now making public a full listing of the collection of documents and artefacts in their possession. The intention is that these documents etc are useful sources, and can be made available for such study projects: it is hoped that any reports or analyses resulting will themselves eventually be added to the Museum archives, or will be published on the associated AlresfordMemories website, to encourage others to build on these research studies.

Alresford Museum papers

The Alresford Museum has a growing collection of documents that would be of interest to anyone looking into local history. From the series of papers in “Alresford Displayed”, published since 1976 by the Alresford Historical and Literary Society, there are many research studies available on town topics. In addition there are more personal local histories, such as “Alresford Remembered…. looking back with pleasure” by Ms A.F.Godwin, published in Alresford by Laurence Oxley in 1996.

Another prolific local history and architecture researcher was Isabel Sanderson, who in her series of ten booklets (published by the Alresford Printing Works) in her retirement, in the period up to 1984, covered the history of many of the local houses and families: these books were called “Dwellings in Alresford”, and each booklet covered about five or six houses. The Alresford Museum has been able to acquire copies of several other manuscripts covering the lives and life stories of some local people, such as the memoirs of Mr Turner, the son of the owner of Turner’s Cycle Shop in Station Road, Alresford: and also the memories of Brian Davis remembering his childhood in Alresford in the WW2 years. In addition the Museum has copies of other accounts and booklets, for example an account describing the history of the Alresford Golf Club, and other records covering the Football Club, the local Fire Service, the Alresford Volunteer Rifles, and more.

Ideas for suitable study projects

Ideas for research studies can be found in the papers presented in Alresford Displayed over the years, and in the Alresford Articles series which now follows the same heritage. With the power of the internet some of the older stories could easily be expanded. Other ideas might be found from the AlresfordMemories website – for example two local people, Jane Bown and Albert Wade, are already described on there: the lives of these people would be interesting topics for further articles. Just in writing this, it has been discovered that Albert Wade designed the cover for Isabel Sanderson’s series of booklets! He also authored definitive historical analyses of the development of the fireplace, and, separately, the WC!

There have also been other famous authors living locally, for example Jane Austen and Nancy Mitford, who drew inspiration from the area: but how did living in this area affect them, and appear in their works? This would be another possible question for a local study. Whilst you may have heard of the Battle of Cheriton, have you heard of the Cheriton Hoard – a treasure of gold and silver coins, found in a buried bucket, between Cheriton and Beauworth?

Other notable local characters include W.H.Hunt, the artist and architect (see his initials on his house on West Street): Alresford has seen many local artists produce water colours of the streams and countryside here. Lawrence Wright is another local architect – some of his 1965 drawings of the Alresford town centre buildings are in the Community Centre, many others are held by the Alresford Museum, and are featured on the museum web pages. Lawrence Wright lived in what is now called “Lawrence Wright Passage”, off West Street: – why does your street have the name that it has – who does that commemorate, and why? A recent story on the AlresfordMemories website described the story behind the “Kingsley Bungalows” on New Farm Road – there is local history all around us!

The Alresford Museum will be delighted to support local school projects or research into suitable topics by providing advice and any materials available (on loan) and by providing financial support for visits or materials to enable further research.

Alresford Museum: www.museum.alresford.org

Alresford Memories: www.AlresfordMemories.Wordpress.com

Contact for further information: clerk@towntrust.org.uk