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Photos of Wigan
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Wigan Album

John Rigby Grammar School, Orrell


Four of the BEST! 1963/64
Four of the BEST! 1963/64
Photo: Frank Pennington
Views: 8,206
Item #: 20668
Brother Hopkins (English); Mr H Lockett (Maths) and Mr S Shepherd (Chemistry);
Mr FW Bethell (French);

Comment by: Josh on 10th May 2012 at 22:28

Shepherd taught me at Wigan Grammar, I certainly wouldn't classify him as one of the best, far from it.

Comment by: Jim Latham on 12th May 2012 at 13:10

Yes, Mr. Shepherd taught 'O' level Chemistry at WGS. Did he teach 'A' level as well? I did my 'A' level with Taffy Griffiths. It's more than 50 years ago now. How time flies.

Comment by: JM on 12th May 2012 at 21:41

Who classified Bro Hopkins as one of the best - he was a brute!

Comment by: Jarvo on 14th May 2012 at 14:42

...Thought it was Ambrose and Gleeson who were the sadists..?

Comment by: Peter Moorcroft on 20th July 2012 at 14:50

Yes, Bro Hopkins was OK, Bro Gleeson was a thug but what about Bro Bailey and his tickling? There are many tales about him

Comment by: David Speakman on 8th April 2015 at 22:41

It was brother Baylor who was the phantom tickler! Ambrose a psycho
And Gleeson took boxing lessons in class! Happy Days! They wouldn't get away with it now.

Comment by: william blakeley on 1st April 2016 at 19:01

Seem to remember Mr Lockett teaching me maths about this time.A young teacher who had patience and understanding.He got me from bottom of class to near top in one year. A brilliant teacher and credit to his profession. Thanks for everything.

Comment by: Tony Birchall on 28th August 2016 at 11:37

By the time I started at John Rigby Brother Baylor had gone! Under a bit of a cloud I was led to believe. Some of the stories that the older boys told about him were incredible at the time. Mr Lockett was the best maths teacher I have ever had - and I used to see him at Wigan games at Central Park. Mr Bethel was so laid back he was almost horizontal and how I passed French I will never know.Used to see him at Wigan games too.Bro Gleeson and Mr Sheppard were nutters. Both knew how to wield the corporal punishment. I still have a scar under my skin from Bro Gleeson's strap!But outside of school and especially when he met my parents he was niceness itself; that used to irritate me. And Bro Hopkins was the best English language teacher ever but always gave the lowest mark for homework - the best he ever gave me was 56% and I got grade 3 in "O" level.

Comment by: Colin Howe on 11th June 2019 at 22:37

I suffered under the so called "Christian" Brothers for years because I also went to the Prep School. They ruined my childhood and I hated the bar stewards and still do. They'd be jailed nowadays for the things they did to the boys. There used to be a garden party every summer at the school and my mother and father told me the headmaster of the Grammar School, Brother Ambrose, was so drunk he had to hold on to the microphone stand as he made a speech to the parents but eventually he fell face first off the stage! My parents were utterly shocked but I wasn't - he was replaced soon afterwards by Brother O'Halloran (who was an academic and not as violent as the rest of them).

Comment by: Frank on 22nd July 2019 at 22:27

Strange how a classification of "one of the best" can be so wide of the mark. From my experience Shepherd was nothing less than a little man and not because he was of short stature. I saw him use his position to belittle and dish out completely uncalled for violent punishment to certain pupils. Today he'd be "moved on" or possibly face legal action - in those far off days he got away with it.

Comment by: Roger Laithwaite on 3rd November 2020 at 14:55

Hated the place with avengeance and especially that poison dwarf Baylor. Not much time for Shepeherd either and his derrogatory comments calling pupils 'born in a field'. Kevin Sharkey, Trevor Ducket and Paul Bagshaw were by far the best of the bunch. My favourite days were when I took the day off and went to Southport for the day to 'escape' that dreadful place.

Comment by: Stephen Kindred on 2nd January 2021 at 03:05

O’Halloran caned me twice,once for not doing my science homework,once for throwing a snowball. I did poorly at John Rigby. I was just too naive and immature to cope with the rigger of grammar school.
I asked him to consider giving me another chance to repeat my exams in 6th form He said he didn’t want’my type’ (quote) in his school. And I wouldn’t add up to much.This from a so called Christian brother.
I’m sure others appreciated him and I’m prepared to accept that all in all he was probably a good person. To me he was cruel, unfair,unChristian .
I taught mathematics in Wigan schools for the best part of 30 years without caning anyone.

Comment by: Paul on 25th February 2021 at 00:29

Scarred for life by that wretched place. Brother Delaney used to refer to me as ‘a beautiful boy’ whilst music teacher Dakin referred to me as ‘an urchin’, Brother Bailor, well, the less said......

Comment by: John byrne on 27th February 2021 at 17:02

I hated rigby,got battered for not knowing pythagoras by bro sullivan , a sadist, I failed all my exams but later on got a degree in Law . There must be loads of lads who were failed by these sexually frustrated sadists.They would be jailed today.Lots of sadistic brutality.k Eldest grandaughter also went there.She didnt like it either.

Comment by: Mike Bamber on 8th May 2021 at 15:26

I stumbled across these posts recently after looking up an obituary for Brother O’Halloran. We both joined the school in 1965. Whilst I do not disagree with anything that has been written, most comments relate to the sadistic members of staff. Perhaps not surprising as those memories are the ones that remain at the forefront of peoples minds. However, the bullies and thugs, those not fit to be teachers (during my time there) could be counted on the fingers of one hand from a staff of around thirty (I would estimate). Discipline was always strict, but I regard that as right and proper. I am sure that the regime kept some pupils on the straight and narrow who would go off the rails in the ‘I know my rights’ society that exists today. There were many talented and enthusiastic members of staff at Blessed John Rigby. If you respected them and worked hard you had no need to fear them. The good ones far outnumbered the bad ones and their contributions should be recognised.

Comment by: Alan Wright on 10th May 2021 at 10:28

I agree with Mike Bamber. There were of course some sadistic members of staff there - Brother Gleeson was probably the most infamous - but there were also decent Christian Brothers as well, such as Brother Thornhill, who possessed that rare quality among the brotherhood: a sense of humour! Other members of staff I remember with fondness were Mr Clayton (Bomber!), Mr Mcmahon (Black Dan), Mr Curran, Mr Bagshaw, Harry Lockett, Frank Balmer. Yes, they were strict but I regard that as a desirable quality in a teacher. I accept that some posters on this thread had a dreadful time at John Rigby; people's memories are inevitably darkened by thuggery, and some of the staff - not just the Brothers - could dish it out with relish. All I can say is that I loved my time at the school and was fortunate enough to receive some quality teaching. I had my fair share of detentions, too - I still shudder when I think of the long trek down Gathurst hill to catch the train in winter after being confined to class and missing the school bus. It was a long way to Hindley in the dark and the snow!

Comment by: Mick Lyons on 10th August 2021 at 20:47

I wasted 4 and a half years at that school after passing my 11+ age 10 I was always in a year older than I should have been , funnily enough the brothers who nobody liked Gleason and Hopkins I got on with I had not time for Bagshaw, Balmer was a bully until he seen Sam Shepard try to take liberties with me after fighting in the dinner hall ,I ended up pasting him with the whole school cheering on Mr Balmer who was watching from a distance kept well away, I spent a short while in a detention centre in 1966 and when I came out I’d only three months to go I was fit as a fiddle strong and the so called bully teachers thought it wise to keep their distance . I met some good lads there who helped make life easier , But I did well for myself had my own business Security for over 35 years employed over 100 men but I would have done that anyway without John Rigbywhere if your face didn’t fit and you didn’t have money they looked n you as second class.
Keep Safe and kind Regards to all the lads I met there
Mick Lyons

Comment by: Peter Hampson on 20th October 2021 at 14:37

It took me less than an hour to realise that I din't belong there. That first morning in 1964 shifted my focus from learning loads of interesting stuff to getting out the other side. It changed my life. I later realised that there was a differantial regime with those kids who had gone to prep school getting more personal attention. Brother Gleeson complimented me twice, once for swimming well and once for the longest, loudest fart he had ever heard. Brother Thornhill liked me as a cricketer and promised to develop me as such. He never saw me play again as he eloped with the mother of another student. I later worked in the High Security Prison Estate for over a quarter of a century and I never encountered the gratuitous violence against children as I did in that place

Comment by: Paul on 19th November 2021 at 19:34

Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with Mike Bamber regarding strictness and discipline being a sound grounding for a good education I cannot however agree that sexual abuse (however mild) which I encountered from a certain Brother was an ideal prerequisite for happy school memories.

Comment by: Paul on 20th November 2021 at 00:25

I thought it quite apt for a former Grammar school pupil to quote the great bard himself ……The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interred with their bones………

Comment by: Roger Harrison on 3rd April 2023 at 07:58

Never mind the brothers what about Joe Wallace who went about his evil work unchecked for years

Comment by: Tom Fowler on 8th April 2023 at 07:45

Oh yes - Joe Wallace - is he still alive - he needs to face justice

Comment by: Bernard Powell on 9th April 2023 at 08:03

Believe it or not I was told that Wallace went on to be a social worker - a very bad individual who preyed on young boys

Comment by: Malcolm Blackhurst on 16th April 2023 at 08:30

How did Joe Wallace of the VI Form manage to get away with his abuse of young first years right under the nose of Head Master Brother O'Halloran - another seedy chapter in the catholic church's history!

Comment by: Andy Price on 29th June 2023 at 16:16

I'd just like five minutes alone with Brother Delaney

Comment by: Brother Delaney on 4th July 2023 at 21:58

Hi Andy fancy a coffee some time?

Comment by: Frank on 31st October 2023 at 14:54

When I posted these photos quite a few years ago, I did not anticipate the extent of the disturbing memories that have been aroused. I have been trying to remember how the photos were produced and I am guessing that they were taken by me(?) and processed in the Dark Room at the back of the Physics Laboratory.
Which reminds me of my time in the Sixth Form, when I had some great laughs with Frank Wardak
(formerly of St Marie’s, Standish) and Jeff Croston (of Wrightington). I would be delighted if they are still enjoying life and, if anyone out there knows what happened to them, please let me know. If at all possible, I would be very pleased to communicate with them and, if possible, meet up for old time’s sake. Frank

Comment by: Jeff Croston on 9th November 2023 at 21:09

Jeff Croston is alive and well living in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. I had a career in the construction industry ending up as CEO at a national housebuilder.
Now just retired and living the dream. I will be leaving soon for Grand Canaria to spend the winter there returning May 2024. Make contact FRank soon.

Comment by: Joe Rigby on 13th December 2023 at 17:56

I think I was there from 1963-70 and did get a few cuffs on the head but I never felt really abused but then I was always the runt of the litter so I kept a low profile. I knocked about with David Gibbons who lived near me and Len Cegielka, David Lowe and Paul Hartley who ended up doing out A Levels early. I did not do so well so went back for another year. I distinctly remember Starting a gardening club and growing tomatoes commercially for some kid who had a stall on Chorley market. Almost got myself beaten by O'Halloran. I auditioned three times for every Gilbert and Sullivan opera and got chucked out for messing about with David Pryle (who ended up having red hair all down his back) Loads of other memories especially Jimmy Baines being escorted from the premises and some guy called Gibson being expelled for doing something in Talbots class.

Comment by: JM on 4th February 2024 at 20:33

Joe Wallace appeared at St Marys College, Twickenham in 1970. (Teacher Training) Not sure how long he lasted because he seemed to spend most of his time at the local Bookies. He was very rarely seen on the college campus.

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