Spirit of Birkenhead Institute

The Visor: Magazine of the Birkenhead Institute, Wirral


Birkenhead Institute Visor

Posted on July 30, 2009 at 3:50 AM

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Reply Phil (Editor)
3:58 AM on July 30, 2009 
Please feel free to add your memories or comments about your time at the B.I. below, or any information relating to "The Visor".
Reply Phil (Editor)
4:40 AM on August 11, 2009 
Many thanks to Ben Johnson and Bob Johnson, former B.I. pupils, for contacting the site. Ben has kindly offered to add some memories and stories, which I hope to add to this site shortly.
Reply Paul Crockford
2:08 AM on September 20, 2009 
I went to B.I.from 1965/70.I can still remember the holes in the sandstone building that the pupils had dug out with pennies.I was in Westminster house and my housemaster was the woodwork teacher "Yosser Hughes".Like all new pupils I had to suffer "Peb" the music master and his choir.I greatly appreciated the sports master "Big Bill Edgar" who taught me to play rugby,I captained the "Chicks" going to away matches on a Crossville bus,complete with school cap on!!!! I have many more memories,too many to summarise here.I have most of my rugby fixture cards
plus the school photo taken in 1965 when I was a first year (newt)
Reply Phil (Editor)
11:30 AM on September 20, 2009 
Many thanks to Paul Crockford for some excellent memories. If you have any more, please email them to me at:- [email protected]
Reply Graham Vahey (1945-50)
5:16 PM on September 22, 2009 
Influences: 1. Alf Morris for his beautiful playing of Chopin during lunch hour in the Junior School building. I have a lifelong love of music now, particularly of Chopin.
2. Middle distance running from the Playing Fields down muddy Landican Lane via Little Storeton village landed me up running for Port Sunlight Athletic Club and later for Southern Command in the Army - not that I was any good at it, but I loved it.
3. Thanks to 'Johnny P' (John Paris), my Form Master and English Master as he gave me a great love of language, grammar and of literature, which is still with me today.
4. Thanks to 'Nancy Price' (Miss Price), Art Teacher. She gave me a great love of art, which remains today.
5. Thanks also to Len Malcolm - a former old boy who returned to teach when I was there. He coached me to take an interest in Physics, which I had discounted as it involved Maths. He taught me how to appreciate it another way, which is why in my country of Scotland it is called Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University.
Reply Phil (Editor)
4:11 AM on September 23, 2009 
Graham, Many thanks for your memories and for the people who influenced you at the B.I.. It is really good to hear so many positive thoughts about the excellent staff at the school.
Reply [email protected]
4:45 AM on September 23, 2009 
Phil (Editor) says...
Graham, Many thanks for your memories and for the people who influenced you at the B.I.. It is really good to hear so many positive thoughts about the excellent staff at the school.
Reply [email protected]
4:47 AM on September 23, 2009 
Thanks Phil. Just as the war ended and the 'working classes' as the Klon called us, were allowed to be educated for free, I recall his surprising prejudice and his impersonal attitude to 'those boys.' He was a role model for me of how not to be like when I grew up. Nonetheless, he ran a good school overall.
Reply Phil (Editor)
4:11 AM on September 24, 2009 
Graham, Thanks again for the information about "The Klon". I had heard he was a fearsome character, and I hadn't realised that he had such prejudices. However, he seemed to have run the school well, despite these, but I am glad that you learned not to be his role model in later life.
[email protected] says...
Thanks Phil. Just as the war ended and the 'working classes' as the Klon called us, were allowed to be educated for free, I recall his surprising prejudice and his impersonal attitude to 'those boys.' He was a role model for me of how not to be like when I grew up. Nonetheless, he ran a good school overall.
Reply Phil (Editor)
4:39 AM on September 28, 2009 
The BIOB ANNUAL DINNER, 2009, will be held at Caldy Golf Club on 2nd October, 2009. Harry Burkett organises an excellent evening, so please contact him if you would like to attend, via the BIOB page on the main web site. (www.freewebs.com/birkenheadinstitute/). Tickets are 25 pounds, and it is a very enjoyable evening.
Reply Phil (Editor)
5:30 AM on November 27, 2009 
Reply Phil (Editor)
7:17 AM on January 15, 2010 
I would like to wish all former B.I. staff and pupils a Very Happy 2010. Please continue to send in your photos and memories via email to:- [email protected]
Reply m.branscombe
8:07 PM on January 24, 2010 
Only later do you reflect on times gone by and thinking back today i have fond memories of BI.
I,like paul was in westminster house and started in 2set 2 and working my way through my teenage years ended up in 51set 1.
teachers i remember were

mrs tomlinson (titty) ..english.... lang was ok but could never get interested in lit think she ended up a JP
nogger nigel morris (latin) everyone new him! and his mr pike (size 10 plimsole )
sammy denerly (head )
billy edgar very tall imposing fella
citrine (citro) took french lessons
mc hugh (maths)
(frothy) turner
wilco williams (geography .. I always remember he used to spin his keys on his finger walking along the glass corridors )

My thanks to all above and many more that i cant remember right now
i will have to dig out my end of year results to jog the memory .
Reply Phil (Editor)
3:54 AM on January 25, 2010 
Thanks, Mr Brancombe for all you memories. If you can find any more, I would be pleased to read them. Also, if you have any photos from your days at the B.I., please send them in to : [email protected]
Reply Neil Tudor
10:40 AM on April 5, 2010 
I was at the school from 1972 till 1979, (sixth form too) I have just signed up as a member.. I now live on the corner of Tollemache and Upton Rd.. and look out over at housing estate that the school used to be! very sad.
Im also saddened that in all my time at the school... not one school photograph was ever taken !! during the 70's the old tradition seemed to just die!! as do most traditions in the end!

I loved my time at the school.. and was lucky to be there in the period just before it all seemed to "go downhill".. I often bumped into the teachers in the three or 4 yrs after I left.. in particularly Brian Bowker (may he rest in peace) who bemoaned the fact that standards, and the behaviour of pupils had dropped alarmingly !! ... anyway... glad to see there is a site thats still actively recalling the school in both its grammar and comprehensive forms!
Reply Phil (Editor)
3:54 AM on April 6, 2010 
Hi, Neil,
Many thanks for joinig my site and also for all your comments about the B.I. when you were a pupil there. It was sad to hear about how the standards dropped prior to the school closing. This is particularly sad because the school was so exceptional in its heyday, and it should have been kept open and improved.
I can only hope that the new Academy being opened on Wirral shortly will echo some of the good traditions that the B.I. used to offer. Please drop me an email sometime if you have any more memories, and I shall ensure they are added to the site. As you say, it is memories which help to keep the spirit of the school alive!
email: [email protected]
Reply Neil T
7:04 AM on April 6, 2010 
Here is a list of the teachers I recall during my tenure as a pupil from 72 through to 79 inc (I have placed an asterisk against the names of those that actually taught me at some point

Sam Dennerly.. Headteacher... was feared and respected in equal measure as he stalked the corridors in his black gown.
Bill Edgar... Was again feared due to his imposing stature

"Lenny" Malcolm .. again a slightly feared gentleman.. when viewed through childish eyes, I bumped into him in Claughton Village a couple years ago, and we started chatting... a finer chap you couldnt meet and it was clear to see the pride he still had in the old school (I suspect mainly for the "grammar" years)
Mrs Tomlinson * .. History.. wasmy "form" teacher for registration in year 2 (my first year)
Stevie Wilkinson * Geography.. and football team manager on several occasions when I was there... inc 6th form.. I was always a good footballer..and was team captain and Merseyside schools player too..and it created a bond with the sports teachers:
Wynn Hughes* maths and sports
Brian Bowker * sports.. a fab guy... who i heard died tragically young, about 8 years ago? ..RIP Sir !!
Ted Croker* sports
Taffy Evans * French.. quite an eccentric guy.. prone to outbursts of controlled "anger" directed at pupils... in the days when neither pupil or parent made much of it really !! ..
Art duo.. Keith Davies and Dave Jones*... I took Art to sixth form level.. and was one of only 2 pupils that did.. so I got to know them both quite well... great guys and laid back as art teachers invariably are !! ..
Mrs Pritchard..who became Keith Davies wife... taught pottery amongst other things... was always "fancied" by the boys there!!
Mr Allen* English
Joey Topping* English.. was instumental in orgnising trips to see plays and theatre all over the country..
Mr Gardiner* Maths.... but only there for a couple years
Mrs Smalley * Religious Education !!
"Dinky" Dollard (due to his small stature) Chemistry
"Windy" Miller * Chemistry
Mr Howarth* Biology
Mr Murphy (year master)
Woodwork... a guy whose name has been lost to me... but his catchphrase was "gather round the bench" ... he too was prone to a bit of superficial violence to errant pupils.. much to the mirth of others !!!
Im sure i will think of others.. when I do.. i will post up... now i need to seek out my "cohen house tie.. I will photograph it and post it up

There were never many female teachers... I seem to recall a Mrs or miss Grice.. who was a bit of a babe!! but that was rare.
Reply Phil (Editor)
4:05 AM on April 7, 2010 
Neil, Many, many thanks for all of your memories of the BI teachers whom you remember. I have added your memories to the Pupils' web site area, so everyone can view these. It would be good to see your Cohen tie, as this house was only created after the school moved from Whetstone Lane. I recall many of the teachers you mention too, especially Len Malcolm, who many former pupils have called "Mr B.I.", because he went to school there and later taught for many years. He is an excellent teacher, and loved the Grammar School in Whetstone Lane.
Best Regards, and please keep sending in any more memories!
Reply Dave Morgan
3:24 PM on November 12, 2010 
I was a pupil from 53 to 58 and enjoyed my time there - after the initial year ! Our form teacher was Dickie Richards who had great repartee with his class. My thanks go to Willie Whoo - the history teacher who would walk around with a wooden club and occasionally throw it at pupils who wernt paying attention .Quite a few teachers would throw the board-duster -couldnt get away with it to-day - but mores the pity ! I never forgot the History lessons which have been a great help to me all my life !
Reply Phil (Editor)
6:42 AM on November 13, 2010 
[Dave Morgan]
Hi, Dave, and many thanks for your memories and the board duster throwing, which I certainly remember several teachers doing to miscreant pupils! If you have any more memories, I'd be very pleased to read them. Phil