Did you go to Sea Mills School in the 1950’s?

Do you fancy getting in touch with your old classmates?

I was contacted by two lovely gents, Ian and Richard who have been organising get togethers of their classmates who attended Sea Mills School in the 1950’s. 

Contact us if you would like to be put in touch with them.

Ian has sent us a brief history of the group. 


In the long past days of friends reunited you were able to put in your name and school and connect with others you knew on this site. Several of us had passed the 11 plus and attended Ashton Park (a new school at the time so looking for pupils to fill it ) so contact and friendships had continued for an additional four years. A few of us had just made a hello contact but out of the blue came a note from Liz that an article had appeared in the local Keynsham paper that Mr Ellison was still doing well and was a volunteer with the local help to read group for partially sighted.

After a few enquiries Liz managed to obtain contact details which lead to a flurry of communication and the idea to meet up, combined with other events of the junior school redesign and refurbishment

November 2012, several of us with Mr Ellison were able to meet up at Sea Mills school. This was followed a few months later with a lunchtime reunion at the Lamplighters

The next milestone turned out to be  Mr Ellisons 90th birthday and we were all able to take the  opportunity  to celebrate at the Bushmill Near Keynsham.

We would love to collect more information about the school from all times in it’s history for these pages. We will add anything else we get that relates to the 1950’s to this page.

A lesson at the school, featuring: L-R Chris Steven, Rob Kelly, Penny Wiltshire? Ian Robbins, Liz Lewis, ?

16 Replies to “Did you go to Sea Mills School in the 1950’s?”

  1. I attended Sea Mills infants and Juniors. The latter about 1950/51. l then went to Fairfield Grammar School. My teachers .were Mrs Crooke , Miss Cook and Mrs Hayward. I have a photograph of my last year class mates. I loved my years there.

    1. Hi Marion’
      I remember you well and recall we were in the same class at Sea Mills and certainly remember all the teachers you mentioned . I recall a Mr Biggs who I think was Headmaster. Would love to see the photo
      (I think !!) ) and frighteningly I do recall we were the two eldest in the class
      Trust you are keeping well.
      Mervyn Bridgwater (Tickenhan)

  2. I attended Sea Mills Infants and Juniors from 1950. Whilst I enjoyed my time there, my memories of the education provision are not good. I recall that pupils were streamed very early on in the school and from there, once placed in a stream, there was little opportunity to make any upward academic progress . As was often the case the best staff taught the A and B streams and the C stream were pretty much left to their own devices, with teachers who had very poor self esteem, and little imagination or interest in their charges. If inspirational teaching were also streamed, then our staff were most definitely in the C stream. I remember being constantly left to get on with shat ever was written on the black board, while the teacher went off for a fag in the playground. On one occasion while we were left, the class ran riot and whilst chasing someone out the door, put her hand straight through the glass pain, cutting her wrist badly, leaving myself and others in shock as she turned with blood jetting from her veins all over the room. Mr Biggs was indeed the headmaster, a big bully of a man, who once, after we had all failed to progress to the 11+ , came into our class to announced that we would not be sitting the selection examination and would all be going on to Secondary Modern School, in my case the notoriously bad Portway School for Boys, where we would receive an education suited to our abilities and roles in life. After all, he said, someone has to do the cleaning and sweep the streets. I was ten years old at the time and was shocked that we should all be slighted so cruelly by a man who had no right to be in the profession or indeed to the post he so clearly was not equipped for. On reflection it appears that we, along with 70% of all young people at the time, were selected to fail and that here somehow our failure reflected upon him and his school, and for this he felt the need to blame us for the failings of his school and the education system of the time.

  3. I attended Sea Mills Infants and Junior Mixed Schools between 1951 and 1956 and also went to the new infants school on Hallen Drive for the first year after it opened. I lived on Arbutus Drive from age 5 until I was 19. I had Mr Ellison as a teacher, as well as a Mr Corp. Other teachers I can remember were Mr Warford and Miss Greenway. There was also a Miss Veezey who taught me in the infants School. Mr Biggs was the imposing Headmaster of the Junior School. I was in the new Brass band which I think Mr Ellison was involved in setting up. I have many fond memories of growing up in Sea Mills/Coombe Dingle. I was a Wolf Cub in the 126 Troop, had my hair cut by Mr Bolwell and was a patient of Dr Hall whose surgery was on St Edyth’s Road. After taking the 11+ exam I attended the Cathedral School. Every morning before going to school I would ride my bike to a house on Shirehampton Road, near Sea Mills Square to pick up about would deliver 60 papers before heading off to school. I still have my old school reports and class photos from Sea Mils Junior Mixed. One memory I have from the days before we had a TV was going to weekly screenings of films in I think the building near St Edyth’s church and Sea Mills Junior Mixed School. I would love to hear from others who grew up in the same area I did.

    1. Interesting to hear about your experiences at Sea Mills Junior School. I joined the school in the summer term, two terms behind others in my year who had joined in the September before. I did not realise at the time, but as has been noted above, the education provision at Sea Mills Junior was rigidly streamed with little opportunity to progress up through the streams. Research has shown that those whose birthdates are late in the year are academically disadvantaged, and this ‘setting back’ follows them throughout their entire full-time education and into career opportunities later in life. This was certainly my experience and that of most of my peers who education began late in the year. Combined with the fact that Grammar School provision at the time could only be provided for 30% of the population, it is clear to me that the system badly failed the majority of children within in it and especially those additional disadvantaged by birthdate.
      I also attended the weekly film shows in what was known as the Black Hut, and remember Felix the Cat, early black and white Mickey Mouse films, Lauel and Hardy, and Hop-along Cassidy. In the early 1960s we moved to Arbutus Drive. Among my friends at school were: Barry England, Roger King, Terry Hunt, Colin Newbury, Rupert Proud, Victor Proud, Valerie Smale, Judith Wellsman, for whom I had a serious crush.
      I remember in my last year at the school we went on a school camping trip to Wareham in Dorset, during that summer there was a plague of adders and one child with underlying health problems was fatally bitten. I also remember the joy of playing among the pines, the camp fires and the wonderful cocoa before bed. I also remember playing on the grassy slope at the back of the school, a game known as British Bulldog, which was the greatest fun. I only remember the one form teacher in our final year. She always looked hungover, and was always nipping out for a fag and leaving the class to its own devices, which now end then ended in riot. There was a Welsh teacher who took us for sports on the playing fields accrues the Portway, adjacent to the railway line. His name was Lewis – odd how all sports masters seem to have been from Wales. And like most of them his passion was for Rugby.

      1. Hi John, I have just come across your interesting posting. I remember Richard Welch but none of the children you mentioned. I was a big shy kid who did OK at school and ended up passing the 11+ and going to the Cathedral School which proved to be not the right place for me. I remember the streaming that went on at both schools. At Sea Mills we were periodically tested and then placed in desks which were arranged at right angles to the teacher ( Mr Corp ). Where you sat depended on how well you had done on the exam with the ‘ brightest ‘ students sitting farthest away from the teacher. I was always at about 8th position in the class along with my friend Bob Hardwick. It must have been very hard for the students who were labelled as being less academic. I had a taste of that negative labelling when I went to the Cathedral School. When I was 16 my parents were sent a letter stating that ‘ I would not benefit from further education’ and that I should leave the school at the end of term ‘. I went to work for the Smelting Works then and ironically did eventually end up going to Exeter University and teaching in a social work program at a Canadian University. Overall though I feel blessed to have spent my formative years living in Coombe Dingle/Sea Mills. David Hannis

    2. Hi David, I can recall almost everything you say in your piece. Mr Biggs the head an imposing man, he drove a Vauxhall Wyvern when most ordinary folk didn’t have car. I remember Miss Cooke also my favourite teacher Miss Greenway. I also had my haircut at Mr Bolwells and mum would go upstairs to the ladies hairdresser, his wife! The Friday night / Saturday morning films I thought were held in the school canteen. Happy days.

    3. Hi my name is Robert Kelly and I can remember going to the film shows at what I think was the canteen of the school. I also delivered papers from the house in Shirehampton Road.

  4. I started in the Infants at Easter 1951, housed in (part of?) the building nearer the church. I remember there being a woman teacher who had a daughter in the class, and I remember sitting cross-legged on a sheet of canvas on the floor, but I have no idea what the activity was! Was it a BBC schools radio programme?

    The Junior section was in 4 streams, and I was in the A stream. There was little movement between streams, and I guess with hindsight this was largely because there was little coordination between the teachers and the top end was heavily geared towards the 11+, so transferring would be hard. I had two years of Mr Ellison and then two years of Mr Corp (who I think later moved on to be a head elsewhere in Bristol). Both men must have been good to have kept order in large classes. Mr Biggs was the head teacher and quite a remote figure. I remember him coming into the class – it would have been some time in early 1957 – and announcing that the whole 48 of us had passed the 11+, as well as some in the B stream. Did I imagine that? I know quite a few of us went on to Bristol Grammar with Council places. There were about equal numbers of girls and boys in the class but we were segregated in the classroom. Junior Assemblies were in the Hall, and it was very crowded. I think corporal punishment was, very occasionally, administered by Mr Biggs. How times have changed!

    I also remember walking down St Edyth’s Road to school in fog thick enough to make my feet almost invisible. Rare, I suppose, otherwise it would hardly be remembered!

  5. Does anyone remember the school field trips we went on? I remember the camp at Wareham which John mentioned above and reading about the student who died there from an adder bite. Fortunately that didn’t happen to me when I went on a field trip to that camp and I can recall actually learning some rudimentary surveying and art skills there. On another school trip, to Peter Scott’s Wildlife Centre at Slimbridge not all of us were well behaved and following some jostling on a small pedestrian bridge a girl from our class ended up in the lake.

  6. I lived in Trymside from 1946 until 1956 I went into Sea Mills infants in 1948 and moved onto the Juniors at age 7 I loved school especially the Gym I remember a large climbing frame in the Infants playground and the school canteen in a separate building in the Juniors playground I enjoyed school meals I remember Mr Corp and Mr Ellison I passed my 11+ and went on to Ashton Park School at its opening in September 1955 with Penny Welch who lived in Mead Way I now live in Yorkshire but it’s good to look back with fond memories on Sea Mills and School

  7. It’s love to read all these comments. Thank you Ian for this very comprehensive call for contacts. My memories of infant school at Hallen Drive (after first term at Riverleaze) and the junior school are all good and was surprised by some of the comments. I had no bad experience re Mr Biggs so was surprised at some of the above. I had an interview after 11+ as I was ‘borderline’ and went on to Ashton Park School with Ian Robbins and several others in our year The films were held in the dining room hut in the junior school grounds, far end of the playground. I remember being in Miss Lyle’s class, then Mr Davis, then two years with Mr Ellison. My time at Sea Mills was a very happy time, I’m sorry it wasn’t for some of you.

  8. Does anyone remember the stables and riding school in Sea Mills. My sister Jacquie was always going down there and used to feed and ride a big white stallion named Prince that was kept in the fields adjoining Two Acre Wood and Sylvan Way.

  9. I remember the riding stables by the old harbour in Sea Mills, I had a girlfriend name of Jean Salmon who had a horse named sheba.
    I had a friend called Dave Forrester who was at the school with me in a class two years above me, I was friends with Ian Robbins, Bob Chapman and Penny Wiltshire, I went to Ashton Park School and now I live in Burnham on Sea.

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