Skip to content ↓
school logo watermark
  • school logo watermark

    Your Stories

    If you want to add to this page, email

    Pamela White (nee Marshall)

    I attended PHGS from 1962 until 1969 and was a prefect and house captain of Fairfax. During my time there, along with Jean Lancaster RIP, we held a pet show with the permission of Miss Marjoram. I attended the Memorial Service for Miss Yarborough, she of the bicycle and gown. I had hoped to recognise former pupils but I guess age does affect recognition!

    I did used to feel so proud walking over the bridge, past the Secondary Modern School as a school, girls wearing their velour hats for the Founders Day services at the Parish Church where we, of course, used to sing Fortiter!

    PS: ouija  board in the 6th form common room and exploring the ventilation tunnels via the main school cloak room. Also stood by  the outdoor toilets at the time of the Cuban Missile crisis thinking the world was to end - so many memories!!!

    [You can see Pamela, 5 in from the left on the front row, in the picture of the Upper 6th in 1969 below.]

    Fortiter! (with thanks to Micahel Ellison, below)

    I lived at Norwood (in the Washburn Valley) and was a pupil at PHGS from 1961 to 1969. I passed my 11+ a year early and entered PHGS as an under-age pupil. After 3 years I was 'kept back' to my own age group & repated that academic year (now Year 9). Eventually I studied 2 A Levels, thus I attended PHGS for 8 years. [Michael is in the picture below, on the back row, 5 in from the right.]

    This  is a copy of the Front & Back pages of the 1967 Upper School Speech Day.

    As part of my Family History research a few years ago I was looking through the 1921 Archive newspapers of the Wharfedale Observer (held in their Ilkley Offices) when by chance I read the following 2 articles.

    16 Dec 1921. 'Fortiter' Written by Mr J Hutchinson, English Master, while Mr J A Earnshaw, the Music Master, has composed the music. The song will be sung for the first time in public at the annual Concert to be held on Wednesday next (sic 21 Dec), when practically the whole of the scholars will take part.

    23 Dec 1921. The Annual concert by the scholars attending PHGS at Otley, which was given in the Mechanics' Hall on Wednesday Evening before a very large audience, clearly proved that in musical culture the school continues on the upward grade...The Concert was brought to a close with 'Fortiter' the new school songwritten by Mr Hutchinson and set to music by Mr Earnshaw. The scholars sang the bouyant and tuneful music with great zest and spirit.

    Upper Sixth, 1969

    Back Row:
    David Wickens, Jeremy (Jez) Davies, Brian (Dollar) Dorling, Richard Stocker, Andrew Wilkinson, John Bean, David Maxwell, Colin Campbell, Roger Teal, Michael Ellison, Paul Megson, David Binns, Ron Clarkson, Keith Middleton

    Middle Row:
    Alison Lambert, Susan Winterburn, Jane Towell, Susan Warwick, Pauline Smith, Alison Mowatt, David Neal, Richard Lambert, Dave Hymas, ‘Spike’ Mulligan, Keith Dale, Lawrence (Loz) Shaw, Janette Walker, Hilary Jennings, Lesley Richards, Suzanne Priestley, Judith Arundell

    Front Row:
    Ann England, Tony Waye, Susan Wright, John Carter, Pamela Marshall, Alan Wright (Dep Hd Boy), Marilyn Roberts (Head Girl), Geoff Mochrie (Head Boy), Ethne Blades (Dep Hd Girl), Ian Thompson, Jean Lancaster, Dennis Ward, Lizzie Allen, Keith Harrop

    (with thanks to Michael White for the photograph)

    Paul Miller

    I enjoyed my time at the school between 1976 and 1980. I won an award for effort in the first year there. I was surprised to win an award, I was just settling in. The teachers helped me to improve in a low class. I liked it much better there than the two middle schools. I was in a small group that used the red minibus. We used it to get to Middleton hospital to help out.

    Chris Smith (former student and current English Teacher)

    In 2017, the school lost a legend when John Tarbett passed away - a formidable History teacher who, along with English Teachers Mr Swain and Mr Brewster, are the reason I am a teacher now, and probably why I somehow ended up back at my old school, PHGS. 

    Mr Tarbett, famous for his accuracy with a board rubber, and barely restrained fury with anything but the very best work and effort, was also a Rugby Coach at PHGS, as well as a 1st XV Coach at Old Otliensians (one of the Rugby clubs in Otley, formed by ex-PHGS students). As a PHGS 1st XV Coach myself now, without doubt, I would not love the game like I do without having been forced to play it, repeatedly, by Mr Tarbett – quite simply a behemoth in the life and modern history of the school. I doubt I would have got the A-Level History result I needed for University either.

    The school now organises a 'PHGS Barbarians vs. Otley' fixture every Boxing Day, which raises money for a local charity, as well as the senior PHGS Rugby squad, and the funds are used for everything from improving pitch drainage to kit and facilities, which allows us to compete with the best Independent schools. This year, a memorial trophy for the winners of this fixture was named after him, and it left me remembering him fondly – or not that fondly should I say, as I was his ‘batman’ (as he called me). I had to look it up – a 'batman' is not actually a cool name, suggesting single-minded determination and power, it is in fact a soldier who is made to act as a servant to a commissioned officer, an apt description after he somehow manipulated my obligatory Sixth Form ‘Community Service’ so that I was a Manuel to his Basil Fawlty.

    I recall several occasions where he would stand at the Sixth Form Centre door, shout “SMITH!!!” and I would have to race over to carry his bags and look after a class whilst he went to The Yew Tree for a drink, as the 4th Form did a test on Tollund Man and Pete Bog. 

    Rest in peace John, and thank you for introducing me to the finest game created in the history of the human race, as well as teaching me the amazing history of this country and this continent, and perhaps more importantly, the ancient principles of debate - of reasoned argument, and the protection of others to have opinions with which you vehemently disagree, and the principles of what makes a liberal, civilised democracy, when we listen to one another – something starkly absent from modern debate. Your values were and are timeless, Sir.

    Doing Time at Prince Henry's Grammar School Chris Granville 1960-1966

    I went on the centenary tour of PHGS after seeing a post on Facebook. I hadn’t been back since I left in 1966 – never felt the urge. I came by the only entrance I knew from Farnley Lane and was stopped at a forbidding iron gate. The intercom thingy got no response but eventually a chap came out and concluded that I must be an “old boy” trying to get in by his old entrance. I told him that it wasn’t actually my old entrance because I used to have to carry my bike up the steps along the boys’ path. Anyway, I knew of no other entrance. He kindly opened the gate, told me I could park anywhere and assured me the gate would be open when I left. Are these gates to keep them in or out?

    There were about 40 of us going back to the 1950s but I didn’t know any of them – they were not in my year. The tour of the old school was quite emotional. The building is surprisingly intact and so much smaller than remembered. Even the blue ceiling is still in the old hall.

    There was a display of pictures and memorabilia from early days and there I featured in the 1963 edition of the Otliensian. An accredited short fiction by me – not sure how it got past the editor – and an oblique reference to my violin playing: “The School Orchestra has made several appearances at Morning Assembly. It is still very weak in string tone – a deficiency which it is hoped will be remedied when the beginners’ class is able to join in the ensemble.” Well you try your best and that’s what you get. Here’s me front right of the piano, probably 1963 or 1964.

    Never mind, the two beat groups I played in at the other end of this hall could not have been accused of being very weak in string tone. They were LOUD. I swear the ceiling used to be flat until we gave it the full 100watts. Notice how smart I am there – Cliff Richard hair style and reversed tie. The beat group hairstyle would have the brylcreem washed out and be combed forward Beatle like. Same hair but when I turned up the wrong way round in the day I was dragged onto the stage in assembly with some other victims and exposed as an example of what was not to be tolerated. What was it about boys and hair length? Today I would be able to change sex and grow my hair as long as you like. I suppose today’s equivalents are boys’ shirt tails and girls’ skirt lengths. (The reversed tie, if you are interested, is where you tied the wide end at the back and then tucked it into your shirt so that only a pencil-thin end was on display. No sewing required like there was for the drainpipe trousers.)

    (Picture courtesy of David Hudson)


    At this time the prospect of Comprehensives was being muted and the then Head (the man with the Hitler ‘tash) said that Prince Henry’s would go Comprehensive over his dead body. Well, both came true but not necessarily as related events. He also announced in assembly that school leavers should not throw old caps and books off the bridge – needless to say, there were probably more than ever that year.

    We had a tour of the rest of the school and saw what you would expect of a modern secondary school with what I thought was particularly good artwork. But it is all so big and if I were there now, would be intimidating to someone who is basically shy and not naturally gregarious. If size was part of his thinking, I might be more with Hitler’s views on comprehensives than I thought I was.

    I can’t remember learning much that was useful in later life. Nothing other than qualifications for university seemed to be related to getting a job. I didn’t pass my A levels so needed a job and the advice was useless – I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew it wasn’t to be a bank clerk, accountant, or insurance clerk. I think we were still tied to the dark days of the early 20th Century: toe the line; don’t break with tradition; don’t think outside the box (we didn’t have that expression, of course). The English teacher hated the use of the word “nice” to mean pleasant – he insisted it had to mean “particular” as my favourite author Jane Austen would. What’s the use of an English teacher who denies language development?

    I suppose there’s still the same old mix of emerging teenage testosterone and hormones swirling around - unless it’s been diluted by microwaves – and I am sympathetic and hopefully understanding of my grandchildren who are just starting at (a different) secondary school because I have been reminded of what it was like for me and have caught a glimpse of what it will be like for them.

    Keith Butterill

    Below is a rugby photo from 1952/3, sent by Katy Butterill with her dad, Keith Butterill, in the front row. She particularly mentioned how it tells us they played 12, won 9 and lost 3.

    Mary Lewis (born Schofield)

    I first went to Prince Henry’s in September 1945, having passed an overage scholarship.  I was 13 at that time and my name then was Mary Schofield. 

    The war had finished in Europe the previous year and in the far East in 1945.

    There were brick walls halfway across have the corridor and lots of sand bags and all the windows were covered in strips of brown paper, presumably in case of them shattering if a bomb fell nearby.  I do not remember when all this stuff was removed, but it must have been soon after I went there.  It was very different from my previous school as there were a lot more subjects taught and of course there were Biology, Chemistry, Physics Labs and other specialised rooms. 

    I was put in Lower4B and then had to stay there as we were taught German whilst all the other classes learnt French, so no matter how well you did you could not move up into the A form.  I do not wish to brag, but I did get 3rd Prize the first year and then 1st on the next 3 years.

    There were 4 Houses, Fairfax (white), Foster (yellow), Duncan (red) and Cave (blue) and you could wear a sash of whatever colour your House was.  I was in Cave, I was not given any choice, just told I was in Cave.  Pupils could gain House points for achievements in Sport, but I was useless at sport.  After about 2 years they started to award House points for academic subjects, so then I was able to gain some for my house.

    Being so soon after the war everything was on ration and I do mean everything, even bread, but we still were expected to wear school uniform and black shoes.  We had to wear indoor shoes, i.e.  Plimsoles whilst indoors but if you did not have any you could borrow them from school.  We girls were also expected to wear black felt hats with brims and a band saying which school we were attending.  Every morning but Wednesday there was a full school assembly in the big hall, where we sang hymns and, of course, the school song “Fortiter” which you were expected to learn all 3 verses and the chorus.  Every Wednesday the girls had a separate assembly in the Gym and we had to wear our hats so that they could be inspected for creases and folds, which were not allowed.

    At the beginning of 1947 we had very heavy snow and most of the roads were closed for several days, hence our special bus which normally took us from Whitecross, Guiseley to school, did not run and so most of us who used that bus decided to walk to School. There were about 20 to 30 of us and we had a lot of fun on the way, including when we reached The River Wharfe at Otley, we walked across the ice.  I do not think the teachers at school would have approved of this, but they did not know about it.

    There were lovely facilities at the school, 4 Tennis Courts. a Hockey field, a Football field and a Rugby field as well as spare grass where you could play rounders etc.   Usually two classes of girls were doing games together, which meant about 40 girls   and as only 16 could play tennis, I had never played tennis and the main concentration was on the good players, I only got on to the tennis court about twice in the 4 years I was at the school.  The rest of us were sent round the back of the school supposedly to play rounders, but most of the time we just sat on the grass and chatted.  In the Summer Term we went every week to the open-air swimming pool in Otley Park, but as it was open to the public from about 11 a.m. we had to go very early, straight after assembly and usually it was very cold, especially if, like me, you could not swim.  The teacher (who was usually wearing a warm coat) concentrated on the good swimmers, and told us to go down to the shallow end and learn!!  I never did learn to swim. 

    In 1946 and 1947 I went to Harvest Camp which was actually, Potato Picking, we went in 2s with a big basket each and had to pick up the potatoes which the tractor and digging machine had dug up.  Each couple had a “stint” which you had complete before the tractor came round again, which meant you had to work quite hard to keep up.  When your basket was full you tipped the potatoes into a big sack.  The work was hard, but we had a lot of fun in the camp, a field full of huts where we slept (16 of us in my hut) and also a big hut where we ate our breakfast and evening meal and also played Bingo and sometimes danced and played other games.   There were about 60 of us at the camp.  The amounts we were paid differed slightly depending on which farmer you were working for and so the school put all the money earned together and at Christmas we were each given an equal share.  In 1946 we went to Cawood and in 1947 we went to Whitley Bridge.  At the weekend between the two weeks, we could go into Selby in the back of an Army Lorry, and I found Selby a very interesting place.

    That is about all I can remember of interest about my time at Prince Henry’s Grammar School, it was a long time ago!!

    Joanna Parish 1967-1974

    Wow, thank you so much for guiding us around the ‘old school’.  It is 44 years since I last set foot in there and although I was at first a little disorientated – it was so light and bright – thanks to my fellow ‘tourers’ I soon got my bearings.  My memories and overall experiences are those of a happy and stable school life, lots of good company and opportunities to socialise – from a rural perspective this was so important.  Our ‘special bus’ always left straight after the school day and so most after-school activities were not open to us.

    Memories of trying to be a ‘Prefect’ on the top corridor of the old school came flooding back; of 23 Club and 45 Club; Mr Potter’s Russian open evening where I had my picture taken for the Wharefdale newspaper attempting the squatting Cossack dance; Joe Smith (Woodwork teacher) pelting a challenging student with a blackboard rubber accurately thrown across the classroom at the same time as ‘You boy, don’t talk when I’m talking’; trying to make sense of a ‘recurring theme’ in Debussy for Mr Bainbridge in music (me who couldn’t play a note).  We couldn’t afford for me to take Domestic Science as an ‘O’ level and music was the only other option open to me in the choices list. 

    On the other hand we played great music, on vinyl, in the 5th form area and the 6th form centre – and ran a coffee bar in the latter.  In my life since then I have operated several youth clubs and a teenage youth café as well as working in University, FE College and Secondary school - always promoting a positive ethos around lifelong learning and endorsing this with my very warm memories of my own education at PHGS.

    I left with a creditable 9 ‘O’ levels and 4 ‘A’ levels and a sense that all things were possible in the future.  I have continued with that confidence through life and although my resilience has been tested at times I have never doubted my own abilities – thanks in great part to the wonderful teaching staff and stable surroundings of a great school – Prince Henry’s Grammar School, Otley.