More memories of a Chichester evacuee – Donald Bishop

Henry Thornton School (HTS) was evacuated to Bognor Regis in September 1939. It was a blunder as there was no grammar school in that town. By 1 November 1939 HTS was settled in Chichester High School for Boys (CHSB).

Boys-only the two schools may have been, but there were differences. The Head Masters were a contrast. The host Head, Dr C W Bishop, came across as serious, rigid, distant and easy to mimic. I never caught him laughing and I never exchanged words with him during all my time on the school premises so I cannot offer a balanced and fair view of the man.

The guest Head Mr W D Evans was relaxed, very human, not forceful in manner or speech, but nevertheless a strong character. As School Captain in 1940 – 1941, I got to know him well. He consulted me on who should succeed me as School Captain when I had left.  My assessment of him is much more balanced: he was an excellent Head who took us once a week in the Sixth Form for what can best be described as Current Affairs. He was very knowledgeable, interesting and stimulating.

It was wartime and both schools got on well together. There were no fights in my time.

The HTS buildings in London had warm, enclosed corridors. CHSB classrooms opened on to fresh air. In the winter our staff wore overcoats. Their staff were more Spartan, or were they not allowed to follow the lead of HTS? Sessions were marked by an electric bell that rang in all parts of the HTS building. It was rung when required by the School Porter; CHSB had a hand bell rung by prefects. HTS prefects had to ring it at times and managed to break the bell.

The HTS Sixth Form included the teaching of Economics, Economic History and British Constitution to Higher Schools level. These subjects were not on offer from CHSB, so there could be no joint classes.

Pupils from both schools made friendships in youth clubs, sport, church and so on. I made friends with Geoffrey Barnard, the CHSB School Captain in 1940. We both went to the Pre-Officer Training Unit, sailed to India, and spent six months at the Officer Training Unit, Mhow. He went to Italy and I went to Burma. Periodically we have managed to keep in touch. It was easy to do so at one time, as CHS for Girls gave me my wife of 55-plus years now.

Donald Bishop

Old Thorntonian (1934-1941)