“It was a happy time and the School had a wonderful atmosphere, despite the post-war difficulties, with rationing going on into
the early fifties.”
Meet Fred Wood
When were you at BGS?
“I was here 1949 to 1955. It was a happy time and the School had a wonderful atmosphere, despite the post-war difficulties, with rationing going on into the early fifties.
I have a lasting memory of being called into the School hall to be told that King George had died and that Elizabeth was now Queen. That would have been 1952.
What have you done since you left Bradford Grammar School?
“I went into the family business (Yorkshire Engineering and Welding Company, better known as YEWCO) where I was in the Drawing Office and I knew Philip Hockney well (David’s brother), as he was the Chief Engineer.
I was there until 1968 at which point I went to Australia, and have lived there ever since. I noticed a shortage in the Australian pharmaceutical industry and partnered up with one of my English friends to establish a very successful company importing glass containers from Rotherham. The company imported around 30 million bottles a year, full of Yorkshire air! It is still running today, and still importing the containers from Rotherham.
What memories do you have of BGS?
“Mr Graham was the Headmaster when I started, with Mr Newhall taking over during my time. The Deputy Head was Mr Clarkson.
I had great friends, especially through playing rugby and cricket. It was a great school in those days – very happy years. This was where I learnt my lifelong skill of enjoying puddings – they were the best in the world!
On Speech Day one year I remember a speaker saying “don’t worry about earning a living – if you do what you like doing, and you do it well enough, the money will take care of itself” and “don’t ever believe your school days are the best of your life – you’ve got so many exciting days ahead of you – there’s more to come”. I developed into a young man at the School, through all those important years where your adult life is being created, I think it was well created here.
You were at BGS at the same time as David Hockney – what are your memories of him?
“Well, David was once sent home from Speech Day because he was incorrectly dressed. He had his hair green on one side and gold on the other – always ahead of his time. Going from room to room for lessons you sometimes found a chalk character drawn on the corner of the blackboard and left there – it was Hockney!
He had an incredible talent so early on. He had been painting and drawing since he was a young child and never wanted to ‘be’ anything else. When he first started at the School, he was not in the art class. He was very bright, and in the A stream. He asked about art classes and was told that art was for those in the X and Y stream. By the end of the year he had started failing his exams – deliberately downgrading himself intellectually to get into the lower stream so he could do art classes. We had the same art teacher, Reggie Maddox, and I won the form art prize three times. We’d have all been better off as junior artists if David hadn’t actually got into the art class – I might have even won the School art prize!
“I developed into a young man at the School, through all those important years where your adult life is being created, I think it was well created here.”