Sudbury Upper School

Sudbury Upper School
Sudbury Upper School

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Almost 40 Years Later...

Wendy (nee Tricker) and I arrived unannounced at SUS on Friday 1st July in the afternoon, almost 4 decades after we were there, and the fabulous Jackie Warren gave us a proper guided tour of the place!! What an amazing treat to return to our old stomping ground all these years later... and not a lot has changed!

Photos courtesy of Wendy nee Tricker.

Sunday, 30 March 2014


These five photos were taken in 1971/2 and show the school being built.

(Kindly supplied by Mike Marsh)

This shows the front of the school.

Inside the technical drawing and metalwork shop.

Inside the woodwork shop.

Outside the workshop block.

The inside of the woodwork workshop (1972).

Wimbledon Trips...

The Wimbledon trips I went on were in 1976 and 1977. It was a baking hot day on both occasions. Ilie Nastase signed autographs and I managed to snap a photograph of him (1977)

I vaguely recall that 1977 was the year that they opened the museum there – Queens Silver Jubilee.

School Trip to France...

School trip to France – Chartres / Vierzon (?) / Paris. We stayed in Youth hostels, visited the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and a hideous cruel zoo (!).

We also saw a statue of Joan of Arc – the statue of Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) can be found in the city square (Place du Martroi) in the centre of Orleans France – visited the Place de la Concorde (fountains), and went inside the Sacre Coeur and also visited Notre Dame Cathedral.

I’d borrowed my mum’s old black & white camera and had just one reel of film (possibly 24 photos) – no digital cameras in those days…!

Here are a few more photos:

School Jabs...

It was during our teenage years that all girls had to have the rubella vaccine. A note was sent home for parents to sign and I recall that most of us ended up having it done.

The process involved a test done with about 6 needles, in the shape of a circle, in our forearm. Two weeks later, if there was no reaction we had to endure a vaccination. The few who showed a nasty sore in the area which had been stabbed with needles a fortnight earlier were apparently ‘immune’, and were therefore spared the injection.


I hated sport in general (still do), and I especially hated the cross country running (in all weathers). The female PE teachers used to stand on the nice, warm, dry landing outside the girls changing room, and watched us running around Springlands Estate through their binoculars. I still have nightmares about aertex tops and nylon shorts….

I’m not entirely sure how I managed it, but I ended up with two indoor PE sessions a week (trampolining and table tennis). We were supposed to have one indoor and one outdoor session (either netball or hockey outside I believe). Both indoor sessions were in the sports hall, overlooked by huge glass windows situated near the upstairs offices and reception – giving the illusion of being in a goldfish bowl. There was another sports hall for things like volleyball and badminton. If memory serves me right, there was a spiral staircase leading up to the upstairs bar (!) and girls changing rooms.

Sports Day was simply an excuse to sit outside on the grass chilling out (unless you happened to be one of the few sporty types, in which case you ended up sweating your wotsits off in front of a mainly unappreciative crowd).

Swimming Lessons...

Swimming lessons are only something I vaguely recall.

We had a double-PE lesson and the cold, outdoor pool was only big enough for half the pupils… so the session was split into tennis/swimming, meaning a quick change into or out of swimwear. In reality this only ever left just enough time to dip your toe in the water.

The pool had a high chain link fence around and it was not uncommon for ‘onlookers’ to intimidate the nervous body-conscious teens. Thankfully, children these days are mostly protected from the prying eyes of oddballs during school swimming lessons….


With no mobiles or twitter back then, I remember turning up at school finding that it’d been semi-cremated. I asked a policeman how long we’d get off school and he said several weeks! Oh the joy…

Our elation was short lived, as word soon got out (the old-fashioned way) that some of the pupils had been helping with the clean-up. Oh, how COULD they?!

I think it was about a week later when we returned to our classrooms (ours being so close to the event that we all stunk of bonfires by the time we went home).

I remember there was a lot of fuss over not being able/allowed up the stairs (the ones next to the chemistry & biology rooms) while the rebuilding work was going on, and I think that Stour house had to be mended.

Approximately 4 months after this fire there was another (possibly in the chemistry lab). Clearly, Sudbury Upper School was quite flammable in those days!


Humanities was a brand new subject, billed as a discussion group, but our group refused to speak! Mr Penny eventually got frustrated with us and we ended up week after week sitting there for the entire lesson doing nothing…..! At one point he even tried bringing in another humanities group to encourage us to talk, but that didn’t work either, as we simply let THEM do all the talking.

I think that the notion that you could successfully bring hormonally challenged teenage boys and girls together in one room, and expect them to be willing and able to participate in interesting and in-depth discussions, was flawed from day one!


Mr Levett took chemistry… but then went sick (slipped a disc?)… so we ended up with an endless stream of useless supply teachers. I remember some particularly tedious idiot with long hair and sandals making a vain attempt at impressing us with something to do with ether (I was so bored I stopped listening after the first few seconds). Small wonder I didn’t get a good grade in my CSE!


Maths was never a strong point (I was eventually diagnosed with ‘number dyslexia’ at uni!!) but was fascinated to see a few yards of paper with rectangular slots at the side during a maths class…. and to be told “this is computer paper!”

It seems totally alien nowadays to think that we didn’t have pcs, mobile phones and DVDs back then! We’d only just got our heads round the new-fangled ‘electronic calculators’ – which were mainly used for turning upside down to create words like SHELL OIL (70177345).

Technical Drawing...

Mr Woodlock was lovely for Tech Drawing. Us girlies weren’t allowed to take TD in the first year, but a few chose it in the second year (so we were always well behind the lads in ability). I had no ambition to become an architect or whatever, I simply didn’t want to be lumbered with taking cookery or needlework.

Mr W would always let the girls choose a pencil from his table before the lads were allowed…so I always had a lovely sharp 4H while many of the boys had to use a grotty old HB.

Think there were just 3 girls in my class…


There were 8 lessons each day. Two before mid-morning break, another two before lunch, another two after lunch and the final two after mid-afternoon break. There were 4 lessons of each subject throughout the week (10 different subjects). PE, maths and english were compulsory. RE was compulsory in the first year (until Mr Amos left!)

I recall having double TD followed by double TD one day each week….an entire morning of the same topic. (Just as well I liked TD!). Double PE was something I didn’t particularly enjoy – especially first thing in the morning (or last thing in the afternoon).

Teenage Rebel...

During my final year, when I got the occasional urge to be a bit of a rebel, I’d pop down to a pub in town called The Christopher during the one hour lunch break (a 20 minute walk!).

One day I gulped a half a lager too fast (no public concerns over underage boozing back then) and returned to afternoon English and maths worse for wear!

I got through the classes by the skin of my teeth but when my ‘mates’ took me to the sick room during break, instead of repeating the well-rehearsed “Miss, she’s sick” they blurted out “Miss, she’s drunk!”

They’d already taken me into the girls loo and filled a filthy old ashtray (!) with cold tap water and thrown it over me, so I looked a real treat.

Timing was everything… and I’d apparently timed my inebriation to perfection, as my parents were all ready en route to the school because my brother had been caught bunking off (again). That was the last time I ever nipped out during the lunch-break…..

Ironically, the pub is now called The Christopher Centre opened in 1994 and is dedicated to the promotion and support of local voluntary and community groups, including those dealing with alcoholics…


Long before J K Rowling created the fabulous moving staircases at Hogwarts, SUS pupils struggled with the almost bizarre levels and stairs inside a school which is built on a hill. On entering the front of the school at ground level you can climb a set of stairs, continue walking to the back of the school, and still exit at ground level!

The Missing Class..

During my first couple of weeks at SUS, I happened to get lost rather a lot (it was a big school on many levels). One particular day I couldn’t locate my classroom (think I was meant to have economics – a topic totally unheard of by me at the time). I, along with other lost souls, were rounded up from all the corridors (when we were meant to be in various classes) and taken to an empty classroom. There were 15-20 of us in all!

I assumed we’d be held there temporarily, until someone could physically take us to where we were meant to be…. But no…

From that day on, once a week our motley crew of lost pupils walked into what was soon to become ‘our’ room for that period. No register was ever called and no lesson name was allocated to it. Mr Ellison was clearly ‘spare’ at the time and was our usual guardian, although occasionally an elderly female teacher turned up in his place, possibly Mrs Gibby (obviously the school was completely aware of this bizarre little group).

For a whole year, neither school nor students made any effort to return us to our original classes. I, for one, ended up never taking a single class in economics (a blessing in disguise perhaps).

We had no text books or exercise books for this ‘lesson’ and used our ‘rough books’ when needed. 75% of the time we’d walk in to see a long word written on the blackboard (ie: CONSTANTINOPLE). We had 30 mins to make as many words out of it as we could, and then we would discuss our results to see who had the most! It was like a quiz!

It all seems so very far-fetched nowadays… a whole bunch of students held voluntarily captive in a room one day a week in order to play quizzes, instead of undertaking their ascribed educational topics.

We were a very elite band. You could only be in the group if you happened to have been lost and found on a specific day at the beginning of a new term in a new school…The odd thing is that all of us were clearly ‘off the radar’ for that weekly period, and yet none of us chose to go off for a skive.

School Dinners...

We had school dinner tokens (plastic discs which were different colours on different days), which HAD to be purchased from the office before the school bell rang (anyone turning up late didn’t get the chance to buy a dinner token)….

The queue for the dinner hall went along the corridor where the entrance to Brett House common room was.

There were several tuck shops, open at morning break-time, where we often bought a mars bar and a bag of crisps with our dinner money. Jamie Oliver would certainly not have approved…..

For those of us who required a more substantial meal than a bag of crisps, there was always Chequers chippy in town.


I remember a project where we were asked to create / run a safari park?! Ours was called “Redwood Safari Park” (I think).

The class who were awarded the most points for their efforts during the term won a trip. Somebody in our class had the brilliant idea of having a few pens (or pencils) made up with the name of the park on them.

Our class won – jointly with another class, and I believe we all went off in a coach to a safari park.

I vaguely recall being in the ‘wages’ dept, working out people’s taxes.

The ‘project’ may well have been part of a course called ‘Personal Relations’ (or similar) in which we took 6 weeks of Law with Mrs Grace Farrant and 6 weeks of Sex Education with Mrs Bunty Smith. I believe that this course subsequently developed into something called ‘Citizenship’.

Ornithology Club...

Ornithology club was just a way to stay indoors at lunchtimes when it was cold and wet outside. It was run by a lab assistant (possibly Mr Nick Reed), and there was a field trip at one point (possibly to Minsmere). There was video footage….but I have no idea where it might be now…

Many thanks to Phil Woollen for supplying this photo of an Ornithology Club trip to Minsmere in 1975.  Phil is in the middle with a hat on and Terry Girling is back left with a hat on. He thinks it may be Alan Oakley front right with hat on…

The Royal Visit...

I distinctly recall the day that Princess Anne arrived via a red helicopter onto the playing field (a welcome break from a physics class if my memory serves me right)…. The playing field was filled with flag-waving youngsters from nearby schools.

I’m unsure but I’d guess the year would be either 1974 or 1976.

The Language Lab...

The “language lab” in reality was just a few rows of wooden booths with a tape machine and headphones. We were actively encouraged to have French pen-pals. Mine was a boy and I used to take his letters into class so that Mrs Farrant could tell me what he’d written!

I remember French oral exams – being given a picture beforehand and then having to go in and answer questions on it five minutes later….in French. I have no idea how I managed to pass!

Top of the Pops...

We were able to watch Top Of The Pops every Friday lunchtime in the common rooms (before VCRs became common) because Mr Dodds had ‘magically’ recorded it for us the night before!

Most of us owned (or knew someone else who owned) a tape recorder, but the concept of actually recording something from the telly and playing it back in four different locations simultaneously at a later date was like something you’d watched on Tomorrow’s World, but never actually believed could possibly happen.


There were two sets of tables of girls.
On my set of tables were:
Gail Shelley,
Carole Turner,
Denise Cook,
Karen Sabine,
Melanie Gudge.
On the other tables were:
Rowena Diaper,
Julie Land (RIP
Linda Pierpoint,
Suzanne Arnold,
Sharon King,
Sally Wolfers,
Debbie Bloomfield.
I don’t really remember the boys (!) but a few names that spring to mind are:
Robert Simmons,
JJ (Jeremy) Nicholas,
Neil Jolly,
Ian Haig,
Simon Blackburn,
Julian Gibbons,
Mark (John) Drane,
Gary Eaves,
Lee Miller,
Gregor Davey.

Some of the names of the boys in my class have been given to me by other ex-SUS pupils. I take no responsibility for the accuracy of this list!


Listed here are some of the teachers I recall (with more than a little help from ex-classmates and even a few ex teachers!!):
Mr Robert Barron was my form tutor (Physics)
My classroom was in a general science lab (GS 1 or 2). We were allocated hideous mustard-coloured lockers (usually dented)…. Brett , Stour, Deben & Waveney were the houses. I was in Brett….
Mr Holliworth (Deputy Head)
Mrs Isabel Shales (Deputy Head),
Mr Alec Strahan (Headmaster)…..deceased.
Mrs Kay Gibson (Deputy Head),
Mr Young (Head of Brett House),
Miss Joan Searle (Deputy Head of Brett house),
Mrs Sheila Cooper (Head of Stour House),
Mr Richard Layburn (Head of Waveney House)…..deceased,
Mr Dennis O’Connell (Head of Practical Subjects)…..deceased,
Mrs Alma Brace (Typing),
Mrs Marshall (Commerce and Bookkeeping, typing)…..deceased,
Mr Fred Taylor (Economics – then woodwork?),
Mr David Holden (Geography)…..deceased,
Mr Neil Fraser (Geography),
Mr Jack Dodds (Geography)… bushy moustache. He did all of the reprographics (copying, videoing etc).
Mr Eric Britten (History),
Mr Clive Waddington (History),
Mr Farrant (Both of them!)… I believe one was a physics teacher (Bill) and the other was maths. (Both deceased).
Mrs Grace Farrant (French)…was also a JP. Her husband (Bill) and his brother were the two Mr Farrants.
Mr Richard Fawcett (French),
Mr Winter (German),
Mrs Sue Roberts (German),
Mrs Heather Clayton (taught German – later married Mr Fawcett)
Mr Amos (RE)…became a monk?!
Mrs Doreen Moore (RE)…Died during her time at SUS.
Mr White (English). We read Henry IV Part I, A Man For All Seasons and The Nigger of the Narcissus for Eng Lit.
Mr Robert Ellison (English?),
Mrs Bella Hughes (English),
Mr Faulkener (English)…. started approx 1978.
Mr Alan Byford (English),
Mr John Heany (English),
Mr Lamb (English),
Miss Knock (Cookery),

Mrs Jackie Williams (Domestic Science),

Mrs Kate Gregory (Domestic Science),
Mr David Jackson (Maths),
Mr Richard Johnson (Maths),
Mrs Rosemary Ingram (Maths),
Mrs ‘Bunty’ Smith (Biology, Deputy Head of Deben House),
Mr Alan Cross (Chemistry),
Mr Barry Levett (Chemistry)…went on extended sick leave, then returned until retirement.
Mr Payne (Physics)….became a monk?
Mr Hammond (Art/pottery)….deceased,
Miss Vanda Cutler (Art, painting, drawing)…..deceased 2006,
Mr Reg Carr (Art, printing)…..deceased,
Miss Purser (Art, painting, drawing),
Mr Ray Woodlock (Technical Drawing),
Mr Colin Muddimer (Motor Vehicle Studies ),
Mr John Fazakaly (Workshop Technician ),
Mr Richard Penny (Humanities),
Mr Richard Anthony (PE),
Mr Mike Bashford (PE and Latin),
Miss Jackson (PE),
Miss Dickerson (PE),
Miss McFarlane (PE),
Mr Long (Music),
Mr Brian Rose (Music),
Mr Mike Marsh (Woodwork),
Mr Mike Copp (Languages – French, Russian),
Mr Mike Orsler (English),
Mrs Paxton (English)
Mr Clarles Lamb (English)
Mr John Gibson (English)
Miss Florence Hough (French, Deputy Head of Waveney House),
Mr Robin Sidgwick (Biology),
Mr Mike Congdon (Russian and other languages, Humanities, Head of Deben House).. deceased 2013,
Mrs Gibby
Mrs Palmer (Careers)

Here are some old photos of some of the teachers and pupils:


I spent my teenage years being ‘educated’ at jolly old Sudbury Upper School
I’d like to share some of my memories with you…..

If you have any additional stories, photos etc you'd like to share just email me