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Saturday, 15 September 2007

St Bonaventures, Maths and Jam

Two pictures of Hartleys Jam factory. For a fuller explanation of the cow on the roof go to the end of this post and you'll appreciate how Monty Python really won World War 11.

St Bonaventures was located at the bottom of Cedar Road. Next to it was a field of coarse, yellowing grass. Hartley’s Jam factory stood on the other side of the field. We could smell jam during PE, History, Geography, jam in maths, and English, jam in R.E.

If Monty Python had attended St. Bonaventures, they’d have written the ‘Jam Song’ instead.

The top of Cedar Road opened out into Walton Vale. On one corner was a black Methodist Church. When I was young, very young, I assumed there was a quarry somewhere that provided black stones exclusively for Methodist Churches. The industrial grime pervading most northern cities - and our lungs - didn’t figure in a child’s mind. What did figure was the grimness of the church and its posters, exhorting us to save our souls - follow Jesus or else - and something called love that bore an unfortunate relationship with old women and tea. The words were in red or violent magenta, and, like Northern grime, pervaded my world outlook, added to a general sense of gloom.

Facing the church was the Black Bull Inn, where the damned drank, and where we would too, one day. On the other side of the road, separated by a tiny park consisting of gravel two benches and black-painted railings, was the Midland Bank. Mammon and God, and us in between, with only the smell of Jam to sustain us.

The school was newly built and playground politics resembled Dodge City. Two other schools, Blessed Sacrament and Holy Name fed into it and with it, their established gangs and pecking orders.

Presiding over everything was Mr Coleman, stern, avuncular, and largely dressed in grey. He reminded me of a bear, who fed on honey and boiled egg, and growled when he was hungry, and caned you when you’d done wrong. These are the things that go through a small boy's head when other things around him don’t make much sense.

I’d seen egg crumbs on his grey pullover once - so that was a fact. Maths however was not a fact, important but largely incomprehensible. Mr Roberts taught us. He wore a tweed jacket, was sarcastic and dry, and I liked him because he was funny. He did a good job, teaching very large classes, his voice occasionally reaching me where I sat at the back.

My ‘Road to Damascus’ moment was when he introduced fractions. I was brilliant with addition, subtraction, even multiplication. I was getting the hang of these little buggers. Then, one day he drew breath and announced he was about to teach us how to divide fractions. I knew at that moment we were about to attempt the impossible. It was the way he drew breath.

“Well, boys,” (There were girls in the class but he never addressed them. I didn’t think it peculiar at the time) “Well, boys,” he said. ‘To divide fractions…you turn them upside down…” He paused. “And multiply them!” He glared round the classroom as though daring anyone to argue, or question the sense of it, and I dropped my pencil and lowered my head. This was all nonsense, nothing compared to the smell of jam.

The Blitz began in 1940 and, as was promised by William Joyce (better known as Lord Haw Haw), it started over Liverpool.

Another promise he made was to put "jam on the crackers", a reference to the bombers' aim to blow up Jacob’s Cream Cracker factory, which was situated next door to Hartley’s jam factory.

The threat was taken seriously by the management of Hartley’s who had already installed a fire-watch on the eight storey building. The previous week in the local area of Walton Vale a pub called the ‘Windsor Castle’ had been demolished by the Luftwaffe, also the local Catholic Church of ‘Blessed Sacrament’ had had its roof blown off. The bombers were after the local Royal Ordinance factory and so the area was to be targeted again and again.

Some diversion or camouflage was called for so the management of the two factories met together to discuss ideas. The roof of Hartley’s was chosen to be the area of camouflage as it was the larger of the two factories. They planned to paint the roof of the factory green and place rocking wooden cows on it. From a great height the cows would appear to be moving in a field, and so there appeared black and white Friesian cows on the roof of Hartley’s.

Unfortunately nobody had calculated the effect of high winds on these strange rocking creatures and one flew off and landed on an adjacent railway line causing the line to short circuit. A major enquiry was held and the rocking cows were retired from service.

No one is sure whether this story is true. But apparently ‘rocking cows’ were found in an old store room in Hartley’s factory.

True or false? It’s up to you to decide.

From ‘ Forty Square Miles of Walton’ by the Walton on the Hill History group, 2000


Anonymous said...

Reading this provided great memories, especially of Mr. Roberts, THE best teacher St. Bonnies had by far !!!!!

Mike Keyton said...

A belated reply. I almost agree. For me it was Mr Bird, history followed by Mr Roberts

beryl shilton said...

so many memories, thanks for this, mr. roberts was brill, loved him and mr. bird. i was in first first year in 1966 beautiful new school .

Mike Keyton said...

Hi Beryl, I'm glad it brought back good memories. Thanks for the feedback. I think what I liked in both Mr Roberts and Mr Bird was their intelligent and never unkind sarcasm that made you laugh rather than take offence.

you must have entered Bonnies as I was leaving/recently left. And yes, I imagine the school still looked new and fresh. I'm trying to remember the Domestic Science teacher. She gave me a year of cookery when they discovered I wanted to be a chef

Unknown said...

Margaret Metcalfe: I started at Bonnies in 1970.Mr Coleman was there as headmaster my whole time there. Miss mooney was deputy head and taught needlework. Miss McGurk was our domestic science teacher. Miss Miller taught commerce and typing. Mr Slade, physics was very sweet and retired in 1975 when I finished. Mr Stanley, history. Walter Bridson, geography. Margaret Richardson, English. Miss Hammond, chemistry. Hilary Balfour, french. Mr Riley, maths. He was a tall, slight balding man with a comb-over and he'd put his hand to his head and say,"rack your brain!" Mr Bird was a house leader,I think. He never taught my classes. Mr Holt took computer class, (which I didn't take)and dj'd the lunch time discos in the newly built hall (canteen adjoined). One new penny entry, which he used to buy records. I could go on and on, I think. Oh, yes a special African student teacher called miss Adimi was so nice and invited a group of us girls to her accommodation one Saturday afternoon.
margaret musolinoa@gmail.com

Mike Keyton said...

Hi Margaret, I was halfway through my university course in 1970, but it seems St Bonaventures remained much the same. I found it a very warm and friendly school with more characters than you could shake a stick at. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your memories.

Unknown said...

I started there in 75 and left in 1980 a lot of the teachers mentioned were still around throughout my time there, reading this brought back some good and bad memories. Walter bridson, nick stanley and Tony Mason being my favourite teachers of my time there and no doubt it was those that inspired me to go into teaching

Mike Keyton said...

They may have influenced my decision to go into teaching as well. Not too sure how I feel about that 😉 though it did allow me to teach in New York for one glorious year in New York. It was a teacher exchange program and I ended up in A nice condo in Jackson Heights teaching in St Agnes Academic school for Girls, whilst ended up in a much tougher school in Newport.both of us enjoyed the experience

Paul samosa said...

I left St bonaventures,the one at the bottom of cedar road,I left school in 1979 my is Paul samosa

Unknown said...

Paul samosa, did you have a sister Donna? I think she was in my year, but not in my class and not for the whole time I was there...September 1970-July 1975.

John Swanson said...

Hi, I started in the same class as Margaret in 1970 and can remember a few other teachers; Mr King (English) Mr Jones (Music and first year Geography), and Mr Hammill (History) who I think also played football for Marine FC. There was also Mr Capaldi (Woodwork), Joe Crowe (Metalwork) and Dennis Roberts (Sports). I remember the ‘cross country’ runs we used to do up to Jacob’s then across a large field towards Evered Avenue before turning right and heading back towards Hartley’s and on to Hunslett Road – it must have only been a couple of miles but seemed a lot further at the time.
I can’t remember any computers being there, but I still have the slide rule that we had to buy in first year – I think Mr Riley must have been on commission to sell them!
Most enjoyable were the geography trips with Wally Bridson to Yorkshire and the Lake District, and the trip to Chester Zoo when ‘Arrowsmith’ was the winning house one year – the other houses were Almond, Campion and Mayne, all named after English Martyrs.
Thanks for the great article and for bringing back many happy memories of St. Bonnies.
John Swanson

Mike Keyton said...

A very belated Hi Paul and thanks for dropping by

John, I'm glad the article brought back memories. St Bonaventures always brings a smile when I think on it - which is more than can be said for many schools

Unknown said...

Hi chaps, my name is Brian Smith. I started at St Bonnie's in 1961. First in class 1a with Beryl Shilton I notice who commented earlier. Mr Coleman was head.Mr Stanniford metal work, Mr Capaldi tech drawing and wood work. Mr Bird geography,Mr Slade physics, Mr Roberts maths..... Good times. I left in 1966 with a good all round education. Entered Civil service in 1967, change of direction to Volume Housebuilding in 1971, Directorship at 33, the rest is history as they say. I am a lucky boy and owe a lot to St Bonnie's. Now an affluent retiree. Contact me on bpturnersmith@aol.com

Unknown said...

Hi Beryl, hope u r well. Remember u well. Brian.

Tony Flynn said...


Just came across your blog!

I entered Bonnies on opening day in 1960 or 61 . I lived in Orrell Park.

Left in summer of 1965 . All the names come flooding back . Mr Coleman was great Head Teacher and I had a lot of respect for him. Visited him for tea in his office circa 1972.!

I have had (what appears to be) a successful corporate career and now semi retired living in Dublin were I was born.

Still in touch with old pals David Edward who is in Ormskirk and also John Higgins in Brighton, who went on to become famous artist ( DC Comics etc....he created the image of Judge Dredd !!1 )

Does anyone have contact for Elizabeth Gardener ( her maiden name) from Walton.

Best Wishes

Tony Flynn...

Was known then as Anthony J. O'Flynn

Mike Keyton said...

Hi Tony, thanks for dropping by. What frustrates me is you must have been there when I was there, but I can't remember you. Memory is highly selective. The odds are you don't remember me so that is something. :) Did you know/remember a Francis Campbell, John Dickinson, Kevin Molloy, John Garland, Donald Rimmer? I have photos in other posts on St Bonaventures somewhere. If I can find the links I'll post them - unless you've already googled Record of a Baffled spirit St Bonaventures in which case you've already found them.

I think it marvellously strange how well we have all done. Good to hear from you Tony.

Unknown said...

Brian King English literature teacher, took us everywhere to see plays, left teaching and opened an upholstery shop in Rice Lane, sadly died. Miss Highland, art teacher, Mr Coakly, history, raving nut case. Mr Mirrabell the caretaker, Bert Reason the swimming baths attendant

Mike Keyton said...

After my time, Gary. I left 1964, I think

Gerald O'Flynn said...

Hello from your little brother.....

Anonymous said...

Hi My name is Steve
I was there a couple a years after my sister started , our Theresa between 73-78
I remember all the teachers from Headmaster Coleman to Miss Richardson and her hairy wart
I do remember a brute of a teacher who chinned me , The lovely Mr Walton / Science , this he did in the corridor out of view
never did it again after my father showed up and straightened him out
Apart from him and Dr Fearon also science , what is it with science teachers ? to much sniffing the bunson burners I think , all other teachers where ok

Anonymous said...

List of guys in my year
Eddie Kidd
Steve Hedley
Steve McCoy
Willy Holmes
Gary Hoey
Joey Orr
Mick Cummins
Dave Rimmer
Keith Hesketh
Anthony Plaskett
Peter Marr
John Leggett
Tony Moran
Robbie Spears
all from the Holy Name school

Unknown said...

I went to Bonnie's same time as you 73-78
I was in the A class

Sharon Gallagher
Teresa fitzgerald (me)
Denise jones
Monica caddick
Debbie valiant
Denise beckets (died age 14)

Unknown said...

Michelle tar buck , Sheila o halloran sylvia pih
Peter marr thomas spring frank vaccarazzi david O'Brien mark Coleman John legget ?

Anonymous said...

Rememeber a lot of those names
I was friends with the Caddick lads
Bernie and Jimmy ( Bit older than me )
Remember they lived facing Robbie Spears ( good friend of mine )
My sister still lives in Longmoor lane as does another in Sherwoods lane
I was in the Campion house
Though it was not as glamorous as Maine / Almond and Arrowsmith
I think they plonked all the saddo,s in Campion to keep us safe
Shout out if you were a Campion Saddo

Unknown said...

Monica caddick was a good friend of mine in school , she's still in same house

lol I was in campion

Unknown said...

Sorry almond

Mike Keyton said...

Anon, you mentioned David Rimmer and John Leggett. I was in a class with Donald Rimmer and an Agnes Legget and a girl called Ruth Aldiss. I wonder if they're related or if you know any of them

Anonymous said...

Ah Theresa you were obviously one of the clever ones in Almond .
Dave Rimmer lived in side road just facing what was Fazakerley hospital and John Legget lived in Haven road i believe
I do not know of their siblings although John did have a brother , Paul
I moved to London chasing the money , and now live in Surrey , which has proved a good move
I do return to my beloved city to see my family/ sisters a few times a year
and maybe one day will retire there , who knows , I always have and always will sing the praises of Liverpool and the people within.

Unknown said...

Hi all. I was at St. Bonnies from 1967-71. Great memories reading you’re article and comments from other ex pupils. My brother, Andy joined shortly before I left. Nobody has mentioned Mrs Kearns, an older, refined lady who taught us Typing, commerce and French. John Leggett’s sister was Agnes, a big family but they didn’t have a brother called Paul. Margaret Metcalfe, I hope you are keeping well. Thanks for the lovely memories from Angela Jones

Ollie Turner said...

Hi Gary,

Do you have any more memories of Mr King? I’m married to his daughter, and it’s now been 18 years since he passed. We’re keen to capture any memories of his time as a teacher. We know very little.

Thank you,


John Swanson said...

Hi Ollie, I remember Mr King (or Kingy) from the early 70’s. Appearance wise ‘Shaggy’ from ‘Scooby Doo’ used to remind me of him. He was quite ‘hippy’ like and used to drive to school in an old green campervan which one of my mates bought years later. He was fairly strict and didn't suffer fools and I can’t remember anyone ever messing about in his class. I remember him taking us to the Odeon to see the film ‘Far from the madding crowd’ and also to Kirkby Market to learn poetry, which I just couldn't get at all!! His unconventional teaching methods must have worked though as I passed my English ‘O’ level, so thank you Mr King and RIP.

Mike Keyton said...

Anonymous and Angela Sefton - belated thanks ref my Agnes Leggett enquiry. Like dandelion seeds blown in strong winds, everyone I knew are scattered forever. :)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Affluent Conference 2006 said...

Just wanted to add to the memories of Brian King. He was my English Teacher and thanks to him I got an A in CSE English. I loved the lessons, he was way ahead of his time in terms of how he interacted with his pupils. I often used to spend my break time in his class just chatting about books and stuff. I was, of course at 15 yrs old totally besotted with him. He was a great guy, hippyish and friendly ... I still can see him in my minds eye, and I have fond memories of his classes ... Was so sad to hear he had passed away, such a loss

Anonymous said...

Hi I left Bonnies in 1982 I was friends with Sue Campbell I wish I knew were she was now

MaggIe Down, maiden name, Margy Reynolds said...

Margaret, I am Margy Reynolds, I was at Bonnie's, I think from.74 yo about 78, 79...I know you though...? Must be from Bonnie's...these were all my teachers..Didnt you used to hang around with Sandra Bullock?

Margaret Musolino, nee Metcalfe said...

Hi Maggie,
Sorry I don't remember you.
I knew Sandra Bullock but we weren't friends. She wasn't in my class. My friends were Sandra Lunt, Ann Lysaght, Anne Cannon, Denise Christopherson, Carol Scott, Christine Gouldburn. Still in contact with Ann Lysaght, now Green.
Who were your friends?

Unknown said...

Hi all, just stumbled on this blog, reading it has brought back lots of fond memories, my name is Rudy Morrow, was at Bonnie's from 74-79, aswell as some of the names mentioned who I remember well, quite surprisingly my mates were, Mark Dyer, Gerald Brown, Tony Cummings, John Lackey, some of the girls were, Kathleen Daly, Mary Rooney, Jeannette Reading, Caroline Russell to name but a few, fantastic reminiscing keep it going x

Philly said...

Hello all lovely ex Bonevnature school kids. My name is Philomena. I was there from 1974 to 1977. Lovethw netball and athletic.cookey classes I remember Mr Coleman the head master. Mr Roberts. Mr Stanley. Miss balfour, she was getting married around 1977. Mr bidson. And many more. I was friends with Tina langloise. I sat next to Caroline in maths. I knew a David mercer I think he was friends with the surname spears.

Reply philomenagorton@gmai.com

Unknown said...

Hello, Michael,
thank you for the blog. Great stuff. Good to read comments from those we went to school with. I went to St Bonaventures with you and the afore mentioned Brian Smith, Beryl Shilton and many more I will mention at a later date. We also went to Blessed Sacrament which is at the top of Chapel Ave where I lived with mum dad two brothers and three sisters. Half of the kids went to Bonnies and the other half to various grammar schools.
If I recall correctly you and Anthony Lawson changed horses and went to grammar school in the leafy suberbs prior to the final 'stay on' year of 1966 5a which I like to think actually turned out well due to the great people in the class and some excellent teachers.
I found your blog by chance.I Googled Hartleys. After being away from Liverpool since 1970 I was searching for a part time job after a failed attempt at retirement and up pops a job in Hartley Ave Aintree, yards away from St Bonaventures and Renwick Rd where I was born. Never dreamt I'd be travelling back to Aintree, but I am. For the past 18 months. I'm out of office at the moment due to the dreadful virus.

I look forward to writing again about teachers and St Bonavetures.
In the meantime, Stay in, Rock out.

best regards, Macca aka Paul McDonald

Ps Happy Birthday to all of 5a 1966, most, if not all have a big birthday this year.

Mike Keyton said...

Hi Macca - I'm scratching my head in frustration and shame. I can't place your face. I remember being in love with Ruth Aldiss, but she never knew. I remember Kevin Molloy, Donald Rimmer, Francis Campbell, John Dickinson, Anthony Waters, somebody Berry and John Garland. Perhaps a girl called Agnes Legget? But everything else has gone with age.
My brother Tony left Blessed Sacrament for Everard High School - and yes I remember Tony Lawson. He lived opposite us in Ribblesdale ave.
I didn't escape as such but left in 1965 to go to Mabel Fletcher Catering College before fate took my be the scruff of the neck and kicked me in another direction.
It' must be weird for you coming back - from where?
I hope you find other memories of the area also on the blog - probably under the heading Liverpool - equally interesting. Thanks for calling in - and apologies again. Compensate yourself with having a superior memory :)

Unknown said...

Hi, Michael,
just to let you know you have no problems with your memory. You were a year ahead of me looking at the names you mentioned. You may possibly have been at primary with one of my older brothers?
Wondered if you recall miss Donaghue who became mrs McGlaughlin when she married around 1962 when we were in our second year (your third year). She was our form teacher and would you believe, our French teacher. I recall my regular detention. She was one of the best teachers we had and only 21 at the time. Just 10 years older.
Re read your recall on woodwork class. Spot on. I also remember a guy in our class, Terry Boardman, who after permission from Mr Capaldi, set about knocking up a guitar from scratch. And he did. Copy of a StratAcaster. Respect to Terry.

best regards

Mike Keyton said...

Damn, all I got to make was a Crucifix, some kind of bookshelf and, my pride and joy - a turned fruit bowl that my mum persuaded me to give as a leaving gift to the domestic science teacher (can't remember her name now) for preparing me for catering college.
AND I missed out of French. It seems to me you had all the luck. A twenty-one year old French teacher. Dream on Keyton

John Tilley said...

Hi All
Recognise a few names on here. Went to Bonnies (and survived!) 1974-1977. I lived on Buckingham Road just off the vale until 1981. My sister Paula also went there from 1975 but then transferred to Queen Mary. Some great teachers there and more than a few crap ones! Remember Mr Walton going missing after his beloved Sunderland won the FA cup!

Best wishes to all fellow survivors!

Mike Keyton said...

Hi John, fellow survivor, glad you enjoyed the post - how did you find the site? I’m just congenitally nosey so. forgive me ��

Unknown said...

Attended Bonnies from 1964 loved reading this, gave my memories a boost thanks 😊

Mike Keyton said...


Unknown said...

I attended Bonnies from 1963 to 1968. My name was Helen Rimmer. Mr. Bird was our form teacher and Geography teacher at the time.

Mike Keyton said...

Hi Helen, and many thanks for the comment. Mr Bird was my favourite teacher. He taught me history and ironically I ended up as a history teacher myself - so he must have been okay :)

Are you by any chance related to Donald Rimmer? He, along with John Garland and Neil Campbell, Kevin Molloy and John Dickinson was one of my best friends at school

Take care

Tom said...


Tom said...

Stumbled across this post regarding St Bonnys and wow lots of good memories of the head Mr Colman and other teachers and school friends
I am talking mid sixties and names still in the memory bank mainly from the football teams
Chris Little, Terry Robert’s, Willie Chambers , Mike Cantwell, Tommy Joyce , Tommy Malone, Stephen Lloyd , Mike Cantwell and some of the girls Colette and Maureen Garland , Pat Hall , Anne Faye , Elaine O’Brien ,Susan Murphy .
Mike Little & Sue Murphy went on to Marry and have 4 Children
Sadly one or two of the above are no longer with us but those who are stay safe & well through this difficult time 😘

Mike Keyton said...

Hi Tom,
and thanks for dropping by. I'm glad the post brought back memories. Out of interest do you know whether Colette and Maureen Garland had an elder brother called John? I don't remember the girl's names I only had eyes for a Ruth Aldiss, my first great crush but she didn't know it :)

Unknown said...

Hi i was at Bonnie's 68 72 my name is Patrick foy my form teacher was Mrs Purcell I mates Jimmy coulson Tony cullenan Kevin Daley we were always skipping lessons my crush was Candice parr happy days Mr king was my favourite teacher

Unknown said...

Bonnie's 68 72 a list of pupils in my class girls if I can remember Claire foy Brenda MC Donald Shirley Marr Anita swinddels Sharon Lunt boys Jimmy coulson Kevin Daley Tony cullenan Paul Malone Steven Smith Frances Smith Tony Hannah