'Encourage your child to read novels and more serious books. Discourage the reading of comics'.

'Pupils must behave in public in a quiet and orderly fashion. Shouting and horseplay are strictly forbidden in public'.


These are just two of the many regulations facing pupils of Beaminster and Netherbury Grammar School in the 1950s.

We have deleved into the archives to once again look at the history of the school whose origins date back as far as the 15th century.

The school's history was brillianatly chronicled in A History of the Beaminster and Netherbury Grammar School, by Chickerell author Derek Woodland, which charts the school's fascinating background from its charitable foundations to its transition into a comprehensive school in the 1960s.

Derek was himself a pupil at the school, one of 50 boarders out of a total of 150 students there. The book took him over two years to write and is full of interesting anecdotes, facts and figures and the air of an age long gone.

He told the Echo in 2006: "I was there from 1952 to 55 as a boarder.

"It was quite an unusual school as although it was a grammar school, it had a wide catchment area of the whole of west Dorset and it was also co-educational. It was probably quite unique in its time.

"It was quite remarkable, the school was formed from two endowed schools. Netherbury Grammar School which was dated to the 15th century and the Tucker Charity School in Beaminster, that was founded on a charitable bequest from Frances Tucker, who owned farms and property in the Mapperton area. Frances came from a wealthy west Dorset family and although was never married, she was known as Mrs Frances Tucker."

Along with some personal bequests, Frances Tucker had earmarked some of her will for charitable purposes.

She owned two farms, with the one at South Mapperton the source of the bequest to form a school.

The book includes some of her will, a part of which reads: "And as part of my farms called South Mapperton, it is my will is that it shall be disposed of and settled as followeth - that is to say Imprimus for the maintenance of a school master jointly to be chosen by my executors or the major part of them I give Twenty pounds per annum for ever which schoolmaster shall have twenty of the poorest boys of the parish aforesaid remitted to his charge."

During the 1800s Britain witnessed a population growth and an increase in the number of schools to accommodate the extra pupils.

"The schools remained the same until 1869 with the introduction of the Endowed Schools Act, brought in by the government to cope with the population explosion. They decided to use schools that had been based on charitable foundations and turn them into 'middle class' which were really aimed at middle class children, those of tradesmen, farmers, the professionals and bankers - all those sorts of people.

"There was great resistance to the move. Netherbury was losing its grammar school it had had for 400 years and in Beaminster there was great upset because the school was now to be run by appointed governors."

Despite the protest the merge happened with the Beaminster and Netherbury Grammar School coming into being on April 1, 1881. But it was not until January 1897 that the school opened up on premises it would remain, at the Old Potteries site in Hogshill Street, Beaminster.

In November that year it was suggested that the school build a chemical laboratory ands workshop on the site as part of the celebrations for Queen Victoria's jubilee.

Derek said: "They then decided to take in girls in 1905 which wasn't so rare but the combination of boarding and co-educational was. There were about 50 boarders and 100 day pupils so it was a unique community. The boarders had considerable influence over the school."

In 1903 the county council had asked the school to consider setting up an agricultural element to it to serve the needs of the county. The school governors jumped at the chance as it would mean more funds and according to Derek, remained the county's agricultural school for the rest of its days.

Pupils came from all across Dorset to study at the school. A 1925 census of pupils' hometowns revealed the majority came from Beaminster, Netherbury and Broadwindsor but also some from Wyke Regis, Abbotsbury, Hazlebury Bryan, Upwey, Dorchester, and Maiden Newton.

The book shows that although three decades had passed since the school was changed to a middle class school there was still a preoccupation with the 'social standing' of its pupils. An inspection report of 1905 noted the occupations of pupils' parents under the heading Class in Life, listing how many were the sons of merchants and bankers, farmers and clerks.

The book includes other major events throughout its history from pupils' input in the First World War to the pupil who was removed from the classroom to become a teacher, only to later become a pupil again. Some of the information speaks of a time long ago but even Derek's own recollections seem like something from the early 19th century.

"As boarders we were only allowed two baths per week, one shirt, one pair of socks and one pair of underwear. We couldn't wash them in between as we didn't have the facilities.

"They were still the days of corporal punishment. Prefects could use their slipper on you and the headmaster the cane, which he carried out with military precision. You would end up with two bruises across each buttock for each swipe. The normal amount was three hits, sometimes four and sometimes six.

"I remember one boy who went haymaking on a summer evening with a girl who was a pupil at the school. He was taking his time and didn't realise what the time was.

"Come 9pm for lights out and he's nowhere to be seen. He eventually rolled in at 10pm, clearly not realising what time it was. He got nine goes with the cane for that. He couldn't sit down for a week."

Some of the school regulations circa 1950

* Encourage your child to read novels and more serious books. Discourage the reading of comics.

* See that your child is indoors by 9pm in summer and by lighting-up time in winter. Exception to this rule should be made only if a parent is accompanying a child, or if the child is attending a meeting of a Youth Organisation such as Army or Air Force Cadets, the GTC, the Scouts etc.

* Do not allow your child to loaf about the streets or in Fore Place at any time.

* Permission to keep a child away from school for the agricultural work must first be obtained from the headmaster. The law allows not more than 20 half-days of absence in any one year for agricultural work.

* Remember that the school is trying to do all it can to ensure that your child has a successful life. Therefore NEVER criticise the school in the child's hearing come first for information to the headmaster or senior mistress.

Pupils' section

*Pupils must behave in public in a quiet and orderly fashion. Shouting and horseplay are strictly forbidden in public.

* Pupils must greet members of staff in public, boys raising their cap if wearing them. Cadets in uniform will salute as laid down in the training manuals for their service.

* Smoking is forbidden.

* Pupils under the age of sixteen are forbidden to attend public dances during the term. Public bars are out of bounds at all times.

* Catapults, firearms, airguns and air-pistols must NOT be brought into the school grounds.

17. Pupils when going to and from the school fields will keep to the south side of the road and will not walk more than three abreast.