Class 5X

In 1960, Headmaster Bill Gillion, with the co-opted help of Harry Smith, inaugurated a new form 5X. This was a special class was for the most gifted pupils of form 3A. It meant that the small group would study the fifth form syllabus, with the best available tutoring, in their fourth year to gain a year so that they would be able to study Open Scholarship, which went well beyond normal ‘A’ Level, in their year in the Upper Sixth rather than having to spend an addition year there.

The class was comprised of just twelve boys. Nine of the twelve gained places to Oxford or Cambridge Universities. To put this in context, Repton School achieved eight in the same year!

Sadly there was strong pressure, both internal and external, to look after the lesser able pupils rather than the brightest so the exercise was never repeated. Harry and other of the school’s most senior teachers saw this as the “start of the rot”.

Christopher Tipper is the one pupil missing from the photo. It is thought that he went to Leeds University to he read Mathematics.

Top row from left to right:

Michael Green, studied Metallurgy at Oxford (New College) and now lives in the northern part of England. He visited classmate John Watson some time ago in Copenhagen in connection with some consultative work for IBM. He is still in contact with Roger Heape.

John Watson, studied Chemistry at Oxford (St. Edmund Hall), but converted to the computer industry and moved to Denmark for personal reasons in 1969. He has since worked for IBM for whom he has now worked for close to 40 years and still lives in Copenhagen with his wife Ida.

Roger Heape is considered a very central character. He was a fantastic DJ at John Watson’s 50th birthday in Copenhagen back in 1995 – his guests still talk about it, so many years after! Roger studied Geography at Cambridge (Pembroke College) and has had a lot to do with the Airlines business – BEA in the beginning and British Airways later on in a very top position. Roger has now retired and lives in Winchester together with his wife, Jenny.

Michael Hayton (aka Tudge) went to Cambridge (Churchill College) to study languages and went on to qualify as a Chartered Accountant.

David Allen was the only pupil in the class who did not go on to university.

Bottom Row from left to right:

Richard Inwood became Bishop of Bedford in 2003, however, he started his university career at Oxford (University College) studying Chemistry. (There are lots of web items to be found about Richard and some of them describe his career after Oxford).

Alan Stewart went to Oxford (St. Catherine’s College) and studied Metallurgy on an Exhibition Scholarship. He went on to do a PhD at Oxford before joining the CEGB (Central Electricity Generating Board as it was then).

Chris Howe went to Oxford (St. Edmund Hall) and also studied Metallurgy on an Exhibition Scholarship. He then went into the IT industry where he spent 20 years with ICL before retiring.

Arthur Presswell was the 5x form master and taught History. He did not spend long at the Grammar School and is thought to have come from Southend-on-Sea.

Alan Cooper went to Sheffield University and studied Geology. He also enjoyed an excellent Rugby Union career which included a number of England caps. He went to New Zealand to continue his studies. There, he went to Otago University. Despite not going to Oxbridge, he went on to become a professor (see

David Gooderick went to Cambridge (Emmanuel College) following which he did a teaching diploma at Oxford (Exter College) and went into teaching.

Chris Jeggo went to Oxford (St. Catherine’s College) on a Full Open Scholarship to study Physics. (articles on the web about him and contributed articles and photos to BGS). Chris moved into defence R&D in 1974 and has remained there ever since, working for a couple of different employers.

Teachers involved with 5x were:

English: Norman ‘Coddy’ Roe
French: Hugh Wood
Latin: Joseph ‘Jake’ Hammond
Spanish: (for the linguists): K.T. ‘Katie’ Harris
Maths: Harry ‘Brab’ Smith
Physics: Ezra Somekh
Chemistry: (for the scientists): Norman Jones
Geography: Ron ‘Ronnie’ Illingworth, and Geoffrey ‘Gaff’ Henton
History: Arthur ‘Elvis’ Presswell who also served as form master.

All pupils in 5x took at least eight ‘O’ levels.

Over 50 years later, a reunion lunch took place in Oxford with nine of the original members in attendance.


Website by Kevin Gallagher