The House changes at the end of the 50s/beginning 60s - Chris Snuggs & Dennis Alexander

This has always been somewhat confusing, even for boys there at the time! Anyone arriving in September 1961 and after would only have known SIX senior houses, but it wasn't always so.

Dennis Alexander and I have come up with what we hope is the definitive explanation of the house changes at the end of the 50s/beginning 60s. Does THIS make sense to those there at the time? Would anyone like to add any further comments? I

  • From 1950 to July 57 there were four houses: Corners, Halls, Hansons & Johnstons - all named after the first housemasters .
  • In Sept. 1957 was created a FIFTH house, called "junior house", presumably under the initiative of Mr Smitherman.
  • In Sept 1958 this single junior house was split into TWO junior houses named Berners & Orwell.
  • In Sept 1961 those were converted under the initiative of G.H.B. into two new SENIOR houses but retaining the names.

There are some questions still remaining:

  • Did the junior house created for the 1957 school year have a NAME or was it just called "the Junior House"?
  • In other words, were the names Berners and Orwell only used from September 1958 onwards?
  • WHY exactly did the school management create a junior house in 1957 and then two more in 1958? What was the rationale?
  • G.H.B. is believed to have wanted the conversion of junior Berners and Orwell into senior houses. Was this because Smitherman's experiment in some way failed?
  • The corollary of that question is: What were the advantages and disadvantages of Smitherman's junior house experiment?
  • How did the boys affected at the time feel about these changes? I started at WHS in September 1958 in Berners House, then went to Halls after 2 years, and after one year there some of my mates went BACK to the new Berners senior house. I confess that I never thought that much about it; one mostly just went with the flow and accepted things as "normal". But these questions are interesting in hindsight.

On a personal note, when the time came (sometime in 1961-1962) for some Halls boys to go to the new Berners House (I think none of us went to Orwell, which must have had boys from two of the other houses - but WHICH ONES?) I very much wanted to go back to Berners along with some friends who were going, but Taffy refused to let me - why, I never knew, and I was of course too timid to ASK why!

What remains to be clarified in detail is where EXACTLY the four original houses were actually housed prior to the opening of Halls, Johnstons and Orwell. In Nissen huts except Berners, yes, but ALL on the main field, or some down Orwell side or elsewhere?

These are the housemasters as far as I know: corrections welcome! I personally think it was misguided to call the houses after their first
Housemasters and would have preferred, for example: Plato, Socrates, Galileo, Newton, Faraday & Einstein. The Housemasters were
temporary, and naming the houses after famous historical philosophers and scientists might have stimulaed more interest in the latter!
Steve Corner
William Halls
Roy Hanson
Leslie Johnston
Ivor Glyn Evans
Robert V. Rowland
Michael Shakeshaft
Fred Mudd
Jim Hyde
Derek Thornbery

The WHS House Structure - Comments & Questions here!