Ben Matania & Ronald Paradine - Chris Snuggs

I recently posted this photo sent to me by Tina Matania, daughter of Ben Matania at WHS from 50 to 54. Ben's great friend Ron died recently, with whom Ben often used to chat about his WHS days - and whom he misses greatly.

I had a ZOOM meeting with Ben yesterday to chat about those early days, which for me are fascinating. One can imagine the huge excitement of those early years: John Smitherman, Leslie Johnston, Roy Hanson, Mr Halls, Taffy Evans, Pop Corner, Fred Mudd and others creating a new school in the enthusiastic optimism of the immediate post-war years - an optimism sadly turned to near-despair in the 21st century.

He said he had his ups and downs with Taffy but basically got on with him pretty well. Apparently there was SOCCER in the earliest days and at some point a vote of some kind was taken to make rugby the official school sport, but this needs further clarification.

The Lagonda in the background belonged to Mr Shuttleworth, who Ben agreed was not the nicest teacher he ever met. He also told me that while not an academic star he was a fanatic with anything mechanical, and masters used to ask him to tinker with their cars when the latter were playing up!

He also said there was (obviously) a very strong LNS flavour to activities in the very early days, with a lot of old LNS personnel around the place doing various things. The Sea Cadets were prominent and Ben had "Seamanship Classes", but I didn't clarify whether they were actually part of the formal syllabus: I suspect not.

Tina sent me his old SEAMAN'S POCKETBOOK, which is online here:

Another interesting anectode was his account of a tour round the Ransomes & Rapier factory in Ipswich. What a great idea, and one that my era never experienced. I personally think that ALL kids should be shown round a factory or two; (just as they should be shown round a farm); they are fascinating places, and fundamental to our modern way of life. I did a bit of research on Ransomes, which has an awesome history; the industrial jewel of Ipswich for many years. I added a couple of links about the company here.

He mentioned a teacher nicknamed "Snaky", but couldn't remember his real name - couldn't have been Shakey (too early!). He recalled Fred Mudd very well, as I do.

I'm sure he would be up for another such chat in a week or two, so if anyone is interested pls let me know, especially if you are from those first years.