Schoolday memories have come flooding back with the release of a new book chronicling the history of Weymouth Grammar School.

From Weymouth To Budmouth; A History of Weymouth Grammar School has been written by ex-pupil David Rayner.

David was at the school, which had three sites in and around Weymouth, from 1963 to 1970.

He said: "My aim has been to preserve the memory of the school and chart its long and illustrious history.

"In preparing the book I was greatly assisted by many of the almost 900 members of the Facebook group 'Weymouth Old Grammarians', which is entirely made up of former pupils and members of staff."

Weymouth Grammar School was established in 1913 and served the town for more than 72 years.

In his description of the book, David, who lives in Kent, says: "It is a story of tradition and progress of comic episodes and unexpected tragedy, of discipline, discovery and enjoyment which remain firmly in the memories of those who attended as pupils or served on the teaching staff."

The book is a fascinating compendium of grammar school history. 

David has included uniform plates and maps he produced himself, together with a number of photographs illustrating points within the text.

There is a map of Connaught House, showing the position of the earlier Portmore, a map of the Main School and another of the New School in Charlestown.

The book also chronicles various incidents at the school caused by the weather, icluding the series of blizzards in the late 1970s which closed most Dorset schools for a week and the very hot summer of 1976 which caused ceiling tiles to fall down in many of the classrooms, meaning that the school was forced to close for a week in order for repairs to be carried out!

Notable alumni are mentioned in the book, including Ronald Allison, who went to the school in the 1940s and after working for the BBC, became the Queen's Press Secretary in 1973 for five years. He died just last year, on July 26, 2022, aged 90.

Appendices cover the headmasters, teaching staff, Gilbert & Sullivan shows and more.

The 'unavoidably incomplete', as David terms it, list of teaching staff stretches from 1913 to 1985.

There are some amusing anecdotes in the list of headteachers, including some memorable nicknames such as Mr J Pitts, headteacher from September 1973, a first class football referee, who was nicknamed 'Cess'.

The book also documents some tales of tragedy from the school's history, including that of headmaster from 1952 Mr S F Parsons, known as Stan, who placed emphasis on academic achievement and dramatic and operatic peformances. He retired in 1973 but Mr Parsons and his wife were both injured in Spain in late 1983, struck on a pedestrian crossing in Spain by a vehicle that failed to stop. He suffered multiple serious wounds and remained in a coma until he passed away on February 12, 1984, aged 70. His wife Jean made a slow recovery from her injuries.

Today there is almost nothing remaining of the grammar school buildings and only a few incomplete records in archives at the orset History Centre in Dorchester.

After doing some online research David found there, sadly, to be almost no images of the school buildings and very few of the headmasters or teaching staff.

David describes From Weymouth To Budmouth; A History of Weymouth Grammar School as 'an obituary for a lost institution and a celebration of its life and enduring legacy'.

"The school changed the lives of everyone who was connected with it, fore the better in most cases. I hope that they will consider this book to be a fitting tribute."

He added: "My formative and most impressionable years were spent at the school and I certainly view it as responsible for shaping the adult I became." 

  • From Weymouth To Budmouth; A History of Weymouth Grammar School is available from Amazon in Kindle, paperback and hardback formats.