Punchbowl Boys' High School, Punchbowl, NSW, Australia

My photo above was taken during a school fete in the early 1960s.

Over time I've collected together memories of my time at PBHS. This includes notes handed out upon arrival in 1960 relating to school life and rules, school reports, the school magazine (The Voyagers) and so on. I've scanned material from The Voyagers and also converted interesting articles to documents to enable easier reading on the part of those looking at this page.

Memorable characters
School Life


Despite recently compiling my memories of Bankstown North Public School for their 150th celebrations and related publication, I initially found it difficult to recall much of my time at PBHS. Primary and secondary schools then (and probably now) differed in their treatment of pupils. In primary I was fortunate in being taught by a number of fondly remembered teachers who came to know me quite well. Primary teachers were (in my experience) like GPs whereas secondary teachers were specialists for the most part, although most could, when required, fill in for teachers of other subjects.

Personal recollections from Facebooks' 'Bankstown NSW Photographic Memories' administrator, John T

In the beginning, there was an empty field.
(Photo sourced from Andy Brill's aerial collection on Flickr.)

"In the beginning was chaos. Empty rooms, lack of information, lack of fences and a bustling noisy set of workmen trying to complete their job, added to the confusion. In addition some 800 boys with dozens of parents roaming in quest of enrolment and a scattered staff ‑ most of whom knew few of their fellows ‑ increased the difficulty of getting the wheels under way. Worst of all, there was neither furniture, money, nor arrangements for even the minimum of essentials . . . School began with make‑shift collapsible tables and chairs."
Those remarks were made by the school's first Headmaster, Mr. H. E. G. Atkins, in the 10th Anniversary issue of THE VOYAGERS, 1964.

The photo below showing Mr Booth demonstrating the wonders of television comes from THE VOYAGERS, 1960.

Memorable characters
Initials have been occasionally used in this online version to protect privacy.

There was one teacher I took a special liking to at PBHS, Mr W A S Little. He was the Latin teacher with a great love of his subject, so much so that he’d go on overseas ‘digs’ during the holidays, uncovering and preserving ancient artifacts. How I enjoyed those lessons when he’d arrive with the slide projector to show us his latest Mediterranean adventures among the remains of early civilisations. His initials resulted in his being called ‘Waso’ or ‘Was big, now little’ by the boys. Sometime around the turn of the century I emailed Mr Little via the old Schoolfriends web site. A friend or family member had enrolled him on the site. That person was good enough to reply with the news that Mr Little had left the state system and taken up a religious teaching position in later years up north. He was happy to know one of his old pupils remembered him with kindness.

There were, not unexpectedly, a number of other memorable characters among the staff. Mr ‘Charlie’ R was the deputy head, tall and bald with an easy manner and a subtle sense of humour, I remember being out the front during lunchtime when an orange hurtled through the air. It missed his head by a narrow margin and splattered on the wall near to the main entrance. He didn’t flinch but made a throwaway remark about the lack of marksmanship on the part of the culprit.

Charlie could wield the cane when required but it was the English master, Mr E, who appeared to hand out more lashings than the rest of the staff. He would allegedly prowl the passages looking for anyone out of class, or any class making an excessive amount of noise. I, together with a dozen others, was on the receiving end of his weapon of choice one afternoon. For some long-forgotten reason, we’d failed to bring our PE shorts so were all treated to one cut each. This was my only caning during my school years and being inexperienced, I held my hand out firmly rather than relaxing and riding it out. Regular recipients took it with an air of calmness; their hands and fingers had become acclimatised!

French teacher Mr F was prone to fits of temper, brought on by certain stirrers at the back of the class. His catch-cry was “Cut it out, fella”! After his departure we were treated to an attractive but sensitive lady French teacher. I recall her running from the classroom in tears on more than one occasion. Teenagers can be cruel although I always felt sorry for her. Her exit was usually followed by Mr E’s arrival, cane in hand. The usual trouble-makers would be extracted and paraded in the passage before being led off for corporal punishment. Occasionally this would be administered by the headmaster, Mr J. By all reports, he could lay it on harder than Mr E. Perhaps his flowing robe lent him strength.

School Life

With little interest in team sports, my one regular remembered ‘sport’ was playing chess during the lunch break. If I recall rightly, Oscar B taught me how to play. Chess taught me a lot about life in general. Tennis and golf held more pleasure for me than footer or cricket. I believe we were able to play golf in fifth class. Oscar had been a mate through primary and remained so during my time at PBHS. We lost touch when I started working in the city. He eventually joined the Federal Police as I found out when we met up 40 years later, thanks to the online Fifth Fleet website. The latter forum was set up to gather all those folk who migrated to Australia after WW2. Strangely enough, my dentists’ surgery now occupies a building on the site of Oscar’s family home in Jacobs St, Bankstown. Oscar returned to his hometown in Latvia in 2017 after living in Tasmania for a number of years.

Some pupils are more memorable than others. The most enthusiastic was Kim O who really enjoyed answering questions asked in class. He would throw his hand up, often startling the rest of us. Kim had his own lab at home and when I first viewed ‘Back to the Future’, I thought of him as ‘Doc’! Another chap I can’t immediately put a name to is remembered for his disappointed shout of “I can’t find my glasses!” during a swimming carnival at Bankstown pool when another pupil (name conveniently forgotten) pulled the bikini top off (possibly) a Wiley Park pupil.

One never knows what to expect in the future. I recall our careers advisor, Mr McCann, later to serve a term as Mayor of Bankstown, teaching us history for a term or two and uttering a similar expression. The only subject I excelled in was Descriptive Geometry and Drawing. Having topped the subject in 1st year, I gave it away in favour of Latin in 2nd year. Such is life.

To be continued.

Page launched in November, 2018.

Contents will expand when time permits. My email address is chiefchook@gmail.com