Memories of Malta. Miss Lily Harris-Candey 1902 - 1961
Random Memories. Miss Jacquee Yule 1949 - 1971
(Originally published in the 1978 School Magazine)
Tal Handaq 24 Years Ago. Christopher Beavis 1951 -1957
(Originally published in the 1975 School Magazine) Contributed by Martin Powell through TH Reunion (1998).
MEMORIES OF MALTA
We are delighted to include some personal reminiscences of the School, from an ex-teacher, Miss Lily Harris Candey, whose father was Headmaster until 1918, and who taught at the School herself after the Second World War.
My father was a Naval Schoolmaster. We came to Malta in 1902 where he (my father) was attached to the Dockyard School, then as you know, inside the Dockyard gate in Senglea.
In 1904 the school was removed to the old prison in Strada Prigione (the names were all Italian in those days). Now you will be interested to know that it was the children's and apprentices school in one, because the children's opened at 9.00 a.m. till 12.00 started again at 2 p.m. till 4 — then the staff had to go back to teach the apprentices from 6 to 7.30 p.m.
The children were those whose fathers were employed in the Dockyard (the lowliest labourer was entitled to send his children to the Dockyard school) and of course those of any service men. The children entered at the age of five years, went on until 7th standard (age 14 years) — the girls left, the boys had an examination. According to their position in the result list, so the lads could choose their trade — engineer, electrician etc. On leaving school these lads attended the Dockyard by day to learn their trade — left the yard at five o'clock and back to night school from six to seven thirty.
Many prominent men in Malta are old Dockyard School boys, who later were able to go to Lyceum and/or University. The Garrison Schools stood, apart from St Andrews, at Santa Margarita, Cospicua and Ricasoli. The children travelled by brakes drawn by lovely great horses. Schoolmasters were in uniform. The Dockyard School Staff consisted of Headmaster, Assistant (both Naval) three civilian male teachers, two Maltese male teachers, extra for night school, and three female teachers for Infants, Standards I and II. Many interesting things happened for the Dockyard School children — the Visit of King George and Queen Mary, also the German Emperor with his great moustaches — for these occasions we all lined the route from Marsa to Valletta. The laying of the foundation stone of the breakwater by King Edward, where the school children went over to sing, under my father's baton (he was the music master).
Once the dear old Duke of Connaught had his birthday here. The school children were all invited to the Palace for tea. On leaving we had to pass along in front of the Duke and Princess Pat, who gave the girls each a doll and the boys a sailing boat.
The Admiral of the Dockyard would call in whenever he liked. Each month a member of the school Committee would be on duty. This committee consisted of Admiral Parson, Engineer Captain, Admiral's Secretary and Civilian Secretary — as far as I can remember. The Naval Parson (who had a fine house in Bighi) came to the school for Religious instruction to the Protestants — Canon Cassar, the Roman Catholic Naval Priest took care of the Catholics; two of the masters were of this denomination.
Eventually my father became Headmaster, being relieved in 1918. After being in England with the family until they died, I gravitated back to Malta, where I was extremely lucky to get a job at the Royal Naval School, Headmaster Commander, later Captain Miles. The staff then consisted of Naval Schoolmasters, their wives and those like myself, locally entered people — Great fun, we had few text books, when these were ordered from the Admiralty they took so long in coming that we all had other ideas by the time they (the books) arrived. We did our best with our own brains!
However, later the seconded people arrived, and it was most amusing to note their chagrin to find how they were expected to work. You see they all wanted "a free hand" they didn't understand "Navy," much less Pink books, white cards, correct reports, with a care not to hurt the feelings of the parents. That's how it was when I was at Tal Handaq. As the school was enlarged the Infants and Juniors went to Verdala, myself with them.
All together I spent seventeen very very happy years, my last Headmaster being Instr. Commander Newbery.
I joined the Staff at Tal-Handaq in September 1949. It was then known as the Royal Naval School and although Verdala had been opened to accommodate the Infants and Juniors, not all these classes had been absorbed, so Tal-Handaq had not only a Grammar and Modern side (the word Comprehensive was not known in those days) but four classes of Juniors and about the same of Infants — the staff consisted of Naval Instructor Officers — and locally entered teachers, many of whom were service wives.
During the war the school had been an Army Ack Ack Site and most of the ground floor windows were iron barred - all rather sinister. Very few of the buildings were two storied and there was nothing beyond where the Hall is now - just the fields and no through road. The buses all parked in what is now known as the Staff Upper Car Parking Area so the size of the school can be gauged by this fact. Some of these buses are still on the road.
Captain Miles was the Headmaster and his time was marked by the building of the present School Hall until then, the ground floor rooms of Block 2, still separated by folding doors, accommodated all the school at assembly.
In 1950 just before Captain Miles was relieved by Commander Bellamy the present hall was completed — soon after this the first Tal-Handaq Musical Production, "The Princess JU JU" was produced by Mr. Walker. Later, Mr. Cresell produced "She Stoops to Conquer" and "The Rivals". From then on Tal-Handaq continued to put on a major show annually at either Christmas or in the Spring Term. For many years it became the tradition for school and staff to take part in Gilbert and Sullivan operas — these were very successful.
I can remember the visit of the first H.M.I's; as there were still Junior Classes in the school it fell to my lot, not only to take English in the O and A Level classes but once a week I descended to Form I Junior where I taught Geography. One day during their visit I had an inspector at my VI Form lesson in the morning, and that afternoon the same gentleman visited me in Form I. At the end, he greeted me with "Miss Yule you are a very versatile lady" — an unsolicited bit of praise I felt.
We had many more inspections while I was at the school and as Senior Mistress it was my duty to accompany the senior woman inspectress round the girls' cloakrooms etc. To my horror I found one lady's principal interest was the length of the chains in the lavatories. By and large, I doubt if we ever found these visits too over powering.
I cannot count
the number of staff who came and went - most stayed for several
tours but one domestic science (cookery) teacher — came, saw she had
to cook on oil stoves and requested to be released from her
contract. This department had many homes and it was not until the
We have had pupils of all nationalities. And when NATO was based in Malta we had Americans, Greeks, Turks and Italians — at one time the American element was very strong. Not only were there NATO pupils but also non-entitled ones whose fathers worked on the Libyan Oil Fields. We then had an American teacher whose special job was to teach American History and Spanish; she also had to work out the "Grades" to be sent back to the schools in the States.
I must also mention the school dinners, which for many years were provided by NAAFI — my chief memories were of being often on duty on Fridays when there was a positive rush for the fish and chips. Another speciality was a sort of jam sandwich fried in batter — a bit more substantial than the couple of prunes and custard which often appeared.
There were also the occasional "Dramatic" events. During one chemistry lesson there was a slight explosion and most of the VI Form joined in the general upheaval — but one studious type solidly went on with his work. I need not add that he is now a Research Chemist. On another occasion during a Christmas Concert, two very gifted boys were performing on the piano and violin — suddenly the pianist threw a faint and collapsed on the floor — the violinist went on playing. Both have taken up musical careers.
These 'Random Memories' cannot close without a tribute to the industrial staff without whom the physical appearance of the school would never have been maintained. For many years they were controlled by Mr. Plant, an ex-British Serviceman, who went out of his way to help up all — before his retirement he was awarded the B.E.M. To those individuals who remain I should like on behalf of us all to wish them happiness and success in the future.
MISS YULE MBE by Captain MF Law (From the 1970 Magazine.)
The Queen's Official Birthday, 1970, was the occasion of mere than usual celebration at Tal Handaq. Past and present pupils, staff and friends of the school were delighted to see that Miss Yule's long and devoted service, had been officially recognised by the notification in the Birthday Honours List that she had been appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Seldom can an honour have been more well deserved.
Jacquee Yule came to Malta in 1937, when her mother, then a widow, decided to settle here. She taught for, a short time at Chiswick House and then from. 1938,to 1949 was employed by the Malta Government, teaching English at the Lyceum. She was thus here throughout the war (a lifetime's experience in itself) and during that time guided the English studies of a very large number of Maltese. Little wonder, then, that she is so well known in the island today: in almost any group of Maltese people there is likely to be someone who has been taught English by Miss Yule.
In 1949 she was invited by the then Headmaster, Instructor Captain Miles, to join the staff of the Royal Naval School, which was then an all-age school and had just moved to Tal Handaq from cramped quarters at Ta'Xbiex -She joined the ranks of the indispensable, but under-rewarded, locally entered teachers, people with full British/teaching qualifications and/or degrees but who are recruited- in Malta on local rates of pay. The difference in those days-was that all the Tal Handaq civilian teachers were in this category, and Miss Yule remembers that when the first UK based teachers were appointed, with British rates of pay and full allowances, they were regarded with some initial suspicion!
She joined the staff as Head of the English Department, a post which she held until 1967, when she relinquished it to devote more time to her other duties. She became Senior Mistress in 1956. No-one could have served the school more devotedly and selflessly and her firm but kindly handling of the Headmasters' feminine problems has earned her the respect of several generations of staff and students.
Tal Handaq 24 Years Ago. Christopher Beavis 1951 -1957
(From the 1975 Magazine)
My brothers and I came out to Malta in June, 1951. For me it was a return visit — I had been born on the Island nearly twelve years before.
For the remainder of that summer term, Richard and John went to Tal Handaq Junior and I was placed at Verdala. In the September I was moved across and entered Form 1G. They were in White House with its unexpected yellow stripe on their shorts, and mine was Nelson, with red.
My first Form Teacher was Miss Yule who also took us for English. It was her teaching that eventually led me on to a degree in the subject at University. She wore a signet ring but I could never decipher the inscription, however hard I focused on her hand.
The Head Master at that time was Commander Morgan. (Should be Cdr Miles - Webmaster). It was onto his desk that I once emptied an envelope of some small fragments of my teeth. I am ashamed to report that I had been fighting in the Handicraft Room. At the moment the teacher, Miss Shaw, entered, a fist landed in my mouth. Graham Stubbs received three cuts of a short bamboo cane for that, but he and I became good friends afterwards.
The French teacher was a kindly but imposing lady called Mrs. Colsell. Her hair was swept up into a loose bun on top of her head and she "wore dresses of floating silk and voile. Her small husband taught English in the Secondary School and had a pointed beard. We all believed the improbable rumour that it was to cover a scar inflicted by the Gestapo.
The History Master was a freckled Mr Edgell, the Geography was taught by Mr. Ruoff, a tall man with a military moustache. Young Miss Lepard tried to make artists out of us and Lt. Cdr. Wren gave us 'bicycle rides'. When our attention wandered during Maths he would take hold of the short hair above our ears and twist it painfully round and round.
Other teachers in these early days included a delightfully named Miss Candy who diverted the children from their lessons with faded photographs of her mother wearing a faldetta. And Mr Green, who helped us make useful cigar boxes.
A regular visitor to the school was Edwina, Lady Mountbatten, usually dressed in vivid emerald green. She would squeeze into the desk beside you and keep the official party waiting at the classroom door whilst she chatted with the children.
One year Lord Mountbatten 'presented prizes at Speech Day in the Hall. I still have the complete works of Shakespeare and a cutting from the Times of Malta that shows me receiving it from him. In the background, on the wall beside the stage, is a photograph of a very young-looking Duke of Edinburgh. (See cutting and photo )
Apart from a few months back in England, my family and I spent six years in Malta, so I saw many people come and go. Commander Bellamy became Head Master. It was he who interrupted our lessons one late February afternoon to announce in a solemn voice that the King had died.
Lt. Blarney arrived to teach Science to find himself worshipped by girls in the sixth form. Mr Bletcher came from Yorkshire to teach Art and sketch portraits of his class that made them late for the next lesson and got them into trouble. The new Maths Master, Lt. Cdr. Simmonds instituted a punishment called 'muster' whereby offenders had to spend break-time picking up sweet papers. And all the time, the School Caretaker was Mr Plant, an Englishman who supervised the lunches of which the most memorable was something called 'fried Spam'... He also sold Cokes from a dingy cave behind the Science block.
Every morning we would line up in the drive before filing in for Assembly. For Games it was often a 'cross country' -along the lane where the rickety old buses used to wait, and up round a farm from which the smell of manure and rotting tomatoes was so powerful that all the boys achieved the impossible feat of running a hundred yards without breathing.
At Christmas we performed an operetta or play. I acted the part of the 'Rev. John Treherne in "The Admirable Crichton' and something obscure in 'HMS. Pinafore'. I have special memories of this because during the excitement of rehearsals I kissed a girl called Rosalind Newman from the Lower Sixth one evening outside the Tuck Shop window where we used to queue for eight aniseed balls a penny. Years later we met again by chance in Berkeley Square, Mayfair. Now we are married and have a daughter and a son who is as old as I was when first I went to Tal Handaq.