www.Poundswick .org.uk

The Houses

In its relatively short life, Poundswick suffered from successive administrations that seemed unable to make their minds up what the school houses should be called. After settling on Dalton, Joule, Peel and Rylands in 1956, they were changed in 1967 and again in about 1970, finally being abandoned altogether.

The house system certainly engendered a healthy competitive spirit which encouraged pupils to do their best for their house. On joining the school, all new pupils and staff were allocated to one of the four houses. Allocation seemed to be more or less random, but, in the early days, if your surname happened to be Dalton, Joule, Peel or Rylands you could reasonably expect to be in "your" house!

Inter-house competition covered all activities from football, rugby, netball and other games to the house academic competition; "house points" were awarded for good work. Bad or antisocial behaviour could result in house points being deducted in addition to punishment such as detention after school hours. The house colours were significant because P.E. and games kit was coloured accordingly. Happy were the Manchester City fans in Peel House and the United fans in Rylands!

House points, which took the form of a paper ticket marked D-J-P-R, were initialed by the awarding member of staff and could then be posted in an elaborate 4-section wooden chest.

This chest had been specially constructed by Mr. Stansfield, the Woodwork Master, and was located under the notice board at the bottom of the Main Block east staircase.

It was customary for the entire school to meet at the start of each day for Morning Assembly (for a prayer, hymn and reading - invariably conducted by the Headmaster - followed by notices) but once a fortnight or so this was replaced by "House Prayers" where each house gathered as a group to review progress in the inter-house competitions.

Dalton, Joule, Peel and Rylands were, of course, four Manchester lads made good. I have included below a brief biography of each, together with some rather dubious mugshots.

John Dalton (1766 - 1844)
Dalton taught mathematics and physical science at New College, Manchester. Throughout his life he was interested in the earth's atmosphere which led him to study the behaviour of gases and ultimately to publish his Law of partial pressures, which defines the way gases expand when they are heated.
Dalton's Atomic Theory, published in 1803, suggested that all matter is made of atoms, that atoms of any element have a characteristic mass and that atoms are unchanged in chemical processes. His theory remains the basis of chemical science today.
James Prescott Joule (1818 - 1889)
Joule was the son of a Salford brewer. He spent many years carrying out experiments which ultimately enabled him to prove that there is a direct equivalence between mechanical, electrical and heat energy. He later developed this thinking, in conjunction with other physicists, into the Theory of the conservation of energy.
This theory states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed but only transformed from one form into another. In science, the unit of work, the Joule, is named after him.
Robert Peel (1788 - 1850)
Peel entered politics as a Tory M.P. in 1809 and later reformed the Tory party as the Conservatives. He was Home Secretary from 1822 to 1830 during which time he founded the modern police force.
Peel served two spells as Prime Minister from 1834 to 1835 and from 1841 to 1846.
He lost his prime ministerial position because his repeal of the Corn Laws (1846) was opposed by the majority of his party. He died after a riding accident on 2nd June 1850.
John Rylands (1801 - 1888)
Born at St. Helens, Lancashire, Rylands established a textile business with his father and two brothers at the age of eighteen. The business expanded and by 1873 his company, Rylands and Sons, had become the largest textile manufacturing business in Britain. Rylands lived in Stretford, where he financed construction of the Town Hall, baths, library and a coffee-house.
When he died, his widow, Augustina Rylands, wanted to erect a permanent memorial to her husband. The result was the John Rylands Library in Manchester, which was opened in 1899. The Rylands Library still exists as part of the University of Manchester.

It's interesting to note that the lives of all four characters overlapped for the 26 years between 1818 and 1844. What a pity no-one got them together, kitted them out in appropriately-coloured rugby shirts and took a photo!

But back to Poundswick. Dalton, Joule, Peel and Rylands remained the house names until Grammar School became High School in 1967. At that time the house names were changed to Chester, Derby, Lancaster and York. These new houses seem to have figured much less in general school life. The school magazine, ARGO, reported enthusiastically about inter-house competitions in the D-J-P-R era but in the edition of November 1968 the new houses are mentioned only once, in connection with the annual swimming gala, which Chester won that year.

House activities were revived somewhat in about 1970 when the number of houses was increased from four to six, the new houses being called Adlington, Chatsworth, Hardwick, Lyme, Moreton and Tatton; names taken from famous northern Halls. During this era "House Points" for academic work and good behaviour were revived and house sports competitions continued, culminating in the annual Sports Day inter-house contest.

Unless you can tell me otherwise, I don't believe the house names ever changed again. So for how long did house activity continue? Sarah Killen (1984-89) and Paul Jones (1981-86) tell us that they can't recall any houses during their time at Poundswick, so was there a point at which they were formally disbanded or did they just fade away? Gary Potter (1974-79) seems to remember that A-C-H-L-M-T were in use at the Lower School during 1974 and 1975 but that they were not carried through to the Upper School in 1976. Can anyone else who was at Poundswick in the 70s remember what happened to the house system during those years?