Updated 02 Mar 2015

Retford Grammar School

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The Fives Court

A landmark at the bottom of the school field, the Fives Court was not much used in the webmaster's time in the 1950s. The Court is today (2011) a Grade II listed building, but in 1924 was not so highly thought of (see schoolboy's poem) A kind of hand-tennis, the different types of the game are described in Wikipedia. I seem to remember using a tennis ball, with bare hand, which soon became painful. Thanks to Robert Ilett for sending me scans of the court and Letter to the Editor. Anyone with memories of using the court, send me an email

"This court, opened in 1924, was the gift of Mrs Mary Eyre in memory of her son,
Captain William Eyre, former pupil and master, killed in the Great War".
Behind the Court is one of several Air-Raid shelters, erected about 1940, locked in the 1950s
(but easily broken into), in which many evil persuits were followed, such as smoking.
In Memory of
Captain William Eyre
who died of wounds
August 19th, 19161
Their name liveth for evermore.

The date of the Gallipoli Campaign was 25 Apr 1915 to 9 Jan 1916. Capt William Eyre would have died on 19 Aug 1915 not 1916 as given on the memorial tablet on the Fives Court. This error may have given rise to the same wrong year given in the extracts from the Retfordian.

Extracts from "The Retfordian"

Spring 1916 page 01

Summer 1924, page 8
Gift by Mrs Eyre.
The School is deeply indebted to Mrs Eyre of Babworth Road, who has most generously given us a hundred guineas, in memory of her son, Captain William Eyre, who died at Alexandria on August 19th, 19161, from wounds received in Gallipoli a fortnight earlier. Captain Eyre was both an Old Boy and an Old Master. He first came to the School in September, 1889, and distinguished himself both in scholastic work and in the cricket field. After having matriculated at London University he left in July, 1895, and went to Firth College at Sheffield, from where he took his London B.Sc, with honours. He returned to Retford, as Science Master in 1899, and remained with us till 1906. He then went to Cranbrook Grammar School, and a year later was appointed Science Master at Christ's Hospital. When the war broke out he was a Captain in the O.T.C. there. He applied for a commission in the army and was appointed Captain in the 12th Welch Fusiliers, but was afterwards transferred to the Lancashire Regiment with whom he went to Gallipoli.
Mrs Eyre's gift is going to be used to build a Fives Court, which we have long wanted. It will contain a tablet to the memory of Captain Eyre. It is hoped that the court will be completed during the Summer holidays.

Xmas 1924, page 25
The Fives Court has been largely used since it was opened and we hope to produce some good players. Later Fives should take its place as one of the events in the House Competition.

Xmas 1924, page 42
The Fives Court
The Fives Court, which we owe to the generosity of Mrs Eyre, of Babworth Road, has been finished this term. It is situated at the north-east corner of the field, and is of the Rugby type. An engraved stone has been fixed on the outside of one of the walls, on which is the inscription:- In Memory of Captain William Eyre, who died of wounds August 19th, 19161. Their name liveth for evermore.
The court was formally opened on the afternoon of Monday, Oct 20th. There was a good attendance of parents of boys and of friends of the School. The earlier part of the afternoon was taken up with a game of football, and with some interesting physical exercises performed by thirty-six juniors, under the instruction of Mr Freeling. The company then gathered round the Fives Court, which was declared open by the Mayor, Mr Coun. J.R.Plant. This was followed by an exhibition game between Messrs. Eric and Rupert Spencer and two of the staff, Messrs Darke and Young. After this was finished, Mr Eric Spencer and Mr Darke played a single. The guests then adjourned to the house where they were entertained to tea by Mr and Mrs Skrimshire.

Xmas 1924 page 39

To the Fives Court

What is this that cometh,
This structure built of brick,
That hurteth as an eye-sore
And burneth to the quick?

It cometh uninvited,
Behind the bottom goal,
And, looming o'er the Feeder,
Cast shadows on its soul.

I hate this novel plaything,
I hate its red brick walls,
Why cannot men play cricket?
Not toy with cotton balls.

Now Football is a man's game,
A game of charge and kick,
But Fives i'faith, is gentle,
And gloves are padded thick.

In spite of this, I rather like
A game of Fives or Whist,
Because a man won't knock you down
Or strike you with his fist,
If haply you should trump his ace
Or "mug it" on your wrist.


Easter 1927 page 9

Summer 1927 page 20

Dec 1948 page 19

July 1954 page 17


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