West Mon School Song

I’ve had a number of enquiries about the West Mon School Song. I was at the school when it was published in 1945. The words were by  Mr Robert Stephen M.A. and the music was written by Mr Alfred J. Thompson B.Mus., F.R.C.O., L.R.A.M., F.T.C.L. As I stated at the beginning of this blog, previous to this publication we had “borrowed” the school song of Harrow, “Forty Years On”. I’ve come across the copy I bought as soon as it was published, so for those who do not have a copy I print it below.

The cover

Page 1

page 2

I must point out that this copy is for the personal use of visitors and, under copyright law, cannot be sold or reproduced in quantities. I don’t know whether the song is still in use at the school or whether copies may be bought there.

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26 Responses to “West Mon School Song”

  1. clive barnby Says:

    The school song was certainly still sung in the 60s and probably later. In my days at West Mon we also had another song – a kind of unofficial school song – the Henry Morgan school which was often sung alongside the “official” one.

    The Henry Morgan song was the product of Mr Purse, who was a chemistry master at the school, but was also an accomplished musician. The words of both songs are contained in the book, “Serve and Obey” which was published in about 1998 to mark the centenary celebrations.

    Both songs get an airing every couple of years at the reunion events of masters and pupils who were at the school in the 40s-60s.

  2. clive barnby Says:

    Just a quick follow-up to my earlier comment: “Serve and Obey” (the title of the centenary book) was the West Mon school motto as well as being the motto of Monmouth School – it’s the Haberdashers motto. I believe the present comprehensive school has adopted a new motto but has retained the old Haberdashers one alongside it.

    In the first para of the earlier comment, I note I referred to the “Henry Morgan school” – it should have, of course, been the “Henry Morgan song”.

  3. Mark Gauntlett Says:

    Clive says “the school song was certainly still sung in the 60s and probably later” which I can confirm. I remember singing the school song, and I was there between 1978 and 1983.

  4. Geoff Nicolle Says:

    I remember singing the descant parts of both songs in the School Choir around 1946/7. Only the youngest pupils whose voices had not broken were in the choir.
    Later someone discovered that the ‘School Song’ words fitted much better to the tune of ‘McNamara’s Band.’
    I can still remember both words and tune of both songs and occasionally sing them when no one is around . The McNamara’s Band’ is still the best.

  5. John Rowsell Says:

    I was at West Mon from 1942. I had been an evacuee on two separate occasions, from my home in London….The second time to Devon where I passed the London Junior County (11+) at 10 and a half.To enable me to rejoin the family, my father, a Civil Servant,arranged to be transferred to ROF Glascoed. We settled in New Inn…So rather later than I had expected, at the age of 12, I was interviewed by Mr Davis……who was about to retire, and became a pupil under the new Headmaster, Mr Harrison, in 1942 ……..
    Significantly, after my family moved back to London at the war’s end, where I immediately entered an excellent London Grammar School. throughout my life, when asked my old school, the answer has ALWAYS been…………….. West Mon!..
    Rather than risk boring readers, I shall leave it there. But you have been warned……I have so many happy memories, of those days, you will hear from me again! Very best wishes, to you all, John Rowsell

  6. John Rowsell Says:

    As the definition of a Public School, is that the Headmaster is a member of the Headmaster’s Conference…………West Mon like all the other Haberdasher Schools was a Public School. In the Public School handbooks of that time, the school appeared along with Eton, Rugby and others! To this day all other Haberdasher Schools remain on that list.
    As was common with schools which had boarders, we attended school on Saturday mornings. However there were no lessons on Tuesday or Thursday afternoons,.and If one wasn’t involved in sport, the boy could go home.
    However (!)…….one or both of these afternoons were reserved for those given detention. These were lengthy sessions with a prefect in charge and with no talking allowed The one or two hours were occupied ‘writing lines’ …The most common line we would be obliged to write, one hundred times, was…’Insubordination will not be tolerated in this scholastic establishment’ ………all written with steel nibs and with pots of ink!
    Best wishes, John R

  7. John Rowsell Says:

    As school caps were part of the uniform, we were expected to wear them, and if we were seen without one we were put in detention.Also as a common courtesy we were expected to raise our caps when we met a master out of doors. In the morning, walking up the hill, (only prefects were allowed to use the drive) one could see a wave of hats being raised as boys passed masters,.Masters were always addressed as Sir and we stood as one entered the room.The masters always wore their academic gowns and on special occasions the Head wore his with a mortar board.
    We were ALWAYS addressed by our surname…….and in fact the boys amongst friends, often did the same.
    With a war on, the masters tended to older than usual, (younger ones were in the armed services.) What never occurred to us was that most of the older men who taught us had fought in the trenches in the First World War. They like the local Home Guards were no ‘Dad’s Army’…..and positively looked forward to the arrival of the hated ‘Hun’, as an opportunity to ‘finish the job’..

  8. clive barnby Says:

    By the sixties, we were still required to wear caps (except for 7 formers; maybe 6 formers as well?) but weren’t required to raise them to masters. We were allowed to use the drive – probably safety reasons, more cars around -but weren’t allowed to use the front entrance. It was still the usual practice to address pupils by surname & as John says even among pupils. Gowns were worn especially by older & more senior masters but it was a declining custom among younger ones. Sports, woodwork teachers tended to be more informal, those who’d been to teacher training college rather than university, & by the time I was in my last few years even someone like “Drip” Harris had abandoned his gown – and tie !! Nice to read John’s memories.

  9. Andrew Jones Says:

    Apropos the school song, it was certainly still sung on speech day in the period 1963 to 1970 when I was at the school but I remember the The Henry Morgan Song as being a lot more popular. I still find myself singing both when I need to cheer up! We were frequently lambasted by deputy head ‘Len” Morgan for using the sixth line of the second verse of the official school song to unduly emphasise and draw out the “Up”, causing much merriment to the lags responsible. I and my brothers – there were 4 of us at the school – led the singing at the centenary celebrations in 1998, a lovely evening.

  10. Laurie Oliver Says:

    I was a pupil between 1964 and 1971 and both the School Song and the Henry Morgan Song were still sung then. I recall the Music Maester, the late Noel James, (a lovely fellow) had a Long Playing Record (bet the youngsters don’t know what they are!) of the School Song, recorded many years earlier. I would love to hear the School Choir singing it these days! Would also love to see another Reunion before we get too old!! 60 years young this year!! Happy days!!
    Laurie Oliver (Usk)

  11. Wiliiam Raymond Griffiths Says:

    Ray Griffiths
    I was a pupil at West Mon School from 1948 to 1955 and can remember singing with the school choir both the “School Song” and the “Henry Morgan Song” in a broadcast for the BBC in, I believe, the autumn of 1949. We were able to purchase 78 rpm records of this broadcast afterwards, but I regret to say that my copy has disappeared long since during a lifetime of many home moves. My most recent attempts to track down the recording have not been successful, although I did learn that the broadcast probably went out over the old Welsh Home Service.

  12. children Says:

    Thanks for finally talking about >West Mon School Song |
    Reminiscences of Old Pontypool <Liked it!

  13. John Jones Says:

    I was there between 1964 and 1971. We used to let rockets and bombs off on the school roof and in the fields.

    Has anyone got the words to the Henry Morgan song?

    • Laurie Oliver Says:

      Henry Morgan Song

      Proud I am of Welsh blood, born near Monmouth town
      And border men are roving men; they tread the far leagues down
      Henry Morgan is my name, famed on Spanish seas,
      From Cape St Verde to Cayman Isles, from Cuba to the Keys.

      Chorus: Haul her away boys, Haul her away boys,
      Haul to the beat of tramp, tramp, tramp,
      O here’s a wind to catch the Flying Don, boys
      Haul her away, away boys haul!

      When I was a lad, boys, beating was no good
      The terror and the scourge I was of all the neighbourhood
      Off to sea they packed me, bound before the mast,
      And when I’d learned my trade boys, I stuck it to m’ last.

      Some they like a quiet life, taking of their ease
      And never dream of fgold that’s won, a sailing Spanish seas
      I could never sit at home, counting pence a-score,
      Its King’s gold or death my boys, for Morgan evermore.

      It was written by a master named Mr W.L.Purse and was sung on speech day from 1946 to the early 1970s.

  14. William Raymond Griffiths Says:

    I can recall two verses of the”Henry Morgan song”, and also the chorus. These were, so far as memory serves, as follows :

    Proud I am of Welsh blood, born near Monmouth Town,
    For Border men are roving men, they tread the far leagues down.
    Henry Morgan is my name, famed on Spanish seas,
    From Cape St. Verde to Cayman Isle, From Cuba to the Keys.


    Haul her away boys, haul her away boys
    Haul to the beat of “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp!”
    Here’s a wind to catch the Flying Don, boys,
    Haul her away away boys haul.

    Some they like a quiet life, ataking of their ease
    And never dream of gold that’s won asailing Spanish
    I could never sit at home, counting pence a score,
    It’s King’s gold or death my boys,for Morgan evermore!

    Chorus here sung twice.

  15. John Williams Says:

    I to still remember the words of both songs,amazing as I can’t remember what I did last week!..I can also recite amo,amas amat…….

  16. William R. Griiffiths Says:

    Then you must also remember “The Shortbread Eating Brimer” with which we were all supplied on arrival at the School and which contained within its well worn, inky covers the immortal verse –
    ” Latin is a language
    as dead as dead can be,
    it killed the ancient Romans,
    and now it’s killing me!”

  17. Bernard (BJ) Says:

    Oh happy days!!

  18. John Dare Says:

    These songs take me ack. I was at West Mon from 1966 -1972.

  19. Geoff Thomas Says:

    I attended from 1953 to 1960 and like others remember the School song. It was sung on special occasions such as the annual Speech Day which commemorated academic achievements. I couldn’t remember the words until I read this blog and then of course it all comes rushing back.
    I have lived in California for the last 45 years so my kids & grandkids find my West Mon tales quite strange and amusing. We were still required to wear school caps although they were often in a pocket until close to the school gates. There were a few boys that had long enough hair to completely cover their caps and would then take great pride in answering the prefect’s “where’s your cap” with “under my hair”. I can also remember being sent home by Mr Leonard Morgan-History- for wearing suede shoes with the admonition “do you think you are on the beach, boy!” ringing in my ears! He was also the teacher that caught me chewing gum and as punishment I had to write 200 times the line:- “In future I will refrain from the disgusting American habit of masticating in public “. Strange what our brain retains…!
    One of the strangest customs may have been swimming nude in the indoor pool. They may have changed that later but certainly in my first years there, that was the practice. Also my first couple of years, perhaps 1953-54 were the last years for boarders although some converted to day pupils. These boys were very useful friends since they somehow had the keys to everything!
    The other relic of the past was the widespread use of corporal punishment. Cane to the hand and rear, plus gym shoe to the rear were the most popular and the 6th and 7th form prefects were allowed to administer as well as teachers and headmaster. Most of us preferred it to after school detention if given a choice. There were other forms of sadism that some teachers preferred but I don’t remember any parental complaints!
    I think I was able to get a good education there and it prepared me for life with one omission! Since it was an all-boys school it didn’t help me understand the mysteries of getting along with women. But perhaps there is no school that does that..

  20. clive barnby Says:

    Geoff mentions that his “first couple of years, perhaps 1953-54 were the last years for boarders”. I may have misunderstoold Geoff but there were boarders at the school until 1958, the year I started at West Mon. In fact, there were some pupils who were (or had been) boarders up till 1960 though they no longer boarded in the school. I think some of them had “digs” – Sunnybank Road? I remember John Lucas who had been boarder, I think. Eric Robertshaw? John Whittal-Willams? The latter was from Abergavenny & I think by 1960 he commuted to the school from home, so Geoff is right that some of the boarders – possibly more of the older ones – converted to day pupils.

  21. Geoffrey Thomas Says:

    you are correct Clive. I was referring to the sleeping dorms that were closed down in the mid ’50s. But even though they ceased to live on premises, the “boarders” group continued for a number of years, and although dwindling numbers continued to dominate “Sports Day” competition. All three you mention were classmates of mine, and John Lucas a good friend.

  22. Barry Davies (Dibs) Says:

    I was at the school from ’59 to ’66 and remember Robertshaw, who I think was headboy, and Lucas, who rumour has it was 23 when he finally left. I seem to remember tha the went to the pub at lunchtime with ‘Ba’ Jones, apparrently they were in school together and Ba came back to teach.
    The Henry Morgan song was always the favourite in my day but the boys usually changed the line ‘stuck it to m’last’ to ‘stuck it up my arse’.
    Happy days,

  23. clive barnby Says:

    John Lucas & Ba Jones would have been boarders together at West Mon, tho’ I’d have thought there would have been a few years between them but I think they would have known each other quite well as the lads were quite close in those years as the nos. in School House declined. John Lucas attended a no. of reunions events which were held from about 2000 to 2010. As I think I’ve mentioned previously, Ba died quite young while I was still in West Mon, tho’ he had left for a job at Usk College.

    (Hope you are well, Dibs, we didnt really know one another but I was at WM from ’58 & vaguely remember you. (Everyone I remember now is vaguely!) I think you were in 6Sc in ’63 & I was in 6Arts – you took your O levels a year early. Unfortunately, I didnt really do anything till the 5th form – we were possibly in some classes together that year – 62-63

  24. clive barnby Says:

    Yes, Graham,didnt know the family in Pontnewydd very well. My father was born in Old Cwmbran & didnt have much contact with his cousins like Norman, Donald, Bob. I was born in Pontypool & lived there till I was 11 when I moved to the Upper Cwmbran/West Pontnewydd. My father had some contact with his uncle Ernie & aunt Kate, their children, John & Barbara, & I met them a few times. A few years I bumped into Ann Davies, whose mother’s maiden surname was Barnby, a cousin of my father.

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