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NAME: Danny Keogh

DATE: 17 October 2005

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1992 - 1999.

Whilst there are mixed feelings toward the school, I simply wish to pass on the following information.  It is high unlikely that anyone who went to QE will not have a memory of Eric Shearly.  He did after all have an active connection with the school for over 75 years.

There will be a Rugby match in memory of him on Sunday 20th November at the School, kick-off early afternoon, probably 1.00pm.  I am informed by Uncle Maughan that the match itself will be a staff v. pupils games, former and serving teachers, pupils from any time period.  (Playing is not compulsory).  There will be a lunch of some description after the game.


NAME: Martyn Day  Martyn DayThen & Now

DATE: 18 October 2005

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil Pupil 1956-63

I was sorry to hear that Eric Shearly has died.  He was a cranky devil at times but at least he was our cranky devil.  He was my form master when I joined the school in 1956 and he scared me rigid.  20 years later, when I was working on the TV programme Magpie,  Eric came to the studio with some Q.E boys for an item on Rugby - and he scared me rigid again!  The fact that it was Eric that I contacted when I was putting the Rugby item together, years after leaving the school and the fact that I am writing this now must mean something.  I just hope they don't talk about 'soccer' in Heaven!


NAME: Vic Coughtrey  Vic CoughtreyThen & Now

DATE: 18 October 2005


He was my form master, too, when I started in 1954.  Of course, he scared me rigid as well, Martyn.  He was very good at that.  It was on a recent nostalgia visit to Barnet that Nigel Palmer and I discovered he had died, when we found a tree had been planted to his memory in the drive of the school.  I didn't think of photographing the tree and the plaque at the time, but if anyone could supply a pic for this site, I'd be most grateful.


NAME: Stephen Giles  Stephen Giles

DATE: 21 October 2005

CONNECTION WITH QE: Rogue from 1957-64

He was never my form master, I was in 1a with Alfie Alford and I think Eric looked after 1c.  I think I was the first year in the "new" block, but I could be mistaken.  I had the greatest respect for the guy - he taught us "the facts of life", or at least his version!  I think he was a governor of Foulds School where my father was head for 22 years up to 1989.


NAME: Vic Coughtrey  Vic CoughtreyThen & Now

DATE: 21 October 2005


Martyn (see 2nd reply) has emailed me about the bowdlerization of his reply.  The word he actually used was "b*****d" no "devil".  My main reason for changing it was to avoid falling foul of the 'family filters' on the computers of public libraries (and probably QE's computers, come to that).  My other reason was to avoid upsetting Eric's fans, but it seems Martyn had a neat reason for wanting to use the word.  He was echoing the following quote from the Barnet Times, after Eric was awarded the OBE:

Some boys called me a b*****d but at least they called me a just b*****d".

Sorry about the silly asterisks, but it's those damned library and school filters again!


NAME: Mike Carter

DATE: 27 October 2005

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1957-1963

On one of my occasional visits to this site, I was sorry to read of Eric Shearly's death.  He would have been my formaster (1c) during my first year and whilst I cannot say I would have left any impression on the school I think it's fair to say he would have left an impression on me!  At least my maths isn't too bad and I have managed to survive forty years in the real world with the grounding that he and the school gave me.  My condolences to his friends and family.


NAME: Paul Buckland

DATE: 27 November 2005


Eric Shearley was also my form master in 1C from September 1962.  I remember we all had to line up against the wall in the corridor above the gym while our names were called out and we were then sat alphabetically.  The first boy's name was Bates and Eric called for 'Master' Bates.  It was many years before I saw the joke!!  Doubtless every one of his former pupils will remember the exhortation "remind me next gym period...".

I also send my condolences to his family.


NAME: Ian Sadler  Ian Sadler

DATE: 28 January 2006


I too was sorry to hear of Eric Shearly's death.  I entered the school in 1951 - the last year when there were only two first forms.  I was in 1A with Alfie (Alford).  1B had Winkie (Wingfield - taught Latin).  In 1952 Eric was given the new 1C, Ken Carter took over 1B and 1A remained in the care of Alfie.

My first vision of Eric was on the first day at lunch - which in those days was in the school hall rearranged after morning assembly by the fourth form (the refectory had not then been built).  Some poor lad had entered by the wrong door.  A tall angry black-haired man dressed in a dark navy tracksuit and baseball boots let forth a bellow of venom at the offending lad who was petrified.  All conversation stopped - to be gradually resumed and we learnt he was the gym teacher - in those days the only one.

Needless to say at times in the first few weeks he put fear of God into us.  However you eventually realised his bark was a lot worse than his bite.  I was pretty hopeless at gym, rugby etc. However he did realise when chaps could do things and when they couldn't.  I recall I was absolutely terrified of jumping in the swimming pool - the shallow end!  One day he instructed us to jump in.  I was the only one who couldn't do it (accompanied by the rest of the class jeering.  Instead of the expected bellow he walked quietly up to me and said "Hold my hand". So I did and I jumped - he said "another problem solved" and walked away as if nothing had happened.  I also recall "remind him in the gym next time" - but his slipper was preferable to lines any day.

As I progressed up the school I saw him as pretty consistent in his behaviour and attitude (whether you agreed with it or not) and in the sixth from I enjoyed his gym classes as a good break from study.

I also send my condolences to his family.


NAME: John Paine

DATE: 16 February 2009


There have been many responses to the news of Eric Shearly's death (correct spelling? [yes - webmaster]) but no one so far has talked about his athletic prowess when he was a student at Q.E.  If my memory does does not fail me, he won the mile at the All England Schools Championship in record time just before W.W.II.  I am sure that fifteen year olds now run faster times but it was quite an accomplishment for his day.  I can also link him to Derek Fry in another story.  Derek hated any form of exercise but on one occasion Eric forced him to join a group of us for a cross country run.  When we finished in the gathering darkness and had showered Derek was nowhere to be seen. We set off to look for him and found hin hiding behind a bush a quarter of a mile from where we had started.  Apparently he believed that we would return the same way that we had set off so two hours later he was still waiting there!  He was definitely one of the most interesting students that I remember from my years at QE.


NAME: Philip Ward

DATE: 06 April 2009

CONNECTION WITH QE: Inmate 1935-44

Yes, the previous reply is quite correct about Eric Shearly's athletic record.  I remembering him in the late '30s shambling endlessly round the 440yd track at surprising speed.  He had a loose, apparently uncoordinated gait, but he regularly got there in record time.  Eric was one of our heroes in a time of great athletes, like Jack Lockwood.  He was the fastest under-18 in the country and set a long-jump record that stood for 27 years.

10th REPLY

NAME: Peter Sumpter

DATE: 5th September 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1968-1974

Fond memories of Eric Shearly. Firebrand teacher with a heart of gold. I was one of the clueless maths students who was lumped in with a few others under Erics tutelage. He wasn't there much as he would often leave us and go walkabout. Somehow though he opened a floodgete and the O level equivalent exam our group was put in for (same board, maths without the geometry etc). I managed to get a grade 1. Eric was beaming from cheek to cheek over this although still had to give me a jovial put down !!! After this maths became simple, he had found a way to remove the barriers I had put up against learning the subject. Over the years I was one of the few who escaped his padabat - an oversized wooden table tennis type bat which he would mete out in the gym to those who in his eyes deserved it....this included two whole classes from year 1 !!!

11th REPLY

NAME: Hugh Hoffman

DATE: 26 August 2016

CONNECTION WITH QE: pupil 1955-60

Martyn Day has rightly said [reply 1] "I just hope they don't talk about 'soccer' in Heaven!" So I was surprised to read in an obituary after Eric Shearly's death that for many years he was the fitness trainer for Barnet Football Club!

12th REPLY

NAME: Michael Hill

DATE: 07 February 2017

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1962-1967

I was one of the padabat victims [reply 10] and remember it well. We all had to line up in the gym, shortest to the tallest in four columns (our normal gym lineup) and were told to turn to our right and bend over. Off Eric went... whack, whack, whack... I remember this was our punishment for making an unholy and unsupervised racket, as a class, in the changing room. I always remember Eric 'making an example' of one of the second year pupils in the refectory on the first day of the new Autumn term to strike the fear of God into the new first year boys!

13th REPLY

NAME: Vic Coughtrey  Vic CoughtreyThen & Now

DATE: 07 February 2017


The padabat must have appeared after my time, because I remember only the gym shoe as Eric's punitive implement of choice. I once witnessed a boy (who shall remain nameless) getting several very hard strokes with the gym shoe while still naked after a shower. This was around 1957. Although I'm still shocked every time I remember it, I was quite pleased at the time, as I was frequently a victim of the victim. The other witnesses seemed quite stunned.

14th REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 11 February 2017


I too do not recall the use of any padabat in my time at school, nor for that matter any use of a gym shoe or plimsoll, as we used to call it. There again I wonder whether we did have Eric for any gym periods. I recall a Mr Ernest in the early forms but he does not appear on the site's 'former staff' list. I used to do forward rolls that never went forward, despite his efforts to get me to do so. He reflected that the bones in my body did not seem right. As for climbing gym ropes or vaulting over the gym horse, forget it. I used to enjoy crab football, though why it was thought a good idea to move around like a crab I do not know. As for the pirates game, where boys moved round the gym using all sorts of equipment, I made sure I was caught at once by the chasers so did not have to attempt any of these gymnastic movements. Whilst I did not have direct experience of the padabat or the gym shoe used by Eric, I do recall the use of a ruler to smack the hand during 1b Maths classes held in one of the additional classrooms attached to the main school. I recall it was used mostly for lack of attention, though it may have been employed to challenge wrong answers. Did any of this stick rather than the carrot approach really work in improving us I wonder? What about the caning by housemasters and the headmaster? I wonder how much fear of such punishments worked? Maybe it did. I know I never had to suffer such punishments, so I believe it was selective rather than universal. Of course this is all banned in schools today but I certainly believe parents should be able to apply reasonable smacking to their children despite the people who say children will suffer irreparable damage rather than be helped not to do stupid things. Nonsense! As the bible book of Proverbs says; "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child but the rod of correction will drive it from them" or words to that effect. Certainly the news about discipline in Church of England run camps is partly effected by the thinking of a different age. I've now added Mr Ernest to the list of former staff but any further info would be welcome.

15th REPLY

NAME: Stephen Giles  Stephen Giles

DATE: 16 February 2017

CONNECTION WITH QE: Rogue from 1957-64

[Re last 3 replies] It could be argued that Shearly had a very nasty side indeed - not very impressed boy!

16th REPLY

NAME: Nick Dean  Nick Dean Nick Dean gallery

DATE: 16 February 2017


[Re reply 11] At an "antiques" fair this weekend I found a programme for the 1959 Amateur Cup Final, which Barnet lost 3-2 to Crook Town. The notes about Barnet had two references to the school - the first, that the club originally played on land in Queens Road now occupied by QE (with a dressing room at the Black Horse!) ; the second, that "in charge of physical training has been Mr Eric Shearly, a master at Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet - where the code is Rugby". Here is a copy of the relevant notes. Nick has also sent a scan of the Barnet team photo of that year but at the moment there are technical problems with adapting it for the Web.

17th REPLY

NAME: Ian Sadler  Ian Sadler

DATE: 18 February 2017


According to page 240 of EHJ's book. Mr W H Ernest [reply 14] was a master at the school from 1956-1958 (physical education - Appointment terminated!). Although those years were my last two at the school I have absolutely no memory of him whatever.

18th REPLY

NAME: Brian Seal  Brian Seal

DATE: 21 February 2017

CONNECTION WITH QE: 1957 entrant

Great memories Nick [reply 16]. I was at the 1958 final and remember we had a change strip of claret and blue stripes to avoid a colour clash. Barnet fielded a fantastic team with the D'Arcy brothers, Bobby Brown, Tony Harding, Roy Sleap and Bobby Cantwell. I also remember my mother sending a note to get me excused from Saturday pm games so I could go to Fulham for the semi-final which was drawn. Alas, she wouldn't repeat the gesture for the replay the next week! Replies to this reply will go into the sports thread (W11)

19th REPLY

NAME: Martyn Day  Martyn DayThen & Now

DATE: 21 February 2017

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil Pupil 1956-63

I remember Mr Ernest or at least I think I do. He was younger than most of our other masters, short and dark skinned - was he of mixed race? - and very strong. I remember him impressing everyone by doing 'press-ups' while standing on his hands. It didn't do anything to improve his general discipline!

20th REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 22 February 2017


I was watching The Chase on TV the other day and one of the questions was about Jimmy Greaves: "Which club did he not play for (a) Chelsea (b) West Ham or (c) Arsenal." The contestant gave the wrong answer saying (b) rather than (c) but after this Bradley Walsh said "He also played for Barnet, as I did." Perhaps some readers could comment more on this. Replies to this reply will go into the sports thread (W11), with a link back to here.

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