Ragabony, MSR - Rah!

Memories of Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School

...or was it Rumboley? The truth is, it evolved from Ragabony to Rumboley sometime around 1970. The Chant was passed down from year to year, and just as with Neerg's game of Chinese whispering, various mutations took place.

But there's no doubt it should be 'woolly haggis', not 'woolly Harris' which makes no sense.

Those of you who actually know what I'm on about here must have been inmates of Sir Joseph Williamson's, the 'Math School' of Rochester back in the days when that actually meant something. You will remember the fearsome headmaster Skull, the legendary French master Neerg, the frightening deputy head Myers, and the terrifying 'Dagger' Browning - the only master capable of preventing the boys from bundling. Of course, you will have the fondest memories of bundling, with possibly the scars to remind you.

I love to gather recollections of the school, its eccentric collection of masters, and its mysterious traditions. The more printable ones are reproduced here, many gathered from various discussion boards, mailing lists, etc.

Please share your memories of the school from the 1970s and earlier. Send them to me, Paul Nicholson, at msr0910@abelian.org.


There are many unresolved questions that have come down to us.

School Panorama Photos

These were taken by a company called Panora which ceased trading during the 1980s. The Panora negatives were deposited with the Documentary Photography Archive in 1986 by Panora's MD. They are dated from 29 September 1968 to 30 July 1985. These negatives now reside at the Greater Manchester County Record Office. The archive includes some 4,500 negatives taken at schools throughout the country.

More details are available at this link . Panoramas from the Math School will be found there although they are not listed in their on-line index. The one from May 1972 has been located - reference number is GB124.DPA/D3/1/3675. Others will be found and scanned on request. The archivist there is very helpful and is currently preparing a full list. Use the contact from and mention 'Panora negatives' in the subject. Only physical prints are available - they are not allowed to send out digital copies.


Comments and corrections to msr0910@abelian.org