unusual punishment implements

Do not know if anybody else encountered punishments at school apart from slippering or canings.
But I used to have a science teacher in the 1970’s that used to beat us boys with a length of rubber hose from a bunsen burner…!
The pain was stinging to say the least…and the marks on inspection were vivid, and left bruises that lasted days, much worse than any cane.
I also had a music teacher, who when boys stepped out of line, used to spank them with the wooden armrest from a student chair….he called this his ‘boy basher’ and I suppose was very similar to an american paddle.


An article in Lenton Times magazine tells us that a new headmaster, Joseph Crossley, joined Cottesmore Boys’School in the 1950s and used a riding crop when administering punishment which he called Josephine Baton. Why that name is not explained but this was a local authority-controlled school, not some eccentric private school, so how did he get away with using such a (presumably) unathorised  implement? If it didn’t hurt any more than the cane perhaps nobody saw any reason to complain.


A most interesting contribution, thank you.  You have of course previously contributed on the Cottesmore schools (Boys and Girls) in Lenton, Nottingham (not to be confused with the very exclusive co-ed prep school elsewhere in England), most recently I think here.  In the post following that one I link a previous post you made on Cottesmore and also some other material on the school.

As regards punitive implements and their authorisation by LEAs I don’t think either Nottingham or Nottinghamshire were particularly rigid on the matter.  Such LEA regulations as English authorities anywhere did produce were anyway not legally binding and if breached usually amounted at most to a contractual employment disciplinary matter.  I don’t know the specific regulations for either Nottingham or Notts in the periods concerned but in practice the situation in both seems to have been that implementation of any SCP standards was pretty much school based.  At Cottesmore this seems mostly to have involved straps of various sorts, but as you note there were exceptions.

Mr Joseph Crossley and his riding crop named Josephine Baton:  Two mysteries here!  The first the name Mr Crossley gave to his riding crop.  I can find no logical explanation for this unless it was a word-play based on his given name. Joseph(‘s) Fine Baton.  Clutching at straws but possible I suppose.   I have perused horsey sites for information on types of riding crop without finding another explanation and general searches haven’t helped.  We may never know the truth  unless you find that readers of the Lenton Times magazine come up with a definitive explanation in a subsequent issue.

The second mystery is Mr Crossley himself.  Now I may have got this wrong, and I didn’t tackle it as scientifically as I should have done.  In particular I didn’t write everything down.  But on the public Lenton Times site, linked in my post referred to above, there is a considerable amount of information on staffing at the Boys’ school in the period concerned.  Headmasters do seem to have come and gone with above average frequency in the 1950s but unless Mr Crossley used a pseudonym I’m darned if I can see where he might have squeezed in.

One thing I really should have known about Cottesmore Boys’ School but had previously overlooked is that Doug Scott, one of the greatest of modern British mountaineers, taught Geography, History, PE and Games at the school for 10 years in the 1960s and early 1970s, having previously attended it as a pupil for 3 years.  In a newspaper article he described how the parting of the ways came when he applied for permission for 6 weeks leave of absence to go on an expedition and was told sorry but he’d have to choose between teaching career and mountaineering,  He chose the latter, and told how he started his new life by teaming up with a fellow climber and making  the equivalent of a month’s teaching salary in a day using their climbing skills to demolish a redundant chimney.


I have mentioned previously that our whole class got one stroke of the gym climbing rope, knotted at the end,  for making too much noise while waiting for the teacher to arrive. It was through just our thin pe shorts and left a burn mark on our bums. Bloody painful, and unfair, as I and many others were not involved in the commotion.


I posted a long time ago about the headmaster of a rural school in Argyllshire in Scotland. His practice to punish an entire class was to make them stand in a semi-circle holding hands. He made the first and last hold a wire which he attached to a hand cranked generator. Winding it up applied an electric shock to the entire group. Must have been scary watching him crank it up, knowing what was to come and not daring drop your handhold on your partners. Any skeptics out there can read about his court case in Glasgow and his dismissal from his post.


Here is your original contribution from October 2016 regarding the innovative but illegal use of electric shock punishments by a Scottish schoolmaster who was dismissed from his post as a result.   Alas I have been unable to trace either the quote or the court case.  Do you by any chance have a link for either please?

On the other side of the Atlantic, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, where in some locations young ladies in their late teens still queue up to bend over and be whacked on the bottom multiple times with a short wooden plank rather than serve a brief lunch time detention for tardiness (allegedly) they have a more robust attitude to these matters.  In July 2021 a Federal Court of Appeals ruled that a school in Canton, Massachusetts which uses severe electric shocks to punish modify the behavior of disabled students who displease staff could carry on doing so.  See the Yahoo report here and several other links in DuckDuckGo.  But not the NYTimes one, they’ll demand cash for access.


Sorry to say I do not have links A_L. I spent some time looking when I made the original post. I read the account in a book on Argyllshire but to my surprise I could not see it listed on the internet when I made my original post. At that time I could remember the cover but not the title. Now I cannot remember either! I assume the court case and dismissal were mentioned in the book.