Dromore and District Local Historical Group Journal

Volume 4




Thomas Patterson Shoe Shop and Repairs in Castle Street. John Andy Magill, apprentice around 1908.

By John McGrehan

Early in the 1870's a man named John Hamilton later known as Jakey Hamilton came to Dromore. He came to work his patents in hemstitching and embroidering for the sole use of Henry Matier & Co. of Belfast. He had several patents in this particular field of activity. He made a beginning in rooms in Market Square but after a time he purchased some ground in Meeting Street on which he built a factory, which extended from the street to the edge of the River Lagan, in which he continued to work his patents and to improve hemstitching machinery.

The factory was considered to be a most modern one for it's time, being built with scotch brick and bordered with coloured brick in Georgian style. Some time about 1900 this factory was destroyed by fire and it would appear that only the gable at the side of the river was left standing. In later years, when alterations were made to windows, small portions of burned beams were discovered in this section of the building. When the factory was being re-built it is thought that the brick used came from the brickfield which was only a short distance from the factory site.

During the late 1880's it is recorded that a mill in Dromore was owned by E. McCartney. This mill was situated off Church Street at the bottom of what is now known as Mill Lane and was powered by a water wheel and up to some years ago this old wheel could still be seen from Downshire Bridge. The water to run this wheel came by way of a race which started from the Weir Stones down by the side of a field at the Mount, passing by the side of Graham's Yard, along the bottom of Mount Street, right across the side of the Square down to the mill. After powering the wheel the water then re-entered the River Lagan. Furthermore, the portion of the original race that was in Mount Street was open with a well on each side, the Urban Council had it covered over and it was used for car parking.

At the beginning of the century the mill buildings, race and adjoining ground were taken over by Mr. Hamilton who paid a rent of �72.00 per year. There must have been some vacant ground convenient to the mill available for building as some shops were erected in Church Street/Bridge Street and it is believed Mr. Hamilton was responsible for building these as he was a great person for erecting buildings with flat roofs! It is thought that this was to save rates. Before we leave the buildings in Church Street an amusing tale is told of the building at the corner of Church Street/Bridge Street. It is said that "the powers that be" asked Mr. Hamilton to have the building erected with a sloped corner but unfortunately they could not agree on the amount of money needed to do this. Mr. Hamilton had the first storey made with a square corner and from the second story up the building was made with a sloped corner the way that the Authorities wanted the building done in the first place, so there were awkward people even in those days!

Mr. Hamilton must have been a great engineer in his time as he planned to have the factory erected in the early 1900's to be powered by water. About 200 yards down from the start of the original race he had this race tapped and brought the water from the race over the river by means of a wooden aqueduct he caused to have erected. Mr. Hamilton owned land on which he had built Otter Lodge and this aqueduct was joined to a race he had made at the side of Otter Lodge grounds to the factory. The water from the race came downstairs into a portion of building built at the side of the factory in which were placed 2 turbines through which the water went into the river. One of these turbines supplied power for the machinery and the other turbine used to power a dynamo to generate electricity. The turbines were supplied by John McDonald of Glasgow and the dynamo by Geoghegan of Banbridge. The flow and supply of water in the race was regulated by means of sluices. Some yards down from the River Lagan at the side of Weir Stones where the race started, there was a large sluice. During the summer and at times when there was a scarcity of water this sluice was closed down at evenings to let the water gather and when it was opened in the morning there was mostly sufficient water to keep the turbine providing power for the factory all day. In the original race just down below where the aqueduct joined the race there was a sluice. The purpose of this sluice was two-fold; one to stop the water continuing down the original race and directing it into the aqueduct and second if there was too much water going into the aqueduct to open this sluice so that the surplus water could escape down the original race. Then there was a sluice at the beginning of the aqueduct and when this was closed it meant that no water could get into it so that necessary renewals and repairs could be carried out. There was also a sluice some 30 or 40 yards from the factory which was opened every night to let the water from the race go direct into the river and thus preventing the race overflowing and flooding into the factory. The new factory that was built early in 1900's was a three storey building and was one of the first in the country in which machines were power driven and lighted up by electricity.

The power provided by the turbine was on the whole most successful and provided power for some 60 to 90 machines. The only time that the machines were not going as quickly as required was when there was a flood in the river and this prevented the water from the race getting through the turbine and back into the race as quickly as necessary, but this did not happen very often! When this did happen the girls working the machines soon let it be known and shouted "more steam!" The turbine used to generate electricity was most successful, the only problem was in turning on this turbine it was important not to turn it on to quickly in case some of the bulbs would be blown.

The ground floor of the building was used for laundering the goods and was most complete and up to date as there was a power driven washing machine and a large smoothing machine. There was also a section of the room used for hand smoothing and for making up, boxing and parcelling the goods ready for dispatch.

In the middle storey of the factory the machines were placed and worked by the girls.

The top storey of the factory was used for cutting the goods ready for stitching and printing ready for embroidery. A section of this room was used for packing the goods into cases and cartons ready for despatch all over Great Britain and sometimes some went as far as Canada and Australia. On this top room was also a section for the offices.

The products of this factory were a large selection of household goods such as bedspreads, sheets, tea cloths, tray cloths, table cloths, valances, pillow cases and bolster cases.

John Hamilton lived in Otter Lodge which he had built, probably with brick from the brickfield across the road. In the factory there was a spring and he had the water from this spring piped up to his residence and by means of a pump powered also from the turbine a supply of water was pumped up to the house when required.

At the beginning this firm was known and run under the name of John Hamilton Hemstitcher and Manufacturer of Fancy Goods with the address of The Factory, Dromore.

In 1908 a firm was floated under the name of Hamilton McBride & Co. Ltd. to take over the business of John Hamilton with John Hamilton as Managing Director, his daughter Nellie as secretary, other shareholders being members of his family and James Crossin McBride who resided at York House, Dromore. Over the years the shares changed ownership but the firm continued to operate in Dromore until

Trade Notice.

Messrs. John Hamilton & Co., The Square, Dromore.

Every housewife loves fine linen, and on the right selection depends much of her future comfort. If she deals with Messrs. John Hamilton & Co., The Square, Dromore, she will be assured of the utmost value at extremely low prices. Everything in Linen for the household can be procured here, sheets, pillow cases, table cloths, etc. all of the finest quality.

1968 when it moved over to Manchester and is still producing and selling household textiles up to the present time.

It is said that John Hamilton was a most eccentric man and was related to the Nelson family who had a General Drapery, Boot Warehouse and Pawnbroking establishment in Rampart Street. The story is told that Joe Nelson wanted to borrow hedge clippers from John Hamilton and sent a boy up to ask for them. The boy went up and said "Jakey, Mr. Nelson wants the loan of your hedge clippers", to which John Hamilton replied, "Tell Joe Nelson that Mr. Hamilton is using the hedge clippers!"

Many stories were told about John Hamilton but after a very busy and eventful life he died on 27th January, 1919, and is buried in First Dromore Presbyterian Graveyard.

Part of the top room used for printing and cutting. John Hamilton is the man on the right with the stick. (W.P.)


Oshawa, Ontario,
Canada, LIG 1133

Mr. Jim Hutchinson,
28 Milebush Road,
Ballymacormick, Dromore,                                                                                                                             April 28, 1994
Co. Down, N. Ireland.

Dear Mr Hutchinson,
I have just read Volume 3 Journal and thoroughly enjoyed it. These books about Dromore are so interesting, I hope there will be many more.

The Editorial Committee may find the enclosed story interesting, and if so, have my permission to print it.

Mrs Norma (McClughan) Kerr

* * *

By Norma Kerr

The late Richard John Mercer and his spinster sister Mary, used to own a farm near the top of the Diamond Hill in Skeogh - I think a Mr. Gribben lives there now. Richard John died in the late 1940's when he was in his eighties. During the last few years of his life, he was very frail. My father, the late Thomas John McClughan used to go to his house twice a week to shave the old gentleman. As a youngster, I often went with my father to watch Mr. Mercer get his shave and I heard many stories. Here is one of those stories which is still very vivid in my mind today.

This must have happened in the late 1880's when Richard John was a young man. Someone in the neighbourhood had died and was buried in First Dromore Graveyard. I can't remember who the person was or if they were male or female. The day following the burial, it was discovered that the grave had been re-opened, the coffin empty, and the corpse gone. The next day, before dawn, Richard John and a relative of the deceased set off in a horse and cart for Belfast. Upon reaching Belfast, they made their way to the docks where they saw a man carrying a sack over his shoulder. Richard John recognised this man, his name was McNutt. When Mr. McNutt saw the two gentlemen, he immediately dropped the sack and ran. Sure enough, inside was the stolen corpse. Richard John and his friend did not return the stolen body to First Dromore graveyard, but had it buried in a graveyard outside Belfast. This Mr. McNutt lived half way along a lane at the bottom of Diamond Hill - the late Mariah McClune lived in the same house later. I'm sure the house must be in ruins by now.

The grave snatching Mr. McNutt was never seen or heard of again.

In the olden days, bodies were often stolen from graves and sold to medical institutions, hospitals, and doctors for research. Some were shipped over to England. If you take a walk through some of the old graveyards today, you can still see tall pointed railings around old graves - these were put there to prevent such crimes.

Holidays early in the century
by Muriel McVeigh

Vacations play such an important part in modern living that it could be difficult to imagine there was a time when leaving home for a break from work was the exception rather than the rule.

S.S. Melita awaiting arrival of tender from Belfast with Irish holiday makers aboard, 1934 -W. P.The Great War, lasting from 1914 through to 1918, occupied people's minds throughout the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and scarcity of resources, surely shut out the idea of holidaying abroad, and I should think a day to Newcastle, Bangor, Warrenpoint or Portrush fulfilled the wishes of people to cast care aside for a while. The Great Northern Railway Company simplified the means of getting to the seaside from Dromore and it was not unusual to meet local business people strolling on the promenade in Newcastle any Thursday afternoon in the summer, taking advantage of the facility on early closing day. Longer holidays were geared to school closings which were much more meagre in the twenties, thirties and even forties and fifties than they are in the nineties.

Primary schools were shut for a week or ten days at Easter and Christmas, a week at potato harvest time and five weeks between July and August. Money to spend on hotel or even boarding house residence was not readily available but some boarding houses in Newcastle provided a kind of self-catering arrangement. Holiday makers could obtain a room and the cooking services of the landlady while providing the food for themselves-a useful arrangement particularly for the families of farmers when butter, eggs, bacon, potatoes and other foods could be brought from home, and a week or more at the seaside became feasible. In those days the children were often packed off to stay with Grandma for the summer holidays which made a nice change especially if Grandma lived some distance away, - in my case ten miles was quite a distance and many of my early yWith the Captian of S. S. Melita on the bridgeears summers were spent like this.

In the twenties the Boy Scout and Girl Guide Movements were growing. Summer camps for all ages of youth became popular, when bell tents were erected, palliases were filled with straw from some nearby farmyard to prevent the young body having to sleep on bare ground and in some cases have the company of swarms of earwigs. Primitive kitchens were set up to enable the youth to practise their cooking skills.

During the thirties ownership of motor cars increased dramatically and influenced the holiday making propensities of the populace. Soon Donegal, Galway, Killarney or Cork were almost as accessible as Portrush or Ballycastle and indeed the idea of leaving the island for a trip abroad emerged.

In the mid thirties a friend invited me to accompany her on a " Mediterranean Cruise" and the memories of that twelve-day holiday are still quite vivid. �1 a day in 1994 may seem a very small sum to pay for a holiday into the sun, with wonderful food and the opportunity to visit such places as Cadiz in Spain, Ceuta in Morocco, Funchal in Madeira and Lisbon in Portugal before recrossing the Bay of Biscay and the Irish Sea. However that constituted more than a month's salary for me then. Add to that the need for a comprehensive wardrobe of suitable clothing to cover the many occupations aboard ship and the trips ashore, and three month's salary was required.

The Bull Ring at CadizWe joined S.S. Melita which hove to at the mouth of Belfast Lough, having come from Scotland, via tender from Belfast Docks. The excitement was immediate though the next twenty four hours were occupied in finding our sea legs before joining in all the activities on board such as deck quoits and other games, swimming in the pool, sun-bathing, after dinner dancing, orchestral concerts or film shows. Outward bound the first port of call was Cadiz in south-west Spain where, with the help of tugs, Melita tied up to the quay early in the morning. The day was spent visiting impressive churches, and doing a little shopping. Initially we were taken to a bullfight arena where we were amazed at the immense size with its tiered seating. The torero, however, being confined to Sunday action, and this being midweek, we were spared having to watch the gory spectacle, and were satisfied to inspect the elaborate costumes of the toreadors, picadors, and matadors accompanied by a guide's description of the noise, dust and gore, which marked the Sunday afternoon entertainment of the local populace. The day ended with dancing at aAboard bullock drawn holiday wagon in Funchal, Madeira -W. P. beach hotel and our departure to Ceuta, our next port of call, took place shortly after midnight.

The visit to Ceuta included a bus run to Tetuan where we were escorted through the Arab souk where all kinds of exotica were on sale and the handcrafted leather bags appealed to me. The lovely Portuguese island of Madeira was the highlight of the cruise-the sea in Funchal Bay had the bluest water I had . ever seen. Everywhere on the island there were flowers. I was tempted to spend more money than I could afford on the fine hand-sewn linens. I had to be satisfied with a very small piece in the shape of a romper suit for my baby nephew. A large basketwork garden armchair was my contribution to the jumble of baskets, tables and chairs which cluttered the decks of Melita when we steamed homewards. Lisbon was our final land call when we managed a visit to Estoril and enjoyed a swim in the Atlantic as it rolled on to the sandy beach.

These `Mediterranean cruises' of the thirties were surely the beginnings of foreign travel holidays which play such a significant part in the life of most people nowadays.



For Peace comes Dropping Slow.
By Roy Gamble.

You burrow deep in the recesses of the mind, turning it out like an old pocket; fingering the debris of forty-odd years; searching for thLeading Aircraftsman Cummings, Royal Air Force, 1945e elusive glitter of golden memories. And they come only in fits and starts, a faded flickering news-reel: shadowy figures; days and dates; half-remembered words.

But the essential element remains: the central character, clear and bright and tangible; frozen in time like the powerful outlines of an old-fashioned Daguerreotype photograph.

He wasn't a big man in the physical sense, but he strode into the classroom and our lives like a pocket Colossus.

It was the way he carried himself and that dapper sense of dress that you noticed first, And then there was the receding hair, the kind eyes, the sympathetic smile.

He was one of those men who was always spotlessly clean like a surgeon or old-fashioned family doctor. He had about him an aura of well-scrubbed good health: the apple-red cheeks, the strong black-haired arms and hands.

On that first day he demonstrated his abhorrence of corporal punishment with a single dramatic act of dismissal when he flung the cane, that waspish instrument, down the back of a tall cupboard that stood at the back of the room. It was never seen again.

This was G. Harris Cummings: teacher, mentor, enlightened and compassionate human being; demonstrating, as he was to demonstrate all his too short life, that actions speak louder than words.

It was late August, 1949 when he came to us, we fortunate few who were to benefit from his teaching and his wise and benevolent presence for the next few memorable years.

His journey to Dromore was circuitous - a five year war interlude had seen to that. In 1940, with the world already one year into war,
a youthful Harris Cummings left his father's farm at Woodend, Londonderry road, Strabane ` and boarded the train for Belfast. Armed with
his newly acquired Senior certificate he was on his way to enrol for teacher training. On the journey he shared a compartment with two
Strabane boys en route to join the Royal Air Force.

No-one will ever know what conversation took place in that railway carriage. But the rest, as they say, is history.

He served out his war as an aircraft engine mechanic, hands permanently grimed with grease and oil as he grappled with the innards of giant engines, tediously servicing the heavy bombers that raided nightly into Germany from R.A.F. Colerne, Wiltshire. M.P.)

Not for him the kudos and glamour of flying duties - but typical of the man, he accepted his place in the military scheme of things, served without demur, and later wore his medals with pride.

He brought to teaching a strength of character forged in the awful ordeal of conflict, experiencing first-hand the horror and waste of war. Ground crews, responsible for servicing operational bombers lived like troglodytes: sleeping on make-shift beds in dingy airfield crew-rooms; seeing off the heavily-laden bombers at dusk, waiting as first light bruised the night sky for them to return, often shot-up, half their crews (pilots, navigators, wireless operators, gunners - men Harris Cummings often knew personally) dead or badly wounded. Or worse still, enduring the incomprehensible finality of the sudden termination of the young lives of those who failed to return - shot down over Dusseldorf, Cologne, Bremen.

There were good times too. Despite the war-time restrictions on travel there was a chance to see something of the England he grew to love, and along the way, the God-sent opportunity to meet, court and wed the charming Miss Malveen Jones from Bath, Somerset.

Had there been an R.A.F. station at Coleraine, Co. Derry this last happy event might never have happened, thanks to the bungling of a movements clerk in some R.A.F. orderly room. The unfortunate clerk, failing to distinguish between Coleraine Northern Ireland and Colerne, Wiltshire, dispatched Aircraftsman Cummings back to Ulster for what was to prove a very short-lived first posting.

The raising of the school-leaving age in April, 1947 prompted the Teachers Emergency training scheme, and Harris Cummings became one of the many ex-servicemen to train in the Emergency teacher college at Larkfield near Belfast.

In "Goodbye Mr. Chips" James Hilton's pre-war novel about school-mastering, Mr. Chipping's young wife Katherine goes some little way in summing up Harris Cumming's proud profession when she addresses her husband: " ` Oh Chips, I'm so glad you are what you are. I was afraid you were a solicitor or a dentist or a man with a big cotton business in Manchester. Schoolmastering is so different, so important, don't you think ? To be influencing those who are going to grow up and matter in the world . . .'

Team manager, 3rd Dromore Life Boy Team -(W. P.)Chips said he hadn't thought of it like that - or at least, not often. He did his best; that was all anyone could do in any job.

No-one could accuse Harris Cummings of not doing his best. It was not in his nature to do otherwise. He obviously thought long and hard and often about his job. As a teacher he was twenty years ahead of the times. Fingers numb from caning; the wooden duster flung in anger; the repetitive rap, rap, rap of the pointer beating out the sing-song rhythm of times tables played no part in his teaching methods.

He carried his authority easily, teaching by example. Never content with merely passing on the fundamentals of the three R's he opened and expanded young intellects with wellweighed words and patient encouragement.

An avid exponent of the old adage: "All work and no play makes Jack and Jill a dull boy and girl" - he was just as likely to shout, in the middle of a particularly tedious lesson:

"Right, close your books," and splitting the class into teams, begin an energetic refereeing of a no-holds-barred general knowledge quiz.
Impromptu classroom concerts were also a periodic pleasure when he would act the yokel and sing, whistle and grunt his way through:

"There was an old farmer who had an old sow, (Wheep, grunt, deedily-dan)
Who took her to market some goods for to buy, (Wheep, grunt, deedily-dan),
Sing Lassie go-ring go-ro Susannah's a funniful man (Wheep, grunt, deedily-dan.)"

"Do the Welsh railway station," we would shout, and he would oblige, rolling his tongue round that elongated jawbreaker of a place-name on some remote Anglesey branch-line, syllabically correct and complete with appropriate accent: LLanfair-pwill-gwyn-gyll-goger ychwyrn-drobwll-llanty-siliogogogoch. Which means, as he was always at pains to point out: the church of St. Mary's by the white hazels over the whirlpool close by the church of St. Trisilias by the red cave!

These polished performances came as no surprise for he had already appeared on the stage proper, treading the boards in two of Dromore Cathedral dramatic society's productions in 1950. "In a Glass darkly" a one act play by Muriel Box, he starred in the role of love-lorn portrait painter Robert Keene. Later he was cast as the 'boy-friend' in a three-act comedy called "The Younger generation" by Stanley Houghton.

Harris Cummings was a child of the Empire. Born at a time when at least a third of the globe was shaded a bright Britannic pink, he made no apology for being a Royalist and a supporter of the Union. This is not to say that he possessed a "Little Englander, the sun never sets on our dominions" mentality, for he was much too thoughtful and too much an Ulsterman for that. Nevertheless, he was still an ardent admirer of British achievements and he was happy to be part of local celebrations for the Festival of Britain in 1951 and again in 1953 when Queen Elizabeth the second was crowned.

His love of things English was always evident as he coloured lessons with mental pictures of the villages and shires and traditions of England. A lifelong lover of sport, he introduced us to cricket - that most quintessential of English pastimes and to the voice of that fine radio commentator, John Arlott, often breaking into a highly passable impression of that marvellous Hampshire burr: "And Trueman comes in to bowl as the pigeons `roise' at the pavilion end . . . "

I think it was John McGahern the writer who said "There are no days more full in childhood than those days lost in a favourite book." Harris Cummings, normally an advocate of action, recognized this, and despite the busy grammar school qualifying curriculum, encouraged our first exciting insights into those imaginative books: `Treasure Island' "Kidnapped' `The Wind in the Willows' `The Kon-Tiki Expedition.'

He was moved by curiosity and it rubbed off on those taught. He had this capacity to transport his pupils to far-flung places: Africa, India, China. It was not so much the basic factual knowledge ( though there was that too ) rather the sense of adventure he engendered so that we barely noticed the facts and figures and dates along the way.

It is strange that he, most practical of men, should have been the one to stir that first small flame of poetry, putting an end forever to the `Half a league half a league half a league onward' breathless chanting. "Emphasis the `Peace comes dropping slow,'" he would enjoin and proceed to recite in drawling demonstration those lovely lines from W.B. Yeats' "The Lake isle of Innisfree."

"And I shall have some peace there,
For peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning
To where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer,
And noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings."

The era following the ending of the second world war was a particularly drab time in the United Kingdom. Austerity, utility and rationing all continued into the early fifties. Only a tiny percentage of the population owned cars, and for most Dromore children, a once a year steam train Sunday school excursion to Newcastle was all that expected in the way of travel. Some of us had not yet been to Belfast in 1950. Harris Cummings changed all that. With almost military precision ( right down to the exact amount of money required for trolley-bus fares ) he organised several highly educational trips to the capital. Small beer now-a-days perhaps compared to school trips to London, Paris and Rome; we nevertheless enjoyed our visit to parliament buildings at Stormont, where, never one to miss an opportunity to impart knowledge, he delivered an off-the cuff geography lesson over a fine bronze relief map of Ireland laid out in the imposing foyer of the parliamentary pile.

Later there were visits to the Ulster museum, the Zoo, and the Victorian grandeur of the palm house in the Botanic gardens. And of course, there was the piece-de-resistance of each and every trip - lunch in the massive Woolworth's cafeteria in High street. The height of culinary sophistication !

I was twice blest in my relationship with Harris Cummings, for not only was he my revered schoolteacher, he was my leader in the 3rd Dromore Life Boy team (the junior section of the Boy's Brigade) an organization he loved and led with pride.

Trips to Belfast continued as he organised highly competitive football matches and other get-togethers with City Life-Boy teams.

Someone once described a religious person as, "One who believes that life, and its aftermath, is about making some kind of spiritual journey." Harris Cummings was one such person. A deeply Team Manager, 3rd Dromore Life Boy Team -(W.P.) religious man, I can still picture him leading our adolescent voices in singing the vesper hymn at the close of another Monday Life Boy meeting. Hushed singing, after an evening of disciplined activities and boisterous boyish fun, the late Summer sun shafting through the high windows of the church hall:

"The day thou gavest,
Lord is ended,
The darkness falls at thy behest;
To thee our morning hymn ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest."

A short time after I left Dromore primary school, Harris Cummings took up an appointment as Principal of the new school in Loughbrickland. It might as well have been on the other side of the world. Now and then, as is the way of things, news of him would filter through: his successes with 11 plus candidates; his M.B.E. for outstanding service to the Ulster savings committee; Presbyterian church activities; Presidency of the Royal British Legion; his formation of the first Loughbrickland Boys Brigade company. All news was good news.

I only ever saw him one more time; sometime in the middle seventies. It was in a crowded Banbridge street thronged with Saturday shoppers. He had put on a little weight; grown a little smaller. I didn't have the temerity to stop and introduce myself, but shyly said hello and passed on. The gap of our acquaintanceship was too wide, and besides, he was still, as he always will be, Master Cummings, my extraordinary and highly-respected teacher.

He died in January, 1981 having suffered from that most cruel of illnesses, pancreatic cancer. To the end he was courageous. " Are you in pain ?' they would ask. " It's only a niggle, " he would reply. " Only a niggle. "

To this day I bitterly regret never having gone to see him. To thank him for his good influence on my life, for happy Life-Boy memories and for the shining example he gave to all who sat at his feet in his classroom.

He always sought the best in people, refusing to belittle anyone; rather seeking the hidden good.

"And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.
But past is all his fame. The very spot
Where many a time he triumphed, is forgot."

Let these few lines from Oliver Goldsmith's "The Village Schoolmaster" be a fitting epitaph - with the exception perhaps, of the final couplet. For no-one, least of all this ageing former pupil, could easily let go the memory of the phenomenon who was G. Harris Cummings.