William's Tale - Early Years
Hall Green Primary School, Hall Green, Birmingham, England. I am not sure of the exact date, but I guess it is around 1957.
1967 Concert Posters
I was born in 1950 while my Father was serving overseas in the British army. My Mother was a Greek of the Diaspora, and had lived in a number of countries around the Mediterranean before she met my father in Egypt, married him, and became a naturalized British citizen. She and I left in late 1951, before the mass expulsion of Greeks by President Nasser, and arrived, by ship, in the U.K. shortly after my first birthday in early 1952. Initially, we lived with my paternal Grandmother until my father returned to England. Following my father's return to the UK, we spent a few years living in Wrexham, in Wales, where my sister, Mary, was born. Soon after that, my father retired from the army, so in 1954, we moved to Hall Green, a quiet suburb on the edge of Birmingham, the second largest city in the U.K., where I spent the bulk of my early life until I was seventeen.
I started my education in 1955, age 4, at Hall Green Primary school, which was on Highfield Road in those days. In 1958 I was moved to the then newly built Chilcote Primary School, which was conveniently much closer to home; just a ten minute walk. In those far off days, for anyone who remembers me, I was known as Billy Hillyard. It was at that early age that the first inklings of my scientific interests became apparent. I bought my first book on astronomy and physics, titled "Astronomy for Entertainment", and written by the Russian scientist Yakov Perelman, when I was eight in 1959. I still have the book; it is a first British edition, and a treasured possession. It fired my passion for science, particularly the physical sciences, that you see reflected in the content of this website.
In 1961, when I was ten, I gained a scholarship to King Edwards School in Edgbaston, and progressed to being a more grown up Bill Hillyard. This was a very old school, founded by King Edward VI in 1552. The Queen had paid a visit in 1954 to celebrate the 400th anniversary; two years late, you'll notice. If you are interested in the old school, I have a page with some information and photographs. Parts of these retrospectives by Brian David Williams and Robert Darlaston refer to their time at KES, before mine, and may be of interest. In any event, I remember my school days fondly.
My academic interests at school were essentially mathematics and physics as I intended to have an academic career in astronomy or astrophysics. Thus, I took "A" levels in Maths, Further (advanced) Maths and Physics when I was 17. However, studying turned out not to be my forté, and I only just achieved the necessary results to get into University. My main extra mural interests at the time were the "Disco" nights at Morton House (owned by the NSPCC) on the Bristol Road, going to the Midlands Arts Centre in Cannon Hill Park with my friend Melanie (Railly?, Rayleigh?), and hanging out with friends in Streetly, Sutton Coldfield or at the Junior 70 Club in Carrs Lane in Birmingham City Center.
Me (on the left) with friends Dave (on banjo) and Wood; July 1968. I know, I have never seen two arch-top guitars playing with banjo before! A bit of early jazz-folk fusion, perhaps?
Easter 1968 in Sutton Park. Left to right: Margaret, Janet, Ann (getting a piggy-back from me and a kick from Vince) and Nigel (the table-tennis wiz) in the foreground.
This time with Wood standing on the right, looking terribly serious, and Vince looking exhausted from all the activity. Easter 1968. Sadly, Vince is no longer with us.
Recently, my friend Wood sent some pictures of the "Streetly Crowd", and me, taken around 1968, which I have added below.