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Cock House Cup

Cock house cup

The Cock House Cup has been in existence at The Math for over a century, it’s thrilling competitive nature and the intense rivalry between the Houses always sets up for some great action across the academic year. Below is an explanation into how the modern day House system was established and the changes since.

We start in the early twentieth century when from among many candidates for the Headmastership the Governors chose Mr Lucy. His education had been at Worcester Royal Grammar School and, after winning a scholarship, he attended Oxford. Soon after his arrival, the House system in the School was changed. Mr Cape’s original idea had divided the School up into six houses, each named after the Housemaster: thus there were Matthews (light blue), Ternouth (purple), Hepworth (lavender), Robinson (dark red), Boehmer (green), and Hardman (brown) houses, consisting only of juniors and seniors, with no middle or intermediate class as today. Mr Lucy wanted a system of grouping the boys into houses according to the district in which they lived, so that they could meet for games practice without having to come to the School field. Also these house groupings gave boys a better chance of getting to know the other members, since they lived near one another, and in many cases travelled to school together.  The new houses were to be:

Bridge House, to which all boys who crossed Rochester Bridge on the way to school would belong, and whose colours were to be black and white; Castle, whose members were Rochester boys, with colours of black and red; Gordon, with colours of blue and white, to which the boys from Old Brompton and Gillingham, west of the Gillingham Road line, would belong; Pitt House, for boys from Chatham and Luton, with colours of red and white; and lastly Tower House (that is, the Tower of Jezreels) for boys from Gillingham High Street and Chatham Hill, with colours of green and white.

Directly after the proposal, the boys were told to group themselves so as to get some idea of the numbers in each house, to appoint officers, and to discuss whether a more suitable house name might be found. Castle boys suggested “School House” because the heroes of the Gem and the Magnet belonged to it, but this was turned down by Mr Lucy. Bridge boys concocted the name of “Work House”, not as a sign of poverty, but to signify that they would always work hard for the good of the house. The commend-ability of the houses attitudes did not at first dawn on Mr Lucy and, although he soon understood its meaning, he did not accept the alteration. Towards the “Cock House” championship, points were counted not only for football, cricket, athletics and swimming, but also for schoolwork, a slight difference from present-day methods.

At the start of the Second World War the School had disbanded the House System. In autumn 1945 new interest had been added that year to all forms of athletic sports by the revival of the House System. There were now four Houses instead of five Houses; Bridge, Castle, Gordon and Pitt. Tower House no longer existed. The Old Tower House included almost entirely boys from Gillingham and Rainham, and very few boys from those districts attended the School. The Houses now no longer contained boys from definite areas; the arrangement for drafting boys to the various Houses ensured that any group of four new boys one should be allotted to each House, although the rule was modified in the case of brothers and of sons of former members of the School Houses. As there were likely to be few such sons, and as four Houses was easier to deal with than five, it was thought not desirable to revive Tower House.

As the School continued to expand, there was a desperate need to add additional Houses. River was therefore established in 1994. River was seen as an appropriate choice due to the River Medway being such an important landmark of Rochester, ‘married to the Thames’. River also worked alphabetically and rolled of the tongue well, and in years gone by the River Medway supplied the Maths Swimming pool on the esplanade. Purple was also chosen to be the colour of the house.  Thetford was introduced in 1996, it was chosen because of the links the school has with another school founded by Sir Joseph Williamson in the town of Thetford in Norfolk. Light blue was not an easy decision for the house. Some preferred Orange, a colour which would contrast and complement the navy blue of our blazers; others felt that they should, like Gordon House, have their colours mentioned in the school song “All hail to the colours of dark and light blue, which float in the flag of the school.” Not surprisingly they opted for fame and chose light blue.

In 2018, and the School decided to set up the foundations for a seventh house, in preparation for the 2019-20 academic year. The shortlisted names were Garrick, Tower and Watts. Staff, Parents, Pupils, Governors, Trustees and Old Williamsonians all casted their votes towards the name of the new House.  Watts generated 20.22% of the voter share, Garrick 22.47% and Tower 57.31%. In September 2019 Tower will subsequently be introduced and will be headed by a veteran Head of House – Mr Sharp.

Mr K Kitsell

Click here for the results from last year’s Cock House Cup Championship – Castle being the victors.