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Farnborough Grammar School

Prospect Avenue, Farnborough, Hampshire

Telephone : Farnborough 539

Portsmouth - Summer 1959

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In 1959 a small group of pupils went to Portsmouth to inspect the fleet. The precise date is not recorded but I clearly remember that it was the day before the Queen was due in Portsmouth for a similar inspection. My principal recollection is that we were taken by small boat out into the Solent and drew up alongside a very large warship, Vanguard or Ark Royal, certainly one of the ‘big ones’. We were greeted by a naval officer who bellowed over the side in unmistakable terms that he was not having a load of scruffy school kids walking over his ship after it had been made fit for the Queen’s visit and he cared not one jot that the visit had been arranged and agreed several months beforehand.

A revised schedule was hastily arranged and we went to the Royal Marines’ base at Southsea where we were allowed to scare some seagulls, indulge in water sports and rubber suits and look around their museum.

It isn’t clear which lucky pupil is sitting in the hot seat but it is obvious from the original photograph that no one is wearing any ear protectors. I recall that we managed to scare quite a lot of gulls.

An amphibious Austin Champ complete with snorkel enters the water test tank with a rubber clad boy in the passenger seat…

…and here we can even see who it is enjoying the moment. If memory serves correctly it’s Roger Smith. Even now I remember him complaining at how removing the rubber suit stripped all the hairs from his arms.
The colour photograph appears to have been taken on a second run - unless the back seat passenger was momentarily submerged.

If you should wonder how some of these pictures came to be in colour and others not, the answer is this. I had been given an outdated roll of Kodak Ektachrome film (colour slides) which I used sparingly. However a note on the file of black and white negatives says in best Parker Royal Blue Quink, “THESE NEGS WERE FOUND IN WASTE PAPER BIN AT SCHOOL”. Very few pupils had been on the trip and it was simple to ascertain that none had lost any negatives. It was only while preparing this page that I realised that it didn’t occur to me at the time to ask whichever school master supervised the trip. I hope that whoever lost the negatives will be pleased that I looked after them so carefully and agree that they have now been put to good use.

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