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Farnborough Grammar School

Prospect Avenue, Farnborough, Hampshire

Telephone : Farnborough 539

Other Contributions - 1948 to 1977

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As well as corrections and refreshment for my less than perfect memory I have also received a number of interesting stories from other Old Fernebergians. Some of these are reproduced here…

Paul Beardmore (1958 - 1965)     Go to top of this page

The sixth form had after-school dancing classes with Aldershot County High, and I went to them on a few occasions but not often enough to learn to dance. The sixth-form debating society was also a joint affair and I was an enthusiastic participant there. School plays drew from both schools, and in summer of 1960 an 8mm home movie was made with a joint cast of Grammar and High School pupils. It was shown on the school open day of that year and I remember that two of the masters involved in making it were William Voller (English) and Dr. Sewell (maths). If you could find a copy of that film it would be a major discovery.

Interesting... it would be good to be able to include that on the site.

David Beevis (1951 - 1957)     Go to top of this page

Tommy Junior was so named because there used to be another ‘Thomas’ known as Tommy Senior, who taught Latin at F.G.S. for many years and was known on occasion to discuss and illustrate in fine detail some of the critical points in major boxing matches of the 1930s. He retired in about 1954, which is around the time we all got a chuckle when Tommy Junior became father to a set of twins. Some said that Tommy Junior being in charge of the cadet corps was unfair to Mr. Jones the biology master, who had a smallholding near the Hog’s Back and was a Captain in the cadets. Both had war records but it was whispered that Jones had held a higher rank.

Other lunch time tricks paid on The Beeb included having a couple of boys holding open the swinging doors onto the balcony at the end of which was the door to Beeb’s music room. A third boy would bounce a heavy ball-bearing ball along the corridor. It would smack into the door making a terrible racket and bounce back to the doors which were then closed behind it. By the time The Beeb made it to his door everyone had disappeared. I remember a classmate asking who had written the school song (“Give me this land of Wessex…”). He got very angry and snarled back “What business is it of yours?” The rumour was that he had displaced Nuncs for the position of music master, so we wondered if Nuncs (who lived in rooms in Fleet for many years) was the author.

In his autobiography Nuncs does not claim to have been Music master or to have written the school song. He could not have done; its history has been traced back to before the school’s existence. Nunc’s may never have formally taught Music but his autobiography does refer to his presentations of musical entertainments and stage dramas.

Smudger Smith was known as ‘Smithy’ as well. The boys who advertised his car for sale were in my year and he was upset about it because a bunch of strangers was coming round to his house at all hours. He organized trips overseas for groups of boys for a couple of years through ‘World Friends International’. He also used to sell charity stamps at Christmas time, turning a physics lesson into a non-stop sale “Let’s finish up this sheet”, “OK Let’s start this sheet”, “Why don’t we finish this sheet” etc. etc. He would always throw in his joke, writing the formula for pi squared then pi to power of ‘t’ on the blackboard and asking what it was. Pi squared was obvious, but the right answer for the second was “pi raised to the t’th”!

Pete Benlow (1958 - 1965)     Go to top of this page

I regard it as a good school which gave me an excellent education. I agree with most of the comments on most of the teachers. Nuncs was an outstandingly nice and supportive man (does anybody remember “Latin Places”? This was a scheme to move us from desk to desk according to how well we did in answering questions in Latin). Some teachers that I liked are not mentioned on your site : Derek Miles Booy, bon viveur, wit & thoroughly decent man who taught English & lived in Castle Street, Farnham; another English teacher, Norman Styles, who directed me in a school play production of “A Man For All Seasons” (I played Sir Thomas More). Some teachers I hated are hardly mentioned. The one I will mention is Dr. J.S.N.Sewell, maths master with a classics education, who was a complete and utter shit. He would pick on me, make me do mental arithmetic in front of the class, then laugh if I failed. I was never sure why he did this - maybe it was just my name, Benlow, that tickled him. “Put your sea boots on, Admiral. Multiply 16·4 by 5·75”. In the later stages of his career at F.G.S., we used to dread getting him in the afternoons. He would stagger round the classroom, breathing boozy breath into our faces when he stretched over us, ostensibly to examine our work. Then one day he was gone, sacked by all accounts. Does anybody know what happened to the awful Dr. Sewell?

There have been reports from those closely involved in the incident that Dr. Sewell was dismissed for “kiddie fiddling”. Norman Styles is pictured on the Doc. Naish pages.

Pete has also contributed to the debate on Dr. Sewell.

Lyndon Bournon (1964 - 1969)     Go to top of this page

I really appreciate your website. Teachers I particularly liked at F.G.S. were Nuncs, ‘Charlie’ Upton and Tom Pascoe. Tom Pascoe liked the fact that my brother had gone into farming, as he had an interest in beef cattle. Someone else I’m always grateful to (even though we didn’t get on) was Peter Mound - the Head of Music. I made a point of telling him how much he’d helped me when he was in the midst of teaching a 6th form group, when I visited the school in the mid seventies. He beamed from ear to ear. More…

Geoff Cook (mid 1950s - 1959)     Go to top of this page

I hark back to starting in 2R with ‘Charlie’ Upton as form master who swept into the classroom wearing his university gown and mortar-board. Absolutely amazing - and terrifying. I was one of the few still wearing shorts! Then we progressed to 3R, 4G, Lower 5G and Upper 5G, all consistently poor, eh?

The reason I hark back is because ‘Charlie’ Upton (rode a Vespa to school) taught French. Like most subjects, I wasn’t much good at it. Still, some of it stayed in the dark recesses of my mind because I managed to use a bit during my career as an Immigration Officer. But for the last few years, my wife and I have been living here in northern France. Yes, we have to speak French AND have to cope with a strong Flemish accent, too! Well, he’d be pleased with me now.

Come on Geoff, you promised to send me some photos of form 5G.

John Cook (1948 - 1952)     Go to top of this page

The great Mr. Grosch was always known as ‘Groggy’ not ‘Nuncs’. Why I don’t know. Great memories of Doc. Naish, he always greeted us with “Waes Hael” and the library was our regular classroom. I remember the time when Doc. took us to a cricket match near to the old Seenan/Hayers boxing match when he rewarded our victory with a well earned cider or two. No wonder The Jab did not approve but we all worshiped Doc.

I loved the reference to the C.C.F. armoury, in my day it was strictly controlled. I was a pompous Staff Sgt. in charge of the armoury under cadet 2/Lt. Hedges and we carefully monitored all activity. I remember with great affection the P14 303 Which I considered my own on the rare occasions when we were allowed on the range.

By the way, before becoming 1Bn. Para Cadets we were attached to the Hampshires and therefore the later transfer was only a reversion. I am still in touch, in Australia, with the son of Mr. Hill who taught maths in the 1950’s.

John has also contributed, from memory, the words of the School Song. It would seem likely that the name ‘Groggy’ pre-dated the use of ‘Nuncs’ which his autobiography states came into use in 1949.

Tim Feest (1960 - 1961)     Go to top of this page

I entered the Groves of Academe in Prospect Avenue in 1960 but only for two years as my parents decided to move to Worthing. By 1960 the old-guard of teaching staff was being supplemented by younger teachers who were, I think, rather less inclined to indulge in what I now realise was typical public-school bullying of pupils. Detention was a common punishment for the most trivial of offences and I suffered several.

There was a sadistic P.E. teacher () who delighted in watching boys suffer in the showers when he turned the hot tap off and insisted we all stay in the freezing cold water. Little Dick taught R.E. and was among the least spiritual men I have known, his forté being to lose his temper and, on Fridays, strut around in his Army Captain’s uniform as part of the C.C.F. activities. Smith, the physics teacher lacked any ability to relate to or communicate with young pupils and seemed to think that frowning and getting angry were sufficient. Nuncs I remember with some fondness - he endeavoured to make Latin enjoyable; and of course there was J. A. Bourne - known to us as ‘Prick’, and he certainly was.

Reading the anecdotes on the website makes me realise what an odious and incompetent man Bourne was. Sadly I can find nothing good to say about him either. I suppose the humanitarian in me says “forgive him”, but he blighted the lives of too many to make that an easy task. I do recall vividly the ice-cream wars, a classic example of the man’s failure to understand and accept that life had moved on.

Well, that’s a bit of a negative rant but there were good times. I remember with fondness flying elastic-band launched model aircraft on the main field and learning the fine art of blacksmithing with Mr. Pascoe - I wonder how many schools these days are equipped with their own blacksmith’s furnace and anvils? - not to mention the pots of animal glue that had to be heated over an open gas ring to make the glue liquid.

Another good memory is Open Days, with demonstrations of chemistry and physics involving lots of Bunsen burners and liquid nitrogen (most certainly not something that would be permitted today) and the famous model-aircraft bombing range in one of the quads. The aircraft were suspended on sloping steel wires through which electro-magnets were powered to hold the ‘bomb’ under the aircraft. Switching the current off released the bomb.

Because of my move to Worthing I missed C.C.F., it, by 1960, being compulsory only from the start of the 3rd Form, but I remember a twinge of envy seeing cadets returning in the Army truck, suitably mud-encrusted, from manoeuvres on the Aldershot ranges with assorted weaponry. Mostly though, C.C.F. seemed to be an excuse for sadism on the part of the ‘officers’.

† Joe Thomas the P.E. teacher gets another dishonourable mention!

Lindsay Frost (1967 - 1974)     Go to top of this page

I have many many happy memories of the school and would love to find out more about it as it was during my years. I think you were a pupil before my time so your website does not cover some of the characters that I remember so well: Peter Mound (the best music teacher - ever, who sadly passed away in 2007). Mr. Pallister - we used to track his movements around the classroom by tracing a biro on a notebook. These were called “Palligraphs” and by the end of the class the biro had worn through the pad to the desk’s wooden surface. Mr. “Boggy” Bishop - he used to call me “Talkalot”, presumably because I did. Mr. Billington - English, Mr. North, Chemistry, who used to flick his finger on the back of your head for idly wasting time in the Lab. Mr. Sadler, French teacher who looked like Jimmy Edwards, Eli Eltringham (to whom you refer!). and of course, Joe Thomas, who like to pick us up by the sideburns and walk us to the vestibule.

Hmm. So Thomas was still indulging in his ritual punishments some twelve years after I left? How did he ever get away with it? ‘Palligraphs’ is an interesting concept. We did some silly things in the fifties but for pointlessness that one is hard to beat!

Tim Fry (1972 - 1977)     Go to top of this page

I was in the second-to-last class (well, one of the six in each year) to pass through the school as it changed over to a sixth form college. For 3½ years form rooms were the old Portacabins in the west field over Sand Hill. I started off in 1H, proceeding through 2R, 3W, 4W and 5C. We were almost second class citizens by the end - ‘those that be’ just wanted us out and away! High jinks included removing the blackboard after form period and before lesson 1 and hiding it under the Portacabin, electrifying the door handle much to the surprise of the Maths teacher (whose name I forget) and the following week, leaving the door ajar. He kicked the door further open only to find we had removed the screws from the hinges.

Before a lunch registration we removed the top of the teacher’s desk, rotated the body of the desk through 180°, and re-fixed the top. Teacher sat and went to open drawer to extract register only to find no drawer. A good sport, he merely counted heads, stood and left. Needless to say we repaired the desk!

The lunch queue. Ah, yes. The lunch queue. To get to the front one needed permission (and at times, a pass) from a teacher running a club. I was a member of the guild of printers and later a librarian (both original library and new - now known as IT resources, I think). Alternatively, one ‘lifted’ a small bottle of bench Hydrochloric acid from the Chemistry lab. Once in the queue you dropped a drop on the neck of the person in front. After a few seconds they started to scratch the itch, eventually leaving the queue rapidly to rinse neck. Repeat to advance!! Only employed a couple of times before an announcement was made, amnesty given, for the return of the ‘missing’ bottles.

Joe Thomas was made Head of Grammar School Department (as we became in the end). He taught me History in 1H. Small and nasty.

Eli Eltringham was my first year Chemistry teacher. I shall never forget him setting light to his jacket sleeve when demonstrating combustion. It involved glass tubing bent through 180° attached via rubber tubing to the gas supply. The flame went UP his sleeve!!!!!

Giggling at the instructions on the fire extinguisher outside the drama room: “Remove cover, strike knob”. One held onto your belt until safely in the room.

Saddler taught me French for the last two years. His final report read, and I quote; “Timothy is obviously not a linguist and I hope he has a nice summer holiday”. I failed French ‘O’ level, to no one’s surprise. A man of infinite patience.

The ice cream van was still in Sand Hill at lunch and sporadic efforts were made to ban us from using him. They didn’t work. He also sold sweets. Fizz bombs stand out.

Miss Pitts was a large busted lady. There were a variety of rhymes that generally went along the lines of “Miss Pitts, big tits”. We could never work out how such a large woman got into such a small Mini. We used to wait at the end of the day to see her get in!

Pupils/friends that I remember are Gavin Crawford, Frank Carver, Ian Banks and Michael Cann (who had the dubious pleasure of repeating year 4 and so ended up in the last year of the Grammar school).

Chris Haines (1957 - 1965)     Go to top of this page

Doc. encouraged me to read the whole of Winston’s History of the English Speaking Peoples (the multi-volume set, not the abridged version) - I believe it was far more use to me than the History O-level that I spectacularly failed! I had the pleasure of singing the part of one of Noah’s sons in the Noyes Fludde performance in which Nuncs played God. I also remember that he would usually be wearing at least three watches that he was checking for their time-keeping before returning them to the pupils after he had done a repair.

Terry Hamblin (1954 - 1961)     Go to top of this page

I have just been over your website and many memories came flooding back. The Jab. (also known as Proddy) was a particularly nasty piece of work. Do you remember he cancelled Sports Day on some pretext? Tommy Junior and he had a flaming row about it.

Richard Letford was as you say the leading sportsman in the year. Not only a jumper, but javelin thrower and footballer. I think he went on to play for England U-15s. I remember Richard Hadland. He came from Park School in Aldershot. He was in 2b with me but then 3r and I can’t remember him after that.

Nuncs was one of my favourite teachers. He also ran a music appreciation group. John Attree was also a favourite. I went on one of his Welsh trips to Towyn. Other masters I remember are W.C. (Boggy) Bishop who ran the football teams, Beefy Bullock, who ignited my interest in Maths, Jonah the Biology teacher. Otis Sims and I were two of only three doing A level Zoology with him. I remember Norman Styles’ first day. He was beset by a wasp and lost the class by the silly way he dealt with it. Then there were the two Charlies, Sweet and Upton, who took French.

Among the names I remember are Graham Wickham who captained the cricket team and became school captain in his 3rd year in the 6th. Michael Cleare who is a professor in New York having worked most of his life for Johnson Mathey and invented one of the potent anti-cancer drugs. Richard Springate, the musician who is leader of the orchestra at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Dom Darling who dropped out of University to make his living playing poker. I also remember John Fouracre (as a footballer) and David Brimelow.

Other were Fish, Ian Johnson, Edward Neville (who was off with T.B. for a while), Cole, Ian Andrew (who married Arthur English’s daughter), Barnes, Benson, Alan Brydges (who transferred to F.G.S. at 13+), Andrew Young (whose parents made him leave after O levels and get a job, Longford, Roberts (who left after O levels for a shotgun wedding), Arch Moore.

The guy called Pink left after O levels and went to work at a place called, I think, Linatex. He started a football team which arranged a fixture with the F.G.S. second XI. We won 16-0, and I scored my only goal ever (I was a centre half).

Beeb-baiting was a happy time. I thought he was dismissed for squeezing the knees of boys in short trousers. He certainly squeezed mine. Fish stopped him when he tried it on him, “Stop, sir, you mustn’t. It’s disgusting!”

Punishment was usually detentions, but Tommy Junior used to pull the short hairs at the temple and Moggie Morgan, the Maths teacher, used to tap the top of the head with his middle finger, very hard. Dr. Schofield, also in Maths, used to throw board dusters. Mr. Smith, the Physics teacher had Parkinson’s disease and no sense of humour. He demoted me to Mr. Wilson’s A level set for cheeking him. Mr. Wilson was a much better teacher. I remember that he had a blemish removed from his face just before he got married.

The Doc’s library had a complete collection of Biggles books. I used to be on the early bus from Aldershot and spent the time before school in the library reading.

I retired from the N.H.S. in 2005 where I was a Consultant Haematologist in Bournemouth. I am still a professor at Southampton University and one of the leading leukaemia researchers in the UK. I travel a lot, lecturing about leukaemia. I am just back from Nagasaki and next week off to Stockholm.

I don’t remember Sports Day being cancelled but I do clearly recall the T.B. incident and having to stand in line for our injections. I also remember Roberts getting married but mainly because it was to the sister of a good friend of mine. For that reason if for no other I shall keep the name to myself. I didn’t know that Smith’s Physics A level class was considered to be the better group. I was in his class and managed to get a particularly good mark in the exam. I still remember some of the questions and it’s the subject that I found most useful in later life.

Bernard Hertlein (1961 - 1965)     Go to top of this page

I was a somewhat late recruit to the Honorable Company of Fernibuggers and received an early less-than-honorable discharge from Prod as a result of mistaken intentions in the apple orchard where all the bad boys went for a smoke! I went to warn the lads that prefects were coming, but was spotted by the farmer and got fired for scrumping! All the more ironic now, given the revelation about Prod’s smoking habit! Oh well - we move on and I ended up in the USA, doing OK for myself, and now trying hard not to to be too much of a grumpy old fart.

Mike Sadler taught me French and told me that I would never be any good at it, but I passed my O level, and later ended up working for the French construction industry research institute (CEBTP). Missing from the photographs is Reginald (Robot Reggie) Smith. He taught physics and I think he retired in 19665 or ’66. He was a hoot with a Wimshurst's Wheel and other electrostatic phenomena! There was also a French teaching assistant, Mademoiselle Rigalle who immediately became known as Mam’selle Wriggle. I believe she was at F.G.S. around 1964/65. Another well remembered teacher was "Jonah" Jones; biology teacher and something of a gentleman farmer. He loved to discuss his personal affair with a tapeworm.

Bernard has helpfully been able to put a few names to the group photos of school masters.

David Hughes (1954 - 1960)     Go to top of this page

Being a Church Crookham boy I knew Nuncs pretty well and visited his house on several occasions but I always thought his first name was Harry? In fact I have good recollections of him showing a group of us a poster advertising one of his concerts as ‘Harry Grosch and his Mighty Organ’. Made us all laugh and sad to say, these days he would probably have been reported to the police!

Has anyone mentioned the day we set Styles up for a fall? I think we were in 3A at the time and Styles (who had the patience of a saint and whom we could not provoke by any means) had arrived to replace Dr. Sewell (grandson of the famous Black Beauty authoress who suffered from malaria and regularly fell asleep during lessons). We pretty much destroyed the chair behind the masters’ desk and then carefully reassembled it so that everything balanced and it looked OK. Styles came in, began the lesson standing and after what seemed an eternity went to the desk and sat down. There was a collective sharp intake of breath but nothing happened and he just sat there continuing to read. We were all wondering how the hell this contraption had stayed together when he rather foolishly decided to pull it up a little further towards the desk at which point the chair (in various pieces), the desk and Styles all flew about in different directions. Every desk lid was raised simultaneously and we just about wet ourselves as he threw all the pieces into the corner and stomped out. Classic jape but the man was brilliant and we really liked him a lot. Great days and thanks for taking the trouble to help keep them alive.

I don’t doubt that Nuncs went by several names during his colourful life but various documents on site and his birth registration all record him as Thomas W. Grosch.

Andrew ‘Fritz’ Leishman (1958 - 1965)     Go to top of this page

Doc. Naish retired very early on in my school career, at about the time they moved the library to the old dining room above the main hall. The old library became the kitchen. Perhaps the three flights of stairs were too much for him. Norman Styles succeeded him as librarian I believe. Little Dick always had problems controlling the class, as you say. He once came up to me during one particularly unruly lesson and started pummelling my shoulder. Even then as a first former I was not far short of 6' tall, so I stood up and when he realised he was punching my elbow, with me looking down on him, he just stopped and picked on someone else his own size. Eli was of course famous for his accidents with the phosphorous, and other experiments which didn’t go according to plan.

Then there was Nuncs. Everyone held him with great affection and respect because he was so much like an uncle to us all. Kind, good humoured and understanding, he would treat us as adults despite our obvious immaturity and innocence. He was my form master when I was promoted to 1G in my second term at F.G.S. In 1M we were not considered bright enough to do Latin so I started well behind the others, but with good old Nuncs’ encouragement I had soon caught up. I was not keen on Latin and many pupils dropped the subject along the way, but I felt obliged for Nuncs’ sake to continue up to ‘O’ level, by which time there were only half a dozen of us left. Your biography of him is interesting and illuminating. He could be annoyingly self-pitying especially when his bad knee, or some other ailment, troubled him and perhaps it was this feeling sorry for himself and introspective attitude which held back his career. Occasionally though his truly heroic qualities came to the fore. For example, when I was in about the fourth year, the new music master, Mr. Lickfold, persuaded The Jab to extend assembly once a week for extra hymn practice. One morning Lickfold chose to improve our singing of the school song (“Give me this land of Wessex etc., etc.) and in customary fashion sang one line himself, for the whole school to repeat afterwards. All was well until about the third rendition of the Latin chorus (O filii adeste! Alumni all sing heartily etc,) where Lickfold’s pronunciation had been unrecognisable. Nuncs could endure it no longer: he mounted the stage, publicly admonished Lickfold and corrected his pronunciation in front of 700 cheering boys! Lickfold was humiliated and I do not recall another hymn practice after that day. Good old Nuncs!

Mervyn Lemon (early 1950s - 1958)     Go to top of this page

Mervyn filled me in with a few details of long lost friends but publishing his comments here might be considered to be breaking a confidence. Mervyn runs a website far bigger than this one, you may wish to see a recent photograph of him on his own site.

John Machin (1960 - 1965)     Go to top of this page

I arrived from East End School in Aldershot along with Terry Bridgeman and Bruce Harvey and started in 1U (under ‘Charlie’ Upton) in the huts on the West Field. In my last year I was given a whole year in detention for avoiding the special bus and catching the ‘normal’ bus at Bradford’s Garage in order to talk to the Convent girls who got on up the hill on the Farnborough Road. The irony was that, during that year, the 5 p.m. last school bus was cancelled and so those of us on detention (was it called “janks”?) had to get the normal bus home. Names I recall from that period are Peter Killick, David Jones and Robert Goldstone. I was amused by the stories of Little Dick and his inability to control the class and I recall lighting fires at the back of the classroom using anything that smoked well, including shoe laces and lunchtime sandwich wrappers.

There was a poster in Foster’s Art Room which said “The hum of pleasured industry is welcome. Distracting noise and idle chatter are ill-mannered and unwelcome”. I remember it well because I had to write it out hundreds of times, probably thousands, while in detention.

Foster’s poster and the punishment is also remembered by David Birks, F.G.S. 1958-1963

Phil Rawling (1966 - 1971)     Go to top of this page

I passed my 11+ at Cove Manor Junior School but regrettably have very limited memories of either establishment other than being head boy at CMJ in 1965 and being chased into the toilets by girls in order to evade unwarranted attention! (I was only 10 years old, after all).

That and having my nose broken by contact with the school playground whilst being submerged by a pile of schoolmates. There was a lot of blood and a certain amount of consternation by staff members although none of the actions were at all malicious.

I remember, albeit vaguely, being a member of one of FGS’s rugby team. There was a school visit from Gareth (now Sir Gareth) Edwards, the brilliant Welsh rugby player. We were in a Portacabin type classroom just in from the Sandy Hill entrance to the school and I’m sure it was a ploy to encourage more boys to join in with Rugby as Football was the dominant school sport at the time.

I became a Prefect and enjoyed the Combined Cadet Force ably lead by Lt. Col. Thomas and rose to the rank of Sergeant before leaving the school and entering employment with the Surrey Police cadets in January 1972. I mention this is because I came across a newspaper cutting from November 1970 which may be of interest. Clearly I was then the proud leader of a small platoon. The boys are all named among them Stephen Timms the MP for East Ham.

Steve Reeds (1961 - 1968)     Go to top of this page

My memories of the place are very similar to most of the other contributors. Boris had a choice of punishments which he took ghoulish delight in offering. A box on the ears or a thump in the chest! Both were barbaric. I remember Fats Wiseman a Pompey lad who taught, I think, Geography, and Thug Edwards, a little fella who promised dire physical punishments. Hank North who ‘taught’ chemistry and once gave me 0/10 and ‘Rubbish’ for not regurgitating his explanation of hard and soft water. That’s what they were like; no self criticism.

Little Dick was treated badly by some pupils probably because he was a small man and not physically imposing. Masters who imposed themselves physically have been widely criticized but Little Dick was not in that camp. I had him for History in my first year at the school and was terrified of ‘Big School’ but found Little Dick gentle, kind and a teacher who kept my interest in History alive. Maybe it was because I felt we were kindred spirits… I too was small and not physically imposing. It is possible that as I got older I may have joined in with baiting him, but cannot clearly recall doing so. Kindness and gentleness were in short supply at the school.

Eli, Tosh Sadler, Nuncs, Tom Pascoe (a man I found rather alarming), Killer Keys, Trunky Cotgreave, Jonah; I remember them with affection. The ones who always intrigued me were those for whom no nickname was given. A guy just called Boorman (a cold man) and Foster who taught Art. Why no nickname? Were they that unpopular? Doc. Sewell left under a cloud allegedly. He used to write things on boy’s legs, I was told. What a bunch!

“Trunky Cotgreave”? He was Wally in my day but according to Steve the name came from his constant need to stick his nose (trunk) into everything to discover what was going on, whether it concerned him or not. Odd that Foster had no nickname; he was the only master who had a nickname for me. ‘Titch’ because he reckoned I was small. I was the youngest in several of my classes so maybe that was a factor, but I’m at least average height if a little short of six feet!  Pete Benlow is a fan of Doctor Sewell too!

Richard Scutter (1958 - 1965)     Go to top of this page

I started in class 1M in October 1958, the M stood for Mitchell, I think it was his first term at the school too. His nick-name became Scarface, I forget the exact reason but have a notion it was connected with an escapee of the same name from the Broadmoor detention centre. He was thorough and disciplined. He took us swimming at the Army Command Baths and after our lesson when getting dried I watched in awe as he swam slow controlled breaststroke laps. More…

Alan Shoulders (1958 - 1965)     Go to top of this page

I used to live in Farnborough Street near Farnborough North station. Before attending F.G.S. I went to St. Peter’s Junior School which was no more than 200 yards from home. In my first week at F.G.S. I tried the buses and waited at the bus stop at the end of Farnborough Street. A man in a Morris Minor stopped and asked if I wanted a lift. I asked if he was going near F.G.S. and he said that he was. When we got there he drove straight in and parked. It was only then I realised he was a teacher. It turned out he was Mr. Mills. He was my teacher at maths in later years.

When I was at St. Peter’s and aged nine or ten, the F.G.S. military marching band (or was it bugles?) came to perform in our playground. They seemed like gods to us, they were so smart, tall and organised. We never thought that we would go to a school like that. The leader marching at the front of the band twirled and threw his baton in the air. I was most impressed. I often wonder who he was. I seem to recall a name such as Padereski for some reason. Does any of this ring a bell? A photo would be nice. I don’t remember such a band when I eventually went to F.G.S.

Brian Taylor (circa 1936 - 1941)     Go to top of this page

I came across your website recently and enjoyed perusing through it. I am 80 years old and went to F.G.S. in the late 1930s - leaving it to go to Reading School as a boarder in 1941. At that time we were living at 58 Minley Road, Cove - and I would cycle to and from the school (Prospect Avenue) every day, my greatest wish being to stay for lunch at the school cafeteria - until I actually did!! My memories of the school at that time are necessarily clouded but I am still in contact with John Tonks whom I met at the school - and who now lives in Stockholm and, for a while, with Francis Bargeman - with whom I’ve lost contact. We moved to Canada in 1941 and I’m still here though I spent ten years in Rome working for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (in the ’sixties).

Mike Webb (1961 - ?)     Go to top of this page

I came across your website just a few weeks ago and it made me think about F.G.S., the people and events after so many years of very little thought at all about those days. Here are a few random memories…

I had previously been at St Peter’s primary school where I had been good at most things. At F.G.S., I was put in the top stream but I floundered at 30th or 31st out of 31 in every subject except woodwork. Later I spent a lot of time involved in the drama society as stage manager and really enjoyed organising practical things. I think my only mention in any school publication ever was in the 1966 F.G.S. Annual Record which refers to the Browning Version play and to ‘Webb, who proved himself to be a first-class stage director as well as a master carpenter’.

Ken Clements (I think) sat through a whole lesson in his underpants and nothing else, for a bet. I cannot remember who the accommodating teacher was.

Drinking our 1/3 pints of milk in the quadrangle during the mid morning break. In the winter they were frozen and in the summer almost gone off in the heat. I particularly remember talking about the Cuban missile crisis one such mid morning.

Detention involved writing lines over and over, for an hour, I think. I cannot remember my misdemeanours apart from ‘I must wear my school cap. I must wear my school cap. I must wear my school cap…’. My school cap was buried at the top of Cader Idris in Wales. I went on a cycling holiday with Tim Hughes, a year above me, presumably at the end of my last compulsory cap-wearing year. I still have my very tatty school tie, complete with a ‘Webb’ label stitched on the back and a school scarf. I have found my Prefect’s tie. I’ll send you some photos.

The corrugated cadet building in which was the rifle range. Outside, people regularly practiced the bugle, playing the same few notes, over and over, badly. Several of us started a recorder group instead of playing soldiers on Friday afternoons. We got together in the music room outside the armoury. We thought it had been agreed and got away with it for quite a few weeks until Mr./Major Thomas found us and we had to go back to marching and boot polishing. I don’t remember any punishment.

While staying at Holiday Fellowship accommodation on our geography field trip we sang ‘Big Fat Nat’ at the tops of our voices to the accompaniment of the the popular recording ‘Big Bad John’ by Jimmy Dean. Meanwhile, teacher Nat, whose surname I cannot remember, smiled benevolently.

I was pretty good at running and was selected several times to run at the annual mixed sports at the army sports ground mid-way between North Camp and Aldershot.

John Winterbourne (1960 - ?)     Go to top of this page

I went to a C.C.F. camp in Dolgellau in 1964 and have memories (no pictures unfortunately) of being rousted out of our 8-man (!!) tents in the very early hours one morning, to be part of a search party for a (junior or infant) school kid. He’d gone missing the previous day on an outing on the southern flank of Snowdon, probably 20 miles north of where we were.

The clear memories are of being dragged out of a very deep early morning sleep, being bundled into the back of a 3-ton lorry in the dark, getting to our start-point at the bottom of a bracken slope (it was now daylight) and being briefed about advancing slowly, in line and keeping our spacing as close as possible - and, hardly having started, a radio message saying “all clear”, followed shortly after by a fly-by by an R.A.F. helicopter with a little lad waving out of the gaping open door.

I think I remember correctly that the feeling was one of relief - we felt we had been genuinely involved in something serious which had turned out well. I can’t remember when we found out he hadn’t been out on the mountain all night, but tucked up comfortably in bed on a Welsh hill farm - without a phone. It would be nice to be able to say “and that’s when I fell in love with Wales”, but it wouldn’t be true, that had already happened a few days earlier, when we arrived at the base camp after an epic steam train journey (via Ruabon/Rhayader?) and I saw the view across the valley to the inaccessible cliffs of Cader Idris.