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Farnborough Grammar School

Prospect Avenue, Farnborough, Hampshire

Telephone : Farnborough 539

A letter from Paul Lamont - 1958 to 1964

Paul’s F.G.S. poems 

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Congratulations on the impressive F.G.S. site, providing an opportunity for a trip down memory lane or should it be Sandy Lane and around the bend to Prospect Avenue? (Thanks to Google that’s now possible from here in Devon).

Perhaps this is my first diligent attempt at “homework”, as it’s probably the first time I’ve read the Al-Fa and Beta mags from cover to cover. With a recent quantum leap in my poetic skills, belated contributions could complete with Hugh Beavin! The 21st Anniversary booklet only now, makes very interesting reading. Apart from appearing in the 1965 Speech Day programme, I’m not actually further named but there are several “That includes me!” and “I remember him or occasionally her” and a lot of “I well remember that!”.

I was a 12+ pupil, starting in class 2R in September 1958. My potential confirmed moving up to 3B.That was in Mr. Foster’s art room. I can’t remember my misdemeanour which earned me the lines but for the 51st time or is it the 101st?

The hum of pleasured industry is welcome.

Distracting noise and idle chatter are ill-mannered and unwelcome”.

I stayed middling B until LVISc and UVISc obtaining three “E grade A levels” in July 1964, more than sufficient to provide an escape route to the R.A.E. I would like to submit “That includes me!”, as my personalised version of some of the articles in the Al-Fa Magazines, followed by “Other random thoughts”.

That includes me!

Al-Fa Magazine - 1959 page 6

“We welcome our close relations with the other secondary schools and the inter-transfer system.”

Having managed to pass the first part of the 11+ but not the second and coming in the top six of class 1A at Cove Secondary Modern, I was invited to an interview with Dr. Bourne together with Maths and English tests. I didn’t think I had performed very well but I was given a place and had to buy a green Kingsley football shirt and started in class 2R together with football stars Barry Cooper and John McBride, in September 1958.

“Of the nine over age transfers who came into a second year form, six came in the first ten in a form of 33 boys.”

I came fourth! By the way, what was the R for? I’m now surprised the other boys didn’t call us “Rejects” or “Retards”.

Al-Fa Magazine - 1961 page 22

“A month later (May 1961) a party of 32 spent their field week at Towyn in Merionethshire, and at the same time 36 others went to Marske in Yorkshire. Trips to the Monsanta Chemical Works at Ruabon and to the Dorman-Long foundry at Middlesbrough were much appreciated.”

The pervading smell of Cellophane production from Monsanta wasn’t appreciated.

“Individual traverse gave boys the opportunity to use their own initiative. Settlement studies proved a valuable insight into local life and personalities”.

Colin Dodd and I wandered around the lanes and found an old windmill or was it a water mill? A mini crumbled castle and a few fields described by a local as, “round shaped with a hill in each half, narrowing down before curving out again more than above”. We ran off before he could say it had “a large well in front of the slurry works!”

“Such excursions as the ascent of Cader Idris supplied the parties with many examples of geographical features.”

No mention that it was a wet and cold day with the peak shrouded in mist. We were tired and hungry. I thought I was clever by wearing my pyjamas under my clothes to keep warm but my gabardine mackintosh was not Welsh rain proof, so I was also wet through. I think we all reached the peak.

“The trips have brought the reward of interest and enjoyment in Geography to many boys, and no one should miss these valuable opportunities in his school life”.

My reward was the first time I kissed a girl. I was the one chosen, out of the 32, by the prettiest Liverpool lass (from the other school in Huyton that shared the guest house). My enjoyment was a holiday romance but no further interest in Geography, choosing History in the fifth form. I certainly didn’t miss that valuable opportunity in my school life.

Al-Fa Magazine - 1963 page 14

“Specialist courses are becoming commoner in Cadet training: three N.C.O.’s have attended Army N.C.O. refresher courses”.

I only volunteered because of the promise of a helicopter flight but it was cancelled due to bad weather. It was a very tough week, every Friday afternoon after that was “a walk in the park”. Still I got an extra stripe for volunteering and another after completion of the course, to make Sergeant.

Al-Fa Magazine - 1963 page 16

“An enthusiastic and loyal group of tenors and basses travelled across to Aldershot every Thursday evening to prepare this under the most able direction of Mrs. Wilson.”

I also volunteered for singing in The Farnham Festival but my daily mode of transport being a bicycle, I wasn’t too keen having to return back to the school on a bus and cycle home late at night. I had the privilege of squeezing into the back seat of nice Nuncs’ Mini every Thursday morning for that term, managing to persuade him to give me a lift (as he drove past my house in Fleet Road, Cove) so I could catch the double decker bus from Aldershot back to Cove, which also just happened to be used by the girls including the ubiquitous Mary Mullins.

Other random thoughts

Cove Junior School

I also went to C.J.S. and thanks for many more memories from the various links. I had the cane on three occasions, “the air raid shelters”, throwing coal up onto the roof and can’t remember. In one school play Colin Roberts and I were “Golliwogs”. I’ve still got the photo but not the negative.

Farnborough Grammar School - First Term Naivety

On my first day I was convinced Mr. Pascoe was Philip Fouracre’s father. Soon afterwards I needed the assistance of a first former, Barry Groves, to help me realize the facts of life. In my first term there were constant references to “the venerable Beeb”? As a new boy I had to pretend I knew all about the myth, only now all is revealed. I thought “Little Dick” was too small to manage a full size cigarette and had to roll his own from a few strands of tobacco, he was “Never alone with a Strand”.

London Trip

I recall the visit to The Planetarium, Madame Tussauds, the Victoria & Albert museum. Hope my autograph is still half way up The Monument. I signed on the way down but I don’t think Martin Renoulf had any volunteers!

The 1963 Ice Slide

The gently sloped tarmac drive from the back of the school to the Sandy Lane entrance was perfect for “the best slide ever”, honed to perfection by hundreds of boys from all forms for several days until Jack covered it with cinders. Charming!

Non Swimming Lessons

Despite several attempts to learn to swim at “The Puddle” with C.J.S., subsequent F.G.S. lessons at the imposing Aldershot Military Baths with Mr. Thomas were also unsuccessful. He was standing in the shallow end (not shallow when it’s deeper than my then height), I was visibly nervous of the consequences of going under the water but he enticed me to “just jump in and he would not let me go under” : he did! Eventually in my thirties, I taught myself to swim in the 2ft deep children’s section, with a polystyrene float and wearing arm bands!


Of course I got detention, can’t remember why but it was only two or three times. The first time I wrote out school rules ad infinitum. In the second I discovered there was an alternative, “spelling difficult but similar words”, as my English was poor, I definitely benefited.

Mr. B. Jowett

I’m now convinced I had dyslexia but somehow managed to overcome it by my second passing attempt at “O” level in LVISc, with Mr. Jowett’s help. I was impressed by him. Other masters had first forms named after them but Mr. Jowett had a car, (I just had to throw that in).

Mr. T. Pascoe

“Too easily satisfied” was my woodwork report summarization by Mr. Pascoe. Uniquely the one I still remember, probably because I felt offended at the time. In the same class time that most other boys had produced French polished coffee tables with dovetail joints and whole chairs with legs, produced on “The Lathe”. My two wooden bookends, note I didn’t say matching pair, had been lovingly crafted and glued together, more than once. There have been times in my life when his clairvoyance has been too true.

Mr. R. Smith

Our UVISc Class master (we enjoyed his inFORMal method of REGistration) and Physics master. One day he gave one of his pre “A” level tests and the results were so bad he made us take the exact same questions again. The only time I obtained 100% and I think I was the only one!

Mr. J. Thomas

In one History lesson, leaning back on my chair, I fell off. I explained it was “due to gravity”. He invited me to “let gravity hold my nose to the board” for the rest of the lesson. Who taught him Physics? Then in P.T. he delighted in seeing me struggle to get half way up the ropes. I took a long time to realize that I had to use my feet to grip and push with my legs, not just pull up with my arms. I was able to touch the ceiling and waited triumphal for him to invite me to come down!

And finally Dr. J.A. Bourne

I can only recall one lesson taken by the Dr. starting with a philosophical discussion seeking to prove our actual existence. “Is that desk there?” Of course we thought we could prove it by touch but he argued that as our fingers were made from atoms, the fingertip electrons could not actually touch the desktop electrons, because like charges repel. That left a lasting impression on me…………….or did it?

Paul Lamont : July 2010

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