Farnborough Grammar School

Prospect Avenue, Farnborough, Hampshire

Telephone : Farnborough 539
Chris Hicks (Memories) - 1952 to 1959

I was one of a group of about ten boys who came to F.G.S. every day from far away Yateley. The journey involved a 20 minute walk through woods and fields to catch the Thames Valley 07.20 bus to Camberley and change there to the Aldershot green “Traco” and arrive at Bradford’s Garage or the top of Prospect Road by about 08.20, then hanging around until assembly at 09.00. The journey home was just as bad, arriving in Yateley at 17.30, so a longer day than for many others. The good news, as we got old enough to appreciate it, was that the same buses carried the girls to Aldershot High School and to Farnborough College!

Early days are a bit of a blur, but I recall classes of 30 odd, all sitting at old-fashioned desks with inkwells (so it was pencils or ordinary dip pens). No misbehaviour or the blackboard wiper was liable to hit you, or a rap across the knuckles with a ruler. Dress was very much blazer and tie and school cap to and from school – and woe betide you if you didn’t doff your cap to any master or prefect! Like others I recall crazy biology, chemistry and woodwork lessons and Smith with his funny physics lessons (he would suddenly start a joke – remember “People who live in grass houses should not store thrones”?)

The dining room was on the top floor and lunch was in two sittings; a prefect or senior boy at each table to ensure quiet and that all food was eaten. In my case this led to a life-long hate of rice pudding, tapioca, semolina and the like!

Gym once a week, taken with slightly sadistic pleasure by Tommy Junior, plus outside games for an hour or so.

Lunch break was of course a time for games. All the usual plus British Bulldog and the like. I remember a fad for building and flying “gliders”. These were actually built out of plywood, up to three feet wingspan and a large nail sticking out the front. They were launched with long pieces of elastic, the ¼ inch square type used in catapults, and went high and came down fast and very dangerous! They were banned after a couple of days.

There was no question of leaving the school grounds during lunchtime, so no tuck shop. Plenty of activities, including hobbies, the library and of course “Beeb baiting” almost every day. For sure he was inclined to be a bit too friendly towards some boys and I remember someone stabbing his hand with a compass – Nothing said!

Cadets was Friday afternoon from the second year onwards, so we were issued with uniform and taught drill, marching, map reading, stripping and cleaning rifles and brens and working towards whatever qualification Part 1 and 2, which cleared the way towards glory and promotion. Over the years I wangled my way into the Armoury, in the roof behind Beeb’s music room. An excellent place for doing not a lot except to issue and recover the rifles. One big day each year was Field Day, with all of us going by army truck to Hankley Common near Hindhead. Good fun for all, and my crowning glory was one year to issue everything together with loads of blank ammunition and to get back to school to check it all back and find a bren gun missing! Panic until an army search party found it lying in the heather.

Sixth Form sort of arrived. I can’t remember any talk of aims for university, I think if your parents could afford to keep you at school for another two years then you were in. I worked incredibly un-hard to scrape passes in geography and English, but had a good time doing it. Booy was the main English teacher and Dicky Senior and a younger guy for geography. Highlights were geography field trips to Wales, one to Dale Fort in Pembrokeshire and one to mid-Wales at Towyn.

This was the age of girl discovery, with drama in association with Aldershot High School and a school dance where I remember the girls along one side and the boys on the other with no-one moving an inch for ages!

Scenery for plays was prepared and stored in the area upstairs behind the clock at the front of the building, with access via the Dining Room, so a great place to goof off for hours. Mr. Booy was the driving force for the drama side. Then there was Nuncs with his recording machine that actually cut 78 r.p.m. records live as we sang, and I remember Nuncs giving us a full dinner and presentation just before leaving school in ’59. A great gesture. Dr. J.S.N. Sewell with his Grundig tape recorder and recording his own plays. I remember the one where the bad guy was murdered by putting strychnine on the gum of a stamped return envelope?

Prefects were selected by a mysterious process known only to the Jab and he chose me, so I did my shifts of gate guard in the mornings (punishment if late), ringing the bell at end of lessons and breaks, lunchtime patrols… All exciting stuff, but the really good thing was the freedom to go anywhere without challenge, even take lessons now and then, and of course leave school during the day. Who was it that organised carrying in Tommy Junior’s Austin 7 into the quadrangle – Big school assembly to identify the culprits, but to no avail!

Chris Hicks : January 2010



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