Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vignettes of Boarding School Life

This cross-section of vignettes are taken from posts on the school Facebook pages and the Topix forum....

TexasDave McGarry
I'll never forget my first day/night at school.. 1961. I thought I was just going to have a look at the place, maybe spend a couple of days there, and if I didn't like it I would be heading home again. To my horror I was shown my bunk and locker, and.. Help!! 
The next day I got a whack around my ear from Mr Breeze? with the blackboard duster, and the 'survival' of Wyre Farm began.

Sarah Williams Can anyone else remember their first day - or hour or minute?

Keith Ison I remember my first night (1965) in the bunk beds, not knowing anyone, feeling very lonely, all through the night all i could hear was boys crying under their blankets, i never slept a wink all night, it was tough for a 11 year old to be away from home for the first time.

Ralph Aldhous I can't remember how I got there, but I didn't live in Coventry (Birmingham: Four Oaks), so I was on my own. I got there before everyone else and then Christopher Colbridge from Chesterfield turned up. After that the other boys arrived on the coach and we were taken to our dormitory: the annex. There was absolute mayhem. I don't remember any more about that day. I got beaten by Gus Williams after the first few days (see elsewhere) and I was awfully homesick and disorientated for several weeks, then we had the BIG snow I think. By the second term I had learned the ropes a bit. I can't remember when we were divided up into houses, but I think it was early.

Paul Norman My first night was OK as the excitement kept me going. It was the second nigh that homesickness hit me.

David Partridge I was given the choice by my parents and chose Cleobury. I thought it sounded like a good adventure, and it increasingly was. It was tough at times in the first couple of years but I can't remember ever regretting being there.

John Tearse Hi Sarah I was given the choice by my parents as my doctor recommended I get out of the Coventry smoke as I had a collapsed lung but really enjoyed my years there and came back healthy.

Trev Teasdel My head teacher at Willenhall Wood Junior was Mr Lowe - who was deputy head at Cleobury in the late 50's -he was a good advocate for the school and a few went to the school from Willenhall. he persuaded my parents that it would bring me out of myself and that the education was better - smaller classes etc. I went along with it!

Sarah Williams So did it work, Trev? It doesn't sound as if there are many regrets, in retrospect. I do remember boys running away and Dad having to go out in the middle of the night to pick them up at motorway service areas or from the police. Was it Wooldridge who stole a bike and rode it the wrong way up the M5?

David Stuart yep I had a choice my Mother had me down for King Henry or Bablake but I chose Cleobury.

Mick Gajic I remember going fruit picking with some mate's, we were told only to put good fruit in the sacks. We worked hard but the farmer kept moaning, saying we weren't quick enough, so i said to the lads half fill the sacks with crap and put the good stuff on top, he won't know. And that's what we did and the farmer was chuffed about the amount of full sacks there were, but he still paid us short! I bet he got a surprise when he got them to market!

Paul Rees Messing about in the air raid shelter that was at the rear of the Dining Room!!! Getting two front teeth broken playing Shinty!!!

I do remember the air raid shelters though. There was one behind the hospital block and one where the modular classroom near the pool was.

Michael Billings The Air-raid shelter i remember was directly behind the bottom shower block.

Paul Rees I seem to remember tv crews being in the school for, I think, ATV news. They filmed me playing chess if I remember correctly. Anyone lese remember this?

Peter Melhuish
Ralph. I seem to remember that you designed and paint the mural in the room with the Tuck Shop and coffee bar, from memory it was White on Black with an eye as the centre piece.
The other thing i will always remember you for was walking around the school tossing a medal.

Ralph Aldhous  Peter , you remember me better than I remember myself. I got the tossing a medal from a '30s gangster film. I think it was Scarface or something, I had quite forgotten that particular affectation. You are right about the mural.

Ralph Aldhous  2/6p was a week's money allowance, what was it called) then?

Ralph Aldhous
We slept in metal bunks in the old house blocks. We got woken up at 7.25 by prefects and ran over to the toilet block for 'ablutions'. The showers were a bit hit and miss.

Trev Teasdel  Harper had a Board of Education - flat bit of varnished wood with that written on it - if you were slow getting out of the showers - Whack on the backside!

Ralph Aldhous We had buttermilk soap and used to flick each other with wet towels.

Trev Teasdel Ouch - i remember that!

Sarah Williams Ah, the buttermilk soap. We had it too, though wet towel flicking was not encouraged in our house.

Mick Gajic i remember opening the door one morning and the snow had drifted up and i had to dig my way out ,not to thick but still bloody cold,then ran like hell to the showers,without any shirt on brrrr.

Mick Gajic also the metal bunk beds i was on top bunk and when i changed the sheet,bottom sheet to wash and the top sheet to the bottom,as i pulled the bottom sheet up,i slipped and cracked one of my front teeth,which still has a gap to-day,so i can never forget bed making.

Ralph Aldhous Hospital corners.

Paul Rees
When I joined the Army they said who know's how to do a bed box, not expecting any response. I, mistakenly, opened my big mouth and they were surprised, to say the least. Although when my Passing out Parade was over, one of my old friends told my CO that I thought Army was easier than boarding school I was a marked man!!!

Ralph Aldhous If you were on the top bunk you could look out of the window after lights out and there was enough light to read by, but the downside was that the boy on the bottom bunk could put both feet under the mattress and push you out of bed onto the floor.

Ralph Aldhous Apple pie beds. If someone made one for you, you jumped in and put your feet through the sheet. You got used to checking first.

Ralph Aldhous After breakfast we had inspection. We had to stand by our beds and everything had to be in order. Sometimes we had to open our top lockers and everything had to be neatly folded, just so. Of course, they could always find something wrong if they wanted to, and often did. 'Tidy this up properly and be outside my room after inspection'.

I can remember Gus finding an almost invisible mark on one of my best shoes, but I can't remember what happened next, and I can remember one of the teachers, I don't think it was Tank, emptying my locker on the floor when I folded my stuff neatly at the front and stuffed everything else in behind.

Hamish Wilson Morning inspections - we would have the backs of our shoes checked to make sure we had not just polished the front and toothbrushes inspected to see if they were damp to show they had been used that morning. As for the beds, if you were a little slow in getting up in the morning you were quite likely to be tipped on the floor mattress and all, even off the top bunk!

Ralph Aldhous  I did that myself a few times. We also used to take the springs off so they would fall through. Better not to do that to the boy sleeping directly above you though.


David Partridge We used to cycle to the bridge with two holes South of Cleobury near Neen Solars I think. The two holes must have been made for when the river was in flood but we used to sit in there and smoke!


Michael Billings
Other things i remember were the trips to meet cricket legends Peter May and Godfrey Evans at a hall in Kidderminster part of a cricket evening and going to see the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at Kidderminster Town Hall. Pop music in those days was limited to one record player in the dorm where one of the lads had a few Elvis records. We listened to Radio Luxembourg at night on our crystal sets throwing a wire on the roof of the dorm to act as an aerial. Those were the days my friends.

Michael Billings
A few other things i remember, the school Tuck Shop, going into Wyre Forest to collect wood for the bonfire on November 5th and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme initiative test.. covered 950 miles hitch hiking around Britain. Up to Glasgow, over to Edinburgh, down to London and back to school.

The GLEN 3 miles of physical Pain
Wyre Forest crayfishing - break neck bank
The padock for a spot of camping.
Clee hill radar station- what a walk.
Wolf whistling out of the window to Lisa Chopping and Georgina Plaice.
House Points for folding clothes and polishing shoes.
Standards (Points towards the Best House)
The Plunge in the pool.
Pollys - The jam with plenty of flavor.
Watching the news every night at 6.
Finding the carcas of an eariwig in my ear from them dorms.
The phonebox in the dining room that only had 3 digits.
Calling the register at meal times for the browns
Brown Alan
Brown Dexter
Brown John
Brown Kieth
Brown Malcom
Brown Michael

Neil O'Connor
Don't know why but this evening I was remembering the Scarlet fever outbreak. The whole school was quarantined and myself, along with 5 others, I recall, were in the sickbay for 2 weeks recovering. I was just about to get out of there when I came down with swollen glands and had to stay another week. Worst part was it was around Nov 5th and we could only watch the bonfire and the fireworks from the sickbay window, plus, as we started to recover, the teachers brought us in our course work to do, bugger 

Paul Starling
Does anyone recall the Jackdaw hand raised by a lad. It was called Archimedes. It would wait on the roof of a dorm and fly down to the lads shoulder when we changed class. 


  1. Another interesting memory was how 80% of the lads had travel rugs over their beds - didn't think much about it at the time but guess it brightened the place up a bit.

    Recall just after arriving at school in the first term (circa 1957) having to make a locker cover ie you had a small "locker" into which all your worldly posessions were stored and it was necessary to give it some privacy and security ! ut virtue of a curtain hung over the front via an expanding wire.

    One of the first art lessons was to make a curtain - from memory these were already prepared and we merely had to cut a potatoe in half and gouge out some spud to create a pattern then dip the spud in paint and decorate the curtain as best you could - little did I know that this curtain had to stay with me till I left the school some 4.5 yrs later.

    The Original M28

  2. I remember Archimedes, I had a photo of Peter Wood with it on his arm, I am still looking for that photo to this day, does anyone know what happened to Peter and Archimedes for that matter. Stephen Donald.