Harrow County School for Boys

HCS 1940-47 - Reminiscences of Arthur Hilton

I found the first term at HCS very difficult not least because a large part of it was spent in the air raid shelters (the downstairs cloakrooms suitably reinforced). I was rather shy and diffident and was quite overwhelmed. I didn't know how I could fit in. (Those who knew me later will find that difficult to believe). By the end of that first term I found that I could compete both in the classroom and on the sports field and things began to look up. I was also introduced to Rugby Football which has given me great pleasure as a player, referee and now as a spectator.

I have read in one offering that the 1941 entry was the first one unstreamed. That is not true, the 1940 entry was also unstreamed. The A form was for those whose parents wanted them to do Latin and and the rest were just divided up. I was in the D form, a rumbustious mob which managed to combine work and play quite well. Its General Schools Cert results were about the best of the four forms and it was good on the sports front. We were all in Preston House and our arrival heralded a change in its Cock House fortunes. Whereas it had only been Cock House once before we were Cock House 3 times in the six years from 1942 when the competition was revived. At the end of this offering I have listed, with the help of Ro Evans, those (nearly all) we can remember as being in this form.

It seems to be the case that Web sites like these are used by contributors to gripe about the school and individual masters. They usually reveal more about the writers than those complained about. I have nothing but admiration for the masters, mainly elderly, who had to take the strain during the war. There were some I disliked and I tried to avoid them but this must be inevitable in any school. On the whole I think I received a good all round education. 

Compared with their counterparts today there are two points that I would like to make. Firstly there was always someone to take on out of school activities and to accompany teams and competitors, it wasn't just left to the games master. One only has to think of Twink setting up a Rowing Club. Secondly, one hears of the paper work today but we had tests in all terms that had to be marked and also reports to be written every term. They didn't do too badly did they?

Another problem that had to be faced after the end of the war was the sudden growth in the size of the VIth form. When I joined the school there was no more than about 50 in the VI the form. When I left it must have been approaching 200. There was no additional accommodation and again the Headmaster of Harrow School helped out. There did not seem to be a comparable increase in Staff and the "Oldies" struggled through. 

Rather than dwell on the masters and their idiosyncracies I have put together, again with the help of Ro, a few recollections of my time at the school.

1.     Sitting on the stage for a music lesson with Sammy Watson when in IID. Sorbo came into the Hall to take a lesson in the room next to the stage. As he bounced down the hall Sammy strummed rumpty tum rumpty tum in time with his bounce to the suppressed giggles of those on the stage.

2.     Georgie Neal seemed to have a fetish about chalk. After lunch break everybody had to turn their pockets out for a chalk search which proved fruitless. His punishment was to get people outside in the playground and march them up and down.  He asked for the form captain and I put my hand up he then asked for the vice captain and Ro put his hand up but blanched because he was carrying a copy of this poem:-

He marched two forms across the quad
While some fellows their heads did nod
And called the Nail a dirty .......

3.    Bourne suggested that we should put a leaf in our button holes and come in "smoking" chalk sticks.

4.    Killer King coming into a classroom and picking up a chair one handed until the seat was level with his mouth and blowing the dust off.

5.    Plum Warner's tuck shop in the cupoboard as you went up the small flight of steps to your right as you came in the front door. It was reduced to a tray of bread rolls in our day.

6.    Bubbling inkwells with calcium carbide in them and the associated stink from the gas.

7.    Nitrogen Iodide (I think that is what it was) spread on the rim of a desk and the lid gently lowered. When the occupant put the lid down normally there would be a loud bang.

8.    Twink taking speech training lessons and his infamous "it aint the opping over edges that urts the orses oofs but the ammer ammer ammer on the ard igh road."

9.    Eggy Webb's exhortation to chew each mouthful of food 32 times.

10.    The Dodo magazine created by Peter Doe and circulated by hand.

11.    Peter Doe doing the plunge in the swimming sports and waiting and waiting and waiting for him to take a breath.

12.    Harold Parkinson getting so annoyed with Nigel Swallow that he pulled him from his desk and when he fell on the floor he sat on him and banged his head on the floor. Both of us recalled this!!!!!

13 Arranging the desks as far back in the room as possible which meant that Mrs Baranyay's desk was virtually in the middle of the room. During the course of the lesson those on the outside gradually edged forward until most of her class were behind her.

14.    Dickie Dyer ejecting Alan Prosser from his class who then made faces through a glass panel in the door. Dickie then went to the door and Alan took off and Dickie chased him right across the playground his gown streaming out behind him while those who could get window space watched enthralled.

15.    Jack Hackman throwing a board rubber to hit the wall and fall on a miscreant in the back row. It hit the picture rail which came down on the whole back row.

16.    Getting under a desk during the GSC exams for a V1 which landed in Roxeth.

17.    Mr Heathfield's fluffy Angora wool ties.

18.    Sammy Watson's Bull Nose Morris arriving at School with another Master sitting in the Dickie seat.

19.    George Thorn's Vauxhall and its number plate ERO 59 used on the tail of a pantomime horse in a Preston House concert.

20.    My father made a coffin for use in a Preston House concert. Ro Evans and I who were to be Morbid and Tombstone, Undertakers carried it from South Harrow to school. Arthur Purton was already going spare cursing the influence of ITMA on our script. When he saw our coffin he really did let rip. We used it any way to bundle Don Thompson in and carry him off.

21.    Jack Hackman with a plate of semolina in the dining room resting on one hand. A quick flip and over it went to be caugbt without spilling a drop.

22.     Stan Robinson's survey of pubs in Aylesbury (105 I believe) and Thame 35. Incidentally the village of Haddenham where the school went harvesting had 22 for a population of around 2000.

23.    A 1st XV rugby match on Peterborough Hill. We were bathing and changing amid the steam in the adapted shed when someone came in letting a blast of cold air freeze us. Shut that b.......y door shouted Tommy Missen and the door was shut. 
The following morning at assembly Donald Crowle-Ellis reported that he had watched the match and afterwards had been forcefully asked to close a door.

24.    Beating Watford Grammar School for the first time ever. We were leading 12-11 with three quarters of the game over. We played on and on until our wing scored a try. Their master who was the referee then blew up. Harry Webb who had accompanied said the we had played 45 minutes in the second half in a 35 minutes each way game.

25.    I remember a couple of things from Welldon House concerts John Maxwell as Sexton Blake -just call me sexy - and another year as Richard Scrawler (which got past the censor). I believe too that Johnny Pocket had to change his too obvious bra after the first night of one concert.

26.     Indoor Games

Cricket played on a long table with a miniature bat and ping pong ball

Lower VI Modern was in a room off the hall that had a very large picture on the wall opposite the blackboard.  An area the size of the picture was marked on the blackboard, desks were pushed back and the room divided into two. The game was played with ping pong bats and a squash ball; the object being to hit the picture or
the area on the board.

Another game was to try and circumnavigate the room as near the walls as possible ie on the window sills and architraves etc.

27.    Michael Oliver of the Lower VI Modern who was in the ATC and set records for hitchhiking. He had his picture in the National Press.

28.    Going into Joe Lyons (opposite the Coliseum) after school for a tea or coffee and a bun and then having to sneak back to replace the pepper and salt pots which someone had slipped into your pocket.

29.    A group of VIth formers heading for Joe Lyons met the girls in the pantomime at the Coliseum and a snow ball fight ensued. We were seen by a master and duly ticked off. The happy result of this was Doug Swainson met his wife Heuldys. 

Finally, can anyone else remember the stunt pulled by a certain notorious young lady from the Girls County School which enlivened a Sports Day or possibly Fete in 1946 (or 47)?

1940 Entry IID

Brian Alley Alan Neal
Arnold Page
Brian Ballard Ian Parkins
John Brake Alan Prosser
Burkitt Rous
Collins Brian Saunders
Crowther Peter Slack
Peter Doe Tony Streeter
Ro Evans Doug Swainson
Freeman Nig Swallow
Dennis Glover Don Thompson
Green Tod
Aff Hilton Bev Uwins
James David Wiggins
Ken Kearney Scottie Wight
Jimmy Moore Ferdie Wyatt

In addition we had Larry Mehrtens for a short while and a lad named Bourne who had been torpedoed on the Athenia. He later continued his journey to the USA under the Kodak scheme. Neville Parsonage also joined us and in the Vth form DEG Rees and Charlie Rose came aboard. Alan Neal was killed in the Harrow and Wealdstone train crash. Another, who shall be nameless, carried out a daylight robbery on a jewellers in Bond Street and was caught. This made the National

Arthur Hilton, February 2002


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