Memories of Mervyn Upton
28th August, 1930 ~ 29th November, 2012
King Alfred’s College, Winchester
Initially, I had wanted to become an industrial chemist when I left school but, in the Sixth Form, decided to take up teaching. Through the ‘Clearing House’ system, I applied to three colleges…St Luke’s in Exeter, St Paul’s in Cheltenham and King Alfred’s in Winchester. Only King Alfred’s replied and I was invited for an interview. This was conducted by the Principal, W.P.Dickinson and the then Vice-Principal, H Jarman. Both men were charming and the interview was a much more pleasant experience than I had expected. To me, it seemed that I had chosen the right college but, would they want me? They would, provided two conditions were fulfilled ~ that I should obtain a Higher School Certificate and complete my National Service.
King Alfred’s was the oldest church training college and the second oldest college in the country. It was founded in 1840 as Winchester Diocesan Training College. The present main buildings date from 1862, with later additions. In 1928, the college became King Alfred’s College.
In June 1940, when the final exams were taking place, the army arrived to commandeer the premises, giving the students a couple of hours to leave. Exams were terminated and the ‘Year’ were given automatic passes. The Army Intelligence Corp moved in. Later, they were replaced by the ATS who used the building as headquarters for their Central Record Office until September 1946, when the college re-opened.
(In the 1970s, a couple of former ATS members requested to return to view KAC and were invited to attend the Winston Club Reunion. Over the years, numbers increased to thirty plus. Their status as guests was altered and they were made full members of the Club. Several of them became known to Janet and me. At our last meal , Reunion High Tea, in July 2006, the group decided, 60 years on, to terminate their annual visits).
On Monday 3rd March, 1951 at RAF Wartling, I received final confirmation that a place was available at KAC. By this time, National Service had been increased to two years from eighteen months. Those with booked places in higher education could have early release. I left Wartling on Thursday 6th September and my terminal leave ended on Wednesday 26th September. The next day I departed for Winchester.
A train from Stapleton Road Station took me to Southampton where I caught the Bournemouth to London train that stopped at Winchester. En route, I encountered another young man heading for KAC, John Rowsell. On arrival at Winchester I suggested we use a taxi but he (being a scout) claimed to know the way and it was not very far. We became lost and eventually began to ascend St James’ Lane. A large brown car (Jowett Javelin) stopped and the lady driver asked us if we were going to College. She drove us to West Hayes, our hostel. We thanked her for her kindness and, later, we discovered she was Mrs Dickinson, the wife of the Principal.
Entering West Hayes, I discovered that I was sharing a room with George Waddington. He proved to be a pleasant lad from the Sheffield area. However, we had little in common in subjects studied, interests and sporting activities.
The main college buildings were about ten minutes’ walk from West Hayes. We were allowed to go via the grounds of the Royal Hampshire Hospital and passed a chicken farm (high pong so the road was called Burma Road – now its official name!).
On that first evening, arriving for the meal, I discovered my seat was not in the main dining room but in the annexe…but where was it?! Walking the main corridor, I encountered another student, a tall good looking fellow with dark wavy hair. He was engaged in a similar quest. Eventually, a senior student came to our assistance and directed us to the appropriate room. I sat next to my new friend who came from Guernsey, was a Methodist and a local preacher. It was Don Smith, who is still in contact, and Janet and I frequently met him and his wife Margaret (then his fiancée) during our annual visits to Guernsey 1989-2005.
On our first day, after evening meal, all the West Hayes students were invited for coffee with the House Tutor, Mr T Graty. He explained what would happen to us in the next few days and, when he asked for any questions, Sherry, asked “Is it true that Secondary Modern pupils are more backward than Primary School pupils?” Graty, recovering from the surprise of receiving such a question, replied “You will be dealing with that sort of thing in the course, Mr Ugh..ugh..”
We were introduced to the senior student, one of the few second year students at West Hayes. His position was only nominal and he appeared to be a lonely character with no friends. One day, I remember him saying in his aristocratic voice “Of course, when I leave here my father is going to buy me my own school”!!!!!
During the next few days we had to select our main subjects and hope that we would be accepted to study them. English, History and Geography were the most popular. I chose Maths and Physics and my HSC results enabled me to join these groups. There were 88 students in my year at the commencement. One left, one died (Brian Maughn) and one joined us. Eleven of us studied Maths with Mr R White (Knocker) as our tutor and four studied Physics with Mr L Grove. We also had to study Education, Physical Education, Health Education, Basic Maths and English (those studying Maths were excused from Basic Maths), Religious Education and Classroom Techniques.
Every student had his own seat in the chapel. Each morning there was a service, after breakfast and before lectures, conducted by the chaplain–
Rev H.P Kingdon (known as The Gnome) and a full service on Sunday mornings. Each morning a student read the lesson and their performance was noted by the English tutors, Messers Blamires and Tye. They listened carefully to detect those who required speech training. Those with strong accents or who spoke too quickly or who had other problems had to receive voice lessons. Jim and I passed without comment but, curiously, Don Smith, who being a Methodist Local Preacher, had far more pulpit experience of reading the lesson, failed the test – it was alleged he spoke too quickly.
When it was ‘your turn’, the sensible students entered the chapel to open the Bible on the lectern at the appropriate place. Rodney Clark failed to do this and, when he came to the lectern, he began to turn the pages seeking the appropriate place. His efforts became more frenzied until The Gnome suggested (in a loud whisper) that he should consult the index. Eventually, he succeeded and read the lesson in a strong Devon accent – another for voice lessons!
Studies began and, soon, I made good new friends who also were studying Physics and Maths – Jim Johnson and Ken Bates. Jim (now a doctor) is still in touch but, sadly, contacts with Ken were lost. We were keen rivals but assisted each other. Who would come first in the final exams? (Physics: Ken, me, Jim. Maths: me, Jim, Ken – Ken and I had two distinctions, Jim one in Maths).
We were shocked to discover that, after half term, we would be sent out for a three week teaching practice. How would we fare? Would this be the end of our college careers?
Sherry was confident. He had done some teaching before college and would tap us on the shoulder and tell us, if we needed help, he was willing to assist us. I was chosen to go to an unusual type of school, Gosport Central Secondary – a selective school between Grammar and Secondary Modern. This meant an early start as the coach left college at 8am. The school proved to be a good one and I was attached to the form of a competent, experienced teacher. My first practice lesson in RI proved to me that I could probably succeed. The tutor responsible was Mr Grove who was very supportive. He asked us (there were three other students there) which was the worst form we taught. He then proceeded in demonstrating how they could be dealt with by taking a lesson with them while we observed. He was excellent and we enjoyed and learnt from the experience. I think most of the Year enjoyed teaching practice and were amazed that they could be successful in the classroom.
Mr White was a genial gentleman. One day, when about to start a lecture, there came noises from the next room. He spoke to Reg Winter “Mr Winter, will you please go next door and ask those gentlemen to be quiet so we may proceed with our lecture.” Reg departed and we heard him saying loudly “Belt up you lot or you’ll have Knocker coming after you.” (Mr White’s nickname was Knocker) We all laughed, including Mr White. When Reg returned he was politely thanked. Again we laughed and a bemused Reg asked “Why?” We whispered that we had heard every word. Reg went red, Knocker smiled at him and the lecture commenced.
I had decided that I would cease playing rugby but, after a couple of weeks, I found my way to Bar End to watch the College XV in action. On my second or third visit, the captain of the team, Harry Sym, noticing my presence, invited me to become the Touch Judge for the team. I accepted and became a permanent member of the club for the next two years.
In my second year I occasionally had the opportunity to referee games.
In the early 1950s, there were two Methodist Churches in Winchester. They were situated in parallel streets – St Peter Street and Parchment Street. I was taken to St Peter Street and found a devoted congregation that welcomed strangers. Don Smith soon chose to attend Parchment Street. One Sunday he invited me to join him. I did not enjoy the experience and so returned to St Peter Street. Here I was able to regularly have contact with, and get to know, citizens of Winchester. After Sunday evening services there was an informal gathering in the church hall. It was organised by two kindly people–Mr and Mrs Whicher. Unfortunately, other names are forgotten but Ivy was in a senior position at Marks and Spencer’s until she gave birth. Her husband was Len and there was John who worked for the electricity board. Besides a few students, there were several young men. I remember attending the 21st birthday party of one who lived at Oliver’s Battery. Another was a Corporal in the ‘Green Jackets’. I used to walk back to college with him as the barracks were on the route. One evening when returning, we encountered three Privates behaving foolishly. He ordered them into a line and then made them double in single file to stand outside the guardroom and await his arrival. When we reached the barracks the trio were in line outside the guardroom. My friend’s final words to me were “Now for some fun.”
Sadly, neither church remains active. St Peter Street is a commercial building and Parchment Street is used by Social Services. A joint congregation of Methodists, United Reformed and Baptists meet at the Baptist Church.
Following my Eastville Park experiences, I joined the Irving Club, volunteering for back-stage duties. The play that term was ‘The Merchant of Venice’ and was brilliantly directed by John Broadbent who, later, became a drama HMI. I was given the task of acting as prompter. College possessed several very good actors–Tony Lee, in the minor role of Old Gobbo, gave a memorable performance of comedy but the college magazine critic accused him of ‘over acting’. Three local ladies played the parts of Portia, Nerissa and Jessica.
Joan Nore, a former professional actress, was excellent as Portia but off-stage played the grand dame. Her husband had to provide a bouquet of flowers and a greeting telegram for her before the first performance.
Vera Jones (Velwa) was a lively young lady who usually arrived in a sports car driven by a wealthy young man – not always the same car or man!! She played the part of Nerissa and Betty Edmonds was Jessica. She was a quiet, unassuming young lady whose father was Mayor of Winchester. After the final performance, her parents invited the cast to a gathering at their home. I found the Irving Club demanding so, to participate in other activities, I left the organisation.
Jim Johnson was a bright fellow and often had bright ideas. One of them was to form a Science Society and he had the full support of the Physics group – Ken Bates, Trevor Payne and me. Jim became Secretary, Trevor Chairman, I was Treasurer and Ken committee member. Mr L F Grove became President. We needed money to finance our activities and a good way was discovered. Students studying History, Geography, English and Handicrafts were invited to join at 1 shilling per head. Membership would indicate wide interests when jobs were being sought. Attendance at meetings was not compulsory or expected! Initial programmes were ‘home-made’ except for the occasional film evening. Jim spoke about archaeology and I used the episcope to talk about British Light Aircraft (how little I knew then!). There were, however, two memorable evenings with non-members. Mike Lambert spoke about the internal combustion engine and tank driving and David Ellis had visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki and gave us a vivid account of his experience there.
Alf Johnson was an old man! When we entered college aged 20 or 21, he was 32. He had served with the Royal Marines and had left as a Warrant Officer. He seemed to have a quantity of military equipment – notebooks, shorts, trousers etc. It was speculated that, when warm weather arrived, he would appear in KDs (Khaki Drill – lightweight tropical wear), A warm day arrived and Alf appeared for tea wearing KDs. All present stood up and cheered! Much later, I learned a great deal about his war time experience. He was in the magazine of HMS Sheffield-when searching for The Bismark, he found her and was hit by her shells. At the end of the war he was in charge of a radio station on the coast of Burma.
The domestic staff, ably led by Matron, Mrs Yates, with Sister (Miss White) as her deputy, took good care of us providing good meals (especially compared with those of the RAF) and keeping the building (including our study-bedrooms) clean and tidy. Sister and Matron were actual sisters and, after retirement, lived to ripe old ages. At times, Sister felt under-employed as we were a healthy bunch of young men who seldom needed her professional services.
During our First Year we had to visit, for a short time, Primary Schools in Eastleigh. We were required to take a small group in a suitable topic. I chose electricity and raided the Physics laboratory for suitable apparatus. Imagine my surprise to find that the school was not connected to the Electricity Grid (in 1952!!!). The group of children was interested, older not very bright pupils with younger (some by two years) very much brighter ones.
Once, in my First Year, I was in the office at the wrong time. I was given a party ticket for the whole college to travel, by train, to Eastleigh to attend an NUT refresher conference. I had to stand with the ticket collector at each station to count the number travelling. The first session I attended was entitled ‘Teaching English in Secondary Modern Schools’. It was obvious that the teachers present did not rate the lecturer very highly. The first question indicated why…“How long have you spent teaching English in a Secondary Modern School?” Answer…“I have never taught in a Secondary Modern School.” !!!!!!!
We were surprised that Acension Day was a holiday and College subsidized clubs to make visits. At the last minute, Jim organised a visit to Southampton Docks and we were able to see the departure of the Queen Mary besides normal activities of loading, unloading and repair of ships.
Summer Term arrived and Jim and I, without hockey and rugby activities, volunteered to assist the Athletics Club as judges and timekeepers so entering a world unknown to us. We enjoyed the experience and our assistance was appreciated.
Another Teaching Practice was approaching and I was chosen to go to a small primary school - Hyde Primary in Winchester. The Headmistress, Miss Queenie Bird, also taught the upper class. It was a well-run, happy school. Mr White was my tutor and I enjoyed primary education and decided to change courses from secondary to primary. Again, apart from Sherry, most of us enjoyed the teaching practice and our confidence improved.
The end of September 1952, we returned to college as the senior year. Naturally, changes occurred. Maurice Thompson was now president of the Students’ Union (I had voted for Ken Mills).
Ken was captain of the rugby XV and some useful members joined the team.
The Science Society continued to grow. The new students appeared to be a good lot. One ex-Wartling airman, Pete Cuss, appeared as did the son of the organist at St Aidan’s Methodist Church, Eastbourne. He had been thrown out of Southampton University after a year. Poor lad, resembling Bill Bunter, arrived in my corridor and had things loudly explained to him by his mother. We were not impressed and tried to ignore him until we realised Dennis Gould was a good type and keen to represent the college at rugby.
‘Chios’ Shirley was a religious fanatic although, at times, he swore like the proverbial trooper. He came late to King Alfred’s, leaving his original college because it was not sufficiently Christian. He tended to be a loner. Two incidents indicate his views… Once, at a SCM meeting, we were fortunate to have the Headmaster from the local minor public school, Peter Symonds School, to tell us about Christian education for boys. Part way through the address, Shirley leapt to his feet yelling that the Holy Spirit would not allow him to stay. Before slamming the door he shouted “You aren’t fit to teach boys!” Fortunately, a quick thinking student stood up and apologised saying the rest of us did not share the opinions of Shirley and we applauded to indicate we supported the statement.
One Sunday, we were fortunate to have the Bishop of Portsmouth preaching in the college chapel. Part way through the excellent sermon, again, Shirley stormed out slamming the door.
For my second year I decided to move into the Main Building. In the ballot for rooms, I was fortunate to have a low number. Decision…main corridor with views …and noise …or one of the side corridors. I chose the end room and my friend, Robin Jones was next door. I discovered that the room had a useful advantage…there was a flat roof on the bathroom on to which I could obtain access to view passing Viscounts as they flew from Weybridge to Hurn for fitting out. Mr Grove, when passing one day, was amazed to see me emerge through the window onto the roof. I also discovered that the tarred roof was coated with small pebbles that could be dropped through glass slats onto chaps in the baths. I enjoyed hearing the arguments break out about who threw the pebbles. Nobody ever thought of looking up so my secret was not detected!
‘Red’ Ray Shapiro was an intelligent fellow and a truly convinced communist. A likeable chap but it was virtually impossible to beat him in an argument. With Peter Larter and a few other communists, he founded a Socialist Society and invited more moderate left wingers, including Henry Lee, George Moses and me, to join. We affiliated to the Student Labour Federation, a communist organisation. We had lively meetings with varied Left-wing speakers. When asking a question after the talk, Ray would make a mini-speech. At last I discovered a way to combat him – laughter. At that year’s AGM, Ray was re-elected chairman…then came the surprise…
All the communist candidates were defeated. They had allowed too many moderates to join. Then came the final blow…a motion was passed to disaffiliate from the SLF. Ray was so shocked, all he could say was “You can’t do this, it’s not democratic.”
The Rugby team became annoyed by the incompetence and ignorance of local referees so I was invited to share these duties with a local vicar,
Rev WCM Winter, and enjoyed the experience. It proved to be useful during my teaching career and when with the Old Cothamians RFC. During the year, occasionally, an ‘A’ XV was fielded and, on one occasion, I played for this team against a Southampton University XV. A spectator, returning to College before the team, announced that I had broken my leg. Ken Mills and Johnny Chambers, who had urged me to play, were very upset and were amazed and delighted when I returned intact.
I was not a dancer but the annual dance was a large affair. Some students brought their girlfriends to Winchester for the weekend. There were nurses from the nearby Royal Hampshire Hospital and coach loads of students from nearby female colleges in Salisbury, Portsmouth and Bognor Regis.
In return we were invited to dances at these colleges and to those in the Nurses’ Home. Some students seemed to be frequent visitors there!! There were a few attractive ladies attending but studies came first. One was taken to a cinema after finals.
Some meals at KAC were informal and others were formal. The informal ones were breakfast and tea. For these meals there was no formal start or rules about attire. Lunch and dinner were formal. Students entered the Refectory and stood at their places until the staff arrived on the high table and Grace was said. Anyone who was late stood at the entrance door until they were acknowledged from the high table. Each table held 14 students - an appointed senior student sat at the head of the table and distributed the food. If there were two containers (e.g. rice puddings) one was dispatched to the other end for distribution. Should food be left over after distribution those who wanted more were numbered and a nearby table was requested to give the winning number(s). Some tables employed a wooden spinner for this task. One table discovered that Sherry was greedy so, to discourage him, one day when two rice puddings were served, one was sent to him. The table were amazed when he, rapidly, began to scoff it. He had a whole pudding, the remaining 13 shared the other one!
Seating was alphabetical so we, with surnames commencing with letters at the end of the alphabet, ate in an annex room. If numbers permitted, occasionally, we ate in the Refectory, sitting on any table where a student was absent. In the Second Year, I was ‘appointed’ senior student in the room so my mathematical skills were useful for dividing the food into 7 equal portions. Sometimes, dividing into 8 was easier so there was a helping for the lucky number winners.
We had our own waitress, a shy but very efficient girl about our own age, called Wendy. As usual, there were always those who grumbled about the food but, after RAF service, I found it good. Matron and her staff worked hard to feed us. At that time there was still rationing of certain food stuffs and we came to our meals carrying containers of sugar.
Easter Term brought our final Teaching Practices. I was surprised to be summoned by the Senior Tutor, Mr T Atkinson. This usually meant trouble. What had I done? The question was “Would you like to come with me to Gosport for your final teaching practice?” I couldn’t say ‘no’ but realised that what he would want to see was good, basic teaching without modern gimmicks. Now I was told that the school would be New Elson Primary in one of Gosport’s estates. Mike Green, a pleasant, quiet chap would also be at the same school.
New Elson proved to be a modern school with lively, intelligent children, well-led and I was to teach the class of a mature, highly competent lady. A surprise was to find a member of last year’s XV, Pat Highly, on the staff. All went well and my tutors, Atkinson and Laverty, appeared to be satisfied. However, a bombshell was dropped–I was to be visited by an external assessor, a member of staff at Southampton University. This could mean one of two things–I was good or bad. He seemed to be satisfied with what he saw and, later, I heard that I had received a ‘B’ grade. (Jim received an ‘A’ Grade).
Now for the Summer Term–our last, that would terminate with exams.
Don Smith brought his car over from Guernsey and announced that he would be able to take friends on trips if expenses were paid. Instantly I booked two–one to Blackbushe Aerodrome and one to Lee-on-Solent for the Fleet Air Arm Open Day with a practice for the Coronation Day Fly-past taking place. Jim and a member of the Junior Year (name forgotten) made up the party. Blackbushe was empty and we could visit the hangers and workshops with no-one to deny us access. At Lee-on-Solent there was much activity and we attempted to log 100+ Fairy Firefly aircrafts as they took off.
A comic series of incidents occurred in my final year. Advertisements for a product called ‘Snooze’ began to appear. Nobody knew what it was. Occasionally, during meals, some unfortunate would be called on the telephone to find a female voice asking him if he was the college Snooze representative. By chance, I discovered the truth…visiting the room of a Junior year friend, I found three of them with the material. To keep the secret, I promised to keep silent and aid their activities. Returning to my room that evening, I slipped an advertisement under Robin Jones’ door and, shortly afterwards, knocked on the door with a leaflet in my hand asking if he had also received one. Nobody solved the mystery of ‘Snooze’
As Ascension Day 1953 approached, Jim had a bright idea. He suggested we apply for a visit to Vickers-Armstrong’s factory at Weybridge to view the Viscount production line. I did not think it a good idea as they preferred Engineering students, not those studying Education. Jim attempted to make a booking and, to our surprise and delight, the appropriate date was fixed. We could see the Viscounts and they would provide us with tea. The trip was a success and the Viscounts were viewed in which I would later fly but the Valiant Bomber line was out of bounds. Weybridge was built within the confines of the pre-war Brooklands motor racing track and, to our great delight and especially that of the driver, we were permitted to drive the coach around the remaining portion of the great bowl-shaped track.
Jim Kendle was the unluckiest student in college in June 1953. While the rest of us were enjoying Coronation activities, he was confined to his room with mumps. Although officially quarantined, many of us would slip in to see him. The Principal was afraid he might catch the disease so kept well away from Jim. There was only one more person who caught the affliction–the Principal!!
Then came our final year exams and we assembled in the hall to reveal how much we did or did not know. We four Physics students also had a practical exam and Southampton University’s Professor of Physics came to overlook the event. Much to our surprise, we were individually summoned by him to discuss our written papers. Four pairs of ears carefully listened as we continued our experiments and tried to hear the discussion between the Professor and Mr Grove. “This one is a definite distinction.” Thumbs up signals to Ken Bates. “This one passes.” Thumbs up to Trevor Payne. “These two are border-line distinctions. All depends on how well they do today.” Jim Johnson and I looked at each other. The final exam was for a Religious Teaching Certificate. Attendance was compulsory…but we could leave at any time. It was a two hour exam and Jim and I agreed to stay for an hour and then leave. We were told to commence and, immediately, about half the students left. After about an hour, I looked at Jim who nodded and we departed.
When exams were finished, we were permitted to leave or we could stay to the end of term. I decided to stay and found myself selected to play for the cricket XI against Eastleigh Grammar School. They batted first and I was asked to bowl at first change. I was not a bowler and at Cotham my ability at this skill ensured that I was not allowed to bowl even in the nets. It was a disaster and the ball departed from the boundary about four times and there were wides. That ended my cricket career as a bowler. Our batsmen managed to last and to record a draw.
One day I travelled on the teaching practice coach and spent an interesting day at Hamble watching aircraft take-off and land at Air Service Training’s Aerodrome. A walk to the beach brought me to Aquila Airways Base and several flying boats were in residence including two newly acquired specimens – Short Solent G-ANAS and Short Sunderland G-ANAK.
Barney was a character, an excellent second row forward – big, strong and very fit. He was a genial type but he was always prepared to deal with opponents using illegal tactics or being rough with smaller team members. A match against Portsmouth Police was particularly unpleasant. At one stage of the game, Barney selected two miscreant policeman for sorting out. There was a head underneath each arm and he was bringing his elbows down on their necks. They were unable to break away until he decided to release them. In a match against The Green Jackets, in a maul, a stupid officer punched him. When the maul broke up, Barney punched him on the nose. It was still bleeding a considerable time after the match. Second row forwards seldom scored tries and Barney, with the ball in his arms, saw a white line, dived over and touched the ball down. The grin on his face vanished when he discovered he was 25 yards short of the try line! Like Rodney Clark, another tough man, Barney became an excellent artist. Pictures by both adorn the walls of my house.
Eric Overall, a member of the Junior year, was a genuine character. He was a member or the XV and played at prop forward. Like many others who played in this position, he was a hard man on the field and a genial one off it. He was a member of one of London’s better clubs (I forget which one) and played in one of their many teams. His repertoire of rugby songs was amazing. He would commence singing just after the coach left College and would still be performing when we returned. There was seldom any duplications except by request. I note from the Easter 1953 edition of ‘The Wintonian’ that he joined a group of us giving a concert at St Peter Street Methodist Church (I was stage manager) entertaining with impressions. I seem to remember that his brand of humour did not greatly impress the devout Methodists!
Dave Evans scared me! I was at KAC, Winchester in the Summer of 1953 and, one Saturday afternoon, I visited Eastleigh Airport. While examining the contents of a hanger, an MCA policeman appeared and ordered me out. A few days later, while finishing my tea, Jim appeared and said he wanted to see me after his meal. I returned to my room to await Jim. There was a knock on the door – I hid behind the door and opened it (typical student behaviour!). No-one entered. I peered around the door and there stood a policeman. Thoughts rushed through my brain - action was being taken for my Saturday misdeed. At the time I was wearing a college blazer so I could easily be traced as I was a known aircraft enthusiast. My teaching career was over as I would be sent down. You see the uniform but do not look at the face. The constable said nothing and eventually I looked up to see a grinning Dave Evans. He was wearing the uniform lent to college for use in the Coronation Day procession. Donning it, he had walked around the main building knocking on a few doors, often with surprising results like the one achieved with me.
Derek Thorpe, during his National Service, served in the RAF attaining rank of LAC. He was shocked to find himself sharing a room with Staff Captain Maurice Thompson and Flight Lieutenant Bill Tull.
Towards the end of our time, it was the turn of Ken Butcher to read the lesson at morning service. He was not noted for regular attendance, in fact, he was seldom present. His fellow students prepared for the event. Portraits were obtained from Johnny Allen, an excellent photographer, and suitable signs were produced to suddenly appear around the college such as outside the chapel…‘Butcher today’. Others read ‘Don’t miss Butcher’s only appearance in chapel this year’. I don’t think many students missed the event.
The Head at New Elson School had offered me a job but I preferred to return to Bristol and was accepted.
I had passes with distinctions in Maths and Physics. Later, my certificate arrived and, with it, one for Religious Teaching. Jim also obtained a RT certificate and a distinction in Maths. Ken Bates had distinctions in Maths and Physics.
Dave Hocking was an excellent organist and was the principal player on the college organ. He had a special plan for his final appearance but was not completely sure if he should do it. He didn’t want to be expelled on his last day. We encouraged him and the chapel was full. In scurried The Gnome and from the organ came the strains of ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’. At the end of the service he departed to ‘The War-March of the Priests’. We enjoyed it but I do not think the staff noticed…well done, Dave!!
My last day at College arrived. In the afternoon I visited Winchester Cathedral. After evening meal, I decided to visit for the last time The Galleon, a place popular with KAC students that provided meals of bacon and chips (we had large appetites in those days!). Who should I invite to come with me? Looking around, all my close friends had departed, but there was a single Junior I knew well – Harold Wood. He was a quiet, devoted musician, a skilful pianist, who sat on my dinner table. Off we went to enjoy my last evening in College.
On Thursday 27th September, 1951, 87 eager students arrived at King Alfred’s College, Winchester. During the next two years one died (Brian Maughan), one left (Hope) and one arrived (Shirley). In the final exams, 82 passed and 4 failed. Single subject distinctions were obtained by 16 students and 2 distinctions were obtained by 3 including Ken Bates and me.
I was fortunate to have been at College with so many fine men. There were very few who were not. Alas, we scattered around the UK but reunions of the Winston Club have enabled me to meet some again.