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On Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 9:30 AM, Colin Martin wrote:


I have just spent a very absorbing evening reading the recollections of many Old Westbrookians and thought I should add my own memories. Apologies for any mistakes I may make……

 

I started at Westbrook House in 1964 (aged 6) following my brother, Philip, who was in the year above me. We lived about 5 miles away in Saltwood, so were day boys, and caught the bus to school. This involved 2 different buses and about a mile walk, all on our own…..how many kids nowadays would be allowed to do that at that age??

 

To start with, I was in Miss Thurlows class and the following year moved to Miss Hughdies class. I was in Squirrel House (my brother was a Badger I think) and we used to win everything. During the first 2 years at school the classrooms were on the ground floor and we were NOT allowed to put a foot on the staircase leading to the other classrooms above.

 

When we eventually reached our 3rd year, we moved upstairs to new classrooms …..in those days you stayed in the same classroom all day and the teachers came to you. I think the classes were called Lower Remove and Upper Remove. We were not allowed biros and had to write using fountain pens, using blue/black ink….never royal blue ink. We used to make a real mess and invariably the pen would leak in our pockets!!

 

Every morning we used to go to registration in the hall and Mr Household would go through the register for the whole school. When I first arrived at Westbrook House I was Martin 3 as there was another Martin above my brother and me. He must have left after a year as I moved up to Martin 2 and eventually just Martin when my brother moved on to Harvey Grammar.

 

When it rained we spent our lunch break in the hall and played billiards. There were 2 tables and the winner stayed on. Sometimes if there were no masters or prefects in the hall, we would run round the inside of the hall on the raised seats, jumping over the gaps and using the tuck boxes to bridge the gaps. I remember someone put his foot right through the top of someone’s lid!!! Just inside the door to the hall was a series of boards on the wall with mini football pitches drawn on them and nails driven in to mark the positions and everyone had a little tag with their name on it which was put on the nails to show which pitch and which position you would be playing in. Just outside the door were the crates of milk…..we had to drink 1/3 pint daily. The crates were always in the same position so the milk was either warm in the summer or freezing cold in the winter.

 

You got to the hall by walking along the covered way where you were NOT allowed to run. Of course, we did run and the trick was to nudge someone who was running so that they ran straight into one of the supporting posts….ouch!! Between the junior school and the hall was the swimming pool. This was not heated and we could not use it until it had warmed up. In the winter, logs were put in the pool to help stop it from freezing. In the early summer, the pool was drained and cleaned and refilled which took ages. Professor Mallard taught us to swim using white polystyrene floats and when you could eventually swim you could win your colours (blue, red, yellow etc) which were sewn onto your trucks. Every year there was a swimming competition and I particularly remember a boy called Rowlands who was very good….his family owned the famous sweet shop in Old Folkestone high street which used to make sticks of rock which you could view through the window.

 

I was always very keen on sport and loved PT (I think it was called PT to begin with then it changed to PE  ??) We used to get changed in the boiler room of the junior school so it was lovely and warm. Our kit was in string bags. I remember that Professor Mallard used to grade the children in the class on ability and used to have 4 teams each with a team leader. The best children were the team leaders and the best child was leader of team one….i was lucky enough to always hold that coveted position. All year round, he would have us outside marching here there and everywhere and in the gym we always had to stand to attention.

 

Every summer we had sports day and every pupil was expected to take part. Mr Household was the official starter of the races. All parents who could attend did attend with their finest clothes and hats (it was like going to a wedding !!) A huge marquee was erected and after all the sporting events we had to show our parents to their seats in the marquee and get them their tea. After tea, we gathered round the cricket pavilion where the prizes were handed out.

 

I remember Mr Campbell who taught us mathematics who had really poor eyesight (he virtually held his books at the end of his nose)….but he was a very likeable teacher. I also remember Mr Stokes who taught English. He lived in Hythe and my parents used to send me to him in the school holidays for private tuition to help me pass the 11-plus exam so I could get into the grammar school…..it was drilled into both my brother and me that if we did not pass that exam we would be considered failures and would be dustbin men or similar…..no pressure then !!! In the school photograph of 1965 both myself and my brother appear….i am in the front row next to my best friend at the time, Peter Wadhwa, and my brother is in the second to back row. Also in the picture is Christopher Whiting who used to live near us in Saltwood.

 

We often used to go out for long walks in crocodiles, 2-by-2, don’t think we held hands! We used to go through the gardens at the end of Shorncliffe Road, sometimes along the Leas, sometimes along past the cemetery and generally the teachers avoiding the subway under the railway line at the rear of the school as it echoed when we walked through it…..there was strictly no talking if we went through the subway, although we did, also suddenly developed a cough and we stamped our feet as well….never know why this would annoy the teachers?!! The raised boating pond at the bottom of the playing field was popular….i had my own toy yacht, which was great fun until I left it on a chair at home, waiting to take it to school one morning when my dad sat on it when he answered the phone….smashed the sails to pieces.

 

School dinners were, I think, compulsory. I cannot remember anyone taking sandwiches in those days. Perhaps a few local children went home for lunch? In the main, the meals were pretty awful but some days you could be lucky!! We had to queue up outside the dinner hall until the cook was ready for us and had our hands inspected before we were allowed into the hall. We always had bread which was cut up into small soldiers and drank water from beakers. The senior boys and prefects ate their meal on a large table with Mr Foster.

 

My last year at the school was in 1969 which was the first year of Dover College Junior School. There was quite a bit of change…..new teachers, new buildings, new head master (Mr Rottenbury) and a definite huge improvement in the quality of the school lunches (even the cabbage was good !!) During this last year at this school we were often “buzzed” by Spitfires and Hurricanes as the film “Battle of Britain” was being filmed locally which was quite exciting. Also during that first year, I was selected to take part in the schools presentation of Handel’s “Messiah” as a tenor……god knows why as I could not and still can’t sing !! I also recall that on one occasion someone had caught a shark locally and brought it to the school and dumped it by the hall. We all gathered round as the science teacher dissected it……when he cut open the guts loads of ball type things poured out which I think he said were eggs….it smelt foul.

 

All in all, a really enjoyable time at Westbrook House but to be honest I was surprised to find out that it lasted into the 2000s. I moved away from Kent with my family in the mid seventies to the Bournemouth area and have rarely been back to Kent since. As a point of interest, when we moved to Dorset in 1974 we sold our house in Saltwood to the De Haan family!! Not sure if it was Roger or his father….it was a lovely house and to be honest I, personally, did not want to leave Saltwood…..hope you looked after the house Roger!!

 

Regards, Colin Martin.    

Westbrook House School Summer 1963 This was taken during my time at the school as an assistant matron. Best wishes Lynette Clayton (nee Mansie) Click here for Slide show:

Oldwestbrookians asks:

1. What was your favorite meal of the week and your least favorite, when boarding
at the old school.

2.   Did anything amusing ever happen in the dinning hall?  

3. When did KNG start the Saturday afternoon at movies, and what movies do you remember?

4. What was your favorite book that you read from the school Library after lunch and why?

5. What was KNG's favorite kind of music?

6. When did the first Snooker table arrive?

Bye for now,

David-Michael

 

from

Stewart Fincham

to

Old Westbrookians' Society/ Website <oldwestbrookians@gmail.com>

date

Sat, Sep 25, 2010 at 4:57 PM

subject

Re: Hello

 

 

9/25/10

 

 

 

 

1. Cannot remember a favourite meal but worst meal was cold, rather greasy meat, mashed potato and beetroot. Took me 40 years to begin to like beetroot after that.

2.None to recall.

3. Certainly always existed in time I was there, Jan1954- July1958. Sometimes if it was wet on a Sunday afternoon we saw them again! I can't remember a film in colour. The ones I remember most were the Will Hay films eg Oh Mr Porter.

4.Don't recall.

5.He once said he didn't like Rossini, but don't know what he did like.

6. Don't know.

 

Hope this is a start!

 

Best regards

 

Stewart

 

 

from

Peter Mellor 

to

Old Westbrookians' Society/ Website <oldwestbrookians@gmail.com>

date

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 3:45 AM

subject

RE: Hello

 

9/24/10

 

Hi David-Michael

Answers to your questions:-

1.       Fish on Fridays – but leaving the batter – which infuriated Fossie

2.       Yes. Mansfield threw a glass of water at Mr Household.

3.       Cannot remember, but I believe around 5pm. Norman Wisdom? I can remember KNG terminating one film when a scantily-clad female appeared!

4.       Biggles: I loved the thought of flying and eventually flew small aeroplanes from Cinque Port Flying Club at Lympne.

5.       Cannot recall – but Classical I suspect.

6.       I recall the billiards table already in the playroom in 1951.

 

All good wishes

Peter

(1951-58)

 

Nigel to me

 August.23.2011 8:19 AM  

 

Hi David-Michael,

 

I only remember KNG talking about Joe Davis; he also explained in detail

How the playroom billiard table was going to be restored - the importance

of a good quality slate (for flatness) etc....

 

Thanks for the clip of JD

 

Will be in touch soon with more pics and news.

 

Best

 

Nigel

 

PS: Emma was my no 1 pin-up from the 60s!

 

 

More

from

Lynette 

to

Westbrook House <oldwestbrookians@gmail.com>

date

Sat, Jun 11, 2011 at 8:51 AM

subject

Emailing: Westbrook House 1963

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello David-Michael

 

I have just had a quick look at the site and was delighted to see several faces which I recognised.  I have a lovely photo of some of the boys holding a blanket which they helped to knit!  It was a chore of love on my part as each night the pieces of knitting were left on a table on the landing of the main staircase.  I would take them to bed with me and undo all mistakes and re-knit them!  But we got there in the end and we were very proud of the boys.  We got a highly recommended in a Craft Show and the blanket was then sent on to Oxfam.  I will try to get the photo to the site as soon as possible. 

 

Best Wishes and thank you for getting in touch.

 

Lynette  Clayton (nee Mansie)

 

Reply

More

Hi!  I don't know whether you have received this before.  I recently sent it to one of the Westbrook House websites.  This was taken during my time at the school as an assistant matron.

I have more photos but they are in an album but I will try and sort some out soon.

Best wishes

Lynette Clayton (nee Mansie)

 

 

Hi David-Michael,

 

 Thank you so much for these photos of you and your family.  You must be so proud of all your children.  It sounds as if they are all doing very well.  Your daughter is very beautiful, and the boys have the smouldering good looks of models!  There is something familiar about the photo of you as a boy, so we may well have met.  I bet you don't recognise me though - what little boy would remember their assistant matron?!!!  I have looked at the web site you gave me before, but somehow I picked up something that started to play loud music and I couldn't get it shut down, or my computer which was very worrying. I managed to close it down in the end, so I was afraid to go on the site again.  However I have just done so and recognise several of the boys.  I knew Lascelles and Amos and Petley from the football photo, and also John Angel from one of the blown up photos.  There must be several more so I will copy some of these out at some stage and study them for longer.  I am in the middle of several projects at the moment which I must get on with, but I promise that when I can I will look for my old photos.

In the meantime, best wishes to you and your pretty wife.

 

Lynette Clayton (nee Mansie)

 

 

from

Lynette afterhours@tiscali.co.uk

to

Old Westbrookians' Society/ Website <oldwestbrookians@gmail.com>

date

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 10:52 AM

subject

Life at Westbrook House School

mailed-by

I

 

hide details Aug 9

 

Hello David-Michael

 

Thank you so much for sending details of this fantastic train set. 

 

I have remembered a few names which you may or may not be interested in.  Mrs Ferminger was the cook who had been at Westbrook House 'forever'.  Everyone was terrified of her but I think she had a soft heart underneath.  Dr Bouverie (I think that was his name) was the school Doctor and Mr Paine (not Dr Paine) was our dentist.  Mrs Farron-Smith had a built-up boot and a calliper and walked with a stick and she used to come in once a week to darn all the socks!  Daphne Robertson was the matron who had also been there for years.  She seemed fierce to the boys, and me, but actually we went out for meals at a lovely little Greek restaurant near the bus station and to a fabulous concert at the Lees Cliff Hall where we sat in the front row.  The orchestra was conducted by Sir John Barbirolli and he sang the whole thing in a very deep monotone and very, very flat!  He was fascinating to watch and listen to and he broke two batons!  He had quite a collection beside him and just moved onto the next one!  I found the whole experience very exhilarating.  I must have been 19 or 20 at the time.  I was brought up with music at home.  Every Thursday evening after supper we had to wash up very quickly and rush into our lounge where all five of us children had to sit still, not fidget or make any noise or speak while my father conducted the whole concert on the Third programme on the wireless, with his forefinger, with his eyes shut.  My eldest brother used to get up quietly and stand behind him and do a monstrous interpretation of a fairly mad conductor.  He always did his best to make us laugh so that we would get into trouble.  My mother did not interfere, because my father would find out.  It was torture for us!  My father had a terrible temper and we were all actually quite scared of him.

Back to Westbrook House -:

 

We, as assistant matrons had to unpack all the laundry baskets once a week and tick everything off. We had to sort out all the boys’ clothes into sets and pair all the grey socks and open every single sheet and hold it against the light as even pin holes had to be darned. We had to sew a piece of red cotton around the hole to show it up for mending.  Luckily Matron did this on her old treadle Singer sewing machine.  Every sheet had to be refolded again and put in to each boy’s pigeon hole.  They all had their own sheets and pillow cases.  After a few weeks of doing this, mostly by myself, I never had to look at any name tapes again as I knew every sheet, pillowcase, pants, socks etc (and even hankies) by sight!

Some evenings Matron would collect the two assistants,  (me and another one) into her office for boiled eggs and bread and butter.  She boiled the eggs in the kettle!  I always thought I Lynette  Clayton (nee Mansie)

would get warts on my lips as my mother had always told us that egg shells could give you warts!!  We used to take turns to be on duty during the night.  We could go to bed but if a boy was poorly in the night he could come and knock on our door.  Matron had two shifts a week, the other assistant two, and somehow because I was the youngest I was given three nights each week!  In my two years there I was only woken once and it was just a minor thing and no sick!!!

I am afraid that I left because some of the boys had told Matron that certain masters had interfered with them.  She told us never to say anything and I am afraid that I was terribly shy and naive but could not bear to know this was happening and so I left.  Of course later I understood how appalling this was but at the time I did not really properly understand.

I remember the Captain very well and his daughter and Granddaughter.  I used to take her out for walks in her pushchair when she was about 2 years old.  The Captain had an old Spaniel I believe and lived above the building where the boys did woodwork.  Some times we would have films in what I think of as a playroom where the boys went after doing their home-work.

 

All for now!

 

Best wishes

Lynette Clayton (nee Mansie)

Westbrook House School Summer 1963 This was taken during my time at the school as an assistant matron. Best wishes Lynette Clayton (nee Mansie) Click here for photo:

DCJS

 

Some memories from James Collins (‘Collins Ter’)

I believe I first went to DCJS in 1971 when I would have been nine. My older brothers, Simon and Myles, were already there as boarders, and I was to be a boarder for one year. After that, I assume due to cost, we became day boys, commuting every day from New Romney to Folkestone. I left the school in 1976.

 

There was a build up to going away to school. I don’t remember my eldest brother first going away but I remember Myles packing for his first term. He had a big blue trunk with silver coloured locks, Simon had a dark wooden one which I always remember as being tatty, and mine, when my time came, was a Louis Vuitton – thanks to one of my grandfather’s parishioners I am told, who donated it to us. I've still got it with my initials still painted on it, J E T C. And I can remember my mother packing it with me, putting in exciting things like a new school uniform and six of everything else it seemed. And Aertex shirts for the summer, they were very thrilling as my brothers had them and I didn’t, until then. Thus kitted out, and with a tuck box, I arrived at the school on my first evening to be known as Collins Ter.

 

The first night. I was put in Dorm 12. (Would that have been right? It rings a bell, but it might have been Dorm 1.) It was at the top of the stairs in Compton House – please excuse me if I've got these basic details wrong, it was 40 years ago and I was very young. I remember being nervous and excited as this was a new adventure for me, and lots of the other boys in the room seemed to know each other. I didn’t feel homesick as my brother was in the dorm next door – I wandered out onto the landing and into his room where the boys seemed really old (if I was nine they were 11). But I got sent back to my dorm pretty quickly. My bed was to the left of the windows, there were another three or four along that wall, two sets of bunk beds by the doors and a couple of others in the middle of the room. There was a door out onto the landing and one through to the next dorm. I recall the tread of feet as someone (masters or prefects?) patrolled during the night, or at least until we were asleep. Talking after lights out was forbidden, though it happened, and I was told off a few times. I don’t remember being punished for it though, but I did know of some others who were made to stand out on the landing for what seemed like a whole night as a punishment. It was probably only an hour.

 

I don’t remember my first day, and I am not sure about what was my first form room, but I think it was in the building that also housed the art room – which was at the top of the stairs. I seem to remember that there were four class rooms on this, first, floor. Mr Metcalf in the room over the entrance, Mr Campbell in the next one overlooking the road, can’t remember whose room the other corner one was, but it looked over towards the ‘new block’ and the field. And the forth one… again I can’t remember whose classroom that was, I remember being in it but don’t remember learning anything in it.

 

Back to Mr Metcalfe’s room (if that’s whose it was, the one over the front doors). I remember this room for two reasons, two distinct memories: I was voted ‘form captain’ in this room, after a stint as ‘window monitor’ and I made an acceptance speech where I said I’d try and do my best for the form. And the second memory is far more ‘boys growing up’ (there may be a lot of this candid revelation stuff here so watch out). I have no idea who I was sat next to at the back of the room during some boring lesson, Geography possibly, and I have no idea why I did it, but ‘he’ beside me persuaded me to get my ‘thing’ out and write ‘this **** belongs to me’ along it. I was rather proud that I could.

 

In the corner classroom, facing the road, was where I had my first encounter with an ink pen, one of the blue, plastic dipping ink pens that the school shop sold. Maybe this was my first classroom? I still have the smell of the ink and the room in my mind and I remember Mr Campbell here – with the very thick glasses – but I can’t remember what I was being taught. I was taught prime numbers in the next classroom, though I can’t remember by whom.

 

And I very fondly remember the art room and Mr Reynolds. I liked art, my mother was (and still is) an artist, and many of my fond memories of the school centre on this room. There was a story about a WW2 pilot who was bricked up behind the blackboard, one of the DCJS ghost stories no doubt. There was a huge table in the middle of the room, the usual art-room smell of acrylic paint, lots of mess around the bench against the wall, and a fire escape. Mr Reynolds would often spend the first part of our lessons reading to us, our heads down on the table. He read The Hobbit; then he would tell us to draw or paint whatever came into our minds after listening to a chapter. We did pottery in here too and only recently I got rid of a hideous lamp I’d made in that room, big and square and heavy. I learned about Op art and remember a big store room in the room next door, must have been the old attic of the building, full of rolls of paper and shelves with interesting art things on them.

 

My most vivid memories of Mr Reynolds though must be from later on in my time there, and I have two. I had hiccups one day as we were walking up the stairs to the art room and Mr R. told me to hold my breath, then he held his hand over my mouth and nose for what seemed like an impossibly long time. I didn’t panic and I wasn’t afraid, and the hiccups were cured. The second one was definitely later as I’d been listening to my mothers’ copy of ‘Hair’ quite a lot – at home, now being a day boy. But I didn’t understand some of the words on one of the songs. I won’t write it all out here as they are a bit naughty, but if you know the song I mean you'll know the words: there are four at the start of the number followed by the line ‘father, why do these words sound so nasty?’ before going on with some other technically naughty words… I asked Mr R one day, as we walked up the stairs to the art room, what ‘the first word’ meant. Without batting an eyelid, he told me. Most boys would have shut up at that point, but I then asked him what the second one meant, and it’s far more technical than the first which I think I probably knew about. He told me, again quite calmly. I asked what the third one meant, ‘Sir, what does…. mean?’ He stopped and looked down at me and said, ‘you've been listening to your mothers’ copy of Hair haven’t you?’

 

In think he rather liked my mother - I head a family rumour that they may have had an affair, but that’s another story. I liked Mr Reynolds and although I was never very good at art I believe his teaching me to be creative has had a lasting affect on me.

 

While we’re in this building, I had my first piano lesson at the school in the basement, around the back. I’d been having lessons at home for a couple of years so it wasn’t my first ever lesson, but I was nervous of my new teacher. I don't know why, she was perfectly amiable and a good teacher as it turned out. Mrs Mountjoy is the name I remember, I hope that’s right. She taught me how to hold my hands over the keys ‘so the train can pass through underneath’ (never did work out where the train came from and went to), and she taught me how to play without looking at my fingers. She also got me through to my grade five; and I finally finished of grade eight about ten years later.

 

I am looking at Google maps to remind myself of the school layout, and I notice that some things are new and some have gone. Inevitable after 40 years I guess. The portakabin classroom has gone, this was, I think, put in during my time at the school and was situated just inside the gate, if you entered the grounds from Shorncliffe Road at the east end of the site. The building (with the art room in it) housed the pre-prep downstairs, so whatever that building was called. (Again apologies for appalling memory of names; was it part of Westbrook House?) This ‘new’ classroom had a kind of rough, pebble-dashed feel to its outer walls, I remember that because I scraped my hand on it once. And one of the few times I was given detention was in this room –being made to stare at the blackboard for a playtime or something with four other boys. But it was also in here that I learned to translate contour lines on a map into a drawing of the terrain. That came in very useful years later while hiking around the Cairngorms one winter. I think I took (and failed) my 11 plus in this room.

 

Passing this building, and staying on the east, or right hand side of the grounds as you look at them from the man road, there was a path leading down towards the playing fields. To the left was a grass area where we sat and had some lessons outside during the summer, and learned to pay croquet in warmer weather. The swimming pool was just beyond there, but back to that later. On the right of this path was the gym and again there are some still clear memories from this building.

 

Professor Mallard was our coach (and I noticed he is very fondly remembered on this site). Some of us asked him one day why he was always flexing his fingers as he walked, and he replied ‘finger exercises boy.’ You didn’t want to cross Professor Mallard, but you wanted to do well for him. Entering the gym block, the changing rooms were on the right; string kit bags and the smell of sweat. Furtive glances at other boys changing and a couple of ‘quick, dangerous liaisons’ took place in that changing room. The showers were on your left on the way to the gym and a smaller ‘anti-changing room’ with a step up into the gym itself. On the right was what I guess was the master’s office, and projector house for when films were shown.

 

My older brother was a projectionist in my time, and I remember my 10th birthday because of this. We had all gathered for a film, I remember it being called ‘the Fire starters’ but I can’t find it online so that’s probably wrong; it was to do with fireman in America, an action movie we’d call it now. It was my birthday and there was a character in the film called Toby, which got a real laugh from everyone else as she was a woman (it’s also one of my names). And, if I am right, while I was watching this film, Noel Coward was dying in Jamaica. And I remember that because he once stayed in the house we were living in.

 

It was also in this gym that we would have to run assault courses. Up the benches that were resting on the beams, over the beam, roll on a mat, climb a rope to the ceiling and down again, and then over a horse or something. On one occasion I fell from the beam after running up it and landed on my wrist. After a brief Mallard inspection I was deemed fit enough to carry on but there was no way I could grip the rope or climb. Or grip anything much actually. I wasn’t in pain and I was inspected by a couple of people but all was well, a sprain I was told. Two weeks and some mild complaining later I finally got taken to the hospital and the broken wrist was set. Still no pain or swelling and even our local doctor didn’t think it was broken, until he saw the X rays. I was the proud wearer of a cast for a few weeks after that, which soon got covered in names and filthy.

 

Sports were not my thing, but I did throw a tantrum when I wasn’t selected to throw the cricket ball at one sports day event. It did the trick, I made the team and came last I think. I did better at the javelin, I did some after school golf, hung around at the back of the football team when a game was on, went through hell playing rugby as I couldn't wear my glasses and so couldn’t see a thing, got bored with cricket, hated running (I'm sure the running track was on a slope), didn’t fancy the high jump, having to land in sand on the other side, but I did rather well at the shot put.

 

I have fond memories of the summer days and breaks out on the field. Sitting with friends whose names I now can’t remember, and idling about. And on weekends, when I was a boarder, being allowed to play out there unsupervised until called in for meals or letter writing. The trains used to pass by, sadly by then not the Silver Arrow as spoken about elsewhere, but trains that used to give off sparks in the night, I could see the light flash against the walls in my four-man dorm – more about that later.

 

While we are out on the field, there was one day when (again, I think) Prince Michael of Kent was due to helicopter in for something, a prize day perhaps? I was charged with presenting his wife with a bunch of flowers before joining the other boys on the stage in the marquee to sing Kalinka or some other Russian folk song – again I may have these two events mixed up. But the Prince’s wife was unable to attend that day so I didn’t have to make the presentation. Phew.

 

Running from the bottom of the path opposite the gym block, heading west to east if I've got my geography correct, was what I am sure was called the ‘new block.’ It’s not there on the Google satellite image (neither is the swimming pool) but you can just make out the outline, the grass in the image is lighter, there is a clear rectangle. Windows ran along the side of the building, which was one story, and housed a few classrooms, and the windows overlooked the field and had a path running beneath them. On this path, I was told off for illegally selling to boarders toys and things I’d bought with my pocket money while at home when a day boy.

 

Inside the ‘new block’ though… The first room, on the left, was where Mr Revel taught us maths and threatened to swipe your hand with a ruler if you got something wrong. Mr Wood also taught us history in this room and I was well told of once for drawing a picture; some royal banquet from the past to illustrate the Plantagenets or something. In the style of the period I’d drawn the perspective flat and the king and queen larger at the back than the lesser people at the front. He didn’t like that one bit but I expect Mr Reynolds would have approved. I also took an RE exam in this room, and spent ten minutes writing out my answers before saying I was done and giving up. Needless to say I didn’t pass it.

 

Also in this block was the room where I went and did ‘hobbies’ on a Wednesday afternoon – this was the pay off for having to come to school on a Saturday morning. I expect many other people, like me, would rather have worked on Wednesday afternoon and stayed at home on Saturday. I still have a feeling of freedom at around 1.00 on a Saturday, the same feeing as I had when I got off the bus after the morning’s school; the air always seemed to smell fresher and I felt like I hade a great long time ahead of me before Monday came round again.

 

We had physics, chemistry and biology lessens in this ‘new block’ building so that’s where the science area was, and we also had French lessons in the room that looked towards the pool outside. Not a pleasant room to be in during the hot summer afternoons when another class was swimming or out on the grass.

 

The thing I remember most about the New Block was the smell of Leichner face powder. Nothing to do with Mrs James (?) the biology teacher who lived in Hythe, but all to do with Alice in Wonderland. This was the school’s production and I remember going to the hall and sitting with brother Myles while Mr Rottenbury told us all about the school play. It was to be an adaptation of Alice, performed at the senior school. This would have been 1971/72 if I've got my dates correct as both my brothers were in it. Simon, the eldest was an owl with leggings and a big paper-mache head, Myles was a larger penguin and I was the smaller one. We had some tricky running around stuff to do at one point, there was a race of some sort, we had to listen intently to Alice and some other grown up people (who were probably only 12) and, at one great moment we got to eat a jam tart. We were costumed and made up in the New Block and posed outside the west end of the building for photographs before being bussed off to Dover and the performance. The stage was set up with a large ramp leading down from an open book, and beneath it we had to sit very still and quiet, playing cards until it was time to go on.

 

Being involved with that production gave me my life long love of theatre, so a great big thanks to DCJS for that. And for the next show I was in, which must have been a few years later. I don’t know why I wasn’t in the others in between, perhaps it was because I was a day boy and my parents didn’t want me to commute back and forth after dark, after school. It was a 45 minute bus journey after a walk down Grimstone Avenue to the bus stop outside the Metrolpole, and I didn’t like it at the best of times. But, when I was older and, I think, a prefect, the word went around that we were to perform a passion play, ‘the true mystery of the passion’ I think it was called.

 

I was called to audition in the headmaster’s study and told that I would play Pilate on account of my Roman nose (something I still don’t possess). In the ‘real world’ of the village performing the play I was the chief of police so I felt very important, and the show was to go on at the local theatre, the Leas Pavilion Theatre, at one time under the management of Arnold Ridley (Dad’s Army) and later, when I worked there in 1979/1980, Charles Vance.

 

Rehearsals were held in the gym until nearer the performance dates, when we moved into the theatre. It stank, there was something rotting at the back under the gallery that ran around the auditorium. I never did find out what it was, but I was involved in rewiring under there some five or six years later and I could still smell it; damp probably. Backstage was an intriguing maze of stairs, wooden and rickety, with a few small dressing rooms and an under-stage tunnel to get from one side to the other. No one showed me how to wear my toga, but I managed to work it out on my own. My first entrance was from stage left, a quick cross while discussing village business with the mayor or someone before the play within a play started. Later I had a long chat with Jesus amid incense that was burning on stage; later still I stormed on to berate the rabble about something, ‘Silence are ye men of stone?’ was to blared out and, with my voice breaking, I think I covered just about every possible octave and hit a few harmonics too – the night my eldest brother was in the audience; he still reminds me of it. Embarrassing. But once again I got such a buzz out of the show that I wanted to do more, and I did, though at my next school, then on the fringe in London and then for a while professionally. So another thanks to DCJS for giving me that opportunity.

 

I also attended two other school productions that I was not involved in. One was Toad of Toad Hall with my brother playing the policeman, and a production of Oliver! with staff playing the main leads. Both these were at the Lease Pavilion Theatre, though I don't remember the years. I’m guessing, after doing some thinking, and assuming the plays were at the end of summer term (?) that: Alice in Wonderland was 1972, Toad was 73, Oliver! 1974 (I think there may have been a Mikado at some point) and the Passion play was 1975 – but I could be a year or so out.

 

Meanwhile, back outside the New Block, we come to the playground, on the map it’s now got a five aside pitch marked out, but I remember it as an open, tarmac space, with the hall on one side, the main house on the other, a fence to the grounds of next door on the third and, I think, a store building for our trunks along the forth. British Bulldogs was the game you were, in those days, allowed and probably encouraged to play. In fact I seem to remember playing there, on the field, and in a small area just beyond the hall with the tuck shop on one side, the entrance to the school office towards the main road, and the other building opposite the tuck shop.

 

Back in the playground, steps led you up and into the main house, was this called Compton House? (Or was that the ‘house’ I was in?) The toilets on the right as you came in here had the worst paper ever. The dining room was in this building; you were able to store your own things in a cupboard at the end and bring them out at tea time, or someone did, probably a prefect. There were huge tea pots and blue and yellow plastic mugs, the tea was always milky and sweet, and there was fish on Fridays. I never liked the fish swimming in some kid of milk sauce with bits of butter in it. I'm sure the food otherwise was fine. It’s funny how your memories, when young, are of traumatic thins: a boy called Boyd always had nosebleeds and cotton wool shoved up his nose, one morning he was sick on the floor near the kitchen hatch… Eggs.

 

And you kept your tuck box down in the cellar where you also had to go and do your shoe cleaning. The library was at the front and apart from reading in here and having some lessons, you also had your hair cut. Well, I did. The barber would come and you’d be called down; if he nicked your ear you got a sweet so I, for one, was constantly twitching in the hope of a humbug. I learned what a paradox was, in this library, when being taught English br Mr Whitney. He was another person who influenced my later life greatly, and for the good.

 

During one summer holiday I was invited, by Mr Whitney, to help with research into a book he was writing about St Leonard’s Church, Hythe. I just Googled to see if this book is still existence but can’t find it mentioned anywhere. It was only a pamphlet really but I discovered that Charles Whitney has written other books, one about DCJS which seems to be out of print. Anyway, Mr Whitney, myself and I think my friend John McLaren, would meet in Hythe in the mornings and work on the research. This involved writing down inscriptions from the walls, and looking through some old registers, I wasn’t too sure what I was looking for, or if I helped, I just did as I was told. But I did enjoy the cream teas we’d have after work. I used to have a copy of the book too, but that’s sadly lost now. And I was left with an interest in history, writing and research – I love dusty old parish registers now.

 

Where was I… Oh yes. In this main house, with the library, up the stairs, that’s where my first dorm was, and the sick bay that I spent a few days in once with something, I can’t remember what. No doubt there were other rooms and the housemaster’s quarters and things up there too. Somewhere in this building was my second dorm; I seem to remember being in that first one for two terms and then there was a move around, Girls were starting to be admitted to the school at this time, which may have had something to do with it. Or it could have been a clerical error as I ended up sharing a room with only three other boys, and they were older than me. I assumed that my older brother had ended up in a junior dorm and I’d got his much nicer and more intimate room - I must ask him one day. We had bunk beds in this room which faced towards the railway lines, looking over the playground I think, or the hall. Just outside, through another door, was the washroom.

 

Here’s an aside: bath night was a trauma of the first degree. Matron and her assistants had big white jugs (to pour water from, not the other kinds of jugs!) with coloured bottoms, red I recall. You’d sit in about an inch of tepid water in a bath, sometimes two of you together and she’d pour water over you. Quick wash and that’s it, you’re done. Pretty scary the first time, and when you’re only nine or so.

 

Meanwhile, back in the small dorm. The beds were either side of the room and there was a chest of drawers under the window; that’s all I remember but there must have been other things in there. One of my room mates was called Alexander (Christopher Alexander?), but I don't remember the names of the other two guys… Wise perhaps, I mean Wise the name, a guy with dark hair who had the bottom bunk under Alexander. And I have no idea who had the bunk over me, but he seemed really old. It didn’t take long for nightly competitions and activities to start up ‘you show me yours’ type things; all consensual and fun because you were really not supposed to be doing this. That’s something else to thank DCJS for; that term in that small dorm room made me really look forward to senior school, I was hoping to get into Kings Canterbury and be a boarder for more of the same. (Sadly I didn’t, my parents split up and I went to a local comprehensive.)

 

Perhaps we’d best leave this building and its clandestine memories… Actually those are the only ones on that subject; no trouble from teachers in that respect, no bullying either, though I did have the greatest of crushes on a couple of boys, as you do. I won’t mention who just here, in case they should ever read this and be embarrassed, but their names are included in the list of those names I can remember, below.

 

So, back outside and across to the assembly hall. There is still a building here, on the Google image, so I assume the building still survives, though I do remember it as being tatty and old even when I was there. I liked this assembly hall, during my first term I was able to sit and look up at the fifth year boys sitting around the edge on the raised bleachers, and stare longingly and in awe at a couple in particular. It was in this hall that I saw my first video player, must have been around 1974, a great big black and grey box that sat beneath the televisions on a stand and that had great clunky buttons. We would gather in here to watch educational TV, waiting for the programme to come on, as the hands of the clock ticked around and the circles marking the seconds vanished one by one.

 

And also in this hall, apart from doing some drama lessons, I was allowed to play the organ. There was an instrument at the end, near the door, which fascinated me. It was a pipe organ with electric bellows and lead pipes that melted if you happened to nick one from around the back and take it home… sorry about that. The pedals, when I could reach them, were wooden and hard to press, but hearing it, and playing it, gave me another life long fascination, for church organs. Not so much the music but the mechanisms and sizes of them. Mr Chant, I think it was, took me to Hythe and let me play the church organ there. I had lessons and, when I was 12, went for a scholarship to Kings, playing one of the instruments in Canterbury cathedral, badly. I could only play the Toccata from the D minor Toccata and Fugue, Bach, and no one had told me I had to play the piano for the panel, and sing too. Disaster but a day out.

 

Leaving the hall and walking along the ‘covered way’ where you were never allowed to run, you came to that area by the tuck shop and school office. This must be the back of Westbrook House (once more, apologies for memory loss if I've got these names wrong). I didn’t have much to do with thus building, though the headmaster’s study was in here. I was called in, at the start of the fifth year I guess, with other boys who had been selected to be prefects. We were warned about the season of ‘ball grabbing’ a game/pastime/set curriculum piece, that took place continually as boys grew up. We weren’t given a demonstration, but we knew that now we were grown up we had to stop doing it ourselves and tell off younger boys for doing it.

 

I also auditioned for the concert of Carmina Burana in this office and didn’t get the part, the voice was breaking. But I did go to the concert held at the senior school and remember thinking how dull it was after the opening number. Some masters also lived in this building but I can’t remember who, and there was a shop where you could buy ink and pens and get your new exercise books.

 

The music room wasn’t far away and this was another of my favourite rooms. The piano was at the end, in front of the windows facing the room, and we would sit in chairs either side, against the walls, for lessons or to sing in the choir, before the voice went I assume. I had oboe lessons in here with a teacher whose name I can’t recall. But I do remember the taste of the antiseptic he dipped the reed in as we shared the instrument. And I remember being very sad in here one night when we were singing ‘go and tell old Nancy that the old grey goose is dead.’ I'm not sure if I was sad because the goose had died or if I was homesick, but it was an evening not long after I’d joined the school.

 

Happier times were had on the lawn outside, opposite the music room where we took some lessons in summer. The poll was here and there was a day, must have been a weekend, when I was there with my two favourite teachers, if only I could remember names! They were playing cards as us boys played in the pool, they christened me ‘tubby Toby’ as I probably was (still am) and they came with us to the Norfolk Broads…

 

That’s just come back to me. There was a trip, can’t remember the year, but we were on boats on the broads; a school trip during the holidays. We had races and regattas on rowing boats and lived on a boat or three for a week, or more. All I really remember are the masters playing canasta and me and (Mr Chant?) coming second in a rowing race. Fond memories, sadly mostly forgotten.

 

There, that’s as much as I can dredge from the past at the moment, and I am sorry if I have remembered some things inaccurately. And that goes for the following list of names of other pupils that I have someone kept in my mind for the last 40 years or so. If any of you are reading this, or if you remember me and want to say hi, feel free to email me: mail@symidream.com

 

Tracy Lever (Pilate’s wife in that play?)

Gary Lever (Also in the photo I have of that play.)

John Chisholm (Birthday 26th March as well?)

Kim Goddard (& brothers, who lived opposite us.)

Martin Ruddock

John McLaren

James Gatehouse

? Teed

Jeremy Poulterak

Martin Thomas

Mark (?) Coupland and his younger brother (who I am sure is in the photo of Pilate & his wife)

Karl Kitchen (Also had a younger brother at the school I think.)

Arthur Rabjohn

Ken Niven

from symidream main <mail@symidream.com>
to oldwestbrookians@gmail.com
date Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 9:44 AM
subject DCJS photos
hide details Jan 20

Hello again

 

I have finally had some photos scanned and am sending them with this email.

These are from DCJS productions in the 19760’s but I am not 100% sure of dates. It would be interesting to see if anyone can identify any of the other cast members.

 

‘St John’ - I think this is what the play was called of about, but I don’t know the year. My brother, Simon Collins, is second from the right, and I’d guess at the year being around 1970-1972 (DC Junior School play performed at DC Senior School I believe)

 

‘Toad of Toad Hall’ with the other brother, Myles Collins, as the policeman, second row, third from left - at the Lease Pavilion Theatre (1975?)

 

‘The mystery of the Passion’ - Lease Pavilion Theatre, 1975/6 - can’t be accurate with date, sorry. Toby Collins centre in the toga.

 

‘Alice in Wonderland’ again at the Senior School, and around ‘72/ or ’73. (Myles and Toby Collins as the penguins and Simon Collins as the owl)

 

I hope these are of interest to you, your site and its viewers.

 

Yours

 

James Collins

www.symidream.com 

Click here for School photo's submitted by Toby Collins.

StarredfromNicholas Michael 
tooldwestbrookians@gmail.com
dateSat, Oct 31, 2009 at 5:30 PM
subjectThat watch
Oct 31/2009
Well, well. Whoever would have thought that my crime would surface once again over fifty years later - it must have been in about 1955! I must say that I paid for it, with a thrashing from my father, who, I remember well, felt obliged to buy a new watch for the victim, David Frost, who has lately made himself known on these pages. My father probably bought the replacement from Peter Bird, the Folkestone jewellers, whose son was at Westbrook House.

Seared into my memory - oh yes! I found the watch on the windowsill in the piano room where I was having a lesson from Miss Thurlow. It was indeed a wreck, and the back was missing, exposing the innards. It was the rubies that got me - being of a romantic nature, and I just couldn't help myself. I gloated over these priceless jewels, and naively offered some to my friends, which of course led to my undoing. The theft was announced in prayers, and someone next to me muttered, "Fozzie's getting the CID to investigate this theft", which threw me into a black panic. In the end I decided to do the decent thing and went to Fozzie's study, where I remember saying the exact words: "May I say that I did it, Sir?". Whereupon Fozzie said, "You're a silly ass". Etched into my memory, indelibly.

Anyway, for the last time, I apologize unreservedly. I suppose I shall never get into politics now because of this blot on my career, but being of retirement age, it's unlikely that I shall put myself up as a candidate...

Nick Michael
Nyon, Switzerland

StarredfromD & T Frost 
tooldwestbrookians@gmail.com
dateThu, Oct 15, 2009 at 6:36 AM
subjectThat watch
There is a comment on your anecdotes site about a watch which one of your correspondents was accused of stealing-- belonging to a certain Frost-- and which clearly seared his memories from then on. Well I am that Frost. There were two of us--my brother Michael and myself (David) --and I was at Westbrook from '53 to '59. The watch was given to me by my Auntie Ivy before I went away to school and for some reason I was inordinately fond of it, to the point that when in bed at the age of seven in that dormitory across from the sickroom and next to Matrons room, and incredibly homesick, I used to console myself with the thought that at least I had my watch! It might seem strange that this was a greater consolation than that I had an elder brother in (I think) 'B dorm' but the mind of a seven year old is sometimes unaccountable. I lost the watch in circumstances that seemed to confirm theft and reported it (perhaps to the wonderful Miss Bentley??). I heard nothing more for a while until I was told that a culprit had been found ,as had the watch, which it now turned out was of some value containing as it did 'rubies'! Consequently when the issue was finally resolved I received a smart new watch from the unknown boys parents and was able to transfer my 'affections' to this new piece of hardware. I did not know who had taken it and so the contribution by your correspondent was very interesting! I also was unaware that the watch was found by him initially on a windowsill and this was not his doing--thus the plot thickens rather than being totally resolved. I am quite sure that I didnt put it there. Oh and one more thing--the original watch never worked--unlike the new one!! 

I have one or two other comments from my store of memories relating to the school which I would like to share. I still know most of a poem which several of us were asked, or rather told, to learn by a 'club captain' (whose name began with a C I think) when I  was in 'A dorm'. This would not normally warrant mention except that it was  over thirty lines long and we were seven years old. We were given at least a week to learn this poem and we all went potty trying to do so--of course the 'club captain'--who, paradoxically I quite liked--forgot to ask us to do the recitation! Anyone out there remember this? The poem begins: 'when men were all asleep the snow came flying'.....

Some  may remember various 'dares' after lights out. The easy ones were to 'touch' Matrons door or the Sickroom --harder ones included touching Foz's door which included going down the stairs to the forbidden areas! But the ultimate ones were about going outside in the middle of the night and touching the boating pool at the bottom of the field--oh the kudos! I dont think I ever managed the latter to my regret (not great admittedly!)

I noticed a comment about Miss Rainbow- a somewhat derogatory one. I, for one, was very fond of her. I was scared to death of Miss O'neal and almost as scared of Miss Hinch  (?). There was one occasion when Miss Rainbow asked us to read out  our 'compositions' and  I  had written about  the exploits of a German Halifax bomber. Some members of the class pounced on this oxymoron and I was mortified until Miss Rainbow pointed out to the class that there must have been the odd Halifax that was captured by the Germans and used against us. Phew!!


I have many other memories but limited time!             David Frost
westbrookhouse.jpg
Westbrook House


From Simon Walters:

date : Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 9:20AM
 
 
Hi David-Michael
The building of the boating pond was a great project which took place around 1951 or 1952.  I assisted in this enterprise and may well be in the photograph although its too small on my screen to tell.  We learnt many skills, probably Fossie did as well, in clearing the site, levelling it precisely with peg and and string, founding the brickwork surround, laying the first few courses of bricks, setting in the draining pipe (no plastic pipework in those days), covering it with rubble hardcore, dragging the sand and cement in wheelbarrows down to the bottom of the field, mixing the sand and cement (no mechanical mixer), pouring it over the hardcore, graduating it to drain to the central drain hole, and then laying the brick work up to about 3 foot high with a curved cement edging capping.  Great days - what 11/12 year olds would be let loose on this sort of work nowadays.  Fossie would shew us what to do then he would stand away, pipe in mouth, and let us take over under his keen eye.  The pond was about 20 feet across as I recall and a new craze for wind up plastic motor boats developed, some with batteries, and the prizes at Sports Day that year and for several afterwards included lots of model boats, sailing and others.  I spent a lot of time playing around at the pond but being short I had to lean over a lot to sail my boat.  So I got the front of my pullover and shirt very wet.  Fossie and Matron were not at all pleased!!
Simon Walters

simon.jpg
Simon Walters

From:Stewart Fincham
Sent:07 April 2009 6:48 PM
To:Old Westbrookians' Society/ Website; simon walters
Cc:Peter Mellor
Subject:Re: New comment by Simon Walters

Thank you for this, Simon. I remember the boating pond well. I won two plastic clockwork boats on Sports day in June 1958 for coming 2nd in the 100 yds and the 220 yds that year.My mother presented them to me!However, as I left in July that year the boats never had much use! I still have them, in my school trunk which also survives. P'raps Ishould leave them to the Westbrook House Museum in my will...

It's good continuing to hear things about Westbrook House, and I hope we can have another reunion at a suitable time. Happy days then!

Stewart





Sent:Wednesday, April 08, 2009 8:15 AM
Subject:RE: The Boating Pond

Hi Stewart and Simon

Thanks for reminding everyone about the boating pond – and for the construction photo Simon – brilliant !

I recall using it with a clockwork RNLI Lifeboat (wish I still had it) and also a well-engineered clockwork boat brought back from Germany by an aunt serving with the BAOR (British Army of the Rhine).

Dates circa 1954/56.

The added bonus with the pond was the steam trains rumbling and whistling by, and who could not remember the magnificent “William Shakespeare” pulling the “Golden Arrow” in the mid 50’s.

Was there a lightweight pole or shrimping net to retrieve boats from the middle (or bottom!) of the pond – can anyone remember ?

The pond was in the corner of the playing field next to the allotments.

Clearly at some time the allotments were purchased (in the 60’s ?) and incorporated into an enlarged playing field. Can the year be recalled, and also when the pond was demolished and had the tennis courts built on the pond site ?

Has anyone got a photo of the pond in use ?

Best regards to all

Peter

--- OnThu, 9/4/09, Old Westbrookians' Society/ Website<oldwestbrookians@gmail.com>wrote:

Simon do you know who's idea it was to built the boating pond, there must of been a lot of talkbefore hand?

Cheers,

David-Michael


From Simon Walters:
dateThu, Apr 9, 2009 at 3:42 PM




Hi guys,
The Boating Pond and Guy Fawkes
The trouble with you asking me questions - I'm inclined to reply!
I'm very much on the edge of memory here but I have a feeling that the Boating Pond was a deal. One of Fossie's deals. We used in those days to have a big bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night all carefully managed by Fossie and Jim Metcalf and other masters. I don't believe Humph was very keen on the idea because I don't remember him being there. It was a great time for us boarders (in my time only some 40% of the boys I would think) and we rejoiced in helping carry, very carefully and under close supervision, what seemed enormous boxes of fireworks down to that corner of the field. Obviously we were not allowed to let any off, great care was taken, although I think I seem to remember learning to handle 'sparklers' at that time. Well, they always put on a great show for us and we watched the skies anxiously all day dreading the rain which might cancel the performance.
Digressing for a moment, it must be remembered that at that time, not long after the war, many of the boys came from families which had been terribly disrupted, not in a financial sense necessarily, but by war. Several of us came from broken homes, I myself lived unhappily with my father, an absentee business man, during holidays while my mother whom I adored lived in a bedsit in London earning her living as a typist secretary. She came from a fine family but my father took her four children from her and then failed to support her. Other boys had lost a parent, or had parents in the military or other British services overseas and needed to be lodged in a safe haven. I read of people's scorn at the 'privilege' enjoyed by the wealthy few at private schools. But as I say, many of these were severely at risk in other than a financial sense. So whilst I have no doubt Fossie loved his train set and fireworks as if part of him was a little boy himself, he also had a strong desire to try to make up to those who boarded with him for the 'normal' life that other small boys had at home. That is why, for me, a desperately insecure child, Westbrook House was a happy haven and Fossie was the epitome of the real Dad that I felt I should have had.
Anyway back to the fireworks. One year, when I was about 11 I would think, maybe 1950 or 51, the annual firework display turned into a disaster before our eyes. And very nearly a tragic one. A rocket, having been ignited, toppled in its jamjar, shot along the ground and straight into the boxes of unopened fireworks. Whereupon all hell broke loose. The knot of us excited boys was only yards away and, under hasty instructions from staff, we scattered and ran with flashes and whizzbangs all around us. I remember seeing Fossie stamping around the boxes until water was poured over things and safety finally restored.
It was a miracle that none of us was injured. But, being children of course, we felt we had just seen the most thrilling Guy Fawkes night of all time.
Very little more was said about the incident and by spring time it faded in our memories. It was that long after I guess that Fossie suggested that we boarders might like to consider, without any reference to the dangers of the previous November, that we could either have fireworks next November or instead a FINE NEW WONDERFUL EXCITING BOATING POND. Couldn't afford both, and anyway the new pond would have to be built where the bonfire usually was, so it was up to us. He had a great way of spinning so that we would come up with what he wanted us to. And of course we all voted for the new pond, fireworks were such a waste of money after all. And, curiously, I've always had a contempt for domestic fireworks ever since.
So that's my vague recollection of the origins of the Boating Pond.
Can anyone correct or add to the details of this half-remembered tale.
'Sandy' (A.J.R.) Watson? Timmy Mount? Sherri Royston? Hugh Foster? John Hays? Anthony Ashdown? Anthony Heron? Chris Jowett? Nicholas Mayer? John Telfer? Etc. Where are you guys, when my memory cells need you?
Best wishes to you all wherever you are.
Simon Walters

Building the "Boating Pond"
wh1.jpg
1951 or 1952?

Comment by Paul Owen

Hi David,
Thanks for such a rapid reply to my guest book entry.
Unfortunately I have virtually nothing from the days when I was a Fozzie pupil. Did not own a camera then. Might have a school pic circa 48 or 49 somewhere in family treasure chest. If I find one I will, certainly try to copy it to you.
I have some memories though. Below I note names of fondly remembered fellow pupils and brief outlines of some of what it all means to me as I now remember it: -

It is so nice to find that others remember KNG Foster with such affection. No-one else could make maths lessons so amusing.  Fozzie would do this kind of thing: -  Serious aspect of some maths exercise to explain - point to make on the blackboard but need to write it at the top - so climb on chair to do so - turn to class to explain what it was all about  and say, looking directly at pupil, "I hope you learn this quickly, Owen, because its extremely cold up here and I can't stay long." 

I also remember Mr. Metcalf – another good man (I believe it was he who used to play the French horn with amazing and delightful skill). Geography came to life in his care - I actually wanted to know more. And as for Mr. Forty – well he was the only person who got any idea of Latin into my brain, ever. His enthusiasm for twqo things was remarkable, motorbikes and Pompei. Get either of these subjects started and you were virtually clear from actual Latin for half a lesson. Strange man, though, with very unusual social skills.

Rough and tumbles in the dormitory as we all jumped on Fozzie as he came round personally to say “good night”. I remember listening at night as KNGF played the piano in the “prep room”, and the accompanying incessant noise of shunting trains. And there was that amazing railway layout; never seen anything like it before or since. 

Then there was Group Captain Foster's great efforts to teach me carpentry, those skills remain with me and help me today. In fact everything I learned at Westbrook House has influenced my life; tolerance, survival, friendship, laughter, care, empathy, language, self reliance – in comparison, Dover College taught me nothing except patience (waiting to leave, frankly).

Below are some fellow pupils of my day (I guess if we are still alive we are all seventy something, now – amazing): -

Anthony Watkins

Alan Stairs

Alan Paris

Richard Waller

Brian Jordan

“Tubby” Baker

“Carthorse” Johnson

Newky-Burden (George)?

Paramour

Paul Lippett

Russell

I now live mostly in France, after a varied life covering: journalism, publicity, electronics, aircraft design, engineering analysis and aircraft certification. I occasionally fly a small light aeroplane (stick-and-pedal microlight) if I can keep passing the licence medical. My wife Susie and I are gradually restoring an old French country house to the South West of Poitiers. We have great French neighbours. We also have a small house near Bristol which we share with our son.

Hope there is something in this of interest.

Best wishes for the OWS.

Paul



foster.jpg

Mike Tinsley to Oldwestbrookians June 24/2008

 

Hi,
Strange to see myself in print, as it were.

Congratulations on the site.  Good start, but not able to focus at this time
of night, having taken a severe nightcap.

Will read when I am sober......

Been in touch with Peter Luckraft.  Will get him to subscribe now I have
bookmarked it.

Will catch up another day.

Mike Tinsley

PS. You didn't tell me you had published.  Perhaps you should send a round
robin to those who provided anecdotes, just to let them know you are up and
running.

Hope to read much more.  I admired KNGF, even though he had to chastise me
on several occasions.  He was fair, and I deserved it....

Also remember Humphrey Household.  Smashing model railway, he had.  Went to
see him in retirement, and the railway had gone.  Most disappointed, I was.
And his brother got all the glory (Geoffrey Household, novelist)

All the best

Mike Tinsley 1962 or thereabouts

Mike Tinsley  Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 6:12 PM

Peter Mellor strikes a bell with me.  Not close buddies, but contemporary.

 

KNGF ceratinly set up the railway in the hall at school.  But I was privileged to have been invited to Humphrey's house to see his railway.  We were not allowed to touch it, but it was impressive.

 

Sorry, no photos.  Didn't have a camera in those days, but I may have an old school panorama photo in the attic.

 

Mike

Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 2:53 PM

As I understand it Friends Reunited is now free, and you only have to register to gain access.

 

I vaguely remember the name Pittam, but was not a buddy of any sort with anyone of that ilk.  I have made contact with Peter Luckcraft, and David Gladstone.  The other names I remember from those years are Charley Barlow, Michael Tubbs, and David Mellor.  There was a Goldsmith (Andrew?), but there I come to the end of the line.  Some of the names on F R do strike a chord, like Heckstall-Smith, but they were senior to me and lived in the holy of holies (Senior Common Room).

 

Mike

Mike Tinsley July 3rd/2008

 

 

Don't really have any stories per se.  Just snippets of remembrance.

I do remember that there was a 'Carrot and Stick' approach to discipline.  Good behaviour and results got red marks, and a accumulation of these got swapped for a gold star.  Bad boys collected black marks and subsequent Stripes as an accolade.  I got the dubious distinction one year of simultaneously getting the most Stars and Stripes in a term.  Also the most number of corrections with the slipper.

 

I remember one dear master called Bill Paxton.  He taught Classics (i.e. Latin), and I still find that useful today.  Most pupils had the fear of god of him, but even though he had many occasion to apply discipline to me, he was always fair and also rewarded when deserved.  I actually got on quite well with him.

 

I also remember a blonde middle aged Bat who taught the juniors writing and English.  She was very free with the slap across the back of the legs, and I thought quite vindictive.  As a result, my handwriting deteriorated to the point of illegibility.  Thank God for Computer keyboards.

 

I remember Treasure Islands out of plasticine in Art class.  And gliders made of balsa wood and tissue paper flying down the stairs.  And the Golden Arrow steaming past with the exciting carriages with names on them.  What a sad day it was when the line went electro-diesel.  Pantographs never had the same appeal for me.

 

One year I was chosen to sing a solo Silent Night at the Christmas Carol Concert.  However, my voice broke a couple of days before the event, so I was spared that embarrassment.  I also escaped Sports Day one year when I was due to give athletics display.  Guess who came down with German measles the night before, and got quarantined in Sick Bay.  Talking of Sick Bay, does anyone remember Green Goddess and Miste Morph et Ipecac, the cure alls for sniffles etc?

 

Just a few of my memories.

 

Mike

Mike Tinsley July 21/2008 

 

 

Thanks for that link.  What a shame.  I thought it was part of Dover College, so this is a surprise that it was still apparently private.  I remember the name Roger De Haan.  Was he an Old Boy?

Still, I have my memories, such as they are.  Keep the site going, even if the school does finally go under.  Make a nice Old Fogey's home, it will.

 

Mike Tinsley  July 22nd/2008

Hi all,
Just finished reading the anecdotes pages, and its prompted some thoughts,
totally random.

I too went to Mr Pain, the dentist.  Strange and worrying name for someone
in that profession.  However, he was actually quite good, but he had this
drill sort of thing that was a cantilevered arm with a cord drive and
pulleys that whined like a banshee and felt like a kango hammer.

I also remember the start of term inspections (tackle out, boy. Turn your
head and cough).  Yes it was just for boarders.  And yes, Matron was there
to oversee everything!

We had a song for KNGF, which I recite now, but which was said in awe rather
than disrespect.  "Fuzzie Wuzzie was a Bear.  Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair".
There were other verses of similar ilk, but I cannot remember them.

Please let me make it clear that although I was a disruptive pupil and
record holder of the Stars and Stripes, nontheless, it was not me that kept
letting off the fire extinguisher outside the 6th form classroom.

There was a billiard table in the Prep room, and Fozzie used to regale us
with stories of how he beat Joe Davies the other day.  The films were great,
Mr Hulot's holiday, Dambusters etc.  But never St Trinians....  And I don't
eat hard cheddar with a red rind, even to this day.  The daily milk ration
was also not appreciated, and many bottles ended up behind radiators until
discovered some time later....  However, they did start putting flavoured
milk out, which made it palatable.  Just.  Only just.

There was a weekly task set the whole school, which was to learn the
spelling lists that were put up in the Prep Room, and which we were tested
on the Sunday.  I learnt a lot of words this way, but didn't know their
meanings at the time.  I also tried to read my way through the Encyclopedia
Britannica, which was kept as a full set in the Library next to KNGF study.
Got to Q I think, but then discovered girls.

I always remember when Christmas was coming, because we had the homily "Stir
up we beseech thee.....".  I also remember "fast falls the eventide, when
the busy world is hushed..." which closed evenimg prayers.

Mr Cambell.  Yes.  What can one say?  He was as blind as a bat, and we took
the mickey quite unmercifully I'm afraid.  Children can be so cruel at
times, and he really didn't deserve it.  He was in fact a good teacher.
Just couldn't see it.

Prof Mallard was something.  Bit like a macho Freddie Mercury.  But boy did
he get results.  He was someone you respected (Sir) but I actually came to
like sport (apart from the vaulting).  Doing a scissors descent down the
ropes is not something I would attempt now, but have been known to do the
occasional handspring when the mood and the booze takes me.  I remember the
beams contraption well.

I was there when the model aeroplane crashed on the sports field, and as a
similar minded nerd I felt sorry for the kid.  He did later get a control
line stunt plane flying, and I wanted one.  Never got one, but did build a
hovercraft in another school.  Funnily enough, most of my career has been in
avionics, and I now design flight systems for aircraft.  So far, none have
crashed as a result of my labours.

I remember Ted F leaving suddenly, but never knew why.  Thanks for
enlightening me on this.  Good for you, Ted.

I remember rhubarb rustling, searching for heroin poppies in St Margarets,
and also looking for doodlebug bit there. (it was a girls school next door
that was hit by a doodlebug in WWII)

My favourite crocodile walk was to Caesar's Camp (Green Hill) with its
cordonned off 'tunnels to Dover Castle').  Secondly, the rock pools at
Shorncliffe beach.   It was also Bill Paxton's favourite walk.

I have a panoramic school photo where I appear twice.  The camera was
clockwork, and you could run from one end to the other before it reached
you.  Must dig it out.  As far as I know, I was the only one that managed to
do this sucessfully.  Or even wanted to !

On a closing note, with some sadness.  The school we knew is gone.  In fact,
it went in 1968.  When I was a pupil, it was a single sex school, with 90%
boarders.  It occupied a niche market, with a captive audience of diplomats,
service personnel, and people that just wanted their children to go to
private school and then to public school / university.  As such, it was not
totally dependant on the local cachment area.

When it went mixed, and stopped the boarders, it went head-to-head with the
local state schools.  In modern times, the kudos of having a private
education no longer carries the weight it used to, socially and
economically.  These last few years have eroded any advantage that the
school could offer, and it is in direct competition with the State ('free')
schools.  Why should parents stump up 6000 a year now?  We know that
Westbrook House offered the best it could, but now the state sector can
rival it in terms of exam results etc.  So there is no longer a 'need' for a
premium education establishment. I do family history research, and up to the
1960's it was not unusual for children to marry late, and live with parents.
In today's modern society, with the nuclear family, there is not the same
support, and young parents now must invest in a family home at a much
earlier age.  So, finances are given to the domicile, and children are sent
to the local school.  The Independant Education sector is struggling to
survive because the advantages it used to offer are now less significant.  I
am sad the school has closed, but it is not the school I knew.  It has
become just another school, but one that you have to pay a significant part
of your salary to use.  The state school is 'free'.  Sad fact of life, but
one which should not surprise anyone.

Mike

Peter Mellor July 23rd/2008 to David-Michael at Oldwestbrookians:

Hello David-Michael

I was much enjoyed Mike’s thoughts.

Alfred Pain OBE at 33 Earls Avenue – yes he was a nice chap – thick set with white hair, moustache and glasses. I am sure he was good in his day. He was my dentist from the early 50’s up to the late 1960’s when he must have retired.

The mess the let-off fire extinguishers made (conical shaped Merryweathers I believe) was appalling – a sort of white deposit on everything all over the Victorian tiled floor.

The free school milk (one-third pint bottles) – cardboard tops with a push-in hole for the straw – replaced later by silver foil.

I had forgotten about the spelling lists.

Prof Mallard was one of the school’s greatest assets and I held him in great respect.

I am not sure if boarders were 90% of the school. The figure seems high to me. I was a day boy  and then boarded for the last year or so.

I left in ’58 and I am sure Mike is correct when he says the school as all us oldies knew it – died in ’68 - when KNG retired.

 I would have to disagree with Mike over private education today. It has never been more popular owing to increasing affluence of parents including those who never had a private education themselves, and the appalling performance of many of our state schools (academically, sporting, and discipline).

 It is incredibly sad and depressing that Westbrook House has now closed. I was very much hoping it would take on boarders again in due course - and become similar to Wellesley House in Thanet – which is thriving.

 I am not convinced that Westbrook was promoted enough in order to maintain pupil numbers (Note in England: pupils - not students. Students when at university or other further education). If this lack of promotion is true it is even sadder. How could this be allowed to happen.

 I am sure we all wish the current parents endeavours to set up a new Westbrook in Folkestone  every success, but for us Old Westbrookians we will just have our mostly happy memories of an age passed.

 All good wishes to you

Peter

Mike Tinsley Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 2:30 PM

Just a thought for those trying to raise the dead.  I know of at least 2 private schools that felt the pinch some time ago, and turned it round.  They did it by offering full boarding and attracted foreign language students, and specialised in giving an English Education for those in far off lands whose parents wanted their children to benefit in English Society.  It meant turning the old business model upside down, and offering a niche service again.  But it worked for them, and one of them is now doing very well (or was a few years ago).  I think the business model being dicussed in the Parents Blog is too parochial, and hence will probably not get sufficient momentum to maintain itself just from the local community. 

The problem is that in order to support a modern day curriculum that will appeal to parents, that requires a certain size of teaching and support staff.  If you equate this to 'bums on seats', then this is still a significant number required just to support the curriculum, let alone the fabric of the establishment.  Small may be cosy, but it also means 'limited' because it cannot support a competitive curriculum without also being 'expensive'. 

Just offering a cosy learning environment no longer cuts the mustard, and unless they come up with something that is 'niche' to justify the expense, then I cannot see it succeeding.  The local cachment area has too many similar schools, and thus, stiff competition.

 

Sorry, no photographs.  My dad had the camera, and he lived abroad while I was at school.

 

Mike

Peter Mellor July 23rd/2008

Thanks David-Michael

Despite what Mike said - Boarding at private schools is still popular. My two boys boarded at prep school just 2 miles away from home for their last two years, and boarded at Tonbridge School just 18 miles away. Younger son Edward (16) is still there with 2 years to go. The fees a pain I have to admit, but the school is outstanding in every way.

I do not think any Westbrookian would have a photo of dentist Alfred Pain. And I don’t know of any contact in his family to ask for a photo they might have. He was a nice old chap.

I really cannot believe I left Westbrook 50 years ago – makes me feel old when I think about how the years have flown.

My best wishes to you and your wife.

Peter

Mike Tinsley

Aug 29/2008
 
 
Peter,
I think you misunderstood my comments regarding the proposed replacement
school.
It was the fact that the original school was mainly boarding pupils that
gave it an advantage in the market place.  It was perceived to offer more
than just a teaching establishment, and the environment it made provided for
a more rounded education than just another school.  It served a niche
market, but in so doing it opened up the cachement area way beyond the local
area.  Thus it could attract pupils from outside the region.

My point about the replacement plans was that they were offering a small
('parochial') environment that was in direct competition with the state
sector.  because of the scale of the venture, it could not compete with the
academic weight that a larger school could offer, and so the curriculum
would be a reduced one compared to their competitors.

And they did not appear to be able to offer anything special or extra, apart
from possibly a more intimate teaching environment.  Bit like a village
school.  But nothing to offer the modern parent who wants their children to
be prepared for the modern world.  If you have earned the money to pay for
private education, you want your children to have the best facilities you
can get, and a small school does not provide that.

As you pointed out, the private sector still flourishes, and boarding
schools still thrive.  But they offer something unique and special.  I wish
the new venture success, but fear it will not have the pulling power it
needs to attract the investment and the pupil numbers.

Mike Tinsley

westbrookhouse.jpg

Play Wink

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Lyne-Gordon
Date: Nov 8, 2007 9:43 AM
Subject: RE: Patrick Rogers - OWS
To:David.Michael Dunbar


No, it's Patrick Rogers' new book - Patrick was the guy who got struck by the springy bush in the playground! He's also written two articles in Oremus (Westminster Cathedral Magazine, www.westminstercathedral.org.uk

patrickrogerssportsday1955.jpg
Patrick Rogers Sports Day 1955

It must have been some time in March 1956 as I remember wanting to get out of hospital for Easter. It was probably on a Friday as I was full of chips from lunch which probably means fish. I have hated chips eves since. We were waiting to go on a walk with Mr Household so we would have been wearing our navy-blue raincoats and school caps. While we waited in the playground - it was cinders in those days - Peter and Mellor and I were playing around the shrubs which grew there. These had been cut back to a regulation height by the gardener, to approximately that of an eleven-year-old boy. If you pulled back the branches they flew forward with a satisfying whirring sound. So Peter did this and as I was standing on the other side, the top caught me in the centre of my right eye, breaking it in two. I remember curling up on the ground in the foetal position, knowing something awful had happened and Peter telling me to stop playing about but with panic in his voice

The next minute Mr Household had rushed from the staff room overlooking the playground and picked me up. He told me afterwards he only knew something was dreadfully wrong and I remember horrified boys saying “Look at his eye”. Then there were people calling for an ambulance and the sound of its bell on the way to the Royal Victoria Hospital. Then being bound up and doctor after doctor, so it seemed, asking me to roll the damaged eye - which, not surprisingly, hurt a good deal. I also remember being given a pear by another patient and eating it out of politeness - not wise as I was soon under gas for the operation. The last doctor I saw was the surgeon, Dr Gartside I think, and then nothing for a long time. When I came to all I could taste was gas, pears and chips (I hate pears as well) and being unable to see. The worst thing was the penicillin injections in the bum which hurt a lot in those days. Fortunately my aunt, Winifred Carnelley, was a Staff Nurse at the RVH and was with me whenever she could.

I remember visits from Humphrey Household and Ted Foster, who told me that I was very brave. At one time I was told they might have to take out the eye as they believed it was affecting the other one - pretty traumatic. I was given lint and bandages by Sister to make pads for nose-bleeds, I am sure they were completely ineffective. Nora, one of my sisters, told me afterwards that they were told that they would probably have a little brother who was blind, and that my mother had offered one of her own eyes for me.

But the penicillin ointment and injections finally worked and I was out, wearing almost black glasses, just before Easter. Afterwards I was taken to Wissant as a special treat by my aunt - my first visit to France. I remember a huge French steam train at Calais and an Englishmen opening his cigarette case and a porter scrabbling on the ground for the cigarettes. The beach around Wissant was still littered with war debris - blockhouses (one with a rusted-up cannon), barbed wire, cartridge cases, a mine buried in the beach with only the top showing, and the nose of a 40mm shell with a copper band around it, which I still have. Back at Westbrook the shrubs had been taken out and people asked what it had felt like or just looked embarrassed. I had to stop fencing which I liked (I was in Prof Mallard’s team) but I also bad to stop playing football and rugby, which I hated. So life went on and I put away the dark glasses and looked pretty normal except for a line down the middle of my right eye. All I could see with this eye were indistinct shadows and, very approximately, the position of a bright light. So no hard feelings, it could have been me pulling back the branch and Peter on the other side. But then I believe these things are meant to happen.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

NigelPittam, writes about an encounter with Humphrey Household

Submitted by Rod Pittam
nigelp.jpg
Nigel Pittam 1962

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Jun 22, 2007

Hi David-Michael, Many thanks for the Sports Day stills............they bring back memories of those occasions, particularly the old table used for prize-giving, for some reason! Hated that sack race. Couldn't recognize anybody, other than KNGF of course. Regards,

Peter Flashman
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Fossie playing the piano by Simon Walters:

Did you remember that Fossie used to play the piano in a very family parlor sort of way. By ear, I guess, because I never remember him referring to music. When he was in the mood we used to gather round the piano with him and he would play all sorts of jolly tunes. But above all I remember him suddenly going into a very serious piece, Men of Harlech or some such, and then just at the climax he would deliberately hit a bum note which would make us all howl with laughter. Tears in our eyes, we would beg him to go back and get it right - "Sir, oh Sir, that's not right" - and then his fingers would lose control of themselves and go all rubbery and make an even worse mess. Now I come to think about it, it was really quite an act - and thirty years before Victor Borg or Les Dawson came on the scene.

Best wishes
Simon

simon.jpg

wh42006.jpg
Nick Michael June.26.2006

Nick Michael Writes June.26.06

I went to Westbrook House school for boys in the Shorncliffe Road from 1955 to 1957 after a spell in Brampton Down school for girls(where my sister attended) in Dixwell Road. I can't think why I was put into a girl's school; there was only one other boy in the school, by nameBilly Boyle.
Since we lived in Folkestone I entered WH as a day boy, and started in the lowest form of the junior school, whose mistress was Miss O'Neill. She was a fearsome woman, who would not hesitate to slap our calves if we misbehaved in any way. She played the piano and we had to sing along to it: 'Do ye ken John Peel', and 'Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish Ladies' are etched into my memory as if it were yesterday. Miss O'Neill was a friend of my nanny's, and I found it quite disquieting to see her in my house in Godwyn Road on one occasion.

I went up a form, where a Miss Rainbow ruled the roost. She was young and attractive, but not very pleasant. When we were asked to make a model in plasticine, I made a skeleton, and she disapproved, and said it was not at all nice. Miss Rainbow told us about Magna Carta, and I put up my hand and told her I had seen it. 'Oh, you have seen

everything', she retorted, unkindly. 'Where is it then? What does it look like?' I replied that it was in a glass case, and she let the matter drop. In fact, I had never seen the thing, but I have no idea why I should have lied about it, if not to draw attention to myself!

After Miss Rainbow's class I went up to another form where we had to learn Latin. I cannot have been more than seven, and I found myself suddenly confronted with a Latin text that I was supposed to translate. On the facing page was a text in English, and I hoped that this was the translation (it was of course not so). I honestly have no recollection of being taught a word of Latin before this occurred,although I cannot envisage a teacher demanding such a thing. I had very little notion of what was going on in lessons, and probably daydreamed my way through most of them. Certainly I don't remember there being any tests.

We were taken for walks by a short stout woman who had warts on her face and huge calves, which amazed me by their size. We walked in strict school crocodile, usually from the Shorncliffe Road under the railway to the Cheriton Road, through a sinister tunnel that echoed.

In the afternoons we were given hot cocoa in battered and chewed plastic beakers, with bread and dripping.

My last class, in 1957 when I was eight, was run by masters. Mr Stokes is the only one I really remember, and maybe we were taught by Mr Metcalf and Mr Campbell. Mr Campbell had unruly curly hair, and was almost blind. He shaded his eyes most of the time, poor fellow, and he could be seen from my house cycling towards the school with

one hand up on his forehead, desperately trying to see where he was going. Mr Ted seemed different from the other masters: he was young and good-looking, it seemed to me, but all the staff were very distant, and had no time for boys my age, particularly day-boys.

I had piano lessons from a pleasant woman whose name I forget. Once I found a partially dismantled watch; just the movement; on the windowsill in the piano room and, delighted with the rubies in it, I pocketed it. I offered the rubies to friends over the next few days,but the theft of the watch (which belonged to a boy named Frost) was

announced in morning prayers, and my life became misery. One boy told me the CID were being called in, and my heart sank. I was questioned about the rubies I had given away, and I insisted I had found them'in my grandfather's chest' for some reason. Finally suspicion got around, and I was summoned to the headmaster's study. Mr Foster was a large man who wore tweed jackets with leather elbow patches. He asked me if I knew anything about the theft, and I said: 'Sir, may I say that I took the watch'. 'You're a silly ass' said Mr Foster, and my parents were duly informed. My father was furious, and told me he would have to buy a new one for Frost. I objected that the one I had taken was a wreck, but father insisted. That was the first and last
time I stole anything.

At the bottom of the playing fields, next to the railway line, was a raised round boat pond. Here I sailed a model boat. Once, having lost it, I was adamant that it had sunk in the pond, and it was duly raked out, to no avail. This also got me into trouble; but I have no idea where I could have lost the boat otherwise. The railway line was a source of delight to me. I loved watching the steam trains start up there, choof choof choof, increasing in frequency until the wheels spun on the rails and the acrid smoke belched out of the funnel. The steam was immediately reduced and the cycle started again, until the monstrous engine got slowly under way and steamed off to the west.

I left WH in the summer of 1957 because my family moved to London. I was never attached to the school, but my memories of it are vivid enough, even though I didn't understand a thing about what was going on half the time! I never made any friends there really; there was Richard Warden and a boy called Buzz French, and Lewis;I think there were two brothers.

I note that there is no mention by any old WH on this site of the female staff I recall, so maybe this will be their memorial; does no one else remember them?

With best wishes

Nick Michael
PS: I live in Switzerland, between Geneva and Lausanne; married with two boys 13 & 15.
Thought you might like a few photos that I dragged out of the cellar. You can see the WH cap, and on the 'poor little bastard' photo, where I am wearing white shorts, you can see the snake buckle on the belt. I also attach a current photo so you know I don't still look like that now...

With all good wishes
Nick

Nick Michael at WH. in the 50's
wh1undated.jpg
Submitted by Nick Michael

Submitted by Nick Michael
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Nick Michael At Westbrook House 1954

Submitted by Nick Michael
wh31953.jpg
Nick Michael at WH. 1953

John Clement Writes June.25.2006:

Excellent! - Humphrey Household taught me how to write first-class English...the only two O Levels I achieved (with honours) were English Lit & English Lang...and writing is my best asset to this day....and Mr.Metcalfe (who eventually teamed up with Assistant Matron Miss West, I recall) was a schoolboy's hero - macho, and a real man's man (and a good shot with the blackboard erasor too, if you were out of order!).
Such good stuff on the site - well done, so nostalgic, so warmly pleasing - the best days of my life without question.
John Clement (JC)

Submitted by David Ackroyd

Hi,
In about 1956 Richard Philips and I found the partial remains of the V1 in the ruins.
We also used to find the carbon electrodes of the war time search lights on the Lees.
Do you all remember the School Dentist. I hated him. But do you remember his collection of shells ( Explosive type) that he had on a mantle piece in the waiting room?
The bomb disposal unit took them away once as some of them were still live!!!
Regards
David Ackroyd

Submitted by David Lyne-Gordon
rodpittam.jpg
Rod Pittam Date 15.06.2006

Message From: Rod.Dc. Pittam

(Rod was at Westbrook House in the 60's)

Sadly for one who lives in close proximity I have neglected to visit the old school for quite a long time,I went to a jumble sale there about 15 years ago,and was given a guided tour by an assistant matron,and was horrified to see the same beds lined up in C and D dormitory,although not the metal pots under the prefects bed in the corner!My mother has a treasure trove of pictures and old school memorabilia in the attic of her mansion in Hythe,including I fear some articles of uniform.I was sorry to hear of the demise ofthe swimming pool,I vividly recall assisting in its construction,and building the garden sheds on the far side of the orchard,renovating the pond,and other construction tasks set by the inimitable fozzie.He really knew about man management.Peter Wagstaffe and I had an enjoyable evening a few months back reminiscing about the old days and in particular Prof Mallards 'game' whereby he swung a sandbag weighted rope around which the circle of boys had to jump over,if you couldnt you were pulled to the centre and beaten with a pair of sort of leather sausages.As fewer boys were left he swung it higher until everyone had been hit with the sausages,and the only winner was himself.Some game!Peter reminded me of the day Patrick Fullarton demolished the vaulting horse by running straight through it instead of bouncing on the springboard,leaving Mallard on the floor with his clipboard under that leather top bit.God we paid for that,'to the wallbars........GO'.

Apr 19, 2006
Good morning David-Michael,

The swimming pool I am guessing would have been installed in 1964.The first year it was in I remember the filtration system wasnt installed and we had to stir in large quantities of chlorine from big glass bottles.This however didnt prevent the water stagnating during the following winter and the pool had to be drained and the boys had to manually scrub all the green algae stains off the sides and floor,that would be you and I David.It was then refilled from a garden hose which took about a week.I recall that your swimming trunks were emblazoned with the 3 colours signifying swimming achievements,let me think now. yellow was for swimming one width of the pool ,blue for a length red for ??? but it did include an underwater episode.All presided over by the immortal Professor Mallard and his clipboard.
All the best.. Rod

Message from: Mike Tinsley (At Westbrook House 1962)

I went back a couple of years ago. I needed a pee, so went into the gents by the side door. Exactly the same as I remember it........ Same decor, same smell. Boy, did that take me back.
I remember the boating pond at the bottom of the field, abuilding countless dens from all the rubbish lying around. Great fun. I remember watching the Golden Arrow steaming past many times.
I remember mumps in the sickroom when I was due to perform as a kingpin in the athletics team, and my voice breaking just before I was due to do Silent Night solo one Xmas.
I remember KGF putting up spelling lists around the walls of the hall, and how we were tested every Sunday.
Most of all I remember the model railway in the Hall, and how we used to fight for the controllers. The American loco's were the best. Not the fastest, but they stayed on the tracks, and could beat most trains round the course.
I remember the wind howling through the dormitories, and how we used to think the ghosts were coming for us. And how the house shook in the wind. And turning my iron frame bedstead into an aerial for a crystal set. Anf trying to count to a million when I has the flu in the sick bay. And Mist Morph et ipecac when you had a cough, and Green Goddess which was much more tasty.
I tried to read all volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica in the library. WE built and flew balsa wood gliders from the stairs in the hall. Oh yes, and that archaic radio in the senior study that could pick up the Russians jamming signal (the woodpecker). And sweet rations from the locked cupboard on Sunday nights.
Oh yes, lots of memories. I surprised Peter Luckraft the other day by e-mailing him. HOwever, have not yet contacted my other buddy, Charlie Barlow. Another contemporary was Peter Tubbs, who has yet to show up on the
scoreboard here.
Mike Tinsley.

Message From: Alan Hemingsley

I HAVE A TREASURED BOOK GIVEN TO ME BY MR. FOSTER DURING THE SUMMER OF 1961 WHILST ON A CYCLING HOLIDAY REVISITING THE SCHOOL.I REMEMBER EATING KIPPERS IN THE DINING HALL AND WATCHING THE MODEL RAILWAY LAYOUT IN THE LONG SINGLE STOREY BUILDING NEXT TO THE SCHOOL. IN MY DAY THERE WAS AN ORCHARD ON THE LEFT OF THE PLAYING FIELD AND A CIRCULAR POND AT THE FIELD BOTTOM ON THE RIGHT. THE DAYS HIGHLIGHT WAS SEEING THE GOLDEN HIND TRAIN PASSING THROUGH DAILY. SPORTS WAS ALSO AN IMPORTANT EVENT AS WELL. MY SISTER WAS A BORDER AT THE NEARBY GIRLS SCHOOL AND WILL HAVE SOME EXTRA INFO IM SURE. WILL BE IN TOUCH WITH WHAT INFO I CAN DIG OUT. NEVER DID GET TO A REUNION BEFORE IT WAS SWALLOWED BY DOVER COLLEGE. REGARDS ALAN HEMINGSLEY.

Matthew Rosenz Writes:

I just discovered the Old Wesbrookians and Website via a message from Friends reunited and all the memories came flooding back. I was there from 1963 to 1970 and remember both the Westbrook House days and the early years of Dover College Junior School from September 1968 on. I remember how resentful we were of the change, even as children I think we had appreciated the traditional values of the school. I remember the old stars and stripes system but had forgotten that four G's made up a star! Somehow I managed to purloin and old Star book, much like a cheque book, which I have kept to this day, the star books were pink, and if I remember rightly the stripes a turquoise blue?? Does anyone remember the lunchtime queues for the dining room? It was pure theatre. The line ran around the hall and up the stairs. Prefects patrolled and unruly boys had to stand outside the line bent double with their heads down. I can still hear the prefect's voice in my head calling out "Get your head down". We would then enter the dining room having to submit our hand for a cleanliness inspection and we filed in. I too remember Fossie's brother and his spaniel from above the carpentry shop. Other memories include the wooden board in the playroom by the door divided in the into a representation of the games field with wooden named wooden tags for all the boys placed on the pitch and position that you were to play. Remembered staff included Mr Metcalfe ( Geography) Marsh, known as PLOD ( Latin), Mr Stokes, Mr Campbell, Mr Household, Mr McCall (French)Edith Hughdie & Ray Thurlow Forms 1 & 2, and of course Professor Mallard. Matthew Rosenz
A Message from Peter Flashman. Tuesday, May 08, 2007 12:21 PM

Hallo David, may thanks for copying me in on Robin Broatch's note about those early days.....I remember them well, quite remarkable when on considers all the water that has passed under the bridge since those early post-war days. Like Robin I also was a day-boy having started my post-war education at St Margarets girls school in Earls Avenue (the only private school in town at that time) along with several others who then formed the complement of pupils at Westbrook when it opened in 47. I was pupil number 32 (Ibelieve!), the numbers being hammered into the soles of ones shoes in brass nails!! I became a boarder shortly before leaving and moving on to Kings. I did wonder whether you might have considered arranging an informal discussion amongst early contempories during the 60-year reunion..... the memories would I am sure, come flooding back and could add further colour to your excellent history document!
By the way, I was known at school as Peter Flashman and to avoid confusion I will be grateful if you will continue to do so, rather than Piers Flashman......thank you!
Kind regards, PeterF

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