Memories of Farnborough - Rafborough and Cove from the 1930s and beyond - Episode 6


Farnborough Grammar School


CLB 1939

Guides, Brownies and members of Church Lads’ Brigade, 3 September 1939. Group photograph kindly provided by Evelyn Robinson (nee Coombes). Inset picture taken of me at the C.L.B. camp in 1938 - Bembridge, I.O.W.

Gentleman on the officer’s right is Major Graham, who, very generously, hosted a garden party on his estate at Broomhill, Hawley Lane.

Another notable resident in the district was Air Commodore Chacksfield. Air Commodore Chacksfield was a member of the St John’s church choir where my father was organist and choirmaster for 30 years. The Air Commodore lived in the house in the triangle where Minley and Hawley roads meet just before West Heath bridge (or they used to until they were swallowed up by the West Heath roundabout). Presumably the single decker bus still goes under the bridge to the Plough and Horses?

Living at Elmsleigh Road the names of residents I can remember are Hill, Panting, Brown, Wearing and Sackley.

Time now to move on from Cove school to the newly constructed Farnborough Grammar school. School holidays in 1939 were extended because air-raid shelters had to be provided. I was able to occupy the extra time to great advantage by joining my friend Wally Arnell at the military camp under construction at Southwood Road. He was employed in the drawing office and I was gainfully employed as office boy to a Mr Nicholson.

Cycling to Farnborough Grammar school (with David Edwards and John Noble), we became extremely familiar with Prospect road. Well known Cove identities, the Misses Mason, lived in the first house. Almost opposite on the Cove road next to Yeoman’s the builder was, I think , Cliff the barber.

Continuing down Prospect road were classmates Laurie Hall (who lived on the corner of Holly Road) and Donald and Dennis Dray further down. On the left just before the road went under the bridge were cottages. The claim was made that they never had to buy any coal. As coal lorries from Farnborough station made the fairly sharp turn from Union Street into Prospect road some of the piled up coal just slid onto the road, which was promptly collected!

Under the bridge and towards the end of Prospect road we cycled past the Prospect woods before the right turn into Prospect Avenue, with the Grammar school a little way up on the left. After school it was very much ‘into the woods’. Particularly so in the chestnut season, but there was plenty of interest at any other time exercising our riding skill on the various bike tracks.

It was our good fortune to be the first to move to the new Farnborough Grammar school with Mr Chapman (as he was then) as headmaster. I recall the song he composed as the school song. The first line was: “Give me this land of Wessex” and the chorus, mostly in Latin, began: “Oh filii adeste, alumni all sing heartily . . . “
Rev. Chapman

Newspaper report of the death of Rev. Chapman

School masters I recall include Mr Richards (geography) who lived opposite the school. Mr James (english) who, on one occasion, spent at least a week moving around bent at right angles with a ‘slipped’ disc problem. Oh, for a friendly chiropractor! Mr Maunder (chemistry) who delighted in making sure all windows and doors were closed as he produced sulphuretted hydrogen (rotten eggs). Mr Solloway (maths). Mr Mills (mechanics) who had a habit of punctuating what he said by “do you follow?” with monotonous regularity. Mr Thomas (history). Mr Nurton (french).

In addition to studies we enjoyed a variety of sporting activities - cross country runs with a water jump on the sports field to make the finish more exciting.

Farnborough Grammar School

Pictured on the left is headmaster Chapman’s successor, Mr B.J.A. Neil (or ‘bengy’ as we knew him). The occasion was the F.G.S. Sports day, 15 May 1940.

Farnborough Grammar School

Sports day, 15 May 1940
On the social side we had the Border Youth club which was held in the gymnasium. Dancing instruction was provided by dancing teacher Joy Tidman. John Horn (son of councillor Harry Horn) was the MC. Music was provided by means of a radiogram which played LPs. As a boys’ school we were of course joined by the girls from the Aldershot High school. Who can forget Jean Lee?

Farming camp at Bramshill, 1940
Farming camp at Bramshill, 1940

Farming camp at Bramshill 1940. (Bramshill - most recently a Police college)

Farming camp at Bramshill, 1940

Farnborough Chronicle and Fleet Times, July 26th, 1940

Information and image courtesy of James Dodds and Evelyn Robinson.


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