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A Time For Reflection

Old Kingswoodians remember their time at Kingswood School

Our Old Kingswoodians have been finding that they now have more time to reflect on the past and remember how much they enjoyed their time at Kingswood. We know that you will enjoy reading their memories and will publish them here as and when we receive them.  To add yours please email association@kingswood.bath.sch.uk

John Baron (KS 1959-1962)

"It is now some 61 years since I arrived at KS as a new boy. It was a very different school in those days! Single sex, very few day boys, no computers or video projectors and masters wearing gowns to keep the dust from the blackboards from their clothes etc..

The most up to date Audio Visual equipment was a 16mm film projector and an enormous and very noisy epidiascope. No photo-copiers and loads of stuff typed out on stencils and then run through a Gestetner duplicating machine.

By the time that I left in in 1962, a splendid new pavilion had been erected on the Upper, a science wing had been added to the rear of the Ferens Building, Mr Sacket had retired as Head Master, Lowry Creed was the new Head, Mr Milne had replaced 'Chuckles' Cook as Second Master and boys from KS had become the first to split the atom.

Although I slept at Beaconsfield, I was in Upper House. Mr Milne was House Master, with John Ede his deputy and the inimitable John Sykes as the living in master.  

Mr Sykes was amazing. His room was in the Tower and was always piled high with books, papers and scores and was the home of his harpsichord. As the Head of Music he conducted the School Orchestra, taught music and, somehow, was always able to extract wonderful sounds from the chapel organ even though it was in need of overhaul and he often gave the impression of having enjoyed a good bottle of wine the previous evening.

In those days school food was adequate but simple.  Breakfast on weekdays was a rather liquid version of porridge followed for example by scrambled powdered eggs on toast. For those unfamiliar with powdered egg, a good chef could work miracles with it, but at KS it arrived on the table as a semi solid mass of something that had been mixed with milk or water and put into a steamer to set into a vaguely yellow mass tinged with grey.  

The Dining Hall plus the Gallery was big enough to accommodate all of the Senior School in one sitting. Menus were of the like it or lump it style with everyone having the same food. Vegetarianism was unknown.

Food arrived on the table and was then served to the table by either the Prefect sitting at the head or by a master if seated with us. Before starting to eat Grace was said by the duty master, seated at the top table on the platform. When the meal was finished the duty master rang a bell for silence and with that the prefects of the house on duty moved into the aisle and then marched of the hall to form two lines in the archway under the balcony. They would then bow to the duty master before leaving the hall. There then followed a mad scramble of everyone else still in the dining hall.

Either Sister or Nurse held a surgery session after breakfast and lunch. Sore throat? The standard remedy was a Strepsil to suck, one in the morning and one in the evening. For anything more serious a visit to the Sanatorium was on the cards with an examination by the school's visiting doctor.

On Monday to Saturday we all attended morning prayers in the chapel which meant walking by the side of the kitchen window. Joy of joys was to see the cooks furiously making sandwiches and putting together hundreds of packed lunches which meant that we were having a Whole Holiday...a day with no school and on which we were free to do as we wished.

One such Whole Hol was to mark the wedding day of HRH The Princess Margaret. I remember that it was a lovely warm day and I spent it walking along the towpath of the Kennett and Avon canal towards Bradford on Avon.  In those days it had been allowed to fall into disrepair but I believe that it has now been restored for leisure use.

We had to be back at KS in time for the evening meal, many of us with aching muscles and/or sore feet.

In my day, a large proportion of the boys were the sons of Methodist ministers. It followed that for many, their parents had made considerable financial sacrifices to send their offspring to KS.

The presence of so many sons of ministers meant that the annual Speech Day was held on a Saturday in one year and a Friday the next. My parents lived in Sheffield and in those days the car journey to Bath took around three hours. There were no motorways then and not much of the route was even dual carriageway. Speech Day weekend was the one occasion in the Summer Term when I could be certain of seeing my parents. But even though it was my parents who would be taking me out on the Sunday, I still had to get a Special Permit from my House Master.

An SP on a Sunday still required attendance at either morning or evening service in the Chapel.

Whilst at KS I took Church of England Confirmation Classes at St Stephen's Church, Lansdown Hill. I well remember that one of the attractions of going was that the class also included a group of girls from Bath High School.  In those days a Kingswood rule required that if a boy was walking down one side of the road and girls were walking on the same side but in the opposite direction, we were required to cross to the other side!  Being in the same group as girls really was quite something. A consequence of the Confirmation Class was that KS received an invitation from the Head Mistress of the High School to put together a select group of boys who could dance and who would like to attend a dance at the school. I had actually learned to dance in school holidays so I was one of the chosen few. A pleasant evening but very restricted with mistresses prowling around a gallery above the dance floor to make sure that we were not dancing too closely together! Refreshment was orange squash or lemon barley water!

At Kingswood we played one term of rugby, one of cricket and one of hockey. Just down the road is of course the Royal School for the Daughters of Army Officers. On one Saturday in the hockey term KS was challenged to a match against the 1st team of the Royal School. Boys v girls, a sight not to be missed so the match was well supported by boys from KS. I well recall that at a crucial moment a well built chap from KS collided with a, shall we say substantially shaped girl from the Royal. The result was that our chap was, to his embarrassment sent sprawling, but to make things worse, the girl from the Royal immediately stopped in her tracks, turned and helped our man to his feet...laughter all around of course.

As I write this, like many others around the world, I am suffering the discomfort of Corona Virus lock-down but on the other hand it gives me the chance to bring to the fore so many very happy memories, such as on walking down to Charlcombe Church on a Spring morning for 8.00am Communion. For those who have never been to Charlcombe Church, it is an absolute must!  Nestling in the hillside it is an exquisite Norman church. In the those days the Rector was Rev. Francis Bell, who also taught Latin at KS. An inveterate pipe smoker it often fell to one of us to tell him that there were clouds of smoke billowing from beneath his gown as a result of not extinguishing the pipe at the end of break.

Oh happy days! I have so much more bubbling to the surface of my memory, the ATC with Sq Ldr Mangham, the wonderful Mechanics and Physics lessons with Robert Trump, Chemi with Dr Stead, the School Press, the Tuck Shop with Mrs Jones, excavating beneath the Dining Hall to create what was then the music rooms, meeting John Ede at Buckingham Palace many years later etc.. So many memories but perhaps I should save them for another occasion."

- John Baron (KS 1959-1962)

 

A Sunday snapshot of life at Kingswood over 60 years ago: 

"For me, as one of the few C of E boys at KS (59-62) one of the delights at this time of year was to walk down to Charlcombe church for the 8.00am communion on Sunday morning. In those days Rev Francis Bell, who taught Latin at KS, was Rector of Charlcombe. The church was an absolute gem and surrounded by daffodils at this time of year. 

Understandably, attending the service meant that being late for breakfast which meant having to report to the duty master as to why we were late. Fortunately no-one ever refused to accept taking bread and wine as an acceptable excuse! School Sunday breakfast in those days included Kellogg’s Corn Flakes which really was a super change from the very watery porridge served on the other days of the week!  We also got a boiled egg and a bread bun baked in the school bakery. Another variant on Sunday was instant coffee, served in the same aluminium kettles used at all other times for tea. The resulting taste was, to say the least, rather strange!

Having attended Holy Communion at Charlcombe meant that we still had to attend both morning and evening worship in the School chapel. A busy day indeed.

Sunday also was clean clothes day! On Saturday evenings we found on our beds a roll comprising a clean shirt, separate collar, hanker chief, a pair of socks and a set of underwear. On Tuesday evening we had on our bed clean collar, socks and a handkerchief. Only having one bath each week it was not at all surprising that we all were somewhat grubby! Add to this that we had one clean bed sheet and a pillow case every two weeks and you can understand that hygiene was not the forte of KS in those days! Oh happy days!"