JUST BOARDING



By John Perrett: 1942-52

At the end of one Term, on the last night, the Senior Dormitory, including "Clubby" Clubb, Colin Taylor, Richard Thirkill, Peter and Paul Tempest, we planned to mount a Commando-style raid on the Juniors, just across the landing, when all had gone to sleep. We did our raid some time after midnight but it didn't go quite so silently as planned. Quite rightly, the Juniors complained bitterly but as Charlie didn't appear we thought that perhaps he had been woken up and that he was being very sporting allowing our end-of-Term antic to continue. So we went on a second and noisier raid, and then a third. Charlie eventually did appear, in his dressing gown, and he took a dim view of the mayhem around him - overturned beds and so on but no actual damage. We were told to get dressed and to go over to the school side into one of the classrooms, 3a I think. A few minutes, later he arrived and told us to write an essay on "Nocturnal Raiding". We wrote on the standard stuff, building in a grovelling apology; that is, all apart from Clubby whose essay, apparently, listed the traditions of end-of-Term antics in all the "proper" Public Schools and that it was only cheap, imitation ones that were not big enough to turn a blind eye to such goings on. Well, Charlie was certainly not amused by our antics and much less amused by one particular essay! Guess whose name was not mentioned again!
note by Tony Eden - Norwood was a Private rather than Public school.

By Kevin Cheeseright: -1968

Letters home had to be completed by 13:00 hrs and ready for proof reading by a Prefect. All my letters read the same, "I am well, hope you are well too, lots of love Kevin". My dad requested that I didn't write as it was a waste of a stamp. I loved to receive letters from my mother though; that little contact from home was very comforting.

by David Gordon-Russell 1959 - 1965

In 1958 I was a pupil at Oatlands School and although I lived within a 30 minute walk away from Norwood it was decided that I would leave Oatlands and attend Norwood as a Boarder. One of my first recollections of Norwood was looking across the Stray from Slingsby Walk, with the spire of Trinity Church in the distance, and thinking that somewhere near the church would be Norwood. My mother and I entered the front door of Norwood to be greeted by this large jovial gentleman in a flowing black gown; of course, this was Charlie. I do believe that tea was served to us in the Lounge and then for a brief tour of the school. Through the Dining Room, , up the stairs in the Well hall, turning left at the top on the first landing; then through what was then a dormitory, another dorm. then bathroom, toilet and down the corridor leading back to the main stairs again.

Thus I was inducted into Norwood. A train journey to Leeds soon followed with Charlie and other boys, to be kitted out at Horne Brothers tailors; the uniform was a buckeye cap and striped blazer and short trousers were the order of the day; I was twelve but all the other boys wore short trousers so I had to comply. I do look back on short trousers with some trepidation though. At the end of my first Half Term, I returned the short distance home for my holidays. The seat of my trousers had become rather thin; this was noticed by my Father who whisked me off to Allens outfitters to complain that the material was not up to standard. I had omitted to say that constantly sliding down the stone slopes on either side of the boys' entrance had taken its toll.

My early recollections of life as a Boarder include sharing our Tuck Box contents with other Dormitory boys, the very hard bed, listening to the traffic passing along Leeds Road; over the years, this background noise of traffic eventually became comforting for sleep.

I found the discipline and regulation of Norwood suited me. Charlie's early morning unmistakable "calls"; the dreaded washroom routine and then, when every boy was ready, one boy would go to Charlie's room to report that we were finished. Charlie would come down and check each boy in turn, front, back of hand, face, ear and neck and if not up to standard then we had to do it again. A few years later on, when in the West Dormitory, we were ready for washing and on the signal from the Dorm. captain we charged along the corridor to the bathroom; we were shortly confronted by an irate Charlie telling us, in no uncertain terms, the clock had "gone back" one hour and that it was only 6am in the morning! He marched the lot of us to a classroom and instructed us to write an hour's essay on what workmen did between 6 and 7 in the morning.

Depending on your age and dormitory position governed the time to bed. When lights went out, usually done by a Prefect, there would be no talking and a Dormitory Monitor was positioned by the door supposedly to enforce law and order.

Discipline was always evident in the form of "lines" slipper cane (very rare) or a swift clout round the ear by Charlie. And then there were the flying missiles in the form of the blackboard eraser.

There were lovely days at Norwood when Summer was Summer and Winter was Winter. In the Summer would come marvellous football matches on an evening in the Playground with Charlie keeping an eye on things from the sitting room upstairs. Then as the nights drew in, we would gather in the assembly Room for two teams to be chosen for a wide game; we would walk to the two pedestrian bridges over the railway and the general idea was for one team to guard the bridge whilst the other tried to take it. It was a lot of fun and excitement usually ending up in scuffles and the inevitable debagging of one unfortunate boy. Electric torches would flash on to the appropriate areas. Not that bebagging was confined to these times. Could it have been me that, in the Dorm, had shoe polish and toothpaste placed in areas where not intended: debagged during Prep lesson; placed on the top of the cupboard in 5A until the teacher arrived: and strung up in the basement, by my wrists, and debagged again!

A regular feature of a Winter evening after prep. and Supper was an enforced crocodile walk; we would go past Clifton House School, on to the stray, over the large railway bridge, then along Slingsby Walk towards Oatlands Drive, possibly doing a full circle. The endearing memory for me, on that cold wintry night, was the inviting glow in the Granby Hotel neon light sign in the distance. Having been in that hotel on occasions, knowing what warmth and comfort lay within, it made the crocodile walk that much harder to endure.

When we had snow, the corner of the Playground (by Leeds Road and the chemist in Alderson Road) turned into a sledge run; this was the steepest part of the grounds and if you could reach from the top and down across the Playground towards the school you achieved greatness. We had a great variety of sledges and the one that I remember most was Ali Buchan's packamac. I remember it as a magical time with friendship, snow and the orange glow of the street lights; as a young lad you could not wish for more. Thick snow on window ledges, trying to find heat from the gas fire, huddling round it with close friends, a possible tab-end smoked then extinguished and poked down a hole in the floor-boards. A common practice was to smuggle a slice or two of bread from supper and then toast it in the classroom in front of the gas fire.

Naturally, weekends were something to look forward to though they did have their own routine. Saturday mornings saw us, in uniform, standing outside Standings, careful not to be in the way of passers by, and awaiting Charlie who would approach us from the direction of the station. On his command we would cross the road and ascend the stairs to the Gresham café. Charlie always had his regular table booked and we would find a place near him ready for our drink and a wonderful chocolate cake. After that we sought Charlie's permission for the next activity, possibly looking round the shops and the old in-door market full of intriguing stalls of fresh fish, vegetables, toys and bits and pieces.

Then back to Norwood in time for lunch and the unmistakable smell of disinfectant from the washing of the floors and stairs. I think that pocket money was doled out after lunch, with us parading outside Charlie's study waiting our turn and any tomfoolery subsiding the nearer we got to the study door. Then there was the magical money, a shilling piece, half-crown, five bob, or very rarely, a ten bob note. The proposed activities for the rest of Saturday afternoon, and the time for return to school, were logged. "Going to the dogs" was Charlie's favourite saying for going to the pictures. These were the years when Harrogate had three remaining cinemas (the St James and Central having by then closed down); the Odeon, the Regal or ABC and the Gaumont. We paid 1/6d upwards with an A and a B film showing.

In the 1960s coffee bars became popular and a shilling cup of coffee could last all morning in the basement coffee bar in Station Parade or the one in Oxford street. Of course the 60s was a great era for music; Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks etc, all making appearances at the Royal Hall. The great --- was if you were an Elvis or Cliff fan. Top of The Pops on television on Thursday night at 7.30 was a must followed by Tomorrow's World. A trip to Leeds on the train with Charlie was a great adventure; the world-famous City Variety Theatre showed cartoons and the Pathé News;' high tea taken in a café.

On Sunday morning we walked in crocodile formation the relatively short distance up Leeds Road to St Mark's Church to sit in the same pews each week at the back on the left. It was cold and boring and did not hold much meaning for me. Then, after lunch, it was time for letter writing with Charlie reading through your letter vetting it for layout, content and grammar. And where better to go on a sunny Sunday afternoon than over the Stray to St John's Well on Wetherby Road. Charlie came too but we didn't mind as he would probably treat us to a shilling's worth of goodies to be eaten on the way back to school.

Ten minutes before a meal, the gong would be sounded from the end of the dark tall corridor connecting the Tewit Well Avenue end of the school from the Leeds Road end. It was a great honour to be nominated as the gong-ringer and the gong drum stick needed to be replaced in safe-keeping, otherwise it would have gone missing. Then we assembled by the Tewit Well Avenue entrance, along the wall, with the Prefect or Monitor on duty standing on the stairs trying to maintain order. On hearing the second gong, we would make our way along the corridor to the Dining Room door to wait for Charlie to make his way down the main flight of stairs and then the staff from the Staff Room opposite, but not until the bell sounded could we enter the Dining room. We stood in silence whilst grace was said. After the meal the washing-up and the table-setting rota was read out.

There was a wide range of cultures attending Norwood: Persian, Iraqi, Chinese, all very nice and good friends. I shall never forget the day Charles Bright arrived; the boy's name had made Charlie expect a white boy but Charles Bright was from West Liberia. But Charlie was not perturbed and later Bright's two brothers attended Norwood. However, no tolerance from American parents stationed at the Menwith Hill tracking station; their day boy was withdrawn immediately.

Thursday afternoon was for football on the Stray where three games could be in progress. Apart from Gym in the basement we would go on the Stray with Mr Styan for Rounders, with him enjoying a sniff of snuff that ended up everywhere.

Sports Day held at the Yorkshire Cricket Ground in St George's Road was always great fun. The Great Yorkshire Show in July was always eagerly anticipated as it was three days off scholastic studies in return for jobs on site before the Show started, free entry, and six free meals in the Stockmans' canteen! Super! My first year as a Scout at the Show included the sheep ring and parading with cattle boards in the main ring but as time progressed the work involved the Secretary's office or stand work. The prize job was working in the President's Box and although there was a Commissionaire, our job was to show the elite to their seats and hand out programmes. If any programmes were left we seized the moment and, with them hidden, hot-footed it to the main entrance then selling them for a tidy profit of five bob.

In those days at the Yorkshire Show there were very few stalls selling merchandise, it was almost all trade stands so collecting enamelled badges from these was a great hobby. Apart from the usual cattle parades and horse jumping, the main ring hosted thrilling Army motor bike display riders, the Gurhkers, and William the bull jumping fences. But by the last and third day of trudging around the showground you had certainly had enough of a good thing until next year.

In the interval between the annual Great Yorkshire Shows, various hobbies kept us out of mischief if only for a while. There was the Scalextric track, model Traction Engines, Table Tennis, Ali Buchan's photography, listening to the Buccaneers, Vespas, Lambrettas and my Norma Nippy moped.

I managed to elevate myself to the prestigious position of taking Martin Boddy's poodle out for a wee, for a small payment of course. Mr Boddy paid me, not vice versa but on cold mornings it was a bit of a chore.



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