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Letters

From E.D. (Ed) Hill,
Spinney House,
Kintbury,
Hungerford,
Berks RG17 9SA
Tel: 01488 658226
 
Having just read “Clayesmore - A School History” by the late J.D. Spinney which I found most interesting and enjoyable, bringing back many happy and some not so happy memories of my years at Iwerne, I feel that I have to take the author to task on one small point where he states on page 106 that ‘Old Boys reminiscences are not wholly reliable’ to which I should add ‘Neither are Old Housemasters on a point regarding the Burney Library fire and N.A. (Tony) Hart. During my lifetime I have recounted to my family, especially my children who grew up during Tony Hart’s famous Children’s T.V. programmes, that I was at school during his years there. In the Register of O.C.s it is shown that he was there from 1941 - 1943, I was there from 1945 - 48. I approached Tony at the Clayesmore Centenary Fayre last summer and he insisted that he left in 1943 and was therefore not at Iwerne during my time there, yet J.D.S., on page 100 of his book states ‘A brave Senior, Tony Hart, (not unknown today to television audiences), provided himself with a belt and axe and helmet from the theatre, and led a dramatic rescue upstairs to bring down the isolated Juniors.’, is this author’s licence or is he getting muddled with M.C. Hart 1944 - 47, who would have been a Senior at the time? I was in the Middles in the Clocktower Dormitory during 1947 and well remember that terrifying night with shrieks and shouts of bewildered boys and the arrival of the fire engines, was this the end of the library where E.M. King would hold political discussions during his years as a Labour M.P. when, at the end of the evening, when a vote was taken he and his party were soundly beaten, thankfully not, I spent many hours studying agricultural text books in front of that very large fire during the Michaelmas term of 1948 when the masters had given up trying to pack knowledge into my non receptive brain. That 1947 year was one of deep snow and thick ice and I remember breaking bounds to go tobogganing with J.P. Harvey, who now resides in Barnstaple in Devon, on the downs to the east of Iwerne. I also remember the ‘Railway Spotters Club’ formed by Alan Morgan-Brown 1942 - 46 and the time he led us from Semley to Eastleigh Junction on a penny platform ticket, we arrived there without detection but were caught on the way back by a not too friendly guard who threatened us with all sorts of ghastly actions which would, no doubt, led to a few Manuals on our return to School, we never, in fact, heard another thing.

I was in Spinneys House, hence my address and although I do not consider ‘Schooldays to be the happiest of one’s life’ I do hold my days at Clayesmore with special regard and am always proud to have been a scholar there even if I was probably the dimmest boy in the school as my reports suggested to my parents, but as Lex would have, that education was not the be all and end all and common sense and ‘think for yourself’ played a great part in ones future years, I had a very successful life in the farming industry, having finished in 1984 with a dairy herd of 2000 cows and only finishing then because of the E.E.C. and its quotas, still even this allowed me to retire at an earlier age than most folks do and although never a great sportsman, I did play once for the 1st XV at Canford, in my later years I took up bowls and eventually in 1987 became President of the Berkshire County Bowling Association and this led in time to several world tours with the English Bowling Association to far flung corners of the English Commonwealth, in fact this year I have been invited to tour Zimbabwe, with better fortune, I trust, than our cricketers.

I was fortunate enough to go to Clayesmore in 1945 at the end of the Second World War which coincided with the return from the fighting forces of D.P. Burke, J.D. Spinney, Humphrey Moore all who left an everlasting imprint on me. D.P.B. was a most kindly man who had reason to expel me in 1948 for an offence that would not even raise an eyebrow in this modern world, suffice it to say that he informed my father of this offence which in the days that one revered ones parents was the biggest punishment of all, on this occasion I got away with six of the best, but because of his disregard for corporal punishment he would close his eyes and look the other way, if two of the strokes actually came into contact with ones posterior then the recipient was very unlucky as the other four whistled harmlessly by. I can never remember J.D.S. giving me a beating but his lantern jaw and awesome eye was enough to curb any mischief and we all respected this fine housemaster. Humphrey Moore used an officers cane and he didn’t miss, this now was a beating anyone who needed a second dose of this was truly a masochist. John Appleby, described as the ’Mr Chips of Clayesmore’ in the obituaries of the Daily Telegraph was another who never seemed to use corporal punishment and was just the right sort of housemaster to settle in a new boy in strange surroundings. I usually elected to go for a ‘Manual’ and I did a lot of these, some voluntary and some not and I found them a most worthy and enjoyable pastime, they not only trained Lex’s pupils on the art of digging trenches for the 1st World War but also prepared me for my life as a working farmer, never fearful of using a shovel or an axe.

Well now I am an Old Age Pensioner and those days seem very long ago, which of course they are but I shall never forget Clayesmore at Iwerne as it was in the ‘forties’. I trust I haven’t bored you with the memories of an ‘Old Boy’ of which there are many more and may I thank you for taking your valuable time reading it.

Yours sincerely

E.D. (Ted) Hill

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