A Privilege to have attended Hatfield School - thoughts of long ago, from Peter Agate, 1963-67.

Peter Agate

Peter would be pleased if anyone wishes to contact him; please email admin@ourhatfield.org.uk  This Post  submission is assisted on Peter’s behalf and with his permission by Chris Hepden, HS 1957-64.

 

Introduction.

When I found the Hatfield School (HS) section of the Our Hatfield website it brought back many memories a few of which I put in my original contribution in the comments section under Hatfield Secondary Technical School recently.

https://www.ourhatfield.org.uk/content/topics/schools_education/schools_of_yesterday/hatfield-school/hatfield_school-2  Scroll down to ‘Comments’.

Whilst raking leaves, decorating and social distancing this last few weeks my mind turned again to my time at HS. From September 1963 to July 1967 I attended the school and the more I thought the more memories I recalled. The first one is the school photo. Pretty scary when you look back 57 years!

Prisoner 1/33, Agate, P

I have posted some others here and I hope they will evoke memories for you dear reader, perhaps even former classmates could add their memories too. I have been encouraged and enthused by reading the posts of others on this website, so please, add your memories, ideally as your own Posts.

Thanks go to Marion Hill of ourhatfield.org.uk for giving me access to this site. To Chris Hepden, former Head Boy ’53-’64 at HS who is actively involved in getting information about HS preserved here. Finally to former classmate Lorna Bain, now Joy, for her help and clarity of her memories about our time at HS.

Peter Agate – Darwin House 1963-1967

Musings

Tuck!

When I attended HS 1963-1967 the tuck shop, selling various sweets snacks, crisps etc., was situated outside the music room on the second floor.

Reference has been made elsewhere to Mr Pidcock running the show, but I have a recollection of Mr Wolf (Geography) running it for at least some of the time I was there. Maybe I’m wrong?

I’m fairly sure because for a period I got to help him bring the big tray of goodies out of the small store room (two-man job) at lunchtimes and then stock up the various delights for pupils. The display was the same as you still see today, tiered from front to back with a little perspex screen at the front to discourage prying hands!

Now one of my faves was either Oxo or Bovril flavour crisps. Only one of these was sold, and I can’t be sure which, but they were absolutely fantastic, and ready salted with the little blue bags another favourite. Perhaps others have better recollections than I.

Very occasionally a misdirected pupil would try a little wheeze to stretch their money further than they should have. On one occasion upon receiving the pupil’s order for choc bars etc., they proceeded to offer me, not the teacher, a penny, old style as this was the 1960’s, that had been treated, no doubt in a chemistry lesson, to a coating such that it resembled, maybe to those with failing eyesight, a half crown. Not wanting to fall foul of the beak, dear Dr Hutton (still there at that time) his offer was refused and full payment eventually tendered.

Ah the happy days of a misspent youth. I should have been attending one of the many clubs or interests available over lunch, but hey ho…….

 

Catalogue Fun

This memory was inspired by another pupil’s recollection of someone putting a teacher, Vic Mills’, car up for sale in the Herts Advertiser. That in itself was a great wheeze. I’m sure you all remember those bulky catalogues available in the sixties that sold fashion, homeware, toys and tools etc.? Much of the more expensive stuff was available on what they called ‘easy payments’. That is a few bob down and 5 shillings a week for eternity to pay for that walnut radiogram you always promised yourself. For some reason it occurred to me that if I sent some to certain teachers it would be a good laugh.

Coupons were duly cut from various publications, often found in the library (!) and the name of the teacher completed and the address of the school inserted. I sent off maybe a dozen or so over the course of a couple of weeks.

Now I wasn’t sure that these bulky catalogues were being delivered to school until, one day during a German lesson with, I think, Mr Bristow in a classroom off the dining hall, those behind the curtains-for-a-wall, a member of the secretarial staff swished in and handed him a bulky package.

Mr ‘Bubbles’ Bristow, before getting his          catalogue

 

Now I’m not sure why it was brought in during an actual lesson, but the timing, for me was perfect. Whilst getting us to no doubt conjugate some verb or other, Mr Bristow tentatively opened the package. There appeared to be no indication of the outside of the sender. The look on his face when a Littlewoods type catalogue spilled from the cardboard wrapping was priceless. I could see he realised he had been ‘got’ but could make no reference at that moment. Oh how I chuckled inwardly at that moment.

No wonder I was so appalling at German!

See also Mymms or Mimms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Library.

The library situated, as I recall, behind the stairs that led from the main entrance to the Hall, was a delight for me during my time there.

The range of reading material was immense and, if you put your mind to it, could provide you with much help in your studies. Three memories stand out for me.

Firstly the fact that nearly every daily paper was available, and were laid out on sloping reading benches. Each paper would have a printed label at the top to indicate which political persuasion the paper supported.

In those days The Sun was a broadsheet, (yes!) and had and orange logo to the right of the title. Wiki has the information here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sun_(United_Kingdom)

 

Whilst I’m sure the printed note stated that The Sun supported no-one, and was ‘independent’ some wag had crossed it out and written ‘The Commies’, which was possibly closer to the truth (at that time). Made me chuckle.

 

 

 

 

Secondly, that the variety of magazines and specialist publications was immense. For me though it was such publications as Disc & Music Echo, Melody Maker and New Musical Express (if I remember correctly) that caught my attention, due to the information I could glean about pirate/offshore radio, about which I was obsessed. Some dailies had programme details, but the above publications had the in depth gossip and information that I craved.

 

 

Finally the library was great in that a certain fellow female pupil and I were given unofficial access to help in the storeroom where magazines, periodicals and publications would be issued as requested though a hatch into the library. (The incumbents being busy elsewhere) Without being ungallant may I say some mutual rites of passage were experienced therein, and made my memories of the library very pleasant.

 

Murray Mylechreest arriving late for New Entrants’ photo 1966

‘Haitch’

When we were all in the fourth year (I believe) we had Murray Mylechreest as form tutor. As we were based in one of the science rooms towards the back of the school all our gear had to be stowed in the lockers outside in the corridor. A bit of a faff as I recall.

 

Anyway for some reason Murrim, for that is what I called him, out of earshot of course, decided to pick upon my friend Peter Dymond and his pronunciation of the letter ‘Aitch’. Peter pronounced it ‘Haitch’. No problem you say, but Murrim, being of that persuasion, slightly bully-ish, decided to bring this to the attention of the form. I can’t recall how it started, but two incidences I recall are;

Mylechreest ‘Dymond what is the eighth letter of the alphabet?’

Peter ‘Haitch sir’.

M; ‘pardon?’

Peter ‘Aitch sir’, with a resigned look on his face.

M ‘That’s correct Dymond’. Oh how Mylechreest chuckled.

Another incidence or two was at register, he decided to get pupils to call out letters of the alphabet, it would appear, randomly across the class.  But every time after the letter G he would call out ‘Dymond?’ who of course had to say ‘Aitch’ not ‘Haitch’

Traumatic for some, but Peter was made of sterner stuff!

Footnote to this story. With the help of Lorna joy (Bain) we have contacted Peter after 53 years and both had long chats on the phone with him. The years just melted away as we recalled many memories of our time at the school.

 

 

 

 

 

Mimms or Mymms?

My family moved to Herts from Kent in 1961 (Dad’s work). A couple of years at North Mymms Junior School Welham Green, then on to HS after passing the 11+. A bit daunting, as I was the only one from our school to go there. Anyway, we lived in Waterend, just near the then single lane A1. It was called Waterend because the Mimmsbrook (?) river ended there disappearing down a hole. We called the area The Swallowholes.  So the address was House, Warrengate Road Waterend, North Mymms Herts.

Mr Wolf 1966

In geography one day we were learning about the local area, and Mr Wolf wrote North Mimms on the board in connection with some geographical fact long forgotten. Now, living in North Mymms, I knew the spelling to be erroneous, and that only South Mimms was spelt with an I. Being sure I spoke out in the lesson to suggest he was wrong. Mr Wolf let rip at me in his barking tones telling me I was wrong! Protestations that I was right as I lived there were met with more put-down, leaving me somewhat embarrassed. I know I was right though and he received due retribution when two or three catalogues were sent to him! (See ‘Catalogue Fun’)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Mimms

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Mymms

 

 

 

 

 

Swimming

At HS we were blessed with an outdoor swimming pool. Built by the fund raising efforts of the PTA (reference is made elsewhere on this site.)

I could already swim by the time I arrived at HS and so took readily to it upon every opportunity.

The single most memorable thing about it was how cold it always felt!

Classes in lifesaving were available and I passed at some levels, cannot remember which, and was presented with badges then sewn onto those awful swimmers we wore. Jumping in with pyjamas on, diving into to rescue a rubber block at the bottom of the deep end, supporting a ‘drowning’ fellow pupil were some of the challenges I recall.

I can remember doing marathon swims, half and a full mile? Also the swimming galas I took part in, with mixed success. It seems a lifetime away. (Well I guess it is)

During the warmer months I could often be found in the pool in the lunchtimes larking about with friends, seeing who could swim a length underwater. ‘Bombing’ was popular with some of the lads,

Peter Smeeton, 1966

and the undisputed champions, at the time probably summer ’66, were Mark Sherriff and myself. I had developed a style whereby as well as jumping folded up from the top board, I would lean slightly back, creating a vacuum as your entered the water, causing the water to rush in and up resultantly. This created bomb plumes that reached well above the top board. The downside was that I realised that as you entered the water you got an almighty wallop in the face, causing some bruising. Hands over face became the mantra when bombing thereafter.

Once, when we larking about with some girls, a very stern Peter Smeeton was seen looking through the glass doors at the corridor end, giving us a shriveller! He had that ‘I know what you’re up to’ look. Cue boys to float away looking innocent!

I read some years ago that PS was a Belgian Commando prior to becoming a teacher, Folk law or fact?

Glorious days spent in the pool indeed

 

 

 

 

 

Cookery

HS was probably unique at the time for encouraging pupils to become skilled in non-traditional subjects. Hence the boys would do cookery and the girls’ metal/woodwork for a term in the early years.

Having enjoyed that exchange, and being interested in cooking, I chose cookery as one of my options in the 3rd year. For two years, until I left HS, I was part of the cookery course, the only lad, and a happy one too!

It was a bit odd at first, and brought a few stares from the girls, but I soon became one of the class. Also it was the time we were taught in cross-house classes, having made our specialist choices, so lots of new faces for me.

Not actually me below, just representative.

Cooking lessons

Mrs Margot Groves

 

I think the teacher was Ms Groves and recall she could be a bit fierce if you made a mess or, as I sometimes did, lark around! Looking at her photo I can see I may have misjudged her.

 

 

Although I did not continue cookery after I left HS those two years were happy, and allowed me to be comfortable in the all-girl surroundings and more at ease with the opposite sex at close quarters in my formative years. Plus my cooking did improve, although the Kedgeree was foul!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OMO

I guess it was about 1964 that the OMO crew descended upon HS to make an advert for washing powder. I don’t recall if we were warned about their activities, but I guess we were.

I was convinced the set was on the roof next to the music room at the front of the school, and the Omo cars approached up the drive. However after extensive research I have found the advert with Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman.

The set up was that a number of Vauxhall Victor estate cars, white of course, emblazoned with the Omo logo were seen leaving in convoy to descend upon housewives nationwide to show them how to use Omo!

Alan Fluff freeman was in an ‘office’ in front of the Dining Hall with a hastily erected sign saying ‘Laboratory’ pointing to the general facade of the school.

Cue cars, driven by white coated dollies, leaving the school via the service road, pan to Fluff, who did his sell.

You can view the advert here.

https://www.hatads.org.uk/catalogue/record/8f44a346-3064-4da5-bdb6-507b9650fa55

I recall seeing and saying hello to Fluff as he walked past our class, and he said hello back. He was in full make-up ready for the recording, with a big paper ruff in his collar to keep it OMO white!

In wonder how much the school was paid to have the advert made there, presumably it was worthwhile as the car park and front drive had to be kept clear for the duration of filming. I wonder if anyone knows.

 

Getting to School – Brunts Coaches.

Many pupils lived quite some distance from HS and either caught local buses or were bussed in by contractors.

Two things stand out in my mind regarding getting to and from school via Brunts Coaches.

I lived at Waterend, and had to make the mile or so journey to Brookmans Park to catch the coach to school. The coach called at Little Heath before Brookmans Park then went to the school, I don’t recall other stops. Now we seemed to get the rough end of the deal as we always seemed to get an old early-1950’s style coach, good only for the knackers yard!

Brunts’ Coach

 

This is the style of coach, although I could not find a picture of Brunts coaches. (Long gone I guess)

 

 

 

 

 

Now, our fellow pupils from Barnet, who arguably had a longer journey, always seemed to get new coaches, much larger, so no three to a seat as we had to sometimes endure.

This is the style, big coach with double wheels at the front. Luxury!

Boy we were jealous and always hoped that occasionally we would get the ‘new’ coach. This rarely happened unless the weather was really bad, the old coach was cancelled, some pupils did not get in and the new coach came along our route. Very rarely though!

 

Farewell Hatfield School.

Now during my musings over the last few days it has occurred to me that very few of my memories are educationally inspired! This may be a good indicator of my less than academic approach to the privilege of being at HS.

However we are where we are and I look back with fondness on my truncated time at HS. I hope you do too,

Peter Agate 1963-1967

 

NB
Have you checked recently the other HS Pages/Posts listed and hot-linked in the list at the top right of this page ? The titles don’t say everything, and new edits and new Posts are being added often.

This page was added on 09/12/2020.

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  • OMO Washing PowderOmo ad paid enough money to have new curtains in the school hall. Very expensive, I think.

    By David Moynan (05/08/2021)