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Memories of the 1950s

Lived in Coldean

I attended Fawcett School from 1955 to 1960. I lived at the time in Coldean, on the outskirts of Brighton near Stanmer Park. I was not in the immediate catchment area for the school, but for some years, I had told my Mum and Dad, that Fawcett School was the one that I wanted to attend. My mother made an application for me, and luckily, I was accepted. A friend, Michael Ray was the only other boy accepted from Coldean, and was the only pupil that I knew in the school of 700 boys.

Soon made friends

I soon made a few friends, the first being Norman Strong. As was the case with many of the boys, Norman lived in one of the streets of terraced houses, which all ran off Trafalgar Street. These streets were later demolished, and now include the residential tower block built on the site. My teacher in 1B was Mr Bill Benson. To a new pupil the school could be a little daunting, and it was essential to quickly learn to “stand up for oneself”.

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1958 school trip to London: golf in Hyde Park

1958 school trip to London: lunch break

Prefects’ privileges

Those of us who were prefects, enjoyed the privilege of being allowed out of the school gates at break times. We would go to the baker’s shop at the bottom of Trafalgar Street to buy penny bread rolls. The smell of the freshly baked bread was wonderful. I stayed on to the fifth year, and our form teacher was Mr Webb. My main friend was Tony Hemsley, I was also friendly with Tony Williams, whose parents had a fish & chip shop in North Road. I can clearly remember a boy with the surname of Leonard, whose parents had a shoe shop in North Street.

No sports facilities

I remember being impressed by a skiffle group, who gave a performance in the school hall. The school did not have any sports grounds, being right in the centre of town. We used to have to walk to Preston Park for cricket and athletics, and to the Dorothy Stringer School to play football. I am so glad I went to Fawcett School. I had a wonderful time, and made some great friends. 

Comments about this page

  • Hi Ian.  You might remember me, I was in the same year as yourself, and remember all the names you mention. I started in 1a with Bill Shields as teacher, I had him again in a later year and Jas Bolton in my other 2 years. I like yourself enjoyed my 4 years at Fawcett. I remember the numerous times we had to get to Bates Road to play football, and remember there were no changing rooms. We always had a good football and athletics teams, bearing in mind we had no sports ground, great memories.

    By Peter Dray (08/02/2015)
  • I too started out with Bill Shields in 1A which must have been a motivator for me to swiftly progress to Class 1G. The skiffle group was led by Bruce Boxall on guitar with me on the tea chest base. Raymond (Dickie) Bird was, I think, on the washboard. Unfortunately he died a short while ago. Nice to see so many fond memories of Fawcett but I’m afraid I generally don’t share them. It was probably just me though.

    By Roy Ellyatt (19/10/2015)
  • I went to Fawcett from 1950 – 1952 when I moved up from Devon with Mum. After a day or two the headmaster called Mum in and said when a teacher was behind me, I could not hear him, and I was fitted with a hearing aid. I was 13 years old.

    By Patrick Weir (14/03/2017)
  • My abiding, not to say the most amusing memory I have of Fawcett School in the 1950s was when a group of young saplings – ‘F’ streamers, I believe – took it upon themselves to visit the offices of the Evening Argus (having bunked off from school during the lunch hour with that specific purpose in mind). Thinking they were carrying the torch for their fellow gourmets, they’d come to complain about the school dinners, in particular the desserts which, for reasons that will become all too-apparent, were obviously not to their liking. Now, it’s well-understood that the manufacturer of chinaware normally imprints the company’s logo on the reverse side of a plate or bowl; the problem for our malcontents, however, was that the maker’s name was clearly visible ‘through the custard’. It was a major scoop for a provincial newspaper and, for all I know, could just as well have been headlined in thick red rubric – the sort of thing reserved for momentous occasions, like the death of Stalin. Needless to say, the headmaster was apoplectic and the next morning had all the culprits paraded on the school stage in a quasi police line-up. The whole assembly was there to acquaint themselves with the mug shots of those who’d let the school down so badly and had sullied its good name. Shortly afterwards they were summoned to the head’s study where, I understand, each was given a thoroughly good whacking, though not before every offender was required to remove the newspaper padding from inside the seat of his trousers. I wonder how many of these lads went on to become cordon bleu chefs!

    By the way, does anyone remember how the master who took Technical Drawing always seemed to stand sentinel over the swill bin. It was always the same person, as I remember it, and not an enviable job. Whether he was always unfortunate in drawing the short straw or elected to do it as an act of penance, one will never know. His very presence was enough to defy anyone to throw away good food, a sort of Oliver Twist in reverse, if you will. Sometimes it was necessary, though, particularly when meat had the potential to take out one’s teeth. Still, we all came through it, for better or for worse!  

    By Derek 'Des' Schofield (27/03/2018)
  • Hi Derek, I enjoyed reading your comment about the school dinner rebellion, there was about five of us who complained to the Argus newspaper,on the day we thought it was a bit of a laugh, never thinking of the fuss it would cause, you are right in your description of what happened, but we also received a strap from our form master who’s name escapes me now, imagine our surprise to learn that we had made the front page, I still have a copy of the page, and we were in the Argus again a couple of weeks later to say how wonderful the food was, Mr Pollitt was not amused. My name then was Bill Olley.

    By Bill Timsonto (02/11/2019)
  • I went to this school 3d there were lots of names I remember Melvin Foster, George Ewen’s, Reg Farmiloe, David Datsun, Barry Burtenshaw, actually two in class with same name. My last teacher was I think Daddy Dyer. Bill Benson was one of the teachers and the head master was Mr Pollit
    Good Memories, wish I was back there now and could go to bread shop and buy Nelson cakes, who remembers that?

    By Mick ide (24/01/2021)
  • Also I was dinner monitor for all the years I was There, like at Bartholomew school. Happy days.

    By Michael ide (05/02/2021)

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