Having read many of the comments I decided that someone may be able to pin point my time at Hardenwick so that I can fill in that space in my Family History. I think I started at the school when I was about 6 years old, as I know I attended in 1947 because my parents sent me a newspaper cutting showing the large snowdrifts around Spalding in Lincolnshire.
I had to leave in about 1950 and come home because my mother had fallen over in the shop that they owned at the time and damaged her back. This meant that I was then taking the 11 plus exam for the local Grammar School and this would be in 1951. I didn’t pass but went to an excellent school – the Gleed Secondary Modern in Spalding.
Back to the beginning – I came from the small village of Surfleet, near Spalding in Lincolnshire. I can remember getting on the train at Surfleet Station very early in the morning, then on to Spalding to Kings Cross, walking to St Pancras station next door to catch another train to Harpenden. In the latter stages of my time at Hardenwick I did this journey on my own aged 9! (I wonder if a 9 year old would be allowed to do this today?)
My first recollection of Hardenwick was of a teacher (must have been Mr Harris) marking out on the school yard the course of the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race and then we followed the commentary through from the radio.
Scars – from accidents
I still have the scars from being at this school! One being from using a Swiss knife a boy had as a present, which he gave me, to whittle a stick. I sliced the side of my finger and Matron just bandaged it, which has now left me with a ‘square’ finger end! The other incident was while making wooden boats in the woodworking class and I used the chisel the wrong way and cut through to the bone in my thumb – again leaving a scar!
Referring earlier to the snow in 1947. I remember the long walks we used to go on. On another occasion we went onto the (Dunstable?) Downs tobogganing and a boy came down a slope and the brake lever on his home-made toboggan broke and he badly damaged his hand.
I did enjoy model making at Hardenwick and this has lasted me throughout my life. There were three of us who made model aircraft. Unfortunately I did get into a lot trouble doing this – as on one occasion I had balsa cement on my new blazer. One of the teachers made model planes and propelled them with JetX cartridges along the length of the playing field. Model Railways are another interest and I remember spending time with a boy who lived in Harpenden. I went to visit him and played with his extensive Hornby Clockwork Train. I remember visiting the Annex in Tennyson Road and seeing the next door neighbour’s ‘0’ Gauge railway running along the fence.
Other activities involved making dens in the hedge on the far right of the playing field and we sometimes made smoky grass fires in them!! Midnight feasts! I do remember being woken up and going down to the Common Room to find all the school ‘gorging’ themselves on jam tarts and cakes.
Fire evacuation drill was another memorable event when we had to go down the shute from the top floor. My bed in the dorm was the one on the right by the fireplace near the window.
On to punishment. Being hit on the back of the knuckles with a wooden ruler was one punishment if you did something wrong or did not meet expectations. Talking after lights out in the dorm – I remember Mr Everington pulling back the sheets and he gave me three whacks with the cane.
Common practice for those who could not swim was to be thrown into the swimming pool. I was thrown in and, as a result, I hit my head and spent two days in the sick room. I played cricket once for the school at St George’s but am not sure of the year. Sport was not my best subject! Another lasting memory is being expected to eat peanut butter sandwiches and I still detest peanut butter to this day!
I am not sure if I learnt a lot academically at Hardenwick but it did teach me about self-reliance and independence and ability to make decisions. All this helped me in later life through my Apprenticeship, then as a qualified Engineer and Manager, going on to be a Company Director in four blue chip organisations and finally running my own Consultancy in Manufacturing. I have been happily married to Christine for 51 years and we have two sons and four grandchildren. We both enjoy world-wide travel and in retirement I spend much of my time helping and organising in a number of voluntary organisations.
I now live in Staffordshire and I look forward to corresponding with anybody who may be able to piece together my missing years and can recognise similar experiences.
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