Ken Stafford – Memories of Loughton School

Our thanks to Ken Stafford for his memories of Loughton School during 1943 – 1948

I went to Loughton School for Boys during the years 1943-1948, Rodney was my School House. My 6th form class consisted of about 18 boys and there were also three girls in my class; Jill Lupton, Gloria Warriner and Myra Tomlin. My father paid the princely sum of £8 a term for me to go to the School, and we also paid for our own uniforms and exercise books.

I remember Peter Cousens, David Miller, Michael Fry and Paul Birch, we were all friends and we used to go to lunch together at the British Restaurant down the road. For anyone who doesn’t know what a ‘British Restaurant’ was, they were communal kitchens created in 1940 during the Second World War, where you could get a three-course meal for nine old pence.

I recall an argument I had with David Miller on the top of a 38 bus, David Miller manhandled me across the bus and I received a cut above the eye and had to go into hospital to have it stitched. The headmaster Oggie at next assembly gave us all a big dressing down; “We do not allow antics on the bus, this is a Private School, not a Secondary School”, and various other admonishments. I believe that David Miller received a commission in the Army, he was a doctor’s son who lived in Chingford.

I also remember Michael Fry, who was something of a sportsman, and very keen on Cricket. The Head Boy in the 6th Form was John A White, or ‘JAW’ as he liked to be known, as by his own admission he was a bit of a talker. I remember he was told off for talking in class, and quipped “Sorry sir, but my name is JAW and that’s what I intend to do”.

There were quite a few others that I recall: Dennis March, Colin Prior; who’s dad was in the timber trade at London Docks, Garry Victor Thorpe ‘GVT’; who I spoke to on the phone a few years back, Arthur Westropp who was keen on drama, Mike Gosford who went to work for Shell-Mex, Tony Hawkes whose father was a teacher and a woodworker who once fixed my broken kite.

I also remember an incident with a 2nd World War doodlebug, similar to the Peter Cousens story. I was in a class that was being taught by a portly teacher called ‘Jumbo’ Jennings when the distinctive sound of a doodlebug cut out overhead, which was the sign of an impending explosion. Jumbo shouted ‘duck lads!’ – whereupon everyone jumped under their desks including Jumbo, who got wedged under his table and couldn’t extricate himself because of his size, much to the amusement of all us pupils!

Another teacher was Pat Kane who was an Irishman and a big raconteur who always talked about how great Ireland was, which may have influenced me to travel to Ireland in my early twenties, where I met my future wife on a cycling holiday.

I remember H Watkiss-Thomas, who was a keen walker, having walked around the UK, and claimed to have walked every road in the country. After leaving school in 1948 at aged 16 I was a part of the ‘Young Curtain Players’, a theatre group set up by Watkiss-Thomas, working as a stage-hand making scenery and props for a number of shows, including Pygmalion.

Another teacher was Major Len Bone, who was an officer in WW1, Len Bone was also his son’s name, who later became a county hockey player.

There was a Mr Beaumont, who was a French ex-pat who escaped the Nazis and ended up at Loughton School teaching French. He went back as soon as his home area was liberated, the pupils in assembly gave him a big cheer in his honour the day he left, Oggie the Headmaster took this the wrong way and thought we were all being insolent, reprimanding us by saying “You can’t give him a big cheer, he has served us well!”

‘Gaffy’ Saunders ran the Cadet Force, I joined the cadets as a skive and we did training on a Wednesday afternoon, occasionally in Windsor. We were given a khaki uniform which ‘fitted where it touched’. I spent 1945-1948 in the cadets.

Oggie the Headmaster used to teach History lessons, the school caretaker was called Archie.

The school badge featured an arm wielding an axe, this relates to the ‘Lopping Act’ and the Lopping Concession, and the Lopping Hall that was built in Loughton in 1884. The local people of Epping Forest were by tradition allowed to take a limited quantity of wood from the forest under what was termed their ‘Lopping Rights’. We wore a red cap with the badge on, and a red jacket which also carried the badge.

I joined the Old Loughtonians Hockey Club from September 1948, and played for 13 years, in the 3rd Eleven. I was not that good, but being physically strong I could hit the ball hard and fast. Tony Argent was the captain of the hockey team at that time.

When I left school I did a toolmakers apprenticeship for five years, and two years National Service in the RAF, being posted to Saxony, starting out as an ‘Erk’ – the lowest level in the RAF, progressing up to Senior Aircraftman. After finishing my apprenticeship I worked briefly as a Toolmaker then transferred to the drawing office within the same company and became a Draughtsman, then moved on to Metal Box in Swindon, then Metal Box in Portsmouth, then Plesseys. I finally ended up at GEC Marconi in Portsmouth as a Senior Engineer where I stayed for 25 years, until my retirement.

I would like to hear from anyone who was at Loughton School during 1943-1948, especially any of the ex-pupils mentioned above.

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