Peter Cousens (1943)

Thanks to Peter Cousens (1943) for this wonderful trip down memory lane.

Came across your web site and thought I would get in touch having spent 1943/1948 at the school.

On the staff were:

“Oggie “Johnson headmaster, who although we did not realise it at the time had become head in 1926

Len Bone, Toothy Morrow and the irascible Pat Kane, who had our history syllabus been confined to the Easter Rising would have earned us all distinctions in O Level.

H Watkiss-Thomas – english/drama – plays at the local town hall. I still have a letter (7th May 1950) he wrote me upon my appointment to the Essex CC staff from where I went on to play for the county during a five year stint, including two years National Service in the RAF..

To help the war effort the cadet corps practised with live ammuntion (.22) at the indoor range somewhere in Buckhurst Hill and after the war weekend camps were arranged at Pirbright and Folkestone. Hockey was played on a patch in the forest and cricket/athletics were held on the LNER ground by Loughton station.

Uniforms were all red – I read a reference to the red caps somewhere on your site and how they will be remembered at future annual dinners.

Living in Epping meant commuting daily by train, initially by steam train and later by tube as the line was extended eventually to Ongar. Going by tube with open carriages rather subdued our youthful antics carried out in closed compartments and the journeys were never the same again.

School houses were named after ancient seafarers Anson, Hawk, Hood and Rodney. Anson won all the sporting events by virtue of dragooning anyone who looked fit.

We never experienced school lunches preferring to use the British Restaurant somewhere the other side of the railway line past the girls high school. Nine pence would buy a two course meal. Coming back from eating one day a doodle bug cut out over head and we all held our breaths in anticipation, but it finished up somewhere in the forest by Chingford.

I came through the school among others with Michael Fry, Paul Birch, David Miller, Dennis Marsh, Colin Prior – are they still around? There were two girls as well, but not until the sixth form.

In 1958 my wife and I transferred to the then Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland with the Standard Bank of South Africa.
where we worked and retired in 1989. Since then we have lived in Somerset West near Cape Town.

This is sent in the hope that it may resonate with someone of my era and to recall a few memories from a long time ago.

Kind wishes – Peter Cousens.

An addon from webber Andrew Kaye:

I also remember the live-fire rifle shooting at the Drill House in Buckhurst Hill, at the junction of Loughton Way with Roding View. I was there in 1953 but I think it discontinued shortly after that time. I think the powers that be were looking for good shots, just in case the cold war hotted up. I wasn’t invited back, though, after I thought it a wizard prank to aim an unloaded rifle at the instructor and pretend to fire; he went white and for a moment, I thought he was really going to shoot me! Hood House were always a mischievous bunch.

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