1975 James Neve
Memories of Cranbrook School

My first memory is of my first day at Cranbrook. I lived in Tenterden at the time and there were only buses home at 3.40 p.m. then 5.40. You can imagine how worried we were about getting the first bus on that first day. When it was announced the headmaster, Mr Kendall-Carpenter, wanted to speak to all new pupils after the end of school, we were nearly hysterical. Then, in typical Cranbrook fashion, the headmaster said he would drive us all home to Tenterden! It proved too much for one lad who had to ask the headmaster to stop en route as he suffered from chronic car sickness and had to dash for the nearest ditch. An interesting first day.

I played many games for the sports teams but strangely one of the most imprinted memories comes from playing Junior Colts rugby at Dover College. The game was played in horizontal rain throughout and not one pass was made due to the atrocious conditions. Our best attack was a hack of the ball half the length of the pitch reminiscent of a football game in the Middle Ages. In the last minute Dover were awarded a scrum on our line and we all knew the outcome; their large number eight flopped over the line and we lost 3-0 (yes, it was so long ago a try was only worth three points).

When I started at Cranbrook in 1968 there were strict rules left over from earlier times. One was that the middle button of our jackets must be done up all day. One afternoon a rumour spread around the classes that this rule was going to be removed. You can imagine the murmurings that went on and the heightened anticipation every time the classroom door opened. It might seem a minor matter today but back then it was a 'big thing'. Sure enough, it was confirmed before home time that the rule was being relaxed. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief – particularly those whose jackets fitted a little too closely.

Lessons in Barham House when in the Lower Sixth were interesting. The heating system left a lot to be desired and most rooms were supplemented with small electric fires. You can imagine the effect of such heat on a tired member of staff. Many of our Classics-in-Translation classes ended with boys coughing loudly and dropping books in order to awaken a teacher who had dozed off in front of the fire. Lovely days.

I can also remember the first time I ran out on the new all-weather hockey pitch behind Cornwallis House. The surface was fantastic but what really produced the picture-perfect setting was the new Genesis LP wafting out from a boarder's open window. Peter Gabriel and hockey – did life get any better?

Wednesday afternoons consisted of 'Beagles' in the lower years and endless romping around Angley Woods in old clothes playing games involving hiding, tracking and chasing. In later years I seemed to spend these afternoons in chess groups with Mr Milton and his clever little 'league ladder' made out of lollypop sticks and plastic. Other afternoons, they could be Wednesdays or Thursdays I'm not sure, were spent gardening various areas around the school with Mr Griffiths and the production of my very own runner beans.

In my first couple of years Geography lessons in the main school building were held in a classroom with a wooden counter running the entire length of one wall. On this was one of those film projectors with two metal reels. We soon learned that if you spun the front one very quickly it would work its way off its pin and shoot off down the length of the counter and hurtle into the wall. Great fun – even when the Geography teacher walked in with the reel halfway down clattering like a First World War tank. Mind you, Mr Hartley got his own back when he convinced us that there really were treacle mines in England. Were we so innocent once?
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