Brian Grose - Memories of School
1942 - 1949 Crowden

I was in Crowden when it was what is now School Lodge. Russell-Scott was the Headmaster and F.W.L. “Joe” Evans was Housemaster of Crowden. The only other [boarding] houses were Cornwallis and Rammell. The boys in Crowden started in two dorms on the top floor of School House, which housed the Headmaster and his family. His daughter was at boarding school (I had the pleasure of sleeping in her room when the sick room was full). There was also the school surgery and sick room, looked after by Sister Rowntree. Matron, Miss Folland, had a bedroom on our floor.

Every Thursday night all 12 of us boys would collect in Matron’s room around the radio to listen to ITMA, the popular comedy programme featuring Tommy Handley. We certainly had worrying nights, although I cannot remember being overly scared, when doodle bugs started coming over. Cranbrook was on the flightpath to London. Sometimes, during the “chase” their engines would cut out early and we waited to see if they exploded. They never fell on the actual town area, thank goodness. I remember one day one of them flew quite high above me and a fighter dived onto it and hit it. It did not explode but broke up. The bits must have landed some distance away. I also saw the AA guns on Bigside have a success. We were on our way from School to our afternoon cricket and had to walk just below the guns’ position and they opened up at a doodle bug, the shells whistling just overhead. They actually hit it and it exploded in a large ball of fire somewhere over Angley Woods.

In those days there were no girls and it was a serious offence to be caught associating with one. This did not stop a rather pleasant interlude when, for some reason I have forgotten, I had to take something to Mr Morgan’s house. He was the music master and ran the choir. He lived in one of the semi-detached houses on Windmill Hill. I was given a very good tea by his wife, after which I was invited to take their teenage daughter for a walk. So, we crossed the road and went into Swifts Place fields and spent a pleasant hour together.

There was also mention of treacle mines – we told new boys that sunshine was bottled in jars to provide light in the mines. Also, they were told they would have to report for rowing practice on the river Crane.

The photographic society was founded by a few of us around 1947 or 1948. We used the small room behind the stage in Big School above the dining room for our darkroom. Roll films were not available for a year or two after victory in Europe. We were given a couple of days free holiday to celebrate so my friend Colin Cochrane (1942-1949 Allan) and I cycled home – he to Sevenoaks, I to Beckenham (45 miles). My parents were rather surprised to see me as I had only gone back after our holiday two days before.

Rationing went on for quite a few years after the war so our daily time allowed us to go into the town [where] we used to buy sweets, when available, and we had to share the cost with a friend – one would provide the money and the other the sweet coupons.

Major Saunders, another character, taught English in Room 1. He was a great lover of Shakespeare. We studied Macbeth (everyone seems to do that one). He also ran the C.C.F., which was enjoyable. On one occasion we were given the task to defend a position against a squad of the real army. I have to admit that, if it had been for real, we would all have been dead.

Peter West (a year or two before my time), the well known sports commentator, who lived in Bickley, had a a party at his house in the early 60’s for OCs, who lived in the area. We did not know until the end that he was collecting funds for the new pavilion on Bigside
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