1966 Nick Buchanan
Memories of Cranbrook

I started in September 1966 at 11 years old as a day boy. I knew no-one and there was no mentoring in place - you were thrown in at the deep end when the bus from Tenterden dropped you off in town. There were no meal facilities for day boys so at lunch time we all trooped to the local cafe in Waterloo Road at the junction with The Hill (now it is two private properties). Sixth Formers were held in awe - they did not have to wear uniform and revelled in very bright waistcoats, each trying to outshine the other - and they were addressed as Sir. Fagging had largely disappeared but first years were still expected to prepare toast, tidy up their sports kit and run errands - but we were usually rewarded. Looking back I believe that the culture was to prepare us for a military career and many of the disciplines and processes were good preparation. In those early years a significant number of sixth formers went on to military careers but by the time I left in 1974 the proportion had declined significantly.

Sport was incredibly important. Pupils in the 1940s and 1950s had gone on to key positions as sports presenters on the BBC and whilst I was at Cranbrook we produced several county and national athletes, rugby and hockey players. I clearly remember my first sight of Headmaster John Kendall-Carpenter striding across the quad. He was an imposing figure made more so by being draped in black robes and carrying his illustrious reputation as one of England's greatest ever rugby players. I remember finding a sixpence and waiting until I saw him so that I could run up and ask him what to do with it. Without breaking stride he thanked me for my honesty and referred me to the finance office.

Another clear memory is the creation of the Folk and Blues Society (I think that was the name). To my mind, I believe that it was at the forefront of bringing live 'pop' music to schools in the UK and I remember seeing bands advertise tours in the NME and Melody Maher saying things like Colston Hall, Bristol, Bath University, Plymouth Polytechnic and .... Cranbrook School. I do not remember any other schools ever being listed. Many bands played and several of us helped set up and then pack the transit vans. I remember one lead singer making an appeal for his microphone to be returned from whichever schoolboy had acquired it as he had it on temporary loan from Rod Stewart!

Personally the highlight was hiring Genesis as they toured to promote their album Nursery Cryme in Winter 1971. Two years later I saw them topping the bill at the Reading Festival so Cranbrook School were so lucky at seeing them on the cusp of fame. They played an amazing set using sound and imagery that was beyond anything any of us had heard previously. Afterwards we helped load the van and Phil Collins asked me if I wanted a lift as I had been so helpful with his drum kit. I said thanks but no as I had borrowed my Mum's moped to travel the 10 miles from home and she needed it next day for work!. Oh how my life could have taken a different direction

Nick Buchanan
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