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Alumni. Past, present and future ....

Ballard School Memories


In Michael Green’s well-known book ‘The Art of Coarse Rugby’ there are written the following immortal and seemingly sensible words:

‘Finally, a word of advice about training. Don’t.’

If there was a similar tome about visiting your old Prep School then I would suggest the advice would be the same – don’t – because you are almost certain to be cajoled into penning an article about your reminiscences, or maybe asked to talk to the current pupils about your experiences during your time there!

Mike Clifford, the Alumni Manager, seems to know exactly how to press your time for the benefit of the other old boys who passed through EHS (now Ballard School for boys and girls).

I am more than happy to comply and I will willingly record anything I can remember after all these years. It’s the least I can do since my time at EHS was hardly exceptional!

Whilst my parents were tooing and froing from Nigeria one of our temporary homes was in New Milton, so it was partly understandable that I was enrolled as a boarder at the local prep. I joined in 1956 and took CE to Hurstpierpoint College five years later in 1961 when we had moved to West Sussex.

I am not really the literary sort so I will list whatever I can; hopefully they will be easier to interpret!

In no particular order....................

  • The 4 Houses: Ballard, Brightwell, Lee, Wellington
  • Fire escape practice from a 2nd floor dormitory (using underarm harness & pulley system)
  • Gun turret by the tennis court
  • Making a pair of bookends in carpentry (I still have them!)
  • 1/3 pint of milk bottles; Swiss bun at break
  • Marching from the Old Gym to the Dining Room for meals
  • Spam! Swede!!
  • Wide games (conveys, kick-the-can, etc) organised by Hutch (Bongo?) on Sundays
  • Weekend book quizzes in Tatham’s Library at the bottom of the main staircase, with unusual circular radiator
  • Local competition: Hordle House, Durlston Court, Sandle Manor, Walhampton
  • The secret passage from one 2nd floor dormitory to another
  • A half-day if a boy won a scholarship
  • c 80 boys on the roll (& mostly boarders)
  • Punishment dots
  • Middle school classrooms & their folding doors
  • Mr Hutchinson teaching French, Mr Stirling taking Scripture, Mr Watkins Latin & Mrs Milne’s Art lessons
  • Dip pens (messy!)
  • Report cards
  • Saturday evening films
  • Sunday evening TV in HM’s lounge
  • .22 postal shooting competitions
  • Formal dancing lessons on the 1st floor landing
  • Boxing competitions in the old gym – it is still there!
  • Cycling crocodile fashion to Barton-on-Sea for swimming
  • Outdoor swimming pool being built & 2L test to be allowed at the deep end
  • Appendicitis on my last Sports Day!
  • Being 1st X1 scorer in the small thatched cricket pavilion
  • Pre-breakfast PT & run during the Summer Term
  • Walking round the drive when the pitches were too wet for games
  • First football lesson (with Mrs Milne who wore duffel coat & wellies!)
  • Scratchy football shirt
  • Travelling to away matches in Mr Kefford’s large jalopy
  • Kitbags
  • Tuckbox
  • HM’s Study (now the Library)
  • The Dining Room (now the Heritage Room, which I commend you to view)
  • School plays: Arsenic & Old Lace; The Happiest Days of your Life
  • Plaque on Chapel chair (mine was still there when I first went back in 1991 – but outside the Chapel!)
  • Who took my pocket money, a 2/6p coin from my raincoat pocket?
  • Making dens in the grounds
  • Being told to leave the kitchen because I couldn’t make a sandwich properly – not enough butter to the edges!
  • Horse riding
  • Glee Club (run by Miss Bath)
  • Suddenly becoming very popular when my weekly (banned) Beano arrived
  • Writing letters home on Sunday mornings – which had to be check-read by the member of staff on duty
  • Storing trunks above the raincoat & cap room next to the Old Gym
  • Meeting my parents at Southampton Station after travelling halfway home by train on my own
  • Arriving for a 2-week holiday at a hotel in Cornwall & spotting another boy from EHS there as well!
  • Passing CE to Hurstpierpoint College
  • At the request of Robert Lawrence, EHS 1959-1962, I compiled a shorter list for a personal website he was producing in an attempt to track down some fellow old boys. I was also able to scan in some old photographs taken from a mid-1950’s prospectus. I urge you to explore the link below – I’m sure you’ll find it interesting:

  • All the best for 2016.

    Ric Toovey