"The oldness of the school and all that went on there..."

"Last year in the High street, were we really a rowdy class or just being expressive!! So many memories about that year, what a laugh. Gym and the cold showers, science lessons on the tower and jamming sessions in the music room - what a noise. The 'school' song being sung in the hall. Teachers trying to get to the culprits in the crowd. Ragbony MSR!! The oldness of the school and all that went on there. We even had the odd lesson as well." ...Ray Newman -71;

"Remember the cold showers (gym was in the basement and the windows were often broken so passers by could peer in!). But what about two old school 'myths': the film The War Game (a nuclear horror film) had a set filmed in the schoolyard which featured extras running around with rice crispies stuck to their skin to represent radiation blisters.
That Jimi Hendrix (not famous at the time) turned up at the school in error when he was supposed to be appearing at Chatham Central Hall on hearing operatic sounds coming from the building and assumed it was the CCH. Or was my consciousness already being influenced by Timothy Leary's writings? " ...Mike Harrison;

"Who remembers the sport of filling a cubical with 1st Yrs? Yes thats right main block loos and getting caught by Beattie Bogroll. His face was a picture when bodies kept coming out of such a small space! Did we scar the victims for life? " ...Ray Newman -71;

"Following a knee injury I had to have my leg in plaster for 6 weeks and initially had to take a note to Mr Purle**to be excused games. After a couple of weeks he didn't even ask to see my note. I spent the rest of the term limping about even after the plaster came off and didn't have to do games once and he still gave me an 'average' on my end of term report." ...Alan Thornton-Pratt 65-69;

"Pitt v Castle v Gordon v Bridge: Does anyone have any scars remaining from the pre-register 1st year raids on each other's houserooms ? " ...Neil Galloway;

"Joe [Blakiston] and I were on a Saturday morning detention, during which we were mopping the swimming pool surrounds. Well, actually we'd finished and were sitting with our feet in the water. Skull, who lived just a few houses down Maidstone Road, popped in on what I suspect was a regular weekend tour of inspection and caught us bang to rights. 'That looks inviting', he said, 'See you next Saturday morning'." ...Peter Newnham 64-70;

"Standing 345 deep waiting for the 141, all with massive knotted ties so that the 'dangly' bit was as short as possible. If you were tough you waited at the bus-stop right outside the school and didn't run to the one before like a big ninny ! As the bus pulls up, a cry rings out in unison "BUNDLE" and 10000 brats funnel into an opening the size of a gnats bumhole...and NO-ONE wanted to sit downstairs ! I still remember the day when we all moved in perfect harmony from one side of the top deck to the other. We were obviously crap at physics as imagine our horror when the f"@ker nearly tipped over !!! That's the day I discovered the colour of adrenalin............ " David Ford 70-75;

"If ever you had to knock on the door of the staff room at the old school, the fumes of pipe and cigarette tobacco when the door was opened, were quite overpowering." ... Steve Willis 63-70;

"One of the japes I remember most vividly was one Friday morning when Rochester Market was in full flow. Some enterprising students in their white lab coats drew up free parking notices and then acting as car park attendants filled the lower yard with cars. Mr Hadlow, then deputy head was seen in a very excited state telling Oscar 'the lower yard is full of cars!!!'." ...Phil West 57-64;

"Cross country running at the new school consisted of changing into sports gear but putting my clothes into a small sports bag. Running slowly to ensure that my fellow pupils were out of sight and then changing back into my uniform and heading for the bus stop and off home. All went well until on one occasion I went upstairs on the bus to be greeted by Mr Lingham and another Saturday detention." ...Alan Thornton-Pratt 65-69;

"Anyone remember the great games of Bulldog in the area between P block and the sports hall? You'd hang onto a boy and shout 'British Bulldog 1 2 3' while he punched and kicked. An efficient technique was to grab the runner by the forearm so that he swung wildly through 90 degrees while sticking your foot out to upend him. This was an improvement over the straightforward clamp round the legs rugby tackle, although both were very effective on the tarmac. Probably wouldn't be allowed nowadays." ...Paul Nicholson 70-74;

"In my 6th form days (1963-1965) our classrooms were in N block at the bottom end of Free School Lane, separate from the main school building. After an incident I can't remember, we were locked out one winter morning. It was cold, very cold. At morning break we decided to retaliate. Someone found some rope which we tied to (a) the inward opening door of the masters' room and (b) the sturdy bannister directly opposite. We stood in the lobby and sang rude songs. Result: the masters couldn't get out at the end of break. We received Friday detentions during which we had to write essays on 'Mob Rule'. But it seemed worth it at the time...." ...David Chambers 60-65;

"One of my fondest memories was of the jam doughnuts we used to get - brought in still warm on trays from a baker's in the High Street - at morning break. The best doughnuts I ever tasted and a snip at 3d each." ...Peter Newnham 64-70;

"Biology lessons were held in the Esplanade alcoves with the Wingate working girls at lunchtime" ...Michael Cleary 47-54;

"Jobs, Friday and Saturday Detention. Certainly, for my year, I lead the field for these various punishments. Admittedly there was some stiff competition but for me it was a marathon and not a sprint. As I recall the exchange rate in my time it was 3 jobs = a Friday detention, 3 Friday detentions = a Saturday detention. My preference, once at the two Friday detention stage was to acquire another and get it all out the way on Saturday morning. Not only that, but a Saturday went down on the term report as one detention - thus keeping me at single figures!" ...Charles Dowden 65-72;

"EIO Magazine: In '69 I helped publish a magazine with some sixth form friends (whose names escape me). It took its name from the school chant and included the full text of the song, suitably edited with *'s in place of various words! Only ran to one edition so the puzzle answers were never published!" ...Paul Bennington 63-70;

"'knowledge is a steep which few may climb, but duty is a path which all must tread' the famous lines dished out in their thousands. I can still remember some 25 years after writing them. As a prefect I remember we had a pretty good trade in these lines, selling them back to the 4th and 5th years for cigarettes, but I can not remember the exact conversion rate 'Knowledges to fags;" ...Ray Monsell 72-79;

"Hardly a term went by without me being sent to 'Skulls' office for a caning, in the far corner of the office was a door which, rumour had it was linked to the pub next door, so he could sneak out unnoticed for a quick drink without being noticed. I'd love to know if this was true." ...Alan Thornton-Pratt 65-69;

"Feeling a bit bored we decided to hijack the school's free milk. It was always delivered a while before the school opened and left at the Free School Lane entrance by the gym. It took some time before the school milk was discovered hidden inside a pair of large vaulting horses..." ...David Chambers 60-65;

"The end of term school bus could get a bit wild. On one occasion things got so riotous that the driver took the bus straight to the police station. The coppers boarded to restore order." ...Paul Nicholson 70-74;

"[Knowledges] I used to pre-write these using 2 pens at the same time. 'Knowledge is a steep that few may climb while duty is a path that all may tread' or something similar, inscribed at the back of the school hall." ...Tony Parkinson 1966-71;

"The school chant certainly flourished in my time - and it was the duty of every second-year to ensure first-years were well-practised in its lyrics. An OW from the generation above me said it existed during the headmastership of K Imeson (early 50s) and it was during the leaving ceremony and chant that one boy fired several air pellets into Sir Joe's portrait, then in the main hall of the old school. The pockmarks could still be seen around his face when I last looked at an OW dinner. There is also an L-shaped tear in the fabric of the portrait caused by a boy (he was a Scot but I have forgotten his name) in the year above me c 1970. He broke into the school and attacked it with a hockey stick." ...Stephen Rayner 66-73;

"Or was it as we sang in the mid 60's 'bugger Boney'" ... Charlie Bass;

"I do also recollect that they [the school Chant] were sung during the last assembly of each term. The first line was always started by Andy Laws. I can remember the Headmaster, Mr. Wadhams , sending him immediately to his study for the cane. This would have been about 1970." ... Trevor Brook 67-72

"I don't know if this was the Math's first educational cruise - but I went on one in 1971. We travelled on the SS Nevasa and visited Portugal, Madeira, Azores and Lanzarote. I recall drunken bundles between dormitories. Naturally, I took no part." ... Stephen Rayner 66-73;

"As mentioned elsewhere if you got three detentions in a week you had to go in to school on a Saturday morning to serve your punishment. On my first Saturday detention I was told to report to the Archaeological Society to assist with the excavation of one of the old turrets in the city wall. I had a great time and really enjoyed myself. From then on if I got two detentions in a week I always ensured that I got the third one so I could further assist in the ongoing excavations and thus came to hold the dubious honour of having the most Saturday detentions in one academic year! They never realised how much I enjoyed myself." ...Alan Thornton-Pratt 65-69;

"From personal memory I believe the chant started early 60's. It is neither Woolly Harris nor Woolly Haggis but Woolly Aphids introduced in a science lesson by Eerie (Lawson) in a very enthusiastic manner and thereby being immortalised in the chant." ...Phil West 57-64;

"It was an inter school cross country. I was point man at the Borstal turnoff to ensure runners kept to the course. Happily I went home 5 minutes early - result: runners wandering around Rochester High Street. In my defence I did chalk an arrow sign on the pavement at the Borstal turnoff - was it my fault they didn't see it?" ... Graham Saunders 75-80;

"I remember the punishment called Knowledges. These were lines (usually 100 but sometimes 200. the line went as follows:- Knowledge is a path which few may climb whilst duty is a path which all must tread. Of course, we all tried the three-pencil trick and ended up having to rewrite them." ...Paul Howe 61-67;

"Went to Sir Josephs and got beaten up by Dave Bowles (aka Bill) on my first day. He also put a banger under my cap and blew the friggin' "bobble" off !!" ...David Ford 70-75;

"To pass the time we created the Bogolympics where we would think of mad competitions. Most people in a cubicle. Number of times you could stub a cigarette out on your tongue in a minute." ...Steve Willis 63-70;

"Shooting of Sir Joe: It was done overnight by a person unknown, about 1953. A lad who had been moved from Class 3G to the Tech was suspected - but nothing was ever proved. Pussy Purle, the art master and OW, patched up about six holes and cleaned the painting so that Sir Joe was visible for the first time in living memory." ...Dave Campbell 48-55;

"Other events in the Bogolympics:
 - Cramming the cubicle (I remember Skull at assembly asking why the caretaker had complained of footprints on the ceiling of the 6th Form toilets):
 - Pissing in all 8 urinals
 - Circumnavigating the toilets without stepping on the floor
 - As many overcoats as possible." ...Peter Newnham 64-70;

"The daily ritual of boarding the school bus: The cry of 'Bundle' and a hundred or so boys trying to board a 142 simultaneously. A huge rugby scrum - a hundred boys on one team against a double decker on the other. Often a jam would form, a dozen boys crushed across the doorway, legs trapped and unable to breath. The driver would wait patiently, he saw it every day. The prefects would check underneath for extruded first formers before the bus moved off. Occasionally, masters would attempt to maintain order, pacing up and down an orderly line, issuing dire threats and clouts. All would look well - right up to the moment the bus pulled to a stop. At that instant something would happen - a chain reaction so fast that no individual could be identified as the trigger - Bundle!

Indeed, bundling was ubiquitous. Whenever a situation would be appropriate for an orderly queue to form - entering a room or stairwell, in fact, whenever two or more boys need to pass through a constriction, there would be the cry of 'Bundle!' and a scrum would form. Lone individuals had been known to wait for others to arrive before proceeding through a doorway.

Naturally, being the cream of Kent's young intellect, we realised that an orderly queue was the most efficient passage, but that wasn't the point - you had to have been there to understand the simple mad exuberance of it.

The most fun occured with a two-way flow. One lot bundling into a room while another lot was leaving. A heaving scrum, dozens on each side, would be bracketed by the straining door frame. The bundle would shift in and out as the opposing forces sought a dynamic equilibrium. Usually the outside lot won, simply by weight of numbers - boys passing by in the corridor would throw themselves in, even though they were heading elsewhere." ...Paul Nicholson 70-74;

"First day at the old school, fighting in the corridor which used to run along the top of the old city wall. Someone said 'watch out here comes Trog' I was duly caught by the scruff of the neck and admonished, unaware that Trog wasn't his real name I then said 'sorry Mr Trog Sir' and from then on my card was marked !" ...Alan Thornton-Pratt 65-69;

"Of all my memories, this is the one of which I could believe time has most enriched the scope and grandeur and glory; 'The Great Castle Grounds Snowball Fight of 62 (or was it 63?)' Someone out there must remember it - there we so many of us took part.

Well, in my mind's eye there were.

In my mind's eye, in the early weeks of 63 (or was it 62?) most of the UK had massive snowfalls lasting several weeks. Many of the villages around the Medway Towns were intermittently cut-off, pipes were frozen, trains were cancelled, buses stranded and a thousand plausible excuses were suddenly available for recalcitrant boys not to have done homework, to wear bizarre outfits, to skip games, to have bouts of a mysterious flu that lasted precisely and merely the length of a double period of physics - or simply not turn up. I suffered my own weather related hardship when I found my new patent-leather chisel-toed shoes - bought under severe disapproval from my mother with Christmas postal orders from Aunts and Uncles, the only truly fashionable items of clothing I ever owned - couldn't get me to the bowling centre on Saturday morning without treachery on the ice. I had to get there in wellies, depressing as the only place to which I was ever going to wear the shoes was the bowling centre.

Naturally, the castle grounds were deep in snow, the bandstands and occasional bench seats hummocks in the otherwise smooth blinding white. I suppose we all osmotically realised that with the castle as a backdrop that particular scene would be especially magical. We were after all such sensitive boys. Whatever, for some reason what seemed to me like at least 100 of us from the 4th and 5th forms had wandered along from the school in the High Street - at that time, only 2nd and 3rds were based at Priestfields - and strolled into the grounds.

But it just so happened that around a hundred or so equally curious boys from the Kings School had had the same desire at the same time, to contemplate nature at its most exquisite.

It's entirely possible that this coincidence was engineered. It's entirely possible that there were unofficial back channels of contact between the two entities. After all, a few months earlier even the Russians and the Americans had found ways of talking to each other despite the almost intolerable tensions of the Cuban missile crisis. So although the enmity and mutual loathing between Kings and Maths boys far outweighed the pressures on the two global superpowers, although for Maths boys the evil that resided within the Kings School was infinitely more threatening than nuclear annihilation, it's nevertheless possible that conversations had taken place. It's entirely possible that this had been arranged.

Someone out there may know.

But the stage was set, and what a perfect stage. Two implacable enemies, inexhaustible ammunition lying at their feet, youth and enthusiasm supplying their energy, and mutual hatred their motivation - these two tribes engaged in front of a Norman castle.

It was mayhem. Although it wasn't snowing, the air was instantly thick with swirling snow. Scurrying boys were everywhere, darting in and out of the snowstorm, an impromptu front line hurling snowballs rapidly manufactured by a well drilled back line heaping them ready likes piles of canon balls. Our discipline and strategic thinking were for a while impeccable. But Kings fought back fanatically, no doubt nourished by fee-payers' better food and with more to lose; they were after all the White Russians, we the Bolsheviks. Soon, to breathless cheering a bandstand held by Kings was stormed and taken and then the battle escalated. Chairs were thrown, as were punches, and from then on it ceased, in that quarter at least, to be a simple snowball fight.

It waged in every sector, the snow churned in even the furthest corners, the two sides surging first forward, then back, shouts, howls, yells and squeaks (voices broke later in those days, remember?) shattering the previous snow dampened quiet. The blue and grey uniforms and heads and hands were white with snow and steaming panting breath from the extreme exertion of two hundred boys fogged the snow-swirled air. Nowhere you looked was free from dizzying frenetic action, arms whirling, hands scooping, mouths open, heads ducking, bodies twisting, figures falling... The pandemonium was complete. I do really think we were in a sort of frenzy, out of control. It could have gone on until we dropped exhausted but I think, although I really couldn't swear to this, the police came and calmed us down.

I don't remember how it ended. We must have trooped back along the High Street, still adrenalin powered, convinced we'd won and wrapped in glory.

I have a feeling, but again, I can't be sure, that later that day or the next we were all called together for a communal bollocking. Just a bollocking. There were too many of us to even identify, let alone punish - even Oscar would have wilted at the sight of so many pairs of naked buttocks to cane.

That's my recollection anyway. Hopefully one of you was there and has better recall. Or maybe in the more than fifty years since, I've dreamt it all. If none of you remember it, how will we know if it ever happened? After all, walk round the castle grounds today - there's no plaque, no memorial. There's no stone in a wall saying 'It was here that took place The Great Castle Grounds Snowball Fight of 63 (or was it 62?). '.

How will we know?" ... Andrew Cracknell 57-64;

" My last day was also the last day of the old school on Rochester High St.

It was 'known' (amongst the sixth form leavers) that something special was going to happen on the last day and this is what happened (to the best of my recollections).

Firstly, we saved the demolition company from quite a bit of effort by totally dismantling anything that could be removed (partitions etc ) from the sixth form block on Free School lane). This took place throughout the morning of the last day 25th July 1968. The teachers made no attempt to restrain us, they just laughed. All the chairs were taken to the top of the bastion of the old city walls, and then with suitable ceremony, were pushed over the edge into the bottom of the turret.

At lunchtime, most sixth formers repaired to various 'out of bounds' Rochester pubs, where the most diabolical plot was put into place (this had been planned meticulously, of course). The youngest teacher on the staff (I think his name was Rayner ?) was plied with alcohol until suitably merry, and then;- was seized, gagged, and bound fast in white sheets, until 'mummified'. He was then placed in a cardboard coffin, adorned with flowers and bearing the inscription RIP Maths School 1703 - 1968. This took place in the oldest part of the school, i.e. the block above SKULL's study. The coffin was then solemnly conveyed down the stairs, with intention of leaving it outside Skull's study door. Unfortunately, the mummified "cadaver" wriggled so much that the coffin burst open, and the mummy went cascading down the remaining stairs, crashing with a thud on Skull's study door. Even on the last day, such was the great fear that Skull inflicted, the perpetrators of this deed fled the scene. Somebody watched from a safe distance as Skull ranted and raged "Get out of that stupid get-up BOY etc". The sheets eventually parted to reveal THE YOUNGEST MEMBER OF THE STAFF !!! (THIS PROBABLY DIDN'T DO MUCH TO ENHANCE HIS CAREER PROSPECTS.

That wasn't all, The Final dismissal ceremony was a riot. The Hall had been well sabotaged with explosive powder (the sort that explodes under feet). With 800 or so boys crammed in it all dissolved into a continuous series of explosions that drove Skull to meltdown point. He attempted to give the usual end of term speech, but totally lost it. More bangs, rebellious catcalls etc and then, THE STINK BOMBS WENT OFF !! (Lots of them) The whole assembled crowd started shuffling about to try and escape the stink, and then THE FLOUR BOMBS STARTED UP!!!!!! Nevertheless, the school song was sung (possibly the most uproarious version ever, "Sandy" Sanderson somehow managed to retain sanity on the piano, followed by ;- THE LOUDEST VERSION OF RAMBONY RAMBONY ETC EVER.

I say 'Rambony' because that is what I remember (that's what I sang anyway).

I remember exiting the school to a massed chorus of ;- (From Snow White & Seven Dwarfs) 'Hey Ho, Hey Ho, It's off to work we go, with a bucket and spade and a hand grenade Hey Ho Hey Ho!'

The rest was a bit of an anti-climax. The pubs were closed in afternoons in those days, so there was no booze up. I remember committing my school cap to the waters of the Medway from Rochester Bridge." ...Alan Robinson 61-68;

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