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  - BEDFORD SCHOOL Part 1 -


   LINKS to other pages in this site and to other sites in the Travelling Days series:

Autographs Home Page:      Bedford 1939 onwards:      BBC in Bedford:
BBC Symphony Orchestra Personalities:      Bedford Miscellany:       Bedford School (1940s) Part 2:
Composers:      Conductors:       David Gentleman:      Glenn Miller:       Instrumentalists:
Personalities of the 1940s:       Pianists:       The RAEC in Cornwall:
Religion and Drama:       Singers:       BBC in Cornwall 1949:      Colin Day's List-O-Links:
America West Home Page:      Guest Book:

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BEDFORD SCHOOL, known as Bedford Grammar School until 1917, was originally located in St Paul's Square. In 1891 the school moved to a new building (shown in the photograph taken around 1900) that had been built on a twenty acre plot of land situated to the north of the town.


THE OPEN-AIR SWIMMING POOL at the school was constructed in 1930 and provided facilities (shared by the local girls' High School, much to the boys' delight) for swimming lessons and competitions as well as for recreational use during the school summer holidays. Thousands of boys learnt to swim here and obtained a certficate (without which they were obliged to wear a distinguishing white button on their school cap) stating they had passed a seventy-five-yard swimming test..

The pool was removed in the late 1970s to make way for a sports hall complex which included an indoor heated pool and gymnasium. In the picture, taken in 1948, the old gymnasium may be seen in the background. In 1944 the mezanine floor was taken over by the army prior to D Day. School classes were rostered throughout each day to pack rifle and Bren gun spare parts into containers which were later distributed to military units in preparation for the invasion of Europe. The building was demolished and the school theatre now stands on the site.



HUMFREY GROSE-HODGE was born in 1891. He was well versed in the classics. His translation of Cicero's Orations, which is still in print, had been published in 1927. One of his later publications entitled 'Roman Panorama' was also well reviewed. He was appointed Head Master of Bedford School in 1928. Under his dynamic leadership a rapid extension of the school amenities took place including the building of a gymnasium, swimming pool, science building, and extensions to the sports pavilion, the day-boarder centre (for those travelling daily to school from local villages and country towns) and the preparatory school.

Humfrey Grose-Hodge was the son of an honorary Canon in Birmingham and was educated at Marlborough and at Pembroke College in Cambridge where he took a First Class degree in Classics. He later (1914) joined the Indian Civil Service as an assistant magistrate in Bengal and in 1916 was commissioned in the Indian Army Officers Reserve. Invalided out of the Indian Civil Service he then went to Charterhouse in 1920 as Form Master of the Classical Sixth.

Grose-Hodge had a 'presence' which could be quite overwhelming particularly when he was about to address matters of school discipline. His appearance at outdoor sporting occasions, seated on a shooting stick with his two large white fluffy chows by his side, will be well remembered by those who saw it. Many of his critics regarded him, perhaps with some justification, as a snob. Certainly, he insisted that chain stores such as Woolworth's ('nothing over sixpence') and Marks and Spencer remain "out of bounds" to boys in term-time - even though the canteen at Woolworth's was happily patronised during the 1940s by the likes of Sir Adrian Boult and Laurence (later 'Lord') Olivier !

A similar edict applied to all the local cinemas apart from the odd occasion when a 'suitable' fillm, such as 'Henry V', was being presented. However, to compensate for the cinema ban, a projection box with two 35mm projectors was installed in the Great Hall for the showing of films considered 'wholesome' and 'suitable' for the under 18 year old boys of the school! Not that Grose Hodge wholeheartedly approved of this concession for any forthcoming film show was always referred to as 'an exhibition of motion pictures'!   Unfortunately the shows did not always go according to the authorised plan. On one occasion, following a mix-up in the order placed with the firm supplying the films, six reels of' 'The Lost Weekend' arrived on Saturday morning and were duly presented to a full audience that evening. The story line, 'the diary of a dypsomaniac', was considered 'very adult' in the 1940s. Like Queen Victoria, the headmaster, when he heard about it the following Monday, was 'not amused'!

Other rules included a term time curfew when all boys had to be in their homes or boarding houses each evening by 6pm in the winter and 7pm in the summer (with the odd weekend extension to 9pm). The curfew continued throughout the Grose-Hodge era; defaulters, even if accompanied by their parents, were punished with a beating from any of the monitors who happened to catch them. (That Grose-Hodge continued throughout his term at Bedford to encourage seventeen year old boys to cane their juniors was, and remains, a matter of some controversy).

To his credit, at the end of each term Grose-Hodge wrote a comment in the report book of each of the 900 boys in his care - always GroseHodge2.jpg - 30548 Bytes in red ink. A problem was that the text in most cases was almost indecipherable (see a typical example on the right). It was said that on one occasion a parent struggled for some time to make out what the head had written. Eventually the mystery was solved; his son's report read, 'He really needs to pay more attention to his handwriting'.

Grose-Hodge retired to the West Country 'to keep bees', in 1951. His going marked the end of an era. Although his ideas and methods may today be considered 'old-fashioned' Grose-Hodge's influence at Bedford, shown in the physical expansion of the school and in the increase in its academic and sporting successes, cannot be overestimated. But, for Bedford, Grose-Hodge was to be its last major head master of the (forgive the pun) 'old school' - a fact that would probably have pleased the more 'progressive' educationalists and social commentators of the day.


CLASS MEMBERS:

Form R1 in 1945. (above)
Back row:     R.J.Gammon, C.F.Day, L.V.S.Laville, J.F.Adams, J.Roberts,
        M.W.Todd, C.J.Bell, G.E.Bayley, P.W.George.
Middle row:     B.G.Felce, P.Stock, A.P.O.Collis, R.M.Strong, G.Marsh,
        E.F.Pick, J.I.Robertson, J.Fothergill, P.J.Porter.
Front row:     J.M.Crowe, T.Twigg, T.R.Marshall, G.C.F.Mead Esq. (Form Master),
        O.J.Scott, D.W. Stubbs, G.McIntosh.



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SIGNATURES:

G.C.F. Mead Esq. and members of Form R1 in 1945. (right)

For a brief biography of class member Frank Adams, please click here.

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A.H. COBBY - a firm yet kindly master, with a good sense of fun - but could be very ill-tempered when roused. Occasionally provided punishment in the form of a stiff-bristled hairbrush applied to a rear part of the transgressor's anatomy!

    An often repeated story concerns a parent who was parking his car beside the school building. Cobby appeared at the window of his third floor classroom and shouted a warning to the driver not to park directly underneath as he was about to despatch one of his recalcitrant pupils by throwing him out of that very same window!

    One of Cobby's out-of-school activities was to coach rowing fours and eights. On one occasion he was riding his ancient bicycle along the towpath and at the same time observing and addressing the crew under his care when suddenly he misjuged his distance from the bank and plunged, still on his bicycle, straight into the river. Fortunately the damage done to his person was not extensive - but it was an embarrassing and painful experience for him and perhaps, in retrospect, an amusing one for those who observed it! As to what happened to the bicycle was not reported.






'BEDFORD SCHOOL IN THE 1940s' CONTINUES IN PART 2.   CLICK HERE.

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