My First Day at Clarendon School

A truly wonderful school

By Susan Waller (nee Davidson)

Clarendon School

My first day at Clarendon School (1955) was a real eye opener. Like all children changing school you go from being an older pupil back to being the youngest again.

Clarendon School was made up of several blocks, when I started there were five (more were added later). My classroom was in Capel Block and we had to walk (regardless of weather) between the blocks for various lessons. All the school would go to the main Clarendon Block for assembly in the morning. It was lining up on the first morning that I slipped (New Term = New Shoes = Slippery Soles) and fell flat on my face. After a brief scuffling in the line it was established that I was OK and we filed into the hall.

I don‘t remember visiting the school before I actually started there and I could not believe the sight of that school hall. It had a beautiful light wood, highly polished floor. The brickwork was a light grey brick and there was a staircase one end that came down from a balcony which went around three sides of the hall, the staircase had a platform half way down where the Head would stand and speak from. One end was a large stage with deep burgundy curtains and on these curtains were appliqué embroidered full length figures of the name sakes of the various ‘Blocks’ Capel – Carpender – Morison – Altham. The biggest surprise was that the whole school sat on chairs, where as at primary school we sat on the floor in the hall. These chairs were arranged to face inwards to the main aisle and were grouped in blocks for the individual classes.

When the stage curtains opened the Clarendon School Brass Band were on the stage, it was so impressive with almost the whole school in uniform it was a sight I have never forgotten and sealed my pride in Clarendon School from Day 1.

I was even more impressed when we all had to stand and the staff and prefects came in and sat around the balcony, which was adorned with ’House Shields’. Then the Head walked down the stairs and took his place. Mr LW Stewart was the Headmaster, he was a very tall man and looked very distinguished in his black gown. The Deputy Head was Miss Tanner and she also wore a black gown and a Mortar Board, which many of us had never seen anyone wearing one before.

Day 1 great impressions of a truly wonderful school.

This page was added on 17/11/2010.

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  • The comment by Anne Taylor (26/09/2016)
    I remember you came with your dad during the summer holidays when I was learning to play e flat bass in the band. He always spoke of you and your brother, how you couldn’t say, when you were very young, E flat and B flat but “ef-leur” and “bl-leur”. I remember you played french horn and your brother tuba, did you both continue in music careers?

    By Alan Birch (31/07/2017)
  • I’ve just found this site. I am Mr Roger Elliott’s daughter. He loved the school band with a passion and inspired others to learn music.
    Does anyone have any photos of the band with my father conducting please? I would like to copy some if possible. Thank you. 

    By Anne Taylor (26/09/2016)
  • Just logged in and found a friend I knocked about with Alan Nixon I was only at school for 4 months 1955. I was from Sunderland and we played football for the School also the Old Boys.  We spent  a bit of time up in Gosforth Lane area. Would like to meet up.

    By Eddie Reid (06/08/2014)
  • Joined Clarendon at age 14 in 1955 having moved from Hartlepool. Quite a culture change for me. Loved every minute and made good friends. Sport and practical skills most prominent. Made good friends whilst there and continued until moved to Oxford in 1968.

    By Alan Nixon (21/11/2013)
  • I had the privilege to be in the Sir James Altham School Band, for sadly only a couple of years before he died. Mr Elliot came into school every week during the summer holidays, with his daughter – to teach a few new players. I learned to play during the summer – starting on tenor horn and going on to E flat bass (tuba). My only regret was I didn’t take up playing earlier. His enthusiasm and love for music was infectious. I got the bug. My love of music has stayed with me all my life, when I joined the Royal Navy, I took up playing tuba again and enjoyed every moment , almost spending more time banding than on my navy trade. I even had my photo in the Royal marines “Blue Band” Journal. I played at all the wardrooms in the Portsmouth area, carnivals and concerts all over. All my children have learnt to play, my eldest got me roped into a guide and scout band playing tuba for a few years. I have so many great memories of playing tuba. All thanks to Mr Elliott

    By Alan Birch (13/06/2011)
  • I have fond memories of the Clarendon School Brass Band which I belonged to from 1955 to 1961. I recently visited my mother and she showed me some black and white photographs of the band, including close-ups of Roger Elliott (bandmaster) and some that were taken when we visited Mainze(?) in Germany circa 1959. I will try to get them from her and put them out the on this site.

    By Bernard York (27/03/2011)
  • Yes Mr Elliott really was a great teacher. I was really interested that you mentioned the ‘School Song’, I don’t remember that, what was it?

    By Susan Waller (nee Davidson) (25/03/2011)
  • I was at Clarendon 1952 to 1956.  I was a founder member of the school band (slide trombone) under Mr.Elliot. He taught with a gentle passion. Are any photos of said band around? still it was a great school and the words of the school song still ring true in my mind.

    Derek Hough

    By derek hough (24/03/2011)
  • I’ve commented upon your team list elsewhere on this website, Barry. Andy T. was in regular touch with Peter Swain up until his death after a short illness, and I had an email from my old colleague just last year, towards the close of the 2010 6Nations. I last saw AT at the time the school was being merged with Hampden to form Sir James Altham Comprehensive School (October 1967), when I was teaching geography and games at Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, Amersham. I have many happy memories of my time spent at Clarendon and thanks again for your kind words.

    By John Swain (14/02/2011)
  • Good to hear from you, Mr Swain! I remember you very well, playing in your cricket teams whilst you were there – now I know why you seemed to turn up in the summers and mysteriously disappear – you did seem quite young! You used to hand out the “pill” to bowl, and enjoyed my knock of 32 against somebody or other. Couldn’t agree more about Mr Shaw,charming man – used to have class in fits when introducing a new topic with the words “Let’s take a simple case, (pupil name followed)”. Isn’t it amazing what we remember. Shame about Mr Templeton, or Mr Temptation as the dinner ladies knew him; he spent a lot of time making the PE department a really good resource for the school, but I have to say he wasn’t quite as good as a Technical Drawing teacher….(but very professional!) I have a cricket team list from 62/63 – I’ll send it in to the site – you might recall some names

    By barry (10/02/2011)
  • Once again, some excellent material from the estimable Sue Waller on her time at Clarendon! I was fortunate enough to be employed as an uncertificated teacher during a so-called Gap Year in 1961/62, in an arrangement between Head Mr.L.W.Stewart and Watford Boys’ Grammar School. I enjoyed it so much that I returned to work in the school on subsequent occasions during my university education, from 1962 until 1966. I went on to a career in secondary and tertiary education for more than three decades, working in a variety of institutions, both in Britain and overseas (Canada and the Irish Republic). My brother, Peter, attended Clarendon School from September 1957 and became Head Boy four years later, before his transfer to Rickmansworth GS. He excelled on the games field and won School Colours in Athletics, Basketball, Cricket, Football and Rugby. I have fond memories of many of the staff at Clarendon, which included playing in the long-running and successful Staff XI cricket team. In fact, I was talking on the ‘phone just last summer with one of the original members, Alan Shaw, who founded the club back in the 1950s. A brilliant Maths teacher, he progressed to become Deputy Head having been Head of Department & Senior Master. He now lives on the Isle of Wight and is in his 87th year! One sad note with which to conclude. Last night, Peter Swain told me that Andrew Templeton, the dynamic and popular Head of Physical Education in the 1960s, had recently died in South Wales, aged 74.

    By John Swain (27/01/2011)
  • I endorse every word Sue has said about Clarendon,we both started at the same time.I was in Altham block and Mr Shaw was my form teacher he with the big ruler that he would smack on the desk to make sure u were paying attention. He was a brilliant maths teacher and later became deputy head. I played both football and cricket of which I was captain for the school also Watford school boys.Proud moment when called up at assembly by Mr Stewart to receive the school colours. He also presented me with saving a young boys life when he was on fire on guy fawkes night (see watford observer 1958 ). So many memories

    By Sid Searle (06/01/2011)