A selection of memories: 1960s

Rev Denis McIntyre (Grenville 60)

A piano concerto with three different soloists is not your usual performance, but this is what happened in the Temple of Concord in about 1959! The piece was Haydn’s Keyboard Concerto in D: I took the first movement, the late David Fanshaw the second and the late Tim Gauvain the third. The background sound was enriched by the hum of a converter, needed for powering the tape recorder used to record the performance!

Mr Rick Strange (Grafton 60)

In my A-Level years, my Geography Teacher was Mr Hunt (who subsequently became headmaster of Roedean). For my mock geography exam, we were told to write an essay on any subject we wanted. I wrote a paper on the possibilities of gas and oil in the North Sea (as it had been the swampy estuary of the Rhine River). Mr Hunt gave me 0% as the possibility of oil and gas in the North Sea was a ridiculous concept.

Mr Robert Thompson (Grafton 60)

The head was blown off the Lord Cobham’s Pillar when it was struck by lightning in a thunderstorm. Several Stoics gathered ready to break it open as there had always been rumours that it contained a pot of gold. However, before they could find it the head was rescued by Mr M.J. Mounsey who brought it back to the Art Department.

Mr David Costain (Walpole 60)

I was lucky to be blessed with ball games skills, so I was able to represent Stowe at most sports. Chris Atkinson was the same vintage and a great friend. I did manage to score 78 out of a total of 103 against Radley and took 9 wickets against Teddies Oxford. I played in the Southern Schools v the rest at Lords and was picked for English schools vs Scottish schools. My academic prowess was I am afraid not quite as good! I enjoyed every minute at Stowe.

Mr Derek Bingham (Temple 60)

The occasion in the late 1950s when George on the North Front was filled up with water from a hose pipe and peed for three days.

Mr John Curwin (Grenville 60)

A group of us formed a trad jazz band in the late ’50s. We called it the Stowe Dixieland Jazz Band (SDJB). This kind of jazz was having a revival in the UK at that time thanks to people like Humphrey Lyttleton and Chris Barber. This period coincided with the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which won the day for popularity! The wind members of the group Mike Wightman (trumpet), Edgar Both (clarinet and saxophone), Harry Whitely (tuba) and yours truly (trombone) were all members of Eric Webb’s military band. He was a fantastic band-master. The other members, Tim Cecil (piano), Rex Birchenough (guitar/banjo), Rudy Ferrier (bass) and Charles Richardson (drums) were all talented members of the school orchestra. Our jazz band created a special bond between us and some of us are still regularly in touch with each other.

Mr Jonathan Hunt (Walpole 60)

A chap called Mustard and I once staged a race up the grass on the left of the main drive above the Boycott Pavilions over 100 yards between a runner and a horse. Mustard was the runner, suitably qualified because he was the school champion at that distance, and I produced and rode the horse by the name of Limerick, which was one from Mary Connors yard. A significant crowd attended the event, but I could not possibly say whether money was wagered. Mustard was much quicker off the starting line than Limerick and was still leading at about the 70 yard point but after that, Limerick swept past to win comfortably.

Mr David Parkinson (Walpole 60)

I got caught sailing on the lake at 2.00 in the morning.

Mr Thomas Dufty (Bruce 60)

On the occasion that Lord Mountbatten was the guest of honour on Speech Day and took the salute on the South Front, we in the CCF were divided into small groups and sent off round the grounds to undertake various tasks that he would come round and inspect. As I recall it, the group I was in had the task of cooking lunch over an open fire, (although I now find it hard to believe that was the sum total of our task). Anyway, when Mountbatten arrived at our group, we had a roaring fire and had placed potatoes in it. Mountbatten quickly told us that this was not the way to bake potatoes and that we must damp the fire down and then place the potatoes in the embers. “I’ll be back boys in half an hour to inspect them”. True to his word he was back in half an hour. Under his direction we pulled the potatoes out of the embers and opened them up. They were like charcoal inside!

When I came to leave, Crichton-Miller gathered all the leavers together in the Aurelium Room and delivered the following homily. “95% of you boys have done very well at Stowe. You conformed and you became Prefects, Captains of teams, CCF Officers and/or achieved academic success. You can take pride in what you have done”. At this point I, like my fellow 95%, puffed up my chest. “You will go out into the world and make very worthy citizens, but I will never hear of you again. There’s 5% of you who found it very difficult to conform and who achieved none of the distinctions I’ve just mentioned. You will go out into the world, and I will hear of you again either for good or bad”. There’s not a lot I can say in his favour but in that Crichton-Miller was right. In my generation an example of the 5% was McAlpine, who in later life became Lord McAlpine, Maggie Thatcher’s right-hand man.

I was in the CCF and one year the school arranged an exercise on the North York Moors. The idea was that we would take a train to York (I think), arriving in the afternoon and then be sent off in pairs equipped with tents and food to find our way, overnight, to base camp at a village called Castleton in the middle of the Moors. I think we were expected to arrive there by noon the next day. I was fortunate to be paired with my friend Robin Preston who was never short of initiative.  We set off from the station and having shaken off all the other pairs Robin revealed his plan. He had researched York and knew that there was an army barracks there. With words to the effect of, “blow camping for a lark”, he proposed that since we were quasi-soldiers, we should expect nothing less than hospitality from the regular army. We arrived at the barracks and asked to see a somewhat bemused Officer-in-Charge. Having explained what we were about, he professed to admire our initiative and offered us accommodation and dinner in the Officers’ Mess. After a convivial dinner we retired to bed and slept soundly. The next morning, we had an excellent mess breakfast. The Major/Colonel then offered to drive us to the A170, along the southern edge of the Moors and drop us there on the basis that we had to do something physical. He duly dropped us off, but Robin’s initiative didn’t stop there. No sooner was the Officer out of sight then he flagged down an overladen HGV and asked for a lift. Robin quickly asked the driver where he was going who said that he was heading for a town north of the Moors via the ‘A’ roads round the south and west of the Moors. Using his persuasive skills and a map Robin explained that there was a much quicker route directly over the Moors via a village called Castleton and that if he were to take it the driver would reach his destination early and be able to take a leisure break. He failed to mention that it was an unclassified road with tortuous twists and turns and significant hills. The driver fell for it. Two hours later and with a revolting smell of burning brakes we arrived in Castleton early. Over the next hour or so we greeted our compatriots as they arrived, bleary eyed, with stories of uncomfortable nights and physical exertion!

Not personally being religious, a few of us like minded boys decided to liven up Sunday services on occasions when we had visiting priests and play a game of cricket during their sermons. We would decide beforehand which side of the aisle was starting the batting and which the bowling. We would then watch the hand gestures of the priests like hawks awarding runs based on the gestures. The occasional ‘six’ involving both arms raised in the air provoked barely suppressed glee. ‘Fours’ were fairly common but what was extremely rare, but if observed side-splitting, was a ‘leg bye’. A batsman ‘out’ was signalled by a single digit raised in the air to make a point. The more histrionic the priest the more fun!

Mr Kit Clucas (Walpole 60)

In the Summer term of 1956, I had elected to make a single-seat canoe in the workshops in a dual study period that we were granted as students. Several other boys were doing the same thing building either single or double seater canoes or sailing dinghies, out of plywood. By the end of the term, I had finished the shell and all I had to do was to cover it with canvas, paint it and fit the rubbing strakes down each side and along the bottom to protect the canvas from rubbing against any hard object. So, when my parents came to collect me at the end of term, we took the canoe back home for me to complete the work there. I covered it with marine canvas and painted it with marine paint, pale blue on the top and royal blue to the underside. I sealed and varnished the rubbing strakes, and then fitted a plywood up-stand round the cockpit to trap the canvas and a sliding seat and moveable back rest and with some bought paddles, it was ready to be launched by the end of the summer holidays.

At the beginning of the Summer term in 1957, I initially unloaded the canoe at the boat house on the 11-acre lake. However, I decided to move it from there and found a more secure place to store it on a well wooded little spit of land that reaches out into the Octagon lake, beside the stream that flows through the Elysian Fields into the lake near to where the new National Trust bridge crosses the stream. I was able to stand the canoe upright and lash it to one of the trees, well out of sight, and paddle my canoe across the Octagon to the 11-acre lake whenever I had some free time to myself.

I must have been in full view of the School when I paddled the canoe across the Octagon lake to get to the other lake and yet nothing was ever said to me about it, nor was I ever censured for it.

Mr Brian Macoun (Grafton 60)

Stowe boys were allowed to visit Silverstone motor racing track before the Grand Prix. On one occasion in 1958 I was there and took photos of the top drivers including Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins, Roy Salvadori, Tony Brooke and Jean Berra. We could mix with the drivers and watch them practice.

CCF training trip with the French Army in the Alps:
In 1959, Stowe CCF were invited to send a group; led by Colonel Pinchbeck, to spend two weeks training with Les Chasseurs Alpin, a crack French regiment at Modane in the French Alps. About twenty of us went by train to Modane and spent time on route marches and learning how to be soldiers. We also skied and learnt to drink cognac with the French soldiers; several of whom had seen action in Indochina and Algeria. I believe others went on this trip in later years. A lot of fun.

Squirrel’s tails:
During my time I enjoyed climbing trees and I learned to catch grey squirrels, which were vermin. The Agricultural department paid one Shilling per tail! I put traps in the drays high up in the trees. A gamekeeper submitted the tails for payment. A fox was worth one pound!

Mr Martin Perry (Grenville 61)

My Stowe rugby socks are very good quality. I left in 1962 and the socks are still in use at the time of writing (Christmas 2021) and un-darned too.

Mr Nick Ashford (Cobham 61)

A new young Physics Master put me on Housemaster’s report for laughing when an experiment went wrong, suggesting six of the best. I reported this to David Brown, the Housemaster of Cobham with some trepidation. With a large smile he said, “I have the report Nick, you must be kinder to new young Masters. Happy Birthday!” And that was that.

Mr Adrian Gardner (Cobham 61)

When I was a pupil at Stowe in the 1950’s, the metal statue of King George I, facing the North Front, had become so fragile that the whole structure was in danger of toppling over and crashing to the ground in a most un-regal manner. It was decided that it needed to be taken down and sent away for work to be carried out to restore it to its former glory. Before this was done, some bright spark (not me) decided to fill the body of the horse with water and the poor animal seemed to be peeing for at least a week!

In the dormitory in the main block at Cobham, there were three large beams and from the middle one were suspended two long ropes to which were attached two large hoops. The idea was for the individual to grab hold of these hoops and swing like a gymnast gaining sufficient momentum for the feet to touch either the beam at the front or the back. After some feeble attempts on my part, I decided to go for gold and somehow managed to touch the front beam with my feet. At the precise moment I achieved this foolhardy act, my Housemaster D I Brown walked in and I could see from the look on his face that he was as gob smacked as me at my achievement.

Mr Anthony Shillington (Chatham 61)

In 1961, Chatham won Stowe’s Inter-House athletic relays. My most challenging task as Captain came in the 4×100 yards. This particular day, it was decided that each leg of the 4×100 yards would be run from north to south on the School’s 100 yards track, rather than as a 4×110 yards round the whole track. It was blowing a gale.

It had emerged in the School Sports Day that we had a Fourth Former, one Nigel Rice (Chatham 64), who was already fast enough to be on the team, but the problem was that the weather was terrible and at little more than five feet tall and no more than five stone dripping wet, his physique was a problem. The wind seemed strong enough to blow him over and the question was whether to have him run his leg into the wind or with a following wind. Whichever we decided, he ran ‘like the wind’ and Chatham won not only that race but also the whole event.

Little did I realise then that Nigel would go on to win the All England Schools 220 yards title and the 4×110 yards relay, the latter with a Buckinghamshire team that included two further Stoics – John Kinahan (Temple 65) and Andrew Thomson (Temple 65) and represent Great Britain at 200 metres. And that he would still today, when in his mid-seventies, still hold the School’s two sprint records.

As a happy footnote, Nigel and I still play golf together, with an annual fourball with Jeremy Hamp (Walpole 61) and John Jackson (Chatham 61).

Mr Tony Murdoch (Temple 62)

Cycling to Silverstone to watch the Daily Express Formula 1 racing, especially on practice days when one could get into the pit enclosure – not to mention the beer tents. A beer tent pub crawl around the circuit was a favourite… keeping a straight line on the returning bike ride was certainly a challenge… I remember crossing the then Headmaster (Reynolds) and giving him a hearty “good afternoon, Sir” as I made for the underground bike shed with a sigh of relief!

Mr Jim Sargeant (Cobham 62)

Who remembers Power House Yard with its flickering blue glow from the mercury arc rectifier? This supplied 200 volts DC throughout the School and study holders needed an inverter to provide 230v AC for their record players. You never lost money on these valve-driven devices, which were eagerly bought by the next incumbents of your study.

Mr Mike Stewart (Chandos 62)

The best thing about Stowe was that it nurtured individual skills and self-reliance. Not academic (later discovered to be dyslexic) I was nonetheless encouraged to use an intuitive practical ability, which stood me in good stead my whole career.

Mr Thornton Mustard (Bruce 62)

I fixed Bruce winning the Athletics Standards Trophy. As Prefect of Chapel, I arranged for the only House likely to beat us to be scheduled for singing practice when the easiest Standards were being run. It worked and Bruce won!

Mr Guy Vowles (Cobham 62)

In my last year at Stowe, I came back to find the Greens on the Golf Course uncut. According to the Golf Master Andrew Vinen, the ground staff were down on numbers so after a week or two I volunteered to do the greenkeeping. I had great fun setting out all sorts of devious pin positions and creating new tees to change the holes. At the end of the year I got a mention in The Stoic magazine: “Thanks to the ministrations of Vowles the course has been maintained in good condition.”

Mr Geoffrey Corbett (Grafton 63)

When the Queen Mother left following her visit to Stowe in the early 1960’s, the whole School was assembled on the grass between the North Front Steps and George I. She emerged from North Hall in a primrose yellow chiffon dress and hat to match. The sun caught her attire and she almost appeared to be a shining angel.

Mr Jeremy Bray (Temple 63)

I attended the Beatles concert at Stowe. I was not impressed and thought they would fade fast.

Mr Dick Clegg (Walpole 63)

I once held the record for a Walpudlian staying in bed the latest and still making assembly on time, fully dressed (less than 5 mins. to the South Front door being slammed).

Mr Tim Kilpatrick (Cobham 63)

In 1963 the Queen Mother visited Stowe. At one point Isla Sitwell, the Head Boy and I had to escort her from Chapel to her car via the Bursar’s Office. She was to drive to the 11-acre lake to watch the rowing. When at the car, she told Isla and me to jump in saying she wasn’t going on her own, and on arrival at the lake she told us to get out first. Crighton-Miller stepped forward to greet her, only to come face to face with us! He was not amused.

Dr Dick Post (Walpole 63)

We set off a bomb buried in the quarry and, when it went off, it showered the tennis courts by the Palladian bridge with stones.

Mr Simon Searle (Temple 63)

I remember a Summer Exeat when I had acquired German measles and had to stay alone in the sanatorium. I slept there at night and had all my meals there but had the run of the school during the day. In the absence of any staff, I tried to hit a golf ball over the main building from North to South Front (unsuccessfully), a feat which others had achieved. Luckily, no windows were broken!

Mr Christopher Evans (Walpole 64)

When I was secretary of the Young Farmers, we weren’t getting many people coming to our meetings. YFC sent us a film on abortion in cattle, so I posted a notice on the society’s noticeboard but omitted the word cattle. It caused a stir to say the least as my Housemaster demanded to know what I was up to. I explained it was a bit of a cheeky attempt to increase interest in the club. Wouldn’t you know, a lot more turned up than there was room for so I had a bit of explaining to do afterwards to those who had been taken in.

Mr Anthony Foord (Grenville 64)

One of Stowe’s many eccentricities was that the swimming pool was a boarded off section of the lake. This was a rude shock to visiting swimming teams. There were home advantages that were never shared with the visitors. 1. The large pike basking in the sunshine; this might have made them swim faster. 2. The gaps in the wooden boarding as a kick turn failed miserably when there was nothing to kick against.

During the winter of 1962-63 the lakes froze for several weeks and many of us enjoyed playing ice hockey for the first time. Sadly, a thaw was threatened, and the level of the lake was lowered to protect those downstream from a sudden thaw. This broke up all the ice and ruined the pitches.

Mr Ian Macdonald (Grafton 64)

The Beatles arrived an hour late to the Roxburgh Hall in a battered Ford transit with just one roadie. Tickets were 4/6d but I didn’t bother to go as their band wasn’t well known (yet!). They were paid £150 and the gig was arranged via the dad of John Moores. The Beatles declined to return as were obviously far too famous!

Mr Hugh Roberts (Walpole 64)

Having to swim 100 lengths of the pool with Paddy Pinchbeck at one end to stamp on your fingers if you rested too long and his boxer dog at the other end to bite your fingers!

The Hon Nicholas Wallop (Grenville 64)

I was an exact contemporary of David Moores and remember him telling us he had booked The Beatles to play at Stowe before they were even famous. However, by the time they arrived they had hit the headlines in a big way. Their manager, Brian Epstein, was horrified to discover they had to honour the booking!

Mr Alan Fyfe (Grafton 64)

Getting the Vicar’s VW Beetle up the North Front steps and into Assembly

Climbing the Obelisk with Richard Clifford – getting caught by our Housemaster Bruce Barn and receiving 6 of the best

Mr Alasdair Kennedy (Walpole 64)

While at Stowe I remember that I lived to run the cross-country trails that made me feel free while racing through breath-taking rolling green English countryside on the way to the finish while running for the School. More than anything I felt a need to race against myself, pushing myself to the limit.

I also remember a close circle of friends who were, like me, a little different from most (I trust that they will still remember who they were!). We were responsible rebels with a pioneer spirit, the quest for adventure to spread our wings with the qualities of duty and service learned at the School. Stowe sowed the seeds for me to succeed and explore and may explain why I emigrated to Canada with about U.S.$50 in my pocket and no job waiting!

Mr Nigel Rice (Chatham 64)

When into one’s final two years, there was usually a House Dance once a year, to which you could invite a friend, be it your girlfriend, sister, cousin etc. Then there was the School Dance (The Leavers’ Ball was not yet on the agenda). For the School Dance, a coach load (or two) of girls from a relatively nearby school were bussed in. Wycombe Abbey, Tudor Hall, Hampden House and Overstone, to name four schools that I recall. If one had formed an “attachment” at an earlier “fixture”, you could correspond and arrange a “private blind” in order that you were once again partnered. This was of course done without staff knowledge. However, most the time both genders were true “blind dates”. Not very edifying, because as the coach doors opened there was somewhat of a rush to grab someone that took your fancy.

As a sprinter, I was particularly chuffed by my performance in the annual House Cross-Country event of Spring term 1964. I only did the distance once a year and, on this occasion, as I got to the top of Grafton Slope with just two hundred yards to the finishing line, I saw the School Captain ahead of me. I put on the afterburners and beat one Robert Ulysses Dawson to the line. Sounds fantastic, however Robert had been caught short by a major call of nature in the Japanese Gardens, which meant that we were 18th and 19th respectively!

Mr Patrick Stratton (Chatham 64)

My father was in the brewing and drinks industry and shortly after arriving at Stowe, with little knowledge of rules and regulations, I asked Dad to supply me with a case of Courage Bitter which he did! I discovered it later that day in the tuck box room having been delivered by courier and apparently signed in by some sweet person. As I attempted to open the first bottle the Head of House suddenly appeared and I never saw that case again.

Mr Patrick Frean (Cobham 65)

The realisation that one could trace the script written on ‘Standards’ by holding them up to the light on a window in the Cobham Houseroom and reel off any amount of these ‘punishments’ (for minor school infringements) and supplement one’s pocket money by charging miscreants for the service.

Mr Peter Goodwin (Cobham 65)

I certainly recall thunder flashes from the Armoury being put into and exploding in the toilets in the lower corridor almost opposite the Headmaster’s study. I think it was in 1962 or ’63, but I haven’t the slightest idea who was responsible!

Mr David Lees-Jones (Grenville 65)

I did not ‘pass’ Common Entrance but was “accepted at customer’s risk” (written by D. Crichton-Miller) to my parents in November 1960.

Stowe, then, was a tough place in which to live, but thanks to the arrival of R Drayson, the School started to become very much more civilised.

Inspiration, positive influence and opportunities brought confidence, which served me well during my adult life and which gave me, subsequently, strong respect and loyalty for Stowe.

Mr Nathaniel Parsons (Walpole 65)

The privilege of being briefly taught by Ernst Zettl, who offered his teaching rather than insisting it should be received as given.

Prof Robert Addleman (Grafton 65)

I was at Stowe when the Queen Mother visited – she spent some time looking at the harmonograph I had built in the workshops.

Mr Ian Golding (Cobham 65)

Mabel Milner (Matron of iron disposition and ruthless mien) leaning out of a Cobham window to shout down at students horsing around with her bird feeder, “Leave my tits alone!”

Barclay Lawrence rolling off flat roof in Cobham Courtyard onto ground below, having fallen asleep while sunbathing.

David Remington finding out that a blank .303 round fired from his Lee-Enfield while on CCF manoeuvres, in a spirit of inquiry, would indeed penetrate the highly polished cap of his boot – he had not anticipated the damage to his toes, which amused the rest of us.

Mr Ian Harrower (Temple 65)

A couple of us hid a Norton motorbike up at Silverstone and used to go up to the circuit on Sundays after a major event to ride round the track and collect memorabilia from the commentators’ boxes. One Sunday we went up there to discover the bike had been discovered and heavily crashed – we could hardly lodge a complaint with the Housemaster or Headmaster in the circumstances… We never did discover who had discovered and ruined our secret.

Mr David Remington (Grenville 65)

I arranged the visit of the Beatles with David Moores on 4 April 1963.

Mr George Seal (Grafton 65)

Despite my best efforts to remain in the background and avoid hard work, I found myself selected to oversee new entrants and was expected to develop their interest in the CCF. Being pushed into this rather undemanding task was right up my street and, to my surprise, I found it to be both worthwhile and strangely satisfying.

Mr Richard Weston (Chatham 65)

Getting somewhat tipsy on low-alcohol cider on the occasion of the Queen Mother’s visit.

Mr Timothy Duncan (Cobham 66)

I bought a ticket for the Beatles concert for 2 shillings, I then got chickenpox and was sent home. I sold the ticket years later for £1,750.00

Mr Robin Dunipace (Temple 66)

I decided not to go to the Beatles concert! What a waste.

Mr David Jones (Grenville 66)

Meeting the Beatles outside the School Shop.

Mr John Greenstreet (Grenville 66)

I used to spend weekends with a Grenville friend who kept an E-type Jaguar in a lock-up garage in Buckingham. We drove down to Bath to see his girlfriend after telling our Housemaster (George Clarke) that we were in Buckingham enjoying the public library!

Mr David Jones (Grenville 66)

When in the Fifth Form and with Biology after break on a Saturday that Summer term, I asked Billy (squeaker) Barr, my teacher, if I could be excused to attend a music lesson to which he readily agreed; one was allowed to miss just two of the same lesson for such an event during the term in those days. BUT, on each Saturday he indicated that I could take my leave, which I did, but instead went to the Grenville bike shed and headed off to Silverstone where I remained for the rest of the day…no-one ever seemed to notice!

Loyalty to my Housemaster – George Clark – was fully established when in the General Sixth (a form headed up by Stuart Morris and John Hunt for those boys who did not pass 5 O-Levels in order to qualify for a ‘proper’ place in the Sixth Form) and in one of the Grenville larger studies, a number of us decided to open the bottle of Remy Martin, which one of our number had secreted into School. Just as it was being passed around (again) there was the notorious knock on the door followed by entry without delay… and there was George! A quick look around at the gathered group and he immediately retreated. We never heard another thing, but we never ever got up to such tricks again.

Mr Clive Bailey (Grenville 67)

I was inspired by John Hunt who, as my Geography Tutor, converted me from a serial underachiever to an Oxford entrant.

Mr Tony Bolton (Chatham 67)

Being asked to give up Spanish, as I might have been the first person at Stowe to fail Spanish O-Level! I did switch to music though and have never regretted it.

Mr Simon English (Cobham 67)

Arriving at the Ice Palace in January during the winter of 62-63. The drainpipes were covered in huge pillars of ice and most of the loos were frozen. We skated on the 11-acre lake and I was able to use my coat as a sail to go from one end to the other. Cobham made a huge snowball and pushed it downhill through the Grafton arch blocking the road.

Mr Ian Scott-Gall (Temple 67)

Being Captain of the Colts 7-a-side team that won the Schools’ 7-a-side competition at Oxford.

Mr Stephen Barnes (Grenville 68)

Winning the Thomas Bowl Cup for Stowe at Wimbledon in 1966 was my sporting highlight at the school.

Mr Hugh Brooking (Cobham 68)

Two memorable teachers who taught me at Stowe were Hamish Rutherford, who was able to enthuse us to enjoy the language and, in my case, to build a foundation from which I started on my lifelong adventure in France, and Tony Sparshott, who was a truly charismatic figure who led by example on the athletics and cross-country trail.

Mr Ian Hutton (Cobham 68)

I brought my shotgun to Stowe, where it was stored in the armoury. Richard Branson had talked a local farmer into allowing us to shoot on his land, so that is what the two of us did on Saturday afternoons – unaccompanied – I was 16!

Mr Robert Cooper (Cobham 68)

As a reluctant member of the CCF I was a Lance Corporal (eventually demoted) in the Royal Engineers. One of our projects was building a raft, secure enough to transport our Commander-in-Chief’s car across the lake. All was ship-shape until the vehicle was hoisted aboard – soon to subside into the muddy water. We were never offered a similar project.

Mr Adrian Hope (Grenville 68)

I represented Buckinghamshire in the AAA County Championships for Triple Jump at Birmingham in 1967 and received Representative colours for Achievement. I was offered a trial for the 1972 Olympics through the Achilles Athletic Club in London for Triple Jump but had to decline due to work commitments.

Lt Col Charles Thwaites (Bruce 68)

I suspect this would be impossible nowadays: I was a member, for a couple of seasons, of the Bruce House Shoot. Half-a-dozen other boys from Bruce and I rented some scrubland somewhere beyond the Corinthian Arch. After signing out our shotguns from the Housemaster (Mr Deacon) we would traipse off, completely unsupervised, on a winter’s Saturday afternoon (assuming no matches) to blatt off at some non-existent pheasants. No stunning bags at all, but no injuries either.

Mr Oliver Croom-Johnson (Temple 69)

During my last term at Stowe, my younger brother William was made a Prefect over me in Temple.

Mr Richard Nicholl (Lyttelton 69)

With a friend, my brother Tony “borrowed” Joe Bain’s rather sporty little car from Cobham Court while Joe (Housemaster of Chandos) was busy producing the school play. He drove it a few times round the Silverstone track (easy enough to access in those days). He was only found out because they politely refilled it with petrol and Joe spotted the tank was fuller than he had left it!

Dr John Moreton (Grenville 69)

One memory that I think I should mention is that immediately after I finished my schooling, Stowe helped me gain the opportunity to fly out to Ghana to represent the School while living and teaching there on an exchange scheme called (I think) the Schools’ African Linking Scheme at Adisadel College, Cape Coast, from January to July 1970. The then Headmaster, Bob Drayson, encouraged and helped to facilitate that trip to Ghana.

Mr David Stileman (Cobham 69)

I learnt to poach both trout and pheasants – and then how to cook them!