Getting to Mortlake school for boys – by GS

I started my secondary school and met up with a lot of my old mates, although I was a little bit later starting school as they were already there.  I started secondary school at Mortlake, that would have been in the latter end of 1953, and then I stayed there until 1956 and then I transferred for the last few months to Grey Court, because Grey Court was opened on 4 September 1956 and that used to be an orchard, I always remember that going in there birds’ nesting, and it was almost a year late opening I remember, I would have had longer at Grey Court, I think, I don’t know whether we had a harsh winter but it was delayed, the opening was delayed and it opened in September 1956 and I only had the last four or five months there and then I left.

I used to get up and do an early morning paper round, I was out on the road at 6 o’clock in all weathers and did the paper round , round the village, I’d come home to gulp a bit of breakfast or a cup of tea down and then you normally had to get two buses, if you was lucky the 71 bus that used to run up Ham Common in those days, that used to run between Kingston and Hammersmith, if you was lucky enough to get on that but it was usually packed out, so you couldn’t always get on it and in them days the conductor would only have five standing inside and he would put his arm across the entrance and wouldn’t let anymore on. If you did get that it was beneficial because that went right the way to Mortlake and Fulham cemetery just before you get to Chiswick Bridge and that’s where I used to get off and the school was down the Lower Richmond Road.  But if you couldn’t get that it meant getting the 65, going to Richmond and then getting a 90 or a 90B I think it was to what we called the gasworks bridge as we called it in those days, and then it was a hell of a walk, you had about a mile walk from the gasworks bridge to the actual school, the only other alternative was when you got to Richmond on the 65 you could get a train and get off at Mortlake station but it was a good quarter of a mile walk from the station to the school, but pretty tough going in them days.

Mortlake I think my mum just thought we’ll send him to Mortlake Boys.  I wish she hadn’t in some ways, I didn’t have many good memories of that place.  One or two good memories but that was a tough school and there were some really tough characters you know.  It was quite frightening when you first went there when you were 11 years old, because the cane was in force then, the teachers were really strict and there were a lot of really big guys there in the higher classes and bullies really a lot of them and quite terrifying when you were a young lad at that age until you sort of grew into the school a bit and matured yourself, you felt quite vulnerable really.