An advertisement for the school in Kelly's Directory for Harrow 1950.
This section comprises anecdotes of school-days at St Brendan’s.
My memories of St B's by Michael Pierce (’36-’39).
… and reminiscences of religious education.
It is annoying that I only recall one teacher’s name, I’d particularly like to re-discover the precursor of Joyce Grenfell…
Art classes in the attic (?) and Sports days. Oh and being totally useless at French, which didn't endear me to Mr.Beau.
Jill Davis ('52-'59)
The Beau family were very religious - staunch Roman Catholics.
One of Mr. Beau's hobbies was keeping budgeriegars and geese. Birds would be free to roam the garden during the day and only caged at night.
Peter Davis ('51-'55)
Mr. Beau used to sell sweets from a cupboard at one end of the first floor.
It was beside a w.c. whose window was above the door to the right of the building as viewed from Marsh Lane.
Hanging over that door was a basket of flowers that must have been difficult to water,
so he rigged up the w.c. cistern so that, when it was flushed, some was diverted to the basket.
I was also reminded by the film La Tourneuse de Pages that I used to perform that service for Mrs. Doctor, though I don't think I had any notion of its importance as portrayed in the film.
Although classroom floors were mainy bare floor-boards, the floors of all the corridors were covered with a brown linoleum.
Chris Thrift (’54-’60)
One morning all our class was led into the room colloquially known as the 'Hall'. We were each told to sit at a desk and answer a test. No-one had told us that today we would be taking the '11+' exam … probably a wise strategy.
Each morning the arrival of 11.45 would be heralded by the aroma of boiled cabbage percolating down the corridors.
We lived in Marsh Lane at No. 18 at the time I attended St. B's on the other side of the road (before the maisonettes were built) - so the school was very convenient. I do not really look back on my days at St. B's with any pleasure. I did have good friends there and we enjoyed ourselves outside school.
One of my friends, one of four sisters, lived a few doors down Marsh Lane from the school and was encouraged to bring her horse, Darius, to the field to help keep down the grass.
Once I had to write a "composition" about my mother at some stage while at St. B's and apparently wrote that "my mother is lovely and cuddly and gave the best hugs". The next time Mr. Beau saw my mother he gave her a hug and told her he agreed with my summing up!
There were the other compositions at the start of every term about what we had done in the holidays. These were of course the best part of this school - they were long!
There were always nativity plays at Christmas as well as other concerts.
We were encouraged to enter local poetry competitions etc during the academic year.
I can remember having to polish the "house" staircase banisters as a punishment for a misdeed but can't remember what I had done.
… having to eat bread and butter pudding - I still can't face it. Yes I also remember the cooking smells especially the vegetables.
Judy Doree, June '08
A cold and austere place that whiffed of the Victorian era but in very pleasent surroundings. I remember going into the nearby woods and parks and collecting conkers. It was cold in winter and stifling in summer.
The food was ghastly and, reading a former pupil's report, the memories flooded
back of the smell of cabbage and all other kinds of food being brewed for the pupils.
I also remember the very hot radiators.
Another memory is of a girl's school next door … and we had to go for long walks
in the nearby woodland.
I was there from '49, when I was four until I was six - then we moved up to Hertfordshire and I was sent to boarding school in Sherborne and then I moved to the United States. We lived in Queensbury at the time and either my grandfather would drive me to Marsh Lane in an old black Morris car, or my grandmother would bring me in on the underground.
Now 62 and having travelled the world as a journalist and writer … I suppose the lovely old building has been bulldozed and expensive housing erected on the site. I am glad I found out it has gone because I was going to drive my grandchildren there from my home in Welwyn to show them where granddad first sat behind a desk and began his long road of education that last until he was 22 and university.
I still have a letter sent to my father outlining the fees for the school in pounds shillings and pence. I will get a picture done and sent over to you. I am sure there is a report somewhere with the names of those who taught us. I found my old brown cap and blazer badge recently clearing out my mother's belongings before she went into a home; I also have my green and brown striped tie. It was the most revolting school outfit.
Perhaps its harshness wasn't too bad. Winters of ice on the windows and wholesome meals which you HAD to eat. I hope I have grown up to be an exemplary member of our society, a professional person and a scholar, kind father to four children and grandfather to three super kids. Those were the days when you had to work … had to fill inkwells … wear uniforms and have that Dunkirk spirit instilled in you by adults with the storm clouds of war, still receding.
Bob Bryant, August '07
The following collection of anecdotes are courtesy of Susan Johns, December '06
(reproduced with her permission) who attended St Brendans between 1948,
the year preceding the start of the 'Beau-regime', and 1954 (when she departed to Stanburn -
possibly because her parents didn't appreciate her being whacked with a ruler!).
Susan now resides contentedly in sunny San Diego, California, breeding doves and Cavalier spaniels.
Christopher Beauvoisin is the Beau's eldest son, Tony was the younger, he was full of fun but always in trouble with his father. I remember he had a hymn book thrown at him in assembly one morning… I ducked!
Do you remember the geese? Tony Beau was sent into their pen for a punishment once and they chased him. To tell the truth, Mr. Beau would be 'had up' for child abuse these days…
At assembly, one of the boys couldn't find the hymn so I took his book from him and found it and then I was looking up in mine. Mr. Beau yelled at me for taking so long… Mrs. Irving, bless her heart, she was my favorite, told him what had happened and he apologized to me… that was different!!!!
Another time during assembley Tony Beau did something wrong and his father, who was conducting hyms with a drumstick, threw the drumstick at him… it went like an arrow and hit one of the boys on the head, nearly knocked him out… poor Tony, he was always making Mr. Beau cross. Christopher kept his nose clean …
… Mr. Beau once hit my hand so hard with a ruler I had blisters!!!
Christopher e-mailed me and said I was his "first snog" - I e-mailed him back and said I wasn't and I've never heard back from him…
Susan must have been an object of several young chaps' desire because she also relates:
There was a girl called Monica I was friendly with who had a brother called Hugh… Maitland-Walker. They lived on Gordon Avenue I believe, just opposite that old archway that led to the airforce housing … I remember Hugh very well because he gave me a kiss while we were watching "Billy Bunter" … I had a crush on him for years …