The School Magazine –The Magpie

From “The Magpie”, Issue 24, April 1940

Editorial Comment

The second term of the war period has passed away uneventfully so far as major events were concerned. Failure of the coke supply through the terrible weather conditions made it necessary to close the school for three days and the epidemic of rubella has seriously affected attendance, even members of the Staff being involved. The Summer Term is a long one and we hope it will be free from disturbances of any kind so that the time lost in the Spring Term may be made good. We are fortunate still to have our full staff available although we have heard rumours that Mr. Boucher may shortly be leaving for service elsewhere.

Games activities were brought to a standstill for a large part of the term, the weather conditions being by far the severest experienced in the history of the school. Inter-school games had been curtailed because of the war but we had anticipated a fuller programme of inter-house matches in compensation. Very little use could be made of the field, however, until the last weeks of a short term and the house games had to be played off in the last fortnight. The enthusiasm was all the greater for the delay but it is to be hoped that the Summer Term will permit of the fullest use of the field when cricket, rounders and tennis will be once more in full swing. The boys, at any rate, have made arrangements to give the cricket square some rolling during the Easter holidays, which is a good proof of their optimism and enthusiasm.

Perhaps it is not to be wondered at that material for the magazine has not been so readily forthcoming for this issue as is usually the case. Illness may have prevented some scholars from taking their customary interest and from submitting articles. It was reasonable to expect, we think, some contributions of a good standard on the special difficulties of the term and it is disappointing not to have received more material from the upper forms. We hope a special effort will be made by all scholars to contribute to the magazine for the next issue, so that we can maintain, and improve on, the standard reached in previous issues.

Recollections by Brian Slade* (Form Va)

As my school career draws to a close, and the time for me to leave approaches, I recall some of the events of the last five years. When I remember small and unimportant incidents, they bring me a sense of pleasure and happiness, and I almost wish to live my school days over again.

On entering the building as a new scholar, I regularly lost myself in the corridors, which seemed to me not unlike a maze. However, after I had followed others about for a few days, I became familiar with the school. As I recall this, it seems to me incredible that I once could not easily find my way about. What advances I must have made since then. When I think of my first French lessons, I am always amused. They were very interesting and diverting, and I shall never forget when I was persuaded, with the rest of the form, to make funny faces in mirrors, in order to pronounce French correctly. Among other things which fascinated and interested me, were the physics and chemistry laboratories, because I had never seen anything like them before. I was really surprised to see the rows of bottles and chemicals which lined the rooms and I regarded them with awe. When I first had to use the contents of the bottles I was rather afraid, but after I had experienced one or two distasteful smells and a few explosions, I began to look forward to practical work in the laboratories. I also had my first biology lessons in the physics laboratory and I at first felt rather sick at some of the exhibits. My first art lessons, when I recall them, seemed to have provided my most pleasant experiences. I was given some paint, paper and a brush, and told to paint anything that I wished. I am afraid I made a mess of several pieces of paper, but it was not rationed then, and I painted some very peculiar pictures. As far as I can remember, the strangest of them all was one of a motor car pulled by a horse. This caused a great deal of laughter at my expense, and it taught me to do better in future. The only thing which really worried me when I had finished my first term at the school was the method of sending my report to my parents. It was posted, and not given to me to give to my parents, and so if it was a bad one I had no means of coping with it.

I shall never forget when I entered the Verse-speaking Competition. It was my turn to recite, but as I started with the title of the poem I coughed rather loudly and everyone present laughed. If I could have fallen through the floor then I would gladly have done so, but I continued with a face as red as a beetroot, and amazingly came first. In my second year I remember I got a great deal of enjoyment from a play which was produced by the school. I was supposed to be a dwarf, and at that time I suited the part. It was the first time that I had ever been in a play, and the costumes we wore amused me greatly. I recall another type of “acting”. I took part with the rest of the form in a “mock” election. I was nominated as a candidate but in the voting at the end I just missed being an “M.P.” by one vote. Another thing which greatly attracted me was the Cross-country run. It was very enjoyable to splash through streams and to run across fields, which belonged to a farmer who had erected: “Keep Out” and “Private” boards all around his fields. However, the main attraction in the sports activities has always been Sports Day. On my first Sports Day, which I shall never forget, I stood at the entrance gate for fully ten minutes gazing with great admiration at the busy scene before me. There were flags everywhere, all around the track, and on top of tents, and they made a blaze of colour. I got a thrill when I ran my first race, but it gave way to a gasp of dismay when I found that I was not even in the first three. However it was a great experience; I don’t suppose that it will ever be repeated.

One thing which greatly puzzled me when I first joined the school was the motto: “Rather to be than to seem”. When I learnt that it meant this, I resolved to live up to it. I don’t think any scholar will go far wrong if he adopts it as a guide in after life.

I have really enjoyed my five years at the Grammar School and there may be something after all in the old story that school days are our happiest.

*Brian is commemorated on the school Roll of Honour as one of our war dead during World War II.

From “The Magpie”, Issue 28, February 1948

Editorial Comment

In presenting the first post-war edition of “The Magpie”, we herald yet another of the fruits of peace. The School magazine has been suspended for a number of years, owing to the need for economy in raw materials. Now that it is re-introduced, we hope it may never again be necessary to discontinue it as a war-time deprivation.

School Notes

David Wykes success in 1946 in being awarded the Arthur T. Simmons’ Prize by the University of London for securing the highest mark in geography in the country, is also worthy of mention. Wykes secured nine Distinctions, the maximum possible, in the School Certificate Examination in 1946 and added one more in 1947.

The Photographic Club

This term has brought with it a new school society, the Photographic Club. Only just having started, it has many difficulties to cope with, such as the need for sensitised material, which is at present very scarce, and of course the need for funds, which was the main worry for the organisers, Barnett and J. Clark, but which is now in the hands of the committee. However, the members have agreed to subscribe threepence per week, in return for which there will be lectures and competitions. Since there are are subscriptions, account books must be kept, and for this purpose the members have elected. D. Wykes, Stella Griffiths, Barbara Smith and J. Clark as their committee. It is their job to arrange the necessary meetings and see that the club is being run properly. Members are co-operating in overcoming the difficulties of obtaining sensitised material. For instance, several roll-films have already been brought by some members and distributed among others.

A lecture has been arranged for next term. Mrs. Thacker has kindly consented to speak on “Pictorial Composition”. Everybody interested in photography should attend this lecture, as pictorial composition is the basis of any successful photograph. A competition has been arranged for the Christmas holidays, and photographs submitted will be judged by Mrs. Thacker and Mr. Quarrie, the best entries being awarded prizes.

Photographic work is always full of interest and pleasure, interest in watching an image growing mysteriously on a blank piece of white paper and pleasure in seeing the result of one’s work, or art, for the taking of a good photograph is truly an art.

Next term, I hope to see a flourishing society of enthusiastic people, embarking upon one of the most fascinating hobbies of all time, photography!

Donald Barnett (Secretary).


Boxing classes were resumed this session on November 27, when Mr. Boucher was available in the gymnasium to give instruction to any boys keen enough on boxing to attend. About twelve turned up the first week and ten the second. None of the First Formers were present.

The first week saw just a preliminary loosening-up, sparring and skipping being the only training taken. There is, of course, a lack of apparatus suitable for boxing; a most-needed requisite is a punch-ball. Even gloves are needed, boys being asked to bring their own. It was mentioned in a 1936 edition of the magazine that equipment for boxing was lacking, and it is to be hoped that it can soon be provided. The boxing class consists mainly of Juniors, mostly from the Second Forms; there usually is very little interest shown by the Senior Forms and this is a great pity. All boys should note that the classes are held on Thursdays from 3.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m., and they can be assured that attending them is not a short cut to the West Herts Hospital!

I hope more will join the class this term, so that house matches can be arranged; a tournament would also be very welcome, but both House matches and a tournament must depend on sufficient scholars taking up boxing.

M. Hopla (Form IV S).

A Cheap Holiday

One of the easiest and cheapest ways of taking a holiday is to go “hostelling”. There are three or four hostel associations in the British Isles, but the biggest is the Youth Hostels Association. Usually, that is, when taking a normal holiday, it costs five shillings a night for bed and breakfast. By hostelling, for four and sixpence, supper, bed and breakfast are obtainable. A week’s holiday can be enjoyed for less than one-third of the normal cost. Another great advantage is that instead of “staying put” in one town, village, or what have you, by exerting a little force in one’s lower limbs, easy travel is facilitated. Thus as many different types of countryside may be seen as there are days in the holiday. One ruling is made; all hostellers must either walk, cycle, or canoe. By next year there will be about two hundred and seventy hostels in England and Wales, and these will be well-used, as up to ninety miles a day can be covered by cycle.

In the hostels, supper and breakfast are of three courses each; soup, meat and sweet for supper, and a cereal, bread and butter with jam or marmalade and a hot dish for breakfast. Beds, blankets and pillows are provided, but sheet sleeping bags must be used. There are separate dormitories for men and women, a common room and a kitchen for self-cookers. Only one thing is taken for granted; one cannot get out before nine o’clock – someone must wash up and sweep out!

I am going to the Isle of Wight at Easter. It will cost about three pounds and will last eight days. The first stage will be to Hannington, about eighty miles. By doing the rest in easy stages (not getting too tired) I shall have a reasonably cheap holiday for a week. In my opinion, hostelling is one of the best and cheapest ways of travelling.

K. Watkins (Form V).

Old Hempsteadians Association

On the occasion of the revival of The Magpie, it seems a good opportunity to bring to the notice of present scholars, particularly those about to leave School, the existence of the Old Hempsteadians’ Association, which provides the means for furthering school-day friendships and maintaining contact with the School. During the war years, the Association naturally received a serious setback with so many of its members in the Forces, but nevertheless, it did carry on its activities on a limited scale, and maintained a link between those at home and those overseas. Now, however, it is endeavouring to extend its activities.

At the moment, there are three informal dances held each year, and of course, the Annual Reunion Dance every October. The Girls’ Section runs a thriving Hockey Club, whilst the Old Boys hope to organise a Cricket Club commencing next summer. Football and tennis matches are also played against the School and Staff.

The Ashridge Circle has recently been started to provide monthly talks by well-informed speakers on all manner of subjects, and also gives an opportunity for discussion. Our ambition is also to organise a Dramatic Society and possibly a Debating Society if sufficient support is forthcoming.

It is inevitable that boys and girls leaving school do tend to lose touch with one another, but by joining the ranks of the O.H.A., they will find opportunities of getting together from time to time. Further details of the Association may be obtained from the Staff.

From “The Magpie”, Issue 29, September 1948

Editorial Comment

The reception given to our last issue was very gratifying and close on five hundred copies were paid for. Nevertheless a considerable deficit was incurred, and we should emphasise that it is up to every scholar to purchase a copy to keep as a record of school activities, and also to bring the magazine to the notice of old scholars and others interested in education in this district. Only if pupils help in both these ways shall we be able to finance the magazine.

Sports Day 1948

Particular congratulations are extended to Barbara Foster who won the individual championship for the third consecutive year and who showed a marked ability in the technique of running. It is understood that Barbara narrowly missed selection for the Olympic Games which were held in London this year. However, to have been considered is a great credit to this young athlete and no doubt in the years to come we shall see or hear of her breaking the tape at many notable meetings. We wish her every success in the future.

Dramatic Society

To add further realism to our dramatic productions we are to have all the latest lighting equipment of spotlights, floodlights, dimmers and colour filters suggested by Mr. Robinson and Mr. M. Evans, who have undertaken the trouble and worry of looking after them. Unfortunately the expense was not covered by the proceeds of our last plays and £71 had to be taken from the farthings fund.

School Concert

Handel was very popular with the performers and it would be invidious to single out for special mention any of the musical items. Two performances were, however, outside the normal musical concert, an Irish jig, beautifully and precisely danced by Frances Johnson, and a miming act by Donald Barnett. This latter convulsed the audience and consisted of Barnett miming to a record of Peter Dawson singing the barber’s song from “The Barber of Seville”. It is improbable that Peter Dawson uses the gestures as imagined by Barnett but the latter’s timing was perfect. We very much doubt whether it will be wise to play this particular record in Prayers for a few months.

The Magpie

The Magpie was the school magazine which was published during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Here we reprint anecdotes of life at Hemel Hempstead Grammar School from earlier times.

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