Halliford Memories

Eight Feet Tall by Stephen Bechervaise, Old Hallifordian (1964-1969)

Have you ever met anyone who is eight feet tall?

I most certainly have! I remember the event very well. It was 1964, and I hadn’t long started at Halliford School as a first year student (that’s Year 7 in today’s language) and had found myself in the very dark narrow corridor which led to the Prefects Room, situated deep within the Main House opposite the front of the then gymnasium-cum-hall.  

Whether I had been summoned to this forbidding place or whether sheer curiosity had led me there, I cannot recall, but what I can remember with incredible clarity were the Prefects who towered above me – they were eight feet tall! At least!!

I became a Prefect myself in late 1968 as a Fifth Former (now Year 11) when the Prefects Room was in exactly the same location! Thankfully, eight-foot-tall fellow Prefects were no longer a threat, and I felt incredibly proud to hold the office until I left the school in July 1969, shortly after the Prefects Room had been moved to a somewhat less foreboding location within the Main House. 

The encounter detailed above is my earliest recollection of my five very happy years at Halliford School (provision then was for 11-16 year-olds only.) My mind is brimming with others, too numerous to mention them all, but allow me to put to paper just a few other memories which I hope will be of interest to current students (and their parents) at the school and, of course, my fellow Old Hallifordians. 

  • I remember well the woodwork shop set away from the remaining buildings along a path. The teacher was Mr Anderson, and one or two of the items he helped me make are still in my possession – these include a toast rack and a plant holder. I was taught well. 
  • My English teacher, Mr Taylor

    Mr Warren (nicknamed Bunny!) was our PE teacher, and he helped me excel in various sports, including gymnastics and athletics. I vividly recall gymnastics displays (dressed in white) at summer fetes and always coming second in the 440 yards race at sports days. 

  • I also did fairly well at cross country running. We used to walk to nearby Walton Bridge, where our route began, which took us around Desborough Island and back to the bridge. I recall coming around sixth in the field on tournament days when the whole school would cheer us to the finishing line, my legs turning to jelly as I sprinted to the finish. 
  • Cooked lunches were taken in a large room in the Main House, with the teaching staff seated at a separate table in the same room. Following lunch, Mrs Lane (the Matron) would appear at the door at the side of the Main House where she would sell ice lollies!! A real treat!!
  • Most of my lessons took place in the Quadrangle, a rectangular block of six classrooms, where I received teaching in History, French, Maths, Latin and English. Geography, Science and Art lessons took place in an adjacent building next to the main side entrance gate to the school. My English teacher was Mr Taylor – I understand his brother was the renowned historian, A.J.P. Taylor. I always remember the Maths lessons with Mr Crawford (Biccy was his nickname) – he was an excellent teacher but very strict! 
  • There were two streams in each year – A and B. 
  • We used to have what were called Three Weekly Tests. We faced these assessments every, you guessed it, three weeks, and there was great trepidation as we entered the classroom – we never knew exactly when the tests would take place. Our test results featured heavily in our term reports. 
  • My music and drama teacher was Mr Lewis, who taught us in the Main House. How can I ever forget the superb production of Henry V (I think late 1968) with its huge array of colourful costumes? (See photo). Nor would others (including the audience!) let me forget the cloud of powder which exploded from the top of my head when I removed my headwear, the consequence of an over-enthusiastic application of make-up!
  • Our uniform at school included a bright red blazer which I was incredibly proud to wear. As I recall, this was replaced with a navy blue blazer in the Fifth Form. I wore short trousers in the first year (as did others but not all) but relished the moment I was able to wear long trousers once I started in the second year! 

Allow me one final recollection. Periods and breaks were marked by the sound of a bell, the switch for which was located just inside the main door to the Main House. One of the duties of the Prefects was to leave lessons in good time to ring this bell. I relished that responsibility!

I cannot complete this piece without acknowledging the personal sacrifices of my late parents, who dug very deep to send me to Halliford School. I shall be forever grateful to them for allowing and enabling me to study there for five very happy years. A Levels were not catered for while I was at the school, so, following the GCE’s I gained at Halliford, I finished my secondary education at nearby Hampton Grammar School.

The years 1964 to 1969 were very happy years for me as a child, and this was in no small part due to the outstanding education and care I received at Halliford School. I wish you all well in this centenary year, and I, for one, am extremely proud and thankful to have been part of such an outstanding school.

The famous Quadrangle
Halliford School Staff List
Fees from 1st January 1962


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