Newells Preparatory School

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Andrew Miller

Posted by newells on April 23, 2012 at 4:50 AM

22nd April 2012.

I was sent to Newells in April 1965 at the relatively late age of 9 together with my younger brother Mark when my father was posted to Italy with the Foreign Office. I stayed right through to my Common Entrance exams in 1969 but Mark, after four attempts at running away, finally left a term or so after me without sitting his CEE.


I have many vivid memories of the school itself, the teachers and even to this day can instantly recollect clearly the faces as well as the names of almost every single boy who was there during my sentence.


Over a series of blogs I hope to bring all these memories bubbling to the page and hope that others will recall some of the characters and events.In due course I shall add all of my school photos, complete with the names of all boys and staff I can remember.


Even before joining the excitement started with a trip to Harrods to be fitted out with the regulation school uniform. Grey corduroy shorts, grey shirt, grey V-neck pullover with a blue V, grey shirt and socks, black shoes, blue tie and a blue elasticated belt, adjustable, with an S shaped buckle that hooked into the other end. We were expected to wear white vests and Y-fronts. If one was fortunate to be promoted then a vice prefect had a blue tie with yellow/gold stripes and a matching belt and a full prefect had a yellow/gold tie with matching belt. I eventually made it to Vice Prefect.


I can remember the excitement of seeing my mother stitching me new name labels to all my clothing, flannel, towels and bedclothes. A Miller - 23 - that was me - and brother Mark was M Miller 24. I still have my red and cream metal tuck tin with one of the labels securely glued to the top and when it resurfaces I shall upload a photograph.


The dormitories were all named after famous British heroes of history beginning with the yougest occupying Clive ( located at the end of the first corridor to the right of the main landing where the 3/4 size billiard table stood. For use only by prefects or the very senior boys). Next up was Nelson, where I began life at school, then Drake, Winston and Lister. Others up in the old servants quarters included Tensing and Hilary, usually only 3 or perhaps 4 boys were in each of these. Every dormitory had a dorm captain whose role was to keep everyone in order depending on the nature of the individual this could leave plenty of scope for conversation and misbehaviour. In practice it often meant that people he liked could talk and the rest had simply to shut up.


The headmasters study lay immediately adjacent to the billard table and as he often used to march around checking that we were all in bed (6.50 pm for Clive, 7.10 for Nelson and I think Drake & Nelson by 7.30 pm) and silent, we were obliged to have look-outs posted by a dorm door to warn us with the whispered word Cave (pronounced KV) if he should be spotted heading our way. This was essential as more often than not one or more boys would be out of bed and most of us were probably talking anyway - hardly surprising at that hour of the evening when Summer nights still had three hours of daylight to go !


Scurrying back to bed in complete silence on old floorboards with the head only 20 - 30 feet away was a difficult art and on many occasions the slipper would be meted out. Usually it would only be one or two boys who had to bend over the bed end (though I remember one occasion in Winston when the entire dormitory was punished)while the head (Capt Hope Lang) would administer up to six wallops of some boys slipper


There was also a rather unpleasant "dormitory cane" which unlike the regular one had a split end designed to pinch when used and occasionally draw blood and it was used either for more serious offences or if the head was in a bad mood. Two - six strokes was the norm but I do remember John Ramsden receiving six one night followed by a further FOURTEEN when he was caught out again the same night. And I am almost certain that Stephen Whetsone received a number the same night


In future blogs I shall remind you of (Brother) Michael Dancy's memory system for French irregular verbs, what happened to an attractive young (Norwegian) junior nurse, stars and stripes, which boy nearly cut his thumb right off while working as a Bushranger, dam building in the woods, the pigs table in the dining room, my brothers disappearance. Mrs Vellacotts excellent teaching of the landscape of the British Isles, early morning exercise, burnt rice pudding,the termly weighing and measuring of boys and lots more.


I also have copies of most end of term Newsletters and the end of term details for every boy in the school highlighting their academic performance as well as the number of plusses and minuses allocated for good/bad behaviour. And I could have told you in one second flat, without looking at the score sheets, which boy consistently outscored every other in the school every term with the minuses - it is one of the existing 25 members on this site ! Oddly enough one of the other regular high minus scorers is also among the 25. More anon




A quick recollection - does anyone from Michael Dancy's era of teaching recall his excellent "football team pronoun" memory method for French. In those days all soccer teams played a 5 forwards, 3 halves and two backs formation so we all learned quickly and by heart


Me, te, se, nous, vous ( forwards )

Le, la, les ( halves )

Lui, Leur ( backs )

Y ( goalkeeper )

En ( linesman )


And then there were his 40 irregular verbs with the six tenses across the page



Être, e´tant, ete´, je suis, j'etais, je serai

( to be, being, been, I am , I was, I will be )

Suivre. suivant, suivi, je suive, je suivais, je suivrai

(to follow, following, followed, I follow, I was following, I will follow


I am sure that if somebody gave me all 40 I would still be able to conjugate them !


I have found these memories invaluable when having to speak French !

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1 Comment

Reply Edward Trewhella
11:16 AM on May 14, 2012 
Hi Andrew

Great stuff - all those minuses and pluses - would love to know how I did - yes I can guess the other one!

Best wishes