Food,Laundry & Hair etc " - by Chris Snuggs et al ('58 to '64)

The above question was recently posted by an Old Boy,to which my response is:

  • I never remember going hungry at school because I couldn't eat the food.
  • Meals were obviously planned by someone well-qualified in nutrition, since I never remember any kid in sick bay with scurvy or any other food-based deficiency.
  • Nor do I remember boys being ill with food-poisoning, or even an upset stomach.
  • It can't have been that crap if we ate it day in day out and thrived physically.
  • Many hundreds of millions of people on the planet struggle to get any food; ours came free regular as clockwork. We neither had to work for it nor pay for it, something for which I was and always will be grateful.
  • It was not "cordon bleu", but what the hell do you expect in an institution?
  • The worst criticism I could make is that it was a bit repetitive, about which I refer you to the previous comment.
  • We got porridge quite a lot for breakfast, but porridge is good for you. If more kids ate porridge in the mornings we might have less obesity.
  • There were very few obese kids at WHS when I was there. I don't associate general fitness and being slim with "crap food".
  • The school turned out amazing, fit sportsmen year after year. None appeared to be brought up on "crap food".
  • The dinner ladies (sexist, but they WERE almost all ladies - anyone remember seeing a dinner man?) provided meals three times a day, seven times a week. I was grateful to them at the time, and still am today.
  • There were no drinks-machines at WHS in my time. In Halls from 1960 to 1964 (the only period for which I can speak) we got a small bottle of milk every breaktime; no idea who arranged that, but it was a good idea - kids today are more likely to get some tooth-rotting soft drink.


I will always be grateful for WHS catering.

PS - A QUERY: I was in Berners from 1958 to 1960. In those years, the Orangerie was used
as a dormitory, but I cannot remember where we had meals. Where DID Berners boys eat?

Graham Forster - Orwell 59 to 67: I thought the food was very good , the only thing I couldn't eat and still can't stand is beetroot.

Chris Snuggs - Berners/Halls 58 to 64: Funny that - exactly the same for me! Unfortunately, beetroot is one of those foods supposed to be particularly good for you, like broccoli, seeds, nuts, oily fish, sugar-free cereal etc.

Ron Gould - Corners 50 to 55: Can't stand beetroot. Tastes like dirt. Odd as I have ancestry that is eastern European Jewish. Beetroot is a standard part of that diet.

Jon Kemp - Corners 73 to 80: Breakfasts were great, lunches not brilliant and dinners were fine.

Michael John O'Leary - Orwell 57-61: I love beetroot! Especially in a nice salmon salad with boiled eggs, tomatoes, spring onions, lettuce, potato salad and salad cream/mayo!?????? Sorry to go off at a tangent, but I couldn't resist thinking about it looking at the nice sunny day outside! I have no memories of the food at Woolverstone, good or bad, but when my mum used to bring me down a cold roast chicken on a parents' day, I would scoff it down in the dorm after she'd gone home!

Chris Snuggs: Well, beetroot has a really weird taste unlike any other vegetable ..... I have always assumed that only rather odd people ate it (or those with no taste buds!)

Frank Stuckey - Orwell 74-81: In my day the food quality was great, but it all depended on position in the hierarchy as to how much you got. I was also on the food committee in the sixth form ,which met early in each term: two or three boys, a teacher, and the catering manager, a lovely lady called Mrs O’Leary I think. I do remember suggesting a bottle of Guinness with each meal for Mark Young who had a broken jaw, and his jaw was wired and he was having his food liquidised through a straw. The teacher immediately tried to block this, but good old Mrs O’Leary thought it was a great idea and made it happen!

Chris Snuggs: WOW! Fascinating. Thanks. I do not remember a "food committee" in my era (58 to 64). Can you tell us more about that? What did you do?

Michael John O'Leary: One thing I remember was at breakfast time in Orwell, I used to sit at a table where Len Markham was the (6th form?) monitor in charge. As soon as we had finished grace, he would tell us to pass him the butter dish. Then he would use a knife to score a criss-cross pattern on the 1/4lb butter slab establishing shares for each of us. Of course, if there were any over, he got them!??

Chris Snuggs: Sounds fair enough ..... I hope YOU got an extra share when you rose to the rank of table-monitor!

David Waterhouse - Corners 58-61: I don't recall having an issue with the food, but I do recall Fred Mudd's opinion, when I was a table monitor, that there was no point in forcing people to eat the greens since by the time they got to the table there was hardly any nutritional value left in them anyway.

Chris Snuggs: A lovely anecdote. I liked Fred and his lessons very much ....

Graham Forster: Possibly a post for the bullying thread. One of the table monitors used to slide a knife under the large tea pots when he was on the first or second year table then when the knife was nice and hot would take the knife out and touch a unsuspecting junior on the knee with the hot knife.

Chris Snuggs: WHY are some people like that? NO OTHER ANIMALS do that kind of thing as far as I know. I have always found it a mystery.

David Waight - Corners 65 to 72: I thought the food generally was excellent and for some boys I suspect it would have compared quite favourably with what they were used to prior to going to WHS

Harvey Angel - Hansons 64 to 71: Sorry, back on the bullying subject again, as it involved food. I hated cabbage. My tormentor when I was in the first form and he was captain of the 1st XV discovered I didn't like cabbage. He had a single room. He would take a load of it up to his room, and later in the day (always when nobody was looking), he'd bundle me into his room and stuff loads of cold cabbage down my throat until I was retching. He was such a nice chap. I've been asked if it was Chris Webb - no, it wasn't.

Chris Snuggs: Unbelievable. No experience of any such behaviour in my day. That really would merit a caning, though I would simply have expelled the boy if caught bang to rights. I think I know who it was; his name has come up before in this context.

Michael John O'Leary: If I wanted to play detective, Harvey, I could ask you when you attended Woolvo and then just look at the Captains of Games board to narrow down the field! But I won't. It's a long time ago and although it may have been traumatic seeing as you still remember the details, you probably want to get it off your chest without naming and shaming? In the past there's one guy who I've named for his general bullying to not just me, but I've never seen him post online anywhere so I'm content to let sleeping dogs lie. Mind you, if ever I was to come across him I can't guarantee I wouldn't change my mind!

Harvey Angel: I only mentioned it because we were discussing school food and it immediately sprung to mind. Unlike some others, I haven't let any of this stuff ruin my life, or get me down in any way, but it's difficult to forget some things. I have another food story which is less unpleasant I can tell below.

Chris Snuggs: Harvey is nothing if not devious, Michael (Have you not read his multitudinous ploys to either get out of running the X-Country at all or to appear to run it while actually hiding behind a bush somewhere and then taking a short cut back to near the finishing post) and I am sure he has left these clues so that someone else will name the culprit and thus lay themselves open to being sued rather than himself .....

Frank Stuckey - Orwell 74 to 81: "The best thing about meals - certainly in Orwell - was the two long-term dinner ladies, Yana and Rosa Weekes. Three meals a day they always seemed to be there, saving leftover bacon and sausage from breakfast and chips and such from lunch. They would keep this food in the hotplate and redistribute it to those who might have missed out.

With Rosa it went even further. She was the spiritual heart and soul of the house, especially when you were in the first to fourth form. She would always be found around the entrance lobby to the house and the dining-room. Everyone had to pass her watchful eye at least three times a day, and she would distribute words of wisdom to as many as she could.

She had the ability to make everyone feel special. I still remember the first time she spoke to me; she had me totally worked out and of course already knew my name. So began a love affair that lasted my whole time in Orwell. In my junior years not a day went by that I didn’t try to sneak past her and would hear that voice.”Stuckey! Heavens to Mergatroid!” I would stop and she would make me fully aware of my current shortcomings .

She would offer comfort and give advice with a twinkle in her eye, and I always walked away from her with a big smile.

What a great lady!"

Chris Snuggs: A sensational memory, Frank. I will add this to the profile of Rosa. Here she is at Doc T's 80th birthday party.

Harvey Angel: A few years ago at one of our get togethers someone asked me, "Do you still add salt to your butter?" I'd totally forgotten that throughout my seven years at WH, I always added salt to the butter - just a tiny pinch. There was nothing wrong with the butter, just that it was unsalted. I suppose it must have seemed strange to the others on the table at first. Occasionally when I asked, "Pass the salt" someone might hide it or refuse to pass it, but generally it wasn't a problem.

John Tuddenham: I actually remember 'sticking'butter under the table in the dining room, to use with the bread bun we got later in the morning!! Tasted much better with the butter!! I also loved the saute potatoes on a Sunday..great if you could get serving got heaps!!! Does anyone remember the 'dead fly' cakes we got in the evenings..I loved locker was loaded with them from guys who didn't like them!!

Chris Snuggs: Didn't have them in my day. You obviously ate them all!

John Tuddenham: We were well fed...the only time we bought extra stuff was at the Tuck Box hut or on weekends we used to go to a cafe on the way to PinMill/Chelmo (left hand side of the road) and buy Baked Beans on Toast ...really cheap..sometimes bought 2 helpings...ha!! I forgot to mention the great trifles we used to get..usually on a Sunday too!!! As a server, we got lots!!! All great fun.

Chris Snuggs: There was a fashion for Marmite and peanut butter in Halls in the early 60s. Numerous boys got supplies from somewhere and kept the jars in a cupboard in the corner of the dining-room. I was immune to this craze. Peanut butter was OK, but Marmite is almost as revolting as beetroot!

John Tuddenham: Ha! I liked Marmite!! I remember the scrambled eggs, too - powder I think, with milk added - and the bacon was always overcooked - hard: put a fork in it and it flew everywhere!! By the time everyone had done that you got your fair share!!!

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Jon Kemp - Corners 73-80: “Dining-room chairs. The chair which meant you had to divide a slab of food into 9 'equalish' slices. Only sixth formers sat on this chair. Fill the teapot from the urn on the trolley; clear the table; swab the table.”

David Clark - Orwell 75-81: “6.1 - I sat at the head of the form tables, 6.2 had their own table (at least they did in Orwell). 6.2’s table seems to get portions for a full table despite only having 4 of us plus Housemaster. Good times - but I’m sure my general gluttony also dates from this period! I can still recite Latin Grace.”

Michael John O'Leary - Orwell/Hansons 57-61: “I remember Len Markham our table monitor in Orwell dividing a quarter pound of butter into 8 equal sectors by scouring the top of it with a knife! If there were less than 8 on the table, he got the spare! Also, if you managed to get on Fred Mudd's table (I think there was some sort of rotation schedule), you got to have toast if you wanted!”

Louis Parperis - Orwell 63-70: “The mess of dissolving cheese that I remember was clinging to spaghetti in a tomato sauce which makes me think Damien Hirst worked in one of the kitchens at Woolverstone, drawing inspiration from the experience.”

Hugh Hawkins Orwell 59-66: “Cheese rissoles! I have a memory of cheese dissolves with a kind of tomato sauce. Never seen it anywhere else. Also the tinned tomatoes and bacon for breakfast which I liked.”

Paul 'Toad' Stokeld - Halls 80-83: “The bacon sitting in the congealed fat was disgusting! I survived on the rice pudding and Jam .... kinda like the least disgusting thing.”

Marcus Redburn - Orwell 75-79: “Still love tinned tomatoes and bacon - but fish fingers were the best! Forget boiled eggs - had one and it was half developed!! Never eaten boiled eggs again.”

Daniel David O’Byrne - Johnstons 67-72: “I wasn't that keen on the tinned tomatoes."

Barry Page - Johnstons 58-63: “Fried eggs on seriously golden fried bread ... mmm - whipped coffee and sugar 'expresso'.... very hip - the innards of a white crusty roll and then the shell all taken with mouthfuls of milk ... classic.”

Glynne Thomas - Halls 57-62: “Disgusting liver casserole!”

Chris Snuggs - Berners/Halls 58-65: “I remember clearly:

1) In Halls, Marmite and Heinz sandwich spread were popular additions to the kitchen fare - amazingly, I haven't eaten EITHER since leaving in 1965. Does Heinz sandwich spread still exist?

2) Two things in particular I remember clearly from the menu: porridge and sponge pudding with syrup."

Didn't we also have tapioca? I have a vague memory of that. I also seem to remember that they gave us brown sugar with the porridge - much healthier than white!!”

Mark Frost - Hansons 70-77: “No Marmite since 1965! Yes Heinz Sandwich Spread is still around. Tapioca - with sultanas - wasn't it called frog spawn?”

Mark Kenny - Hansons 73-78: "‘ Why do you eat so fast?’ Has been a lifelong question… 'Because I wouldn’t eat if I didn’t,' is always my answer.”

Jon Kemp - Corners 73-80: “My wife also says I eat too quickly. And if I reach for something at the table she refers to it as a 'boarding school reach' ”.

Peter Warne - Corners 66-73: “There is always the nod of recognition to a brother who also finishes his food in record time. The quick and the hungry. I am only now being able to slow down a little after a long campaign by my wife complaining that eating with me is no fun.”


Kevin Cooper - Orwell 80-85:
“What about the weekly nail inspection from matron and nits?? And how you had to safety pin your socks together …. towels once a week - two towels if I recall.”

Ron Gould - Corners 50-54: “Haircut every 2 weeks whether you needed it or not.”

Jon Kemp - Corners 73-80: “Once a term in my day. A chap would come to Corners and do the whole house.”

Andrew Campbell - Corners 68-75: “We used to hide from him!”

Jonathan Turner - Berners 72-77: “Yup. once a term for me.”

John Tuddenham (McGown) - Hansons 52-57: “Can't remember getting a haircut at WH.”


Jon Kemp - Corners 73-80:
“I have been married for over 30 years and my wife still doesn't believe we only changed our pants & socks twice a week, shirts once a week and trousers at half term.”

Jonathan Turner - Berners 72-77: “Top sheet to bottom sheet, bottom sheet to laundry, new sheet on top, once a week (Thursdays, wasn't it?).”

Mark Kenny - Hansons 73-78: “Just a duvet and no sheets saves all that hassle.”

Andrew Ludlow - Johnstons 72-79: “I still can’t change that habit.”

Daniel Dave O'Byrne - Johnstons 67-72: “I wish I could do that these days. Some things were so much easier at WHS.”

Ron Gould - Corners 50-54: “In the very first days, we had sock-darning machines. There were "house mothers/matrons" to help us use them. I wonder when they were got rid of.”

Roger Evans - Corners 68-75: “Not to forget the periodic shoe inspections, usually at the morning front door assembly when the mail was distributed (at Corners), prior to the walk across the fields for breakfast.
How many of you are honestly still spit and polishing shoes today?”

Grant Brewster - Hansons 72-79: “After seven years of the laundry rituals and school, mine continued at sea. Chinese laundryman would collect from outside the cabin, pass all shirts through the special button removal machine, starch everything and return it all the next day.”

Ian Suter - Halls 53-60: “Same in the fifties, but just tell your wife that old habits die hard!”

Mark Howell - Hansons 73-78: “But in the last week of term socks and pants weren’t changed as they wouldn’t be back from the laundry until after we gone. Some guys hand washed their socks during the week - others didn’t!”

Glynne Thomas - Thomas 57-62: “The convention continues!”

Mark Kenny - Hansons 73-78: “I would do hospital corners but the mattress is too thick.”

Roger Evans - Corners 68-75: “Naa... the sheet is too small. Then there were the periodic shoe inspections, usually at the morning front-door assembly when the mail was distributed (at Corners), prior to the walk across the fields for breakfast. How many of you are honestly still spit and polishing shoes today?!”