Rats, Bikes & Ferns - Mark Frost (Hansons '70-'77)

Looking at the unusual 1965 aerial photo reminded me of the hours spent as a 12 year old after prep on a summer’s evening mucking about in the school grounds on the slope between Hansons/ Orwell and the marina.

Rats: The wooded area shown was the site of an incinerator – a brick structure about 6ft square where rubbish was burned in those pre-recycling days. In theory food swill was taken for the pigs, but some of it must have found its way to this place as it was teeming with rats. The whole area was full of rat holes and we spent quite a while waiting for them to emerge and playing Whack-a-Mole. I feel a bit guilty about it now as I don’t like hurting any living creature, but I have a different brain to a 12 year old boy and what was acceptable then isn’t now.
As well as the rats there were broken glass bottles and sharp tins to cut yourself on – just as well I had that tetanus jab from Sick-Bay.

Bikes: In the photo you can see the covered bike racks. Much time was spent on repairing punctures and broken chains. Strangely it wasn’t used as a smokers' den – too easy to see from the staff accommodation attached to Hansons. Petty pilfering meant that the bikes were eventually moved to the loading-bay area. How did we get our bikes to school? Hand them over to British Road Services like the trunks? I can’t remember.

Ferns: These grew to more than 5ft and so provided an ideal densely-covered play area where two teams could try and stalk each other. The ferns could be made into spears and having one hit you in the head was not to be recommended. As dusk fell we would head back to the House (about 9pm?) for a shower and a Wagon Wheel from Matron.