The Last Boys - Barry Clark I didn't steal the minibus! - Neil Gilbert The Demolition of Halls & Johnstons - Chris Snuggs  

The Demolition of Halls & Johnstons -  Chris Snuggs

An anonymous donor sent me some photos taken in 1991 showing the sad end of Halls & Johnstons. Nothing lasts for ever, but it would have been nice for them at least to have outlived the boys whose teenage home they provided.

Hansons/Orwell and the assembly-hall complex survive for the time being. I would imagine that if the IHS could afford it they would replace them with something bigger and more in keeping with their new swimming-pool and sports-hall building, but I guess that even IHS does not have bottomless pockets.

Another thing strikes me. Dick Woollett told me that maintaining the building and grounds was very expensive and complicated as it is a heritage site subject to all kinds of restrictions on what COULD be done and rules about what HAD to be done (not only re the house but the whole estate), so the fact that construction of modern buildings on the site was even allowed at all is surprising, and perhaps a tribute to the commonsense and foresight of those in power at the time, the L.C.C I suppose, but there were other regulatory authorities no doubt involved. (More PHOTOS and commentary HERE.)

The Last Boys -  Barry Clark

The last boys who were at the school were those doing their GCSEs in the summer of 1990. It was a very interesting year with the last 40 or so 5th Formers (year 11s) living in Hansons and a very small staff just to fulfil their education.

The Day I Didn’t Steal the Minibus ... -  Neil Leslie Gilbert (Corners 86 to 89)

One day, a teacher asked me to put the keys for the bus into the school office postbox. I was going to do it immediately, but the teacher said: "You may as well do it when you head over to the dorm." So I first went to the TV room in another house. I was asked what I was doing with the minibus keys by a roommate, hitherto referred to as X. I explained. X wanted to see the keys up close but I refused. Anyhow I said: "In fact I am going to put them in
the office now."
He replied: "I'll come with you as I want to talk to you about something."

He followed me, and on the journey to the office he asked if I was really going to put the keys in the letterbox. I said: "Yes, but what do you mean exactly?" He said we should take the minibus for a spin (joy ride). I refused, but he continued to suggest it. I ran away from him and he ran after me. I put the keys in office postbox as the teacher had requested. X then came in saying: "What did you do that for?" I responded: "Because I was told to!" He was annoyed, but determined. He asked another boarder who was in the library to get him a coathanger. I shook my head and left ........

Later that evening, I returned to my dormitory; X was there. He smiled and said: "Look!" (pointing to my drawer). I was shocked to see the minibus keys there. I thought: “Silly boy”, but decided to grab them and put them back in the office. The teacher saw me with them and asked: “Why haven’t you done it yet?”I explained that I had, but before I could say another word he said: ”RUBBISH, GET THEM INTO THE BOX NOW.” I replied: “Yes Sir,” and put them into the box AGAIN!

The teacher was then busy talking to someone, but I thought I should explain what had happened. After a few moments, he turned and asked me if I had put the keys in the office letterbox at last? I said: "Yes Sir. Can I tell you that I did before but....." He wouldn't let me finish but shouted that I was being silly.

I returned to the dormitory, and a few minutes later, it was lights out. X then said he had a present for me, and threw the minibus keys onto my bed with me lying in it!

There was nothing more I could do at that moment, so I went to sleep. Later that night X woke me and a couple of others up saying: "Let's go." I must say I did not want to - and thought: "This is the end of my life at this school. They'll send me to prison or a detention center." But then I had an idea.

I thought I would whistle-blow to the police by dialling 999 on the student phone box, telling the others that I was calling my brother. As we proceeded towards the door of the building, the housemaster suddenly appeared. He stopped me and whispered: “Neil I know what happened. Just be careful. He is a maniac and I also heard you tell him ‘No’. I trust you, but just be careful and keep the speed down.”

I caught the other boys up, and said I was going to call my brother. My plan worked. I spoke to the police and explained everything asking if they could turn up to prevent us from going out.

After my brief call, X came through the passage telling me to hurry up, then asked who I was phoning. After I had lied about my brother, we proceeded to the bus and took it out. I hadn't wanted to, and had put the keys back twice! But I had done all I could.

In the end, I was grounded, but fortunately not expelled ....