The Mysterious Berners Cellars

WAS there a cellar? Must have been, surely?

Ray Hitchins: Yes, on the left as you faced the main building. I remember keeping my bike there - despite the hassle of getting it up and down the stairs it was better than the risks of leaving it in the bike shed. Bumped into Bumber while coming out one day and he said: "If you go down there too often you will be suspected of being a smoker" - really on the ball (not). There was also a seniors TV room down there.

Harvey Angel: The TV room - I spent almost as much time down there as I did in the classrooms, especially when the racing was on. We watched the 1970 World Cup finals down there. If I remember correctly a guy called Viv Beresford needed to be restrained by three people when he was going to put a cricket bat through the screen after England got knocked out.

Mark Frost: Of course there was a cellar Chris! Lots of them. Just look at the Savills plan from the 1990 sales details, and you will see the 'Secret Passage' that linked the HMs house to the staff room. In Berner's time presumably a short cut for the servants. When I was there in the 70's it was a rifle range. I well remember stolen .22 cartridges being taken out to be thrown in the bonfires on the foreshore and everyone running like hell before they exploded and bullets scattered. Our trunks went down there every term. Entrance was from the yard in the LH wing through a trapdoor, although the servants stairs also ended up there.

Chris Snuggs: Well, I don't remember any of us at Berners talking about any cellars in 1958. Of course, we were young and ignorant then - as compared to old and ignorant now. (thought I'd better add that bit before someone else did). I vaguely remember there being a prefects' room on the top floor somewhere not far from Stretch's French room, not in the cellar .....

Philip Durosaro: Yes. The dungeons are real.There were two ways to enter that I knew of. 1) Once through the front entrance of the main building there was a staircase that led down to underground level and the TV room was pretty much under the front entrance because there was a grate in the ground near front door letting in light. This was also how a whole roomful of us were detected watching the Old Grey Whistle Test, Monty Python's Flying Circus and old horror movies after lights out. Bill Bailey heard our laughter coming through the grating and came down to find about 20 of us illegally watching TV. 2) We used to sneak out of our dorms at night after lights out and run across to the staff courtyard in our pyjamas where there was a hatch which - once lifted - led down to the long passageway under the main building. You had to pass the underground cellars used for the rifle range, the scalectrix club and others before reaching the large room where the TV was. I left the school that year we were discovered (1970) but I think the school later decided to give 6th formers more adult treatment and freedom after that because they were given their own shared rooms in the Courtyard building (near the old gym).