21 September 1991. I was very lucky to get the demolition snaps. My wife and I drove from London and parked by Church Field at about 7 a.m. I was astonished to see that Johnston’s was in a total mess.
Upstairs, the outer walls had gone, so had the front of the dining room and the floor of my sixth-form study (over the fourth-form common room). The roof, piled in heaps, was compressed straw. It was obviously dangerous but as there were no workers around I went inside and took photographs, taking care not to fall through holes in the floor.
By the dining-room the radiator on which I had warmed my bum a thousand times was flat on the floor. Sinks I had washed in were laid out on the landing to be taken away. Glass and rubble everywhere. There were still posters on the walls. We walked to the back. Jim Hyde’s house had gone.
Then the demolition men arrived in a lorry. They ignored us, but we were challenged by a man who drove up fast in a Volvo. He shouted, “Can I help you?” and asked us what the hell we were doing near a dangerous structure and that we were not allowed in the grounds. I had nothing to lose, I had my photographs, so I walked up to him and turned on the tact and charm. I told him I was an Old Boy, had lived in the shattered house and that (of course!) I had not been too near it.
His manner improved when I apologised. Close shave that; if we had arrived a quarter of an hour later I would not have been able to get near the ruins of the place I had lived in for seven years.