Alleyne's School Main Hall

The main hall under construction 1956

By Pauline Maryan

Alleyne's School main hall under construction 1956
Stevenage Museum PP1333
This page was added on 10/01/2011.

Comments about this page

  • I remember my only school photo was taken outside on that corner of the school hall when I started in 1968. I was very dismayed to read the comment about the school organ. I stood in for George Partridge on many occasions in assembly but would be annoyed when he turned up at the last minute and took over. We reported to the hall on the first day and he was making us sing and beating out time on the book-stand. We had a small music class (about 6) which I enjoyed and was surprised when he referred to Lennon and McCartney as geniuses. He once said the “F” word when he dropped the stylus onto a record. That was a shock in those days. I remember another teacher called Mr Munn who was constantly quoting Bob Dylan. His wife was there as well. The famous newsreader at the fete was Gordon Honeycombe. He was accompanied by 2 dolly-birds, one on each arm. The helicopter incident was hilarious as Mr Burridge managed to board and disembark without any detriment to his hair! It’s Mr Biggerstaff (not Bickerstaff) who I witnessed picking up a boy by the neck and moving him to another part of the gym. He used to line us up in the corridor and look down our shorts to make sure we were not wearing underpants!!! My brother said he saw him chasing a boy around the playing field waving a hockey-stick. I was not caned but I just happened to be present when a boy was showing off the result of a caning and was truly shocked. There were three distinct marks on the underside of one of his thighs and there was very slight bleeding. Ah, the good old days!

    By Steven Sheehan (20/02/2020)
  • Although such a concept was unknown to me at the time, my memory of being a ten year old interviewed by Francis Cammaerts is that of having spent time with a school principal straight out of central casting. He had the look, manner and voice that every headmaster in the world would aspire to. That was my introduction and, as with many other contributors to this blog, it was the specter and experience of George Partridge that has resonated with me across the years. In many ways, George was the very embodiment of all that was good and bad about Alleynes. He certainly had what in hindsight would now be considered to be a somewhat sadistic streak. We had to keep our wits about us in every lesson. But, as has also been said, George possessed an extraordinary array of talent. A well-timed question such as ‘what did he look like’ could start George energetically drawing on the board. He was quite the artist and much of the board art ended up on George’s chalk-saturated gown. Other than to witness him toss the eraser in the direction of an inattentive head, I cannot recall George using a board eraser to correct a mistake. After all, that was what his gown was for, the same gown he wore when he took us to London.
    Having been dropped by the bus at the Science museum, the rest of the day was spent chasing after George in his yellowed black gown. ‘We need to get on a bus – that one’. George ran for it, we followed the tail ender jumping on to the moving platform. Then, in Westminster Cathedral, we followed behind as he loudly proclaimed on the architecture seemingly oblivious of the solitary worshippers and completely comfortable as, still talking, he led the way between the congregation and the altar. George’s final memorable act of the day was when we sat on the bus waiting to leave for home. Two boys were late. George’s patience ran thin. He got off the bus and told whoever was around to hear, ‘if two boys from Alleynes are looking for us, tell them we have gone home’. The amused driver drove off leaving two fourteen year-olds to fend for themselves.
    In many ways, George Partridge was an anachronism. His style didn’t mesh well with the changing times. Whereas school musical experiences today often include contemporary exemplars, the chance of seeing George standing at the piano looking out over the class and playing Chubby Checker’s Twist was as unlikely as him reproducing Andy Warhol on his chalkboard.
    There’s no doubt about it. George Partridge cast a long shadow. But my particular gratitude goes out to our art teacher Terry Burns who is totally responsible for every pound and Canadian dollar that I earned working in art education from 1965-2013. In that respect, Alleynes is very much who I am from my dislike of ox heart that was so often being cooked from nine to noon just down the corridor from our classroom in the Grange, to the fact that I am still using the skills imparted by Terry Burns in my current work. Even if there were times when the Alleynes experience may have been more akin to Lindsay Anderson’s ‘If ‘than to Herbert Ross’s ‘Goodbye Mr. Chips’, all things considered I couldn’t have wished for a better educational grounding.

    By Bryan Maycock (14/12/2019)
  • I was at Alleynes from 1970 to 1975 and couldn’t wait to leave. In my experience [Ed.], it was a den of sadistic and other abuse which we survived by watching our backs. Why HERTFORDSHIRE LEA allowed it, I don’t know. About time it was investigated.

    By Marten Jackman (25/10/2019)
  • Wow! Buzz Partridge. You either loved him or you hated him. I loved him. Must have been about 1966, there was a bully in our class and Buzz totally made a fool of him, and rightly so. Reduced him to a tearful wreck. Among his many talents was his ability to hit a specific boy on the bonce with a piece of chalk with his back turned by the reflection in his glasses.

    Hell of a guy. I will always remember him.

    By Paul Fortescue (29/08/2019)
  • I have many memories from my time at Alleynes (1968 – 1975). We were the last grammar school intake, when caps had to be worn by all except the sixth form. I recall many teachers from my time there – George Partridge, John Williams, Les Ransley, Mike Davidson, Mr Bickerstaff, Mr Jordan, Mrs Walpole, Mr Shorten, Alan Foxley, Mike Hogg, John Burridge, Mr Abbott, George Rich, Dr Splett, Mr Faulks, Mr Luxton, Mr Lillistone, Mr Welch, John Butcher, Mr Rushden, Cliff Rowe, and many more whose names I cannot recall. We worked hard, taught by traditional methods, got punished if we stepped out of line, but grew up respectful, hard-working, honest young men, fit for entering the adult world of work – we did OK didn’t we?

    By Jon Ingarfill (31/05/2019)
  • I went to Alleynes from 1967 until 1973. I was not a good student but I loved school. The famous Mr Burridge told me I was a useless piece and would never make anything of myself. Vic Verier scared the living daylights out of his 14 year old maths students. Baldy Rich took more stick than necessary and the famous Mr Bickerstaff handed out plenty of stick. I visited the school a couple of years ago and I was devastated to see the state of the organ that was Dear Mr Partidges pride and joy. Happy place for me in those days. Still have the scars from the cane handed out by Mr Jones !!!!!

    By Ron Baker (01/01/2019)
  • It’s strange how memories come flooding back just by looking at a few old black and white photos and reading the comments of other almuni. I was at Alleynes from 1972-1977 and have both good and bad memories of the place. I fondly recall Art lessons, taught by a teacher named Miss Hazel Boyles (on whom I had a crush, at the time), the somewhat sadistic Mr Bickerstaffe who made me run a cross country marathon (it felt like it) when I had a bad cold, only for it to then become a worse chest infection, the controversial headmaster, Mr Burridge (alumini will know what I refer to), Herr Splett (or was it Doctor Splett?), the German language master – why did all the German masters have elbow patches and blakeys on their shoes?…curious! There was an odd Chemistry teacher, I think he was named Farrell, who taught us the explosive qualities of sugar and flour (now that was a lesson! – today he’d be carted off by the cops for promoting terrorism) and he even had a small lab in which we could ‘experiment’ with radioactive material. Can you imagine kids doing that nowadays?

    I recall the long, hot summer of 1977, stuck in those damned language labs and sweating like a pig. It was made all the more uncomfortable for my merry band of 16 year old, hormonally rampant fellows and myself, by the arrival of a particularly attractive, young female French tutor in a low cut top and blue mini skirt. Oh boy, she fuelled a few fantasies! Then there was the day trip to Boulogne-sur-Mer and the ‘smuggling’ back into the UK of two packs of Disque Blue cigarettes and a small bottle of really rough Calvados (apple brandy). We thought we were so daring!

    George Partridge! A character who, if he didn’t exist we’d have to invent him. It was as if he’d stepped straight of the pages of a Tom Sharpe novel. Eccentric, wildly unpredictable, as old as ancient Rome (or so we believed) – and prone to whacking boys across the knuckles with a ruler. I recall he once called me to the front of the class for a whacking. I put my hand out, up went the ruler then down in a flash…and I withdrew my hand. He missed. I got a laugh from the class and the ruler round the back of my head. That damned well hurt, but it was worth it to beat the old boy at his own game. I won’t say I disliked him; in fact in an odd way I almost respected him as he had a fantastic mind. He’s just one of those characters you’ll never forget.

    I left Alleynes in 1977. Next stop – Hong Kong. A world so different from Stevenage that, at the time, it beggared belief. I had been there barely a few months when into my school and my class walked a new boy – a lad I’d been at Alleynes with! It’s a funny old world.

    One day, if I find myself in Stevenage once more, I’ll drop in to see how Alleynes is doing. Thanks for the memories.

    By Ashley (16/11/2018)
  • George Partridge – was the only teacher, who had a Rolls Royce and a Triumph Spitfire, which he drove to school. He had a love of all the arts and was committed to get the best out of people. He for many years was the fantastic organist at Aston and Bennington Church and was still swimming to the end of his life. I should add all the paintings of the headmasters in the school were painted by George, he was a fantastic artist. He was very clever and had strong passion for education. He loved the Passion Play and Latin. I was lucky enough to have him teach me “Ave verum corpus” in Latin to sing. Ave verum corpus, natum de Maria Virgine,ver e passum, immolatum in cruce pro homine cuius latus perforatum
    fluxit aqua et sanguine: esto nobis praegustatum
    in mortis examine, which he did patiently ! He was also a fine pianist on the Grand in the school hall. He also loved history and theatre and enjoyed the play Billy Liar which was based the 1959 novel by Keith Waterhouse. I thought he was fantastic as a person and very complex.

    By Keith Scivier (17/04/2018)
  • I joined in 1962 and have some great memories of the school and the Old Grange. Notable teachers included Patridge (Music), Hogg (Spanish), Farrell (Chemistry ?), Ransley (Geography), Wright(English), Bickerstaffe (PE) and head WC Jones

    By David Jackson (18/08/2017)
  • The methods of teaching would probably be frowned upon now, but the teachers at Alleynes did encourage us to think for ourselves and gave us a good foundation for life at university. Friendships were forged there which, despite living in the South of France for the past 25 years, have continued to this day. If it’s any consolation to my French teachers, who must have despaired of my incompetence, I finally got there.

    By Rob Fuke (04/06/2017)
  • I remember Alleynes. Many teachers were bullying sadists swing fit to assault pupils including [name redacted]. Terrible way to teach. Thumping hymns out on a boys chest with hours of pointless hymn singing. The school did me no favours. 

    By Duncan moss (28/02/2016)
  • Ah! Mr Partridge. Very much a man from the old days. He auditioned me for the Choral group and a production of Noyeh’s Fludd (B Britten). I sat my exams there too, no doubt on the same day as you David. Elsewere you’ll see comments from Paul Tooley who was in my class ( Class 1-4 start in 69).

    I remember Mr Partridge had a sense of humour too and can still hear him singing songs with ‘alternative lyrics’.

    By Stephen Cartledge (01/10/2015)
  • When we arrived from then Northern Rhodesia I started at Alleyne’s in 1959. In1963 we then immigrated to Canada. I give this background in case anybody remembers me. I, too, remember Mr. Partridge. He would line us up with our books open and snap at the page with his fingers  when he approved of our handwriting. Because I stayed after school and helped with the scenery for the annual production (Macbeth) and I lived in Walkern I got many a lift in the Rolls. 

    By Anthony Sutherland (01/08/2015)
  • I remember George Partridge well.  He was at Alleynes all his life from being a school boy to retirement.  He could perhaps have been the most charismatic teacher in the long history of Alleynes (from 1558).  He taught English and music.  If boys were out of line, he would line them all up at the front of the class holding their hands out (type of lowered ‘Nazi’ salute) and would then walk along slapping all the hands.  Marking homework he would put an SM (see me) in the book.  At the start of each leason he would ask for SMs and then tell the whole class what was wrong.  A very effective way of teaching, learning from every ones mistakes.  Ofsted today would probably scowl at his methods.

    By David Abram (28/01/2015)
  • I remember … that inside and against the end wall of the hall .. there was an organ … up high .. with steps up to a sort of rectangular mezzanine level.. it was a large church type organ .. with keyboards .. three maybe .. wooden ‘stops’ and foot pedals .. and organ pipes .. brass I think … amazing sound … both deep and low plus rich and high … The organist was often an older teacher named George Partridge .. who taught English amongst other things … he wore ‘old-fashioned’ round spectacles with small circular lenses … and used to drive an old Rolls Royce …. The Hall was in use every day … firstly for the morning service school assembly … and then later in the term for exams … I sat for my ‘A’ and ‘O’ levels in there …. I started at Alleyne’s in 1964 .. leaving to go to Bath University in 1971 …. Best bit about Alleyne’s was the school dinners … 14 to a table … main and desert … really good food …. enjoyed it … we all always stood to sing grace before eating … “Benedictas Benedecat per Jesum Christum Dominum Nostrum” .. followed by a long “Amen” … the shuffling of chairs and us all sitting down …. The date of writing this is March 2014 ……

    By Gordon Phelps (12/03/2014)

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