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NAME: Barney Neville

DATE: 15 April 2010


As a former pupil, I was wondering whether the old swimming pool, with its slimy gunge across the walls, still stands.


NAME: Ian Sadler  Ian Sadler

DATE: 19 May 2010


No, the old outdoor pool is gone and I think a new music department built on top. There is a superb larger new indoor pool. As I was down south three weeks ago I called in to see the place I hadn't visited since 1987 (I now live in Edinburgh) and was very impressed with the pool. However the extra class rooms built in 1956 in my time at the school are looking disinctly tatty. As I visited in the holidays the main school was closed, but the pool was being used by some outside group for a lesson so I was able to go in.


NAME: Nigel Wood  Nigel Wood

DATE: 20 May 2010


A highly personal memory of the old swimming pool is trying to decide whether or not to jump into the cold water, letting my mind wander and just finding myself plunging. Made me very sympathetic to the idea that conscious thought is not essential to decision-making. Ah, yes, the 'new' classroom block, in which my years at QE began... I'm hardly surprised it's not aging gracefully - it always struck me as being made of ticky-tacky.


NAME: Roger Nolan  Roger Nolan

DATE: 22 May 2010


Two anecdotes come to mind relating to the old swimming pool. I can remember my father being somewhat miffed at the fact that throughout my career at QE he and other parents were asked to contribute each term to a fund to pay to cover the pool and make it an indoor pool but the pool was eventually covered a year or two after I left and so I never got the benefit!  Also, I can remember that in my first year we were allowed to use the pool during the summer holidays on payment of 10 shillings. I think it was open on Tuesdays and Thursdays and was supervised by one of the masters.  I would love to know whether or not the School continues the practice of having different coloured swimming trunks for those who can swim and those who can't. I always felt this was somewhat humiliating for those who could not swim.


NAME: Vic Coughtrey  Vic CoughtreyThen & Now

DATE: 23 May 2010


Well, in my time at the school it wasn't so much different coloured trunks.  Non-swimmers had to wear skimpy 'red slips'. They were no doubt designed for first first-formers, it being assumed that you would soon learn to swim. But for those like me who still couldn't swim at 15 or 16, those slips could fail to contain you, as it were, so they were certainly humiliating. In fact we took it for granted that humiliation was the name of the game. I still can't swim.

By the way, does anyone remember that wooden changing hut by the pool which was reserved for visiting girls from QE Girls? Some boys (NOT including me for some reason) used to peep through chinks in the wood. The door of our changing room for the old gym (and the pool) was right opposite the girls' shed and one day a first or second-form boy - I'll refrain from naming him - nipped out of the door stark naked and was caught by Eric Shearly peeping through the woodwork. What struck me as very odd at the time was that Shearly contented himself with roaring "You filthy little beast - get back inside at once!" with a distinctly amused expression on his face. There was no suggestion of any punishment - not even 25 lines.


NAME: Mike Cottrell  Richard Dilley & Mike Cottrell

DATE: 28 May 2010


I seem to recall that the art / music room that was on the first floor provided an extremely good view into the girls' changing rooms. Huw 'Piggy' Purchas most certainly knew what we were all looking at during summer art classes as we changed our paint water for the umpteenth time and took the long route back to our paintings via the window. Music master 'Dickie' Whittington however couldn't understand why the whole class volunteered to be record-changing monitor on the days that the girls were there.


NAME: Frank Huw Dobson

DATE: 07 June 2010


One of my most vivid memories of my time at QE was that 'grand old pool' as I personally called it. As a school and county swimmer, I cannot say how glad I am that they replaced it. Generations of future swimmers can prosper as a result !


NAME: Matthew Newton

DATE: 15 September 2010


My first 'job' on leaving QE was to work on the building site that became the pool. It was a hot summer and shirts were off. I worked with Alex Sharp who was also in my year. Much enjoyed the looks from my former teachers who thought they had seen the back of me! Little did they know - they couldn't get rid of me that easily!!


NAME: Brian Seal  Brian Seal

DATE: 28 July 2011


Regarding the girls changing shed, and boys peeping thru knotholes in the wood [see reply 4], Stephanie Beacham was head girl during my time. Need I say more?!


NAME: Stephen Giles  Stephen Giles

DATE: 08 August 2011

CONNECTION WITH QE: inmate 1957-64

I remember Stephanie Beacham parading at the pool! No mention of her time at QE Girls is made in Wikipedia, although it does say that she was born in Barnet.

10th REPLY

NAME: David Selway-Hoskins  David Selway-HoskinsThen & Now

DATE: 03 June 2012


I wore the dreaded 'red trunks' [see reply 4] for a very short time until Eric Shearly barked out the command, Boy, jump in there, swim over there!" I dared not refuse! As a 'full time swimmer' I well remember the Easter Holiday pool filter cleaning sessions - 17 year old boys working in confined spaces, couldn't happen now with modern H&S rules. After the holidays the pool was filled from the mains, then we went swimming - if only I had had a wet suit in those days. At least nothing slimey could live in the freezing water until it went green over summer. Ah yes, the art sessions spent peeping at the girls' changing rooms!

11th REPLY

NAME: Adam Lines  Adam LinesThen & Now

DATE: 04 June 2012


Hello, David. I (and my sister Vivienne) were at Osidge School Southgate before embarking on our respective QE experiences. I recall the Headmaster at the time was a Selway-Hoskins - your father I assume?

12th REPLY

NAME: Stephen Giles  Stephen Giles

DATE: 06 June 2012

CONNECTION WITH QE: funderin' nuisance 57-64

The next head of Ossidge School may well have been John Hedge who with his wife Peggy were good friends with my Dad, Jack Giles. I can remember Whitsun caravan breaks when my Dad (then head of Foulds School) and John Hedge would sit on the beach and talk nothing but school matters!

13th REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 26 July 2012


I was one of those non-swimmers [see original message and replies 1-10] who attended non-swim classes in one of those little red slips. Did anyone other than in the first form ever learn to swim in them?  Was it not a waste of time not just for the pupils but also for the master who volunteered or was conscripted in to taking them? Do such classes still exist? I recall Mr Hoskisson standing at the pool side in pouring rain with his umbrella up saying "Come on then. Float to the bar." No fear! Take my feet off the bottom without leaping out of the water! Surely there should have been teachers there who actually knew how to teach swimming properly. Still cheers to all who attended and it was an interesting little social club once a week. It would also have been good if we had proper instruction in how to play rugger and cricket down in the D game lot or not played at all. Thank goodness for the Record Society cycling trips with Bop Wakelin in the middle school. Have any such trips continued nowadays?

14th REPLY

NAME: S J Hersom

DATE: 10 August 2012


By the time I left the pool was still not covered, so generations of parents contributed to a roof that didn't happen. There was, though a covered pool at the girls school so we occasionally went there. I think it was one of those that was built of high alumina cement and had to be replaced. The plant must have been upgraded because it the water was clean all the way through the summer hols. I don't remember any non-swimmers: certainly no-one left Foulds JMI under Mr Wells unable to swim.

15th REPLY

NAME: Stephen Giles  Stephen Giles

DATE: 11 August 2012

CONNECTION WITH QE: Failed 3 A levels 1957-64

Mr Hersom, as you went to Foulds School you may have known my Dad - Jack Giles, who was headmaster from roughly 1967- 1989.

16th REPLY

NAME: S J Hersom

DATE: 07 January 2013


The head of Foulds when I was there was Mr Wells. The summer holiday opening of the pool [reply 14] in my day was mostly supervised by sixth formers.

17th REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 21 February 2013


Well done, Ian Sadler, for sending in a photo of the current swimming pool. It is certainly a vast improvement on the outside pool we used to use and maybe I would actually have learned to swim in such a place provided that there was some proper instruction. This is of course already commented on on the site elsewhere. It is a regret that I have never managed to learn, though I did have another go recently at Andover Leisure Centre,so far without success. The dear OAP trying to hold me up was a bit small in stature. Maybe later I will be more successful as I am determined to persevere, despite my being 67 years old. I know you can teach old dogs new tricks. I read of the success of pupils today at water polo and have enjoyed many fine games along with my youngest son on summer holidays in the Mediterraneum. Occasionally I have nearly been sent off for foul play, including 1 incident with a lad with glasses (not really wise to have on in the pool).

18th REPLY

NAME: Judy Marchant

DATE: 22 March 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: Swimming pool, 1950s/60s

From 1956 to 1962 I was one of the hapless QEGGS girls who used to be crocodiled up to your school to go swimming in the outdoor pool. I have always wondered if rumours were true and you boys had scratched the white paint off the changing room windows so you could spy on us!

NOTE FROM VIC: Judy, my reply 4 reveals the way it was really done !

19th REPLY

NAME: Alan Pyle  Alan Pyle

DATE: 27th May 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1948-1953

From the School Brochure 1958: "There is an open-air swimming bath with purification plant, the water of which can be heated when necessary."  It was around 57deg F in old money when the Summer Term began. I had heard about the red slip rule. It was explained that a boy seen underwater in a red slip was to be considered in danger as a non-swimmer. Even this was too much of a humiliation and I taught myself at Mill Hill baths. There was diving too. High boards were everywhere then and the deep end at QE must have been 12 feet. Those who could not enter head first were made to do so over a broom stick held as a horizontal bar. I do not remember any formal swimming or diving coaching. Did it occur for a boy elected for Swimming as his summer sport? There was a Life Saving scheme with training for each level of competence with badges awarded. I recall the summer holiday open sessions. And the physics (again) whereby several boys, grasping the bars across the shallow end and moving as one, could set up a tsunami wave of some spectacular power down the pool. I suspect supervision must have been somewhat slack. A friend at QE Girls told me she would get 'excused swimming' as often as possible rather than put up with the crocodile to our pool and the less than hospitable surroundings.

20th REPLY

NAME: Stephen Giles  Stephen Giles

DATE: 30 May 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: inmate 1957-64

The pool heating, as I remember, consisted of a blue tarpaulin which was hauled over the pool after swimming activities for the day were finished, in order to retain any natural warming gained from the sun - should it have appeared during the day...........and pigs might fly!!! But we were tough in those days, and wouldn't let 'slightly' cold water get us down!
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