CROSSWAYS, GRESHAM’S SCHOOL, HOLT NORFOLK. 1959-63
Dow (our Housemaster) had a black Lanshester Leda, a type current 1950-54.
It was not an old car, but it exuded an air of quality. I cannot believe that we
were allowed to play on the seats, yet no-one stopped us. One summer Sunday
afternoon we had the run of not only Dow’s car but also a Bentley belonging to
friend who was visiting. If the Lanchester’s seats were superior, the Bentley’s
were palatial. So we spent a happy afternoon playing with two extravagant cars, and nobody was any the wiser.
Fire practice was, I suppose an annual event, although I can only remember two occasions when it happened. The principal (indeed only) piece of equipment needed was a reel of rope attached to the wall of each dormitory.
The reel had a brake, which meant that as you jumped from the window your
descent was slowed. It was scary, none the less. The walls of Crossways were
covered with pebble dash, and unless you kicked yourself away as you abseiled
down you got horribly scraped. But the windows were all above one another and if you kicked at the wrong time your feet would go through the window below. It wasn’t me, but someone put their feet through the glass on the way down.
One of the quaint features of Crossways was the naming of the dormitories. Each one had a horse brass on the door, and the dorm was named after the symbol on the brass. Two I can remember were Lion and Tally-Ho. This was
another tradition that did not survive the departure of Dow. I think he took
the brasses with him. He certainly took his collection of pewter tankards,
which adorned the entrance hall. The bell of a Thames barge, one of those
wrecks salvaged by Henry Blogg, mounted on a section her wheel and complete with binnacle glass also went with him. This bell was an old friend of every Crossways boy, because as bell fag you had to ring it to get the house over to Kenwyn for breakfast. It had a poor sound, however, as it had been broken in the wreck and the crack later brazed to mend it.