By P. M. HERBERT
It is said that when old men (and even not-so-old men) reminisce nothing they see around them is as good as it was in the days of their youth. They see no real progress - only retrogression. When I look back on my school days which ended just over twenty years ago, I find that I cannot join the old men. My contemporaries would say, of course, that the pupils of our day were of a type far superior to those of the present time! But they would acknowledge without hesitation that the School now offers far better opportunities than we had; and that the present day conception of a Grammar School curriculum is a great advance on what was considered suitable for our consumption.
My first visit to the School (the building then known locally the "Tech.") was on a morning in May 1929, when I attended in some trepidation to take the scholarship examination, and my chief impression of the building was that here was a school which had coloured glass in some of its windows and an all pervading odour of chemistry. On 16th September, 1929, I found myself a member of Form, IA in a school where half of the 600 pupils were girls (it was then a mixed school until 1931, when the Girls' Grammar School was built), where the Headmaster was also the Principal of the Technical College and where Latin was taught only in the Sixth Form, which contained about ten boys and girls.
I suppose that during the next five years we worked fairly hard with the object of passing the School Certificate Examination, but happily the passage of time has erased the detailed recollection of such mundane matters. What stands cut in the memory now are the sporting and social occasions. The train journey to Grays to play - and usually to lose to - Palmer's School; the annual sports and gala; winning the White Cup in ankle deep mud at Barking Road Recreation Ground; earlier memories of such personalities as the late Les Berry keeping goal, his red hair surmounting an immaculate yellow sweater instead of the regulation green; teachers frolicking - yet with dignity - at the Christmas socials; the annual play, presented on Speech day (this was the only drama work we did!)
But I could go on far too long digging into the past. The first fifty years have gone by, and during their passing the School has lived and changed and grown. What will the next fifty years set? Those who read the Centenary Commemoration Book will know the answer!