Memories of Harrison House
In 1947, following a successful interview with Ivan Butler-Wright (Bugs), I moved into Harrison House, on College Avenue one Saturday early in the autumn term, complete with all the items on the list provided by Bugs’, suitably marked to denote ownership.
Harrison House was on College Avenue and consisted of two pairs of large semi-detached houses joined up to provide accommodation for around 45 boys; it was run by Bugs and Noel Wylie (Nej) and staffed by Matron Miss Gardner and Nurses Howarth and Moon. We were grouped into Juniors, Junior-Seniors and Seniors according to age, and shared common-rooms, where each boy had his tuck-box, and dormitories which slept several boys. Breakfast, lunch, tea and supper were taken in two dining rooms and it was traditional for Senior boys to learn the Latin grace and take turns to recite it before meals. Food was still rationed and somewhat meagre but wholesome; tripe and onions were served occasionally and hated by most, but we could take jars of jam and marmalade and keep them in a cupboard on the wall.
Duties for the first week included finding a locker, taking shoes to the ‘Cordwainer’ to be marked on the instep with one’s number in brass tacks, and being allotted a place on the weekly bath rota.
After lunch on Saturdays, Bugs held a parade in the dining room, when each boy presented himself and received pocket money – a shilling, 1/3d or 1/6d according to age; extra money was allowed for toothpaste, haircuts and sundry items on presenting a paper slip, for example “nnn requires 1/3d for a haircut”, which was then doled out and recorded, to be included in the end of term account.
From Monday to Saturday, we lined up before school to ensure we were presentable before being despatched to school. After tea we had two hours of “prep”, held in absolute silence and patrolled by Bugs or Nej who would occasionally give help when required.
Sundays were devoted to quiet pursuits – Church, for those who wished to go, letter-writing after lunch and a walk in the afternoon.
Before school on Wednesday morning was laundry parade, when each boy took his dirty clothes to Nurse Howard’s laundry room and deposited them into designated piles. We were allowed two detached collars, Eton for Juniors and Junior-Seniors and plain for Seniors, both attached by collar studs. Dirty collars were frowned upon but could be spruced up during the week by rubbing with a piece of stale bread.
Harrison House no longer exists, having been demolished in 1988 to make way for an all-weather sports pitch.
David Green (1952 leaver)
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