Miss Chesterton with "Spike" Thornburgh
Written by (Rev) Richard Thornburgh (son of Mike "Spike" Thornburgh, geography master, BCJS)
Sunday, 18 June 2006

I have just come across the article by Martin Buss regarding his memories of the old Junior School on the south side of Eastern Road. He asks what became of the handbell that used to be rung. As far as I know it was still in use in the "next generation" Junior School in the old Convent of the Blessed Sacrament in Walpole Road up until the time my father retired from teaching in the early 1980's.

However, I do have another bell that used to hang in the corridor of the old Junior School, as well as a diamond-shaped piece of glass from the old leaded-light front door, as well as the brass door handle, all obtained by my father when the school moved. I also have some photographs that show parts of the exterior of the building, but not all of it.

I remember that place quite well as I used to be taken by my father ("Spike") to the Saturday afternoon film shows that were put on for the boarders. I saw "The Dam Busters" there, and squinted throughout as I had forgotten to take my glasses! I even attended the school for a week when my mother was in hospital, and the Grammar School where I was a pupil had already broken up for the summer holidays. Does this make me an "old boy"?

Mr. Buss is correct in remembering that "Spike" taught Geography. He also taught Maths, Science, and took games of rugby on the main field and at the field down at East Brighton Park. He taught me to drive on that field, going round and round in his Mini Countryman.

Philip Burstow is also mentioned in The Pelican regarding the exhibition at Hove Museum. He was my godfather, and on his death my father came into possession of some of his books. I had the large old fire surround of shelves and cupboards from his study, and it still stands in my hallway now. I have a couple of tins of bits from his dig at Ranscombe, his notebook about the first term at the JS under the new headmaster Gordon Smith, and his own copies of the history of the school.

I can remember my father (Michael Thornburgh - "Spike") teaching Geography in one of the lower classrooms in the old Junior School that looked out onto the raised playground. I got down into the old Air Raid Shelter underneath the playground on a number of occasions, taken down by him as he looked for something. I remember that the wall along College Place had a wooden door leading out onto the road. At the southern end was a room which I think was used by the Cub Scout troop. I once put on a UFO Exhibition there on a Saturday in the Summer term.

The staff room was along the main corridor, and through the dividing wall into what had originally been the next house. It was on the right and faced Eastern Road. I went in there as well on several occasions to see Philip Burstow and my father. I wonder if anyone recalls the footbridge that was erected from the first floor across Eastern Road so that the boys could cross in safety. I have a photo of that as well, with my father leading a class across.

Miss Chesterton (above with my father) was mentioned in Martin Buss's article. She was certainly formidable, and my father used to say that when she "sailed" along the corridor, everyone, boys and staff, would get out of the way! Philip Burstow lived in a rented flat at 6 Walpole Terrace and owned Number 5. I took over the top floor flat in No.5 in December 1974 (previously occupied by Rev John Boothroyd's daughter - he was chaplain at the Senior School). When Philip Burstow died, Miss Chesterton bought No.5, and she became my landlady until I left in 1982 to go to Theological College in Salisbury.

My father also organised trips abroad for the boys from 1959 to the early 1970's, always during the Easter break, and we saw northern and southern Holland, the Rhine and Mosel valleys in Germany, most of Luxembourg (including a trip to Radio Luxemburg), and Belgium, always staying in either Brugge or Brussels, the latter incorporating a visit to the wonderful Atomium. We went to a bell foundry, a brandy distillery, champagne cellars, the sand pictures at Hecklegem, the battlefield of Waterloo, and many other places of educational interest. I have photographs of many of the boys who went on those trips, all from the "mug-shots" that my father took for identity purposes in case of accident or loss. I began going on these trips as a young lad, and by the end I was a helper, acting as Treasurer for the "pocket money" of all the boys. My mother also went along as a Nurse. We all learnt a great deal on those 10-day trips.

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