Old Farnhamians' Association

80th Anniversary Garden Party

 Report, Recollections, Photographs & Video of a Very Special Afternoon

by Ian Sargeant (1955 – 1962)

Saturday, 16 July, 2005

Dozens of old boys with their guests converged on our old school, now Farnham College, for an event held to celebrate 80 years of our association. The party took place in the premises of the college, on a warm Saturday in July, with many displays of memorabilia and a non-stop slide show recalling school and OFA events. The brainchild of the OFA President, Cyril Trust, this unique happening was redolent of many activities of the association, held in years gone by, in conjunction with Farnham Grammar School.

School fêtes, cricket matches and other joint events took place in these grounds over several decades as part of the strong and vibrant relationship that existed between the FGS and OFA, the ‘school present’ and the ‘school past’. In the 1920s, the old boys raised funds to add a substantial portion of land to the grounds of the school and then helped in levelling it, a continuing asset for the college in the form of the playing field on the east side of the site.

Whilst accepting the need and inevitability of the educational changes that had taken place in the 1970s, it was still a source of sadness that we now only had the school past (though the OFA has of course, since 1973, transferred its paternal affection to the college). This day was an opportunity to recall our memories of a school that gave hundreds of boys the chance to break away from the drear career prospects they faced without the educational openings that were offered by FGS and honour the association that had assisted the school in many ways between 1925 and 1973.

There can be few, if any, such events in the future. There are not very many of the old staff of the school still alive. It was therefore a particular pleasure to welcome Peter Larby to this event; he was one of only a few old boys who became a master at the school. A pupil during the war years, he returned as a master to the school in 1956 to teach Mathematics in the middle school with skill and exceptional clarity. His conscientiousness as a teacher plus his disciplined approach to lessons and the timely production of homework obliged many boys (including the author), who took a relaxed approach to the process of learning, to become more focused – not a route to short term popularity, but highly beneficial in the longer term for the students concerned. In a school with very good teachers, he was one of the most effective.

This was primarily a social event with no speeches, just a general welcome by the President. But the theme of the occasion was reminiscence, with many familiar faces that challenged the memory. Harold Beeken died many years ago, but his two daughters were with us – Julia and Diana. And there they were, also displayed in a non-stop slideshow as young girls who took part in several of our school musical and dramatic productions. Although girls figured prominently in the thoughts of Grammar School boys, they were non-existent within FGS itself. The participation of FGGS girls in joint school productions was difficult to negotiate for a period in the 1950s, but Julia and Diana could not be prevented from helping us as their father was our Head of English and it was therefore particularly appropriate that they should be invited to reminisce with us at this special occasion.

It was also a great pleasure to see Stella Bolt (née Davies) at the party. This is a lady who is the mainstay of the Old Girls’ Association of FGGS and someone who has several connections to FGS. Her late husband was an old boy and as a girl she lived in the house on York Road directly opposite our school. Her father owned the tennis courts that we used during the post-war years. But, of course, a key connection with the OGA is the fact that FGGS and FGS were in fact merged in Morley Road just before the creation of Farnham College.

Another special guest, who is no stranger to the OFA, was Sally Francis, the Principal of Farnham College. The close ties between the association and the college depend on the attitude of the principal and Sally’s positive and warm connections with the OFA are a source of optimism and reassurance to the old boys. The college is a part of the thread of educational continuity in Farnham that started with our old school in the 16th century. It will, we hope, continue for many more centuries, under whatever name or legal schemes may be concocted in the distant future by the education authorities and the foundation that owns the property.

The presence of ladies at one of our OFA events was a special feature, not the first ever occasion but the first on this scale. Visits to the original school building were of particular poignancy for many – this gave an opportunity for old boys to revisit the familiar lobby, staircase and landing, still with the original front door, recently restored by the OFA, stone floors and honour boards. The layout of rooms has changed considerably, but those with good memories can reconstruct the original building in their minds and there were many conversations that took place explaining to guests where Alan Fluck’s music room had been located, and how the old school hall had taken this space that is now corridor and class rooms, etc.

It is in this building (now called Morley Court) that the association’s memorabilia exhibition is on permanent display with its illuminated cases showing old items of school uniform and many photographs. The oak panelling, stone floors and museum displays go well together.

If you couldn’t come to this event, you missed a very happy, memorable afternoon with an excellent lunch that was expertly catered.

But sadly, you also missed one of the best opportunities to peer at the image of our old school as it slowly fades into the distance.

Photographs can be enlarged by clicking on them, F11 for full screen, repeat to return


More Photographs





7 minutes of Streaming Video

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Elaine Aylwin (widow of John Aylwin)

Maureen Horner

Ann Antonakis (accompanying Peter Read)

Michael Horner

Lucy Armstrong

Binnie Kirk

Stan Armstrong

Ray Kirk

Sylvia Backhurst (widow of Dudley Backhurst)

Robert Luckhurst

Jill Bagwell-Purefroy (partner of Bryan Bone)

Pearl Larby

Clive Beal

Peter Larby

Pauline Bennett

John Matthews

Vic Bennett

Maryan Matthews

Bryan Bone

Sarah Matthewson (accompanying S. Granville-Jones)

Stella Bolt (secretary of the OGA)

Mike Mehta

Ray Bowtell

John Mitchell

Sue Bowtell

Ruth  Mitchell

Jack Chitty

Chris Mullins

Mike Clark (Mayor of Farnham)

Valerie Mullins

Joan Clark (Mayoress of Farnham)

Peter Mylles

Peter Clark

Chris Nash

Tina Clark

Judy Nash

John Clarke

David Nunn

Dudley Coakes

Beryl O’Sullivan

Hazel Coakes

Des O’Sullivan

Vic Coleby

Diana Owen (daughter of Harold Beeken)

Roy Common

Leslie Phillips

John Cooke

Tony Rayer

John Cope

Peter Read

Carmelita Cope

Roy Robins

Joan Crotty

Allan Ryall

John  Crotty

Margary Ryall

Betty Cutler

Ian Sargeant

David Cutler

Margaret Sargeant

Brian Daniels

Sheila Smith (accompanying John Cooke)

Meg Daniels

Alan Spink

David Edgell

Christine Sturt

Pam Edgell

Maurice Sturt

Roger Edgell

Audrey Tidd

Sally Francis (Principal of Farnham College)

Terry Tidd

Isabel Gatfield

Janet Timmins

Tony Gatfield

Neville Timmins

Dr S.C. Giles (accompanying Roy Robins)

John  Travers

Madeleine Goddard (widow of John Goddard)

Alan Trueman

Dan Goddard

Eileen Trueman

Liz Goddard

Cyril Trust

Simon Granville-Jones

Pauline Trust

Barry Hall

Sylvia Vaughan (accompanying (Donald Wilson)

Tony Harland

Kathy Walpole (partner of John Travers)

Christine Harland

Robin Welland-Jones

Geoffrey Harnett

John Wilkinson

Wendy Harnett

Donald Wilson

Sylvia Hayter (guest of Maurice Sturt)

Julia Wilson (daughter of Harold Beeken)

Bob Hewes

Jane Walsh

Marion Homer (widow of Don Homer)

Wally Walsh

Geoffrey Hooker

Sue Watts (partner of Clive Beal)

Margaret Hooker

Doris Wooding


Mike Wooding

107 Attendees



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