A bit of history

In the Fifties I was at a local prep school in Southampton – Oakmount School and I presume my parents plan was to send me away to a boarding school at 13. When I was 10 or 11, the Cunard Line was struggling. Airlines could fly people to the US in hours and the dominance of the Queens, taking 5 days to get people across the Atlantic, was waning. Cunard was losing money and selling ships. I guess that father worried about the future and when I passed the 11+ the decision was made to send me to King Edward VI School in Southampton – a boys only grammar school.

I must have started there in September 1956, aged 11. I enjoyed it very much. In particular I loved the sport. I’d played regular rugby and cricket before at Oakmount which gave me an advantage.

My father was away at sea when the summer term at the end of my 3rd year finished. On the last day of that term a boy from the year above (also called Smith) hit the Headmaster over the head with a broken bottle. My mother didn’t dare write to father to tell him about it, but when he eventually came home on leave, mother told him and his reaction, apparently, was “Richard’s not going back there”. They contacted Canford and although I had not taken the Common Entrance exam, they agreed to take me.

I loved it and the prospect of sailing in Poole Harbour during the summer terms was a bonus.

I gather that my father went to his bank, National Provincial (later NatWest) Bank and borrowed the money to pay the fees for Canford and that it took many years after I had left school before he was able to clear the debt.

This seems to be developing into an autobiography!


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