Anthony J Sargeant, School

Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham School for Boys – The Gymnasium and Art Room

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Photographed in 2015 on a nostalgic visit to my old school (1955-62). Looking across the playground is the Gym which was built in the 1930s and opened as shown on a plaque inside by Prince Arthur of Connaught (grandson of Queen Victoria). The Gym had large windows protected by wire mesh. The Blank wall above the windows was the wall of the art room which was above the gym and which had windows on the east and north sides. The art room was accessed by stairs above the doorway to the right of the gym. The low section to the extreme right was the changing room and showers. The flat roof was a hazard into which balls often landing when playing soccer in the playground. I note that when this photograph was taken some form of netting has been erected to prevent this but in my day it meant climbing up the drainpipe. In the 1960s the gym was free standing but since then it has been joined to what was the Science block by some infilling on the left of the photograph. The building to the right in red brick is also relatively new. Because the gym was the tallest building on top of Telegraph Hill which overlooked the London Basin it had an observation platform from the Second World War on the far right side, which was still manned by the Royal Observer Corp in my days at school. We were not allowed up on the top of the building. I should also note that to the right of the changing room the playground extended to high wooden fencing with the gardens of the houses in Walbutton Road beyond. An ancient 1935 Vauxhall Saloon bought for some Car Maintenance Club as I recall was being driven round the playground by a group of boys in about 1960 when, with I think Mark Baxter at the wheel he lost control and crashed through the fence to land in the back garden of one of the houses which unfortunately was some few feet lower than the playground so it was impossible to get the car back into the playground. I don’t remember the consequences of that escapade but doubtless somebody would have got into trouble.

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