Interviewed by Ruth Stratton, at Hertford Museum 2006


Brian: … a Brotherhood rather than anything else. No matter what year you were there, if you were a Goldings Boy you were all part of the Brotherhood.

Dave: That’s right, the camaraderie.

Brian: Even today, when you see us at our Reunions it’s like a bunch of kids. I was there in the 60’s with Dave, but we had fun with the 40’s and 30’s lads.
They’re a bit wary of us for a while, the older they were the more dubious they were of us, which is where Jimmy James comes in.

Dave: Well, originally the school was a Barnardo’s, wasn’t it? And then towards the end of its lifetime it became ‘naughty children’ – would that be a fair

Brian: Well that’s what people said.

Dave: That was in my case, anyway.

Brian: There was a few people who were put there when they were felt to be not hard enough to take reform school, they would be recommended to go for
training at Goldings. That was probably in the 60’s.

Dave: We were possibly looked down on by the Barnardo’s.

Brian: Because the other lads were in there because they’d lost a family. It was the end of the orphan era, wasn’t it, the 60’s. It was the…

Dave: Transition period, wasn’t it, really.

Brian: Post-war boom babies.

Dave: My personal experience was that originally I was a naughty boy. I was sent away to the local Home in Walsall in the village of Hammerwich, which is just
outside Lichfield.

Ruth: When you say naughty boy, what do you mean exactly?

Dave: I wasn’t aware of who owned certain goods

Ruth: Right.

Dave: I thought we were still in the bartering age. So I was sent there to be reformed. Obviously the reforming wasn’t taking place, so they suggested
“Would you like to go to Goldings?” It sounded different to the Home I was in – it sounded better.

Ruth: It had quite a reputation, then, for them to send you all the way down to Hertfordshire.

Dave: To learn a trade. Of course I was at Hammerwich at the time, which is just outside Lichfield, and I thought, “It will just be down the road, this
Goldings”. The M 1 had just been built, and I thought, “I don’t recognise this road”. But after three hours I arrived at the mansion: checked in, porter took
my clothes up, was introduced to Mr. Wheatley, who was the headmaster at the time, and told what was expected of me.

Brian: Ground rules.

Dave: And then I was taken to Somerset House. The school had five houses: they had Somerset, Cairns, Aberdeen, MacAndrew, better mention that one,
which incidentally was opened by Princess Margaret, Pelham for the posh boys.

That’s the five.

Dave: And I was allocated to Somerset and given over to the senior boys to be looked after.

Brian: Basically they did all the discipline and all the rest of it, the senior boys. It had to be really serious to go to the Staff. You’d got the Prefect or the
House Captain, and in our house nothing went to the House Master unless it was something that couldn’t be dealt with.

Dave: The most interesting thing I found when I first arrived at Goldings was their use of the bugle. The school was run by the bugle. Now I look back I
realise that if you’ve got a hundred acres of land that’s possibly the only way you can control the school.

Brian: Charley up. Went to bed on Last Post.

Dave: In my case, after the first week you were introduced to the kitchen Rota , and one of the main foods at the time was porridge, which there was quite a
lot of…

We’re not going into this Jack story, are we?

Dave: Quite a large urn that we had to turn and twist. I’d quite enjoyed porridge up to that point, till I discovered there were cockroaches falling inside, and
people in the kitchen laughed at me because I was quite disgusted at this. I’ve never since tasted porridge…

Brian: Big urns they made it in, didn’t there? All full of porridge.

Dave: It’s a well-known fact, most of the boys that were in Goldings remember the cockroaches.

Brian: They’d cleared them up by the time I worked in there, Dave. I worked in there for the last four or five months of my time at Goldings, and it was
reasonably good. The only unhygienic thing was Jack, but other than that the rest was fairly good.

Dave: The staff were interesting, there’s no doubt about that.

Brian: Polish chef. You know the story about the chef? I won’t go into that one.

Who called the cook what, was it Brian?

Brian: It’s a true story this, you won’t be able to publish this.

Dave: Bleep this out (Laughs).

Brian: Someone had had a word with the chef.

Dave: Start at the beginning, Brian, because we had to parade on the parade ground.

Brian: If things went wrong the Headmaster used to get everybody out on the parade ground, stood in your Houses. We were called out this particular
day – you never knew what it was about until you stood out on the parade ground, it was freezing cold, and you’d be there all night until somebody
admitted their guilt. And someone had shouted through the back door to the chef that he was a C - -T. So the Headmaster stood up, he got the whole
school – he actually said the word – he said, “I’d like to know who called the Cook a ‘beep’?” And there was a complete silence, and then all of a sudden
a little voice at the back said, “Who called the ‘beep’ a Cook?” (Laughter) That ended it. He couldn’t keep us on parade anymore, he just let us go. That’s
true story. He stood there, and I mean they were fearsome these… where you were stood on parade – I’ve known them go for several hours until someone’s
admitted their guilt. And he said, “I’d like to know who called the Cook a C- - T and then someone said, “Who called the C- - T a Cook?” and that was it, he’d lost it,
and he realised that and he just let everyone go.

Ruth: Did this cook have a reputation, then of -

Dave: Most cooks did…

Brian: I liked him.

Dave: … for being unable to cook (Laughs).

Brian: He was okay, I think he just upset the boy whoever it was. I don’t even know who it was who did it… but, no, I quite liked him. He gave me my
first ever suit, it was one of his old throw-offs, but I’d never had a suit. I went home and my Mother popped it: it went straight down the pawnbroker’s that
very day when I got home. I went home for a weekend and it went straight into the pawn shop. But it was my first ever suit and I did enjoy it. It had silk
lapels; it was a blue serge type thing. He gave me this suit and the next thing I know it was in the front window of this pawn shop.

Dave: We attended Sunday school. Church twice on a Sunday. We marched behind the band. Colonel Bogey appeared occasionally within that tune.

Brian: No, he did not. We had one of the finest drum majors…

Dave: Yes we did.

Brian: Cpl. Fletcher, he used to throw that baton so high. You ever felt how heavy they are?

Dave: No, I never joined the cadets, Brian. I thought we were forced to do a lot of things we didn’t want to do without joining the cadets.

Brian: It was good being in the cadets, we used to get out – I remember going up to a camp in Leek , Staffordshire. We used go out and do outward bound
things in the cadets.

Dave: We found better things to do.

Brian: Yeah, like smoking behind the band hut.

Dave: The local produce, does that spring to mind?

Brian: Yes, “scrumping”, there used to be a lot of that. But also you never went to Wimbledon, did you?

Dave: No.

You were deemed not good enough.

Dave: At the time there was a vicar called Mr. Nixon, we didn’t see eye-to-eye. Every year I trained to be a ball boy, and every year I didn’t go. So towards
the end of my time I realised I was not going so I did the tennis, so the rest of the boys chased the ball on my behalf.

Brian: I went to Wimbledon twice.

The school was very famous for Wimbledon, without a doubt, from ’46 to ’66 it was the only people that did ball boys.

Ruth: Which years did you go to Wimbledon, then?

’63 and ’64 it would’ve been, when I was 14 and 15.

Dave: There was approximately 70 boys that went there.

Brian: We had two coaches. Two coach loads… we were very disciplined, it was something to be seen. But our motives were as would get all the
Robinson’s Barley Water at the end of the day.) We’d get all the sweatbands and balls all signed and we would flog them on. You could flog them on there -
and you’d make quite a bit of money. And ponce some cigarettes off the public.

Dave: Unlike Jimmy James’ era who just stole the strawberries.

Brian: Is that what they did?

Dave: Yes, apparently that’s all they got up to.

Brian: Perhaps he was right about the 60’s boys, then. Dave do you think so Brian? No, I think he probably was.

Dave: No, no, Jimmy just had a few bad…

Brian: Wimbledon was the highlight of our year. But we went to Dymhurch for a couple of weeks every year.

Dave: Towards the end of the schools they tried to send us home.

Brian: Yeah, but I used to have to go back to my previous Home, but then they banned me because I broke a goalpost. He didn’t like me anyway, the
Headmaster there. He banned me, so they actually put me in a foster home down in Crawley, and when I came back from that as you know I departed with
a boot up my backside. You’ve read the story.

No, I haven’t read that story.

Brian: You should read it.

Dave: Some of the boys were actually kicked out.

Ruth: You were kicked out, then?

Brian: I was summarily dismissed.

Ruth: What had you done?

It’s a bit of a long story, but we had a new boy arrive, the dormitories were…

Dave: Communal for want of a better word.

Brian: There was about 15 to 16 in this particular one, and he’d been used to a small one, because my dormitory had been 4 or 5 of us and we were moved
down to Somerset.

So if you snored, and you snored earlier on in the evening, you could end up with things thrown at you.

Brian: Next to me was a lad called Peter Selkard, a lovely lad, he had polio so he had the big built-up shoe. So this new kid was snoring, so I threw the
boot across the room. It was quite heavy and it hit him – I didn’t intend to hit him, I was never known as a bully at Goldings, ever. And I never intended
to hit him, and all of a sudden there was a hell of a scream. Anyway we kidded him that he’d had a nightmare and hit the chair. But someone squealed
on me.

Dave: I wouldn’t name names.

Brian: Squealed on me the next morning and I got called up, it was terrible. In Assembly the naughty boys list was called out, they would say, “So and so
and so and so, wait outside Mr. Wheatley’s office”. And you would go outside the office and wait for either the cane or whatever was going to be dished on
you. I went and stood outside the office and he called me in and he said, “I believe you threw this shoe” – by then it was too late, you couldn’t deny it, he
obviously knew. So I said I did, and he said, “You’re leaving soon, aren’t you?” I said, “Yeah”. He said, “No you’re not, you’re leaving today. Go pack
your bags”. And I never had the chance to say goodbye to anyone, or anything; I had to go and pack my bags and they shipped me off all the way down to
Crawley, and that was it. Now that’s not a very good farewell. Endings are very important.

Dave: In Goldings the main punishment was the cane, and I was due for the cane, you mainly got the cane for smoking. And one of the boys said, “Here’s
a trick we do: what we do is put a book down your trousers”. So consequently I did. What he should have said was a magazine, because a magazine will
bend. So I bent over the table expecting six and Mr. Wheatley said, “What we got down here, Blower?” And he pulled it out and said, “For that you get an
extra two”, so I had eight of the cane, and I never used that ruse ever again.

Brian: I never ever got the cane at Goldings, not once. When I was at Kingston they very rarely gave the cane and I got it every day – he didn’t like me
that b - - - - rd there. But Pinhead (Mr Wheatley the Headmaster) liked me, I got on very well, I was a bit of a pot, really

You was a creep.

I was.

Dave: Because we had our own language also, which was mainly slang from various parts of the Country that the boys former homes, funnily enough.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this.

Ruth: I had a look on the web-site.

I think what happened was that all the boys that came from around the UK brought a little bit of their own slang to the school. That’s the only way
we could understand it. It certainly wasn’t Hertford slang, was it? (Ironic) Other than the swearing, of course, because we didn’t start swearing until we
arrived at Hertford.

Hertford taught us about swearing, that’s

And they were very helpful with the books and everything they’d loan us in the shops, weren’t they? Take what you like.

Brian: I remember them giving me some fish paste. We’d never seen a shop with shelves, to help yourself (Laughter). I mean all the freebies they gave us.
They used to have a fleet of police cars on a Saturday afternoon to ferry all the kids back to Goldings! No were just joking!

Dave: No, they didn’t, Brian… but the one funny story, there was a time when treacle became very popular at Goldings in my era: it was either the clear
treacle or the black treacle. And we found that we could, how can I say? We found that we could have this for nothing at one particular shop, which is still
there now on the corner, it used to be a café; and every Saturday, because that was when we were loosed out…

For 4 or 5 hours.

Dave: We used to go in the shop every Saturday, and ‘borrow’ the treacle. Purely with the intention of putting it back when we’d finished with it of course.
We’d been doing it for weeks, and one week we were in there doing the usual and we heard this voice, “What you doing down there?” But we couldn’t find
this voice, and what they’d done, they’d put an office above, in the ceiling, and that was the early days of a security guard. Well, long distance runner had
nothing on us (Laughs). So treacle tended to die out, and we reverted back to cheese and apple.

We had our own little internal markets there: the cigarettes and a blob of peanut butter or a blob of this. And the menu was very varied. There’s still
meals today that I love because of my time at Goldings; I love cheese and potato pie – we used to have that once a week.

Dave: Every Saturday was that?

I thought it was Saturday, but then what day did we have the Welsh Rarebit? Dave, I’ve no idea. As you say, it was that varied I struggle to remember
most of the menu Brian: Two sausages… they wouldn’t have given it to you, only to the bigger lads (Laughter).

We had a very good gym team, of course. They had a very good cricket team, which was frequented by some famous people in the 60’s. What was
it called now? TV Travellers?

We had a crap football team. If you have a look at the results for ’63 you’ll find
a) We didn’t win one; and
b) Most of them we lost by double figures.
But I can’t remember, who was in the football team?

Dave: This is a reference to me playing in the football team.

Brian: Oh! Dave were you in the team?

Dave: h e’s unaware that we came 2nd in the Lea Valley Schools in 1964 – we lost out by one point to Cheshunt.

Brian: I was looking at the ’63 team, sorry. Dave: The other little ditty that was about at the time was the fact that somebody beat up Cliff Richard because
He attended Cheshunt school.

Ruth: Is that true?

Dave: That’s stretching the truth that is, because it appears from the 40’s to the 70’s…

Brian: How did we know he was going to be Cliff Richard anyhow?

Dave: It appears that the 40’s boys and the 60’s boys – actually we all beat him up.

Page Compiled March 2016

All images and text copyright © to Goldings Old Boys Reunion Members

Recalling their time at Goldings

Dave and Brian