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Blunderbuss News - 2014

News Content for 2014

Leslie Croft: The First Old Boy Killed in the First World War

Farnham News - December 2014

“The Farnham Grammar School in Wartime”

Report on the Farnham Lecture - 4 November 2014

“Evening Sickness” by Mark Bravery

World War One Centenary

Haslemere Fringe Festival Report

Russell Christian on YouTube

“Headmasters of Farnham Grammar School 1800-1973”

Celebrating 40 Years of Farnham College - 30 April 2014

Farnham Beerex - 12 April 2014

OFA Annual Lunch - 29 March 2014

Metalwork in the early 1970s

Postcard of the Old Building in 1951

Celebrating 40 Years of Farnham College

Funeral Arrangements for John Saunders

The Polar Vortex: Update from Rob & Susie

Cross Country at FGS

Update from John Wilson

Farnham News

Blunderbuss readers who are no longer locally based will be interested to read of two recent developments in Farnham.

Firstly, the Police Station has been demolished and the site is being redeveloped for sheltered accommodation. The station, in Long Bridge and allegedly the largest in Surrey, occupies a key area in the town. According to the Council’s document on the redevelopment plans, “the Police Station was built in 1963. The site contains the main station buildings and a large parking area to the rear. A row of six semi-detached houses are located in the south-eastern corner of the site. The houses at either end of the row are currently in use as accommodation for serving officers. The four remaining houses have been in use as offices for police operations. The total site area is 0.54 hectares.”

Secondly, Poundland is to open in the former Woolworth’s building in time for Christmas.

This event was the butt of several jokes at Geoff’s recent Comedy Club event at Borelli’s. News of the startling development has even reached the BBC News.

The prospect of a Poundland in Farnham has split opinion in the town “that prides itself on its range of independent shops”.

Poundland is expected to open at the  former Woolworths in Farnham recently vacated by an “upmarket furniture store”.

The Farnham Grammar School in Wartime

The Farnham Grammar School in Wartime by Cyril trust and Jenny HarveyCyril Trust and Jenny Harvey, part-time archivist of Guildford College Corporation, have published The Farnham Grammar School in Wartime.

Published in the centenary year of the start of the First World War, this booklet surveys the effects of two world wars on the School, its staff and its pupils. The principal sources used are the pages of the Farnhamian, along with letters and reports which offer a variety of viewpoints.

The contents cover: the oldest account of an Old Boy in Wartime, the unveiling of the Roll of Honour in 1929, the names on the Roll of Honour, the first Old Boy to be killed in the First World War, Salute to the Brave: the Fallen of Farnham Grammar School during the First World War, Letters from the front line, Armistice Day 1919, on the Home Front in the First World War.

The names on the Memorial Tablet 1939-1945, Roll of Honour 1939-1945, Remembering Arthur Job, Salute to the Brave: the Fallen of Farnham Grammar School during the Second World War, the air raid shelter and other extracts from the Farnhamian, some stories of Old Boys who served in the war, on the Home Front in the Second World War, Remembrance Day 1946, Field Marshal Montgomery at Farnham Grammar School.

86 pages, four illustrations in black and white, A5 format, softback, and with full-colour cover.

Priced at £5 (post free), contact Cyril Trust on

cyriltrust at btinternet dot com

Other booklets by Cyril are posted on our Publications page.

Report on the Farnham Lecture - 4 November 2014

Blunderbuss’s special reporter, Mike Mehta, sent in this account of this year’s Farnham Lecture which was on the History of Farnham Castle.

Farnham Castle“David Graham FSA, historian, gave an informative and interesting talk. Some of which, many Farnhamians will be familiar with. The castle was important because of its geographical location, lying half-way between Winchester and London. The bishops would stop off en route with their entourage, including serjeants, knights (about 30) etc and would expect to be amply fed during their stay.

Royalty staying at the castle included Richard the third, Henry VIII and 'Bloody Mary'.

Some facts would have been less well known. The many acres of land surrounding the castle were divided into the 'old park' and the 'new park'. Red Deer were kept in one park and Fallow Deer in the other to separate them, as it seems the two species don't get on well with each other.

Early in the 13th century the dastardly French occupied the castle, although oddly this significant event was unrecorded by the Cistercian monks of nearby Waverley Abbey who were 'more interested in recording the weather'! The French garrison later left and the bishop of the day was very put out when he next stayed at the castle and discovered that the French had eaten and drunk everything. The pigs, cows, sheep and wine were all gone.

Records from the time showed that some money changed hands in compensation for being 'inconvenienced' by the French invaders. Apparently, the dairy maid was given a few pennies 'for being troubled'.

During the English civil war, the castle was a Royalist stronghold and later taken by William Waller and his parliamentarian troops, in 1642.The castle gatehouse was badly damaged in the attack, when a petard (definition 'to break wind') was used to blow it up. Most will be familiar with the expression 'hoist by his own petard'.

Reporter's note: Use of a petard or very similar device is brilliantly demonstrated during the attack on Helm's Deep in the film of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, when an Uruk-Hai  sets off an explosive device to breach the wall of the Hornburg.

Evidence of the attack at the castle can still be found, with ammunition in the grounds and ash from camp fires lit by attacking parliamentarian troops stationed on what are now the nearby football pitches, together with lead from the lead balls used as ammunition in muskets of the time.

The talk was well-received and thanks were given by Cyril Trust. The lecture raised £285.

Cyril Trust’s report on the lecture appeared in the Farnham Herald for 21 November:

In spite of awCyril Trust, David Graham and Mike Mehtaful weather the 2014 Farnham Lecture, presented by the Old Farnhamians Association, was sold out some weeks prior to the event. The lecture was given by well known historian and archaeologist, David Graham, at the Garden Gallery in the grounds of the Museum of Farnham.

Introducing the speaker, Cyril Trust (shown left, alongside David Graham and Mike Mehta), who was organising his 14th Farnham Lecture, said that the title of ‘The History of Farnham Castle’ was in keeping with the old Farnham Grammar School badge which featured the castle.

The speaker did not spend time on who spent time at the castle and mainly talked about the actual buildings. Farnham Castle is one of several castles across Southern England and built by the Normans to keep out invaders. Another similar numbers of castles were built across the South Coast, giving two lines of defence. The Bishop of Winchester made his home in Farnham, but spent little time there and a small number of staff looked after the place most of the time. When the bishop did return the amount of food, drink and staff required was enormous.

Because of the extent of the land under the control of the Bishop of Winchester he was probably the richest person in the land. The castle was, and still is, one of the largest in this country and it was built with very deep walls, a moat and a keep which was built from well below ground level.

David Graham is always an excellent speaker and does not always agree with words written about the castle over the years. He disagrees with the date of the building of the castle, he disagrees with many of the paintings depicting the castle in use, and has modern technology to support his claim.

“Evening Sickness” by Mark Bravery

Evening Sickness by Mark BraveryMark’s novel “Evening Sickness” was published as an e-book in September 2015. Mark tells Blunderbuss that he wrote the novel in the 1990s. “After languishing as an unpublished manuscript for sixteen years, “Evening Sickness” finally saw the light of day as an eBook in September 2014.”

Mark says that if he wrote the novel today it probably wouldn’t be quite as daring.  “It uses the ‘stream of consciousness’ technique to convey the inner thoughts of its main characters, showing that what people say is often very different from what they’re thinking. Those characters are a philandering schoolteacher, a gay Jewish lawyer, a former prostitute and a devout Christian. And, just in case anyone’s worried, Mark says that none of the characters is based on anybody he knew in Farnham.”

World War One School War MemorialCentenary - 4 August 2014

The centenary of the First World War was marked today by a series of special events across the UK and in France, culminating in the “Lights Out” service at Westminster Abbey.

Your Editors intend to mark the centenary by commemorating the Old Boys who died during the Great War.

To start us off it seems appropriate to create a webpage devoted to the School War Memorial. This bronze plaque is located in the entrance area to the Old Building, at the foot of the main staircase.

Farnham Grammar School, War memorial plaqueThe memorial commemorates the names of 71 Old Boys “who lost their lives in the Great War of 1914-1918” - except it now appears that one Old Boy was not commemorated on the plaque, which should record the names of 72 Old Boys.

You can read more here.

Haslemere Fringe Festival Report - 5 July 2014

Geoff Whiting was on good form and compered the “comedy tent” on the Saturday night, and also introduced former Farnham College old boy David O'Brien, playing with his

band The Glory Boys.

(Click on the icon above to see and hear The Glory Boys performing at Langhams Brewery, August 2013; more clips are posted at David O’Brien & the Glory Boys)

Almost 7000 people attended the festival over the weekend. Adrian Edmondson headlined on the Saturday with his band the Bad Shepherds playing some memorable punk/new wave classics with a folk twist, including the “Sound of the Suburbs”,

“I Fought the Law” and “Once in a Lifetime”.

Adrian Edmondson told the crowd, “We were playing at Glastonbury last week, but the Haslemere Fringe Festival is so much better!” During his set he mentioned his old friend Rik Mayall, who

sadly passed away the previous month.

The next festival will take place over the first weekend in July 2016.

Our main photos shows Julian and Mike having escaped from the “comedy tent”.

Russell on YouTube

We have tracked down this YouTube video clip of Russell commenting on the inspiration behind his art.

“Random mark making, surprises and accidents play a huge part in the work I do. Instead of planning and executing an art work I prefer to dive into a problem - a new material, a blank canvas, an old artwork revisited - and see where it takes me. I like to leave things open ended and open to interpretation so finishing a piece is a tricky business.”


Headmasters of Farnham Grammar School

Cyril Trust, historian of the Old Farnhamians’, and Jenny Harvey, part-time archivist of Guildford College Corporation, have published The Headmasters of Farnham Grammar School 1800-1973.

The booklet includes a brief history of Farnham Grammar School and covers the following Headmasters:

Rev Samuel Locke (1800-1823)

Rev Henry Thomas Austen (1823-1827)

Rev William Grant Broughton (1827-1829)

Rev Charles John Hume (1829-1834)

Rev Richard Sankey (1834-1853)

Charles Stroud (1853-1897)

Rev Samuel Priestley (1897-1918)

Captain John Reynolds Stickland (1919-1924)

Francis Arthur Morgan (1924-1953)

George Baxter (1953-1970)

Paul French (1971-1973; Farnham College to 1990)

88 pages, 17 illustrations in black and white, A5 format, softback, and wit full-colour cover.

Priced at £5 (post free), contact Cyril Trust on

cyriltrust at btinternet dot com

For details of other booklets by Cyril,

see the Publications Page.

Celebrating 40 Years of Farnham College - 30 April 2014

Farnham College celebrated its 40th birthday with a special “40th Anniversary Event” on the evening of 30 April. The celebrations started at 5.15pm with the ceremonial planting of a red oak tree in the grounds. This was followed at 5.45pm with the burial of a time capsule, filled with specially chosen artefacts, adjacent to the steps leading down from the old building. A reception was then held in the “Performance Studio” (ie the hall). A number of displays had been set up around the studio, and there were tours of the building hosted by current students.

Planting the commemorative red oak tree, Farnham College, 30 April 2014

Planting the commemorative red oak tree on the field. The tree was supplied by Merrist Wood, one of the three sites that comprise the Guildford College Corporation

 The evening was very enjoyable and blessed with sunny weather. There was a strong turnout from the “Year of 1976” with Martin Collier, Julian Walden, Guy Hurst, Gill Mansfield, Linda Green, Lesley Powney and Caroline Gooding enjoying the festivities.

There was a strong turnout of staff, including John McLaughlin, John and Jenny Commerford, Betty Morris, Carol McMahon, Georgina Crawley, Linda Fox (rolling back the years wearing an on trend Alice Cooper T-shirt!), Roger Grogut, Chris Chapple, Roger Costin and Mr James.

The Farnham Herald (16 May) reported the event as follows:

“Farnham Sixth Form College has marked 40 years in existence with a special celebratory event.

Current and previous students and staff, together with the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Dame Sarah Goad, the Mayor of Waverley Patricia Ellis, Deputy Mayor of Farnham Jeremy Ricketts and members of the Old Farnhamians’ Association and Farnham Educational Foundation, gathered together for the occasion. A time capsule filled with specially chosen artefacts was buried in the grounds. In order to provide a snapshot of the college and the times today, the contents included the current prospectus, programme specifications from a few courses, a print out of the college’s Facebook page from the day, a copy of the Farnham Herald for the week, the Premier League Football Table for the day and the top news stories at the moment. A red oak tree, donated by the Farnham Educational Foundation and grown at Merrist Wood College, was also planted to commemorate the event. Guests enjoyed a drinks and canapes reception, the chance to view a gallery of photographs of the college through the ages, tour the college to see how it is today and of course the opportunity to reunite with old classmates and teachers. Principal Mike Potter highlighted the college’s “long and distinguished history”, dating back to 1973 and beyond. He said to the assembled crowd: “We have a strong tradition of academic excellence and I very much hope you will continue to be part of that success.”

Students’ Union president Kate Rogers said: “I am so proud to be a part of a college with such academic excellence, and be able to celebrate 40 years of that. Being here today has made it very clear how Farnham College is cherished by all its students and I can only hope I can come back in 40 years and dig up that time capsule!”

Familiar faces awaiting the buffet reception: Guy, John, Martin, Julian, Linda, Mike, Gill, Caroline and Lesley

We have posted more photos and videos here.

OFA Annual Lunch - 29 March 2014

The 82nd Annual Gathering of the OFA took place on Saturday 29 March at the Ramada Farnham Hotel. A total of 86 old boys attended the event.

After remembering recently deceased members of the Association, Grace was read by Rev John Innes. The speeches began with Jonathan Stewart, the new Director of Farnham Sixth Form College, who was the special guest of the Association.

Table 9 at the Annual Lunch

The toast to the School was proposed by Martin Collier (1971–78) who shared several amusing recollections with us. Cyril Trust (1948–53) proposed the toast to the Association and urged younger old boys to step forward and take up the reins so that the OFA to continue in such a successful way.

Martin CollierThe Ramada Hotel is now the preferred location for the annual lunch, now that Farnham Castle has priced itself out of the market, and space issues continue to restrict the option of returning to the College.

We look forward to another enjoyable lunch in 2015.

Martin expostulating at the 2014 Annual Lunch: click on the photo to see and hear Martin’s speech (best viewed in Internet Explorer)

A report on the annual lunch appears on the OFA website (which includes additional photographs), whilst the Farnham Herald reported on the event in its edition of 11 April 2014 (pdf format).

Mike Mehta, Julian Walden, Rev Innes, John Clarke and Martin Collier at the Old Farnhamians annual lunch 2014

Mike Mehta, Julian Walden, Rev Innes, John Clarke and Martin Collier

John Saunders

Funeral Arrangements for John Saunders

The funeral of John Saunders will take place at

Aldershot Crematorium at 2.15pm

on Friday 14 February.

The Crematorium is located at

Guildford Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU12 4BP

There is a location map here.

Following John’s funeral there will be an

after service gathering at the

Aldershot Traction Club,

for those wishing to join together to celebrate John’s life.

The Aldershot Traction Club is located in

Weybourne Road,


GU11 3NE

There is a location map here.

Polar Vortex v Flooded Britain

Our friends across the “herring pond”, namely Rob and Susie, have shared their recent experiences with us.

Rob writes, “The vortex is on its way out; at least in SW Connecticut, 1,000 miles from Susie. It’s about -2°C now, much better than the -22°C we had not so long ago. Anyway, a few pictures from a hike last Friday in local woods - the Devil’s Den in Weston CT. It really hasn’t been too bad. The power even stayed on!” [Which is more than can be said for some of us enjoying positively balmy temperatures in the UK!]

(For more photos, see Rob’s Gallery.)

Susie writes, “Happy New Year to you all.  We are still snowed in here in Missouri, but it's supposed to warm up for a couple of days starting tomorrow, so we might get some of it to melt off. I don't have too many photos, I've been spending my time slipping and sliding around the roads trying to get to work!  Anyway, here are a few from Bonne Terre, Missouri.  The house is not mine, by the way!  It's owned by a local businessman.”

(For more photos, see Susie’s Gallery.)

Cross Country

We are currently exploring the routes of the old cross country runs from the school and will be advertising a group outing to follow these routes later this year.

As far as we can tell these were the two “short” routes from the school:

The “10.6” Course

Up Trebor Avenue, turn left into Great Austins, turn right into Little Austins, turn right along Greenhill Road, turn right into Mavins Avenue, turn right into Great Austins, and then left down Trebor Avenue. Effectively “round the block”.

The “12.6” Course

Up Trebor Avenue, turn left into Great Austins, turn right into Little Austins, and then locate the path leading down to the Packway, and follow the Packway into Vicarage Hill, turning right along Vicarage Hill and then turning right into Greenhill Road. Turn right into Mavins Avenue, turn right into Great Austins, and then left down Trebor Avenue.

In addition there was a longer, unofficial route as follows:

Up Trebor Avenue, turn left into Great Austins, turn right into Little Austins, and then locate the path leading down to the Packway, and follow the Packway into Vicarage Hill. Turn left at Vicarage Hill, continuing to its end and follow the path to Lodge Hill Road. Cross Lodge Hill Road and follow the tracks through Bourne Woods to Tilford.

Return via Tilford Road (or turn into Lodge Hill Road on the return leg and resume the return route of the 12.6 course from Vicarage Hill and Greenhill Road).

John and Irene Wilson dancing in the World Championship, Paris, December 2013Update from John Wilson

The news section wouldn’t be the news section without an update from John and Irene.

Here we see John and Irene strutting their stuff at the World Championships which were held in Paris on 7 December 2013.  

School War MemorialLeslie Croft: The First Old Boy Killed in the First World War

The first Old Boy to be killed during the First World War was announced in the Farnhamian dated December 1914:

“The new of the death of Lieutenant Leslie Croft came as a great shock to us. He had been in the fighting line since the beginning of the War - at Mons, on the Aisne and finally in Flanders where he was killed, 31 October-1 November.

Leslie Robert Croft“All the boys of his time remember his quiet patience at work; his unfailing cheerfulness; his untiring energy in playing for the District (always a losing House) and his absolute sterling character. We tender our sincerest sympathy with his father and other and sister I their great sorrow.

“He gave his life for his country.”

Second Lieutenant Leslie Robert Croft was serving in “C” Company of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records his death as having taken place on 30 October 1914, aged 22. He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, on the School’s War Memorial, and on Farnham’s War Memorial in Gostrey Meadows.

Leslie Croft was the son of Major G Croft of the Manor House, Hale, Farnham.

You can read more on Leslie Croft here.

Farnham Beerex - 12 April 2014


As usual a number of us were able to attend the Saturday lunchtime session at the Maltings.

Mark Bravery, Mike Mehta, John Clarke and Kevin Desmond at this year’s Beer Festival

Mark Bravery, Mike Mehta, John Clarke and Kevin Desmond at this year’s Beer Festival

This year we were delighted to be joined by Gillian Elliott (Mansfield), shown here chatting with John Clarke

This year we were delighted to be joined by Gillian Elliott (Mansfield), shown here chatting with John Clarke

Metalwork in the early 1970s


Chris Nelms operating one of the lathes in the metalwork shop, Farnham Garmmar School, early 1970s

We are indebted to Chris Nelms for unearthing this photo of him operating one of the lathes in the metalwork shop in 1971 or 1972.

What is astonishing about the photo is the lack of Health & Safety in operation at this time. For instance, Chris isn’t wearing any safety goggles, whilst many of us will also remember the open hearth furnace located at the other end of the workshop (see photo below)!

Chris remembers that safety goggles were issued following an incident where a fellow pupil was injured by flying metal swarf hitting his eyeball.

We have contacted this pupil and Rupert Pullan remembers that, “I think I was using a lathe to make a small cannon. (It subsequently featured heavily in an explosion involving my older brother, but that's another story). A bit of metal ended up in my eye and I was sent to  Farnham Hospital A&E. I couldn't understand why I received so many odd looks on the bus back to school - even with my eye patch.  It turned out they had used a fluorescent yellow dye and it stained half my face and neck. I did feel guilty for all the fuss and safety stuff in the workshops - 'elf an safety goorn mad! All routine nowadays.”

Metalwork shop, Farnham Grammar School, in 1973

The other end of the metalwork shop in 1973. This photo is reproduced from the July 1973 Farnhamian magazine. It shows Mr Appy chatting to two girls by the furnace. The original caption read “Well boys, all it takes is a little skill”.

Celebrating 40 Years Of Farnham College

Farnham College will be officially celebrating its 40th birthday on 30 April 2014, from 5-8pm. Please note that pre-booking a place is necessary.

This 40th birthday event will include a memory display, time capsule burial, tours of the College by current students, and a chance for old students/staff to reunite with fellow students or colleagues.  Farnham College has set up a dedicated area on its website about the event.

The College would love to hear stories and reminiscences from staff members, students, alumni or members of the public and these can be emailed to marketing at guildford.ac.uk.  There will also be news in the Farnham Herald and on the Farnham Sixth Form College Friends Reunited page.

Postcard of the Old Building in 1951


Farnham Grammar School in 1951

We recently located this postcard view of the Old Building on a website dedicated to Tuck’s Postcards. The postcard has been dated to 1951, or twenty years before many of us first entered its portals.

According to the website, Tuck’s published at least 41 postcards on Farnham, and these can be seen here. We have added a gallery page with photos of the school buildings over the years.