Planes, Trains, Automobiles....(and Ferries?)
A brief journey through some of the memories of Lerpoolian Peter Broad
I wonder if any of us have any idea where we will be in 50 years: indeed, when I left Liverpool College in June 1966, I had no idea. I probably won't see 2050, but, given my family longevity, corresponding in 2045 is a possibility.
On this side of "The Pond" many people describe 9-11 as the defining moment etched forever in their memory, though when I last visited NYC, they were still discussing potential sites. My moment came when my homework, in a School House study, was interrupted with the news of JFK's assassination! So perhaps I should explain how a "Howard's boy" came to be in School House.
My father was a "Grammar Schoolboy" from King's Lynn (Norfolk). He graduated from Imperial College (London) and planned (in 1937) to join Anglo-Iranian Oil; WWII saw him sent instead to ICI in Runcorn to develop antidotes for poison gas, and he became the Air-raid warden for Widnes (where he was rooming). A few weeks after my birth, he had me registered at Liverpool College.
After failing my initial entry exam, I entered Lower 3C in 1958 and remained a C stream grunt until the 6th form, though am now a Chartered Engineer.
I travelled daily from Widnes by catching the 7 am train with my father. He was working in the ICI offices in Liverpool. From Widnes (in those days the Warrington & Widnes trains came to Central Station), I would change at Garston Station and run across to Allerton. Alternatively, I hopped on a #80 (Airport) bus up to Mossley Hill; several boys from across the water (Birkenhead and surrounds) also used the #80 from the Pierhead end, thus filling Elmsley Road with School uniforms.
Back pre-Beeching, I had several routes home to choose from, including Crosswell bus, so my Mother never knew when to expect me,(but more on this in later musings)
In February 1960, my parents moved to New York. Initially, I boarded locally for three months with a boy from Butler's, Roger Meason, then moved into School House in the September and my brother Michael entered Mossley Vale (ultimately becoming Head Boy there in 1962-3).
My parents' war-time honeymoon had been spent five miles outside Llangollen. As a result, I added North Wales to my stomping grounds as my maternal grandparents retired there, and I spent winters there while my parents were in New York, including forays down the local (underground) slate mine at Moel Fferna.
When my father, who was still employed by ICI, returned to the UK, we moved to Sandiway, near Hartford in Cheshire that had a direct rail line to Mossley Hill Station. No longer needing to board, I returned to Howard's House.
My first teacher was Miss Deakin (I believe her life ended tragically). She had a sister in a local research centre that supplied "surplus" rabbits to students at Liverpool College. My first rabbit died. The second one given to me travelled in a cardboard box on the train- to the amusement of other travellers. Maybe doing homework on the train is why I stayed in the C stream, as I might not get home until about nine o'clock some nights.
Diagnosed as "dyslexic" in primary school, and my now adult son has ADHD- so potential connections? I only passed 2 'O' levels at my first sitting, (maths & chemistry), but Butch Griffiths pushed me into three University acceptable Science A levels plus calculus. After failing French a fourth time, I did look at taking Welsh as an alternative (strange that O&C considered this a 'foreign language').
On one return to Wales for Christmas, we stopped in at the village post-office where a young woman was being served. However, on seeing me in (very 'English') slacks and sports jacket, decided to switch to Welsh so I would not understand. Her Welsh was appalling; it was almost impossible to comprehend. As she left, the Postmaster turned to me with a jovial "Bore da Peta" and my "Bore da Daved" had the young lady tripping over the doorstep! Fortunately, that year I finally passed French!
When our father was overseas working for ICI, an ICI driver would pick Michael and me up at term-end and whisk us to Manchester airport or North Wales. Air travel in those days was much different from today. On a night flight, stopping at Glasgow and Gander to refuel, a "child" could sleep flat across three seats, even on a Viscount! Then, on my first eastbound return with my Mother who came back with us to register Michael into Liverpool College, I was able to stay on my feet as the BOAC-707* climbed while others were tumbling backwards!
I received two taps of the cane in junior school for surplus detentions, and six while in School House for a nocturnal beer party in the Glazebrook pavilion, which on that occasion remained intact! Certainly a lot of construction since my days.; the Refectory had been built a few years earlier, and I remember the Science Block going up, followed by the original half-block of classrooms [The Bridge Block] that I see has now doubled in size from when I was in U4C in 61-2. In my days, gym was in the (lower school) Assembly Hall and we feared that day in late February when "PT" morphed into swimming, in that "quaint" outdoor pool.
My first 12 years in Africa were mainly "post-colonial', teaching indigenous populations to operate the equipment independence had given them while also instructing them that "freedom" did not mean freedom from work. Since then, I've been involved in all aspects of metal extraction, and environmental clean-up, in a multitude of metals (gold & uranium included). Metallurgy, and probably any "applied engineering" courses, are ideal for "late developers".
Being retired is rather dull, but I can still "consult" and pass on my experiences. I serve on the Ontario Professional Engineers Council, as well as with the Royal Canadian Legion based on my University OTC (4th Manchester Reg TAVR4), which followed CCF. In closing, one comment on CCF. Being an "unassigned" Sgt in my final year, I got to be "the enemy" in the annual Derbyshire Moors expedition. I had two rifles and a 1/2 case of "expired" .303 blanks that had incredible "hang-fire" delays!
My final random memories include my Liverpool College Music Master determining I was tone-deaf; after I had passed the preliminary London School of Music exam. And finally, failure on the .22 range got me my first pair of glasses
*Note: BOAC also stands for "better on a camel!"