The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Share your memories and stories from your days at school, and find out the truth behind the rumours....Remember the teachers and pupils, tell us who you remember and why...

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JGSteel
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The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by JGSteel » Fri Dec 16, 2005 7:39 pm

The following might be of interest. Not long after I learnt to swim and qualified for my red bather I was spotted in an inter-house competition going fairly quickly doing a hopelessly bad version of front crawl. As a result I was invited to join the school swimming colts which gave me plenty of time away from boring cricket matches training with the team under Mr Edwards and Sergeant Usher, the School XVI swimming and diving coaches. It was Leslie Foxton, who was Peele A’s swimming captain who spotted me. I recall his dare devil exploits. He was not a diver. Never-the-less, after surviving a racing dive from the top board into the main pool, he contrived to clamber from the gallery up onto the rafters above the deep end. There he repeated the exploit; another very flat racing dive. Needless to say neither Mr Edwards or Sergeant Usher were about at the time. Not satisfied with this he repeated the dive from the back of the top board into the small pool which is less than a metre deep. Finally he did the big one, launching himself from the roof rafters above the small pool into its deep end. Leslie suffered little more than a very reddened and bruised chest. After he left school early in 1946 (I think) he taught for a while in a prep school then joined the brigade of guards and distinguished himself during the Korean war where sadly, he lost his life.

Other experiences relating to the ‘cattle shed’ pool relate to its secret weapon which confused visiting swimming teams. Now most of the schools we swam against had some sort of secret weapon. At Epsom College it was a rusty trough on the wall at the end of the pool where one executed a racing turn. This led to severely grazed knees! At Tonbridge School the outdoor pool seemed very long. It was said that the Earth's curvature could just be made out when one was waiting to dive in. At Brighton College the shock of hitting highly chlorinated sea water was a shock to the system but our pool had a skylight which shone down onto the deep end a few feet from the end wall. Opponents frequently tried to turn against the patch of light instead of the end wall thereby losing valuable fractions of a second.

On the question of bathers as far as I recall it was either total nudity, a red bather many of which may have faded to a washed out red which looked brown, and the coveted blue bather sworn by members of the XVI swimming team. They were actually blue with a rather natty white stripe along the edges. Sometimes it was possible to organise swimming early on Sunday morning before breakfast. This required presence of a staff member. Our assistant house mistress Miss ‘Hearty’ Harvey would sometimes agree to come but we were told that costumes had to be worn, presumably to spare her blushes. She taught biology so, in fact remained quite unperturbed when we were joined by other houses who were not informed about the requirement to wear a costum!

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Post by AKAP » Fri Dec 16, 2005 8:09 pm

Welcome to the forum, just a long shot: are you any relation to Francis Steel who was at CH around the late 60s early 70s.
And thanks for the memory about early morning baths, if you could get a housemaster to attend, I had forgotten about that.

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Reply to are you any relation to Francis Steel?

Post by JGSteel » Fri Dec 16, 2005 9:20 pm

No.

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Re: The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by BEANY » Sun Dec 07, 2008 6:16 pm

Hello Steel, sorry I can't remember your christian name. After all we usually used the surname at school! I'm Brian Haynes, not a relative but I just wanted to say that Leslie Digby Foxton was a very good friend of mine and

we often met up during the school holidays. I remember once we went to a birthday party. The Guiness girls! We had a never to be forgotten time.I used to stay overnight with Leslie and family.I think it was in the Victoria station area of LONDON.I can't remember the address but it was in the EBURY, ECCLESTONE area.

I seem to remember that I got the red bather after completing 5 lengths non stop. Leslie was not happy that I never mastered the crawl. I used breast stroke and side stroke!!!I never was good diver but on joining combined ops Royal Navy they didn't have to instruct me in swimming.That and the fact that I had been with Kirby in the sigs section of the school OTC stood me in good stead and I was soon taking the parades at HMS ROYAL ARTHUR. the Chief Petty Officer always seemed to have "other" jobs to do !!!!!

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Re: The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by JGSteel » Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:04 pm

Reply to Brian Haynes.
John Greenly Steel is the name Peele A 35 the number. I found your name in the 1941 Roll and remember you briefly when I first went up from the Prep. As I recall you had an interst in designing and building radio receivers and maybe transmitters making use of the very convienient DC main supply that the school used. It saved you having to make arrangements for the anode HT!
Re Leslie Foxton I did not know that the D was for Digby. I met his father in Isleworth where he was living at the time. It was during the Korean War not long after Leslie was killed and as I recall it was a house in Spring Grove Road, Isleworth.
Your accounts of swimming are interesting.
Regards

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Re: The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by NEILL THE NOTORIOUS » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:12 pm

Hi, J G Steele,
I believe that you and I must have been in the CH XV1 at the sane time, I don't remember having to "Qualify" for a red bather, but I could already swim quite well, on arrival at CH.
I cannot remember when I got my blue bather, but I played Water Polo for the school, as well as swimming reasonably quickly
Somewhere on another Post, I mentioned our "Secret Weapon" of lines of waving yellow socks, from the gallery, I remember one opposing team --- (Dulwich ?) complaining ! By dint of excellent training in Foul Play, I also played for Shrewsbury, in the North Midland League, during my Army Service --- !
I recall two brothers, Parsons by name, who joined the School, as pretty competent swimmers, it turned out that they had been brought up in Ceylon, so had somewhat of an advantage, they were in Barnes B, at the same time as myself, one older than the other, sorry I can't remember Christian Names ---- Senility strikes !
If they are still extant and reading this, they may have interesting comments. Does anybody remember the "Abbots Watch" competition swum over 1 mile -- does it still exist ? I tried it once, and nearly fell asleep ! some poor person had to be at the end of the bath -- calling out how many lengths you had completed -- on that short bath it was ridiculous ! !
I was, and I suppose, still am, Neill Evans Ba B 35 1940 - 1946

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Re: The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by JGSteel » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:09 am

Yes, we were at Housie at the same time. I looked you up in the Blue "Alphabetical List" for 1941. I was in Prep B then. as far asred bathers were concerned the requirement was that one had to swim one length by a recognised stroke. I learnt to swim when I was in Prep in the summer of 1941.
We must have played water polo together but I regret that I have no recollection of you. I was a somewaht ineffective goal keeper which did not help our scoring record.
The Parsons brothers were C P & T R according to the 1946 list born 18/6/30 and 1/11/32 respectively but I don't remember them as swimmers.
Yes there was a 1 mile competition but I imagine in this day and age that Blues can quality for their 1500 metre ASA badge. I did this at the Leatherhead pool when I was about 45 (!) and a pool attendant had to do the counting for me to confirm to the ASA that I had, indeed, completed the distance.

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Re: The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by postwarblue » Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:25 pm

I seem to recollect that red bathers became unobtainable during the war and for a while afterwards and a brown one was substituted - red came back in ca.1951 I think.

There were two bods in Col B who used to do a double dive off the top board - one on his back, feet towards the water, pull his feet back so the other was balanced on them on his stomach, catapult him forward & then follow in. We didn't have elf'n'safety then of course.
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Re: The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by CHAZ » Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:21 pm

The Parsons brothers were C P & T R according to the 1946 list born 18/6/30 and 1/11/32 respectively but I don't remember them as swimmers.

I wonder if one of these had a son called Trevor who was at CH in 1977-1983...?
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Re: The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by englishangel » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:16 pm

There was a Carol Parsons at Hertford around a bit before this too if I remember correctly
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Re: The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by BEANY » Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:13 pm

big hello from Brian Haynes, Prep A3 and Peele A36 1936-1943..still going strong but having to visit St. Luke's at Guildford on a regular basis third dose of chemo in as many years.Hurrah for modern medicine.... I used to meet up with Leslie Digby Foxton during the school holidays. He lived near Victoria station in London and knew all the right people! We once went to a party with the Guinness girls , whose family lived nearby, they were lighting their cigarettes from a burning white five pound note!!!!When my parents visited the school Foxton often came with us to the tea shop in West Street, Horsham. I think he went into the Airforce. I went into combined ops Royal Navy on tank landingcraft.We never saw each other again...life can be cruel!
I live in Crawley so it isn't too bad getting to Guildford..about and hour each way 44 miles or so .I have six more visits with fortnightly intervals.

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Re: The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by JGSteel » Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:52 pm

There is a memorial on the Dining Hall wall to Leslie D Foxton and one of the Urquhart-Pullen brothers. Leslie, as I said in an earlier 'post', was killed in the Korean War.

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Re: The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by michael scuffil » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:29 pm

All you guys make me feel very youthful. But a housemistress??! That must have been a wartime emergency measure.

I remember Early Morning (and Saturday evening) baths supervised by housemasters. John Page used to take as many juniors as would fit into his estate car back to the house. Record was 14 or so. Part of the route was a public road, but no seat belts in those days. Our junior housemaster British Lion Phil Davies used to join in the swimming.

John Page also rewarded me and two others (inc. the doctor's son) with a tuckshop tea for getting our swimming certificate. (This required swimming five lengths (125 yds) and diving off the side. My wife finds the first absurdly little, but says she would never have managed the second.)
Th.B. 27 1955-63

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Re: The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by NEILL THE NOTORIOUS » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:16 pm

Hi Beany ---- Life can be particularly cruel on LSTs (Landing Ship Tanks -- for the un-initiated)
I was posted from Tripoli to Khartoum, and did the first leg from Libya to Port Said on an LST, via Benghazi, Famagusta,
All lovely --- until crossing the end of the Adriatic, when the "Borah" blows --- in a flat-bottomed craft ????

Interesting but TRUE -- the cook sent a message to the Skipper to ask if we coulkd change course --- to fry the eggs !!!

From Port Said to Cairo, from Cairo to Khartoum by Rail and Paddle Steamer --- very " Four Feathers" !

It amazing what you can experience and --- at 21--- ENJOY !

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Re: The Old Swimming Baths J G Steel Peele A 1940-1947

Post by sejintenej » Wed Mar 31, 2010 10:10 pm

NEILL THE NOTORIOUS wrote:
It amazing what you can experience and --- at 21--- ENJOY !
I was a week out of CH (I had left a week before the term ended!) when I started my first job. It involved a lot of technical stuff as well as lugging all sorts of weights up mountains. One day it got a bit warm (124ºF and 97% humidity in the met station) and the only way to cool off was to jump or dive off the icecap into the melt water lake! That was 2 pm - at 6.30pm that evening it was 20ºF, blowing a gale you couldn't stand up in - we lost 13 of the 14 small tents and had to sleep how we could for three days, and snowing!

As you said, it is amazing what you can do and ?enjoy? at the age of 18 years 1 month!
“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love ...”

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