October 9, 2023

Winding the School Clock


From the autumn term 1942 to July 1943 (when we were in the top class). Raymond Oliver and I had the job of winding the School clock every Monday morning. We were delighted, because Monday morning was the time the Vicar, or the Curate, came to take the Scripture lesson. We took as long as we could going up the ladder to the clock tower to do the actual winding and occasionally had a sly Woodbine up there. Once we came down we had the further job of collecting crates of milk from the school gate, and distributing them to each classroom. With careful timing we usually saw the Vicar or Curate leaving as we returned to class for Arithmetic.

I remember how bitterly cold it was up in the tower on some winter days, with an icy wind whistling through the ventilation slits. Occasionally the clock lost time, and we had to adjust it with one of us down in the playground shouting instructions and the other blindly turning the mechanism.
Not much of the clock mechanism was visible in those days, as it was boxed in behind a grey door. This was the same door that appeared a year ago in an empty shop in the High Street, as part of the exhibition aimed at raising funds for the clock’s restoration. The door was covered with signatures of boys who are now grandfathers – probably later Clock Monitors. Neither Ray nor I could remember writing our names up there, but they were certainly our signatures. Ray was an evacuee from Portsmouth (he stayed at Brewery Cottages with Mrs. Vokes), and when I told him about the exhibition, he made a special journey up from Portsmouth to see it.

It’s funny, but I have no memory of the clock chiming before the War, and neither do other school friends I’ve questioned. Does anyone remember when it did?