The main administration building and staff room area, the two floored headquarters of Menzies extended from Clarkes Lane into the heart of the main site.
A curious addition was “the spider”- an extension of the staff room to which pupils would congregate especially during rainy break times. A fire escape staircase would later be added.
Two entrances were used. The side entrance was mainly used for events and special occasions. Two sets of double doors revealed an elaborate staircase up to the staff room, and headmasters office. Trophies in cabinets adorned the upper level.
Three specially commissioned panel prints dating from 1986/7 by local artist Paula Woof perfectly captured the essence of school life. Separate but interconnected by events occurring in each, they were prominent in the hallway.
The top picture above the second level of the building shows a boy swinging around the staircase bannister of either B or C block in bright colours. Behind him, a print with an actual old Grammar school photograph of pupils in monochrome.
From out of his schoolbag casually clasped in his right hand, a single paper falls out as a result of his care free kinaesthetic acrobatics.
The second picture below again continues the central image of part of a black and white graphic of years past, but in the foreground a group of girls stand around a trampoline , postured as though in deep thought as a flame haired girl above them bounces in a tucked position. Behind her as though falling from nowhere, three pages float down behind her- of course a continuation of the boys lost works from the scene above. A red book has already fallen onto the trampoline from the same source.
The final image at ground level shows various images in a classroom setting. A sixth former with dyed short white hair and stonewashed jeans plays a saxophone. Three younger pupils behind her are involved in a science experiment, as another gets to grips with pottery. A black board scribbled with chemical formulas dominates behind them, as a different pupil sketches a picture and in front of him, rows of pupils sit behind computers.
But still the pages fall from above, to a studious boy engrossed in his work, writing hunched as though the author of the whole work. For it is the same boy as depicted in the top picture – his work and play parallel to the whole school pupil experience.
On walking through the double doors one would be instantly struck by either light or darkness, depending if the large draped curtains were open or shut.
A cloakroom and toilets were located towards the fire escape onto the A Block car park, with other curtains able to partition off the corridor from the body of the main room- especially useful during school productions. The school administration office was located past here.
At the centrepiece of this hall crucible was the organ. A grand instrument with an internal war memorial to teachers who had died during both World wars- inscribed at the front were the words “To Samuel Dudley…. and all others.” Seldom heard played, when it was the acoustics in the room were surprisingly good. Companioned to this at the front of the hall, a television cabinet- sometimes used at dinnertimes to broadcast events like the Olympic games , and a lecturn and chair bearing the names of former head masters and the years which they served.
A sound room looking down on the main open space was utilised during school productions, upgraded around the early 1990’s , and also occasionally speakers played out chart music of the times into school assemblies.
Rows of empty seats could accommodate all in these yearly assemblies, as Greek, Olympian , Spartan and Trojan houses massed. Set out in symmetry, a space was left down the middle, a division that could be used to separate girls and boys or years as required.
The ceiling above was a mixture of technology and older wooden panelling, which unfortunately often leaked as I recall- largely due to the flat roof. Bulbous lights shone down on a dank room when the curtains were closed.
The hall was also used extensively for parents’ evenings, school discos and of course exams, both mock and the real things. Time was important then, prototype tests with limited hours. Clocks playing tunes to the chords of stomach rumbles. Where the rocking rickety desks rattle echoed the bray of heartbeats, as pens hurriedly tapped out codes along lines of A4 paper. Coughs and sneezes completed the punctuation.
And those battered old desks, awash with graffiti names that had been written out during thoughtful reflection, some going back many years. What was the story of those whose place you were now sat in? Where had they gone? How far had they travelled? Time was unimportant then… it didn’t matter…..