Written by Tom Churcher (H. 1943-48)
Monday, 19 June 2006

In November 1942 an appointment had been made by my parents for me to be interviewed by the then Headmaster, Walter Hett. A daunting prospect for a 12 year old. We lived on the other side of Hove so Kemp Town was unknown to me but I did manage to get off the bus at the bottom of College Road. My first contact at the College was the then porter, Smart. On hearing that my appointment was at 11 o’clock he looked at the hall clock; it was ten past eleven! I can still see the look on Smart’s face. I don’t remember ever being late at school again in all of my 5½ years there.

Mr Hett chatted to me about the wonders of the school. He showed me around; the sports field, the hall and the inside of the Chapel are the features that I remember. Years later I learnt that the College was in some financial difficulty through remaining in Brighton during the war. At that time there were only about 120 boys in the school and that it was a matter of concern if a boy left and could not be replaced. So possibly Mr Hett was out to convince me that I should want to be one of the pupils rather than my trying to “sell” myself as a potential pupil!

Months later in March 1943 I was again at the College and this time Mr Farnell set me some test papers to see where I should start my journey through the class and set system then operating at the school. The simple answer was; right at the bottom. My excuse, although why I should be making excuses 60 years later, I went to a grammar school at age 11 and therefore started science subjects and also French at that age. Entrants to the College from prep schools would have started French at 8 and science not until they were 13 years old. So I had a good start at science which made it almost inevitable that I should pursue a scientific career. Science did not feature in Mr Farnell’s test of my ability!

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