We met up with William Allen, the current Mayor of Dacorum, to talk about his memories of Lockers Park, the lessons, modelling club and sledging down Gadebridge.
“I joined Lockers Park in C1, having been originally at Westbrook Hay where my father was Headmaster. It was chosen as the closest prep school but my brother and I were boarders.
Roger Stevens was inspirational as a history teacher, encouraging my love of the topic and I eventually went on to become a history teacher myself. He also helped me breakthrough on maths as well. Mr Dudgeon was a great teacher too.
I remember being bored in Mrs Abraham’s lessons; she would write in copper-script on the board and we would need to fill in the gaps, whereas Mr Glanville was a real character who got us to write a precis in 100 words of articles and read us Edwardian classics such as Vice Versa.
The outdoor space was wonderful – there was a real tree-house by the Headmaster’s bungalow which had been made out of pallets, complete with a roof and two old seats from a car. You’d never be able to do this now, health and safety wouldn’t allow it, but back then the boys just seemed to be able to get on with things. That included when Mr Parkin wasn’t looking secretly, making toast on a Bunsen burner with bread from snack and abseiling out of the top window as part of the fire drill.
The shrubs were full of camps and whenever we could we’d be outside having fun. There were also the allotments by the side of the Chapel and the riffle shooting with Mr Parkins who would give free slatter if you hit all the bullseyes. When it snowed, we’d walk through the public woods to Gadebridge to sled down the valley.
We still used the old gym and it looked very Victorian to us with the bars and ropes – that’s definitely changed now. We had our assemblies in the Chapel and there was something incongruous about the boys standing in the choir stalls talking about the Victorian Great Inventors.
The one thing I clearly remember was always something to do; whether it was airfix modelling with Mr Walker, the model railway room, chess club in the library or watching sport on TV. In the dorms there were always games and Mr Melrose’s fantastic stories. You really did have a choice.
I went to Uppingham before heading off to Oxford, to study history, and embarking on a career that’s spanned being an ESOL teacher in Vietnam, charity leadership, and more latterly as a teacher. I’m currently a local councillor and Mayor of Dacorum which is highly rewarding – helping people to find solutions across business, charities and the community.
My over-riding memory of being at Lockers Park is the space and time we had. We were just allowed to ‘be’ without any pressures – there was no sense of urgency and looking back those days seemed wonderfully carefree.”