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Hazelbury Open Air School - Feedback 2

June 2014 - Peter Seymour [1951/52 - ?]

Hi, Peter.

Thanks for your email. It was interesting to hear your memories of the Open Air School. I was there from 1948 to 1953. You started there in 1951-52 so we did have a little overlap. You were born in 1939 and so would have been twelve or thirteen when you joined the school. Does that put you in the senior class: class four? You are three years older than me which might have seemed a large gap to us when we were that age.

You mention grape vines growing around the doorways of the classrooms. I don't quite remember that but your reference has certainly jogged some buried memory. It will be interesting to see if anyone else remembers them.


Hello Jeff,

Delighted to hear back from you! I am afraid my contribution was a bit threadbare on details but, as I suggested, the brain is confusingly adept at fabricating things remembered from elsewhere, and using them to fill in gaps, which I did not want to do in this matter.

The grapes stuck in my mind because they were such an unusual feature and I wondered why everyone seemed to ignore them, or not pick any on their way in or out. I think I took just one of them.

I shall do what I can to supply an age-relevant photo of me.

Best wishes,


Hello Jeff Avery,

As much as I shy away from nostalgia, recently I looked up Hazelbury Open Air School on the Internet just to put my mind at rest as to whether it still existed. Within a short while it led to your amazing website of schoolboy memories and photos. I decided to contact you but the intention slipped by for a few weeks until today, when I recalled your face in the photographs I had seen. I tried to find the original website and discovered that a whole crowd of former classmates and pupils had already populated your nostalgic archive about the school and added so much detailed information, including an answer to my wondering what became of the institution. So here I am with a few questions and some vague reminiscences that may fit a few more bits into the jigsaw puzzle from the past that we shared all those years ago.

I am Peter Seymour, 75 in July, and now live in Norfolk but I am originally from Edmonton. I was sent to the Open Air School sometime around 1951-52 which took me from my education at Cuckoo Hall Lane Secondary Modern. Your images and the contents of your website are so inextricably woven into my faded recollections of that period in my life; alas, my usually quite incredible memory fails me regarding whether you and I were actually acquainted. Your face is so familiar to me and I recognized it immediately. The name also clicked but that could be just wishful thinking from autosuggestion. When a person gets to our age, they have usually met with so many names and faces it is easy to mix them up! So maybe you can confirm some part of the puzzle from your memories. If you reply I shall try to send you a photo of me from around that time. Unfortunately I have none from the school itself. [Note: Peter did send me a photo of himself taken at about age 12 and it is shown here.]

Although you entered the school much earlier than I did, nearly all of the Edmonton experiences and photos shown, and all of the locations mentioned, were familiar parts of my childhood. Maybe we were separated by class or year, plus you went on to Latymer School, which I did not (I had attended Lower Latymer school previously when my family lived at The Broadway, just opposite the war memorial). At ten and a half years of age I left the area when we became rehoused in a new Council property on the Cuckoo Hall Lane Estate between Tramway Avenue (which one or two of your writers mentioned) and the Ponders End boundary. I went through Junior school at Cuckoo Hall Lane and, after my stint at the Open Air School, went back and finished my schooldays at the senior part of the school, later called Mandeville. Like one of the other writers I am not quite sure why I was sent to the Open Air School and felt that I didn’t really belong there or need to be there. I suspect that because I was a tall but timid boy, I was a prime target for bullying and my distress was

Peter aged about 12

picked up on by the school medical authorities who thought it would be psychologically beneficial for me to learn in a more sheltered environment.

Regarding the Open Air School routines: open windowed classrooms; the nap hour in that open shelter (and not really being able to sleep at such a pointless time); the bus rides up that long drive, especially on dark winter mornings - I remember them well. The gorgeous breakfast smell of fried bacon on toast on entering the dining hall; the “afters” - my favourite was chocolate pudding with cream and I’ve never forgotten being too late and missing out on it on one occasion!

A few more memories include the well-established vines around the classroom doors, full of bunches of grapes (which no one else seems to have mentioned) and a school play like the ones depicted and mentioned. Mine was Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer-Night’s Dream” (I played ‘Lion’). I don’t remember anyone else in the cast apart from Theseus, played by a tall, healthy-looking blonde lad. Someone mentioned a “Martin” (Jones) who suffered from asthma; I am pretty sure I remember him, and also a small dark-haired, Irish-looking kid who taught me a good trick I never forgot: when I chased him across the green playing area he waited until I had nearly caught him and suddenly went down on one knee, sending me flying over his head!

Reading all those reminiscences brought back several teachers’ names: I recall Mr. Robinson, Mrs. Male, and vaguely, the headmaster. But what remains a mystery is that nobody mentions Mrs. Hartshorne. She could be quite a stern old cow. I remember her demonstrating her dissatisfaction with my classmates’ work by throwing their copy books straight from her desk out of the nearest open window! I also vaguely remember the name Mr. Rudolph, the bus driver, but that is about it...

Hope to hear,



Hi, Peter.

I’m looking forward to receiving whatever photos you can resurrect, particularly of what you looked like at the age you were when attending the Open Air School.


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