Welcome Back!

Clyde Is Back 2Clyde House

From September 2014 we will be welcoming back a familiar name to the Hill. Clyde House will return to the Hill following an absence of a number of years. Clyde is now our Junior Boys' Day House for boys aged between 11 and 14.

Plymouth vs Clyde

The match started off fairly evenly but soon Clyde, through Luke Maslen, started to up their game. With his side steps and game management Clyde began to take the lead scoring try after try. Ed Thompson was hard to hold back, scoring several tries. Plymouth clung on with determination, continuing to threaten with their captain, Thomas Barbour, leading from the front. But unfortunately they couldn't convert their possession and threats into points.


1961 - 1965

Lloyd Silverthorne BA
Deputy Head Boy 1964-1965


Clyde was a popular choice of house for us 'Plyms' in the early 1960s, so I was really pleased to be allocated there in 1961. Under Rev Glyn-James, who ran a 'tight' ship, with any major discretions being severely dealt with!

As 'juniors', we were very much under the thumb of the house prefects - especially head of house, Cox, but bullying was rare - if there at all - and the junior dorm was generally a happy place. I seem to remember spending many hours in the 'quiet' room. We had supposedly (relatively) comfy chairs - which had to be surrendered to seniors when requested - and the daily papers. Of course, we 'bagged' stories from them if they were at all interesting.

Sadly, it was the period of the Rohilla tragedy, and we read the unfolding story with enthusiasm and mounting dread. Though of course we were under strict instructions.... NOT to talk to the press!


Head of HouseP W Cox  Clyde House (opened in 1888)

Head of House
P W Cox

Clyde House (opened in 1888)

Clyde junior dorm, 1961

Then there was the house library -also in the 'quiet' room. As I was quickly volunteered as 'house librarian' this had a more than usual image in my life. Not that the duties were very arduous - keeping the cupboard tidy, and making sure I knew who had which books. Winter evenings always seemed dark and cold, and the 'quiet room' became a popular haunt as that was where the fire was. Unguarded and accessible to everyone, it was a source of entertainment as well as warmth. On one horrific occasion, someone produced a .22 round (smuggled out of the range next to the dining hall no doubt). This was pushed into a tin of 'Ronuk' and thrown carelessly into the flames. Nothing happened, but we all took cover anyway. Except that is for the young Target who sat un-moved on the 'Dunlopillo' seat. Much shouting ensued, and he was eventually persuaded to move to 'cover' - just as the tin exploded. The khaki stain remained on the ceiling for years afterwards - as did the chip in the wall right behind where Target (well named) had been sitting!

Moving up to the 'Middle' dorm was done with great pride. We were now no longer the bottom of the pecking order. Sadly, I don't remember much of my time in there Mr.& Mrs. Glyn-James and family moved out and went to St. Lawrence's School, Ramsgate, where he became school Chaplain.


Mr. & Mrs. Rodney Chapman, a graduate of St. John's College, Cambridge, joining our school staff in the Easter Term 1962. Arriving on the hill via one of the largest grammar schools in Ghana, where he was a house-master and in charge of the CCF, besides being Chairman of the Ghana Hockey Association.




Senior Dorm was the ultimate. Real power - and then prefecture - and even head of house! This meant I could sleep in THE spring bed - no more wooden slats, as had been endured for all of the preceding years.

Clyde House prefects: John Bennett, Francis Inman, Michael Allen,
Lloyd Silverthorne, R B H Chapman & Nick Welch.


It was about this time that during the summer holidays that I made the amazing discovery that dynamic headphones made crude but effective microphones. Two sets of headphones could be wired together to make an effective telephone. So, on returning to school, cheap bell-wire was pushed under stones, trees and into Mr Kingsnorth's lawn, and telephonic communication between the senior dorms of Durham and Clyde were established. A huge - if somewhat useless - thrill. But alas, the scar in the lawn gave us away, the wire was easily traced, and on pain of pain it was removed - to be slung instead through the trees.


1950s headphones

Similar wires followed to Sheffield, and an exchange (of sorts) appeared in Clyde common room. Even Norwich (the Old Norwich that is) was reached by 'borrowing' the telegraph poles which carried the normal PO phone wires.

Fine, until one evening during silent Prayers we had a noisy call from one of the other houses. Not a good move! But the phone system stayed, and I even made a small profit by charging 6d a term 'membership' to allow usage. But alas, one stormy night, the wire to Norwich became entangled with the 'real' phone lines and we found ourselves having three-way conversations with paying 'real' phone subscribers. So the novelty wore off, the system fell into disuse and was eventually abandoned. Nowadays, communication is easy and cheap, but THEN it was a thrill just to achieve inter-house speech!

The 'Glory-Hole' was the centre of Clyde's 'underground' movement. We painted it in 'psychedelic' colours (pale lilac if I remember correctly) and put in a false ceiling to help with the acoustics (egg cartons!). In there we kept that icon of the '60s, the Dancette record player. The latest Beatles records blared out. But before the 'Glory Hole' came into being, the Dancette resided in the common room, where we had to make do with endless Buddy Holly.



But the 'Glory Hole' was OUR den. We even formed a 'group' - if you can call one guitar (Boulcott) one bass (me on 'cello) and drums (John Bennett on upturned waste bins) - a 'group'. But it was fun - and made a break from the endless routine.


Then there were the 'Curry' nights. 'Dixie' Dean did a remarkable job in feeding over 200 hungry boys, and probably on a tight budget too. Even more remarkable was that there was always sufficient food, but yet we were always left wanting just a little more.


And so it was that in Clyde the seniors and prefects pooled resources and bought curry. Of course, resources were severely limited. In our house 'bank' we were fortunate indeed if we each had more than a pound or two each at the start of term, so a withdrawal of 6d (2.5p) was a significant amount. Yet we managed, at least two or three times per term (and sometimes more) to purchase pre-packed 'Vesta' curries.

Inter-house competitions really meant something, and for a while, Norwich seemed to hold every sports cup going, whereas we in Clyde had nothing. Then, three of us challenged Durham for the 'chess cup'. Not a sport exactly, but when you have NO silverware, even the diminutive chess cup would be a triumph - and it was. I believe we won 2 - 1. What celebrations when we returned 'home' to Clyde - all 30 yards of it!

Chess cup winners. Left to right: Lloyd Silverthorne,  Ron Kirby,  Frank Hilsdon .

After that, the ice was broken and we did rather better, but never so well as to dominate. But Not all doom and Gloom - our shooters where good.

'Shooters' outside Clyde House 1963. Left to Right: Chris Downing, Russell Boulcott & Dave Taylor.

But the residing memory is of unmitigated routine. Every day had its schedule, except Sunday afternoon - which was 'free time' - not that we were really 'free'. Straying off school grounds was not permitted, but the farm and the Dell were 'in bounds' and the latter at least offered an unsupervised playground which, like the farm, I believe hasnow been lost to the school.



Lloyd now runs his own music business, Music Dynamics Ltd. It was Lloyd who provided the sound clip of Teddie Cooper's voice which can be heard on Teddie's page.

Lloyd Silverthorne

CLYDE HOUSEsponsored-laurel



Meanwhile, on the Hill, until Clyde House had been built and opened (18th July 1888), there were now at least a dozen boys in Durham House who needed to be educated. The opening ceremony was performed by Mr Arthur Young, the founder’s brother. Events had forced the Founder’s hand; he would not allow his boys to be bullied and beaten by the village schoolmaster, or to have the Rector coming to make complaints about them. It was to prove an epochal decision. From 1887 onwards the Homes would also be a school, and the next House to be built, Clyde [Norwich] House, was designed to include a School Room, and its first Superintendent, Thomas Barker Benfield, was a qualified teacher. But for the preceding eighteen months the boys were presumably taught by Mr and Mrs Hamerton in their own Home; after all, they already also had four children of their own.


Thomas Barker Benfield and his wife Mary were appointed in charge of Clyde House in 1888; he was aged 42 and came from Cambridge. For several years he had been working at Nutfield, near Redhill, in Surrey. He was chosen specifically because he was an elementary schoolteacher, and was to take charge of the formal teaching on the Hill. Clyde House, now called Norwich House, had been equipped with a classroom, although it is hard to imagine that it was large enough to contain all the seventy to eighty boys on the Hill before the opening of Top School in 1891; perhaps classrooms became available there before the school was formally opened. Tom Benfield had five children in 1891, of whom the three eldest, Alfred (20), Philip (17) and Harry (14) were all listed as teachers. Four years later (1895) Harry Benfield was one of the first party to emigrate to Canada, and shortly afterwards took over the running of the farm, and Charlie Benfield is listed as a member of the Canadian Old Boys’ Association in 1936, so the Benfield family’s commitment to the Hill continued into the next generation. Tom Benfield’s wife, Mary Elizabeth Benfield, died on 23rd December 1893, leaving him with four sons. It seems probable that at this point he decided to resign as Superintendent, and in future to concentrate on his work as Headmaster. The Benfields’ successors as House parents were William and Margaret Valentine. The Valentines were also Londoners. He was aged 52 and, as a tailor by trade, was able to instruct those senior boys who wished to become tailors themselves. In 1891 there were thirty-five boys in Clyde House, aged from 7 to 14 years; in 1901 this had fallen to thirty-one boys, aged from 7 to 15.


Walter Harvey Woolliams, aged nineteen, came in daily from his parents’ home at Manor Farm, Adlestrop, to take charge of the Lower School. The only qualified (certificated) teacher was Charles Burch, nicknamed ‘Pro`, who took charge of the small group of older boys accommodated in Kingham Field Farmhouse. It was a large house for such a small group. At first this was known as ‘Plymouth House`, but was re-named ‘Stratford House` when the new Plymouth House was opened in January 1893. Mr Burch, at fifty the oldest man in the Homes, was married with five children. By 1891 he was assisted by Arthur Roper who, aged twenty-two, had the title ‘Labour Master`, and by his brother, Herbert, aged seventeen, who was also an assistant teacher. At that time, Charles Burch’s eldest son, Arthur, was aged only eleven and was not yet employed as a teacher. Charles Burch taught drawing and singing, which went under the official titles of Science and Art.


Lloyd Siverthorn wrote a great article about his time in Clyde House during the early 60's - you can read it by clicking here

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