WELCOME TO ALL OLD BOYS!
The college was divided into four 'houses - Gifford, Stapledon, Dunning and Ireland. All named apparently after Ashburton town worthies from times gone by.
(5) Has anyone heard of the ghost in the basement? A man called Blake supposedly murdered his wife and kids there, before the building became a school.
From Clive Robinson
From John Tillotson
I was the Head Boy of the school and Captain of Stapledon in about 1959. Rhys Davey, Jim Bessel, Frank Chessum, Ken Chapman, Jock Lessels, Carrick Johnson, Alan Day, Frank(?) Cunningham were in the same form. I am in the rugby team picture two over from the forward with the ball to the right of the picture beside Frank Chessum, kneeling. Rhys Davey is standing behind me with Carrick Johnson on Rhys' right. Jock Lessels is beside him and Jim Bessel beside him. At one time I was the Captain of both the rugby and cricket teams, as far as I remember probably in '59.
I can remember Carrick Johnson always running to and from the train station in Newton Abbot to the school every day. He was supremely fit, a good runner and cricketer. I also remember someone who was a year older than me, perhaps Stan Lavis, who was a great cross country runner. Roger Coombe was two years ahead of me. He was Head Boy and a great track and field man, especially in the long jump.
I left Ashburton College in 1960 for Teignmouth Grammar School after 7 'O' levels at Ashburton. I managed to pass three 'A' levels at Teignmouth and went to Salford College of Advanced Technology as it was called at that time. It is now Salford University. I finished a degree in Chemistry from Salford and an external degree from the University of London at the same time. Subsequently, I emigrated to Canada with my wife Hildegard and did a Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry at Carleton University in Ottawa. Hilde and I have been married 44 years and have one son.
Since 1995 I have been enjoying myself doing international projects as an Advisor for the development of testing laboratories. At present I am in Ankara, Turkey. This is likely to be my last long term assignment and I will look forward to partial retirement at least.
Thank you again for your opening the door to this nostalgia on Ashburton College.
From Fereydon Taghizadeh
From Francis Ching
Yes, I remember it well; the cross country run, the porridge beakfast, the steps leading to town through the park.The Odeon cinema I went to see my first film in England; James Bond's "From Russia with Love" and the bus ride to Torquay. Thanks for the memories.
I went straight from a junior school to the college in 1946 at the age of 11. At that time the college was located in Ashburton. At first my mother took me on the bus each morning, a seven-mile journey from Newton Abbot. Most days I stayed until it was school leaving time but on a few occasions when I did not like a particular lesson I would abscond and go home early. My excuses for arriving home early must have been poor as I got punished by my parents and by Mr. Henry Naylor, the Head Master, on my return to the college the following day. Swimming lessons were for the senior boys only and were held at the town’s baths. I was disappointed and it took another thirty-nine years for me to get sufficient courage to take to the water. In 1947 the college moved into a grand building on Wolborough Hill in Newton Abbot. The steep hill from the town centre to the college took only a few minutes, it takes rather longer nowadays.
I still did not like school and became more unsettled when my mother died in 1947. I enjoyed geography, Edmund Cody was the teacher, and I took part in all the sporting activities. The cross-country race was my least favourite and I usually came last. Mr. Robinson who taught RE was the teacher we teased. We had snail races up his blackboard and rang bicycle bells that were stored in a shed below the classroom. We all had turns in standing in the corner as punishment and writing lines in detention at the end of the day. Two other lessons that captured my attention were French and Design Art. John Naylor, Henry’s son and our maths teacher, had recently married a very attractive French lady and she always gained our full attention when she became our language and art teacher. I still cannot draw and I have forgotten my French.
Some lessons were held at Laureston Lodge (See picture below) a short walk across the hill. David Naylor took us each week to Bakers Park for football. He was a good player and played for Newton Abbot Spurs. I played in the college team and we had matches against the Borstal School in Coach Road. The only spectators were the school’s warders. We also played Torquay Grammar School at football and cricket. Another enjoyable sports fixture was to visit Greylands which was the sister college to Ashburton College. We played hockey against the girls and afterwards had tea with them. I have just returned from a visit to Newton Abbot and visited the college building on Wolborough Hill. It is now called Highwood Grange and has been converted into apartments some of which are in a poor state. I also visited Laureston Lodge which has been divided into two houses. The gardens have sadly been neglected.
The old college building in Ashburton is now called Ireland House and has been converted into flats. The old beautiful playground at the back is now a jungle. During my visit I tried to trace some of my classmates and was fortunate enough to meet Henry Rew who now owns a farm in Decoy. We spent a few hours chatting about our school days and what we have done since. It was by accident that I came across this website written by John Oakford and I have found it most interesting in reading the articles by him and other contributors. I hope my contribution will bring forth some more messages from old school mates. I can be contacted by E-mail on email@example.com
Well I survived the experience. I agree with one comment made by one of you subscribers. Any academic success at Ashburton was achieved only by those with a natural gift to learn and self discipline. I was called up shortly afterwards. I took full advantage of the education facilities on offer and completed my middle education. I then followed a technical route that took me to the top of my chosen tree and has stood me in good stead. Now retired, I wish all old boys of Ashburton College, Newton Abbot, good health and a long and happy retirement.
Your site is very interesting about the college, and I was chatting to Colin Symons another fireman, from Newton Abbot and he remembers the morning of the fire as he was delivering newspapers as a paper boy at the bottom of Powderham Road, and the glow of the sky from the fire in the morning fog.
From Chris Nicola
Another, who must have had rich parents, I cannot remember his name, but he had a cine projector sent to him, I remember a number of times us younger students were allowed to have the privilege of staying up a little later and watch the silent movies. There was also a prefect that looked after us when we went for walks on Sunday afternoons after church, his name was Bond. I vividly remember the basement at the College where we polished our shoes before being marched to church. It was supposedly haunted. During a visit back to the college back in the early 1990's I was allowed to wander around on my own visiting my old dormitory, sitting in the dining room where we listened do Dick Barton in the evenings, and I even ventured down into the basement, but not for long. After forty years or so, the hairs at the back of my neck still stood up and I was up those stairs as if I was seven years old again. On next visit ten years or so later, it was an old peoples home.
(1) "Bogey" Robinson was a retired master from Kingsbrige Grammar School.
(2) Besides "Buff" Cody there was another Mr. Cody when I was there, an Edward Cody much more of a gentleman albeit he also was Irish and from Trinity College Dublin.
(3) There was also two Miss Fraser's there was "Fanny" a somewhat large lady! and her sister Miss E. R. Fraser who taught the piano.
(4) Do you remember being marched of to Church on Sunday morning to Wolborough Church and sitting in those cages on either side of the church? I well remember carving my name on the pew during a sermon, it must have been very interesting at the time. One of the prefects saw it, but took no action.
(5) In 1948 Henry Naylor (known to the boys as "Henry") was the Headmaster before "Buff". The College started life in Ashburton (hence the name) which you will know is a small town about eight miles from Newton Abbot but Henry Naylor moved it to Newton Abbot in 1946/47 not long after the end of the War. I once met a boy who at the school in Ashburton during World War two. It was apparently not a very happy place to be a boarder! Food was short and boys frequently ran away, but it was war time! During my time Henry's two sons John and David Naylor also taught at the school both lived in the "Tower".
(6) John Naylor had a very short "fuse". Henry was a scholar from either Oxford or Cambridge and was for long time the Headmaster of Ashburton Grammar School but the saying is that he had a disagreement with the Local Authority, Devon County Council, and apparently told them what the could do with their Grammar School, resigned and started his own school close by - hence Ashburton College. I have yet to establish when this took place. Henry I think must have sold out to "Buff" Cody in about 1950, certainly that is when "Buff" became head having been just House Master up to that point. Henry and his two sons left at this time. Henry must be long since dead and John may also be but I did hear that David is still living in Torquay where I live. So I would like to find more about the history and see any records, but there seems none was ever deposited with the Devon Record Office or for that matter at the National Archives in London. Both have records of a lot of other Schools mostly state schools. One about boys, examination results, sports day and much more.