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News > Heritage > Bradfield in the 1960s and 1970s

Bradfield in the 1960s and 1970s

OBs who will be 60 to 70 years of age on 31 October are welcome to our Junior Tempus Fugit lunch
10 Sep 2019
As we look forward to welcoming back Old Bradfieldians to our Junior Tempus Fugit lunch on Thursday 31 October, we take a nostalgic look back at what was happening at Bradfield 60 years ago.

In 1955 there were 377 boys on the school roll rising to 444 in 1965 and a new system of admissions raised the intellectual standards of the school. Boys could join Bradfield at any age, but firstly needed to have a likely score of 50% in the Common Entrance Examination to be guaranteed a place at Bradfield and they had to reach this standard and secondly, Bradfield had to be their 'first choice'. Pupil numbers continued to rise and there were 475 boys in 1975.

Until the 1960s, all but a few Bradfieldians who went to universities chose Oxford or Cambridge, however, during this period an increasing number began to go elsewhere. The cultural opportunites available to the boys also increased during this time. An incrediibly diverse group of clubs and activities were on offer ranging from the Thursday Society and the Discussion Group based on debating, alongside The Bridge Club, Fishing Club and Jazz Appreciation Club.

The curriculum breadth was also changing. Having only started in 1956, Art flourished at Bradfield under the teaching of master Val Liddall. When he retired in 1964, his pupils gained 28 scholarships. Similarly Music was an important subject and music competitions were popular such as House Singing, House Instrumental and open competition for soloists or ensembles of any kind, for which there were 50 entries in 1960. The Greek Play Antigone was performed in 1961, Shakespearian productions in the Greek Theatre, included Twelfth Night in 1960 and A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1963, and House plays all gave plenty of opportunities for dramatic experience.

Traditional team sports were joined by 'Ping-Pong' - played in every houseroom for many years - which was promoted to a school game and the first 3 games arranged with other schools, were all won. Sailing, shooting, golf, squash, lawn tennis and cross-country all ensured that boys had a broad spectrum of sporting activity available to them. During this period the CCF also flourished under the command of David Norwood. Besides major subjects, pupils also had to pick two very diverse secondary subjects each term to broaden their learning experience.

It was at Cricket that the greatest success occured - the First XI team of 1960-62 and 1970 were undefeated by any school incudling Radley, Wellington, Stowe and Charterhouse. Judo had been introduced to replace Boxing which had been withdrawn in 1964 and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award began and has flourished ever since.

During this period, the fabric of the College was also updated. The kitchens were modernised, oil-fired central heating was installed, the Music School was built in 1964, the Language Laboratory and much needed improvements to boarding houses established new study-bedrooms for boys or 'toises' - cupboards combining shelves and a desk arranged to provide the owners with more comfort and privacy. Ed Hamilton (E 61-66) also remembers individual bed sitter studies, where the bed converted to a couch and where he remembers hiding an illegal transistor radio so that he could listen to Radio Luxembourg and later Radio Caroline through headphones!

What had once been the village club, but had fallen into disuse was converted in 1971 into a sixth-form club with a bar and named Blundell's in honour of Richard Sutherland Blundell, who was a member of the Council from 1948 until 1974. The opening of Blundell's and the giving of limited permission to older boys to visit neighbouring inns represented a radical change in official policy along with the introduction of weekend leave for boys in the Sixth Form in the early 1970s..

In the Dining Hall until 1970, there was a dais with a High Table at which some of the masters sat for meals, along with the original long elm refectory tables and benches. Boys sat in houses and at lunch Housemasters and their wives sat with them. Meals were conducted with some ceremony, the boys wearing gowns and the meals began and ended with Latin graces which were sung. The waiting was done by budgeons in blue coats with brass buttons, which in later years came to be replaced by a cafeteria service, which continues today.

Change is inevitable over time and we are pleased to be hosting  this year's Junior Tempus Fugit lunch at a time when the Dining Hall has benefitted from recent redecoration and dramatic improvements to the lighting over this summer recess (see photographs below). The College kitchens are once again undergoing major refurbishment to create a much more modern cafeteria style, opening in the New Year. We hope that all Bradfieldians who were living on site in 1959 to 1969 will come back again for the lunch on 31 October, even if you have not been back to Bradfield for many years, so that you can reconnect with us and your contemporaries. We currently have over 40 Old Bradfieldians attending and will share a list of attendees in early October, in the hope that we can make this year's lunch our best attended yet.

If you would like to join us for the lunch please find more details and you can register here

If you would like to share your own memories, please do so by emailing



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