The School Fair

St. Nicholas Fair (1958-59)

By Mr. A. Appleby

The Librarian wishes to thank the many parents who gave their time and energy to this year's St. Nicholas Fair. Their efforts and the whole-hearted support of all the parents have provided the library with additional resources just when the demand for books is rapidly increasing. 

High in the blue sky hung the perspiring sun, the trees dangled their leaves in abject surrender to the sultry heat; even the London sparrows drooped visibly, too dry to chirp. Schools everywhere sprawled lazily across their tarry, melting playgrounds and inside their ghostly Saturday-classrooms yesterday's chalk-dust floated stilly on the heavy, motionless air.

But in Wiltshire Lane St. Nicholas flaunted its new bricks and white cement and burgundy-painted corrugated iron; brash and aggressive it threw off midsummer's spell. Flags and bunting beckoned imperiously, sixpenny rockets tore the stillness and the school orchestra blared its brassy triumph over the silence. St. Nicholas Fair had begun.

Gay summer dresses and brightly-coloured shirts ebbed and flowed over the green of the field giving the effect of a vast kaleidoscope. Opportunity grinned invitingly from every stall. The skilful rolled wooden balls to win a live pig; the lusty broke china or sent offending coconuts rolling on the sward; the indefatigable sportsmen bowled at half-a-crown and Mr. Thomas; and the ladies roamed the Hall, which had been transformed into a vast Arabian Nights bazaar, and haggled over the quaint treasures on the White Elephant stall. Friends were quickly glimpsed and then swirled away in the eddying crowd; familiar scenes loomed up strangely. The mundane dining-hall was a fashionable and chattering tea-room, while the first floor corridor-now green, dank and cobwebby - struck momentary terror into the bravest heart.

Everywhere, however, was the clink of coins, the rustle of banknotes and the sharp glitter of silver winking in the sun - happy sight and sound for the Librarian to whom they presaged the reluctant crackle of new books opening and the heady bouquet of printers' ink.

The time came at last when even Mr. Holness and his gymnasts had no more energy and gradually, weary but satisfied, the crowds began to trickle homeward, and even the sun tired of his lofty vigil and gave way gradually to the coolness of a summer evening. But when the last of the merrymakers had gone, when the live pig had long since departed with its new master and when the stalls had shed their finery and stood naked  and self-conscious in the moonlight, still the parents toiled on until midnight came and all signs of the gaiety and the excitement had gone. The school - like Cinderella after the ball - was back to normal.

A. A.

From the programme for The Government Inspector. School Play, March 1960

St. Nicholas Fair (1959-60)


OUR fourth annual Fair, the culmination of many weeks of continued effort on the part of parents, masters and boys alike, opened at 2.30 p.m., Saturday, July 4th, to the echoing explosions of maroons and despite what we have grown accustomed to terming "inclement climatic conditions", the playground and building were soon filled by crowds whose proportions fulfilled all our expectations.

The casual visitor could indulge in a variety of outdoor pursuits. or could turn his attentions to the rarer delights of the Café Parisien and the Eastern Corridor, but for the more practical mind the sale in the main hall was an obvious choice, with its unquestionable bargains in home-made jams and television sets.

Indeed, it was fortunate that there was so large a section of indoor amusements, for rain intervened continually during the latter half of the afternoon, thus minimising supporters' chances of breaking an excess of crockery or bowling-out the various members of staff at the nets.

Yet, in spite of all the summer afternoon could do, we were still able to boast of a clear profit of £1,040, with which we hope to purchase, in the near future, a small building to provide extra space, especially for school society meetings, and to act as a refreshment room for sports teams.

The unqualified success of this Fair speaks well for the loyalty shown by everyone to the school.


Exams. are over, each last sentence;
No time left for late repentance.
Now we're out to get some fun,
And, incidentally, earn some "mun",
Harassed masters tear their hair,
"Not now, boy - after the Fair!"

See the crowds that rush and hurry;
Breathlessly the people scurry.
See them trotting in in dozens,
Mothers, aunties, dads and cousins,
Sisters, stiff in Sunday clothes,
Tell little brothers, "Blow your nose."

Off goes Mum then without stopping
To the Hall to do her shopping.
Whilst Dad is left to have a go
At all the stalls that make the show
To win a pig (where would we put it?),
To rifle range he has to foot it.

Don't forget your party manners,
There's V.I.P's and County Planners
Come to gaze upon our labours
And don't forget our next-door neighbours,
We've sold them programmes by the score,
So we can count on pounds galore.

The East has come to play its part,
Located near the works of art.
With writhing snake and clanging bell
They've even got an eastern smell.
As sounds of temple bells arise
You're in the East - without the flies.

Then comes the rain all uninvited,
It's timed things well; the Fair's not blighted.
Stall-holders running helter-skelter
Under cover make for shelter.
We count the takings, raise a cheer -
We'll do it all again next year.


St. Nicholas Fair (1960-61)


CONTRARY to customary expectations, the opening of our fifth annual Fair at 2.30 p.m., on Saturday, July 5th. was greeted, not with the traditional burst of ballistic exuberance, but by a similar explosion in the heavens that regrettably was to be characteristic of the afternoon's entertainment.

Ever since the last pen had been put down, and the last paper collected from the school examinations, a veritable army of boys, staff and parents had been working to arrange what was to be our largest production yet. Mr. Tilbrook's creative genius had once more been working overtime, and in conjunction with Mr. Freeman who must be sincerely thanked for his endless enthusiasm and encouragement, an impressive show had been arranged for our visitors.

For those who braved the onslaught of the elements (and it was a tribute to previous efforts that there were many) a wide array of entertainments was available. A new and obviously successful innovation was a bandstand featuring the silken tones of the L.M.J.Q. which formed the centrepiece to the numerous and varied sideshows in the playground. Whilst a zealous nucleus of enthusiasts bowled for a pig, broke crockery, played bingo - it even caught on at St. Nicholas - or hurried from the falling rain, a never-ending stream of popular and light music issued forth from a brightly decorated, even if somewhat bedraggled, platform.

As the outside entertainments basked in a fall of precipitation which even the Royal Air Force could not counteract, the interior revelled in a bustle reminiscent of London at sale-time. The middle corridor had once more been converted from the bareness of a school passageway to a realm of imagination. This year, however, instead of the expected escapism produced by the inspiration of the school's budding artists, the stark realism of the twentieth century was forced home in a novel but effective manner.

Meanwhile, those who preferred a more ancient approach to life could explore the mysteries of a Japanese tea-garden in an area which, for all its kimonos, still looked suspiciously like a school dining hall. Nevertheless it provided a soothing respite between the Air Force's film-show and the hall, which yet again was filled with a disorderly mélée, bartering for any and every bargain that they could find.

By six o'clock, after being battered by rain and people alike, the Saint Nicholas Fair appeared to be like a tropical island after a storm - a windswept, battered beauty. Once more the work party appeared with rolled-up sleeves and brushes. 'Was it worth it? someone said. Well, it is true that we made a profit of £900, but that was not all. The fact that the joint effort of the whole school and the Parents Association had been successful was the real achievement of a most enjoyable afternoon.


Various School Magazines




England Tomorrow (1967)


Commonwealth Institute Conference (1966)


Unknown photos


Christmas Concerts (1955-61)


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