A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode
There are plans for a School Reunion during 2020 for all staff and pupils who attended Upfield Preparatory School for Boys between its opening in September 1949 and the departure of Jack and Sue Nelson in December 1973. If you are interested in further details please contact:
If you have any memories that you would like to share on this website please contact Richard Barton:
or please leave a comment below.
UPFIELD PREPARATORY SCHOOL FOR BOYS, Stratford Lodge, Stroud
Compiled by Richard Barton (1966-1969)
Stratford Lodge was built in the early 19th century. It was the last home of Walter Stanton M.P
The Stroud Journal of 5th June 1875 has this advert for Stratford Lodge:
“Stratford Lodge to rent for £80. Dining and drawing rooms. Library. 4 bedrooms, 3 dressing rooms, kitchens, pantry, attics. Stabling for 3 horses, flower garden, croquet lawn, large kitchen garden. Advertised by Mr Clark, Bookseller, Stroud”
‘In the immediate post-war years many parents were unable to find a satisfactory Boys’ School in the Stroud area. Upfield Boys’ Preparatory School was therefore opened at Stratford Lodge in September 1949 to meet this need.’
This succinct account of the school’s history introduces the school prospectus, a copy of which was given to my father when I was enrolled into Form I during the summer of 1966. Upfield flourished for over twenty-four years under its founder, Mr John Buchanan Nelson, who was born on 26th June 1912 and who died in 1989. The school was then given a new lease of life, under Mr Tony Smith, as ‘Nelson School’. The school eventually closed its door in the summer of 1988. Now that Stratford Lodge is a thriving eating house its days as a school will soon be forgotten even though former pupils are still able to identify the old flagpole situated near to the roadside which proudly proclaimed to the people of Stroud, each week, whether red house or blue house was in the lead. Although my connection with the school lasted only three years I feel something of its story should be recorded. This was confirmed for me when I recently visited Sue Nelson and discovered that she has carefully preserved record cards of former pupils, photographs, films and other ephemera – a treasury of memories of the old school.
Obituary of Jack Nelson
Obituary of the Reverend John Roberts
The School Prospectus for 1966
Eric Berryman remembers his time at Upfield
The master sitting to the right of JBN is Mr Wood. Next to him is Miss Taylor, I think. On the Head’s other side is Mr. Shillam, and beside him is the beauteous Miss ??. Berryman is in the top row, at centre. I think I can also identify Hawkins, Whitaker, Tate, Russell, Hunt, Mayo, McClean.
David Tate is in the seated row, next to Whitaker and Mayo and Miss Taylor who had the infants classes. Next to her is Mr. Dorman who for a time lived in a tent on the school grounds. He published books about the Agha Kahn. I think he taught English. Nelson taught math and Latin. His pedagogical approach to teaching pretty well erased any interest I was ever to have in math. Next, is Mr Shilam (sp?) who taught religion. Harmless little fellow who had enameled lapel pins to hand out. We all got one. I’m in the top row, far right next to the doorway arch. A gawk for my age.
David Tate and I never lost contact over the many decades and geographic distances. He became a businessman with his own manufactory. I left for America in 1957 and retired from the US Navy and, following, federal civil service. Used to visit England often on business, see my parents, and attend quarterly Trust meetings in London. Briefly assigned to the NATO Maritime Command in Northwood.
One of the boys, it might have been Nash or, come to think, Hawkins came in first to my second in two consecutive cross-country runs. The small boys were let loose 30 or 40 minutes before upper forms. A great, clamorous gaggle stumbling across the Gloucestershire countryside. I was Red House and ultimately had Sub-prefect conferred on me. Arguably, the most senior status awarded in my lifetime.
Mr. Chivers is not easily forgotten. Outside a Benedictine monk’s cell, Mr. Chivers is unique in my experience for his poverty in material possessions and spartan lifestyle. I stayed in touch with him for some time snd visited him in his one-room cold water digs. He cooked on an electric hot plate. His one possession was a battered leather attache case. David Tate gave assistance in Chivers’ declining months and inherited the attache case. “Chunky” Chivers was even tempered, not easily provoked. In fact Mr. Chivers was beloved by pupils and perhaps Mr. Hutchison too. Some of us might even have harboured a crush for the women who taught the school’s infants.
Mr. Nelson may have mellowed with advanced age. In his halcyon days as Headmaster, he was rather more respected and feared by the staff as well as the boys. Nelson and I also stayed in touch. He took a particular interest in me for some reason. Once invited me to drive with him to see his relations in Shropshire.
The school was a success and Mr. Nelson tried to buy Lt. Col. Godfrey’s (sp?) much larger house and estate a mile or so up Stratford Road, but Godfrey asked too much money. It was his land, I think, that had the cricket pitch and pavilion where we annually had tea with our Upfield Girls School counterpart. Boys wedged tightly at one end of the room, and girls at the other end. The masters pushing very reluctant boys forward to socialize.
The school’s neighbour was Jessie (Stone) Liddell-Hart, ex-wife of noted military historian Basil Liddell-Hart. She never returned any ball we managed to knock into her garden. On a visit to see Mr. Nelson in 1972, he arranged a high tea hosted by Mrs. Liddell-Hart. Likely the most sumptuous tea I shall ever experience. She regaled us with stories of T E Lawrence (“Herself”, he called her), Allenby, Lloyd George (Stratford Lodge – the school – was his summer house, the painter John Singer Sargent and other notables from the early years of the 20th century.
We took our lunch next door at the hotel (is it still there?). Dreadful food. Too near the end of the war, still. Rationing was still in effect. A lesson in table manners, certainly. I’ve never tipped a soup bowl towards me since. Also, we drank – not eat – our soup. I’ve never actually got that bit to sink into my American wife and children for whom I remain in many ways a species of European anachronism.
But for me – decamped 60 years ago, and counting – details like this conjure all sorts of memories long stashed in the attic of my past. The big lawn some of us were allowed to mow comes to mind. Getting the lines straight. Seasons identified by soccer or cricket and swimming in the pool in nearby Stratford Park. Conkers meant autumn. I loved playing conkers. Trooping in ranks down the drive to the Park across the street, or to lunch at a nearby hotel where we sat at table with a master and practiced etiquette. ”Always tip the soup plate away from you, Berryman!” “Don’t eat with your mouth open.” Fast food wasn’t a concept yet. Wartime rationing was still on. Mystery meat.
From Rosalind John, sister of Bruce John – deceased – and Trevor John (1950s)
From Andy Smith
School Photos for 1967 and 1969
From Left to Right:
Back Row: Dickenson, Best, Gorin, Smith, Slinger, Gale, Wheeler, Bentley, Goulding, Barton, Gale, Hunt, Doyle, O’Dowd, Price, Griffiths, Scott, Sobot, Hinman, Davis.
Middle Row: (?), Franklin, Neate, Evendon, Bennett, Streatfield, Ractliffe, Chamberlayne, Lyes, Gardiner, Lata, King, Smith, Bentley, Sampson, Lynes, Hill, Ratcliffe, Garrett, Sewell.
Front Row: Townley, Gregg, (?), Hunt, Lisle, Hinman, Tomlinson, Mr. Philpott, Mr. Chiivers, Mrs Nelson, Mr Nelson, Rev. J. R. Roberts, Mr Wynn, Hinman, King, Baimbridge, Scott, Hurdle, Ellis, Sobot, Neate.
From Left to Right:
Back Row: Bellamy, Dickenson, Baimbridge, Best, Hinman, Smith, Hunt, Gale, Doyle, Scott, Lisle, Hunt, Crocker, Davis.
Middle Row: Smith, Bentley, Goulding, Streatfield, Barton, Ratcliffe, Sampson, Pond, Neate, Ractliffe, Lynes, Hill, Ractliffe, Gale, Price, Dadson.
Front Row: Neate, Hurdle, Smith, Lyle, Mr Chivers, Mr Smith, Mrs Nelson, Mr Nelson, Miss Wools, Rev. J. R. Roberts, Mr. Foreman, Pruden, King, Dalton, Pruden.
Seated on the Floor: – (?), Scott, Bellamy, Greg, Ellis, Hunt.
The School Uniform
An additional note tucked in the back of the prospectus gives a clothing list and a reminder that all pupils must wear the correct School uniform although stating that certain articles of Sports Clothing were not compulsory for boys in the Junior School …
From the pages of the Stroud News and Journal
… Somethings are better forgotten …
The School Reunion in 1984