A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode

Upfield Preparatory School for Boys, Stroud


School Reunion 

There are plans for a School Reunion 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:

David Tate



Eric Berryman


If you have any memories that you would like to share on this website please contact Richard Barton:

or please leave a comment below.


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


The School Prospectus, mentioned above, offers further insight into Upfield and is worth reproducing in full. The cover, turned out in the school colours of grey with scarlet trim, proudly presents the school crest and motto:

A shield divided into three segments displaying a book, a hand and an owl under the words ‘Mens et Manus’ – Mind and Hand.

Prospectus 2
Prospectus 3.jpg
Prospectus 4
Prospectus 5
Prospectus 6
Prospectus 7

Eric Berryman remembers his time at Upfield

dad school pic.jpg
School photo 1952

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.

Upfield 1950s detail.jpg
Detail of the above

School photo 1953

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.

Best regards,


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. 

School photo 1954 (scribbled on the back)
‘I’m standing at the end of the top row, left, arms folded. David Tate is smiling next to Miss Taylor (?) and Mr. Chivers. Standing at the other end is John Hayes. His father kept the Royal George in Birdlip. The master with mustache lived in a tent on the school grounds. He was a published author and authority on the Aga Kahn. On Nelson’s other side is Mr Hutchison (sp?).
One of the boys, I regret not remembering his name had parents who owned a farm, including a fair-sized dairy herd. They invited me to spend a working summer at the farm, where I lived in a tent until the missus made a great fuss and brought me into the house. She decided to change my first name to Paul, which I liked a lot and irritated my mother.
To this day I remember every detail of my job, bringing the herd in for milking twice daily. Also imperishable is walking to Cranham and getting my first buzz from a pint of “Snake Bite” (hard cider and lemonade mix, I think) at the Black Horse.
It was a golden autumn that year. My last job was on combine harvester, standing on a platform and regulating the flow of ripe corn into large sacks, which I filled, tied and tossed over the side. No green kernels when we neared the edge of the woods where sunlight was scarce. Green meant danger of rot. I had no words for it, but knew somehow that it was a fateful summer. My Piers Plowman mystic moment. Indeed, it was to be the last summer I would ever spend in England.
The final Third Form year at Upfield and appointment to sub-prefect lay ahead, followed in 1955 by a bicycle tour of the Low Countries and a 1956 summer hitchhiking through most of Europe. By summer 1958 I was in A/4 Basic Training Company, Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Those cows, the combine harvester amid the glories of Gloucestershire countryside and Upfield went with me.
One last Upfield class photo remains in my collection, from 1955. A particularly long photo that hung in Mr. Nelson’s study and which he personally gave me many years later, on a visit.’
Best regards

Bill Petyan 1949-1957:
I went to Upfield, kicking and screaming in April 1949. My Brother, Ben, had just been born and I resented being pushed out of the house. My Mother took me to a child psychologist who suggested that I should be put in a pram. This was done. I was a chubby boy by then. The pram was too small. By all accounts I did not enjoy the experience.
Nellie was quite terrifying. I remember morning assembly with the sun shining behind him. He had large outstanding ears. These looked bright red in the sunlight …. the devil incarnate ….
I never got over my fear of Nellie! He was as mad as a hatter and what a temper! We did have fun with motorbikes etc. The pond in Stratford Park iced over one winter. We were allowed to take out the school chairs and ride them on the ice. He took the boys to Staverton to fly in a Rapide. My Mother did not allow me to go…too dangerous!
We had the most appalling school lunches … firstly at the Stratford House Hotel, then the Mansion House in Stratford Park … finally at the Holloway Works canteen in Brickrow.
Boys regularly threw up lunch. Junky Chivers was a favourite. He was quite soft. I think that he was scared of Nellie too.
I never got over long division. Nellie had me at the blackboard and bellowed at me. When I got it wrong, he gave me a kick in the bottom.
I am really amazed that I have turned out to be a normal sane individual … or am I?
It was all a bit like SAS training camp. It couldn’t happen today.

From Rosalind John, sister of Bruce John – deceased – and Trevor John (1950s)

Bruce and Trevor John, circa 1950s
Rosalind John (under the boater),  pupil at Upfield Girls’ School. Prize Day, 1950s. Rosalind’s mother, Kay John, is presenting prizes. Mr. Nelson is to her right.

From Andy Smith

Stephen Price, Andy Smith, Johnny Griffiths, Tom Whittaker, Andrew (surname?), Hunt
Mr. G.A. Smith with Mr. and Mrs. Nelson
Holidays at Borth

School Photos for 1967 and 1969

Upfield 1967

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.

1969 Photo a
1969 Photo b
1967 RJB
Photo of Richard Barton 1967 (Red House)

1967 Photo.jpg
Upfield 1969

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 …

Prospectus 8
Uniform 2
Upfield School Football Shirt
Craft Afternoons – Basketry

From the pages of the Stroud News and Journal

Sue and the Pheasant

Newsletters 1966-1969

Sept 1966 a.jpg
Sept 1966 b
Dec 1966 a
Dec 1966 b
April 1967
August 1967 b.jpg
August 1967 c
August 1967 d.jpg
Dec 1967 a.jpg
Dec 1967 b
Sept 1968 a

Sept 1968 b… Somethings are better forgotten …

Sept 1968 c
Carols 1968
Dec 1968 a
Dec 1968 b
Dec 1968 c.jpg
Form List a
Form List b.jpg
Form List c
Form List d
April 1969 a.jpg
April 1969 b
Sept 1969 a.jpg
Sept 1969 b.jpg

The School Reunion in 1984

Reunion 1984 a.jpg
Reunion 1984 b.jpg

6 comments on “Upfield Preparatory School for Boys, Stroud

  1. Steve Sobot
    May 26, 2017

    I remember Mr. Nelson explaining details of the carburettor and the internal combustion engine. Fantastic stuff, and brilliantly taught. I remember Mrs. Nelson showing us the donkeys, Jenny and Clover. I remember the peacocks, and the wonderful display made by the male. I remember the pride felt when the blue flag was on display. I remember “blobbing” the milk bottles and putting straws in just before the morning break. I remember walking to the Laurels, and the manager, Mr. Stairs. Lots of memories, thanks for the article!

    • Richard Barton
      May 26, 2017

      Thanks, Steve, any further memories and photos would be greatly appreciated. We were at Upfield at the same time. Kind regards Richard

      • Richard Barton
        September 19, 2019

        Hi Steve, I have recently updated my blog …

  2. Eric Berryman
    September 19, 2019

    I am hard-pressed to identify any particularity in my Upfield experience that carried over into adulthood. In hindsight, it is a blend of things that coalesced to shape and fit me to meet the world on its terms, not mine. Literacy, for certain. For reasons that can only be explained by a good psychiatrist or Deity, lessons on Joseph Conrad as taught by Mr. Chivers have stuck.

    Politeness: we tipped our caps to passing staff. We rose to our feet when a Master came into the room. Table manners. Determination: by sheer power of will Mr Nelson got me to learn to swim in the park pool across the street. Physical stoicism behind mullioned windows in cold classrooms because, as the Head warned, “warmth promotes germs.” Soccer in virtually any sort of weather. I played wing. Oddly, a life-long love of gardening and crafts. My large, fret-worked letter holder decorated Nelson’s desk for many years.

    It is a stretch to describe my Upfield tenure as being a happy time. Not because of the school, per se. My home life was a bit of a shambles from which I needed to escape, and did. After a couple of years taking GCEs at Gloucester Technical College, 17-years old, I emigrated to America. Seventeen being the minimum age for unaccompanied immigration. Upfield went with me. It was with me in a US Army infantry division in Germany, and in Vietnam where I was assigned to the Military Assistance Advisory Command with the job of helicopter door gunner. And Upfield was very definitely present ashore and afloat in the Pacific, the Atlantic and in the Pentagon when I made the US Navy a career.

    It is with me today, closing in on 80 birthdays. Four Upfield class photographs (1952, 1953, 1954, 1955) decorate the walls of four of our five children in New Mexico, California and Ohio. The fourth photo is with us here, on Cape Henry in Virginia.

    • Richard Barton
      September 19, 2019

      Thank you Eric for sharing these experiences and I look forward to meeting you in 2020.

  3. Francis N Smith
    December 5, 2019

    Frank Smith pupil 1957 to 1961. I too, remember “chunky” Chivers; he told marvellous stories, and would only lose his temper about once a term. I was very scared of “Nelly” I did not want to be called up to the blackboard. Remember Nelly and boys skating on the lake in Stratford Park. My brother Robert also attended from 1955 to 1959. He became a local solicitor for many years, while I moved to California. Names I remember are Ben Petyan, Stuart Mclean, Richard Hook, Reza Kharazmie, Robert Noble, Robert Wheeler, ………………………um………………Words like Bun Fight, even guineas long out of use.

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