Crossing the bar

"Crossing the bar” refers to the death of a Mariner. The phrase has its origin in the fact that most rivers and bays develop a sandbar across their entrances and “Crossing the bar” meant leaving the safety of the harbour for the unknown.This is the famous poem entitled "Crossing the bar" by Alfred (Lord) Tennyson.

 SUNSET and evening star And one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,Too full for sound and foam,

When that which drew from out the boundless deep,Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness or farewell, When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place

    The flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face

    When I have crost the bar.


John Grantham.
PSTS. Johnston 115.
25th March. 2005.

2005. John (Coggy) Grantham.

John (Coggy) Grantham

Johnson House No.115. At PSTS from 1954 to 1957.Those of you who were at PSTS in these years will remember John as a happy, clever sportsman and scholar, one of the most popular boys ever to attend the school. After PSTS he joined the Royal Navy at H.M.S. Fisgard as an artificer apprentice 6 days after his 15th birthday, passing out from there as Chief Petty Officer Apprentice, and going on to H.M.S. Conder to specialise as an aircraft artificer. By 1967 he was commissioned as an officer and was a helicopter pilot, he trained as a pilot with Prince Charles in 1964, served in Vietnam, leaving the RN in 1974. He then went to work as a pilot for British Exec. Air Services, flying helicopters on the North sea, then in 1980 spent several years flying for the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force.

In 1987 he joined British Caledonian Helicopters, then flew for Bristows. His last stint of flying was for the Saudi Royal Family but by the end of 2003 illness was catching him up.

John had a second life as an “inventor” of various things from shopping trolleys that you could actually steer, to animated cartoon characters for childrens TV.

He lived on a farm near Aberdeen with his highland cattle, Rolls Royce and his workshop taking pride of place .John died at home with his wife, son and daughter by his side. As one of his great friends said, ”the world is a duller place without him, and I, along with many others will miss him terribly”. 

The last photo of John with one of the helicopters that he flew.

                                                                                 John (Coggy) Grantham 2

This is an extract from an e-mail sent by one of John's friends in Johnston House, I thought it caught his personality perfectly. (RRE).

 I have been thinking a lot about 'Grannie' Grantham, also well known as Cogs. He was, with out doubt, a really good bloke, a gentle bloke, a thinker and a 'boffin.' I can distinctly remember that he had a model police patrol boat, black hull, white superstructure and about 20" length. It had a diesel motor with a brass fly wheel that employed a leather boot lace to spin the motor over. We all watched intently for the day that it would roar into life. But it never did. As you know, he was in the Special Class; and one day appeared in the games room with an electric motor that he had made in 'Science' It consisted of a cork for the armature and thick copper wire. It was so basic that we all could understand how it worked. It was a thing of beauty. He went on to show a few of us how to make a basic 'Morse Key' so that we could 'talk' around the Dorm in morse-code after lights out. I will always think of Grannie as a gentle person. 


Please read the following articles for more information on John Grantham:

Article by Tony Dando

Article from Press

Article from Local Press

William Brook Filer.
WNTS 1928-1933
January 31st. 2011.


LIEUTENANT-COMMANDER BILL FILER, who has died aged 93, defused a deadly torpedo during the Second World War and led the Navy's diving experiments in peacetime.

In 1941 Filer was an acting petty officer diver in the newly commissioned battleship Queen Elizabeth, based at Alexandria. His worst experience was in June 1941, when he helped remove the mangled remains of sailors and soldiers from flooded compartments of the cruiser Orion, which had been bombed by the Luftwaffe while evacuating troops from Crete.

Other tasks included the recovery of hundreds of 15in shells from a sunken merchant ship in Alexandria harbour, and searching for the body of a diver whose helmet had been punctured by a shell falling from a crane. Filer also searched unsuccessfully for an aerial mine which had been dropped under the carrier Formidable; after he had failed to find it, the carrier was moved and Filer watched as the mine blew up by delayed action fuse, killing many men.

His most unusual task, however, was travelling by camel, with his diving equipment loaded on a second animal, to a bay west of Alexandria where an Italian torpedo had buried itself in the sand. The type was new and wanted for scientific examination; a similar weapon had blown up and killed the men attempting to defuse it.

Filer carefully dug away the sand around the torpedo until he had revealed three different pistols. He found that his Imperial gauge tools did not fit the torpedo, and, using a hammer and chisel, he tapped out the ring retaining the first pistol. He removed it, along with the primer and detonator, placing them carefully on the sand some distance away.

As he was knocking off the second retaining ring he heard a loud hissing noise. He dropped his tools and raced up the beach. When nothing further happened he returned to complete the job.

Later he learned that the detonator in the second pistol had ignited but had failed to set off the 200lb warhead.

As a result of his efforts the torpedo was recovered intact and its secrets revealed to the Allies. Filer and his assistant, Archie Russell, were awarded the George Medal.

Shortly afterwards, when Italian frogmen attacked the battleships Queen Elizabeth and Valiant in Alexandria harbour, Filer was instructed to find out where the invaders had cut through the boom defence nets. He discovered enough gaps, where sections had not been laced together, to allow through several double-decker buses.

Next Filer joined the submarine depot ship Medway as senior diving instructor. With Rommel's army on the borders of Egypt, she was sent to Beirut, where she was sunk on June 30 by three torpedoes from U-372. Filer found himself swimming with two WRNS cipher officers to the destroyer Hero, whose coxswain was a friend of his. He later reflected that, thanks to his friend's access to the rum locker, he needed no counselling.

But he had lost all his possessions in the sinking, and had to walk about in pyjamas before he joined the troopship Monarch of India, which took him home.

William Brook Filer was born on August 6 1917 and brought up at the Barnados-run Watts Naval School at Elmham, Norfolk. His reasons for joining the Royal Navy in 1933 as a boy seaman 2nd class were hunger, his admiration for the picture of the bearded sailor on his packet of Players cigarettes, and the pay of 5s 3d a week. After 15 months he passed out of HMS Ganges as best all-round boy of the year.

Filer served as a seaman torpedoman and was drafted to the light cruiser Curacao before specialising as a diver; at 19 he was one of the youngest divers in the Royal Navy.

His pride in the newly sewn-on gold-embossed diving helmet badge on his left cuff was dented when an elderly lady on a train asked:"Excuse me young man, what instrument do you play in the band?"

His first draft as a qualified diver was to the submarine base HMS Dolphin, where his duties included underwater maintenance, clearing inlets, freeing propellers, taking readings of stern glands and recovering items lost over the side.

He then went to the sloop Penzance, based at Simonstown. He much enjoyed South African hospitality, but the only diving was a wreck survey at Port Elizabeth. Bored and underemployed, Filer responded to an Admiralty Fleet Order inviting ratings to apply to become pilots in the nascent Fleet Air Arm. He learned to fly on Avro Tutors at Rochester aerodrome, on North American Harvards and became the Navy's only flier and diver. Then a change in Admiralty policy saw him return to diving duties.

 After the war Filer became a warrant officer and qualified as a deep diver, one of only nine in the Royal Navy. They dived to depths of up to 300ft, then the limit of human endurance, and he experienced several bouts of "rapture of the deep" -nitrogen intoxication. He only once experienced "the bends", when attempting to surface from 250ft with only one in-water stop.

Later Filer helped locate the submarine Affray, which had been lost in the Channel in 1951; despite the depth and the strong tidal stream scouring the Hurd Deep, he investigated the wreck using an experimental underwater camera which confirmed the submarine's identity. He was appointed MBE.

After retiring Filer was the civilian officer-in-charge of the Navy's Diving Trials Unit, overseeing many deep diving trials. He was involved in the pioneering of saturation diving, the introduction of Trimix (oxygen, helium and nitrogen) and the setting of a deep diving record in 1970, when John Bevan and Peter Sharphouse spent 10 hours at a simulated depth of 1,500ft.

In retirement Filer enjoyed a weekly round of golf. He was a strong supporter of his local sailing and tennis clubs, and for 30 years was a leading light in the 1st Lee-on-The Solent Scouts.

Bill Filer died on January 31. He married, in 1940, Eileen Kingaby; she died in 2009, and he is survived by their son and daughter.

Our thanks to the Daily Telegraph for this article.

Morgan Morison.
RCNS 1940s
13th. December. 2011.


Morgan Morison - 30th July 1931-13th December 2011

Funeral service held at - All Saints Church, Thelwall on 22nd December 2011.

It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of Morgan on 13th December 2011. Morgan had been suffering with a heart condition, which was not repairable.

'Ever a young man with promise'. 

Quote:- 'His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed up in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world 'this was a man'. (Julius Caesar - Shakespeare). 

Both the above epithets beautifully describe Morgan's nature and character. He had a sense of beauty which was second-to-none. He was many other things as well, one of which was of 'being a gentleman'. 

His Barnardos life took many turns. The biggest and most influential of which, was his sojourn at RCNS. He subsequently became a member of HM Royal Navy. Later, he became an Educational Psychologist. - Married Shirley, and produced 3 fine sons. Sadly, over the years, he lost both Shirley and a son.

The last years of his life were spent with Elsie. They had a beautiful home in Thelwall, and were well suited to each other. Apart from Morgan's love of all things 'artistic', he also had what might be observed as a rather unusual hobby. That of - collecting wrapping papers. ! Latterly, he would travel down to the NEC - Birmingham, to keep himself up-to-date with wrapping paper trends etc. He found it all very satisfying and enjoyable.

Now, he will be missed. Mankind doesn't produce many of his ilk

From Colin Leaney, a friend of many years.

With her permission,I have added a letter,beautifuly composed and written by Colin's wife, Marina, which shows the very high esteem he was held in by his many friends.


Dec 11th. 2011.

Dear Morgan

Elsie keeps us up to date with news from your bedside, for which we are grateful, as it always renews our hope that your great big, generous heart will be as kind to you as it has been to so many throughout your life.

You may not feel inclined to read whilst settling into a new environment but hopefully you will have some of your favourite poetry books with you.

Do you remember when we all met up with Gordon (the book he wanted to write) at a hotel in Bromsgrove where it transpired that it used to be the home of A.E.Housman? That same morning, Peter Tory of the Daily Express had written an article about poetry in which he wrote of one line that had profoundly affected him and moved him to tears. 

This particular poem had also affected me, but I had not known it was by Housman or all the poem, only this one line.  So it was a coincidence that our visit to Housman’s former home and the article in the newspaper, happened at the same time.

Imagine, my surprise when on finding a room where evidence of his connection to the house, ie poetry and letters, and you recited the poem from heart, after I had mentioned the Peter Tory article.


‘Into my heart an air that kills

From yon far country blows;

What are those blue remembered hills

What spires, what farms are those?


That is the land of lost content

I see it shining plain

The happy highways where I went

And cannot come again’  

So, yes, hopefully you are able to read your poetry, but of course that will depend on whether you have the need of it whilst not feeling well.

Colin and I feel heartened by being able to write you. We had feared that it might not be possible.

We have reminisced of our times together, do you remember? The bonfire night in Hull, that was in fact the first time I met you, Colin having met you before. The time we met up with Ken and Gerry and you and Elsie, what a lovely day that was. Our visits to you and Elsie, very special times and happy memories.

Morgan, it is difficult to write at this time as we are ever mindful of your fragility, but it is good to be able to tell you how much you have meant to us. We have come to love you dearly and your unique friendship has brought so much colour to our lives.

How good, that you have been able to spend the last few years with Elsie. We know that at times you suffered from anxiety, how comforting it must have been to have Elsie’s kindness, common sense and calmness.

Hopefully, we will have further opportunities to write you, but please do not for one moment feel that you must respond, there is absolutely no need, and although we know your innate kindness and courtesy, will perhaps move you to try, we would prefer you to save your energies for other things.

You will be pleased to know that Colin has contacted Gordon, who, we believe will be writing you via Elsie..

Dear, Morgan, we know you will ‘go gently into the night’ and hopefully you know that part of us will go with you, but please not just yet.

Our love and thoughts are with you.


Marina and Colin.

There are photos of Morgan in the folder of "Gordon's photos. RCNS 1940s.




Leslie Sayer.
1st November. 2008.

2008 Leslie Daniel Sayer The Funeral took place on Friday 14th November 2008 Leslie died peacefully on November 1st  at the age of 93.   A family funeral service was held at Colchester Crematorium followed by a Thanksgiving Service at St Mary’s Church, Bure, which was attended by David Allsop and Derek Cooley as representatives of the Sea Schools Association.   Les was born in the village of Jevington in Sussex in 1915  and shortly after his birth was taken in by Barnardo's. He was fostered  until he was old enough to be admitted to Watts Naval Training School in North Elmham, Norfolk. On leaving Watts, Les joined the Royal Navy as Signal Boy in 1931 and from 1933-35 he saw service on HMS Exeter (Home Fleet) and HMS Cape Town – two years on China Station.  In 1937 he transferred to the Fleet Air Arm as a TAG (Telegraphist Air Gunner).  In 1941 he joined 825 Squadron on HMS Victorious flying Swordfish which attacked the Bismark, obtaining a hit for which he was awarded the DSM.

He retired from the Navy in 1945 and joined BEA as a Flight Radio Officer and in 1946 he helped form the Telegraphist Air Gunners Association where he became chairman and later President and was subsequently awarded an MBE.  The funeral was well attended,  the church being full to overflowing and amongst many tributes was one by Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns KCB CBE, Second Sea Lord retired, John Beattie. Les leaves a widow Valerie, brother Vic and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Commander A.R. Freeman. RN.
13th. November. 1955.

Commander Freeman joined the Royal Navy in 1917 and was trained at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. Owing to his intense interest in sport, he decided to specialise in the Navy as a physical and Recreational Training Officer.


Prior to the second World War he was Fleet P. and R.T. Officer in the Mediterranean. Later he served on the staff at the Royal Naval P. and R.T. School at Portsmouth. During the war he was promoted Commander.


On his retirement from the Royal Navy in 1948 he joined the staff of Dr. Barnardo's Homes and was appointed Executive Officer at the Watts Naval Training School in Norfolk. When the W.N.T.S. and the Russel Cotes Nautical Schools were amalgamated at Parkstone in 1949, Commander Freeman held a similar post at the Parkstone Sea Training School until October, 1955.


The Commander, in latter years, had experienced considerable difficulty and pain from one hip, due to arthritis. He entered the King Edward VII Hospital for Officers in October to undergo an operation to rectify this. The operation was apparently successful, but later the Commander contracted pneumonia. Even this he recovered from, but it doubtlessly left him rather weak and he died from heart attack on the I3th November. He leaves a widow and two sons to whom we extend our sincere condolences.


Commander Freeman lived as he played and officiated his games, a first rate sportsman, as straight as a die, and feared no man.


"When the great Scorer comes, to write against your name;" "He cares not if you won or lost, but how you played the game."



Joseph Clarke
Russell Cotes.
3rd. December. 2011.

I have received the following contact from Darleen Brace.

"It is with great sadness that I tell you that my Father, Joseph Clarke  died
on 3rd December 2011, just before my parents 65th wedding anniversary on
Christmas day.
Joseph attended Russell- Cotes in the 30s and I remember that we attended a
few reunions at Barkingside and Russell-Cotes.
He often spoke about his time at the school and the lads that he knew.  He
leaves a wife, four children, several grandchildren  and great granchildren."

On behalf of all old sea school boys, we send our condolences to Darleen and all her family.

David Allsop.
Arranmore and Broughton. RCNS.
17th November. 2011.

David Allsop.

David Allsop, our long serving secretary of the Sea Schools Association, died on the 17th November, 2011, after a long illness during which he was looked after by his adoring wife Joy. The funeral was held at St. Margaret's Church, Ipswich, on the 25th November and was followed by a private cremation.The day was beautifully descibed by his friend from RCNS days, Gordon Brocklehurst.

"It was a mostly family gathering,  in a beautiful Suffolk church with flint walls, fine windows, and a hammer beam roof;  it is a few minutes down the road from his home, and he used to ring the bells there. His children and grandchildren paid their tributes touchingly. Joy managed well, and I think will send you a short story that she showed me some time ago, and had aided David in the writing of.

                Derek Cooley and his wife were there, being relatively close neighbours, and still much involved  in Barnardo affairs.  Of the five other Barnardo friends, one had motored down from Halifax using reversed foot pedals with a recently-acquired artificial leg, this was Peter Simons; another couple I did not recognise (but since found that they were Robert Quelch (ex PSTS) and his wife) , Hilary and I shared the journey to and fro’ from here with our four relatively able legs.

                We were particularly privileged  to be with Joy and her large and lovely family at home afterwards.  In conversation with Simon, one of her sons, we met grand-daughter Nellie, and discussed the times at RCNS. I advised them upon  googling their way to the PSTS site to explore the photos there, and they showed me an album assembled by David quite recently. We found his own copy of the RCNS portrait, and of another in partnership with Devine, which was also in the little red book, I believe. There was much talk and feeling of that gentle lovability that had warmed our time in Arranmore House". Gordon Brocklehurst.

David had written, with the help of Joy, the story of how he came to be in Barnardo's care,"The Kindness of Strangers", it makes very interesting reading and I have attached it here.





David Allsop (formerly Horne)

Early Childhood

This is not a rag to riches story.  It is merely the story of an ordinary life that through a series of events and chance encounters has been, for the most part, happy and fulfilled.

I made my entry into the World on February 3, 1932.  My mother was a young unmarried girl from Hampshire who had left her home because to be pregnant and unmarried in the early thirties, was neither acceptable nor respectable.  She came from a poor farming family in rural Hampshire.  I was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital and weighed in at 5 lbs 2oz - not a very auspicious start to life.  At some point after this - I am not very sure of the dates - but I must have been around 2 or 3 years of age, my mother returned to her family and I went to live with her in the family home.  The family consisted of my grandparents and assorted aunts and uncles. A relative I remembered most vividly was my grandmother who showed me a great deal of kindness.  Reading from my records it appears that my mother paid my grandparents 10 shillings a week for our upkeep. This was a relatively happy period of my life but it came to an end when I was 5 years old and my mother went off to give birth to another illegitimate son.  At this time, she was in a Public Assistance Institution and, without help my grandparents, could not afford to keep me at home.  That was the first big upheaval in my young life.  I remember my mother taking me to a large house in Fareham in Hampshire.  I can still recall the smell of polish and carbolic and the feeling that something bad was going to happen to me.  Since that time I have always associated these smells with large, unfriendly institutions.       


We returned home but a few weeks later my grandmother took me across on the ferry from Gosport to Portsmouth.  I felt this might be the beginning of a big adventure but nothing prepared me for the shock I was shortly to receive.  I was taken to the 'Ever Open Door' which was a reception-site in Portsmouth where Barnardo's assessed children for admittance to a Children's Home. Once deposited there, she left and at the age of five, I was alone in the world, removed from all my familiar surroundings.  I remember going for walks, crocodile fashion, and seeing the streets filled with  troops (this was 1938).  I wasn't too upset as I was sure I would be going back to my home and this was just a brief holiday so I settled in quite well to an institutional life.  I remember going up the wide staircase to bed with all the other boys to a large dormitory.  Although I didn't know it at the time, my grandparents were missing me and one day they came to the Portsmouth Home to see me.  They seemed to be upset and shortly after that I was allowed to leave the home and return to the care of my grandparents.  That didn't last too long because, after two years,  my grandmother decided she couldn't cope with a hyper-active seven year old boy and my mother, who had  suddenly reappeared on the scene,  told me I was going off to Canada.  I thought this would be a big adventure and was really looking forward to going to this exciting far-away land with Mounties and bears.   The reality proved to be rather different.


Dr Barnardo's (early years)

 The second time I crossed on the ferry to Portsmouth I was accompanied by my grandmother and my mother.  However, on arrival at the Ever Open Door at Portsmouth I was put into a car with two other boys and we were taken to Bognor Regis in Sussex.  I told all the other boys I was going to Canada and they said they weren't going there! 

 The arrival at Bognor was probably the lowest point in my young life.  I remembered being put in a room by myself because I cried for hours on end and I imagine the staff didn't know how to deal with me.  I was eventually told to go downstairs for my supper and entered this cold dining room, with a horde of boys I didn't know. After that, I was taken back to the large dormitory and told to get into a bed with cold sheets.  I was on my own; a young boy, disorientated and confused.  I think this was the worst days of my life.  Canada, I soon realized was a dream that was never going to come true.  It took a while for all this to dawn on me:  My mother, grandparents and the rest of the family, including my baby half-brother, had all deserted me.

 The place was staffed by nurses and matrons and appeared to be a convalescent home for Barnardo boys.  We didn't officially go to school but a local schoolteacher came in during the evening and gave us lessons.  I really didn't know what was going on as I had only attended school very intermittently when I was living with my mother and grandparents.   During the day we either played on the tennis-court supervised by a member of staff or went for long walks.   I gradually settled into a regimented life and with the passing of each day, my early family life became a distant memory. 

 It was decided eventually that all the boys should attend the local school.  We walked to school every morning (about a mile and a half); at noon  a coach picked us up to take us back to the Home for lunch, then back to school,  but  in the evening, we had to make our own way back to the Home.  I made friends with other children at school and one day, a girl called Ruth invited me to have tea with her at her house before I went back to the Home.  I really enjoyed this outing and thought how lucky she was to live in a house with a family of her own and wondered if I would ever have a home of my own.  One evening when we were walking home from school, an RAF low-loader went past with a crashed German plane on the back.  The driver stopped and we were shown the aircraft they had shot down which was really exciting experience for a 7 year old boy. 

 Christmas time was one of the best times at the Home.  Nurse Neville used to organize activities;  carol singing and decorating the tree, and, when Father Christmas came down the drive on Christmas day, each of us was given  a present.   On one occasion I had a ball and a book and on another, a toy tractor, although one bad year I remember was when I received a sewing set.  On Christmas Day we stood outside the Matron's door and sang carols.  On New Year's Eve, Nurse Neville used to sing 'Bless this House'.  We had good times but discipline at the home was strict.  If we misbehaved, the usual punishment was to stand in the corner with hands on head and wait until the nurse told you to come back into the room.  The playroom was rather drab.  There was only one picture on the wall and this was of Dr Barnardo who looked down benevolently on his boys.  Another thing that sticks in my memory from this time was that, in our dormitory, there was a young boy who regularly used to wet his bed.  He was dealt with very harshly, forced  to put his wet sheets into a cold bath and then  climb into the bath himself.  I was always terrified that I might wake up to a wet bed but luckily I never did.

 On one occasion on returning from school I sat down at the bench in my place for tea and to my amazement there was a small rock cake on my plate.  I didn't know why and when I enquired I was told it was my birthday.  I was 8 years old.

 The coach driver who took us to school had a small cine-camera and, as a special treat used to show us films in the evenings. Another local gentlemen would take boys out for rides in his car to the South Downs.  Every Sunday we went to Church and I remember once the church was filled with soldiers.  In the summer we played on the front lawn dressed up as cowboys and Indians and had a tent where we played happily for many hours.  By this time I was fully institutionalized and my family were a dim memory.  I realized quite early on that the way to stay out of trouble in the Home was to be obedient and not argue.

 Russell Cotes Naval Training School

The time came when I was to be moved from Bognor to Russell Cotes.  I had no part in this decision but it seems I was destined to go to sea like many Barnardo's boys in 1942.  I was 10 years old.  We were taken to see Captain King and we were all given a number.  I was number 135. In Russell Cotes another boy, ‘my shadow', was assigned to me to show me the ropes. There were four houses on the estate each housing approximately 40 boys and a senior house with around 45 boys. I was allocated to Arranmore House.  Miss Drake ('Gussie Drake') was the matron and although she was very strict she was also very caring. 

 Russell Cotes was run on navy lines and we wore naval outfits.  The bugle was sounded to get us up in the mornings and all functions were preceded by a bugle call.  All our meals were eaten in the dining hall.  There was a gymnasium and a swimming pool which was used in the summer.  In the summer we didn't wear shoes and our feet very soon became hardened by walking in bare feet.   Once a year all the boys went to camp where sports were the order of the day.  I wasn't very keen on sports so I had plenty of time to wander around and do what I wanted, which was a complete change from the regimented life in the Home.  I used to go fishing for eels in the River and dam up the river!  

 Russell Cotes was completely self-contained and we had lessons in the school.  My teacher was Mr Turner who was also the woodwork master and woodwork was something I really enjoyed.  I was never any good at academic subjects and used to spend a lot of time looking out of the window day-dreaming.  It wasn’t until much later in life that I found I was severely dyslexic which accounted for my lack of ability in academic subjects, but I was particularly grateful to one master who spent a lot of time teaching me to read.  Not to have been able to read would have been a huge disadvantage in life.   We had two pence a week pocket money, later increased to two and a half pence.  Once a week we were allowed to go into Poole and sometimes several of us would put our money together and hire a boat in Poole Park boating lake where we had a lot of fun.  We were supposed to stay within certain boundaries but sometimes we escaped over to Poole Harbour where there were lots of Naval personnel and boats and quite often, they showed us all over their craft.

 At the age of 14, I no longer had ordinary lessons in the school but received tuition  in seamanship for two years.  There was also a naval cutter moored within the precincts of Poole Harbour where we would learn to row and assimilate the general rules of the sea. 

 During this time I was transferred from Arranmore House to Broughton House - a house for senior boys.  There I was made a petty officer and sent to Howard House where I met a house-mother who was to be an important figure in my life for several years to come.  This was Mrs Fryer and she was extremely kind.  She used to take me to the cinema and to Bobbie's Department Store in Bournemouth for tea and cakes. No one before had ever shown me such kindness and she became something of a surrogate mother to me.  Her husband had been a ship's captain in the Merchant Navy and had died whilst on active duty in Australia. She decided she would do something  useful with her life and so became a house-mother for Barnardo's. 

 Just after I passed my 14th birthday my mother re-appeared at Russell Cotes.  I was in the dormitory cleaning and polishing when a petty officer came to tell me I was wanted in the Captain's office.  I had to change my clothes and make myself presentable because my mother and father were coming to see me.  I replied that I hadn't got a father but I got myself cleaned up and went to see my mother and her husband.  They wanted me to go on holiday with them the next summer instead of going to camp and this I did.  I felt somewhat uncomfortable when I was with them, especially as this man wasn't my father but they explained that they wanted me to go and live with them. I sensed that, as I was now 14  they wanted me back so that I could earn money to put into the household. However, I had settled in at Russell Cotes and went back there as it felt like home to me.

   Out into the World

At 16 it was time for me to leave Russell Cotes and I was told I would be going to London and would be working for Union Castle as a deck boy.

 Once again I was alone in the world but this time it was a much bigger world.  I was taken to London where I had never been before, having spent most of my life in Hampshire in a sheltered community.  I went from Poole to Waterloo Station where I was picked up by a Mr Ayres, who was an aftercare officer for Barnardo's.  We went from Waterloo to Bank Underground where I remember getting out of the Station and seeing the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street (Bank of England) for the first time.  I was amazed at the size of all those towering buildings.  We caught a bus from the Bank to Stepney Causeway to the headquarters of Barnardo's.  I had photographs taken and was 'de-institutionalized'.  I stayed at Stepney for one day and was then taken by Mr Ayres to lodgings at East Ham. He introduced me to my landlady who  told me later I was the first Barnardo's boy she had ever taken in.  All I possessed in the world was in my kitbag - my old naval uniform and some underwear.  I had been told by Mr Ayres that I would be working for Union Castle as a messenger-boy.  The next day I took the bus to the offices in the Royal Albert Dock.  The job consisted of running messages from the dock to ship and vice versa in the mornings and taking messages from the office to Leadenhall Street in the city in the afternoon.  Sometimes I was allowed to man the telephone exchange.

 I used to spend some time with the storekeeper who befriended me and I mentioned to him that I would like to be a ship's carpenter as this was the one lesson I had shone at whilst I was in school.  I worked as a messenger boy for 3 months and one day the storekeeper told me he had talked to the Marine Superintendent at Union Castle and obtained a position for me as an apprentice shipwright with Harland and Wolfe in the Royal Group of Docks.  This decision and the kindness that had been shown to me was to change my entire life although I didn't realize it at the time.

 I left Union Castle and one Monday morning I reported to Harland and Wolfe.   I was told to go to the Shipwright's section where I was to work alongside an old shipwright nearing retirement, who once again showed me kindness.  What I had failed to realize was that as an apprentice my wages would be miniscule and I realized very quickly that I wouldn't be able to keep myself on an apprentice's allowance.  Luckily, because the docks were very busy at that time, overtime was available and I used to work all the hours of the day and night so I could earn a living wage.  In spite of the money problems I enjoyed my work and quickly settled into a routine.  I saved up enough money to buy a bike and so saved the expenses I would have had to pay for  my bus fare.

 A Lucky Break

 During the second year of my apprenticeship I met a young boy Michael who became my friend and was to be part of my life from this point onward.  He was the first close friend I ever had.  He introduced me to his family:  mother, father (who was a policeman) and older brother.  I went to his house every weekend for meals and the whole family befriended me. 

 Meanwhile relations with my landlady began to be strained.  On Christmas Day she told me 'beggars can't be choosers' and told me to get out as she wanted the house just for her family alone.   I became increasingly unhappy and realized I would have to find somewhere else to live.  I stayed at  two more lots of furnished rooms  and when Michael’s family moved from East Ham to a larger house in Wanstead,  they offered to take me into their home.   It was a lovely house, backing onto Epping Forest and it became my home; the first real home, after Barnardo’s, that I really  knew.   I helped around the house with various jobs, helped to build a garage and renovate the kitchen.  I marveled that I had been so lucky as to finally end up in a real family.

 Just before my apprenticeship finished I got into trouble by getting myself involved in a misunderstanding with the foreman and was hauled before the management and it looked as if I might be thrown off the course.  But Michael's mother came with me to see the manager and talked the company into letting me complete my apprenticeship.  Another lucky break!

 I finally finished my apprenticeship and, with the assistance of Mrs Fryer, who as I mentioned earlier had been my first real 'mother' and with whom I had maintained regular contact over the years,  was offered a position as ship's carpenter with the New Zealand Shipping Company. 

 Off To Sea

 At first I went round the UK coast working as an assistant ship's carpenter and then I started on longer journeys, the first being to  New Zealand via Panama, the day after Queen Elizabeth's Coronation.  I was away from home for 3 to 4 months at a time and Michael was still serving his apprenticeship for a while but then he went to sea with P&O passenger boats.   During my time at sea Michael's home was my base and his parents had virtually become my mother and father.  It was suggested that I should change my surname to theirs so that it would give me some kind of mooring in life.  This I did, and from then on began to think of them as my own family and have done so ever since.  They treated me as their third son and I shall always owe a great debt to the whole family.

 I enjoyed my time at sea and saw a lot of the world, traveling to many interesting places for the next four years.  My mother suffered from severe asthma and quite often was admitted to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington.  During this time she met a young nurse, Joy, of whom she became very fond. She spoke often to me about her and one day, she arranged that I should meet her at Paddington Station.  The rest, as they say is history.  We got married in 1959 and so began the next chapter  of my life.

 Joy and I had three children, Jane born one year after we married; Tim, born three years later and Simon born four years after Tim.  I remained in the Merchant Navy until Jane was two years old and then came back to the UK and began working as a shipwright in the London Docks, once again alongside my brother Michael.  We worked with different companies for several years and then both ended up working for a company that offered Michael a position to start a new branch of the business in Liverpool.  Then, a few years later they offered me a position as manager at their new branch in Felixstowe. 

 The family moved from London to Felixstowe which was a big upheaval in all our lives.  Jane was half way through her ‘O’ levels; Tim had just started at senior school and Simon was moving into junior school.  My wife had applied to train as a social worker in London but this had to be forfeited because there was no possibility to pursue this in Suffolk without extended family support.  The only members of the family who really enjoyed the move were my two sons who loved the sea and the beach and the open spaces, a big contrast to London.  Fortunately my wife had been working for a medical publishing company in London and was able to do a certain amount of work in Suffolk but it was quite isolating for her and for my daughter.  I was busy starting up a new business, working long hours and not seeing much of any of the family.  The situation at home became quite stressful but I didn't realize how stressful until much later when our marriage came under a great deal of strain.  Various problems had arisen - my youngest son had been very ill with chickenpox encephalitis which resulted in his being hospitalized for several weeks, and my wife sorely missed all her family ties;  parents, aunts, sister and brother who had been close by in London.

 It was at this point that I started to realize that, although being in Barnardos had taught me to be self-reliant and even self-contained it had not taught me to be particularly sensitive  to other people's emotions -  especially those closest to me.  The old saying goes 'Give me a boy until he is seven and I will give you the man'.  I began to realize that although when I had gone to that little girl's home for tea when I was at Barnardos and thought how  lovely  it would be to have a house  like that,  getting  the house was the easy part but being a husband and father were  much more difficult.  I realized how ill-equipped I was to deal with the emotional demands of the family and how my wife had undertaken these responsibilities almost single-handed whilst I had worked and progressed in my business.  I think that I had  idealized the idea of ‘the family’ and because I had not been attached emotionally to any one person during my early formative years  found the emotions, upsets and even the good things that happened within a family,  quite hard to deal with.  It is often said that mothers tend to reproduce their mother's behaviour and fathers likewise but I had had no role model.  This of course is not offered as an excuse but, after 18 years of married life, we needed to renegotiate our relationship in order to rescue it. Early institutionalization is not a good model for family units, and the fact that such large institutions as the old Barnardo’s homes is a credit to all those who have worked many years to find the best way to create a substitute for a 'real’ family.

 My wife decided to go to University where she studied for a BA in Medical Sociology and then an MA in Social Psychology.  All three children were making their way in the world, Jane had obtained a degree in the Performing Arts, Tim was at the Guildhall School of Speech and Drama studying Drama and Simon was at Polytechnic reading for a degree in Town Planning. 

 Many years have now passed and for the last ten years of my working life I had my own business from which I recently retired. My wife is still working in London in a job she enjoys and all the children have their own families.  Jane is married to a theatre director/writer and lives in Malibu, California, Tim is working as a recruitment officer and running a drama workshop at weekends and Simon is working for a government organization.  We have seven grandchildren, five girls and two boys.  All the girls and one of the boys live quite nearby so we see a lot of them and the house is always a noisy chaotic place when they come around at the weekend for meals  and visits to the nearby park.  Our other grandson is in California and has just become a teenager, celebrating his birthday here in the UK amongst all his cousins.  This was so important for him because he has no 'family' in America.  We do see him at least once a year and he is an extremely charming, thirteen year old very- American boy who is growing up fast.

 A few years ago, I decided to try to establish contact with my stepbrother but this did not work out.   A lot of time had elapsed and I did not feel any attachment to him whatsoever.  My family and my family's family for the last 40 years have been the Allsops who took me in many years ago and Michael's children are my children's cousins.  It was much too late in my life to investigate ‘what might have been’ and all the family decided that our life was our experiences over our lifetime and the people who had become important to us through our relationships with them.

 Looking back, I have to acknowledge that Barnardos provided me with a background and gave me a much better start in life than I would have had if my mother had kept me.  There are many things missing in a Children's Home but there are a lot of virtues as well.  Day to day needs are catered for.  There is always enough food and a clean bed, and company, and during the thirties and forties, many children did not have this  kind of security. 

 Throughout my life I was shown much kindness and many things converged to make the kind of life I have led;  these  were being taken in by Barnardo's; the kindness of Mrs Fryer ('mum') and the  lasting influence she was to have on my life;  being taken under the wing of the storekeeper at Union Castle, and most importantly, meeting my 'brother' Michael which gave me a readymade family and led to my meeting my wife and creating our own family.  We have had a varied married life but we are still together sharing most things but pursuing our own interests as well.

 For a long time I did not reveal to friends or acquaintances that I had been in Barnardos but, in the last 10 years I have become proud of my background, my achievements and those of my family.  I have now become actively involved with the Sea Schools Association, meeting many old boys that remind me of my own boyhood, and renewing friendships with friends from the past, and so perhaps in a way, my  life has turned full cycle.

 David Allsop.  August 2004

David’s Life 2004-2011

Sadly David died on 17 November 2011 from complications of Parkinson’s disease which he had suffered from for the last seven years. 

Following on from his story I would like to fill in the last seven years of his life.  He continued his involvement with Barnardos and was a volunteer on the National Council of Barnardo’s Old Boys and Girls Council.  He also took on the job as secretary of the Sea Schools Association and continued with this activity until the Association was disbanded in 2010.  This opened up a whole new period of his life when he met many of his old school friends from Poole as well as making new friends from other Sea School sites.  Many of these friends came great distances to attend his funeral which was greatly appreciated by his family. 

 David also took up a new activity in 1999 when he joined the local bell-ringing group at his local church to ring in the new millennium.  He continued with his bell ringing until because of increasing ill health he had to give it up in 2010.  The friends he made from this activity showed great kindness to him and his family during the last few months of his illness.  His funeral was held at our local church and the vicar gave a touching eulogy about David’s early life and how he had always seen the good in people.  He continued to do this all his life and the title of his biography ‘The kindness of strangers’ held good until the end, but it is also true that all his friends and acquaintances spoke of his kindness to them.  He was a good man who brought out the best in all who came in contact with him.  He will be sadly missed by me, his children, his seven grandchildren and his many friends both old and new.

 Joy Allsop.









Mr A.T. Harrington.
8th February. 1960.



ON 8TH FEBRUARY this year (1960), the whole School suffered a severe and tragic loss at the passing of Mr. Harrington, at the early age of 51 years.

 Archie Harrington was an example of cheerfulness and the pattern of a truly vocational worker at all times. He shouldered any job either great or small, pleasant or the reverse, with his usual optimism and keen sense of both duty and humour. .

To the boys of his house, both Mr. and Mrs. Harrington were really father and mother and their loss was acute.

Mr. Harrington joined the Watts School in 1934 as mess deck officer. He went back to the Army during the war, and on his release returned to his old job. During his service in Norfolk he met and marned Mrs. Harrington who was a matron at the school.

Mr. and Mrs. Harrington came down to Parkstone when the School was moved in 1949, and after several changes they became house-parents in Johnston House and Mr. Harrmgton took on the dutIes of P.T. instructor. .

Mr. Harrington had suffered with gastric trouble for some tIme, but his last illness was only of a few days  duration so the shock was the greater when this cheerful and well liked character passed so suddenly.

My husband and I in common with all were very sorry when Mrs. Harrington felt she must take up work elsewhere. She will be, I am sure the help and comfort to her new superintendents that she was to us:

We all pray for her happiness and that she may be able to build a new life at her post in Eastbourne.

Mrs.M.Felton. (Lady Supt.)  From the Winter 1960 edition of "Jack Tar".

Roy Kynaston.
Broughton. 1954-1957.
20th March. 2011.

Roy passed away on March 20th 2011, aged 69 years. He was the beloved husband of Yvonne. "Shalom" Roy, you will be sadly missed by all the family and your many friends including those from "Broughton House".  RRE.

Hubert Downs.
8th May. 2010.

From the Winter 2010 edition of "Guild Messenger".

Hubert downs died on 8th May 2010 aged 75 years. Hubert was admitted to Barnardo's in 1937 when he was two years old. He was admitted with his three brothers, Raymond, Leslie and Geoffrey. He spent time at Bognor (1940-1945), WNTS (1946-1949) and PSTS (1949-1950).

Bert later had a highly successful career as a musician playing the double bass, spending 15 years with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra before joining the BBC Concert Orchestra.

"Four of us brothers were put into Barnardo's together and three of us ended up at the top of the London musical profession, not bad for Barnardo boys as none of us went to music college" said Bert's brother Geoff.