Mr. C. F. W. Hicks B.Sc. R.I.P.
At the outbreak of war, in 1939, Mr. Hicks was a House Master at Beal Modern teaching mathematics. The following information, provided by the Local Studies Department at the London Borough of Redbridge, describes his departure from Beal in 1942.
The Beal School logbook entry for 22nd August 1942 reads: ‘Miss Cambridge BSc has arrived today to commence duties on Monday the 24th. She has taken the place of Mr Hicks who, with Mr Cowan, has been recalled to Ilford.’ Prior to this entry, there is no mention of Mr Hicks being interviewed for another post, such matters are normally recorded. After this entry, I can find no further reference to Mr Hicks, who is not on the staff list when the school returns from evacuation. Nor is there any mention of why these two teachers were recalled to Ilford. – Pat Heron (Local Studies)
The reason for Mr Hick’s sudden departure from Beal in 1942 is not clear, however, the following information provided by the Local Studies Department pinpoints his arrival at Mayfield. ‘The minutes of the School Staffing Appointments Sub-Committee of 19th February 1945 includes a resolution that Mr. C. F. W. Hicks be appointed as Master-in-Charge of Mayfield Central Boys’ School. This followed the resignation of Mr Steer’. What Mr. Hicks was doing in the 2½ years between leaving Beal and joining Mayfield is a mystery.
I can remember waiting outside Mr Hicks office waiting to be caned. Once inside, Mr Hicks then chose a cane suitable for the crime. Opened his cupboard a chose one from a selection hanging on the back of the door.
I remember being caned by Mr Hicks and it bloody hurt.
I am Mr C F W Hicks’ son and I have been very interested in reading the comments on this website about my father. I can fill in some of the gaps between 1940 and 1942 which appear to be a mystery. In 1940 Beal Boys’ School was evacuated en bloc to Sonning Common in Berkshire at a camp called Kenilands. There were about 4/5 dormitories in which all the boys lived away from the bombing in London. Most nights my father had to stay in the dormitories with the children. My mother and I lived in what was then the small village of Sonning Common and my father got home periodically at weekends. My father stayed with the school until 1942 when he was recalled to Ilford and firstly went to a school, Fairlop, and subsequently was appointed to Mayfield School. He was not officially appointed as the Headmaster of Mayfield until after all the men had returned from the war and the returning forces were given the opportunity to apply for the position. Mr Cowan took up a similar position in Newbury Park at William Talbot School where I believe he stayed for the rest of his teaching career. I hope this information helps fill in the gaps during the war period. David Hicks
Many thanks to David Hicks for filling the gap of his father’s whereabouts during the war.
I attended Mayfield from 1952-1957 and I held Mr Hicks in great awe, even though I was one of the many boys who suffered one of his canings! In latter years I came to realise what a great leader and Headmaster he was. I consider it to have been a privilege to be guided by a man who I believe had nothing but the best interests at heart for those in his charge. He ran the school on Public School lines and like so many of my peers, I consider I received a first class, all round education.
Many of the values learnt whilst I was at Mayfield have stood me in good stead in the many years since I left in 1957.
Mayfield boys were indeed extremely fortunate to have a headmaster like Mr. Hicks who tried to base his secondary modern school on the principles of Beal grammar school and largely succeeded. I only understand this with hindsight, of course. As well as leaving numerate and literate, many left with ‘O’ levels and went on to enjoy good careers after our time at Mayfield.
To be honest there must have been a very good reason for you to be sent there. I myself felt it more embarrassing to walk into the secretaries office and ask for the ‘stick and book’. I wonder if that book, or books, still exists. It would make wonderful reading.
My memories of Mr Hicks are good. He always struck me, as a boy, as someone to be respected. I was on the extended course and got a job offer that I wanted to take. He tried to dissuade me but to no avail. Sadly, as a punishment, he refused to give me a Testimonial. To this day I have not forgotten that as I think he was wrong.
Hi Dave, I used to sell mags and anything that would fit into a small briefcase, once when I had half the school outside in the playground trying to see and buy stuff from me. Hicks came along and took my case up to his office, and said; I could have it back when I left school. Two years later, when I was leaving, I went to his office to see if he still had the case and it’s contents for me to collect, No surprise, it was missing. But he did give me a good word in my testimonial, He said this lad is very industrious and should do well in the world of work.
Can’t remember the Master but his comment on my geography report was ‘Would do well to find his way home!’ 🙂
Have just had a giggle at Pat Lavery’s Geography school report. It brings back some of the minor things that happened at school which stick in your mind 50 years on. A few years ago I came across some of my school reports my parents had kept. Standing out was one from my junior school form teacher Mrs Joyce Shaw, the wife of the Mayfield music teacher. She wrote in 1959 ‘Malcolm is a disruptive influence on the class’. When I met up with her, just a few years ago, I gave her a copy. We had a good laugh, and it was totally true I was disruptive. I didn’t like my junior school but really enjoyed Mayfield. Funny though when you read this website, teachers I really liked at Mayfield, some pupils clearly didn’t.
To David Hicks – thank you for the added information about your father. I remember him well as my headmaster and was fortunate enough not to have had the caning experiences others have mentioned. But we boys only really knew him from a distance and I was wondering whether you could tell us about your father in greater detail: his parents, birthplace, education and early life. And perhaps your assessment of the factors which most influenced him. As I say I knew him for several years as a child – but I never really knew who he was. Thankyou so much.
Remember Mr French, he took us for English? Now he was not a man to be messed with!
One day Mr Hicks came storming into our class room. ‘All boys, put your feet up on your desks’ he bellowed. He then went around comparing the shoe sole patterns against a drawing He halted at me then led me to the toilets.
‘Look up there, boy. What do you see?’
‘A footprint, sir.’ I replied.
‘And who’s footprint is it boy?’
‘I think it’s mine sir.’ I replied.
‘Correct.’ he snapped.
You see the bog ceiling had recently been painted and during break we had been doing gymnastics on the low slung pipework, revolving on them and pushing on the ceiling with a foot to get over top dead centre. Oddly enough the punishment was quite light. I had to stay behind after school and paint over the foot mark. Of course ‘Elf-n-Safety’ wouldn’t allow that today.
I to had the pleasure of six of the best from Mr Hicks, for bunking off and working in a supermarket I think. Two on each hand and two on the bum. He used to take a good run up for the two on the bum. Tears were in my eyes as I left. He was quite aloof but to be feared and respected.
Mr Hicks was an excellent Headmaster. He demanded respect and I think, of the 800 of us, very few failed to give it to him. I too had the “pleasure” of being taught by Mr French, who, to me, seemed to be quite sadistic towards those he didn’t like, me included. However, Mr Hampton who seemed to scare everyone I found to be a most caring and patient tutor; amazing eh? The same people but we see them differently.
Unfortunately I add to most of the memories of Mr. Hicks giving six of his best. If he was head master today he would be sued for physical harassment etc
I also remember Mr Hicks. You would be careful when he was around as he ruled with what seemed at the time a rod of iron. I remember that winters day when the boys were playing with snowballs in the playground at break time, and just as a boy threw a snowball Mr Hicks exited the building and it hit him squarely in the face. It seemed everybody froze and a deadly silence descended. Mr Hicks wiped the snow away, looked around at the group on boys and to our great relief, laughed and walked away. Not the reaction we expected! In retrospect he must have been one of the best heads in Essex and we all owe him for an above the norm education in this locality. Without him most of us would not have achieved as much as we have.
I used to walk with a girl to the Mayfield Girls School most mornings. They went in at the same time as the Boys School. Consequently I was always late after pedalling my bike like a lunatic, which I kept at the elderly ladies cottage a few hundred yards from the school because it was declared un-roadworthy by Mr Cutting, who took it upon himself to examine such things. I got fed up with the lurking prefects that pounced on late comers at the entrance, having my name taken and being punished by Mr Ivy. Bribing the prefects with cigarettes to keep stum worked quite well. In order to continue being late I applied for the sought after job of ‘Ink Monitor’. This meant missing assembly in the gym, and if I operated at full speed could make up for lost time and be in class on time. This important job was messy, involving mixing ink powder with water in the toilet. Once mixed and poured into a copper distribution can with a long thin spout off I would pelt at high speed. Whilst dashing at along the ‘A’ toffs corridor upstairs I had an accident with the ink can. I stumbled and the can bashed against the wall of the secretary Mrs Bainton’s office, which was next to the den of Mr Hicks. The ink can split open at the seam dumping the lot all over the corridor floor. I was in a panic now and preparing to dash down for the caretakers mop and bucket, when who should come striding along but our one and only Headmaster returning from conducting assembly in that hall of brain numbing literary pleasures,’The library’. I got ‘the look and the frown’ and nothing more as he stalked into his office and closed the door. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Well it was an accident.
I too am a member of the Mayfield “six off the best club”, but if you crossed the line you deserved it. I remember seeing momentarily his arm raised high with the cane in hand, before justice was served. Mr Hicks did demand respect but in my book he earned it and I raise my hat to his memory.
With 800 of us from all types of neighbourhoods and backgrounds, Mr Hicks had to be in charge. Otherwise many of us would not have made the grade. I am proud to have walked out of Mayfield Secondary in 1958 with the RSA Cert and 1 GCE firmly in my hand. All down to the determination of Mr Hicks showing the rest of the world, that a Secondary education was not necessarily the end of the world.
Sorry to be a bit late with this comment, but I do live rather a long way away!
If there was a “dressing down” club, I was one of them. I don’t remember the occasion for the incident. He quietly spoke to me of the misdemeanour, but what I do remember was that standing in his room was pretty frightening.
The next time I was in his room was in September 1960, when I informed him that I was leaving within a few days to emigrate to Israel. He asked me what the circumstances were, and we had a long talk in which he asked me various questions and appeared to be genuinely interested. His parting words “Froumin, I wish good luck in your new venture and life”. We then shook hands and thus ended my life at Mayfield.
Re Mr Hicks, he was okay, at least you knew where you stood. When I told him I was leaving school, he said I could not because I was too young. He did not know that my rucksack was already packed. Had a great time doing my own thing.
Mr Hicks said it was not worth my staying on to the 6th form to gain the qualifications for journalism as I probably wouldn’t make it. I think my first editor agreed with him! But I don’t hold any grudges. I just think he was wrong – but he did get an awful lot right while I was a pupil. I didn’t get in straight away after leaving school in June 1964, but I did later. Was I bitter about it? I may have been at the time, but I think if you have the determination you can achieve what you want. But I do owe a debt of gratitude to Glyn Summers, Don Pusey and Harry Braham. I have produced programming and documentaries for the BBC and independent networks and that may not have happened had I not been a pupil at Mayfield.