A walk down memory lane: Bedwell School, 1980-1985.

Bedwell Secondary School. My home from home 1980 to 1985. 

1980. New boy.

I’ve never been one who has particularly fond memories of school. Admittedly, I’ve no particularly bad memories either. Just kind of dull and neutral ones. But when I saw that an open day had been arranged to give anyone who’d attended Bedwell Secondary School the chance to have one last look around before the original buildings are all knocked down in September, I found myself keen to get along.

As most things seem to be these days, it was largely publicised via Facebook, and the page set up for the event became a popular destination for former pupils of all ages to share memories of school and arrange to meet up with former classmates on the day. But I didn’t really make friends at school  so it wasn’t seeing people again that made me want to go along. (I’m not much better at making them now, to be honest.) It was just straight forward nostalgia, and the chance to show my family a little of what my school life was like. In fact, if I’m completely honest, the thought of bumping to old classmates was just a bit scary for me. I can be rubbish with names and even faces, and the thought of people coming up to me with a cheery “Hi Trevor” and me not having a clue who they were was a very real possibility and an embarrassing thought.

The Music Room

Sure enough, before I even got in through the front door, someone approached me with eyes wide with recognition. “Here we go”, I thought. But it wasn’t really me she recognised. Well, not me specifically: “You’re a Coultart. Which one?”  You see, I was the last of four Coultart brothers to go through the school. She was a few years older than me and knew my brothers, not me. (Phew! Got away with that one.)

Once inside I spent a pleasant hour wandering those old corridors, nipping in and out of classrooms, and telling my family little snippets of what I could remember. And it was lovely.

The Drama Studio

I especially wanted to take a look at a few things. My form room – the music room – was locked. But it was also locked in time. Apart from a few more modern instruments (we didn’t have drums and amps in my day) it looked absolutely identical. Same chairs. Same tables. Same layout. Seemingly unchanged in 27 years.  I guess some things were build to last. The adjoining drama studio was still very much the same. Its distinctive red spiral staircase bringing back great memories. Drama was one of my favourite subjects in my first three years but I was talked out of taking it up as an exam subject. That’s a matter for a whole other post. (I was also talked out of taking Technical Drawing, which I loved and was brilliant at. Yes, definitely a matter for another post.)

I was keen to visit the Art rooms, but these seemed to have changed and weren’t as I’d remembered them. There used to be a dedicated sixth form Art “studio” that had glass walls and, I seem to recall, sofas, which had gone. Just simple art rooms now with no real resonance to me.

The cookery rooms had moved, and I felt quite disoriented exploring some of the admin areas. There used to be a long corridor along to the staff room, with an open balcony all along one side overlooking the dining room, but that whole area had been completely changed, with rooms now over the dining room and other changes meaning I couldn’t quite work out where I was at times.

Strangely evocative woodwork room

But here’s what surprised me. It was when I looked in the woodwork room that I actually felt quite emotional. Yes, the woodwork room. Not my best subject, by any means. Nor my favourite. But there was just something about that room. Those big wooden benches; those very same tools that my hands used to fashion long since lost knick-knacks. I found myself saying to my wife “Isn’t that beautiful”. And then wondering why I’d said that. I guess it was a realisation that I did, after all, have some great times at school. Why didn’t I realise that at the time? Why do my school reports start so well – before fading into “must try harder” territory? Again, maybe a topic for another post.

The same “You’re a Coultart” scenario was played out a couple more times, but I didn’t have the embarrassment of having to pretend I knew who anyone was (or admit that I didn’t!). In fact, the only people I saw who I knew well were people who I’d met years after leaving, in entirely different environments, and who I had no idea were former Bedwell pupils.

The whole visit set me off on a little school nostalgia session, and I’ve found myself fishing out all my old school reports, and ploughing through photos to see if I had any of those days. Surprisingly, I didn’t. Not a single one of me at school, with classmates, on school trips, or even a single one with me in my uniform. (So thanks to my Mum for fishing out one she had so I could use it above. Love you, Mum. x)

I’m very glad I made the effort to go along, and very grateful for those who took the time and energy to set this opportunity up.

Anyway, that’s enough of my meanderings. If you’re reading this years after leaving school, and have the chance to go back for a visit, I’d say don’t miss it. And if you’re reading this and are still at school, I’d say don’t let it pass you by.

Oh, and make some friends.

I managed to go round the whole school without taking any photos myself, so thanks to this who’ve let me use theirs. Photo credits below.

  • School exterior: Stevenage Museum
  • My School Photo: Mum
  • Music Room and woodwork room: Damon Francis
  • Drama Studio: Ronald Parker.

I did go on to write about my one regret about about school days; it relates to subject choices. You can read it here


18 thoughts on “A walk down memory lane: Bedwell School, 1980-1985.

    1. Trevor Post author

      Thanks, Karen. Just read yours. Glad you made a big thing about Dr Wallace turning up. I didn’t mention it in the end because I didn’t actually see him myself and decided to focus on my experience of the event. (Thanks for sending the photo though; my brothers and my Mum enjoyed it.)

  1. Kathryn (Lambert) West

    Well Trevor, what a fantastic read…very well done to you..as you know, I was in your year and I never realised you found it hard to make friends so that was sad to read. I remember you as being a quiet boy..but one of those boys who was always nice, polite and never caused any trouble..it’s better to be that way and only have a few friends than a boy with loads of friends but always in trouble etc..I very much enjoyed the day too…going round it with my bunch of girlfriends who the whole group has always kept in touch with these past 27 years..and I’m sure you will have learnt from your school days things to pass onto your own children…such as the subject options..you’ll no doubt be passionate at letting your own children follow their hearts…anyway, will close now…take care and thank you for a brilliant read, Kathryn x

    1. Trevor Post author

      Yes, allowing myself to get talked out of two of my favourite subjects is something I’ve always regretted. I’d do it differently if I had the chance.

  2. george saunderson

    i thought that was an excelleant read and very well put i would count my self as one of the few freinds you had at school

    1. Trevor Post author

      HI George. Yes, I think I could count you as a friend *at* school. But I didn’t keep in touch with a single one *after* school. Thanks for commenting. ;o)

  3. Sheena Aroff (Helyar)

    Wow what a great read, didn’t make many friends there either, in fact i hated school as was always got bullied. But going back there on this what I call a special day, kinda put all that to rest, and realizing, we were just kids all trying to find a path in life. It was lovely to see some old school pals who I managed to find on the infamous FaceBook, and keep in contact with. So i guess things aren’t that bad after all. And i agree if you have the chance to go back – DO it, as it can be very therapeutic too. And if they manage to get another chance for us to go round I would defo go back for that one last time, And I think an ariel picture of all of us would be fabulous!!!!

    1. Trevor Post author

      Yes, Sheena, I really hadn’t imagined that the visit would be in any way “therapeutic”, but now that you mention it I guess it was to some extent.

      I *have* reconnected with a lot of classmates over Facebook, but that’s not really the same as friendship (despite Facebook managing to hijack the word “friend” in a way I’m not really comfortable with).

  4. Ellie

    Hi Trevor,
    As I was reading your blog, I was ticking off all the boxes and could identify totally with all you said and mentioned…I couldn’t have put it better myself 😉
    I knew your brother, Cliff. He was a year above me. I really admired his artwork; he was ( and most probably, still is ) a genius 🙂

    1. Trevor Post author

      Thanks, Ellie, glad you could relate to some of what I’ve written. Yes, I think Cliff’s a genius, too.

  5. ben

    A great read, thank you 🙂 Freya, our eldest daughter is at Marriotts, Year 8 going into year 9. She will obviously be moving into the new school, a new chapter in her school life.

  6. sian

    i went ther 1983 until 1987, mr davis had just started as head teacher then with mr neil and mrs jackson as deputy heads am sad it no longer going to be there. (ruth simmons) name has been changerd scince then

  7. Lisa Maria Overton

    Wow, now there’s a blast from the past… I recognise your face straight away. It’s strange how we look back and remember some faces isn’t it. But do we really remember the person and the personality.? I think, like you Trevor, the thought of bumping into people that I went through 5 painful years with, scares the hell out of me.. Why would you want to do that to yourself… And how would you react if you saw people that you really didn’t want to see…? I know I have some photos somewhere and I am so tempted to find them and post them on FB.. I know I have some classroom ones and I think I have one of Miss Pinks (my form tutor)…
    But, I must say I can’t say I’m disappointed that I missed the reunion. I really don’t think I could’ve plucked up the courage to go..? It would’ve been pretty cool but like I said, bumping into some people… Umm, not so sure.. Memories of that school were really not the happiest I must admit as bullying seemed to be the most popular subject.. 😦
    Mr Mears (Math) and Miss Allen (English and Drama) were my favourite teachers and had a lot of time for me and helped me through the last two most important years. I was in the shadow of my brother which didn’t help me any I’m afraid. I wasn’t one of the popular girls so just sort of disappeared in the crowd, shame really as it should be the most important time of your life… and happiest..? What a difference I would make if I could go back in time and do those 5 years again, but I’m sure we all say that at some point. I couldn’t wait to leave those gates in June 1985 and never have to look back…
    It was lovely reading your post and realising that there was a few people that felt the same as me. I wasn’t the only victim at this school…! I agree that for anyone reading this and is still at school, make the most of it, enjoy your time and make friends… You will look back one day and be able to say that you enjoyed it…

    1. Trevor Post author

      Hi Lisa, thanks for adding your thoughts.

      When I visited I didn’t think of it as a “reunion” as I really wasn’t expecting to meet up with people. Just wanted the chance to see the *place* again, and show my wife and son before it was too late. Hope your time since 1985 was proved to be happier and more productive than the preceding few years.


  8. Tony (Anthony) Newberry

    Hi Trevor. I came across you when I was looking up Bedwell on FB just now. Wanted to find out about the place, the people and of course old school friends (which like you I did not keep in touch with). I joined the same year as you (Whitney) and Karen who I also recognised by the school pictures. Seeing Mr Doherty commenting, pictures of Mr Bailey and of course (seeing Karen;s blog) Mr Wallace. Brings it all back… If only my daughters could see ahead thirty years and feel what I feel today – great time and great place. Sad to see it all in pictures. I moved away within a week of leaving school to the south coast and moved to south wales several years ago. I dont go to Stevenage anymore so it was brilliant to see that you (and others) have taken the time to write and post pictures of the relic that is Bedwell School… (it will never be Marriots…).
    Keep posting – I’m on FB should anyone wish to get in touch… people may just like to leave the past where it is…

    All the best


  9. Trevor Post author

    It’s been lovely that this post has produced some comments and discussion, but I’m closing comments for now; for some reason this post has attracted a lot of spam comments I’ve had to filter out. If you really want to say something, I’d love to hear from you, but you’ll just have to contact me some other way.

Comments are closed.