The Skull and Crossbones

Skull and CrossbonesRobin Westley (1959 - 1966) remembers:

Robin Westley

Robin at the 2005 Reunion

David Baker's recollection of a "Skull and Crossbones" flag being placed at the top of the tower reminded about the incident.

David's recollection has to be a reference to the Summer of 1966, and I'm amused to read David's reference to a "Mr Smith". [Editors note: David felt as an ex-teacher he could not reveal the true identity, and so the name was changed].  The true names of the culprits being Rodney Jones, ably assisted by myself. I hope Rodney won't object to this account if he ever reads it, since it was a long time ago.

As David relates, the idea was Rodney's, I was more the Technician, I suppose (and I am still a Technician now!)  We were both becoming a bit mischievous, as the end of the second year of sixth form approached, and were already part way through A-level exams. I'd made the surprising discovery that a key to the photography club darkroom (science block, near the top of the stairs) also could operate other locks in the school, (although not all, as we discovered later).  This key had been entrusted to myself , John Earle, and one or two others, who also had photography as a hobby. I had discovered that it could operate the door lock on the door leading from the entrance lobby to the playground.  This gave us the means of escape after the event, so we could lock the door behind us, there then being no evidence of our means of erecting the flag found attached to the radio aerial the following morning.

The cupboard mentioned by David was the one used as the "Tuck Shop" in the Prefect's Room, and so we both hid silently away in it for hours, after school, complete with "lunch packs" for food.  After what seemed an eternity we heard Mr Gosling doing his final rounds, complete with dog, and with his caretaker's room being next door, we had to be careful not to make the slightest sound.  Eventually all went quiet, so we emerged and made our way through the darkened school, up the tower stairs to the top floor, where a door led to the lift motor room.  Blast!---the key wouldn't open it!  Abort mission?---not likely.  Rodney knew where all the keys were kept, on a board in the office.  So, we went down to the school office on the ground floor of the tower, and borrowed all the keys from their hooks, memorising, as far as possible ,their positions.  Back to the top floor, we find the right key, and we're in the lift motor room, then, another key gets us outside.  We find the vertical radio aerial mounted on the side of this wooden structure, but, on climbing on top of it, we found the aerial too high to attach the flag, (made by one of Rodney's girlfriends).  Fortunately we then discovered that the aerial was fitted into a sort of bayonet socket, so by twisting it anticlockwise it could be detached.  So then we attached the flag to the top of it and refitted it.  Then ,we return, locking doors behind us, and replacing the keys on the office board, so nothing would look amiss. Leaving by the outside door into the playground, and locking it behind us, we made our retreat across the playing fields to a gap in the fence behind Stockton Street , then home. It was enjoyable to see the next day, that Gunner hadn't deduced how it had been done, as he had been seen investigating the tower drain pipes as a possible means of reaching the top, but had boomed "No" in ruling out this possibility.

We did confess, at a later date, to having done this, and explained to Buzzer and Gunner how it was done. We had done several other "pranks", that Summer, so it was perhaps lenient of Buzzer to not formally expel us, as he did not wish to in any way jeopardise our future careers, merely saying we must only enter the school to take the remaining exams, and leave permanently afterwards.  Gunner, however, was furious, and added the condition that we would no longer be Senior Prefects when at the school, i.e. we were "demoted".

After the trouble we'd gone to, it seemed a pity that not many of the school saw our flag, as Mr Gosling took it down early the next morning, apparently using a dangerous method of placing a ladder up against the aerial to reach it.  Fortunately he removed it without injury to himself.         [read David Baker's item]


The Tower Revisited  - The website for former Pupils of the Technical High School, Trinity High School & Trinity Grammar School, Northampton