Thursday, June 22, 2006

Borstal Boys Forbidden!!

I used to have a friend called John. Due to the nature of this post, I won't mention his surname but I'm sure that if he ever stumbles across this, he'll recognise himself. Certain other readers of this blog will recognise him, too.

John was a bit of a tea-leaf. Cars were his thing. He just couldn't keep his mitts off 'em.

God only knows how many cars John stole during his youth, but I can assure you it wasn't just a few. Twenty? Thirty? Probably far more.

Now considering the law of averages, the chances of his getting caught increased with every car he stole. But the fact that he'd often park his stolen vehicles in the car-park opposite his house hardly helped, especially as he'd already been done a few times and was known to the police.

But either John wasn't very bright back then, or he liked to live on the edge. My guess is that the answer lies somewhere between the two.

Eventually John got caught for the umpteenth time and sent to borstal. Gaynes Hall in Cambridgeshire, to be exact. I think I was about 17 by this time, and if my recollection's correct, John must have been 16 as I believe he was a year younger than me. If anybody out there knows different, feel free to correct me.

Because we were pretty close back then, John would write to me from his 'home in the country' as he'd put it. I thought that was quite nice of him and used to look forward to his letters arriving in their plain grey, pretty much non-descript envelopes.

But father thought otherwise. He was convinced that any postman knew that those particular envelopes originated at establishments run by her majesty, and that, as such, our postman would spread the word around the neighbourhood that his daughter had some connection with said establishments. Eh?

Because of father's conviction that we'd be the talk of the street, I was banned from receiving letters from John.

"I don't want everybody thinking you have friends in prison," he said.

Err... but Dad, the truth is, I do have friends in prison. Well, one friend in a kind of prison... one designed for youths.

No amount of arguing changed his stance. John's letters were well and truly banned and from that day onwards had to be sent to me via a friend. I guess it didn't matter what her postman thought!



At 1:29 pm, June 23, 2010, Blogger mrbassman said...

I would be interested to know who was at Gaynes Hall and when, I was there in 1971 and always happy to make contact with old mates.

I can be reached on


At 7:51 pm, December 25, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there in 1970 and most of my memories are positive , if I had not gone to G/H I would probably dead , "dorm leader ", chap from Hove was the dep dorm leader , " Monty " 'Martin , Polly etc .

At 11:22 am, December 31, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Chinwag " , I was in G/Hall , ENDED UP DORM LEADER , Jupiter 1 , I have tried to contact many of the "old boys " , "Monty " , Polly , "Big Martin the
mini-cab driver , Fordy , "Frank from manchester , he was in to poetry , Sustins , Leach , the storeman " got my brown shoes from him , I had Phineas John in the next bed to mine 1970 1971 , Bert from Wigan and Kenny Foreshaw , nobby clark , etc ,"Slim Cady , would like to hear from any of the above

At 1:35 pm, December 31, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello anonymous, I was in Jupiter one from January 1971 until Septemer the same year - I was Dorm leader as well having taken over from Pete French, who are you, were you there at the same time?

I wrote a book about my time there, you can see all about it on the books website where you can also buy a copy.

I have also been in touch with some other who were there at the time so I would be happy to speak to you as well.

You can reach via

I hope to hear from you soon

At 12:08 am, June 25, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there from Dec 1957 for 2 years.Had a great time.

At 3:55 pm, August 03, 2013, Blogger reginald rogers said...

I was at GaynesHall Nov64-jan66..lodged in ariel 1 house next to the office and close to the assembly square where roll call was held each morning before breakfast. i remember Mr Short..short.. by name,and by stature.One of the good guys who helped me get to county level in athletics.after getting my green tie i was trusted to tour the borstal each night and evening irrespective of weather to turn lights on and off and to keep the boilers stoked under gaynes hall itself.. does anyone remember the saga of duck brown?

At 10:04 am, August 05, 2013, Blogger Kris Gray said...

Hi Reginald you were a bit before my time so don't know the saga of duck brown but would love to hear it

At 10:40 am, August 06, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duck Brown sadly wasnt the brightest of fellows despite the fact the every boy who was allocated to Gaynes Hall was allegedly over average and above intelligence. Eric Brown had a penchant for doing those things that constantly bought him to the attention of the powers that were... his most notable exploit being the finding and stealing of duck eggs from the governors garden pond area...It appears that this went on for quite a while...and Duck kept the eggs under his pillow. expecting one day to discover ducklings but, nobody had the heart to tell him that ceramic decoy eggs would never produce ducklings.still Duck brown persisted convinced they would be producktive morning in early spring.we were awoken by strange sounds.and across the floor scooted two baby ducklings

At 10:47 am, August 06, 2013, Blogger reginald rogers said...

this is how Duck Brown became a legend as the only inmate ever to produce live ducklings from ceramic eggs .long live the Duck

At 11:09 am, August 06, 2013, Blogger Kris Gray said...

Nice story Reginald, wish I had heard it before I wrote my book on Gaynes Hall.

If you want you can check out the book at the website

Anymore stories?

At 2:23 pm, August 06, 2013, Blogger reginald rogers said...

whilst Gaynes Hall was an open establishment with much freedom still created the sensation of being a prisoner.only at visiting times was contact with the public permissable so imagine the delight when one is asked to join the maintenace department responsible for keeping the bricks and mortar of the borstal in good shape. ,and being engaged to construct a new tennis court adjascent to the screws social club up the Perry road.It was Summertime,and close by was the officers housing ..bored housewives being what they were took great delight in parading both wobbly and cute rearends for the delectation of affection starved borstal boys. never has a Ford Anglia been so beautifully decorated as when two well formed mammories were pressed against a rusting boot lid..the sound of Roger Millars song England swings like a pendulum do... after this a run around the newly flooded Grafham water served to temper natural urges. to this day i can never understand why i chose to abscond from Gaynes really wasnt such a bad experience

At 4:18 pm, August 06, 2013, Blogger Kris Gray said...

Hey Reggie, can I call you that? so you were an absconder eh? did you check out the book's website? it would be fab to have contact with you if you want to that is.

At 9:57 am, August 07, 2013, Blogger reginald rogers said...

Hi Kris. I checked out the book page and liked the setup. hope the book does well.. apart from the movie scum which portrayed every Borstal boy as thugs.there has been little in the way of recall to tell the truth about those with a more benign story of criminality to tell..whilst even in the likes of Gaynes Hall there was an element of career crims, but mostly those i met were often very intelligent,and blessed with consummate skills.Artist,and Artisan alike. unlike the infamous Wormwood Scrubs where life as we knew it ended at the entrance in Du Cane road,and personal skills became meaningless ,the regime at Gaynes was a revelation and a relief. For those in the system with no sense of direction in life other than the pursuance of criminality here was an opportunity to make something of oneself. As an insular community it operated very well tucked away in the Cambridgeshire countryside,the relaxed regime allowed brain space to pursue practical courses that gave lost boys purpose.and the emotional freedom that was missing in the confines of conventional prison.For myself i chose the path of rebellion initially,as my way of stating my hate of authority in any form.This attitude did not serve me well in time to come.

At 10:10 am, August 07, 2013, Blogger reginald rogers said...

ha ha can any form of criminality be considered as benign? i dont think i retract that bit of my comment and substitute life,for ciminality apologies .

At 8:12 pm, August 07, 2014, Anonymous Benny said...

I was at Gaynes Hall the same time as anonymous 1958 until 1960. There was only Neptune and the new block Ariel. In Neptune we lived in an old army hut that hadn't changed much since it was a secret air base for agents being dropped into France. The book 'Two eggs on my plate' tells about this.
It was coming out of the dining hall that we saw a UFO.

At 1:22 pm, January 10, 2015, Blogger tony hudson said...

I was there early 70s,best football team I've played in,we won every trophy there was ,
No one got their brown tie till end of football season
The guvner was Martin Burnett and "Woody" was in charge of team
I was in Neptune 1 and did 11 months in the end

At 9:05 pm, January 28, 2015, Anonymous john o'donnell said...

I was in Gaynes hall in 1967/68 in Aerial House..passed City Guilds motor Mechanics.. Good memories put a good head on my shoulders john O'Donnell west mids

At 8:50 pm, March 27, 2015, Anonymous John E said...

I was a resident in G.H. I think in Ariel 1, opposite the entrance past the dining hall in 1960-61. I served about 21 months. I got my green tie and date for my weekend home visit when I got a Dear John letter went a bit nuts argued with a screw, Mr Redman a right bastard, got busted back down to the basic grade, I think it was blue tie, and ended up serving an extra 7-8 months.
I completed the six month motor mechanic course but then it wasn't City and Guilds certified. The workshop/garage was half of a large Nissan hut with the other half being the gym. After I finished the course I stayed in the garage helping to design and equip the proposed new garage after which I went to work on the boilers, one week stoking the small boilers in the big house and in the engineers units. It involved a lot of hard work but did give me a lot of freedom to roam the camp. As I was the longest serving inmate in the dorm I should have been dorm leader but I passed on it.
A couple of years after my discharge I was working on the pumps at a garage in Gorleston when who should turn up to fill his tank but Mr Redman who was all nice and polite but I took the opportunity to tell him a few home truths about what I thought of him - but he still told me to keep his change.
All in all I look back on my time at Gaynes as mostly happy. We had an anuual croos-country race which went across the valley which is now submerged under Grafham Water and happy to say I won them both. The PE/sports master wanted me to enter athletic meetings running in the long distance events but although I liked cross-country running round and round a track was totally boring and I did not pursue it.
I remember we used to march down to Gt Staughton to go to the church regularly, I think it may have been once a month. The march to the church wasn't too bad as it was down hill but coming back it was uphill and was knackering.
Before I did the mechanics course I was on the estate party and our main job was removing a stand of large, dying trees alongside the road through the estate and reducing them to logs and kindling.
Unfortunately I am terrible with names and cannot recall the names of fellow inmates or staff. I was chippies mate for a period and learnt little things that helped me with DIY later in life including basic carpentry, tool sharpening and glazing windows. I never went back to my criminal activities but that wasn't due to my time at Gaynes but more spending around 3 months on remand in the Victorian squalor of Lincoln prison.
When I was sentenced the borstal term was 9 months to 3 years but shortly afterwards the borstal term was reduced to 6 months to two years.

At 6:37 pm, April 11, 2015, Anonymous Keith Holmes said...

I was in GH in 1963-64.I only remember the name of one house master,his name was Mr Duggan...Whilst there I lost the sight in my right eye due to an (accident)...also lost my sense of smell....I was put in charge of the hospital wing and helped to dish out aspirin water to the lads who came for treatment.Aspirin water was the antidote for all ailments

At 12:54 am, August 26, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi .. I was there mid 1971 to July 1972 ..
Crain of the basketball team .. We came runners up in the Bedford and District League.
Couple of guys actually broke INTO the Borstall at Christmas to bring in alcohol ..
They had been released a couple of weeks earlier.!!
The canteen also got broken into while I was there ..
Remember Friday night ..
The buying of custard cream biscuits was a highlight ...
Jock the Block .. Escorted me handcuffed to the hospital in Cambridge.
Had great fun giving people the evil eye
I started doing the ONC Business Studies course ..
Got kicked off to the Farm Party for setting fire to someone ..!!
Not that bad .. Just a piece of paper stuck to his back ..
Was it George one of the night watchmen ??
I used to go and have meals there weekends and do his garden ..
I ended up as gym orderly ..
Which gave me access to the rubber solutions used for puncture repairs ..
Some sort of dry cleaning fluid used to be smuggled back from outside night classes ..
Wow .. That blew your mind .
I fell asleep one night . with the wet handkerchief.
Ended up laying on it ..
and waking up with a large area of peeled skin on my back ..
It had eaten away the flesh.
Was in pain for a while as I couldn't go to get it treated ..
Probably think of a few more tales ..
Outward Bound in Wales trip....still got the photo somewhere that was taken there ..!!
Think the PTI was Ray Tillet ??
He used to practice the hammer throw ..
Can't rememember other PTI s name ..
Can anyone ?.
Burnett was Govenor ..
We decorated our dorm at Christmas as an underground station..
Mainly to black out the windows
Called the station ..
High Burnett ..
Creeps .. Lol..

I was, and still am Les ..
Anyone else there at my time ??

At 12:58 am, August 26, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Les says ..Typo ..
Should read ..
Captain of the basketball team..

At 9:44 am, August 26, 2015, Blogger Kris Gray said...

Hi Les
You were there some of the time I was, I left in September 1971.

In case you are interested I wrote a book about my time in Gaynes Hall called Two's Up (what else!) you can check out the website and you can contact me via

Hope to hear from you and any other ex Borstal Boy

At 10:49 am, August 26, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kris .. We've already spoken on another site ..
I got the book and we are friends on Facebook ..
Too much something may have pickled your brain ..

At 10:54 am, August 26, 2015, Blogger Kris Gray said...

Sorry mate, yes pickled brain, been a while since we spoke

At 4:40 pm, September 21, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived at Gaynes Hall from 1960 to 1969/70 my dad was the instrument maker instructor Doug Hoare, he died in 1969. I have fond memories of Gaynes Hall, but ofcourse I was not an inmate, I saw many changes in those ten years, its not a shadow of its former self. I do remember the boys coming to our house sometimes for tea, a rare thing but it did happen. I used to see my dad down at his worhshop with the boys working lathes, the smell of oily metal is still with me.some of the boys would be on road sweeping duties, tend to our garden, it was large as we lived in the second largest house there on the drive opposite the big house, think the govener then was a mr.Adams. the building instructor was a, he died just before my dad.

At 4:03 am, October 02, 2015, Blogger Eddie Thompson said...

Well, well, well. I was at Gaynes Hall from Oct '71 to Aug '72 and after reading through all these posts I recognise at least one ex member Tony Hudson. I was in Neptune 2 and did the catering course. It was run the way a borstal should be run and I am sure most of the lads I shared with kept straight afterwards.
Because of the catering course I actually got a job before I even left GH and in a roundabout way I look back to my time there with a smile. I can only recall 2 or 3 boys names from there but Burnett was the governor.
I will look up your book Kris and see who I recognise. Please feel free to contact me on ( pen name, real name John ). Oh! and I live in Thailand now.

At 2:10 am, January 11, 2016, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Mr Crocker-White and Mr Marriot . I can't remember the Ariel House governor's name.1971.

At 1:14 pm, January 21, 2016, Blogger Andy P. said...

Hi all, 'been idly thinking about my spell in GH for a while and finally got round to starting a facebook page for anyone else who was there or is interested in contributing, here's the address;

Cheers guys,
ps anyone got two's-up?

At 12:21 pm, January 26, 2016, Anonymous Ray said...

Spent around 15/16 months at G/H! Learnt to lay bricks (we built the catholic church)thanks to Mr Love, and he was, play rugby thanks to Mr Sandys I believe, and read read read! Knew Redman and Duggan or "Babyface" as we called him,and Jock Whatisname plus the others, Brain dead a bit now!!!!!!!!
Became dorm leader Ariel Did a month or two more than the average, They said I was institutionalised (is that a word and is that how you spell it?) Travelled extensively around the world ending up here in Gabian South of France some 40 yrs ago ,made it my base. Became a Jazz singer/Entertainer, married a french girl,built a Restaurent cum Cabaret, got involved in everything going on here, am 74 and still having a great life! G/H was, for me at least, quite a happy time all in all (who remembers, or was part of, the secret society Hodge(from Neptune) and I formed "The Feathers" ? About 20years ago a guy turned up in the village, Mike Bryant, He'd actually been in my dorm, when I was dorm leader, We were thinking of writing some sort of TV series called "The Bright Ones" -not that I am, or he, for that matter, but I did manage to stop the ridiculous "initiation for new blokes" for a while anyway!
Any thoughts whatever? All the very best to you ALL
Only make positive waves for humanity, live happy and true,you're a long time dead, Ray Everitt

At 12:30 pm, January 26, 2016, Blogger Andy P. said...

Hi Ray,
Good to hear someone else is doing well! sounds like your living life to the full,
I'm guessing you were at GH a while before me, I was there 76-77

last week I put up a Facebook page for Gaynes Hall, not a lot of people on it yet but it's here if you'd be interested,

Andy P.

At 12:44 am, February 15, 2016, Blogger garryc15 said...

Hi All my name is Garry I was sent to Gaynes Hall in 1971, I was the youngest there at 15 years old. Was posted to Ariel can't remember if it was 1 or 2. Played Rugby every Saturday in the season we went to each away game in a green open sided truck with a cover on the back. If we were lucky the opposition bought us a couple of beers, Rugby master god bless him was a great guy, can't remember his name but he was a portly chap, we used to sing rugby songs on the way back in the truck what a good time. The warden was Mr Burnett nice chap. I remember the lads breaking back into the borstal after they had been released, i think they were from Neptune dorm. I can remember a big lad in our dorm named Les covered in tattoos no one messed with him I think he was a local chap as his dad came to visit him every week. I ended up looking after the boars in the farm one of them was named George.

Remember home leave going on the train to London with cockney kid called Danny, i then got the train to Stoke. Ended up getting what was called a 4 and 2. Four months before you got to know when you were released and then 2 months after. The last week or so you spent in a separate house with a tv. The house was infested with mice. Also remember a lad called Roger who absconded he came to see me in Stoke after we had both been released, he ended up working at Land Rover in Solihull.

Did a business studies course at GH taken by local teachers from St Neots one used to turn up in a 2 seater Fiat, this helped me in my career became an accountant and Finance Director and CEO of 2 different companies quoted on the London Stock exchange, Gaynes Hall sorted me out and although I was pleased to be release I enjoyed every day, great commaradery.

At 7:16 am, February 15, 2016, Blogger Kris Gray said...

Hi Garry
So we must have been there at the same time, I left in September 1971 on a 3 and 2 after working in the Dairy up on he farm. You are right about George, he woke me every morning so I could go to milk the cows. I think it was Rod Hill who used to run the Rugby, I saw him two years ago when he invited me to his 70th birthday party.

Did you have a look at my book page in have just signed a deal to make a film based on it, they are changing the title to 'Borstal'read it, its fun.You can also get a Kindle version.

You can always drop me an email it would be fab to swap stories.

At 1:16 am, February 16, 2016, Blogger garryc15 said...

Hi Kris

Nice to hear from you and all the best with the book. I would be more than willing to buy one of the books and look forward to reading it, if you can trust an ex borstal boy I will send you my address you can send me a signed one. i will send you the money.

George was the name of one of the 2 boars on the farm and also the night watchman who came round counting heads on beds.

Rod Hill was the Rugby guys name great chap.

Cant say I recognise your face but it is 45 years ago, what dorm were you in? You weren't the one who played guitar and sang all the time and always got into trouble on kit inspection for having sticky sugar in your bedside table drawer and the inability to fold a shirt around a piece of wood?

At 2:40 pm, February 27, 2016, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three years since my last post here,and note some interesting comments about life in borstal since that time,hope Kriss Greys book became a best seller. Does anyone remember
What I thought was a reasonable screw called Ray Gledhill.? and also Mr Short? Also a fair minded man who was a big influence in how I dealt with issues at Gaynes.
I did 14 months in Ariel one ….…period November 1965 _December 66 ,and overall not a bad experience.despite absconding like an idiot,I ended up a better person than when I arrived.

At 10:27 pm, February 27, 2016, Blogger Andy P. said...

Hi Anonymous,

I was there '76 and '77 also an absconder :-) damn near froze to death so didn't do it again, I think I also left the place better than when I arrived.
I've recently put up a facebook page for Gaynes Hall which I'm hoping will draw a bit of interest, here's a link if you fancy a look,


At 11:49 am, February 29, 2016, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Andy Thanks for the link,I will most certainly add myself to the list of contributors. I am interested to know if you were surprised at being returned to Gaynes after after absconding? Assuming you were of course.
I remember being in the Scrubs after recapture in Wales(we were going to stow away on an Irish ferry, but a sharp eyed retired copper grassed us up in Fishguard.)and thinking I've blown it for sure,I'm definitely heading for some rough stuff at Reading correctional,but I got back to Gaynes within three weeks.The guy I absconded with ended up in Feltham,serve him right for leading me astray haha
I ended up with building skills and. Three weight lifting certificates,together with a further certificate for being county cross country champion 1965 ,all these things courtesy of the not so dreaded gaynes hall. Live long and prosper all.

At 4:56 pm, February 29, 2016, Blogger Andy P. said...

Hi Anon
I was returned to GH after absconding and spent a couple of weeks in the block - and then stayed a 'blue tie' for a VERY long time, I seem to remember not being that surprised at going back, when I was there ('76-'77) it seemed that if you 'did a bunk' very early on in your time and they thought you were generally 'ok' you got 'one last chance' anyone that did it again would certainly be 'shipped out'. I seem to remember one or two lads that bunked off again but in both cases it was drug related and they probably shouldn't have been at GH in the first place. One of those went to Feltham which had a very unpleasant reputation at the time, and was - I believe - later closed down for being a disgrace. Reading also had a pretty ghastly reputation and most us were extremely happy to do our bird in the 'dossiest' borstal of the lot.
In total I was there for a year just about, I never quite got the hang of doing things the proper way - still haven't really but also haven't been in trouble with the law either since then.
As for the absconding, I was picked up by a police car suffering from hypothermia (it was me suffering - not the police car) in london, fortunately they didn't pick up the bag of goodies or the sheepskin coat i'd 'acquired'along the way so I wasn't prosecuted for anything, I think I'd have been shipped out if that had been the case. One or two lads were 'gate arrested' as they were discharged and I always had a horrid feeling they might have picked up the coat and bag and were just waiting to get me later,,,,,, that didn't happen though and life has been pretty damn good mostly since then.


At 11:01 am, March 02, 2016, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HaHa Andy, everyone who had the desire to abscond naturally made for the A1 which ran north south about 6 miles away in the general direction of Huntingdon. I followed this route across hard going on muddy ploughed fields,and more than once ended up in water filled ditches,a really unpleasant experience which with hindsight I should never have ventured upon. between the two of us we borrowed three cars and a large lorry to make our getaway.usually minis which were so easy to open ,and start,although the AEC we stole was easy to get going and took us right from Stevenage to west wales after a brief stop in central London..our logic was that the police would not be looking for a stolen lorry so much as a car,our downfall came when my co-conspirator fluffed his geography to a retired copper who gave us a lift from Lampeter to Fishguard where our intentions were to stow away shipboard to southern Ireland. Obviously I was a lucky boy because even with 6 offences taken into consideration. I was allowed to return to GH. whereupon I vowed to make amends for

At 11:03 am, March 02, 2016, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my stupidity

At 8:33 pm, March 08, 2016, Blogger Andy P. said...

Hi Anonymous,
Yep, I made it to the A1 too, I bet most of us probably ended up hitching lifts from the same junction! - actually, thinking about it I think I was hitching at the end of a lay-by. I spent my first night on the run at a mates place in Stevenage, he had a room set out specially for smoking, I remember the walls were painted black with stars and planets added in fluorescent paint, it was utterly awesome with a UV light on after a little smoke, anyway; enough of that.
What really tickles me to bits is like on Sunday I took my eldest back to uni and in the car on the way we were comparing how she's doing with her life right now and how I was living in a squat in Camden Town at the exact age she is at the moment.
Despite Gaynes Hall and all that I think our generation had much more freedom than the current one of the same age as we were, if they put a foot wrong they have a record which will cause them problems for years, I can't remember how many times I got away with it before ending up in front of the beak. Also I seemed to 'lose' my criminal record quite effectively within a few years of leaving GH. Don't think that would happen now either.

All the best,


At 10:36 am, April 27, 2016, Anonymous bonzo said...

Hmm comments are getting thin on the ground.anyways, I wonder if anyone was in gaynes circa 1965,and just happen at some pont to have been employed in the boiler house across from the gym?I ask this question because I'm trying to remember the name of the tyrannical .....hole who forced me to climb inside still cooling boiler furnaces to regrout firebricks with asbestos putty.I am certain he was a welsh tyrant named either Lewis or Llewellyn. Also I hope he was attached to the goddamn coal collecting cart and driven off to hell for making lads pull three tons of coal a day without a cup of effin tea

At 3:04 pm, April 27, 2016, Blogger Andy P. said...

Hi Bonzo

I was there a while after you but I do remember shovelling coal from one bunker to another (while I was in the Block) having moved the coal we would then sweep the empty bunker and put all the coal back. I don't remember the guy in charge of the boilers, not sure we even saw him I'm afraid.
I started a Facebook page for Gaynes Hall a couple of months ago, you'll find it if you do a search on facebook, a few people have been there so far.



At 11:02 am, April 28, 2016, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,We connected before ,I told the story of absconding,and about Duck Brown and his
Eggsploits. I'm trying to remember the gaynes hall anthem sung after football matches and athletics meetings kinda ribald and not the kind of lyrics one should lustily sing from the back of a borstal transport lorry,navigating gentile villages like kimbolton where we used the school swimming pool for canoe training.

I recall my 20th birthday being a Saturday,and afterthe football fixture,Mr Short told me I had an impromptu visitor,which turned out to be my mum and sis.and a car loaded with cakes and pop.The whole football team saw off the cakes in two minutes flat,but I got unexpectedly,an hour with my family.How could anyone complain about that kind of leniency,I'm convinced that the tolerance and general atmosphere of the regime gave me the impetus to become the success I am today

At 5:26 am, May 02, 2016, Blogger Eddie Thompson said...

Anonymous, I agree with you 100% on the atmosphere of Gaynes Hall being the main reason for its success as the best non re-offending borstal. The staff there didn't treat us as criminals and I even got a reference from the head chef that got me a job to go out to.

At 10:28 am, May 07, 2016, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great news Eddie and congratulations,I think those guys prepared to rethink their lives were rewarded with compassion and support.The very ethos of that establishment drove those who genuinely wanted change ,and I for one after a shaky start took full advantage of the training ameneties,and the social and sport events went a long way to instil in me a sense of worth,and direction.51 years later I mourn that the somehow comforting image of Gaynes Hall borstal is now under the concrete footprint of a secure prison for more heinous occupants.

At 1:07 pm, June 30, 2016, Anonymous MICK O said...

Hi all.My name is Mick. Just discovered this great site. Was at GH approx. 69-70. Did 14 months. Can not remember name of dorm but had a bloke called Jeff Arnold and another who played the Guitar. Did the Bricklaying course with a lad called Biffo.
Think there was a screw called Felstead. Worked on the garden party and then with a small lad called Jock trainer retiling the medical blocks floors.
Joined the cross country team which was great. Got to go outside GH to do training runs and when we got back we got some extra sausage meat and bread.
Remember a small group of us taking part in the Luton to Bedford cross country /road race, There used to be a lorry turn up sometimes where you could give blood. There was a P/E teacher, I think he previously played goalkeeper at west brom, he was a bit of a nutter.
Being sent to Gaynes Hall and doing the bricklaying course and getting City+Guilds
was the best thing that could have happened to me.
Became a bricklaying foreman and then general foreman on many big sites around north London and Hertfordshire.

At 2:02 pm, June 30, 2016, Blogger Kris Gray said...

Hi Mick O
I think you must have been in Jupiter if Jock Trainer was there, he was on my reception party as we came in together and that would have been january 1971. I don't remember Jeff Arnoold but I played the guitar and was in J1. I seem to rememeber Felstead.

Glad things turned out well for you.
I'm a musician and writer now, I wrote a book about my time in Gaynes Hall, called 'Two's up' you can see more about it here, it's being made into a film next year.

You can drop me an email anytime

At 1:22 pm, July 01, 2016, Blogger Kris Gray said...

Hello again Mick O

Thanks for the order of the book, will post tomorrow, I tried to send you an email confirmation but it keeps bouncing back. Perhaps you could send me one so I can write back, I have some information for you.

At 5:08 pm, July 08, 2016, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can I not leave a message?

At 5:15 pm, July 08, 2016, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at Gaynes Hall in 1956-58. I was in Neptune and the house master was I think Newman. It was a ex army nissen hut whilst Aerial was a new brick building. I was known as the Jazz musician because I formed a semi type Skiffel trio with a string Tea Chest and my friend Higgens who played the Harmonica. I played drums with a pair of brushe's on biscuit tin until I went home on leave and came back with a full drum Kit to which the Governor let me keep and play in the various shows put on by the boys. Every time we played it brought the house down and Rock Around the Clock was just coming out and When the Saints Come In. If anybody wants to know more I have plenty of memories as my brain is still now a sharp as it was then. I'm 78 now and list names and incidents to which will bring back memories if anyone is still alive to ask. Bob.

At 4:28 pm, January 21, 2017, Blogger LOADSAMUSICS ARCHIVES said...

Hi garryc15 ..

We may well have been on the same ONC BUSINESS STUDY COURSE....
Law, Accounts, Commerce and Economic History if I remember correctly.
"Goods in a shop window are an invitation to treat and not an offer" etc ...!!!!!!!
I was July 1971 to July '72..
I hot kicked off
Seem to remember trying to get the word UNTOLD into every thing to wind the teacher up ..!
Think Keith Lavern? Stayed on longer to go on the course and would have been released earlier.p otherwise.
I became gym orderly.
Was Captain of the Basketball team. We came runners up in the Bedford league.
I was in Neptune.
Will have to dig old letters out but think Nep 1..

Steve Anderson, mick Jenkins, John Plum? All in my dorm.
Neville Sheen practiced his karate all the time ..
Spillane rings a bell also...

At 4:28 pm, January 21, 2017, Blogger LOADSAMUSICS ARCHIVES said...

Hi garryc15 ..

We may well have been on the same ONC BUSINESS STUDY COURSE....
Law, Accounts, Commerce and Economic History if I remember correctly.
"Goods in a shop window are an invitation to treat and not an offer" etc ...!!!!!!!
I was July 1971 to July '72..
I hot kicked off
Seem to remember trying to get the word UNTOLD into every thing to wind the teacher up ..!
Think Keith Lavern? Stayed on longer to go on the course and would have been released earlier.p otherwise.
I became gym orderly.
Was Captain of the Basketball team. We came runners up in the Bedford league.
I was in Neptune.
Will have to dig old letters out but think Nep 1..

Steve Anderson, mick Jenkins, John Plum? All in my dorm.
Neville Sheen practiced his karate all the time ..
Spillane rings a bell also...

At 4:30 pm, January 21, 2017, Blogger LOADSAMUSICS ARCHIVES said...

Should read Keith Lavery .... Google corrections strikes again ..

At 4:58 pm, January 22, 2017, Blogger LOADSAMUSICS ARCHIVES said...

I also acted on stage in a little production put on there.
Had to get a very unpopular chap Cartledge ? to march out ..
Left right left right etc ..
That got a huge cheer because of his lack of popularity.

I also seem to remember someone absconding..
And going nowhere..!!
They hid in the attic of the Chapel ..
Someone gave them food.
The idea was to wait for the local police to assume he had got further away,
so that no one would be looking for him locally..

At 9:29 pm, February 02, 2017, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dick Evans the bearded one, taught economic hist. Funny little guy taught law in three piece suits but memorably taught us the legal maxim ' volenti non fit injuria' which I have used ever since. Neptune House 9/70- 10/71. Long stay guest.

At 7:37 pm, October 04, 2017, Anonymous Tony hudson said...

I remember you Eddie,i turned professional boxer when i left and now live in Romford

At 12:34 am, October 05, 2017, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony Hudson

I was in Neptune from July 1971 to July 1972 ..
Was captain of Basketball team ..

Incase you never had it ...
Here’s a record of your boxing career !!!

date opponent w-l-d
last 6
location result
1977-10-17 Tony Poole 22 9 1 World Sporting Club, Mayfair L KO

vacant BBBofC Southern Area Super Welterweight Title
1977-09-08 Joergen Hansen 48 11 0 Idraetshuset, Copenhagen L PTS

1977-08-01 Jim Moore 12 30 0 Town Hall, Hove W PTS

1977-05-02 Albert Hillman 14 3 1 Manor Place Baths, Walworth W PTS

BBBofC Southern Area Super Welterweight Title
1977-02-14 Roy Commosioung 14 14 5 Manor Place Baths, Walworth W PTS

1976-12-20 Mick Minter 5 4 2 Manor Place Baths, Walworth W PTS

1976-11-22 Mick Minter 5 3 2 Manor Place Baths, Walworth W PTS

1976-09-20 Terry Schofield 7 13 4 Manor Place Baths, Walworth W PTS

1976-05-18 Keith Bundy 4 5 1 Manor Place Baths, Walworth W TKO

1976-03-23 Mickey Morse 4 3 0 York Hall, Bethnal Green L PTS

1976-01-27 Les Wint 4 4 2 York Hall, Bethnal Green W PTS

1975-12-02 Les Wint 4 3 2 York Hall, Bethnal Green W PTS

1975-11-25 Eric Purkis debut Royal Albert Hall, Kensington W PTS

1975-11-12 Ray Murray 0 2 0 York Hall, Bethnal Green W PTS

1975-10-27 Mick Hampston 2 6 1 Manor Place Baths, Walworth W PTS

1975-09-22 Mick Hampston 2 5 1 Manor Place Baths, Walworth W PTS

At 12:19 pm, April 02, 2018, Anonymous Steve D. said...

Hi i was in Gaynes hall 1969-early 1971 in Neptune house Went onto the bricklaying course Peter Wale Was the instructor. I can remember a boy named Leidwith and Aberhahams who were also on the course.I passed my city and guilds when i got out never looked back
Things i still remember. One boy put shaving cream round the door handle and when the officer went to open the door. Every night just after lights out it was everybody up out for run till
he owned up .Anybody new were convinced that they had to take the fire bucket out on parade and you would hear take it back and everyone would laugh. another boy lifted a manhole cover and 4 cats ran out into the dorm one boy reached under the bed to pick it up and it tore his hand to bits. I was trying my hand at golf once trying to hit a golf ball with a putter swinging as hard as i could when Andy Copland walked up side of me the club hit him he went down on his knees blood everywhere he was in hospital for a week lots more wine making ect could write a book So I will stop there for now.

At 6:39 pm, April 24, 2018, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there from late 72 for 5 months. I'd done 5 months waiting for my appeal against a three year sentence and it got reduced to Borstal training and the governor decided that I shouldn't have to go through the normal tie upgrade system seeing as I was already over 21 on arrival (the appeal court treated my age as the age I was originally sentenced).

I was in the house on the "other" side, separate from the other two houses. Dorm One, I think it was, next to the screws' office. There was a guy called Dave from High Wycombe there, I think he was the dorm leader, another guy called Ken B. I remember 2 other guys from other houses, Mick G and John B.

Mr Crocker-White was one of the screws I remember. Mr Marriot was the governor of one of the houses.

I went back once on the next Open Day but never again.

At 4:54 pm, April 28, 2018, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spent from sep70to may71in GH ended up dorm leader in Nep 2 remember quite a few of the lads names especially the ones in the rugby team as I played the whole season in the front row with Rod Hill great geezer worked out he was only four years older than me

At 8:46 pm, April 28, 2018, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve D i was stood behind Andy Copeland the day you rearranged his face with a driver I was still on able tie and either you or him were supposed to be showing the recepo around,I was in Nep 2 later went on to be dorm leader boz Gower was oic great feller doyou remember Billy and Barry H two brothers can remember loads of names but don't know if theyd like to see their names here,take care

At 6:46 am, April 30, 2018, Blogger Kris Gray said...

Hi Anon

You say you were there till May '71, I was there Jan 71 - sept 71 in Jupiter. You mention Rod Hill, he was our dorm officer for Dorm Agro (remember that?) I met up with him a few years ago on his 70th birthday party, still a great geezer as you so rightly say.

If you've seen my previous posts I wrote a book called 'Two's Up' about GH and last year it was filmed, very loosely based on my book, as 'Borstal' and now available from Amazon on DVD. It's very low budget and baring very little resemblance to my story but you get the feel of it.

All ex GH boys are welcome to write to me

At 9:49 am, April 30, 2018, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kris have been in touch with you a few times I have your book ,film i changed your banknotes for you when I was out playing rugby but had to ask rod hills permission only allowed to do it because it was yours but had to get rod a print out of it also believe i left one of the few Zippos with you when I was discharged and did I not offer you the major grovel of looking after the aviary?B.G

At 8:34 am, May 03, 2018, Blogger Steve D said...

Steve.D. Hi Anonymous
I also was in Neptune 2 as well, The dorm leader as i recall came from Southend, yes i do remember the brothers also some of the others by nickname. Taffy who had no front teeth always laughing and joking. Tank who was strong as an ox 3 of us would sit on the end of a bed and he would get under the bed and bench press us into the air. Paddy Farr
Do you remember the night watchman use to come round every 2 hours to check every body was still in bed. There were 3 red lights down the middle of the dorm which were Kept on all night and the doors at each end were half glazed. One night we tied cotton onto the light bulbs, unlatched the door tied a piece of string around handle and waited for the night watchman everyone was pretending to be asleep as he got up to the door it flew open and the lights were swinging in all directions. He grabbed his torch and followed the string to a boys bed then stormed off . after about 20m he came back with a screw then it was every body up and out for half hour run. That went on every night for a week we must have been the fittest dorm on the block


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