Hampstead class of 1961 goes back to school for 50th reunion

Hampstead School’s original class of 1961 joined former pupils taking a trip back down memory lane to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Ex-pupils shared stories of political protests, old teachers, and the high jinx they got up to behind the bike sheds at the school gathering in Westbere Road, Cricklewood.

Among them were brothers Robin Hunte, 62, Colin Hunte, 60 and Garth Hunte, 59, who became some of Hampstead School’s first pupils after their parents moved to London from Trinidad in 1961.

Robin said: “We came from Trinidad and this was my first ever school. It was quite different from what I was used to – a lot colder for one thing.

“I didn’t get in to much trouble during my schooldays, but I was once caught behind the bike sheds having a smoke.

“The moment we lit up a senior teacher caught us. I got caned and have never touched a cigarette since.” A champion sprinter at school, Robin added: “I want to see if I still hold the record for the 100 yard sprint – that is what we called it in those days. I ran it in 10.5 seconds and I know I held it for a few years at least so I’m crossing my fingers it’s still my record.”

For his brother, the get-together held the tantalising prospect of rekindling those all-important first loves.

Most Read

Colin said: “I remember one girl called Margaret Phelps, I really adored her. I would tap her on the shoulder and then give her a kiss. I think I’d give her a kiss if I saw her here tonight.”

Founded in 1961 as a secondary modern, Hampstead School became one of the country’s first comprehensives, and won a reputation for its progressive attitude to education.

During its early years a generation of teenagers were swept up in radical student protests, and pupils at Hampstead School were no exception.

Diana Robin, a pupil from 1971-1975, said: “We held a demo where we burnt the school tie and in 1973 we got rid of the school uniform altogether.”

Producing her own 1974 “Red Diary”, in which she had dutifully detailed all the homework she was set, she added: “Chairman Mao’s little red book was doing the rounds at the time, and that inspired us to get rid of the uniform.

“We were all pretty political back then.”

* For a more in depth report on the school’s history see the Ham&High’s education magazine free with this week’s paper.