Ian Hendry’s Ipswich School Days – Alan Gibson Reflects On Being School Friends With Ian Hendry In The Early 1940s [Audio]

Picture above: Alan Gibson and Ian Hendry both wearing Staff Seargeant Williams’ hat from the film,  The Hill [1965].

Alan Gibson + Friends – Alan chats about his friendship with Ian Hendry and their Ipswich School days in the 1940s, with myself, my sister and his partner Penny.

Click the play button below to hear the recording:

Note: Further information and an update on the ‘hayloft’, mentioned in this recording, is included in the article below.


It’s been quite a year for people contacting me and mentioning that they knew Ian Hendry at different stages of his life.

Recently, I was contacted by Julie, the daughter of David Perkes. David retold his story to me about how he had inspired a young 18 year old Ian Hendry, into forming a motorcyle display team, during their time together on National Service in Aberdeen Scotland.

You can read more about that here:

David Perkes + Ian Hendry – National Service Motorcycle Display Team [1949-1951]

At around the same time, I also received an email from Alan Gibson and his partner Penny, which also came ‘out of the blue’.

Alan mentioned that he met Ian and became friends during their time together at Ipswich School in the early 40s, when they were both just 13 years old!

This is Alan’s story…

Alan Gibson + Ian Hendry – Ipswich School Years [1938-1944]

When Alan Gibson first contacted me back in September 2017, it caught me by complete surprise. Here was someone who became friends with Ian Hendry when they were both just 13 years old. Here was a connection to Ian’s childhood,  over 70+ years ago. Quite remarkable.

Aside from a few anecdotes from within the family,  I knew of nobody that could recall any memories of Ian from his time at Ipswich School. Even when Gabriel Hershman carried out his detailed reseach into his life for the biography, ‘Send In The Clowns – The Yo Yo Life Of Ian Hendry’ he had to rely on material from Ipswich School archive. And given the lack of any first-hand accounts, it is not surprising that after so many years had passed, that some of the facts had become somewhat ‘lost in translation’.

In Alan’s first email to me, he was keen to put the record straight. Aside from being a friend of Ian’s during their early teenage years, Alan has also been a volunteer archivist at Ipswich School. Together with his partner, Penny, they have kindly helped to source material included in this article, which helps to paint a picture of how life was at that time  in Ipswich and at Ipswich School, for both him and Ian in the early 1940’s. My hope is that this article will help to redress the balance and to fill in some more of the missing details of Ian’s life.

Ian was at Ipswich School from 1938 until 1944. In January 1945 he went to Culford School where he remained as a boarder until the time he left in December 1947. This period in Ian’s life is covered in the article below:

Ian Hendry – Culford School Years + Sports Day [1945-1947]

Ian’s time at Ipswich School, coincided with the years of second world war. As a result of rationing and cutbacks, there seems to be no school student or class photographs taken during this time. The picture below, from three  years earlier in 1935, is the closest thing I have to a school age picture of Ian, aged 4.

Ian Hendry (On Bike)_Family 1935 Dedham Vale

Picture: [l-r, back row] Edith Rushton [Grandmother], Enid Hendry [Mother], Donald Hendry [Brother], James ‘Jim’ Hendry [Father], George Rushton [Grandfather], Dedham [1935]. Ian Hendry on his bicycle outside his Grandparents home.

He began at Ipswich School’s Preparatory Department in 1938 [Prep’ Schoo], which would have meant he was 7 at the time. This raises the question of where he went to school from ages 5-7 and I will see what I can find out.

Picture: The Preparatory Department, Ipswich School, facing Ivry Street; where Ian Hendry first started at the School, in 1938.

Picture: Block of classrooms facing Ivry Street, Ipswich School. Completed in the 1930s, most of Ian’s lessons whilst in the Upper School, were taken here.

A Call Is Arranged

Following on from our initial email exchanges, I called Alan, so that we could chat more about his memories.

It was more than a little surreal for both of us. For Alan, it was a connection to his past after more than 70 years. For myself, it was connection in the present to a past that I knew little about. It was as though we had both entered into our own virtual time-machines and revisted a very different time.

Alan Gibson + Friends – In His Own Words [Audio/ Podcast]

Following on from our chat we arranged to meet up at Alan and Penny’s home in Suffolk and they both agreed we could record our conversation, so that it could be then shared here with our readers. In the end our ‘chat’ extended to some 4+ hours! The podcast recording below is the edited highlights. It includes Alan, Penny, my sister Sue and yours truly.

The initial aim was to edit the recording so that you could just hear Alan. But then I realised that it would be impossible to dientangle the various voices, remarks and my ramblings and anecdotes! Technology is clearly not that advanced, yet.

So instead, I give you an afternoon chat with the four of us, complete with cups of tea, cake and all!

The edited recording is still quite long, about 2 hours in total. It includes Alan’s recollections of  his early life in Ipswich, being friends with Ian, the war years, as well as my sister and I discussing some of our memories of Ian and the family; how the biography ‘Send In The Clowns’ evolved, the creation of this website and how I became involved in all of this, way back in 2011.

I think Alan’s stories and anecdotes about Ian are fascinating and give a rare glimpse into another time and place. They also seem to mirror some of the same characteristics that David Perkes mentioned, when I discussed him knowing Ian a few years later, when both were doing National Service in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Alan’s anecdotes include:

  • Climbing trees with Ian
  • Scout camps
  • Playing football in Christchurch Park, Ipswich
  • School days and school masters
  • A retirement gift for a teacher
  • And bumping into Ian several years in Ipswich, after Ian had started work but before he went to drama school.

Click the play button below to hear the recording:

Recording update – further information on the ‘hayloft’: Since recording this conversation, Penny and Alan have provided me with some further details. In Ian Hendry’s ‘This Is Your Life’ [March 1978], my father retells the story of how Ian, who was just 11 year old at the time, had used an old hayloft on the Norwich Road in Ipswich to stage a play; which Ian both wrote and naturally starred in!

The “hayloft”was at the back of no. 245 Norwich Road and had a frontage onto Brooks Hall Lane and not Richmond Road as suggested.  Numbers 243 and 245 Norwich Road are a semi-detached pair of late Victorian villas and in the 1940’s no. 245 had a shop front to Norwich Road and was known as the ‘Norwich Road Post Office and Newsagent’.  It was kept by a Mr Bell whose son Keith was at Ipswich School in the same form as Ian and was a keen Boy Scout.  Sadly, the hayloft is no more, with the land now being occupied by a small car park and a number of houses, probably built in the 1960’s. From the photographs below, however, it seems the post box may still remain.


Picture above: 245 Norwich Road. In the 1940s it was the location of ‘Norwich Road Post Office and Newsagent’. The Post Office is no more, but a post box still remains.

Picture above: Aerial view of the Norwich Road/ Brooks Hall Road junction in Ipswich. A small car park now occupies the land in the vicinity of where the ‘old hayloft’ once stood.


Alan Gibson Wearing The Army Hat Worn By Ian Hendry In ‘The Hill’ [1965]

Picture: Alan Gibson wearing the army hat, worn by Ian Hendry for the part of Staff Sergeant Williams in The Hill [1965. Dir. Sidney Lumet].

Picture: Ian Hendry, wearing the same hat in The Hill [1965]. With Harry Andrews and Sean Connery.

Alan shouldn’t be concerned, though, as this hat didn’t fit me either! Read more:

Ian Hendry – Staff Sergeant Williams’ Hat – The Hill [1965]


Ipswich School – A Glimpse Back In Time

The pictures below give a feel for how school-life would have been for both Ian and Alan at Ipswich School in the 1940s; they are also an important record of the social history of that time.

Alan and Penny also sent me copies from Ipswich School, Ipswichian Magazine from the time that he, Ian and my father were there. Although Ian was sporty [see Hendry (i)], it seems that it was my father who was, in fact, more prolific [see Hendry (ii)]!


For those interested in history, here is a brief overview:

Ipswich School – A Brief History

The oldest record that may refer to the school in Ipswich goes back to 1399, in a legal dispute over unpaid fees. The first recorded mention of a grammar school in Ipswich is 1416. The school was likely set up by the Merchant Guild of Ipswich, which became the Guild of Corpus Christi. The sons of the ruling burgesses were educated for a fee, and the sons of nobility and gentry could attend at higher fees.

From 1483 the school moved to a house bequeathed by ex-pupil Richard Felaw, a merchant and politician. His will also provided rental income for the school and stated that, for Ipswich children, only those parents with income over a certain amount should pay fees.

In 1528, building work began on an ambitious project for a ‘college’ school in Ipswich to rival the likes of Eton College. Thomas Wolsey, Cardinal Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor of England, funded his ‘College of St Mary’ by ”suppressing’ local religious houses such as Rumburgh Priory. Ipswich school was incorporated into the college. Wolsey, who was from Ipswich and may have attended Ipswich school, intended the new institution to be a feeder to his recently built ‘Cardinal’s College’ of Oxford University, which is now known as Christ Church. However, Wolsey fell out of favour with King Henry VIII and the college in Ipswich was demolished in 1530 while still half-built. The school pupils returned to Felaw’s house.

The Cardinal’s School was in St Peter’s Street where Wolsey’s Gateway still exists. It was to have been surmounted by a tower similar to the Tom Tower at Christchurch Oxford, Wolsey’s other foundation with which he intended Ipswich to be linked. The Tower at the existing Ipswich School building in Henley Road is a copy of this. Another interesting anecdotes is that during the second world war parents who would otherwise have sent their boys to the School as boarders were deterred from doing so believing that the Tower would make a good target for German bombers.

The play Henry VIII by William Shakespeare mentions the two colleges during a recounting of the life of Cardinal Wolsey; it was the college of Oxford University that outlasted him and became widely known:

‘Those twins of learning that he rais’d in you,
Ipswich and Oxford! One of which fell with him,
Unwilling to outlive the good that did it;
The other, though unfinish’d, yet so famous’

After Wolsey’s downfall in 1530, his former ally Thomas Cromwell ensured the survival of the School by securing for it a new endowment from King Henry VIII and the status of a royal foundation. This was confirmed by Queen Elizabeth I in the charter that she granted to the School in 1566. For part of the School’s history it was known as Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Ipswich. The School’s coat of arms and motto, Semper Eadem (Always the Same), are those of Elizabeth I. The Monarch of the United Kingdom, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the School’s Visitor.

In 1614 the school moved across the road to the Blackfriar’s refectory. During the reign of James I part of the Blackfriars Monastery was appropriated for use as a classroom, and the Blackfriars remained the School’s home until 1842 when the building was deemed to be unsafe. For a few years teaching was carried on in temporary premises in Lower Brook Street. In 1851 Prince Albert laid the foundation stone for the School’s first purpose-built premises in Henley Road, and by 1852 the new buildings were in use. The School has remained on the Henley Road site ever since.

Picture: Ipswich School facing the Arboretum [1851]. The is how it would also have looked to Ian in the 1930s.

An intereting anecdote is that The Prince Consort laid the foundation stone to the Henley Road building in 1851, a day of great celebration in the town and the Ceremony was watched by about 12,000 people, which was approximately half the population of Ipswich at that time!

Picture: Truman Tanqueray – Ipswich School Headmaster [1933-1955]. The Headmaster during the time that Alan, Ian and my father were at Ipswich School.

Picture: ‘Big School’ by Martin Squirrell – Ipswich School [1949]

Picture: Ipswich School Chapel [c.1940-1950]


Picture: ‘The Chemical Laboratory’. Seeing Chemistry classes, with Ian using these Bunsen burners, would have been interesting!


Picture: The Woodwork Workshop, Ipswich School [1940-1950]

Picture: The Gymnasium, Ipswich School [c.1940s -1950]


Picture: The Victorian Swimming Pool, Ipswich School [c.1040-1950]


Picture: Cricket Pavilion, Ipswich School playing fields, Henley Road, Ipswich [1938]

Picture: Cricket Square, Ipswich School playing fields, Henley Road, Ipswich [c.1938]


Ipswich School – Illustrated London News, November 12th 1960.

The following article is from The Illustarted London News which was published on 12th November 1960. Whilst it is from a few years later, it will still give a glimpse of the daily life at the school that Alan and ian would have experienced.

Final Words – Alan Gibson – Ipswich School Archive

Picture: Alan Gibson working as a volunteer in Ipswich School Archive [2003]


It’s been a fascinating year with some wonderful highlights. Being able to chat with David Perkes, andhis daughter Julie, as well as meeting up with Alan Gibson and Penny have been at the top of that long list. Thanks again, for sharing your stories with me and allowing me to share them on this website.

Thanks also to you all for following and supporting the website and Facebook page this year. I wish you a very Happy New Year and may 2018 bring you the best of health and much happiness.



Feel free to connect with us on Facebook and / or Twitter:

Ian Hendry Appreciation Society – Facebook Page


Ian Hendry Tribute – On Twitter

Until next time,

Neil Hendry
Editor, Official Tribute To Ian Hendry

Further Reading

A detailed account of the life and work of Ian Hendry in the new biography:

Read: ‘Send in the Clowns – The Yo Yo Life Of Ian Hendry’ by Gabriel Hershman

Send In The Clowns - The Yo Yo Life of Ian Hendry













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