This scan from a glass slide by photographer Edith Howard, of 74 High Street, was kindly sent to me by David Howard (no relation) and was among a cache of some 3,000 others that were rescued when the business was sold up and the shop emptied in the 1980s.

The vast majority were portraits commissioned by private clients and some effort is being made to identify the sitters – a difficult task but at least the surnames have remained on the individual packets in which the slides were stored.

From a number that are easily dated from people, places and events, it is possible to place the entire collection pretty much in the 1932-34 era.

Andover Advertiser: A dramatic production at Andover Grammar SchoolA dramatic production at Andover Grammar School (Image: Edith Howard)

This represents the final phase when glass photographic plates were used, before the advent of acetate film superseded them.

READ MORE: The History of Andover Grammar School

This particular shot, David knew to be of a dramatic production at Andover Grammar School as it was the school that had commissioned some scenes of the play.

Having attended the school in the early 1970s, I was interested to see if I could find out a little more about it.

The most likely source to provide an answer were the editions of the School Chronicle, produced in July and December each year.

These detailed what the school was doing, together with selections of prose and poetry contributed by the pupils.

Another possible source lay in the detailed account that Miss Stella Longstaff produced – Andover Grammar School 1569-1951.

Miss Longstaff, had a formidable reputation for discipline and she relates how dramatic work was an innovation in the new school building to which both boys and girls were admitted from 1925.

However, it was difficult to induce the boys to learn dramatic parts ‘since they were prepared to do what could be done in lawful homework time, but no more.’

However, some were persuaded to act out some scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the senior party and that seems to have been a turning point, despite the jeers and comments made by those who passed through the school hall while rehearsals were on-going.

The first school production was in 1931 with J M Barrie’s ‘A Kiss for Cinderella’ but there was no stage and no money for expenses.

A stage was constructed from the 10-inch platform blocks used in the classrooms but it was very low, causing difficulties for the audience.

By 1933, a more suitable and higher stage was constructed and this was the occasion of the second school play, a now forgotten contrivance called ‘The Rising Generation’ by Wyn Weaver and Laura Leycester, whereby the two children of Mr and Mrs Entwhistle decide to dispense with parental authority and send their parents away.

The children (Warwick and Winnie) are left in the care of Puddifer the butler.

Friends are invited over to stay and a catalogue of disasters follows.

That this is the subject of the glass slide is indisputable, as the same picture is included in the edition of the School Chronicle for July 1933.

There were two performances of the play, during the evenings of February 22 and 23, to very appreciative audiences.

What was particularly successful was the stage set; all the panelling, staircase, balcony and stained-glass windows were fabricated and the School Chronicle of July 1933 reports how sad it was to see it all being taken away after the two performances.

As a reward to the cast, a trip to London was organised for April 1 where in what must have been a whirlwind of a day, they visited the London Museum, lunched at Maison Lyons in Oxford Street, walked down Regent Street and then went off to the Old Vic, where they watched Sheridan’s School for Scandal, Lady Teazle being ‘admirably played by a very young actress, Peggy Ashcroft.’

Those who went to the grammar school after 1959 will remember that the school hall (with a permanent stage) was then in the later extension to the original building, which also included most of the science and art classes upstairs.

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The extension was tastefully designed and of some architectural merit with its stone pillars and classical features.

I believe the old school hall where ‘The Rising Generation’ would have been performed, was in fact later designated the drama room, centrally-placed between the two wings of the original building.

The imagination is not bound by physical impossibilities and there must be thousands of us who can still ‘drift’ around the school and see its features as they were, during our time there - the fields, the tennis courts, the gym, the swimming pool, the assortment of classrooms, the corridors, the staircases, the school hall and even the long-disused air raid shelters –  still we are able to keep it alive in our mind’s eye, even when it is all long gone.

If you are interested in local history, why not join Andover History and Archaeology Society? Details can be found at