‘Tickle Toby’ canings at Lancing College

Lancing College has produced many famous sons — and many of them were in the vintage sixth form of 1921.

A leading light was Brideshead Revisited author Evelyn Waugh who wrote about his Lancing days in his autobiography, A Little Learning.

He remembered especially trips with his parents to Brighton at half-term, and the lunches he had at the Metropole Hotel.

At Lancing his classmates included Tom Driberg, who became a leading journalist and then an independent MP during the Second World War.

Another personality was Sir Max Mallowan, distinguished archaeologist and husband of crime writer Agatha Christie.

The class of ’21 were lucky to avoid Cuthbert Blakiston, known as “The Blacker”, who was headmaster from 1925 to 1934.

Although popular with many of the boys, his raging bursts of temper, known as “purplers”, helped bring about a decline in the school’s numbers.

As well as spending £400,000 of the school’s money on a mansion for himself on the grounds, his violent spells were notorious.

Once he was said to have thrown a pupil down a flight of stairs and one member of staff was so traumatised after Blakiston threw a chair at him in a rage that he had to spend two days in a sanatorium.

On top of the head’s temper, controversial remarks he made at a British Medical Association dinner did nothing for the school’s reputation.

Newspapers widely reported his speech, which claimed the “boy of today” was a “liar, a thief and a peacock — afraid to be alone, afraid to seek his fortune, quite tame and afraid of pain”.


But Lancing College was also a trailblazer in many ways, and was one of the first schools in the country to abolish the cane, in 1982.

Head teacher James Woodhouse said: “You have to obtain the trust and respect of your pupils and get to know them well. If you have that, then caning is a bit outmoded.”

One ex-Lancing pupil wrote to The Argus with memories of “six of the best”.

He said: “Old Pongo, our housemaster, used to keep his right arm strength up by practising out on the cricket field. He used to tell us that he was just going to tap our tail.”

A similar euphemism was used by the science master, who called his cane “Tickle Toby the Bum Bruiser”.