Mary Hare History - Lumpy Custard
Deaf school children playing music

Lumpy Custard winning name of competition

Lumpy Custard 1977 thumbnail
Lumpy Custard 1977 Jam Session

Lumpy Custard was a school band formed in 1975 at Mary Hare Grammar School, soon after music was taught as a subject.

Prior to 1975 there was no education for teaching music to deaf pupil at the school. Rather, there were singing lessons, with the class gathered around a piano, and singing from "The Scout’s Songbook". There was no attempt to teach anyone to sing, pupils were just left to get on with it.

When Mr. Pearce succeed Mr. Askew as Principal in 1973, music as a subject replaced singing, and this was now actual education - something was taught. Mr. Fawkes, who was Deputy Principal, taught music, he being able to play the piano and organ well. A small number of pupils learnt to play the piano, guitar, and recorder.

This coincided with an overhaul of songs sung at morning assemblies. Under Mr. Askew, one hymn was sung out of a hymn book. With the reform of singing and music under the new Mr. Pearce regime, a selection of popular christian songs were introduced, such as "When The Saints Come Marching In", "Amazing Grace", "Morning Has Broken", and "Dominque".

There have always been deaf and partially hearing pupils able to hear and appreciate pop music, and every evening records were played in the common rooms, the main genres being rock, soul, glam, and chart pop. As soon as some pupils were able to play the guitar, there were some who wanted to play recreationally, a step up from merely listening to music. And so a school band was formed.

Martin Williams and Robert Nolan acquired electric guitars, and Mark Shaw who already received lessons on drums during holidays, was to play drums on a drum kit bought by the school.

There was a school competition for the name for the first school band, and "Lumpy Custard" being the winning name, was duly adopted as the band’s name.

Ian Allchin, a Mary Hare alumni, described to me the origin of the Lumpy Custard name:

I can tell you that a young Mr Paul Mills was the winner of the competition. The name was thought of by Paul because of an incident on a Saturday lunchtime. Here's the story:

At the time, there was a new cook and it was her first Saturday in Mansell House. The breakfast was okay but dinner was delayed by at least 15 minutes. The main course was okayish, I think the vegetables were cold. It was the dessert that capped it for us and she never worked for the school again!

It was Manchester tart (remember this? Jam tart with a layer of custard and a sprinkling of dessicated coconut on top). The tart came without the custard! The custard followed some 10 minutes later in jugs. John Turner (I think) was the first person to pour and it came out in stodgy lumps as did all the custard in the other jugs. Colin Stubbings got a bowlful of it to take to the prefect’s office with intent to complain to Mike Kell later that day. He put it out for the birds and they ignored it!

Paul obviously had this in mind when it came to choosing a name for the band. It was most appropriate as the girls and the teachers had heard about the pudding that never was.

Two classic songs that the group performed (amongst others) were John Denver’s "Rocky Mountain High", and Rolling Stone’s "(Can’t Get No)Satisfaction", played with some considerable verve!

The line-up changed after Martin William and Robert Nolan left in 1976.

Lumpy Custard 1977
Photo: Unknown
Lumpy Custard 1977
David Nelson (Drums), Mark Shaw (vocal), Martin Belton (Guitar), Richard Cole (Guitar)
Georgina Courtenay-Mayer (Tambourine), Alison Mayers (Tambourine)

Here is what Richard Cole a former band member said of the new 1977 line-up:

The new band members who came in after Martin Williams and Robert Nolan had left MHGS, were Martin Belton (guitar), Mark Shaw (vocal - he was, however, the drummer in the original group) and myself (guitar) - I am sure that there were more, possibly David Nelson (drummer?). I also believe that Alison and Georgina from my year were involved as well.

The new Lumpy Custard sang very similar songs to the original group, such as John Denver’s "Rocky Mountain High" - we actually performed this song on TV South, the regional TV company at the time for the South of England!! We also performed at other "out of school" locations - from memory, such as at the main Parish Church in Newbury (not at Shaw Church) during a local schools’ carol service (where we got the biggest applause out of all the schools performing there!!!), the local (and world famous) Nanny college where Bill Fawke’s wife worked.

Lumpy Custard 1976
Lumpy Custard 1976 : Mark Shaw (Drums),
Martin Williams (Guitar), Robert Nolan (Guitar)
Photo: Martin Williams