Preston Tech boy who bowled to Lawry at lunchtimes and played with Barassi on weekends.
Neil Hinchcliffe attended Preston Technical School from 1949-51. His father and grandfather were carpenters but his mother had hopes of him becoming an architect. Neil, however, wanted to be a carpenter like his dad.
After attending Penders Grove Junior Technical School, Neil went to Preston Technical School in St George’s Rd for three years, and loved it. The principal at that time was the highly esteemed Mr C H Beanland, who was thanked in a staff farewell for '...your never failing consideration for, and courtesy to every member of the school', and recognised for his '... enthusiasm, wide technical knowledge, inspiring, friendly leadership and courageous approach to many problems'.
Neil thrived in this positive and enthusiastic environment. He studied solid geometry, mathematics, English, science, instrumental drawing, social studies, woodwork, engineering, sheetmetal, art and music. In addition to a range of subjects that gave students a good general education, the school also had a choir, an army cadet corps and a physical education squad.
Neil became involved in school sports, which he says were exemplary, and in 1950, when Neil was in year 9, Preston Technical School won the regional premiership for school’s football. In 1951, the first 18 football team fought for another premiership. The report in the school magazine says, ‘there were stout hearts, strong sinews, plenty of brawn and muscle, a sprinkling of tall timber and a really keen spirit’. The first semi-final was closely contested by Collingwood, ‘but again the sound defence of Neil Hinchcliffe and Garry Owen in the pockets, and Jim Skene and Jack Peterson on the flanks kept us safe’.
In 1951 the school teams won against other schools in soccer, baseball and cricket. Bill Lawry played in both the cricket and baseball teams, and Neil attributes Lawry’s later cricketing success, partly to the fact that Neil bowled to him at lunchtimes, giving him an early edge over opponents. Neil also played football on Saturdays with Ron Barassi (also a Preston Tech student), for the Preston Scouts team, in the Preston District Junior Football
Association, winning a premiership that allowed him to brag that he had played football with one of the greats of the game.
Neil’s years at Preston Technical School gave him a broad, general education and confidence in his skills and abilities. He worked for his father in the family carpentry business, and later managed the business himself. His son is now a fourth generation carpenter.
Interview with Vivien Achia.
Excerpts from Preston Technical School magazine, 1951.