THEY used to play on the school swing which hung from the old tulip tree.

That was 80 years ago and Biddy Cull and Olive Pounds, who won a scholarship to Eastleigh's former Barton Peveril Grammar School, are today still bosom pals.

They were sat side by side selling raffle tickets at the Old Bartonians annual reunion, and there was no danger of those tulip tree day memories wilting.

For not far away in the courtyard of Barton Peveril College's now state-of-the-art campus is a commemorative tulip tree.

When Biddy, 90, and Olive, 91, who both live in Bishopstoke, started at the old grammar school it was in the idyllic rural setting of Bishopstoke. They recalled that the boys were not allowed on the swing because they were too rough.

Biddy said: "There were less than 200 pupils in the school next to the old mill. They were wonderful days and there was a lovely atmosphere."

There was an orchard nearby and Olive can still remember the punishment for anyone caught scrumping apples.

She said: "You were taken into the kitchen and made to peel the apples for lunch."

Memories of the school yard came flooding back for many generations of Bartonians as they gathered for the latest reunion, which also coincides with Barton Peveril's centenary year.

Old Bartonians chairman Cecil Churcher, 77, who lives in Bishopstoke, said they now had a membership of nearly 300 and some were living in far flung corners of the world.

Through the association he had recently met up with an old school pal, John Wallace, now living in Suffolk, who he had not seen for about 60 years.

But former Southampton policeman Alan Workman, 70, who lives in Bitterne Park, has still not tracked down his old school mate.

Pointing to a picture of the class of 1947 he said: "That is me sat next to my mate, John Phillips, who I lost contact with years ago."