From a tiny room at Ardleigh Green College last week came the rasping sound of a fine toothed saw and the dull sound of a well honed axe.
Then, suddenly, a man wearing a white coat dashed out carrying parts of a dismembered body. But this was no emergency operation, for seven day release students were hacking their way rough a meat cutting exam.
The seven boys - all aged 17 - were taking Institute of Meat Basic Craft certificates, and this was the practical side of the test.
Carefully watched by two master butchers and a member of the Advisory Committee at the college they dissected whole lambs, and removed from the bone of a hefty chunk beef.
With clinical adeptness their young hands neatly boned and rolled, stuck and cut, until the mountainous shapes of meat were pared into joints fit for the oven.
The "meat" course is one of many run by the Hornchurch College of Further Education, and the principal, Mr. A. E. Ebdon, said there were still vacancies for the next session.
The object of the course - which is 50 per cent practical - is to fit youngsters out for the butchering trade, and to help prepare them for managerial and executive positions.
They also learn Science and English, spending one after-noon and two evenings a week in the hands of lecturers and meat craftsmen.
"English is essential. They learn how to express what they are doing, prepare written examinations, and speak to the housewife customers," said Mr. Ebdon.
Meanwhile, back in the saw-dust scattered class room it seemed a bit gruesome seeing seven brawny lads chopping away at dead animals with axes.
But they seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it!