Tuesday, January 31, 2012

International Youth Service (Pen Friends) 1960

This article is from The Boarder Issue 4 1961


The International Youth Service is commonly known as the Pen Friend Service. It's headquarters are in Turko, Finland and it has connections with a large number of countries in both hemispheres, from which pen friends are available. Young people between the ages of 10 and 25 can be supplied with pen friends within a matter of days from almost any of the countries where the world's postal service operates. Millions of young people all over the world keep up correspondence with each other and writing to England is very popular as many foreign members of the service are anxious to improve their English.

Why correspondence like this has reached such proportions can be explained very easily. Firstly, young people in all civilised countries are very interested in the habits of people in other countries; secondly by correspondence, they can very easily learn a new language; and thirdly, when travelling abroad one never has too many acquaintances.

This service was first introduced into the school in 1960, when Form Lower Three of that year were asked if they were interested in having pen friends from abroad. I was asked to take charge of the applicant's forms and contact the Youth Service. Shortly after forwarding the applications I had a reply from Finland giving the names and addresses of boys and girls who were willing to write to boys in the school.

In 1961 I had another letter from the International Youth Service asking if I knew of any other boys who would like pen friends and enclosing application forms. Soon I managed to complete a list of boys who wanted pen friends, although there was some hesitation in finding the three shillings membership fee! As this money had to be sent in the form of International Postal reply coupons i caused some embarrassment in the village post office when I quietly asked for three dozen International reply Coupons. The Post Office, which had probably sold one of these in the last ten years kept only a small stock, a very small stock..Kidderminster General Post Office was later able to help us.

Over the following months i began to see examples of letters which arrived from young people abroad. Some of their attempts at writing English were very funny, although there were occasions when corrections were made by children in Japan and Sweden to our own English!! Here are a few examples of extracts from letters received by boys in the school; they are still wondering about the meanings!!

"I have a big nose, a very big nose, but not quite a small nose."

"I wish you a write good interspace. I go not into the country."

"Have you heard that one man has been in the Wideness? I think it is very miraculous"

"Perhaps when we are old we can from earth to the moon. Perhaps we shall meet there...."

"My teacher's classes are square, and she wears very modern clothes."

"This quarter we shall not have the bullet because the teachers are on strike..."

" Do you love Bardot and if you love her I will send you a photo..."

"I am sorry i cannot send you a photo but I have now dropped it in the duck pond."

Finally there is the promise

"I will speak you in English in my next letter."

It is always the interest in what will come in the next letter which keeps this correspondance going. I would think Finland and sweden are the two most popular countries for pen friends. Most boys in the school prefer to write to girls abroad.

If you would like a pen friend, or you would like some forms to get your friends some pen friends, send a letter to the following address;
International Youth service, Turko, Finland.
Happy Correspondence Pen friend
J. Starling - Form Lower 111 (1961)

Youth Hosteling in the Peak District - 1961

This article is from The Boarder, Issue 4, July 1961

Youth Hosteling in the Peak District - 1961 - J. Starling Form Lower 111

Chatsworth House
On 11th June Form Lower 11, under the good guidance of Mr. Foy and Mr. Cox, left school for a five day survey of the Peak District. Amidst considerable excitement boys and equipment struggled into the two cars and on a sunny morning we set off.

The two cars stopped en route at Chatsworth House. We were shown round the house and gardens which impressed us favourably - and then onwards again, into Derbyshire, and at last we arrived at Castleton Youth hostel.

On Monday we were taken to Blue John Mines, the scene of Conan Doyle's famous story The Terror of the Blue John Gap. This is the only place in the country where Blue John Stone is found; our guide suggested that the original monster of Conan Doyle's story might be found too.....
Blue John Mine
Blue John Stone

On Tuesday we made a farm survey and in the afternoon we made drawings of churches which was all very easy for those who could draw.

On Wednesday we had to make our way to Edale and then make a survey of the area and the next day we visited Ladybower Reservoir - a visit to which we had all looked forward. we were shown round by a guide and informed of the remarkable efficiency of the pumping system.

The next day our trip was scheduled to end. We had one final visit to make as a detour on our return journey. When we reached Matlock bath, we were taken to the Height's of Abraham and we went into Rutland Cavern where lead was mined by the Romans. Then came the long journey back to school...and work.

Heights of Abraham cable cars - Matlock

Rutland Cavern - Heights of Abraham

Friday, January 27, 2012

France 1960 - Description of a School Trip

From The Boarder, Issue 4, July 1961

On board the TSS Halladale we took our last glance at England and then set foot on French soil. France! land of poets and music, of wine and song, of countless battles - and now this land was ours for the last fourteen days of August 1960.

The camp sites were good, the shopkeepers were friendly, the castles and churches numerous, the roads were.....well, typically French.

Our route took us from Calais to Paris via Amiens, at which place the photographers took advantage of the sun and the lovely cathedral, built in a style to be repeated many times at Paris, Chartres, Bayeux and Rouen, although none of these reached the splendour of Amiens.

Paris! With P. Johnson and myself as co-drivers of the two cars we saw the city, stopping at cafes, its shops, its monuments, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, its churches of Notre Dame and the Sacre Coeur, and we received a brief and general impression of life in a foreign city.

We went from Paris to Versailles, to Chateaubrun, along Loire valley, to Le Mans, and then spent a few days in the Suisse Normande. Normandy is very hilly and scenery is superb. In this area butter and milk are very cheap and so featured prominently in our cooking experiments. In Normandy we found time to dine with friends and we ate solidly for nearly three hours! The exact number of courses is unknown; according to R Greenaway and B Slater it was between eight and twelve. Anyway it was a lot and it was good.

At Grenville we camped on the same beaches that saw the invasion of June 1944. But now they seem very peaceful. we made a trip to Mt. St. Michel by its only approach by land which is surrounded with quicksands and then went to Bayeux, made famous by its tapestry which was woven by Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror. we also saw the birthplace of William at Falaise. Rouen, where Joan d'arc was burned was our last visiting place and then we were on the road for Calais and home.

We said goodbye to France on the french ship Compiegne and were soon back in England, where they drink tea instead of wine and sell apples at 1/6d a pound instead of grapes at about 1/6d for over two pounds. But at least the roads were better.

by A Batt Form Upper 111

And here are some illustrations of their journey through France.

In this life-size statue of these men, Rodin dwells on their feelings or gestures, and on the way their shirts hang. Instead of putting them up on a pedestal, he represents them among us, humble and level with us. After the victory at Crécy (26th of August 1346), king Edward III of England established in front of Calais a bridgehead where he set up his Court, entertaining his people with festivities while patiently besieging Calais. He thus managed to starve the inhabitants into surrendering on the 4th of August 1347.

The burghers of Calais with ropes round their necks.
Six local worthies, the so-called Burghers of Calais, namely Eustache de Saint-Pierre, Pierre and Jacques de Wissant, Jean d’Aire, Jean de Fiennes and Andrieux d’Ardres gave themselves up as hostages in order for the King to spare their surviving fellow-citizens. But his wife, Queen Philippa of Hainaut, eventually prevailed upon the King to pardon the brave hostages ready to be hanged. The inhabitants were nevertheless driven out of Calais, which remained an English Town until it was taken back by François de Guise in 1558.

Rodin’s memorial was inaugurated on June 2nd. 1895 on the place where there had been ramparts, mostly pulled down after the union of Calais and St-Pierre.

Amiens Cathedral

Paris - Sacre Coeur

 Suisse Normande
Granville invasion

Mt St Michel

Bayeux - tapestry (Section) by Matilda - wife of William the Conquoror

The Statue of William, Duke of Normandy at Falaise

Rouen - Joan of Arc

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Shows and Musicals 1960 - 61

These reviews are taken from The Boarder - School Magazine Issue 4 July 1961


Tension mounted during the two weeks preceding the performance of the first Music Hall. The idea was put to the Entertainments Committee by Mr Lovatt and it was decided that each house was to provide a number of Variety acts and Mr Thomas and Mr Cox were invited to produce a complete show from the available material. A Minstrel Group was formed to provide a theme for the show and to help link the acts. They were given the traditional black faces and straw hats, all of which was aimed at obtaining the proper atmosphere. Basically Olde Tyme Music Hall. The staff also added to the atmosphere by their presence in the auditorium.
Nor did the staff content themselves with being in the audience : we had Mr Cox as Master of ceremonies, complete with white tie, tails and outsize mustache - the latter at lest for some of the time - and he had the audience in fits of laughter between the acts. Mr Foy and Mr Cox sang Underneath the Arches or at least made an effort at doing so. Wearing battered trousers, ragged raincoats and with drooping cigarettes, their appearance was reminiscent of  Flanders and Allen, the significance of which was, for the most part, lost on their youthful audience. Needless to say they were a hit as was Mr Chopping with his lecture on present day pop music.

From the boys was had Yates and Graham topping the bill as Mr Lockiter and Mr Bones indulging in Soft-shoe  and from Dudley we saw a rio of roof-raisers in Smith, Hodkinson and M. Brown. They were dressed as policemen and sang The Bold Gendarmes. This was extremely comical because Brown and Smith are both about six feet tall and Hodkinson who stood between them was about three feet tall.

During the interval the Red Robins under the direction of Mr Foy, excelled themselves, playing for the audience to sing with them such old tunes as You are my Honeysuckle, Just like Ivy, Lily of Laguna, Don't Dilly Dally, and others. Our thanks are due to Mrs Oxendale for playing with the orchestra and helping with the accompanying of various acts, and to the Bursar and domestic staff for providing  refreshments in the form of Hot dogs and cordial which were eaten at the tables spread across the room.

It would be impossible to mention all those concerned in this production, but I am certain the audience were all extremely grateful. For a school of our size the show was a notable achievement and there would be no lack of support if another were suggested.

R. Lucas Form V


On March 21st Coventry Education Authority organised a matinee performance of Macbeth to be held at the Belgrade theater, Coventry for all GCE Literature candidates in Coventry schools. Mr Partridge agreed to take the five candidates and, after a pleasant journey, we arrived at the new theatre.

The play was produced by George roman. Michael Atkinson gave an excellent interpretation of the leading role. In the murder scene he held the audience spellbound by the eerie atmosphere he created by his dramatic gestures and fine voice control. he was well supported by Sheila Keith as Lady Macbeth.

Michael Rothwell as the Porter added to the play's enjoyment by giving the Porter's scene a distinction of its own and in more than one line of his long speech he had the audience in fits of laughter; this made a pleasing contrast with the rest of the play.

From our privileged position in the front box we had a superb uninterrupted view of the stage. the whole day was enjoyed by all who attended and they showed their appreciation of an excellent production by giving the cast four curtain calls to thunderous applause.

K. Moyle Form V


This year's production differed from that of previous years in one major respect. Whereas in previous productions the accent had been on either humour or fantasy or both with music, lyrics and plot all sharing equal roles. "The Great bell of Burley" has an essentially simple plot, but the music, requiring complex choral work as an intrinsic part of its execution, was all important. This can perhaps be termed our first venture into the realm of opera.

As a first venture, the play was a success, as all plays must be when the major part of the audience belong to that least critical group of people - parents and friends of the actors. The music upon which so much depended in this production was more effective in the choral work than in some of the solos, largely because of the difficulty of finding well-developed bass voices among boys who are only sixteen years of age.

R. Graham and R. Yates sand their sometimes difficult songs very well and were ably supported in their performance by M McAvoy, J Batts, J Bolster A Fields and D Wharmby B Warman, leading his group of very aged bell ringers, once again managed to bring an air of comedy into the production.

No small part of the success of this production was due to the colourful costumes and to the excellent scenery and lighting and stage effects. the costumes were designed and made largely by Mr Thomas, Mr Elkins-Green and Mr Place, and we are very grateful to the Parents Association for their gifts of the canvas from which we were able to construct some much needed scenery flats. Mr Chopping was responsible for the very effective lighting. The training of the soloists and choruses was done by Mr Lovatt and Mr Thomas, who also played the musical accompaniment on two pianos, while the production was in the hands of Mr Cox. No small tribute must be paid to Mr Warman whose services in the make-up department are very much appreciated and most invaluable.

School Clubs and Activities 1960-61

These reports are from The Boarder - Issue 4 July 1961

Make no mistake about it - aeromodelling is a grand hobby. If you are a newcomer to this pastime then you have a whole new world of exciting fun before you. Perhaps there are several new worlds in fact, as there are many branches of this hobby. This means that when you visit your local model shop you are confronted with a bewildering array of kits of all types, sizes and -  inevitably - prices. Which should you choose?

The answer is - choose a model you will be able to build and fly. Do not make the usual beginners mistake of selecting a plane which is too difficult for the beginner to build and fly.

The school aeromodelling club has started only recently, but nevertheless many boys have shown great interest and it is one of the most successful of all clubs. Mr Place organises meetings and gives kindly advice to any club member who needs it.

Gliders, control-line and free-flight powered models have been constructed by members and one free-flight model has already been lost; it was last seen proceeding gracefully in the direction of Bridgenorth......

I hope that this club will continue to meet and grow for many terms to come.

R Farr - Form V


During the first two terms it was pleasing to see the standard of chess improving throughout the school; consequently, the inter-house competition was given new rules so that the Junior section of the school were given an opportunity to show their real ability. With each house having a Junior and a Senior team, the competition became a closely fought contest in which several interesting games were played. In the end the decisive match between Dudley and Blount Juniors gave Blount success and the Cup.

In the Individual Handicap Competition great enthusiasm was shown for there were more than a hundred competitors and after several hard matches D C Ley, emerged the winner for the second successive year. The other cup usually presented to the best senior player in a second knock-out competition was not competed for this season.

I am sure that in the future years the standard of chess will steadily improve so that the boys concerned may have the opportunity of playing in the near future in matches with other schools.

DC Ley Form V

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The NEW school (1966) / Forest Lodge demolished 2010

It was a bit of shock to see our 'New' school (new in 1966 that is!) as a pile of rubble in 2010!

Tony Booton, who has worked there
since 1964 sitting on a pile of  our memories!!
The 'New' school building (Christened Forest Lodge by the Pioneer Centre) is still a 'New' school in our memories. Decades have gone by but it's hard to think of the building as old or demolished all the same. It was such a breath of fresh air after living in the old crowded cedar wood dorms. All so new and more spacious. We had rooms instead of a long dorm with everyone in it. We had showers in the same building instead of running across the drive in dressing gowns feeling the cold in mid winter. There was a study, recreation rooms, laundry and changing rooms.  It was mid 60's (for me) and where I first heard pirate radio the Yardbirds, Pink Floyd, All You Need is Love etc. Each subsequent year will have it's own associated memories but somehow the psychology and ergonomics of the place was so much better - a sense of being up-to-the-minute, of space and interest rather than couped up in the old claustrophobic dorms.

Tony Booton has been an important part of the school since 1964 and still works there at 74 now it's the Pioneer Centre, working hard to keep it all running. In 2010 Tony was interviewed and pictured in the Ludlow Advertiser as the 'New' building (or Forest Lodge) was demolished by the Pioneer Centre.

Forest Lodge demolished as centre looks to future
Wednesday 19th May 2010 by  Adrian Kibbler for the Ludlow Advertiser

A LANDMARK familiar to generations of young people near Cleobur y Mortimer is being demolished.

Forest Lodge is an old accommodation block dating from the 1960s at the Pioneer Centre.

The site first welcomed students through its doors in 1939, when boys from Coventry came to Wyre Farm Camp School to escape the bombing of the Second World War.

Tony Booton, aged 74, has worked at the site since 1964 when Forest Lodge was simply a set of concrete foundations.

Tony’s memories of the site, however, go back much further as he was born and educated a few miles away, just outside Cleobur y Mortimer.

He started working at what became Coventry City School as a young man of 29, helping to maintain the grounds and the school. One of the major jobs at the time was shovelling coke and coal into the school’s boiler house, also demolished this week.

Throughout the many changes the site has seen, from Wyre Farm Camp School, to Coventry City School to the Pioneer Centre, Tony has been the one constant and is a mine of information on the history of the site.

“Many of the boys who attended Wyre Farm Camp School and Coventry City School have gone into top jobs in lots of industries,” said Tony.

“It really provided a brilliant education for lads who often came from very working class backgrounds. The good news is the kids who come today are just as well behaved as they were all those years ago.”

Tony is now maintenance engineer at the Pioneer Centre and an invaluable member of staff.

The Pioneer Centre is run by Northamptonshire Association of Youth Clubs, a registered charity, and still welcomes thousands of young people through its doors every year, including volunteers from as far afield as Brazil, Portugal, Australia and China. It offers residential group activity holidays aimed at both children and adults in stunning countryside on the edge of the Wyre Forest.

Activities on offer include everything from archery to rafting in a state-ofthe- art facility.

More information is available at actioncentres.co.uk.

Demolition was carried out by local contractor 1st Choice Environmental Services.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Critics Corner - Reviews of Exhibitions from The Boarder 1961


From The Boarder Issue 4 July 1961 

Exhibition on Subtopia

Upper Three displayed their ability in organising an exhibition on the evils of Subtopia. The exhibition was arranged in the school library and anyone entering was terrified by vivid paintings and drawings of bare modern landscapes and urban wastelands. Challenges met your eye: "Citizens, will you allow this to go on?"

The exhibition was against everything that men made ugly in the name of progress at the present time - ugly lamp standards in towns, ugly traffic roundabouts, ugly signposting, ugly advertising which concealed the countryside behind gigantic hoardings.

Whilst preparing the exhibition Coventry city Council made its disasterous decision to destroy - or 'transplant' in official language - the 60 year old lime trees in Warwick road. A letter of protest was sent to the Coventry Standard and the entire class enrolled themselves in the 'Save the Trees' Campaign.

As well as criticising, the exhibition had its positive, constructive side. Plans were shown for the new school, for an ideal housing estate, an ideal city centre and the ideal school of the future - The Pentagon school of Architect G. Spencer, one which would be larger than the largest comprehensive school.

Many boys gave up some of their spare time to put on the exhibition and to these, and to all who helped, our thanks are due for a most instructive display.Now we see with new eyes.

N. Blackford and M. McAvoy.
Wyredfarm Note 1 - In the original text it said Coventry Evening Standard! So I'm not sure which paper it was supposed to be - the Coventry Evening Telelgraph or the Coventry Standard - I decided it was more likely the Coventry Standard but I may have been wrong.

Wyredfarm Note 2
Ian Nairn, a British Architectural critic and Topographer - " In 1955 he made his name with a special issue of the Architectural Review called "Outrage" (later a book, 1959) in which he coined the term Subtopia for the areas around cities that had in his view been failed by urban planning, losing their individuality and  spirit of place The book was based around a nightmarish road trip that Nairn took from the south to the north of the country - the trip gave propulsion to his fears that we were heading for a drab new world where the whole of Britain would look like the fringes of a town, every view exactly the same. He also praised modernist urban developments such as the Bull Ring shopping centre in Birmingham, which eventually became one of the most unpopular buildings in the UK and was demolished in the early 21st century." Interesting video on this Guardian site


Director of Education Mr Chinn & Wife and
Headmaster Bob Rowland and wife 
The Art and Craft Exhibition was held in the woodwork shop and attracted many visitors during sports day. The Director of Education for Coventry and Mr Rowland, saw the exhibits and commented favourably on the standard of work.

Paintings, fabric prints and figure drawings dominated the artistic side of the display, and bureaus, coffee-tables and lampstands were of interest to the woodworker.  Worthy of particular mention were D. Brown's fabric printing and K. Payne's magnificent chair.

The exhibition was, as in the past years, well organised and well laid-out, and some of the finished pieces showed signs of great talent.

N. Blackford - Form Upper 111

Peak District Survey Exhibition :

This exhibition was held in Lower three classroom and consisted of maps, results of local surveys of farms, geological phenomena and notes on the studies of villages, local amenities and tourist facilities. Paintings of of things seen on the journey covered the walls of the room and one fine painting by J. Starling of the Youth Hostel in which the party stayed appeared to be left on permanent exhibition after the rest of the display had been put away. Thanks should be extended to Mr Foy for the painstaking work he put into organising and arranging the exhibits. 

N. Blackford Form Upper 11

Parents Teachers Association

Both my Father and my mother were involved in the Parents Teachers Association in the mid 60's and my mother became the secretary - I have posted two pupil lists from those days already on here - 1964 and 1966.

I was only vaguely aware of the things they did and was involved in a stall once on visiting day,but here's a post from earlier days when it began from The Boarder July 1961 Issue 4 before I was at the school.


The progress made by the Parents Association in its first full year has been far and above anything we imagined could be achieved in so short a time. Starting with nothing, to raising £200 in twelve months, we feel is a beginning of which we can be justly proud.

As you are all aware, our aim is to raise money with which to help out the school funds in providing additional equipment for sport and entertainment for the boys' spare time activities. We have been able to achieve this with the help and support of all the parents and helpers who have joined in our social gatherings. all those parents who have been able to attend the Social Evenings held at intervals throughout the year will know that they have achieved a two-fold purpose, firstly as a means of raising money, and secondly, which we consider of equal importance, as a means of the parents getting to know each other.

At the suggestion of the school staff, the Committee has spent a part of the funds to provide two fully equipped table tennis tables, cricket balls, athletics vests for the boys representing the school at outside sports meetings, indoor games for use in the dormitories and linen for remaking stage scenery. All parents will know that in addition, we were able to give a party for the boys, both in the Christmas and Easter holidays, which, we are assured, is something the boys are looking forward to having repeated in the future.

We sincerely hope that we shall have the opportunity of making the acquaintance of the parents of the new boys in the very near future, as we feel sure that we can help them get to know more about the school and its activities.

Information about the Association may be obtained from the secretary, Mr J.H MacDonald."

And from the City of Coventry School brochure in 1962

Parents Association

Inaugurated September 1960, Subscription 2/6d per parent per annum. The aim of the Association is to promote a friendly atmosphere among parents and to enable them to meet and get to know the families of their boys' school friends., at the same time to raise funds to be used for extra items not usually supplied out of school funds for the boys comfort and enjoyment. The Association extends a welcome to all new parents and assures them that the committee will be pleased to help them with any queries they may have. All Association activities are notified in advance in newsletters which are sent to all parents. All new parents are asked to attend the Annual General Meeting in September.  


Monday, January 23, 2012

The Demise of the Mawley Oak

This post was suggested and facilitated by Michael Billings from an article he sent me - http://wbrc.org.uk/worcrecd/Issue12/mawley.htm

In the articel BM Stephens wrote -
The mighty Mawley Oak collapsed at about 9.00am, Monday, 29th October, 2001, after a long period of increasing weakness. There had been some strong SW winds for several days preceding but, on this morning, not exceptional, W to NW, about force 5 perhaps gusting 6. Possibly the change of wind direction was significant and the extra strain more than the tortured trunk could stand. Witnesses, at the garage opposite, heard a loud crack and down it came, "Just like that!" narrowly missing the main road."

Many who attended the school remember this landmark tree.
It's statistics were -
The Mawley Oak Estimated age 240 years,  Height 90 feet Girth breast height 24 feet Max. spread of canopy 130 feet.
This tree is situated near the junction of the B4202 road from Clows Top and the A4117 road from Far Forest to Cleobury Mortimer.  The bark was extremely crevassed to the extent that it held the nest of a wren and one small branch was rotten and a colony of honey bees were flying in and out of a hole in it.Dr. Norman Hickin described the Mawley Oak in his book The Natural History of an English Forest (Hutchinson 1971 page 6), so it's certainly a renowned and ancient tree.

Dudley, Blount and Mortimer - School House Reports 1961

In the 40's and early fifties when the school was called Wyre Farm Camp School, the school houses all had Coventry names - Godiva, Leofric, Earlsdon, Radford & Mercia. Which strangely is more houses than there were later on! After 1957, when the school became the LEA run City of Coventry, the houses changed to more local (to Cleobury) names, ironically! Mortimer, Blount, Dudley and Junior House.

The following house reports are from Issue 4, July 1961 of  The Boarder.

House Masters and House Officials 1960 - 61

Blount House  
House Masters - Mr James Lovatt, Mr Gordon Place - Mr M. Chopping, Mr S. Thomas.
House Captain - J. Bolster
Deputy House Captain - R. Farr
House Prefects - K Moyle, M McAvoy, J. Shaw, R. Edwards, P. Widdison.

Dudley House

House Masters - Mr G Oxendale, Mr E. K. Foy, Mr A. Elkins-Green, Mr Colin Partridge.
House Captain - D. Hazelwood
House Prefect - K. Ley, R. Smith, D. Squires, G. Hewitt.

Mortimer House
House Master - Mr A. Thorne, Mr J. Cox, Mr Breeze.
House Captain - R. Graham
Deputy House Captain - R. Yates
House Prefects - R. Lucas, B. Warman, L. Thomas, G. Holloway.

Blount House
The Old Blount House Sign

Blount has had a very active year both in sport and house activities. the year began with a large number of boys from the house being chosen to represent the school in the two Rugby teams. the house chess team won the chess trophy and this was a very good omen for the beginning of the year.

During the autumn term house entertainments were arranged in which it fell to the lot of different age-groups each week each week to entertain the rest of  the house. The term ended with a Christmas bazaar, opened by Mrs Webb, to which the rest of the school was invited.

In indoor sports the table tennis team made a very gallant effort to obtain the shield but for the second year running we lost by a narrow margin. Field football was played with our usual enthusiasm and alertness. Our greatness achievement was winning the cross-country team cup and Paul Williamson became Victor Ludorum. By his fine effort he had broken the existing school record.

Generally we have had a very good year in house affairs and I would like to thank the house prefects for giving up so much of their time. I would like to welcome Mr Thomas into our house and I hope his stay will be a happy one.

Finally I would like to thank on behalf of the House, Mr Lovatt and all assistant Housemasters for the enthusiasm and energy they have given the House throughout the year.

J. J. Bolster (House Captain) Form V

Dudley House
The old Dudley House sign

This has been an eminently successful year for the House. The various committees, which have been run by the boys and masters in the House have organised many events, the most popular being the trip to Birmingham during the Christmas term to see the Repertory Company perform in a farce called Hobson's Choice. 

Congratulations must go to the whole of the House for their combined effort in winning the Cross Country standard's cup. Special praise must  go to R. smith and G. Lancaster who each won an individual trophy.

This year there has been a marked improvement in the musical display given by the House in the school Eisteddfod. Perhaps next year we shall win the competition.

C. Ley won the individual chess trophy for the second consecutive year although the House lost to Blount. prefects should be congratulated on their efficient running of the House and especial thanks should be given to the two prefects, who each term have had the difficult task of sleeping in the lower part of the House organising the Juniors.

We would like to thank - last but not least - the Housemasters for their continual support and we hope that the House continues on its successful career.

D. Brown and D. Hazelwood 

Mortimer House

During the first term of the 1960- 61 school year Mortimer boys took a prominent part in the annual school play and also in Colts and First Eleven Rugby fixtures.

Mortimer Ties
Spring term brought the house success in many spheres. We won the table tennis shield by a large margin. We retained the Music shield by a very effort on the part of all the in the House - newcomers and 'Old hands' alike. Our successes were to continue when we competed in the House field football. It was not decided to which House the cup should go until the very last game between Mortimer and Dudley. This was very exciting and proved to be a hard fought match but Mortimer finished the victors by a narrow margin. The Yard football was the greatest of our victories. i must congratulate both the Junior and Senior teams for their consistently good performances.

Next took place the Cross-Country matches - both the standard and inter-house runs. In the Standards our running was not quite good enough to give us enough standards to win and in the inter-house match runs our running was not consistent. I must thank the Juniors for their very good win which gave us an overall position of second.

I would like to thank Mr Thorne, Mr Cox and Mr. Breeze for all the help and encouragement they have given the house. During the last  year the house has shown a happy spirit which is an essential part of our school training and i think this chiefly is the reason for our success and the growing reputation which our house enjoys. When i return as an old boy I hope I shall see the same happiness and spirit shown as when I was a member of  Mortimer.

R. Graham - Form V

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Crystal Radio Sets and Radio Luxembourg

Entrance to the Radio Luxembourg studios
Back in the mid 50's, long before I was at the city of Coventry school - maybe I was 5 or 6, my father made me a Crystal radio set. I used to listen to Radio Luxembourg on it. A favourite memory later on in 1965 was going with my family on holiday on the continent. We passed through and camped in Luxembourg and at night, in a huge continental tent, listened Radio Luxembourg not far from the Grand Duchy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Luxembourg_(English) - I was 14 at the time - but earlier in the 1950's Michael Billing's and the Original M28 tell us -

Michael Billings who was at the school at that time recently sent me a message -
I think it is such a shame that more of the lads from my time at school are not sending anything to the blog. They would have other stories that we have not mentioned. How about when we used to listen to Radio Luxembourg on our crystal sets."

Today the Original M28 (House Number) commented (as if in response to Michael)

" Any visitor to the school must have looked in amazement at the array of different items sitting on the ridge tiles of the dormitories.

Many of the lucky lads had crystal sets, which were a lifeline in keeping in touch with what was going on in the outside world. For these to work you only needed two connections, an ariel and an earth (no batteries). The earth was no problem inasmuch as you ran a wire from the crystal set to the water pipes that ran along the length of the dormatory, having firstly scraped off some paint so as to get a good connection, the more tricky bit was to firstly find a long piece of wire and then find something heavy to which you attach the ariel wire then lob it up and over the roof and pull it carefully to the top so as to get a good reception. This is where for us as school lads it was the norm to see all strange items running along the top of the roof, old shoes, bits of wood, pipe or what have you - suppose to the uninitiated it seemed a strange sight but for us lads it was a necessity.

My Dad (long gone) made me a transistor set - this differed from a crystal set in that it was more powerful and needed batteries to operate - it was an awsome piece of kit and I remember the Thomas Bros, Ivan (waffle) and (forgotten his brothers name) together with Michael Edwicker stripping the set to pieces as soon as my Dad had returned to Cov to see what components where inside -

After lights out those of us who had crystal / transistor sets where able to put our earphone on and listen for a while to the light programme or the home service and on a good reception night could pick up Radio Luxembourg. I remember listening in to Friday Night is Music Night - what a load of cr*p that was, but it was an escape from the norm.

Recall one night must have fallen asleep with my earphones on and when Tanky Thorne came round to check we were ok, he took my headphones off my head (unbeknown to me) and in the morning at inspection he confiscated the transistor set and headphones for the rest of the term

Sadly I heard that Michael Edwicker who was affectionately known as Mist (as he liked to wear his glasses in the showers and they misted up) died in a house fire some time ago. I heard on the grapevine that he was well into music and sound and that he once did some sound control for Status Quo (Video above) and that due to the volumn of music involved his hearing had suffered."
Signed: The Original M28

National Camps Corporation (NCC) The origins of the School

National Camps Corporation (NCC) - The Origin of the School
The National Archives at Kew houses collections dating 1939-1962 which relate to the National Camps Corporation. The National Archives' database is searchable online.

Usually, in order to go to a Public (boarding) school like Eton, you need a millionaire father and from day one they train you to run the ship of state! David Cameron and Nick Clegg went there! Our fathers, though, were working class or middle class entrepreneurs or were in the armed forces and the school provided a stable education or they were in the care of the local authority. So what happened? How come we didn't have to be rich?

Most of us have a notion that the school began as an evacuation camp during World War 2 and continued into peace time eventually (in 1957) becoming part of Coventry Education Authority as a secondary modern boarding school. This article explores the background to the establishment of Wyre Farm and other camp schools in the UK.

Mr Clifford Morris FRPS, explains

The National Camps Corporation was formed in the late 1930s, with assistance from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), and was given 1.2 million pounds; half grant, half loan; by the government to build fifty camps in remote areas initially to enable children from towns and cities to be able to experience something the countryside and animal life."

Clearly we weren't alone then! Some of these camps are now on the internet -

Bewerley Park Camp School at Pateley Bridge - as related here
Bewerley Park Camp School 
I went on a residential holiday with Rawmarsh Haugh Road Secondary Modern School to Bewerley Park Camp School at Pateley Bridge when I was 12 in 1952. The picture on the right is a copy of the post card showing the Camp School. The centre is quite close to where the Robert Braithwaite was born. The School is still an active Outdoor Centre, their website can be accessed here
http://northyorks.outdoored.co.uk/bewerleypark/ unfortunately there is nothing now mentioned regarding the history of the school."

The first camp to be used as an evacuation camp was at Kennylands Camp School, near Reading.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/berkshire/content/articles/2009/09/08/evac_feature.shtml

Evacuess at Kennylands Camp Schoolnear Sonning 

Then there was Colomendy in North Wales

Colomendy Dorms
According to the BBC Liverpool site "Since 1939 generations of Liverpool schoolkids have stayed at Colomendy, Liverpool City Council's outdoor pursuit camp in North Wales. Originally developed as a safe haven in North Wales for Scouse wartime evacuees, Colomendy at Loggerheads has become woven into the legend of Liverpool schools, since it's inception over 350,000 children have visited the camp.Now 65 years old the original camp structure is to be replaced and refurbished as part of a £20 million 
redevelopment scheme." More photos of Colomendy Loggerheads, Denbighshire Here

And there are more!

Brownrigg Camp School, Bellingham, Northumberland, 
Information and many more photos on their site here http://brownriggschool.co.uk/aboutus.html

Sheephatch Camp School, Tilford, Surrey, Stokenchurch Camp School, Horsleys Green, Buckinghamshire. More details here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Camps_Corporation

Amazingly  - this is Sheephatch Camp School - 
Sheephatch Camp School at Tilford was built in 1939. In 1946 Surrey County Council leased the camp from The National Camps Corporation and maintained it as a co-educational boarding school until its closure in 1977. In 1984 the school was sold to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK.
Have a look at this building in this Camp school video - It could well be the dining room at Wyrefarm Camp School!

Sheephatch Camp School - from the video

Linton Residential Camp School - Yorkshire Dales (serving evacuees from Bradford)
Linton is now a derelict site but here are some websites with more information -
http://www.derelictplaces.co.uk/main/showthread.php?t=6895  Shows the site as it is now and the derelict buildings give a view on the construction of the buildings.
A Girl's War - A CHILDHOOD LOST IN BRITAIN'S WWII EVACUATION http://agirlswar.com/ Linton housed Girls and boys.
http://www.hartingdon.com/index.php? how it looked in the time.

Linton Residential Camp school now
Merchant's Hill Camp Hindhead Surrey
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205201169 - More photos here.
Merchant's Hill Camp Hindhead, Surrey 1944

Clifford Morris continues " It appears that the money ran out after thirty one had been built.The House of Commons passed ‘The Camps Act’ which was given the Royal Assentin May 1939."

The cessation of the construction of new camps was mainly due to the increased costs as a result of war, and the realisation that such camps were not a completely adequate solution to the problem of evacuation. Each camp was designed to accommodate approximately 350 children. The average cost of each camp was £25,000.

So what was the purpose of these camps?
Clifford Morris tells us " One of the jobs of the Corporation was to make people ‘camp minded’.". No doubt, with the first world war still being recent and the situation building towards World War 2, this was clearly on their mind! Clifford continues-

The government appointed chairman was Lord Wyndham Portal of Laverstoke who had risen to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel during the First World War and was awarded the Distinguish Service Order (DSO) and was a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO). After the first war he was a Director of the Great Western Railway before entering politics. After the Second World War he was to become Chairman of the GWR up until nationalization. Lord Portal and members of his board visited 155 possible sites for camps which were to be built as residential schools, each for around 400 children."

The camps would have other uses too - Holiday camps for school children. - Evacuation camps for the children: a function for which they ultimately, and very importantly, served. One report suggests an early use of  the Wyre farm site was for itinerant agricultural workers.

Some of the sites however got snatched up by the Air Force authorities who often managed to get in first, forcing the Corporation to have to search again!

"Although originally designed as camps for schools or for holidaymakers, their role was dramatically redefined with the onset of war in 1939 when they were used as evacuation centres for some of the thousands of children who were moved out of urban areas. In the post-war era the camps became sites for an education experiment in living and learning." http://sasesearch.brighton.ac.uk/view/context.php?film=1645&from=search&fromid=

The use of the schools as evacuation camps had the obvious consequence of reducing the number of evacuees who could be housed at such camps to under 9000 nationally. Nevertheless, in November 1940 the Minister of Health Malcolm MacDonald described the camps as "one of the most significant pieces of work that Parliament has lent its hand to in recent times".

The camps also offered children from poorer, urban backgrounds a unique living experience in rural environments. Consequently, the health benefits of these environments were strongly promoted.
Sayers Croft in Surrey

The huts at the camps were all very similar and were designed for the purpose by Thomas Smith Tait, (1882 – 1954). Tait was an architect with the company Burnet, Tait and Lorne and there is a Blue Plaque commemorating his work on his former home at Gates House, Wyldes Close, London, NW11. The huts were constructed of Canadian Cedarwood and those that have survived have done so extremely well over the last eighty years. One of the last camps to be built in 1939 at Sayers Croft in Surrey cost £25,968 to construct on fifteen acres of land.

Interestingly, for us, Tait was involved with Basil Spence (who designed the new Cathedral in Coventry) -
Tait is remembered for his contributions to the design and master planning for the Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938, held in Bellahouston Park. Tait was appointed as head of a team of nine architects, which included Basil Spence and Jack Coia. Tait's vision was of a modernist, utopian future, and the Empire Exhibition was the largest collection of modern architecture built in United Kingdom in the first half of the 20th century. Dominating the whole exhibition was "The Tower of Empire", designed by Tait himself. The 300-feet-high tower was erected on the summit of the hill in the centre of the park and had three observation balconies, each capable of carrying 200 people."

However Tait's distinguished career seemed to come to an end with the outbreak of the 2nd World War " The outbreak of the Second World War cut Tait’s career prematurely short.  St Andrew's House, Edinburgh, (built for the former Scottish Office and from 1999 the heaquarters of the Scottish Government) was completed shortly after the outbreak of war in 1939, leaving much of the proposed interior decoration incomplete. From 1940 to 1942 he worked as Director of Standardisation at the Ministry of Works. He retired from the partnership in 1952, and the practice was taken on by his eldest son, Gordon. Thomas Tait "

Why Canadian Cedarwood?
From this site - http://www.lumberoutwest.com/uncategorized/654/properties-and-uses-of-cedar/
"Cedar’s unique properties and characteristics have been recognized and appreciated throughout history. The Western Red Cedar has great cultural, economic, and spiritual significance to the Native American peoples of the Pacific Northwest. They used every part of the tree in every aspect of their life.The continuing popularity of cedar is due to its striking natural beauty, durability in an exterior environment and its extremely low maintenance, and affordable price.

Where does it grow?
Western Red Cedar is found in coastal forests along the upper Pacific coast of North America, from southern Alaska to northern California. The principal supplying region is the coastal forest area of British Columbia (where the Western Red Cedar is the official tree). Cedar naturally grows in mixed softwood forests intermingled with other species such as Douglas Fir, Pacific Coast Hemlock, and Sitka Spruce. Western Red Cedar forests are largely managed forests. In a managed forest environment, natural regeneration, controlled harvests, and a planned reforestation program try to ensure a perpetual harvest with good forest conservancy practices.

Western Red Cedar grows in low to mid elevations, along the coast and in a wet belt of the interior. It prefers cool, moist locations, and a slightly acidic soil. A mature tree can attain a height of 180 feet with a trunk diameter of 8 feet. The Western Red Cedar is slow-growing and long-lived. A specimen can live upwards of 1000 years, and has one of the longest lifespans of any North American softwood. Cedar has a low density of 22 lbs. per cubic foot, with a low specific gravity of 0.33. This makes it one of the lightest softwoods available, but also soft, and prone to indentation. The low density also gives cedar it’s excellent thermal insulation properties.

Sick bay at Colomendy - N. Wales
The heartwood of Western Red Cedar contains extractives that are toxic to the decay-causing fungi. Two principle agents responsible for this decay resistance are Thujaplicans (taken from the scientific name for Western Red Cedar) and water soluble phenolics. The tree’s ability to produce these agents increases with age, making the outer layers of the heartwood the most resistant. (In general, sapwood, in all species, has a low resistance to decay) These naturally occurring substances repel moths, insects, termites, carpenter ants and bees, and ambrosia beetles — the bugs just don’t like cedar and prefer to eat elsewhere."

No doubt this is why the old school buildings have outlasted the later 60's buildings and why the style has been adapted for the Pioneer Centre.

In the decades following the war, most of these camps were sold to county councils and education authorities for use as schools. At Wyrefarm, it was Headmaster RT Morris whose drive led to Wyrefarm Camp School being bought by Coventry LEA as a Secondary Modern Boarding School and establishing a GCE system. The school became known as The City of Coventry Boarding School in 1957.

We can now see that this shared history of Wyre Farm Camp School forms part of a much wider social history.

http://freespace.virgin.net/george.timms/camps.htm House of Commons transcripts from the History of Elmbridge School.

This is Elmbridge School

In the article there is more information on some of the locations of other Camp schools for anyone researching it. These include
" The construction of four camps has been started, one in Hampshire, one in Buckinghamshire, and two in Oxfordshire. It is hoped that seven more will be begun in the course of the next fortnight. The contacts for the other camps will be let as the plans for the layout of the camps are approved.

Berks: Cockpole Green, Hurley. Bucks: Horseleys Green, Stokenchurch, Moor End. Cheshire: Marton (Newchurch), Somerford. Denbigh: Colomendy Hall (two sites). Derby: Woolley Bridge. Hants: Overton. Herts: Nettleden. Lancs: Whalley. Northumberland: Bellingham, Hexham. Oxford: Henley, Kennylands, Peppard. Staffs: Blithbury, Rugeley. Surrey: Cranleigh, Ewhurst, Merstham, Tilford. Sussex: Hartfield, Itchingfield. Worcs: Bewdley. York (East Riding); Etton . York (West. Riding. ); Grassington, Linton, Pateley Bridge."