Summer 1961

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Magazine cover It is good to be in print again! In Downhills, just as in Fleet Street, two things will help to ensure the continued production of a magazine - its quality and the loyalty of its readers. I am sure you will agree that this issue is solid evidence of an improvement in quality, and when I recall that our last duplicated edition was sold out, I have no doubts about the loyalty of the readers. Of course, the potential business men among us will hasten to remind me that I should also have related success to economics, but, the enterprise of our Printing Club has made such a reference unnecessary, since their labour and enthusiasm have cut our costs to a minimum and enabled us to publish this new edition at a rock bottom price of one shilling! I am greatly heartened, then, when I think that this measure of success which we have achieved is the result of hard work, devotion and enthusiasm on the part of many people.

I congratulate you all on the magazine and look forward with confidence to its future.


The poor editor, who happens to be the poor printer, too, begs his readers' indulgence for the many shortcomings of this, his first venture into the printed book.

However, there have been many school activities which have been far from amateurish.

Most recent is the success we have had in local athletics. It is good to note that in the year in which the 'Spurs made the "Double," we made our own double - our boys and girls won their respective local championships. Moreover, we set up new records in the process and everybody concerned is warmly congratulated. When we recall the poor facilities which we have for training, this success is truly remarkable.

One does not normally report G.C.E. success in the summer edition of a school magazine, but this year we can record with pleasure the success of 15 of our pupils who took their "O" Level English last November - eight months early.

One of the least pleasant things about the end of the year is the saying of good-byes. To the pupils who are leaving, we say a hearty "Good luck" and we hope to see them many times as Old Scholars.

But we have to say good-bye to some members of staff as well, and nothing can make that pleasant.

Mrs. Cleare and Mrs. Leech have left us since our last edition and now we must say good-bye to others. Mr. Thomas retires and as we wish him many years of well-earned rest, we recall that he was teaching at Downhills before most of our present pupils were born.

Mr. McInnes and Miss Allinson leave us to go to other posts and we wish them every success.

Mr. Dunhill is getting married during the summer and we wish him and the future Mrs. Dunhill every happiness.


Our Fête this year was held on Saturday, 17th June, and although preparations had been going on for some time, things really began to hum on Friday.

The shelter in the boys' playground was a cross between Billy Hunter's hide-out and a timber yard. Crates of lemonade, sacks of coconuts, and a large case of apples sat amid stacks of timber, sawn ready to be built into stalls.

Somebody suggested that Room C was so named as C for Chaos - perhaps because of the piles of goods sent by parents; perhaps it was the multi-coloured bunting that lay everywhere, or perhaps it was the mountain of papers, lists, plans and notes drifting around the room.

Willing helpers came to school on Friday evening to build the stalls, price the goods, and iron the bunting. Eyes kept turning to the doubtful sky, and forecasts ranged from heatwaves and cloudbursts. Never had so many meteorological experts met beneath one sky!

However, the weather was kind, and apart from a gusty breeze, the day was fine. Paddy the Donkey, kindly lent by his owners, Mr. and Mrs. Young, arrived with his little cart. The ice-cream was soon sold out and new supplies had to be rushed in. Coconuts were shied, pennies were rolled, darts were thrown, refreshments consumed, prizes won, goods sold, gifts raffled, weights guessed, tins tumbled - in fact, all the fun of the fair.

Nearly 70 was raised for the funds of the P.T.A. and all those who helped are congratulated and thanked most warmly.

The following letter has been received from an old scholar, who has begun training to be a nurse.

Nurses' Home,
University College Hospital.
June 23rd, 1961.

Dear Editor,

Just a few lines to let you know how I am getting on at the hospital. I arrived here yesterday morning and have spent these two days getting used to the life of the hospital.

When we arrived we were shown our rooms, which are very comfortable and cosy, with plenty of room for clothes and books. We are allowed a wireless set, or a record-player or tape recorder, but of course, one is expected to have consideration for others, especially those on night duty.

We spent yesterday afternoon being fitted for uniforms, and hearing about our duties and studies. Our day starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m., when we are free for the evening, assuming that we have done all necessary studying.

We are expected back by 10 each night, except Saturday, when we may stay out until midnight. Once a week, in addition, we may stay out until 11 p.m.

It can be seen that no prospective nurse need worry about losing her evenings while training.

To-morrow we put on our uniforms and we are to be shown round the wards. Then will start the serious business of training to become one of those people who achieve the satisfaction, even if not of seeing the complete recovery of every patient, at least of helping to make them more comfortable.

Yours sincerely,
Pauline Artis.

by R. Hollister & H. Chimchirian (5C)

"We adopted the Beaverford before the War and there were strong ties between the ship and school. Members of the crew used to come here and we used to visit the ship.

"Then the War came and there were no more pleasant tea parties either at the school or in the Beaverford."

(Extract from Memorial Service, Mr. N. Mercer, Headmaster, 20th May, 1944.)

The SS Beaverford, a 10,000-ton liner of the Canadian Pacific Line, was adopted by the school in 1936. Until the outbreak of the War, ties between school and ship grew close with visits by pupils to the ship and by the crew to the school. When the Beaverford was on her many transatlantic runs, her chief engineer would keep in touch with the school.

In 1939, by order of the War Cabinet, the Beaverford was commissioned to carry war materials and cargoes so vital to Britain in her struggle. This made her a desirable prize for the hungry Nazi navy, which was intent on choking Britain's supply line, making her easier prey for the German jack-boot.

In late October, thirty-seven ships gathered at Halifax, Nova Scotia, to form a convoy under the protection of a solitary converted merchantman, the Jervis Bay. Converted with a few meagre 6-inch guns and with a top speed of 14 knots, she was outmanned, outgunned and outpaced by the least of the Nazi navy.

Dusk on the 5th November, 1940, a German raider is sighted to the port beam of the Jervis Bay. Whispers spread through the convoy and they scattered. The Jervis Bay went out to meet her foe, dropping smoke floats to hide the convoy. The raider, the Admiral Scheer, contemptuous, ignored her and fired at the convoy. Scheer knew she was out of the range of the Jervis Bay's guns. Gradually, the Jervis Bay closes the gap and the Admiral Scheer is forced to fire upon her. Although hit by the Nazi salvo, the Jervis Bay stubbornly carries on. Soon the Jervis Bay is ablaze, her fo'c'sle blown away, and she slowly sinks. Within thirty minutes the bloody Atlantic had claimed another victim.

The Captain of the Beaverford, Hugh Pettigrew, realising the danger to the defenceless convoy, ordered his ship to steer directly towards the Admiral Scheer. Everyone on board that ship must have realised that they had no chance against the Germans, but the morale was such that they would have sacrificed themselves to a dozen raiders. The Admiral Scheer had no option but to fire at the Beaverford, and for five hours the Beaverford drew her fire, zig-zagging over the ocean, away from the convoy. The Beaverford was sunk in mid-Atlantic, five hours after the engagement. Due to her and the Jervis Bay, the Convoy was able to scatter so effectively that on arrival at England thirty-three of the thirty-seven ships had got through.

The great effort of the two ships which were lost with all hands created a large amount of interest when in 1944 the action was described in the Star.

The conclusion of this account returns to our school, for on 20th May, 1944, a memorial service was held at this school in honour of our heroic ship. The service was conducted in the presence of the widow of the Beaverford Captain, and the representative of the Canadian Pacific, Captain R. N. Stuart, V.C. An original water colour of the ship was unveiled and 150 collected for relatives of the crew. The simple inscription on the programme can sum up the sentiment then and now - "The Path of Duty was their way to Glory".

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