Old Bournemouthians on the Western Front

Will Pyke, one of Bournemouth School’s History Masters, is in the process of completing a study of Old Bournemouthians on the Western Front in the First World War. Mr Pyke’s work has involved building a database of some of the very first Old Bournemouthians, some of whom were in the school’s first intake, and is intended to provide a different approach to David Hilliam’s Tig’s Boys. Originally intended to cover the whole war, Mr Pyke reports that he narrowed the focus when he realised that he had 550 pages on the Western Front alone.

To celebrate the First World War Centenary, Mr Pyke has been invited to to give one of the series of Bournemouth Library lectures, Aspects of War, at 11am on Wednesday 8th July at Bournemouth Library. The talk will last for about half an hour, with tea, coffee and the opportunity to ask questions afterwards. A flyer for the event can be found here.

Donation overcomes duck-related delays

In February 2006 the OBA kindly donated £500 to the School to mark the OBA Centenary. The idea behind the donation was to spruce up the area in the quad outside the Headmaster’s Office. This was intended to include developing the pond with a fountain and waterfall and general maintenance to make the area a useful teaching resource.

However, wildlife had a different idea! Ducks kept arriving each year to breed in the quad, and always at an awkward time of year – namely during exam season! Indeed, during one exam the baby ducklings attempted their first flight. Unfortunately, 6 of the 8 ducklings mistook the windows of the hall for open sky and slid slowly to the ground with broken necks! These 6 ducklings served a purpose, however, and went towards feeding members of the Physics Department the following weekend…

The School took advice from the RSPCA regarding relocation of the ducks, but there were few viable options suggested. Indeed, the School could be prosecuted if the ducks were ‘interfered with’ in any way. Netting was the RSPCA’s preferred option, but the prohibitive cost ruled this out.

The quad therefore continued as an unkempt pond and the OBA donation sat in a bank account gathering interest. During the summer of 2009, the School was selected to participate in ‘Healthy Schools +’, having been the first school in Bournemouth to achieve ‘Healthy Schools’ status. This secured further funding to allow the School to address ‘health inequalities’ and create ‘legacy projects’ that would benefit students over a number of years.

As a consequence of this during the summer holiday of 2009, the pond area was completely cleared and covered in black plastic. A hard-standing for a greenhouse was created and a fence erected, to separate the area slightly from the hall. The OBA agreed that their donation could be put towards this project and a greenhouse is due to be purchased and installed in the quad. The greenhouse will have a plaque installed which will commemorate the greenhouse as ‘The Old Bournemouthians’ Centenary Greenhouse’.

The area will be used with all year groups in lessons – especially with food technology appearing on the School curriculum – and also as somewhere for younger students to pass lunchtimes in a productive manner by weeding and tending to the vegetables. They may even be able to eat the fruit of their labours in the canteen!

The School would like to thank the OBA for their kind donation and apologise for the fact that it took so long to spend the money. However, the resulting project is hopefully a fitting way to mark the OBA Centenary.

Bournemouth School: the book

The front cover of the Centenary Book

The front cover of the Centenary Book

In preparation for the centenary celebrations, David Hilliam has producing an excellent book looking back over the first 100 years.It runs to 150 pages and has fascinating sections from whichever era you were at Bournemouth School.

Written by former Deputy Head David Hilliam, there is something for everybody, including the School song, a year-by-year chronology of the School, a large sports section written by Mike Webb, a Bournemouth School Quiz, photos of John Hawkins, Bernie Walker, J.J. (Jasper) Dodds and all seven headmasters. There is a fascinating notice of the evacuation of Taunton’s School’s pupils dated August 1939.

These books are now available also from Graham Jones at 30 Wishart Gardens, Muscliffe, Bournemouth BH9 3QZ, for £10 + £2.50 postage.

The first centenary: 100 years of Bournemouth School

The following extract is taken from today’s Bournemouth Daily Echo:

AS BOURNEMOUTH School celebrates its 100th birthday today, teachers and their 1,000 pupils have begun experimenting with state-of-the-art computer facilities and an Internet video-link with schools here and abroad. It’s a stark contrast to the school’s opening day on January 22, 1901, when 54 boys started at their brand new school with its austere classrooms fitted with only blackboards and functional decorations such as maps and charts. The school had just opened in Portchester Road, having been founded by Dr John Roberts Thomson a freeman of the borough who first raised the idea of the school in 1893. Bournemouth School’s first head, Dr Edward Fenwick, took up his post on a salary of £100 per year and remained there until his retirement in 1932. The 1906 prospectus of study, which included natural science, drawing, vocal music, drill and gymnastics alongside history, geography, shorthand and book keeping, is still the foundation of what pupils study today.

A grant of £30,000 from the Wolfson Foundation has enabled the school to buy £50,000 worth of new computers, allowing science pupils to collaborate with professionals around the world on major research projects. Currently French, German and Spanish are the three languages on offer, along with after-school lessons in Italian, Japanese and Mandarin, with Arabic and Portuguese soon to be added. Former pupils of the school, known as Old Bournemouthians recalled a ‘family’ feel to the establishment in the early days.

Among happy recollections is the request to the boys from Captain Scott for a subscription towards the expenses of his South Pole expedition and the subsequent fund-raising which allowed a sleigh dog to be purchased. The ravages of the First World War followed and for the next four years the pages of school newsletter The Bournemouthian were filled with reports of former pupils and staff killed in action. In all, at least 651 young men who had been or were attached to the school served, and 98 of those died, while 95 were wounded. The school’s second headmaster Mr JE Parry took up the reins in 1932. With his daunting educational background he is said in the school’s own centenary publication to have “walked about his school with the charisma of Jove himself”

As war broke out in 1939 the new Bournemouth School site in East Way had been built and through the war years the school became home to evacuated children and rescued soldiers as well as to pupils. It was the 1960s before changes began in earnest. A new dining hall was added, a new physics laboratory, two new classrooms and then in 1960 Bournemouth School for Girls’ opened its new buildings at the bottom of East Way, although boys and girls were discouraged from meeting. Not until the I980s could boys and girls meet each other for 10 minutes each day during the lunch hour without inciting official disapproval.

In 1966 the biggest transformation took place with the building of the sixth form block including a lecture theatre and a library. But disaster struck in May 1973 when the old school hall built in 1939 was destroyed by fire and it was 1975 before a new hall had been built in its place. The school’s status has changed a number of times over the years. Up to 1973 it was ruled by Bournemouth Education Committee, by Dorset County Council from 1974 to 1990 and it had its independence as a grant-maintained school from 1990 to 1999. Bournemouth Borough Council once again had its own education committee in September 1999 and the school became a foundation school with a reconstituted and larger than ever board of governors.

Pupils will be taking a day’s holiday on the school’s birthday as a staff training day has been called. Current head John Grainger who took up his post in 1996 said: “We carry the name of Bournemouth School with a lot of pride we are the school of Bournemouth. “Our new sports hall opened last year and this year our big news is that we have been designated a specialist language college.” Chair of the Old Bournemouthians Jim Green commented: “Bournemouth can be very proud of Bournemouth School. Pupils’ examination results are always high in the national averages and the staff are very approachable and progressive.”