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Victoria College School:

A Short History 1929-1956 by J.S. Rowley

The history related so far is almost word for word that written by Mr. Cooper in the first College Register which was published in 1930. In 1929 the College lost two notable members of the staff in Mr. Somers and Mr. Ceppi. Mr. Somers had been a master at the College for 20 years and achieved a reputation for the production of school plays. Mr. Ceppi had been at College nine years.

In 1930 the College was well represented at Oxford and Cambridge, there being thirteen Victorians at Oxford and twelve at Cambridge. In that year, too, College provided Blues when H. V. Benest and G. Edwards turned out for Oxford and Cambridge respectively on the same day. After eighty years the Caen stone in the College building had begun to crumble and in 1931 work was begun on restoring the fabric of the building and replacing the Caen stone with Jersey granite. This work was continued until the Second World War interrupted operations. It was, however, resumed after the war and by 1950 it was completed. The year 1931 also saw improvements in lighting and heating when electric light and power were brought to the laboratories.

In 1933 Mr. Worrall resigned the Headmastership after 22 years in office. (Fortunately his association with the College did not end then and, at the time of writing, he is still the mainstay of the Old Victorians' Association; for almost 25 years since his retirement—including the difficult war years—he has been keeping O.V.s in touch with each other.) He was succeeded by Mr. J. H. Grummitt,M.A., sometime Classical Scholar of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, who had been Senior Classical Master


The School had meanwhile been growing in numbers and in 1934 the Governors bought "Hohenlinden", a house adjoining the College on the South side, as additional accommodation. The house was adapted to provide an Art room and classrooms, and was renamed " De Carteret " in honour of Jurat Reginald Malet de Carteret, C.M.G., a former Chairman of the Governing Body, who had made a great contribution to the life of the School. About this time a scheme was inaugurated to furnish College Hall with oak chairs in replacement of the ancient desks and benches. O.V.s and their relatives were invited to present chairs, on each of which was carved the name and dates of the O.V. whom it commemorated. The scheme is still in operation and the Hall is now largely furnished with such chairs.

On October 18th, 1934, Mr. and Mrs. T. B. Davis laid the foundation stone of the "Howard Hall" presented by them in memory of their son. The Hall, which was officially opened on July 23rd, 1935, by the Prince of Wales, houses a further gift of the Davis family in the portrait of King George V painted by J. St. Helier Lander.

Among the changes introduced by Mr. Grummitt were the substitution of the " Block " system for the old system of " Forms ", the formation of the Entertainments Club, and the opening of a new Tuckshop in College Field. Electric lighting and shower baths were installed in College House and, in 1938, the main College buildings were improved by the fitting of electric light, the extending of the heating system, and the building of a new changing room.

Then, in 1939, came the Second World War. Its first effect was to increase the numbers in College, for many boys came here from English Schools. Work went on much as usual for a few months but, when the Germans swept through the Low Countries, and France fell, it became clear that Jersey was likely to be occupied by the enemy. No arrangements had been made to move the school as a whole but when the Occupation came—on July 1st, 1940— about half the boys had already left the Island. A few days later those who remained assembled with Mr. P. A. Tatam, Vice-Principal and Acting Headmaster. There were about 130 boys, and the Masters included 'Messrs. Kennett, Bonne, Rowley, Williams, Gaskin and Nicolle. Almost at once the Germans took over College House as their civil headquarters and there they remained throughout the Occupation years.

The school was reorganised into six forms working to a simplified time-table ; the teaching of chemistry had to be abandoned but most other subjects continued. Meanwhile the Preparatory Department had moved to the De Carteret building in the care of Miss L. Casimir (whose work, then and later, was beyond praise).

At first, the Germans interfered very little with the College and a fairly normal routine was possible. However, in September 1941, they requisitioned the College buildings to house a contingent of " Hitler Youth " and the College was forced to move to the Halkett Place School. Thanks to the combined efforts of Masters and boys, practically everything movable was taken from the buildings; honours boards and pictures from the Hall, together with most of the corridor cupboards, were stored in the Rifle Range and the Howard Hall ; the library was left intact and was boarded off from the Hall; the rest of the equipment—furniture, books and stationery—was taken to Halkett Place School, leaving bare rooms. The next blow fell about a year later when, on the pretext of " reprisals ", a number of English-born residents were deported to Germany among them Mr. Kennett, Mr. Williams, Crumpton (the College Porter) and several boys. This was a serious loss to the teaching Staff of the College but substitutes were found and valuable help was given by boys who had recently left College ; among these should be mentioned S. E. Guy, G. H. Hamon and H. F. Le Gresley. Others who played their part included Mr. R. E. Vardon, the Rev. W. de V. du Pre Mr. T. V. Le Breton and the Rev. P. K. Preston.

In October 1942 the Germans left the College buildings and the school was able to return and, by the Spring term of 1943, to restore everything to its former place. Little damage had been done, though the Hall windows had been painted black to within two or three feet of the bottom. The College soon settled down again to work and games. These latter were much restricted for a number of reasons, but every attempt was made to keep them going and an XI was in existence during most of the Occupation period. About this time German was made a compulsory subject though its introduction met with some passive resistance and some masterly delaying tactics. In these, as in so many matters throughout those years, the courage and determination of Mr. Tatam stood out splendidly. But for him the College might have been in a far less happy condition in many respects and, indeed, it is doubtful whether it could even have carried on.

During all this time the boys who had left Jersey in 1940 were going their various ways. A group of fourteen who had public examinations were received at Shrewsbury School where they remained until the end of the Summer Term 1940. With them were Mr. Grummitt, Mr. Eden, Mr. Salt and Mr. Nichols. The College owes gratitude to Shrewsbury for this very hospitable action.

In September 1940, about 40 boys with Mr. Grummitt, Mr. Hopewell and Miss Aubrey were accommodated at Bedford School. Shortly afterwards Mr. Grummitt left on his appointment as Principal of Belfast Royal Academical Institution, and Mr. S. M. Toyne consented to act as Headmaster of 'Victoria College at Bedford '. Mr. Toyne had been for 20 years Headmaster of S. Peter's School, York, before coming to Bedford to give part-time help. Victoria College owes a great deal to him for the tremendous work which he did during the next five years. The Victorians at Bedford took a full part in the activities of their foster-parent school and brought honour to themselves and to Bedford in both work and games, but they never lost their identity as Victorians. As an expression of their gratitude they and other friends of Victoria College presented an Oak Panel, and an oak seat which now stands in the Bedford School playing-fields.

The school magazine " The Victorian " had ceased publication after April 1940. However Mr. Worrall, who had gone to live in Cheltenham, stepped into the breach and produced a News Letter which became a means of contact between Victorians almost everywhere. It was a wonderful achievement and it did untold good in keeping a corporate Victoria College spirit alive during those broken years.

Back in Jersey conditions of life had been gradually deteriorating. Food had become scarcer and there was neither gas nor electricity; transport was extremely difficult. For these and other reasons, afternoon school and homework were discontinued, and games were possible only on a small scale. Early in 1945 the first Red Cross food-parcels arrived in the Island and the more adequate diet made games once more feasible. College Field had been dug up into allotments and the Little Field had become a German riding school, so that games had to be played on the sands...... And then, at long last, came VE Day. School had begun as usual but, at II o'clock, the Headmaster publicly announced the glorious news. The National Anthem was sung ; flags were hoisted on the College towers, and the 175 boys of the College dismissed to join in the general rejoicing.

Soon after the Liberation the Headmaster got in touch with the Oxford and Cambridge Board, which agreed to accept and mark the School Certificate papers set by qualified residents in 1943, and to award Certificates. Arrangements were also made for College boys to' take the examinations of the Board in July 1945, when three boys passed Higher Certificate (one with distinction) and 37 gained School Certificates. Thus, in spite of all hardship and difficulty, academic standards had not been allowed to fall away.

At the end of 1945 Mr. Tatam resigned the office which he had so faithfully held during the five most difficult years of the College's life. His work during that time was a fitting crown to 42 years of unselfish and devoted service to Victoria College. His name is inscribed on the door of the room in which he taught for so long ; it is as certainly inscribed in the hearts of hundreds of Victorians. " Pat " was succeeded by Mr. R. Postill, T.D., M.A., sometime Natural Sciences Exhibitioner of Trinity College, Cambridge. Mr. Postill had been an Assistant Master at Aldenham and at Tonbridge and, during the War, had served in the Royal Corps of Signals, becoming Commandant of the Royal Signals O.C.T.U. His first great task was one of re-organisation. Many of '"the temporary Staff who had helped to keep the College alive had left to continue their careers. Mr. Eden and Mr. Salt returned from the Services, the former to resume command of the J.T.C. (now the C.C.F.) and the latter to become Senior Classics Master, and many new Masters were appointed. M. Bonne, who had for 17 years been Head of Modern Languages, retired in the Spring of 1945; Major Dawson returned to complete a period of service extending back to 1912. Mr. W. H. Thorne, a former Assistant Master at the " Prep " was appointed its new Master-in-Charge. And the process of rebuilding continued.

On June 2nd 1946 a memorial service to Old Victorians who had lost their lives in the Second World War was held in College Hall. The academic life of the College quickly resumed a normal pattern. Work was organised on a Form basis, with " setting " in certain subjects and with a wide choice of alternative subjects in the Upper School. By the autumn term numbers had risen to 275 and it was found necessary to use two rooms at College House as class-rooms. The lack of playing fields was a serious handicap but Mr. Carlyle Le Gallais and Mr. Perredes lent fields temporarily. Cricket had to be played on the beach, in the Prep. playground, or on Dr. Warrington's lawn, and so it was not surprising that Elizabeth won the first post-war cricket match. However, by 1947 cricket was again possible on a re-sown College Field, with the Tuckshop doing a brisk trade between the innings.

In 1948 the generous benefaction of the late John Hammond Wimble came into effect. On his death in 1929 he had left £20,000 the income from which, after certain life interests had expired, was to provide Scholarships at Oxford or Cambridge. The first Wimble Scholar was B. W. Tiffen who had previously won a Channel Islands Scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford.

In 1948 College House was reopened for boarders ; at first the Headmaster and Mrs. Postill had only 9 boys to care for, but the number steadily increased and, at the time of writing, is in the thirties. In the same year we were honoured by a visit from Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (whose signature may still be seen on the C.C.F. bass-drum).

In 1949 the first full-scale inspection of the College for many years was carried out by H.M. Inspectors, who reported favourably.

By this time a full games programme had become possible and in 1950 College Field was enriched by a new Pavilion, the gift of an O.V., G. 0. Laurens. On July 31st it was opened by Mr. Laurens, and Mrs. Laurens unveiled the plaque commemorating their son, George Henry Francis Laurens, and all other Old Victorians who had given their lives in the Second World War.

Meanwhile the Association of Old Victorians had decided to present an Art School as a War Memorial for the College, and had announced that Miss Margaret Brodie, of Glasgow, had been selected as winning architect in open competition. Work was soon begun on the building and it was completed in time for the Centenary Celebrations, when it was opened by H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester. The Entrance Hall to the Art School houses the Roll of Honour and a tablet in memory of Dr. Harold John Blampied, O.V.

A very pleasing ceremony took place on January 15th 1951 when the College assembled to witness -unveiling in the library of a portrait by Van Doorne of Mr. A. H. Worrall. The Bailiff, Sir Alexander Coutanche, spoke of Mr. Worrall’s great work for the College, and Mr. Worrall suitably replied.

1952 was a great year, marking as it did the Centenary of the opening of Victoria College, though the early part of the year was clouded by the untimely death of His Majesty King George VI, our Visitor.

The College celebrated its Centenary in many ways, not least by winning the Athletics Match against Elizabeth for the first time since the War and by winning both cricket matches. The celebrations reached their climax on July 26th when H.R.H. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester visited the College. They were received with the Royal Salute from a Guard of Honour of the C.C.F. and then moved to the Memorial Art School. During a dedication service conducted by the Dean of Jersey and the Rev. G. R. Balleine. the Bailiff read the Roll of Honour, and His Royal Highness unveiled the Memorial plaques. After the service the Royal Party inspected the building and then moved through the Howard Hall, with its portrait of King George V, to. College Hall where school and guests had assembled. The Head Prefect read and presented a Loyal Address, to which the Duke graciously responded. The Duke then presented the Queen's Awards on behalf of Her Majesty. After the Carmen and the National Anthem the Duke and Duchess went to " Belk " to sign the Visitors' Book and to meet members of Governing Body and Staff. They finally left through the cheering ranks of the school. On the next evening their Royal Highnesses attended an official Banquet in College Hall. The celebrations also included a Centenary Service in College Hall and a Choral and Instrumental Concert at which the new Compton Electronic Organ presented by the States was heard. Later, on 28th September 1952, the eve of the actual Centenary Day, the whole College joined in a half-hour programme of hymns which was broadcast by the B.B.C.

Early in the Autumn Term the annual Old Victorian Dinner was held in College Hall; the experiment was so successful that all subsequent Annual Dinners have been held there.

By 1952 College Services had increased in scope and were making an ever more valuable contribution to the corporate life of the school. The Hall served as the Chapel and in it were held Choral Services on three days a week, a Communion Service early on Sundays, and the Terminal Service. In more recent years there have also been two Evensongs each term, attended by some boys and parents. The need for new classrooms had by now become apparent and' in 1953 a fine new block built on the site of the old " Hohenlinden " garden, was opened.

It bears the name " De Carteret " so as to preserve the link with the late Jurat Reginald Malet de Carteret who had been Chairman of the Governing Body from 1927 to 1935. His photograph, presented by his son, Jurat Guy Malet de Carteret, hangs in the entrance hall. The building contains a Biology Laboratory, a General Science Laboratory and six large classrooms, as well as a C.C.F. Armoury and Store.

During these later years College games had continued to improve rapidly. Elizabeth College had been kept well at bay, except in Athletics. The annual football tour of England, where matches are played against some of the strongest of English Public Schools, has proved tremendously successful and the College has an excellent record. College footballers have been regularly chosen for representative Public School sides. The Swimming Tour includes the Public Schools' race at the Bath Club, and matches against Brighton College, Taunton's School, and the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. The Shooting VIII has made remarkable progress and for the past few years has always been among the leaders at the Public Schools' Meeting at Bisley. In 1954 the VIII was 4th in the Ashburton, and won the Cottesloe Vase; in 1955 it won the Cottesloe again, and in 1956 had perhaps its greatest year, coming 2nd in the Ashburton, winning the Montagu Jones Trophy, and retaining the Cottesloe.

The C.C.F. has also made much progress in directions other than shooting. In 1951 an R.A.F. Section was formed and it has provided valuable training for many senior boys. The scope of Army training increased considerably with the introduction of new arms and equipment, and opportunities for specialist training were also provided by the foundation in 1946 of a Signals Platoon. The continued health and efficiency of the Corps, reflected in its Annual Inspection Reports, owe much to the devoted work of Lt. Col. R. L. Eden who has commanded it (except during the War) since 1931— a record which is unlikely ever to be surpassed.

The Scout Troop, though officially disbanded during the Occupation, kept itself alive through those years and has now reached the mature age of 30. It does immensely valuable work, chiefly amongst the younger boys, and the College has cause to be grateful to all the Scoutmasters and other helpers who have worked, and are working, to achieve and maintain its high standards.

A highly successful experiment was the foundation, in 1953, of the Friday Club. School work is now arranged so that all the Sixth Forms may meet as a club on Friday afternoons to hear lectures and recitals, and to conduct debates and discussions on a wide variety of subjects. Election to full membership, and thence to office, is the reward of special merit, and the Chairmanship of the Club is rightly accounted a high honour.

Since 1952 there has been a gradual reintroduction of the former College colours, black and gold, for cap, tie, blazer and scarf. The change was not made without considerable thought, and it appears now to be generally approved. The games colours are still chocolate and white.

No account of the College would be complete without a reference to the Preparatory. When Mr. W. H. Thorne was appointed Master-in-Charge in 1946 he faced a difficult task of re-organisation. The faithful work of those who had served the ' Prep.' during the Occupation had kept its spirit alive, but new problems arose almost at once through the return of families to the Island and the consequent demand for places. Within eighteen months the numbers had increased to nearly 200, about double the pre-war maximum, and the pressure on physical space became a serious difficulty. This was partially met by the release of the " Scout Hut " for use as Prep. form rooms, but subsequently it became necessary to restrict entry, and aim at a maximum of 150 boys. When Mr. Thorne left in 1956, the results of his great work were apparent in the very happy and healthy school which he handed over to his successor, Mr. R. H. Tostevin.

Recent educational developments in Jersey have left the status of the College virtually unchanged, but have laid upon it an even more important responsibility in the life of the Island.

Reginae Victoriae; floreat Collegium

(This report is taken from the 1930-1956 College Register.)