Old West Downs Society – Memories of the Cornes Era, 1954-1988

From Andrew EA Selous 1970-75

Dear Mr. Hichens

I am writing in response to the letter from Nick Hodson to OWDs about the history of West Downs which you are going to write.

I was at the School from 1970-75 while the Cornes were running the school. Although the Cornes’ obstruction of the proposed continuation of the school has probably left a bitter taste in the mouth of many OWDs I am sure that the vast majority have very happy memories of their time at the school while the Cornes were in charge.

I remember in particular how they used to come round all the dormitories just before lights out to say good night and talk to the boys. As a special treat for the two junior dormitories (St. Cross and Top) Jerry would occasionally dress up in an old cloak, don a bush hat with feathers, and carry a spear. He would then prowl round the dormitory singing “Hold him down the Swazi Warrior”, to the delight of all the boys, while shaking his spear. I remember the excitement I felt. It was a marvellous gesture to the sense of fun and imagination of the boys and I do not believe there would have been many headmasters then or now who would have done such a thing for their boys.

I hope that you may have space to record this incident.

Andrew Selous