Old West Downs Society – Memories of the Tindall Era, 1922-1954

From A J Barnett, 1944-48

Snow at Blair Castle 1944. The deer coming on to the games field – no games at all.

Luggage in Advance. Depending on where you lived you had your trunk packed by Matron or her Deputy with what clothes could be found.

Sunday Walks. At Blair past the Duke’s Burial grounds (which have incidentally been moved) to the front gates.

Visit to Dentist. At Blair we had to go to Dundee!

Lotti und Gerda. They were enormous ‘fraus oder fraulein,’ and their food looked no better. Stringy venison was often on the menu.

Melbury. Summer play amid a cloud of midges. K.B.T.’s pipe helped if you were near him.

Cricket Commentaries. I was lucky to be in the 1st XI and we used to be allowed to listen to the cricket on the radio in K.B.T.’s sitting room. E.W. Swanton often came down and gave a Sunday evening lecture.

Horris Hill. Again I was lucky to be in the 1st XI and visits to the above school were not always looked forward to. The food was not that hot and the place stank of ‘Jeyes Fluid’.

K.B.T. Last rounds at night, usually accompanied by his “booming Pom Pom” to some well known tune. “Good night Sir, Good night all.”

Epidemic at Blair. All school injected, bare bums in Shakespeare. Measles, I remember the Doctor had wellies on!

Miss Playsted, music teacher. Dry as a bone.

Music Lessons. At the bottom of the stairs at Blair amongst all the swords etc on the walls.

Banvie Burn. Constant collection of cricket balls amongst the rocks.

Carpentry Lessons (Winchester). In the ‘Prefab’ outside the loos at Winchester. I cannot remember the name of the instructor. Mr. Adams?

Gardens (Winchester). Everyone had a bit of a garden and we were supposed to keep it tidy. It was a bit of a forlorn hope, but I think we thought it was fun!

D.H.G. As all of us were plucked from our homes in the war, whatever our circumstance, he would always be prepared to listen and as far as I can remember he never had any problem in controlling his class. I went for an interview at Eton and that day polio was confirmed and I was not allowed to re- enter the school. D.H.G. went and collected my pen from my desk! That was the end of West Downs for me.

The Loch at Blair. We were allowed when time permitted to go and fish on the loch. I was told to go but no one would come with me.

Terrible Scandal. There was a room at Blair that was sacrosanct and no one was allowed to go near never mind into it, but one boy did.

Scout Games in the forest (Blair). This was very popular and of course there were thousands of acres for us to run wild in.

The first term at Winchester. I cannot remember a lot of this as I was experiencing the ‘South’ for the first time. I had never been south of the Tyne! It was a big change. Level games fields and the chance to play other schools was a big ‘plus’. We only had one school vaguely near us at Blair, but there was no petrol to get there.

Travelling to and from Blair. This was an adventure as there were no Names on the stations and we had to count where we got out.

Chapel at Blair. This was held in Shakespeare, we put out the chairs that were round the outside.


Harry Ricardo. Taught drawing, Douglas Anderson was taught by him. Scouting was organised by him. As he was teaching I assume that he was not fit. I think he died fairly young.

Mr. Ledgard. Taught only the Senior Division. Very prim and proper. Was at Blair. Always wore a stiff white collar.

Freddy Baleine. Came back to Winchester after the war, was held in high esteem by pupils but was never as approachable as D.H.G. Taught games at which he was very good. He had a very short fuse.

Mr. Schuster. Very popular. Freddy Baleine and he were great pals, but was not games oriented. Went on to be a Headmaster somewhere.

Mr. Tremellen. Had a wooden leg and a cigarette holder! Was popular.

Miss Richardson. Young and very unap-proachable. Rather insecure?

Miss Campbell! Not absolutely certain of the name. She was at Blair and was very nice, just the person for first term boys. I think she came down to Winchester.

P.E. Instructor. Name escapes me but he was at Winchester. He was ex Army and very tough. We had no PE at Blair. He was very good and he got on with everyone, a typical WO2. He was very efficient.

Antony Turner. Six feet four inches tall, with an unruly mop of brown hair and a pock marked face. Could do a lot of things, like play the piano, but never excelled at any of them! Tried hard and even attempted to help in the cricket coaching.

I don’t remember these sanitary preps at all, but the bathing at Blair was a hell of a performance. One bath here and another some where else, and they all had to be supervised.

I have found a copy of the West Downs Magazine and OWD Register 1939-1948 and you will have to correct my notes and spelling of names but I do not think that my memory has served me too badly.

Anthony Barnett