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

From David Forbes, 1947-52

I was second generation at WD. My father and his brother being there in the 1920’s at the beginning of KT’s tenure. My nephew made it a third generation just before the school closed – I believe the Parishes beat that record with some ease.

My father left at the age of 12 to go on to Dartmouth, but sadly died in 1953 after I had gone on to Charterhouse. However during my time there he never missed a Founder’s Day cricket match. I always looked forward to the Founder’s Day weekend, and remember a feeling of great sadness when it was over.

Personal memories are legion. Instructor Harry Risbridger encouraging Hugh Faulkner and me to beat each other’s brains out in the gentle art of boxing. I am glad boxing has now been stopped.

Chapel, in which I was confirmed at the age of 12½. I visited it last some three years ago, and count myself very lucky to have undergone religious instruction from KT at that particular time of life. James Mitchell-Innes was in the same confirmation class, but, unlike me, he, the Rev, has not let it wear off.

School Matches. Why were Horris Hill always so much bigger than us, the boys I mean. A friend of mine in the Navy was ex Horris Hill, and is still 6 inches taller than me! They served smashing cocoa in plastic mugs. And that marvellous smelly noisy char-à-banc that drove us back to Winchester of a winter evening.

DH-G. What an incredible man he was. As a much younger man he taught my father. He was responsible for easing many of us (non academic types) through C.E. with what seemed little effort from us. Did he have special shoes? That lazy swing of the right foot, all of six inches, and the hard toe of his shoe would propel the football the length of the pitch.

Melbury. What was the name of that game we played on the bank? Two wicket stumps 20 yards apart, with a team anchored to each. The aim: to pull the front man of the other side – I was talking to the late Sir Peter Scott a year or so ago. He was at WD with my father, and always remembered these contests. In P.S.’s book “The Eye of the Wind” p.30 and following, there are a few anecdotes of his experiences. Like many of us he was a great admirer of KT.

The Staff.

Where do you start? Was it Maisie Richardson, who taught me first; old Melly and old Madame. Then young Madame, who still looked young thirty five years later. Reg Severn, straight from Oxford, who broke my scout knife, and took it down to Winchester to have it reground. How loyal he has been throughout the recent dramas. Finally back to Kenneth Tindall. What a tower of strength he was. I remember that after my father died, I very much wanted someone to talk to. As fate had it, my housemaster’s son at Charterhouse was at WD, and it was arranged to take me there on a convenient Sunday. He understood us well, and had a very hard slipper! And can anyone forget his portrayal of Caliban in the Tempest.

David Forbes