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

From AGM McEwan, 1961-66

One of my most vivid memories of West Downs is the annual fireworks party, down in Melbury (and, indeed, events generally that took place in the Melbury grounds). If I recall correctly, Reg Severn & Mr. Potts were in charge of operations, and the fireworks displays always seemed to be quite magnificent. Possibly, in terms of today’s colour-televised displays of fireworks at Olympic Games, etc, the Melbury performance was fairly tame by comparison but – at the time – I must say that it made a much greater impression and was much more memorable.

Turning to catering, two vivid memories stick out. Firstly the rows of bottles of Ribena on the sideboard in the Dining Room. I can never remember how they were identified or how individuals positioned their bottles to ensure no one helped themselves to the wrong bottle. Possibly it was in reality a free-for-all. I do, however, remember the wasps in Summer. Great entertainment when someone else picked up a bottle and was pursued by an enthusiastic swarm of wasps! The, in the kitchens, the great day (ca. 1964) when someone hit a six “out of the grounds” from the 1st XI pitch, the ball going clean through the window and into the vast vat of custard bubbling away on the ring. No great concern about the broken window, the effect on the custard or the whereabouts of the broken pieces of glass. However, was the cricket ball undamaged, and could we please have it back!

For one reason or another I don’t think I ever visited West Downs after leaving in 1966 until a brief nostalgic visit in the summer of 1989. What particularly surprised me was that, given this period of absence, I had no problem finding my way around, recalling what happened when in particular places, and how it all seemed such a short time ago. Yes, it must all have made quite an impression ...

Murdo McEwan