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

From MRF Simson (Staff 1935-40)

I was at Glenapp only for the Christmas term of 1940 during which time it was possible only to start a very basic routine. My calling-up papers came at the end of the year and I left for the south and naval training.

The move to Glenapp produced many problems for the Tindalls and the staff. The space available for classrooms, sleeping and dining etc was considerably less than at Winchester. There were, at the beginning, no suitable areas for organised games; these had to be made, and little progress had been made by the time I left. Scouting, walks and bicycle rides – mostly in the grounds – were the order of the day. Bicycling led, on one occasion, to an accident to one boy and to considerable anxiety to the member of staff on duty at the time – not me, I’m glad to say – though there was nothing he could have done to prevent it. There were also some changes, some new boys from Scotland and some from English schools whose parents thought that Scotland would be safer than where they were before. These all had to get used to customs new to them.

I think it could be said that the boys settled better than the staff, most of whom had to live at another house a little distance away from the castle. My abiding memory is of trying to put together the boys’ beds. These, you will doubtless remember, were of black metal frames, and all had been taken apart by the removal firm in Winchester and dumped, unlabelled, at Glenapp. The beds had obviously been acquired at different times and were, by no means, identical. We put them together on the lawn, the weather, fortunately, being fine. After much trial and error, not to say frustration, we had enough beds for the school but also enough spare parts which would not fit together’

If I had to generalise I think one of the main problems was, like that of the beds, making things and people fit into the space available. The school, also, had to adapt to the changed conditions which, after my time, I’m sure they did though, of course, they had to move again later.

I’m afraid that what I have said cannot be of much use to you; it is too vague. It is fifty years ago and details fade. I do remember your name but cannot put a face to you. My wife and I looked round West Downs in the summer. It still hasn’t been sold and looks sad and derelict unlike Melbury which is now obviously a top-class housing estate.

M.R.F. Simson