Ely High School, 1905-1957
On Downham Road - Then and Now.
If I had stood on our school site fifty years ago a completely different scene from that of to-day would have faced me. Perhaps there would have been more time to lean on a rough wooden gate and survey the flat countryside typical of the Fens: the rough, narrow road which winds its way past the green quivering spinney to Little Downham; on the little hill, the mill standing like a giant, waving his arms and looking with pleasure at the pleasant pasture surrounding him; on each side of the worn road the water-filled dykes with their tall rushes helping to drain the fens.
It is possible also to imagine the people who would pass by on their way to work or to market: a farmer in his breeches, his leather gaiters, and worn clothes with his scythe over his shoulder; perhaps a freckled farm lad, driving animals to the market, or leading a plodding carthorse to the plough; a young, motherly girl with a group of younger brothers dressed in their neat frilly clothes, and sisters in their gay dresses and white starched pinafores. Looking towards Ely I should be able to see, as now, the towering Cathedral high over the roof-tops.
Now, if I stand near the gate of the new Ely High School and look towards Little Downham I see fewer trees, neat hedges lining the fields, and the mill, no longer working, but leaning without its sails, and watching the progress in which it is no longer able to take part. Tractors are working in the fields, and the hard road gives passage to the streamlined vehicles rushing by. The magnificent red brick school buildings offer girls of this age and of the future a happy school life and greater opportunities for different careers. The most familiar figure now on the Downham Road is the Ely High School girl, dressed in her neat navy uniform, with her satchel on her shoulder.
M RUDDERHAM, V alpha.
Our Windows - Old View.
In St. Mary's Street the windows in the main building of the school had a very interesting picture over the roof-tops to the Cathedral, and some also caught a glimpse of St. Mary's Church. These churches made a lovely picture over the multi-coloured roofs, and their clocks were always a welcome sight! From the old Library one of the many passages could be seen and also the beautiful lawn, of which we were all proud.
From the Domestic Science room some of the windows looked out on to the playground, some on to the garden of the Lodge, and some on to the Dining Room with its lovely large Georgian window. The Laboratory windows faced the playground, but although they were large the sun never entered. The row of prefabricated huts had windows on two sides, one showing flowerbeds, the other the playground. The Hall also showed the Lodge garden and the Botany garden. A more varied number of views would be hard to find, considering we were in the city centre.
J BURROUGHS, U. IV A.
Many People Remember
'OPERATION SHOPPING BAG.'
The mention of an operation, code name, 'Shopping Bag,' may conjure up some idea of a secret wartime venture. But the Operation Shopping Bag that took place in Ely in 1957 was not in wartime and it was certainly not secret. It was the removal of books and small pieces of equipment from the old school to the new. The shopping bag was not a code name, but indicated the articles used to carry the books.
The morning that heralded the beginning of the operation cleared after a dull, rainy beginning. In extreme contrast with the cumbersome satchels usually carried by schoolgirls coming to school, they arrived carrying bags of all descriptions from large leather holdalls to brightly-coloured plastic containers, from string bags to open baskets.
In the classrooms cupboards had been turned inside out and the contents stacked ready for removal. After a bag had been filled with books the long trek to the new school began for its owner. The residents on Downham Road found their peaceful morning disturbed by the chatter of groups of girls evidently pleased with the change from school routine. Spurred on by the prospect of seeing inside the new school they made the downward journey quickly, but after a while the pace became considerably slower. As the day wore on the lamp posts and walls along the road found themselves being used as leaning posts.
After two or three days all the books had been removed. Now all the small equipment had to be taken. People walking along the road must have been shocked out of their wits when they found themselves confronted by a spider with six legs made by scroll maps, or a box of saucepans appearing also to have grown legs. By the end of the week the new school was ready. We moved in on the next Monday with not a few grumbles about aching feet.
H LAWRENCE, U. IV alpha.
Obviously, when we moved to our new school buildings we could not leave the text-books behind us, much as many of us might have liked to, so the whole school was asked to bring shopping bags to carry them down to the new buildings. Each form was assigned to a special group of books. Each morning the girls all queued up with their bags to ' have them filled, after which they set off with their special friends in a group to walk to the school.
Most girls set out on their daily journeys with an aim in mind - either to make as many trips as possible, or as few! I think the record for the most went to a member of the Upper Thirds; no one bothered to enquire who held the record for the fewest. As we walked along conversation ranged from the latest records, stars and films, to 'cabbages and kings', as the Walrus puts it. Indeed, if the books could talk they might have quite a lot to say about the people who carried them! As the days wore on the once bare cupboards in the new buildings began to take on a 'new look', as they were filled with books of all shapes, sizes and colours.
Indeed, the whole building began to feel more lived-in, more like a school, and not just an immense new erection, so new that paint and wood-shavings were the principal smells. Soon there were no more books or Science apparatus or Art equipment to be carried, and 'Operation Shopping Bag' was declared a success. Everyone felt pleased at the achievement, which, despite the work involved, had been great fun. Miss Tilly and the Staff must have been glad it was over, for it entailed a lot of work and organising for them.
M CURTIS, U. IV A.
I think it was on a Friday morning that Miss Tilly, our Head Mistress, told us all to bring shopping bags on the following Monday. Here she paused as we all gasped in astonishment because we thought we were all going shopping for her! She went on to explain what we were going to do. On Monday morning, along with my friends, I arrived at school with my shopping bag. The Mathematics books were kept in a classroom opposite the Staff-room, and after Assembly all Lower III A went up the stairs to some Prefects who gave us the books.
Some of us had a few large, thick books, some a lot of small, thin ones; some books were colourful, some were dull; I do not think I had ever seen such a collection of books about Mathematics, which was one of my worst subjects. At the end of the afternoon a wonderful surprise awaited us. We were in our formroom with our hats and coats on ready for home, when Miss Tilly came in and told us we should not be needed any more that week. We all went mad with excitement for this was indeed a lovely finish for an extraordinary day.
E BELL, Upper III A.
To and fro, to and fro,
From the old to new we go,
Always hurry, never lag,
On 'Operation Shopping Bag'.
Sometimes laughing, sometimes talking,
But for ever we were walking,
Carrying books, maybe a stool,
Moving into our new school.
Twice; or maybe more a day,
We walked along our tedious way,
In the sun or in the rain,
We walked that road again, again.
With tired feet and weary heads
We travelled homewards to our beds,
Because the days now seemed to drag
On 'Operation Shopping Bag'.
K KILBY, Upper IV A.
The first morning we all eagerly queued up for our quota of books. We were taking the French books, and hurried off along Downham Road. We had only to go to the long corridor, just inside the building, but what we saw of the school greatly impressed us, there was so much space, and gay colours: reds, blues, purples and mauves in abundance. We would have loved to stay, but we might not.
Although we had set off at a good pace, progress that day became noticeably slower. The intense heat was overpowering, and our arms began to ache with the weight of the books. After each journey we hurriedly snatched a drink of water to refresh ourselves. My friends and I made on an average seven trips a day, of which we felt quite proud. When we had finished removing the French books we helped to carry other things. I personally carried Biology books, tins of paint, scientific apparatus, Library books, stationery and stools besides. Each of these things enabled me to see a new part of the building; each part, it seemed to me, more magnificent than the last.
S TURNILL, Upper IV A.
What a commotion those days were, but everyone was so cheerful at the prospect of entering a beautiful new school the very next term that we enjoyed helping. The formrooms in the old school looked deserted and bare, whilst the usually quiet corridors were filled with crowds of girls carrying loads of books in shopping bags. Great piles of these books were stacked up in every conceivable corner waiting to be carried to their new destination. 'My dear girl, you can't possibly take all those books,' seemed to be the remark most often heard from the Staff. The Art Room was stripped of its colourful paintings, the paints and equipment were all stacked up ready for removal.
I remember seeing Miss Surgey's look of utter horror when a girl accidentally put her foot on to a large pile of paint tins. The Science equipment had to be carried very carefully. Imagine the thoughts of a passer-by, meeting one of our girls bearing the skeleton of the rabbit. I was thrilled at the thought of being in such a fine, new school, but I felt rather a 'traitor' at first in leaving the old one, of which I had become very fond.
A TWENTYMAN, Upper IV A.
Tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp,
The weary miles go by,
And all the little schoolgirls
just sigh and sigh and sigh.
The shopping bags are filled quite full
With books, some big, some small,
And often scientific things,
Each one of which seems tall.
The day grows on, the girls march on,
Marching on their way.
This is not a job for fun,
But still it gets no pay!
Some girls just sit around and read
While others do the work,
But 'Operation Shopping Bag'
Is something you can't shirk.
At last the books all seemed to go,
The task, I trust is done,
And perhaps, in spite of all the work,
It really was quite fun.
D STANLEY, Upper IV A.
My form's job was to carry the Mathematics books to the new school. We lined up outside the Mathematics cupboards, receiving about six books each. It took us about fifteen minutes to reach our destination, but some walked more quickly than othgrs. As I entered the new school it seemed so empty compared with the one I had just left behind, but I think the vivid colour struck me most of all.
F DAVIES, Upper III A.
Oh! how we watched with envious eye
As Staff on bikes went sailing by!
But not for us the easy life;
Those days were filled with stress and strife.
Our books and papers, pens and ink,
Into our satchels they did sink.
Then to and fro, for all our worth
We struggled on, no time for mirth.
Shopping bags we bore along,
But not, alas! with merry song.
Soon our march became unruly -
None there was who'd be a coolie !
But even so we reached at length
Though, truth to tell, bereft of strength,
That multi-windowed new abode,
The Ely High School, Downham Road.
Up and down the stairs we stumbled
As our motto we all mumbled :
Fortiter ad Fastigium-
O plantae miserae pedum
J SMITH, Upper IV A.
WE WELCOME HRH THE DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER.
October 21st, 1957, is a day that I shall remember all my life. It was the day that our new school was officially opened by HRH The Duchess of Gloucester, and, although it dawned dull and cheerless, our enthusiasm was not dampened. Instead of going straight to school we met at St. Audrey's Infant School, where we all had a sandwich lunch. Immediately after this we took up our positions along the royal route.
The autumn wind blew chill across the fens and our fingers and toes were numb with cold, but our enthusiasm was revived by the arrival of other distinguished guests. We all took a feminine interest in the clothes worn for such an important occasion. Shortly afterwards we heard a muffled cheer, and we realised that HRH was arriving. Her car was preceded by four policemen who kept the roads clear. She was wearing a pink ensemble, and looked very distinguished, smiling a little, and waving her hand.
C CORNELL, Upper III A.
Whilst we were waiting for Her Royal Highness to arrive there was an opportunity to admire the decorations of flowers and plants, and the magnificent inkstand belonging to Alderman Payne which he had kindly lent for the occasion. However, when it was announced that the Duchess would be with us in a few minutes, everyone fell silently into line ready for the Presentations, which were to be made in the Crush Hall instead of outside, as the afternoon had turned cold.
The Duchess came through the doors into the school and the cheers of the girls lining the drive died away. She proceeded to shake hands with the distinguished visitors, among whom were the Lord Bishop, the Lord Lieutenant of the County, and the Member of Parliament for the Isle, Members of the Education Committee, people responsible for the new building, and the Governors and representatives of the School were also presented.
After the presentations I asked Her Royal Highness whether she would be so kind as to accept a blue, leather-bound book, specially given by the printers, containing the programme of the ceremony, a brief history of the School, and an introduction to the new School.
Having received the book, the Duchess consented to plant a tree in the school grounds, and we proceeded to the west of the buildings where Her Royal Highness performed the ceremony. We did not return into the Crush Hall along the long corridor, but walked along the path outside the school so that as many girls as possible could see our Royal visitor. At Dr Tilly's request the Duchess of Gloucester signed the Distinguished Visitors' Book, which had been given by the Old Girls as a present to the New School. We then moved into the Gymnasium for the actual Opening Ceremony.
S WYMER, Head Girl.
In the Gymnasium, the gay roof providing a bright contrast with the rather dull day outside, we sat whispering excitedly as we awaited the arrival of the Duchess. The guests had arrived and the tension in the Gym. was rising. Cheers from the Juniors, lining the Entrance Drive, increased the excitement. Then a murmur from the front of the assembly, quickly silenced, told us that Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Gloucester, had entered the school.
Her Royal Highness entered, accompanied by the Lord Bishop, Dr. Tilly, and numerous other distinguished visitors. We stood as she entered, and while we were standing the Right Reverend Noel Hudson, the Lord Bishop, led the assembly in prayer. The chords of a famous hymn rang out, and we sang 'Praise the Lord, ye Heavens adore Him.' After we were all seated again, the Rev T Harrison, the Superintendent Minister of the Methodist Church, Ely Circuit, read an appropriate passage from the Scriptures. The School Choir, directed by Miss J Brown, then stood, and, accompanied by AW Wills, Esq, sang 'We love the place where Thine honour dwelleth' from 'Requiem' by Brahms.
Then came the moment for which we had waited so eagerly. The Chairman, Alderman JW Payne, briefly introduced HRH The Duchess of Gloucester. He sat, and then the Duchess, looking charming in a suit of delicate pink, stood. She gave quite a short address in a gentle, sincere voice. She mentioned the school's previous buildings and surroundings, and reminded us that this was not her first visit to Ely High School: with her husband she had visited the school in 1947, the year of the great Fen floods.
Applause greets the closing words of the Duchess as, from a stage in the well-appointed gymnasium, she declares the school open.
photo by John Slater, Ely, from unstated press report: via Helen Smith
She concluded by declaring the new School open, and asking for an extra day's holiday for the whole school. The cheers from the girls at the back of the Gymnasium were quite phenomenal! Jennifer Labdon, the Deputy Head Girl, presented HRH with a beautiful bouquet of orchids and lilies of the valley.
It was again the turn of the Choir, and they sang, very sweetly, the traditional folk song, 'Bobby Shaftoe,' and 'O Peaceful England !' from 'Merrie England' by Edward German. When the last notes of these lovely songs had died away, a vote of thanks to Her Royal Highness was proposed by Councillor J. M. Sneesby, Chairman of the Governors of Ely High School, and he was warmly seconded by the applause of the assembly. Sylvia Wymer, Head Girl of the School, then stepped forward and proposed a vote of thanks to all other persons concerned with Her Royal Highness's visit. We all stood and sang the National Anthem with great feeling. Her Royal Highness left the platform, and began her tour of the school, while we left the Gymnasium, and in a slightly awed silence, the school, scarcely able to realise that the great day had come and gone.
J BAKER, V A.
The Vote of Thanks proposed by the Head Girl at the Opening Ceremony.
Your Royal Highness, Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
"For many years since Ely High School was established it has been the general desire that there should be a building, specially constructed and in line with modern requirements, to accommodate the growing number of girls who come to the school for their education. Today has seen the culmination of years of hope, and I would like to thank those who have brought a seemingly distant idea to fruition. These buildings, in such pleasant surroundings, which have been designed with so much thought and care, will undoubtedly prove a source of inspiration, not only to present pupils, but to girls of many generations to come.
As one of those for whom this school has been provided, may I assure everyone who has been instrumental in designing, constructing and paying for these delightful and attractive facilities that they will be used and enjoyed to the full. Under these improved conditions and with such fine equipment, we are determined that our school achievements will reach even greater heights than they have done before. Much preliminary work and planning must go into such a project before the actual construction is commenced and even when this is completed a ceremony such as today's must be planned.
Therefore, on behalf of the school, I have very great pleasure in proposing a vote of thanks to all those, especially to you Mr Chairman, who have assisted in making this opening ceremony such a memorable one, and one which will take a proud place in the history of our school."
After she had been conducted round the school the Duchess returned to the Hall where she had tea with the other distinguished guests on the stage. At her table sat the Lord Bishop of Ely, Alderman Ollard, Dr Tilly, and Alderman and Mrs Payne: this table was served by the Head Girl of the School. The rest of the guests had a delicious buffet tea prepared by Miss Young, School Meals Organiser, assisted by the Canteen Staff, and served by the Prefects in the main body of the Hall.
There, there was displayed a magnificent cake decorated with the school crest, which had been baked by Miss Norman at Witchford as a gift for the School, It was much admired, and later, enjoyed by the school, when it was cut. When the Duchess had left the other guests took the opportunity of viewing the new buildings, which were generally admired.
H SMITH, Upper VI.
Some Buildings Speak - What Does Our School Say ?
Our School speaks in a very effective way, though not all the rooms speak in the same way or say the same things, as one hears in passing from one to another.
The cloakroom tells us to take off our coats, change our shoes, and comb our hair, while its clock reminds us that a new day of lessons will soon begin and we must hurry. Prayer time comes and now we go to the Hall. This is the room that sings, because here we have Prayers, and here our Music lessons are taken.
The Gymnasium reminds us to walk upright, with head up, stomach in and shoulders back. It tells us to jump high, straighten our legs and land with bended knees. Later, seated in our desks, when paper fora test has been given out, we look around the room for help, but this is a time when it remains silent. It will never produce an answer, but, after the test is over, it says that we must learn our work thoroughly next time.
The bell signals Break, and we make our way to the Crush Hall for milk and to eat our lunch. If it is a nice day this hall tells us to hurry up and go to the playground in the sunshine, but if it is a cold winter day the Crush Hall gives us leave to stay throughout Break. At the end of the day the cloakroom warns us that we must put our shoes into our shoebags. Everything completed we walk along the corridor which at this time is singing, until we reach the door, where it shouts after us 'Don't forget to do your homework,' and then continues to sing.
Wherever and whenever we walk through the school our motto of Fortiter ad Fastigium " is re-echoed and heard everywhere, reminding all of us to go bravely to the top.
K WENHAM, Upper IV A.
Some Juniors tell why they like the New School.
I like my new school very much because it is very modern, and has contemporary colours. We have a spacious Gymnasium with plenty of apparatus. There is a large Hall with a big stage. Above is our School Crest. The stage has a pair of beautiful red curtains. There is an Art Room with the Craft Room next door. The laboratories have plenty of light and apparatus which is very useful for experiments. We have a Needlework room with many cupboards for materials. The Cookery room is next door, and we have lovely cookers and Formica-topped tables. In the Dining room are tables where we can sit in sixes near our friends. In the Medical Inspection room is a stretcher bed, and lots of chairs in case we don't feel well. There are plenty of books on every subject in the Library. Altogether our school has everything you want for different subjects.
M LENNEY, Lower III alpha.
I like our new school first and foremost for the lovely view seen from our large windows. From our formroom we can see fields, trees and hedges, all at the moment looking a little the worse for their winter wear. I like the spacious, well-furnished Library. It is well set out, and I could sit there and read all day.
C SMITH, Lower III alpha.
I like this school because it is not so drab as some schools. Many Headmistresses, I am sure, must think that to work you must have a dull school, but this is silly. We have the most wonderful Hall and Gymnasium. When you go into the Hall something above the stage catches your eye. It is our badge, with the motto on it - Fortiter ad Fastigium - which means' Bravely to the Top.'
M THURSTON, Lower III alpha.
The best part of the school is the wonderful stage. I expect nearly all the parents saw it when the school put on the Shakespearean comedy, 'The Comedy of Errors.' We have the most marvellous stage lighting.
Next comes the Gymnasium which has a long corridor containing the lockers for shower-towels, for we have showers in the Changing Room. The Gymnasium itself is very large with all types of new apparatus. We have special heating round the walls. The floor is specially bouncey, and made of a lovely highly polished wood. The ceiling is orange, which sounds a little hectic, but is not really. All the colours throughout the school seem to blend very well.
S HOYLAND, Upper III A.
On entering the new school you feel welcomed by the beautiful colour of the paint on the walls and doors, by the warmth that closes round you on a cold winter day, and by the large door space which enables you to enter without pushing and squeezing.
C COWMEADOW, Upper III A.
I like our school because the outside appearance gives a warm welcome. The large doors look as if they want you to come in. Inside the building there is a wonderful colour scheme, which may appear a little unusual to some people, but which I find most exciting.
I like our large classrooms with their wide, spacious windows from which you can have a wonderful view of the countryside around.
On the school gate is a plaque presented by the School.
When I have finished my school career I shall be able to look back on the beautiful building with its sunlit classrooms where I spent many happy schooldays which I shall never forget.
P TWEED, Upper III A.
I like this modern school with all its up-to-date facilities in its lovely surroundings, because it makes learning a pleasure, and I am proud to be a pupil of it.
V LANE, Upper III A.
At the old school our formroom was next to the Geography room. The only view we had was of the passage between Cambridge cloakroom and Soham cloakroom. This could only be seen when you were standing on a chair because the bottom half of the windows was frosted. In the new school our formroom has clear windows completely down one side. They look out on to the road and the fields beyond. It is interesting to watch the trees going through their various stages.
The Assembly Hall at the old school was very small and had to act as the Gymnasium as well. There were no seats except for Miss Tilly and the Staff. In the new school the Hall has wooden and canvas chairs and there is plenty of space.
F STEVENS, Upper III A.
As you walk into the school it gives you a welcoming look, because it has wide swing doors. If there had been thin, narrow doors the school would look as if it was trying to lock you out, not as if it was asking you to step in.
A PALMER, Upper III A.
I think the most beautiful thing about the new school is the lovely Library. This is a spacious room with almost any book you could wish for, either fiction or non-fiction.
J PHILLIPS, Upper III A.
The answer to the question why I like Ely High School is that there are the playing fields where a number of different games can be played; Science Laboratories where we can experiment; the Gymnasium where we can have great fun on the apparatus, and afterwards have a cool shower; and that the interior decorating is so colourful and bright.
I feel very proud and fortunate to attend such a beautiful school. Ely High School always welcomes its pupils and every girl should feel happy who attends it.
H POLLARD, Upper III A.
Our Windows - New View.
Our windows are among the most striking things as one looks at the outside of our school. They are large, and give the building a modem appearance which the old school, in our time anyway, certainly lacked.
From the inside, too, they are pleasing to look at, and, which is perhaps more important, allow a beautiful, sweeping view across the surrounding countryside. From some windows we are able to see green fields, houses in the distance, and, dominating all, the Cathedral, which rises majestically over the Fens. Through others we see fields where cows are grazing, and the road, or playing fields bordered with trees. The sky itself is a delight, for it is never quite the same, but can vary enormously in colour, from a bright blue or delicate pink to a dull, leaden grey. Above all the sky is wide and free, and not cumbered by chimney smoke, for instead there are birds and trees, which add to the pleasure one is given by it.
What a contrast the windows of this school present with those of the other! Here there are large windows looking out on to peaceful countryside, there smaller ones overlooking a street busy with traffic and bustling people. Here the view is wide, there narrowed by tall buildings.
The windows here are literally larger than those there, and is not this true also in a metaphorical sense ? By means of better equipment and more suitable environments we have a wider outlook on life and knowledge in general.
Gone are the days of cold classrooms, with fires that were sometimes out by break time, and in their place we have modern radiators which keep our rooms really warm. It is surely much easier to work in well-heated rooms than in ones in which we sit shivering. Now we have three laboratories, each fully equipped for the subject for which it is used. We have a cookery room with formica-topped tables, an equally modem needlework room, and two large rooms, one of which is used for art and the other for craft, to help us in non-academic subjects.
Playing fields are near at hand, not half a mile away as they were formerly, and so a great deal of time is saved. As well as this we have a spacious, well-equipped gymnasium, and thus we have every reason for expecting that our standard of games will rise.
To help us in academic subjects we have the peaceful environments of our school, modern classrooms, and a large library, well-lighted and with books giving information on every subject about which we are likely to wish to know more.
Our new windows, both literally and in a metaphorical sense, mean a great deal to us, and it is up to us to use them in the best possible way.
P TAYLOR, Upper IV A.
I am one of the lucky girls who has a seat near the window. Out of it I can see the lawn in front with the beginning of a garden, past which is the road winding along towards Little Downham and still further are numerous fields, trees, and farmhouses. If you look backwards you can see the beginning of the built up area of Ely.
Last term it was a common sight to see farmers ploughing their fields, giving the soil new strength after harvest. Now most of the fields are green. In the field opposite V A. formroom there are sometimes three nice sleek, Jersey cows. In the paddock next to them is aherd of young bullocks. A few weeks before Christmas, and up to couple of weeks ago, a lot of the trees were bare, but now the buds are coming out, and the trees look fuzzy.
I love to watch a cloud pass over the fields on a sunny day. The field is all a light green shade, bathed in sunlight. Then first a corner, then more and more of the field is swamped in the cloud's shadow. If it is only a small cloud the whole shadow is just a dark mark travelling across the field. Often, also, in the afternoon I can see a glorious sunset. Twice a week boys from King's School run up Little Downham, Road in soccer outfit. They must be cold. Of course, none of us looks at them! Altogether it is a very pleasant view out of my school window.
S NICHOLLS, Upper III A.
Our new school has grown over a period of five to six years from the waste land of the fen, although the seeds were planted much earlier in the minds of past headmistresses of the school. It stands erect, its eyes, the windows, gaze out upon their surroundings on all sides. The windows are an important part of the building for they symbolise the opportunities of our new school.
The view from all sides, as Alderman Payne told us, shows the three L's - Labour, Learning, and Love. On one side of the school there are rich, brown fields and luscious green meadows. In spring the rich, brown fields become carpeted by the young green corn, and the meadows become the grazing place of the cows. This is a scene of labour which has been. The school itself is the scene of learning and it is a sign of the great things to be accomplished by the younger generation. On the other side of the school the predominant feature is the Cathedral, the sign of the love of the Almighty which shelters all under its wing.
In our new school we also have new non-material windows. As we have three new well-equipped laboratories who knows what new things may be discovered ? Also we may have more women biologists and scientists.
Instead of only one art room, we now have a large art room which overlooks the fields and the road which winds up the hill towards an old broken-down mill. This is indeed as good a view as some very great artists have had, so who knows but what, one day, while visiting some famous Art Gallery, we may see the view we now see from our window hanging in state upon the wall ? In my opinion, however, the best room in the new buildings is the Library. It is a peaceful room, huge, light and airy, overlooking the rose garden and the road. It has cases and cases of books, from which one can learn many things, and in this room one can also enjoy reading good books in peace and quiet.
However, the new windows do not all emphasise work, for we also look out on to extensive playing fields, and from a large, well-equipped gymnasium. Maybe with so many opportunities we may develop in our school a future hockey or tennis champion.
With such facilities for learning, who knows what great things our pupils may achieve ? With so many great opportunities in every field it would only seem unfair not to work. The whole school speaks of work and new, exciting things to be found in the vast book of knowledge. We shall never be able to repay those who contributed to making this school if we lived for a hundred years.
B WHITE, Upper IV A.
Ely High School, 1957
Susan Riley in the last EHS magazine: About the move to the new school my main recollection is that we would begin the day with every intention of breaking the record for the number of trips up and down Downham Road, but by lunch time our minds would be fully occupied in devising schemes whereby we could remain stationary for a time at one end or the other.
["I came upon them at one such moment, sitting on the chairs they were supposed to be carrying, in a neat little ring on Downham Road path. I turned a particularly blind eye" D.G.D.]
07/07/10 Heather Smith (Holliday): I was in school in July 1956 and helped carry the library books from the old school to the new school in shopping bags but I'm not on the photograph. I moved to London in 1964 but my mother spent the last two and a half years of her life at Vera James House and her room looked out onto the Chapel Street entrance and I used to park my car next to Miss Tilly's house so my visits to Mum used to bring back many happy memories.
14/07/10 Jackie Sotheran (Bidwell): In the Official Opening booklet the teacher in cookery photo is Miss Johnson. Mrs Fells, listed amongst staff, was Maths - I still remember the confusion in the class on LCM and HCF definitions! She only stayed one year.
I can remember that the youngest classes had to line the drive for the arrival of HRH. We were given very strict instructions by Miss Defew that we were to say Hip Hip HooRAH, not Hooray, when we were asked for three cheers. When the time came we were all smiling so much as we HooRAHed, it must have seemed the happiest gathering ever. Was there a day holiday for the school announced at some point during proceedings and maybe that added to the smiles?
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page created 7 Dec 10: last updated 6 Jan 11