Ely High School 1905-1972 - Looking forward to The Move

from the July 1956 EHS magazine

June, 1956.

My dear Girls and Old Girls,

This is a year of looking back and looking forward. A glance back to last year brings to mind the joyful celebrations for our Golden Jubilee, greatest of all the inspiring Service in the Cathedral with its encouragement and inspiration: a glance into the future makes us think of the coming move to the new buildings.

These take more and more shape, and seem more real, as the months go by. Just lately I climbed an unfinished staircase giving on to a half-made floor, where a careful tread became necessary: from here, looking through a blank space where windows would eventually be fitted, I saw a most pleasant view over meadows, the road to Little Downham and the old mill on the brow of the hill. I rejoiced for the girls who would be fortunate enough to study in this particular spot, with this beautiful outlook, and knew how uplifted they would be.

Certainly the rough wall made it hard to believe, but I knew that I was standing in the new Library. We have inherited great good from our fifty years of existence: now the future is full of sunshine, and calls us to do even greater things for this School we all love: to work harder, and to show our devotion in every possible way. Gratitude must be in our hearts as we think of all that is being done, and has been done, to make new buildings possible for us. The site is open, airy, delightful, the building planned after the best possible designs: let us have that thought in our hearts and intentions which is so well expressed in the verse of our own school hymn - "And build Thy holy kingdom in this place."

During the early part of this year the school lost a former member of Staff and a devoted friend, in the passing of Miss FA Cooper. During the many years when she taught here she became endeared to many girls and especially to those who were her private pupils. We who knew her so well, were delighted that she was able to be one of the guests of honour at the Old Girls' Jubilee Luncheon last year. She will be sadly missed by many pupils and friends.

Sometimes we lose dear friends just because they have to go and live elsewhere. It is for this reason that Miss Balmforth is to leave us when Canon Balmforth goes to Exeter at the end of the summer. It will be a great wrench to part with Miss Balmforth after her years of unfailing and devoted service. All the girls who have studied Religious Knowledge under her tutelage have been immeasurably enriched, for they have learned from a gifted teacher and what is more, from one who practises all that she teaches. Those especially who have taken the subject at Advanced Level have had cause for great thankfulness. We wish Miss Balmforth all happiness and success in the future.

from the July 1957 EHS magazine


This number has the distinction of being the last to be issued from our present buildings. Surprised at first to find so little reference in our original contributions to the momentous impending change, we soon realised that this was only a natural and happy consequence of Dr Tilly's skill and thoughtfulness in doing all the planning so quietly that, although the demands of preliminary activities, the problems of the actual removal, and happy ideas for future work, have added greatly to her normal work, and are very much in the minds of the Staff, they have not yet practically touched the School as a whole, nor disturbed the even tenor of its way. Next year, doubtless much will be written about the ' fun' of moving, and the joys of the new building.

Separate reports tell of a normally full, happy and varied year, in which we are happy to note maintenance and even improvement of our normal good standard in Dramatics, and a definite upward trend in our Musical and Athletic achievements. Also, in both quality and quantity the original contributions to the Magazine have been good. Poetic inspiration has been comparatively rare, but much good work in prose has been handed in, of which, although limitation of space has prevented us from printing it all, very little did not reach a high enough standard for inclusion had there been room - a happy state of affairs which we hope will continue. In this, as in every respect, we hope that our long-desired new home will prove an inspiration to greater achievement.


Dear Girls and Old Girls,

This is the last time that I shall write to you from my study in the old buildings, for sometimes dreams come true. Those, which we have cherished over many years, but which were interrupted by the war years, have materialised, and are to my mind, even more beautiful than we had ever hoped.

In a few days now the new buildings on the Downham Road site will be completed and handed over to us. They will be officially opened by H.R.H. the Duchess of Gloucester on Monday, October 21st. Perhaps you would like a walk round with me in thought to have a preview of the many advantages there are compared with what we have so far had.

There is a gymnasium (very large, twice the size of our present one), there are showers, and a changing room, and, of course, playing fields on the spot.

The Assembly Hall is separate, has a fine, large stage with the most modern kind of lighting, including a cyclorama.

There are three laboratories, Needlework and Housecraft rooms, and Art and Craft rooms, in addition to the classrooms.

The Library is one of the greatest attractions: it is very large, and has a fine view towards Little Downham.

What strikes you the most as you walk around is the use of colour throughout the buildings, which add so much to the feeling of light and air.

How do you like the rose-madder walls in the Entrance Hall, the blue ceiling in the Hall, the pale mauve doors? Here is a classroom with a violet wall and blue floor, and on the first floor, how light and gay is the mixture of pale blue and Chinese red.

There is space everywhere. Space forbids me to show you more, but only to add that great happiness and contentment await every girl who will be educated here through the years to come.

Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to all those who have planned and laboured to bring this to fulfilment for our use : the members of the Isle of Ely County Council, and Education Committee, our own Governors, then the County Officials, especially the Architect and his assistants, the Contractor and all his workmen.

As a result of this great team of collaboration a new phase opens in the history of our school. Shall we prove worthy of all this? We must make it our aim to show our appreciation by gaining wider views, achieving still better standards, and perhaps remembering what the poet OW Holmes said for our inspiration:

Build thee more stately mansions, oh my soul
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past !
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea."

Yours affectionately,

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