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Orwell Park School: A Celebration of 150 Years by Edwina Langley provides a detailed and fascinating history of Orwell Park from 1868 to the present day. Copies are available to purchase for £40 with £5.50 for p&p (please note an additional £1 is added to the cost of the book when paying online in order to cover card processing fees).


Nathaniel Barnardiston (1952-56) shares memories of Orwell Park after reading the School’s anniversary book:

There were many crazes for collections. Nolly banned stamp collections for a time because of theft, but matchbox and cheese labels took their place. Other enthusiasm included Pelham puppets (expensive) and Ellisdons mail order novelties, itching powder etc. An order of Diana air pistols earned me six of the best! On wet afternoons roller skating was the rage and the rink was surrounded by team photographs, (mainly football). I remember finding a picture of an uncle who I hadn’t known had been to Aldeburgh Lodge.

Boxing under Dingers took place in the gym; luckily I was excused ‘the noble art of self defence’, having suffered mastoiditis. Air rifle shooting also took place in the gym under the tutelage of Pat O’Donnell and was very popular. I realise that other facts accounted for the loss of the full sized billiard table, but billiards and particularly snooker were very popular (and far superior to pool). Perhaps a small billiard table survives somewhere. In the Spring Term there were chess and draughts competitions and even cups for the winners. Athletics was always a somewhat ‘Marmite’ activity, but one star from the 50’s called James eventually made it to an Olympic squad. I don’t remember any specific sports day.

The filming of Yangtze Incident off Pin Mill stays in the memory. This was followed by a trip to HMS Ganges to see the climbing of the mast and marvel at the Button Boy on the top. Not to be outdone, Cawkie took a group of us to an RAF fighter station where we were allowed to sit in the cockpits of Lightnings.There was a partial solar eclipse seen through cobalt glass and of course the special Coronation holiday. Occasionally there were film shows at the weekend, usually westerns.

There was little bullying, but tensions between townies (from London) and East Anglians sometimes flared up at weekends. Such issues were often (temporarily) resolved in the round basement or cellars. I expect that the arrival of girls put paid to this mob behaviour.

Many of us tended vegetable plots near the carpentry shop and our radishes and cress supplemented suppers. There was also a flower garden competition between small square patches near the big cedar tree (still there) and judged by P. Sarsfield. Tuck boxes were an iconic part of our luggage and were kept in a converted garage, but after the first week of term they usually contained anything but food. A great treat was the purchase of choc ices on hot Sunday afternoons. Dormitory Captains often used Vesta foods for late night feasts. Every week we had to take a spoonful of syrup of figs, or a gloppy malted tonic, which I suspect was a byproduct of the now defunct Cobbold’s brewery.

I remember game-beating on autumn Saturdays on the Pretyman estate. Fire practice using shutes from the top floors. The use of jet-X fuel to power various toys, tunnels in the woods from old World War One practice trenches, visits to the nearby duck decoy when it was still in operation. On wet afternoons roller skating was the rage and the rink was surrounded by team photographs (mainly football). On Sunday evenings we clustered round a large radio-gram to listen to David Jacobs narrating Charles Chilton’s Journey Into Space and later The Red Planet. Very spooky!

Nolly’s Latin lessons were always entertaining and I still have a battered copy of his idiosyncratic ‘Grey Latin Book’.


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