No. 195

OSB Logo The Old St Beghian
  July 2019


Peter D.G. Thomas (G 43-47) sent in the following historical notes regarding St Bees in the 1940s.

“Daily Routine:

7.10 Wake-up Bell.

7.20 Get-up Bell.

7.45 Short run: Grindal to Barony and back.

7.50 Breakfast: thick porridge and toast.

8.45 School Chapel.

9.00 – 12.30 Lessons, with a break for tea and bread soaked in treacle.

1.00 Lunch.

2.30 Games. A cross-country run for all not playing. The run was excused on days ‘officially hot’ at 70F. On Wednesdays the Junior Training Corps, in khaki, replaced sport. A cold shower was compulsory after sport, even if there was also a hot bath.

4.15 – 6.00 Afternoon school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

6.15 – 9.00 Two prep periods for ‘homework’, broken by supper at 7.30.

9.00 House Prayers. About ten minutes.

10.00 Lights Out, signified by Grindal bugle. The dormitory windows were left open all night.

Sunday. No lessons or sport. Church services at 10.45 and 6.45, about half an hour each. Sunday was also the day for changing bed-linen. Rationing restricted each boy to three sheets. So the top sheet became the bottom sheet, which in turn went to the wash.

The emphasis on exercise was reflected even in some school punishments. Mistakes in class work or prep might incur the pronouncement ‘Take two PDs’. The Punishment Drill was a ten minute physical drill that left every boy shattered – ‘The Triangle’ was not a medieval-type torture, but a punishment run of about a mile that had to take place after a day’s sport, and be completed in eight minutes or it did not count. A decade after leaving school I remember reading in The Times a reference to the renown of St Bees boys’ fitness.

Finally: The school uniform comprised a navy blazer, navy shorts, and long pale blue socks. Which and how many blazer buttons could be left open constituted signs of privilege, as did who could use certain stairs and doorways. It all seems rather petty now, but was strictly observed then.”

(Should other OSBs from this or other vintages care to record similar routines, we would be happy to print them. Ed.)




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