Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Archive Website Goes Active

Old news! You may well say that I have been talking about the new website for several weeks, but at last a section of it is ready to show. You may peruse the part on  the Somme, which tells the story of the death of Archie Paxton through his letters and possessions, or you may look at 19th Century pictures. Other items will follow as quickly as I can prepare them. I am concentrating now on the 19th Century up to 1914 and will add sections of the College history and Register information, over the next week.

Happy browsing! Please tell me what you think.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The OE News

Happy New Year! I intended to write a new blog right through January, but the pressure of correspondence has been such that everything else has been put off. Mostly this has been the effect of the publication of the OE News in December. This excellent magazine is now resurgent under the editorship of Steve McCubbin and creates a good deal of comment and interest - so much so that my small part of this more than keeps me busy.
Each year we try to publish at least one photograph with something wrong or uncertain in it, asking readers to correspond  - and they do! This way we have amassed large numbers of new friends, who keep in touch on other archival matters. Though a lot of work, this is what we are here for.

This year there has been correspondence on three main matters - two of the photographs, one already published last year of the Granville dayroom in about 1960 and the other of the gigantic gym display for the 100th Anniversary Founder's Day have been particularly effective in causing discussion. The third issue was about Mr. Berridge and Hart-Smith. This has actually been an issue for many years, with murmured comments during reunions so that I already knew most people's opinions of 'Connie B'. There comes a time, however, when it is best to find out all there is to know. Mr. Berridge, housemaster of Hart-Smith in the late 1930s through to the early 1950s was a sententious and despicable person, we are told. He made a practice of 'sex talks' to boys in their dressing gowns and had recourse to using the cane on every possible pretext, often unjustly (thus 'Constant Beater'). He would certainly not be employed in a modern school, but on the other hand I have no evidence that anything particularly culpable went on. If it did, perhaps we should know?
What is surprising is that Mr. Berridge continued as housemaster for so long, certainly with the support of the College 'establishment'. I find it difficult to imagine that he retained this support without some redeeming qualities, and I am very aware that, listening only to the impressions he made on small boys, I may not have the full picture. If anyone can supply the necessary balance, I would be most obliged if you would get in touch.

Progress on the website has been brisk over the last few weeks. At present the foundations of the website are finished, as is the section on Archie Paxton and the Somme. The section on the 19th Century is my focus for today. However, nothing has appeared on the Internet, since it needs to be checked through by the IT Department. As soon as this is finished, we will publish.
The rest of the website will evolve over the next few months, as I mentioned in previous blogs.