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#16 - 1973

Lots of literature from 1973 refers to the industrial troubles of the Country at the time. We love this opening article from The Court magazine, the ‘Shiplake spirit’ permeates everything we do.

In anticipation of our 2019 OVS Magazine going to print, it is interesting to learn that even back in 1973 the Old Viking Society was stressing the importance of having up-to-date contact details for their members. The online form we use today is a lot more advanced than the ‘change of address slip’ referred to in the OVS Newsletter from December '73.

Who remembers the Easter History tour to Ypres in 1973?

‘"Seven coffees, three cokes and a beer" rapidly became the standard order during our morning and afternoon stops on our week long motor tour of Northern France. While the pleasantness of French wayside cafés was one of the many ways in which we had a good deal of sun, our trip had a basically serious purpose: to visit the chief battlefields on the 1914-18 Western Front from Ypres in Belgium as far east as Verdun. At the last minute the school mini-bus was not available and we had the use of two roomy French cars on our round trip from Bologne to Dieppe. With 850 miles of travel recorded during six days (as a result of using two cars) we did have the disadvantage of the party not being together but we did find it much easier to keep to our planned schedule. Looking back the slowness of the mini-bus might have forced us to omit some of our visits. At the start Arras was our base, which we reached after a visit to Agincourt—the open area between two woods remains much as it was in 1415. Our trip north to Ypres was very full. The day was clear though cold and every one was most impressed by the size and frequency of the war cemeteries, the sombre beauty of the many monuments, and the small area in which so much savage fighting took place. Everyone we met was most friendly and one should not omit that we began appropriately at Neuve Chappelle, by visiting the memorial to Major C. E. Harrison of Shiplake Court. Like the Canadians in 1917, we encountered driving snow on Vimy Ridge and there began our collections of shrapnel, duds and barbed wire that winter rain and spring ploughing still lay bare each year. On the Somme front the villagers in the café were most interested in the many official photos of their area that we had brought with us. The visit to Beaumont Hamel, with its notorious 'Y' Ravine and attractive Newfoundland Park was one of the high spots of the tour. The remains of vast craters were also very memorable and the once deeply dug German trenches showed clearly almost everywhere as white lines across ploughed fields. 23 From this point on, the sunny weather deserted us and very heavy rain made our third day's exploration difficult. It was in the pouring rain that we observed, in the cemetery at Delville Wood, the most moving sight of all—the gravestone of a sixteen-year-old volunteer near to that of a regular army V.C. The second part of our tour was along the French front. In these regions, generally speaking, reclamation of war-devastated areas is far from complete—especially along the Chemin des Dames and east of Reims. Few of us will forget the remains of the village of Nauroy and the pitiful vestiges of its Church left much as the war left it in 1918. Just a day in the Verdun area was not enough to grasp fully the extent and scale of the destruction that two thousand million shells wrought. A new museum helped to bring this home to us and this museum along with the ruined forts that we visited made this both the busiest and the quietest day we had. We all had fairly sombre thoughts as we turned westward on the first leg of our return trip. Our evenings were spent relaxing—at the fair in Arras—dining out in style at Amiens—after a visit to the cathedral. Indeed after the enormous meals we had at Reims we could do little except relax. After a week packed full of events the party dispersed somewhat sadly at Newhaven but looking forward to the possibility of a similar trip in the near future.’           

Also in 1973:

The Sailing Club was very popular with 50 members...

"At the end of the Summer Term the club had its annual expedition up the river to Reading and beyond. This supplied all those who went with a lot of amusement. At one point cows walked through the camp at four in the morning removing one tent en route and setting the captain adrift, so that he floated in his boat down the river while he was still asleep."

Mr Esau and a team of sixth formers produced a literary magazine – Contrasts – which raised a considerable sum for charity. Sadly we do not have a copy of the magazine in our archives, we would be interested in hearing from anyone who may have, please do get in touch.

Mechanics club was thriving with many staff even asking the boys in the club to take a look at their cars when things went wrong - rather than going to a qualified mechanic.

Exceptionally rough weather brought about the abandonment of most of the Duke of Edinburgh Award adventure training in the Lake District.

The first photocopier arrived at the school!