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#24 - 1981

A fantastic year for our J16 rowers, in 1981 they won gold medals in both the coxed fours and eights at the GB championships.

Who remembers the Christmas production of Scrooge? Reported in The Court

"The autumn performance of Scrooge marked the inception of the Tithe Barn Theatre, now with console and stage. Scrooge was a happy choice for Shiplake. The whimsy pleased all ages and the actors identified with the characters. Indeed, Andrew Barclay's production came over with excitement and verve which made the play the talk of the College. Dodd's Scrooge and Keith's Bob Crachit, supported by Walker, the ghost, and Trigg and Hodge, the charity, and with a song from Whishaw, had us all back in Victorian London. True to Dickens, this London included genuine cockney urchins and such uncouth ladies as mesdames Wagner, Meiklejohn, and Narborough. The Christmas card scene was brought out by Mrs. Cooke's costumes and the lighting and stage management. All this was cleverly supported by the orchestra."

The production was reported in the Henley Standard (below) and you can read the programme in our online archive.


The Sixth Form Society had a very interesting and varied year; see this extract from the annual round up in The Court:

Ian Wood spoke to us in a homely way about "hamsters". We learnt many of the hamsters habits from direct observation of the speaker's pet, which he brought with him. W. M. H. Spencer, M.P. gave a talk on "The House of Commons". He told us of the timetable of the average M.P. and proved that whatever else we may think of them, they certainly work long hours!

"Smoking and Health from a Statistical Viewpoint" was a talk given by Professor Curnow of Reading University. This was a new approach to most of us, and all the more convincing given as it was a fairly dry and mathematical manner, in contrast to the usual shock approach. John Suchet, of News at Ten fame, took us behind the scenes at the B.B.C. in one of our most fascinating meetings at the end of the Spring Term.

We had two discussions; the first "Should Smoking be Discouraged". All of us took part and spoke our minds and the majority view was that it should be discouraged as fiercely as possible. Various positive suggestions were made, but I don't think the diehards were convinced.

The final meeting of the Society was an informal talk (accompanied by cheese and wine) by R. Pim with family films of Malaya and himself, aged four. He also brought along a most impressive butterfly collection, "worth thousands"(?).

Also in 1981:

- Welsh House won the Inter-House Debating Competition

- The College entered a small team into ‘Youth Speaks’, a National public speaking competition held at The Kenton Theatre in Henley. The title of the speech for the Shiplake team was ‘Hole in the Middle’ and was an argument for a centre party in British politics. When the results were announced they came a disappointing third of five although in the summing up by the guest judge, he mentioned that “The Shiplake entry was a very bold effort, but too controversial."

- The College purchased Meadow Keep, located opposite the College, to be used for staff accommodation

- A cast of over 40 boys took part in the School Production of Julius Ceaser, with James Whishaw in the leading role.

- School Governor, Lord McAlpine, started what was to become an annual tradition of taking two winners of a book reading competition out for a ride in his helicopter.

- The Summer Term was brought to an exhilarating end by the performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, as part of the Summer Concert, which also included Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and other popular orchestral works. The script for the event is available to view here in our archives.

- Head boy Robert Pim, left sixth form in 1980 to immediately become headmaster of the Dzitsoni Harambee Secondary School in Kenya. It had just over 100 pupils aged between 12 and 22 learning subjects to 0' level standard, as well as a conventional teachers training course he had to learn Swahili, the native tongue of the African students.