Practising School, University History

Archive Item of the Month – August 2012

Staff in the University Archives and Special Collections were deeply saddened to hear about the death of Ron Prewer, Chair of the Practising School Old Boys’ Association, earlier this month.

Ron was a frequent visitor to the archives and had been a pupil at the Practising School once located on site at FCH. He worked tirelessly to raise the funds to restore the First World War memorial board dedicated to fellow pupils who lost their lives in that conflict, after having discovered the board in a sorry state in the Chapel at FCH.

He also organised various reunions for the Old Boys’ Association, some of which took place in the Archive Room at FCH where alumni could look at the Practising School archives held here and reminisce about school days.

Ron was well known in Cheltenham for his research into the local history of the area. He will be very much missed by staff at the University.

Before Ron passed away he was working on another fundraising project to fund a new memorial board for Practising School pupils who died during World War II. If you would like to know more about this or donate some money please contact the alumni and development office.

Displays and Events, Practising School, University Archive

Archive Item of the Month – May 2012

On 24th May the St Paul’s Practising School Old Boys’ Association held their annual reunion in the Archive Room. The Practising School was located in what are now the Clegg and Bodley buildings at FCH, and local boys were educated there from 1854 to 1951, when the school closed and its pupils were moved to Elmfield School in Cheltenham. Students at Cheltenham Training College (which became St Paul’s College at what is now FCH campus in 1921) practised their teacher training skills on these local school children.
The Old Boys’ Association was reformed in 2007 thanks to the efforts of local historian and old boy Ron Prewer. The Association meets once a year in the Archive Room, where old pupils are able to browse the archive documents held on the Practising School, look at displays compiled by archive staff, and catch up with fellow pupils.
Our archive item this month is one of the school journey log books that were lovingly compiled by teaching staff from the Practising School after their annual trip away to exotic climes such as Lyme Regis or Paignton (University Archive reference UA7/1/47).

From 1929 to 1938 and 1948 to 1956, final year boys at the Practising School (and later Elmfield School) went on the school journey which lasted for a week. Often there were enough pupils to run two trips over consecutive weeks. Parents of the pupils had to pay for their son to go on the trip, although there were hardship funds available for those in need to ensure as many boys as possible had their week by the sea.
The trips were intended to be educational as well as recreational, and the boys visited various sites of historic or natural interest and completed planned activities. They also had plenty of opportunity to paddle in the sea and play on the beach.
The school journey logbooks compile a written report of the trip along with being a photographic and artistic record. Some log books have an accompanying art supplement including work done by the boys (who were on average 14 years old). The conditions of these are so good the work looks like it was done yesterday rather than up to 80 years ago.
The log books also include a guide book for the journey that was given to each pupil (although some of these are now sadly missing), and comments from people such as the Principal of St Paul’s College, the governing body of the school and external inspectors who were shown the log books.
The Vice-Principal of St Paul’s College from 1924-1945 (A. H. Mann), said the benefits of the trips were great and included fresh air, good food, regular sleep and beneficial recreation and he was convinced that “there will come a time when the community will recognise the great value of these journeys and will take steps to make them accessible to all children”.
For more information on the Practising School and the associated records we hold please visit our website
List of school journeys:
1929 – Sandown, Isle of Wight
1930 – Sandown, Isle of Wight
1931 – Lyme Regis
1932 – Sandown, Isle of Wight
1933 – Hopton, Great Yarmouth
1934 – Lyme Regis
1935 – Lyme Regis
1936 – Westward Ho!
1937 – Sandown, Isle of Wight
1938 – Lyme Regis
1948 – Sandown, Isle of Wight
1949 – Lyme Regis
1950 – Paignton
1951 – Puckpool, Ryde
As Elmfield School:
1952 – Seaton, South Devon
1953 – Westward Ho!
1954 – Paignton
1956 – Seaton, South Devon
Practising School

Forthcoming Practising School Old Boys’ Association events

The St. Paul’s Practising School Old Boys’ Association are holding the following upcoming events:

28th October 2010 – Local history display in the Refectory at Francis Close Hall 10am – 4pm in aid of a new memorial board fund to commemorate the 41 Old Boys who lost their lives during World War II

18th November 2010 – Reunion lunch in the Refectory at Francis Close Hall followed by a tour of the University Archives and Special Collections

17th December 2010 – Christmas gathering at the Albion Club, North Street, Cheltenham 12pm – 4.30pm

For more information about any of these events please contact University Archives and Special Collections staff

Commemorative DVDs complied by the Association are still available to buy at £5 each, with £2 from every sale going to the new memorial board fund. Please contact University Archives and Special Collections staff for more details.

Practising School

Practising School Old Boys’ reunion a success

A reunion for the St Paul’s Practising School Old Boys was held in the Archive Room on Thursday 27th May 2010. Around 20 people were at the event, including an 84 year old Old Boy who attended the school on the Francis Close Hall site between 1934-1936. Ron Prewer, the President of the Old Boys’ Association, showed a new dvd incorporating images of documents from the University Archive and photographs from past reunions. The visitors also perused archive documents from the school and enjoyed a fish and chip lunch on campus. Events are regularly held by the Association, and if you would like to find out more please visit the Practising School web page