PETREANS

FRIENDS OF PETERHOUSE (FOP)

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Petreans

Memories

1954-5 - Bruce Fieldsend - Opening the School

It had always been my ambition to be part of starting a church school in Rhodesia (as it was then). It was on my honeymoon in December 1952 when I heard that Fred Snell was leaving Michaelhouse and coming up to Rhodesia with the intention of starting such a school.

I immediately wrote to him and visited him at Ruzawi in May 1953. We stayed with him and Liza nearly scuppered any chance of appointment. After dinner Fred took me off to his study to look at building plans and left Liza with Margaret. "Do you play a musical instrument?" "No." "Do you sing, then?" "Actually no." "Do you paint?" "I'm afraid not". "Well what do you do?"

September 1954 - the first two boys arrive

Anyway I resigned from teaching in government (Guinea Fowl and then Chaplin) in September 1954 and we joined Fred, at Peterhouse living in the Rector's Lodge until a house was available. Liza was compelled to learn to play bridge to make up a four with Fred Richard Hudson and me. I acted as dogsbody helping with the building stores, the builders' wages and teaching two early arrivals, Murray Alexander and Anthony Cross, in all subjects except Science (Margaret Snell) and Divinity (Fred himself). They lived with Babs and Bryan Curtis who had been employed as Estate Manager.

The Opening of the School

The school proper opened in February 1955 in a sea of red mud. Ellis house was finished; we taught in the two Ellis prep rooms and the library reading room; the library was used as a chapel; the boys ate in what was to become the staff dining room and there was builders' rubble everywhere.

School list - February 1955

The first School List in February 1955 on the opening of the school was:

Alexander, M. Gliemann, B.M.E.O. Penny, R.D Arnot, R.S. Gordon, C.D.G.M. Pyman, D. Arrowsmith, R. Gunning, R.D. Reynolds, L.H. Ashby D.W.M. Herbert, A.S.D. Reynolds, N.E. Black, C.I.W. Herron, D.G.C. Robertson, J.S. Bradbury, C.R. Hewlett, W.P. Russell, J.E.O. Capouya, R. Hill, A.R.C. Sant, M. Craft, R.D. Hill, R.J. Sellers, J.H.G. Colley, M.W. Honey, W.M.M. Sole, C.A. Cross, J.A.M. Johnston, R.A.S. Stambolie, M.D. De Beer, C. Lamb, J.C. Teunon, I.C. Faed, W.G. Millar, R.B. Thelwall, C.deC. Fane, F.M.G. Meikle, S.J.V. Treplin, M.C.W. Fforde, J.P.Mercer, P.G.O. Vandre, R.N. Gadiel, D.L. Moore-Gordon, D. Vorster, M. Gane, B.S.F. Morris, C.G. Wiggins, C.M. Gemmill, A.D. McMillan, J. Wheeler, B.A. Gibbs, C.J.S. Normand, P.M. Owen, P.E.G.

Staff

In the first term were Hugh Hodgkinson who acted as housemaster but left at the end of term, Ian Ferguson and Godfrey Sellers. Charles Fisher replaced Hugh Hodgkinson in 1955/2 and at the same time Bryan Curtis joined the teaching staff having handed over the estate to Richard Hudson.

The first school play

The first school play in the long dramatic tradition of Peterhouse was "The Crimson Coconut" with Stuart Roberton in the starring role.

The first societies

The first two societies were the Debating Society and the Young Farmers Club which included a calf supplied by Reggie Gordon-Lennox which was at one stage suspected of suffering from Rabies to the distress of all who had handled it including the Curtis and Fieldsend children.

Sport

There was one playing field, that which is now the main rugby field. Everyone did PT at 6.15 a.m. supervised by staff in rotation: Spartan and unpopular stuff.

Since there were no houses to vie against one another the first athletic sports were competed by Odds versus Evens selected by school numbers. John Gibbs, now sadly deceased, was the first cricket captain and the first to score a century for Peterhouse (102 no against Watershed Wanderers). The first cricket success was to beat St. George's by 5 wickets. Rugby teams consisted of an U14 and an under 100lbs. The former captained by Lance Reynolds beat Prince Edward U14B 9 - 6 to record the first rugby success. Hockey was played by all but there were no matches against Rhodesian schools.

And here are two other bits of early trivia:

Founding Housemasters

Ellis: Tony Cheetham followed within a year by Anthony Mallett 
Paget: Charles Fisher
Grinham: Bryan Curtis
Malvern: Bruce Fieldsend
Founders: Norman Davis

All except me are dead. All except Norman Davis, who was considerably older than the rest of us, went on to head schools. Cheetham to Whitestones and then St. Annes; Mallett to Bishop's; Fisher to Brisbane Church of England Grammar School, Scotch College Adelaide and finally Geelong; Curtis to Ruzawi; and Fieldsend to Peterhouse itself.

Other staff who became headmasters

Hugh Hodgkinson- Milton Abbey School, U.K.
Iain Campbell
 - St. Stephen's and King's College Auckland
Sam Stoyle- International School, Buenos Aires
Martin Graham
 - Chisipite
Michael Hammond
 who was head of Eagle before joining Peterhouse went on to found Peterhouse Girls' School
Robin Cox
 - Puthing and St. George's, Cape
Tony Brooker
 - Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School
George Martin
 - Lendy Park, Marondera

I know of only one Petrean who became a headmaster: Keith Ratcliffe, now deceased, at Phoenix School, Harare.

B R Fieldsend 
December 1999

 

 

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