Wennington School weekend at P.E.T.T.

Toddington, Gloucs 18th –21st November 2004

Stuart Humphrey



PRESENT (During all or part of the time):

Anthea Chater (195 -196 formerly Lawrence)
Sarah Dewsbery (1962-68)
Sam Doncaster (1951-59)
Stuart Humphrey (1952-58)
Tom James (1950-55)
Helen Kirkup (1951-59 formerly Ruth McColm)
Pat Mitchell (1955-60)
Andy Peers ( )
Katy Pentith (1973-75)
Richard Schofield (1967-69)
Belinda Swift (1954-62)
Ernie Thomas (1957-61)
and Craig Fees (PETT archivist).


(As before), to collate the written and photographic material in the archive’s possession, and enter it into a computer database, identifying, where possible, any of the people involved. And, of course, to have a damn good natter and enjoy ourselves.

The archive had acquired some more material since June, including more sets of Kenneth’s mounted photos (some including shots of Old Wennington and early days at Ingmanthorpe Hall).

All of Kenneth’s original 16 mm film (all that survives, that is) is now in the archive’s possession. There was some discussion concerning what should be done with it. Craig says that the normal archive procedure would be to make a full 16 mm duplicate plus a copy onto an electronic medium (eg. VHS tape or DVD). However, this might amount to more than we can afford. Enquiries are to be made.

We also had a viewing of Roger Gerhardt’s video, brought in by Anthea. I don’t think it is to be made over to the archive as yet, but, as a record of people and events it is, of course, invaluable. It shows an interesting variation on the technique which Kenneth had adopted, with a different slant on school life. Richard Schofield eulogised at some length over Roger’s creativity and artistic expression. However, the full programme is quite long and it is made up of a great many short, disconnected scenes. (A perennial problem with amateur footage taken on spring-driven film cameras, owing to the cost of film stock and short running times between winds. I should probably make clear that I view it from a slightly jaded standpoint, having spent 30 years in industrial film production and another two teaching film making to students – and having viewed goodness knows how many hours of "home video"!) That said, it is a useful record and it complements Kenneth’s film during a different era.

Roger was probably in a unique position in being a long-serving staff member with whom past pupils continued to correspond after they had left. Pat produced a box of his letters and other memorabilia which is as interesting (probably more so) as the video. I am unsure as to whether she intends the archive to keep it at the present time.

Another unusual source of material was Anthea's family picture album. Obviously, this could not be left, so the relevant pictures were copied onto digital for the archive’s use. Several shots of her contemporary school members are included.

Sam and I busied ourselves copying the pictures with the digital camera (which we now think we’ve managed to acquire a reasonable idea how to use – well enough for this job, anyway). Tom brought along a sheet of non-reflective glass and I had a couple of lamps which we were able to set up as copy-lights. In addition to that, Tom installed his laptop on a side table next to us and was thus able to down-load every batch of photos after we had completed it. These items of equipment made all the difference to the whole process, making it altogether very much slicker. Despite that, though, there’s still a lot to be done. Other people, as before, were hard at work getting the written material into the computer database. And again, there’s a lot still to do.

One important job to be addressed fairly soon is typing out the form lists for the different years. Most of these exist, but in the form of copies done on that dreadfully primitive duplicating machine the school used to have. As a result, although it is possible to read them (particularly if you recognise the names), they can not be scanned or photocopied.

As you may gather, the session was generally rather more businesslike than the May gathering; partly because we knew what needed to be done and were able to slap straight in, and partly because there were less of us. In fact, the full complement was present only during Friday afternoon & evening; with about half staying over on Thursday and Saturday nights. This didn’t make it any less enjoyable (possibly rather the reverse) and we found plenty of time to have a good old chin-wag. In fact, Craig was so keen to capture our verbal comments and reminiscences that he loaned us a little digital voice recorder to be placed in the middle of the table. I think that worked reasonably OK (though how much use it may be is hard to say). But the next day, he swapped it for a cassette-tape machine which, unfortunately, we were all too fumble-fingered to manage, so nothing was recorded.

And Sam and Pat still managed to take a whole crate-full of empty bottles to the recycle bank after we left!

Our gratitude, again, goes to Sam and Pat for organising it all (particularly as Pat has not been at all well recently); also to Pat, Helen, Belinda, Andy, Sarah and Anthea for their excellent food; to Tom and Ernie for their computer manipulating skills; to Belinda and Anthea for the new material they introduced; to Katie for managing to retrieve the original school film; and, of course, to Craig and Joanna at PETT, without whose help nothing would have been achieved at all.


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