Christ College – Alway’s 50th Anniversary celebrations a hit with the Class of ’62

18 Jan 2013

On Friday 21st September, Alway House, the boarding and day house for Forms 1 and 2 pupils celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

Alway Houseparent Mr Magnus Caithness said: “In the light of Christ College’s 475th looming it may not seem much, but we all start somewhere! Alway House really is the springboard for so many successes through Christ College and beyond.”

He added: “I was lucky enough to attend last year’s leavers’ service and it was apparent from what the pupils said that Alway House had played an important part in their time in CCB. It was a pleasure to welcome back former Alway Houseparents and former pupils and to share stories and memories”

The idea of a junior house was first mooted in the Headmaster’s Prize Day speech of 1960: “the present plan is to provide more boarding accommodation … and possibly a junior house for boys between 11 and 13.”The above quotation from Headmaster Duncan McCallum’s speech immediately follows reference to a “very generous”bequest from GL Alway, a local Old Breconian who had followed his father as proprietor of two public houses in the town. George Alway had remained a bachelor, and died with no surviving relatives in November 1959; his bequest was of £12,000, a very large sum in those days, and its arrival no doubt encouraged the Headmaster’s plans for a junior house. A year later Mr McCallum was able to report that the possible was now definite; a new junior house was under construction, linked to a new house for the Headmaster and his family, and would be opening its doors to pupils in September 1962.

Early in 1962 it was decided that that year’s Old Breconian Day would be an appropriate occasion on which formally to open the new house, and Lord Hailsham, at the time Lord President of the Council and Minister of Science, was the day’s guest of honour; a plaque on the west wall of what was then the lower of two dormitories commemorates the occasion.

Alway House was originally designed to accommodate twenty-eight young boarders in two fourteen-bed dormitories; the building as a whole included, on the western end, a house for the Headmaster, while in between there were four masters’ bedsitters, and two administration offices, one for the Bursar and the other for the Headmaster’s Secretary.

The pastoral responsibility for Alway House was presented to Mr John Payne. This responsibility was lightened to some extent by the decision to have the house only half full in its first year. Nineteen boys entered Form 1 in September 1962, five of them day boys, and these, together with two twelve-year-olds seconded from their senior houses to act as mentors, were the house’s total strength for the first twelve months. The idea of house tutorship was still very much in its infancy – Headmaster Duncan McCallum had introduced it in January 1958, and only one tutor was allocated to each house.

John Payne explained: “The Alway post fell to me – another new member of staff who had spent twelve months in the school four years previously while waiting to go up to Oxford. I had been one of Duncan McCallum’s first house tutor appointments, to Donaldson’s, so I suppose I can say that I brought just a little experience to both the teaching and the tutoring when I returned to the school in 1962.”

He continued: “The first five terms of its existence saw Alway House operating without any involvement in the disciplinary processes of the senior houses. At the beginning of the Summer Term 1964 it was agreed that one school prefect should be seconded to Alway as Head of House for a whole school year, while two house prefects should be similarly seconded for one term. They would continue to live in their own houses, but spend time in Alway during the day, with a particular responsibility for the supervision of prep.”
The celebrations on Friday started at 5.30 pm when former pupils and Housemasters gathered in Alway House to join the Class of 2012 for a trip down memory lane. At 6.00 pm, the gathering which included Old Breconians who were part of the September 1962 in-take were joined by former houseparents and former Heads of Christ College at a special Chapel Service to celebrate 50 years of Alway House. The ‘Class of 2012’ – the 51 current Alway House pupils and their parents joined them and were part of a moving service at which former Alway Houseparent John Payne preached. Following the service there was a drinks reception in ‘Big School’ where visitors were welcomed by Alway House’s current Houseparents Mr & Mrs Caithness and where everyone enjoyed a special Alway House exhibition organised by Mrs Felicity Kilpatrick. Afterwards, there was a special supper, hosted by Head of Christ College Mrs Emma Taylor, in the Dining Hall at Christ College.

Mr Caithness reflected: “Friday’s celebration was not only an opportunity to look back over a productive 50 years but it was also a time to take stock and look to the future: a future that will no doubt involve the newly announced Junior School still which is in its embryonic stage – an exciting prospect both for the school and Alway House.”

Photo: Alway House – The Class of 2012!