Pangbourne College

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Pangbourne College
Pangbourne College Logo.jpeg
Motto (Latin) Fortiter ac fideliter
("Bravely and faithfully")
Established 1917
Type Independent boarding school
Public school
Religion Church of England
Headmaster Mr Thomas Garnier
Founder Sir Thomas Lane Devitt Bt
Location Pangbourne
Berkshire
RG8 8LA
United Kingdom
Students ~400
Gender Co-educational
Ages 11–18
Houses 7
Colours

Navy blue, red and white

              
Publication Pangbourne Colours
Ensign
Former pupils Old Pangbournians
Boat club Pangbourne College Boat Club blade
Website http://www.pangbournecollege.com/

Pangbourne College is a co-educational independent day and boarding school located in the civil parish of Pangbourne, in the English county of Berkshire. It is set in 230 acres, on a hill south-west of the village, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The college was founded by Sir Thomas Lane Devitt Bt. in 1917 as The Nautical College, Pangbourne with the purpose of training boys to become Merchant Navy officers. It became "Pangbourne College" in 1969 and while conforming to the general lines of a British independent boarding school, retains a distinctly nautical flavour; the pupils wear naval uniform. Originally catering to about 200 male "cadets" bound largely for service in the Merchant Navy, the school now has approximately 400 co-educational pupils, both day and boarding. It has a Christian ethos,[1] takes a wide range of academic abilities and a focus on the development of the whole personal, particularly including "courtesy and self-discipline", "supporting the success of others" and "aiming high".[1]

The Good Schools Guide describes Pangbourne as "a modern and successful school which concentrates on bringing the best out of each pupil".[1] The college has a very strong boarding culture with sixty per-cent of the pupils within the school. An Independent Schools Inspectorate visit lasting four days in 2014 reported the college to be "excellent" in six of its nine categories, and "good" in the other three.

History[edit]

Devitt House, with the parade ground in the foreground

The college was founded by Sir Thomas Lane Devitt Bt. in 1917 as "The Nautical College, Pangbourne", on the site originally occupied by Clayesmore School, now located in Dorset. The Nautical College's purpose was to prepare boys to become officers in the Merchant Navy through his shipping company Devitt and Moore, although both he, and later his son, Sir Phillip Devitt, also wanted the boys to have a well rounded education in case they later changed their minds about going to sea. At the time of founding the German campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare was at its height, and this was one reason for a nautical training school to be sited inland. Almost immediately after founding, the Admiralty took a keen interest, and naval uniform together with the status of cadet in the Royal Naval Reserve was awarded to every student, putting the college in line with similar schools at that time, such as HMS Worcester and HMS Conway. These last two institutions closed in 1968 and 1974 respectively as the number of young men seeking a career at sea declined, and in 1969 The Nautical College, Pangbourne became "Pangbourne College". This also saw a shift in emphasis to a stronger academic programme, and with a civilian headmaster to replace the former post of captain superintendent. Directors of studies were replaced by the post of second master. The fourth, and current, headmaster, Mr Thomas Garnier, served in the Royal Navy before switching to a career in teaching. He taught physics and was a housemaster before becoming headmaster in 2005.

My memories of Pangbourne are happy ones, although the discipline in those days was over the top!

— Dr. Graham Perry, The Pangbournian, 2014

In addition to normal academic subjects, the college`s curriculum included the teaching of seamanship and navigation, theoretical and practical, to O Level for all boys, and to Higher National Diploma (A Level equivalent) for cadets wishing to embark on a career in the Merchant Navy.

In sport, the college was traditionally strongest in swimming, boxing, cross country and fencing, even providing cadets for the Royal Navy`s fencing team on several occasions. Later its strengths transferred to the rugby pitch and to the river, rowing in fours and eights.

For most of its history, the college numbered on average around 200 cadets in any given year. Recently numbers have expanded to an average complement of around 400, due in part to the college becoming co-educational in 1996 and opening a junior house.

A number of naval traditions are maintained. The college holds a parade every third Sunday,[1] culminating on 'Founders Day' with the ceremony of "beat the retreat". While the title of "cadet" for pupils has fallen into disuse, pupils continue to wear naval uniform on a daily basis, including the traditional rank slides of a Royal Navy cadet. College argot reflects the nautical traditions, with "cabins" instead of study bedrooms, "gunrooms" instead of pupil common rooms, and so on.[1] A focus on water-borne sports, including rowing (sport) and sailing (sport), remain a strong legacy of a nautical past.

Academic[edit]

Pangbourne takes students with a wide range of academic abilities at common entrance (13+) and sixth form (16+). A wide range of subjects are taught at both GCSE and A-level, with nearly all students who study at A-Level going to university, including Oxford and Cambridge.

Divisions[edit]

The boarding houses at Pangbourne are known as "divisions".

Divisions
Name House letter(s) House colours
Harbinger H          
Port Jackson PJ          
Maquarie Q          
Hesperus S          
Illawara I     
St. George St.G     
Dunbar* D n/a

*Pupils aged from 11–13 years belong to Dunbar.

All of the divisions are named after ships operated at various times by the Devitt and Moore Line, and all contain roughly 65 pupils. Every pupil at Pangbourne is allocated to a boarding house when applying to Pangbourne whether he or she is a boarder or day pupil. Pangbourne does not use the system whereby scholars live in their own separate house, but instead chooses to integrate them into regular divisions. The divisions constantly compete against each other in sports and extra-curricular activities, ranging from debating and singing to running and marching. The division which has performed best at the end of the year is presented with the coveted Headmaster`s Cup on Founder's Day. Each division is staffed by a housemaster or housemistress, assistant housemaster or mistress, a matron, and a number of house tutors. In addition to these, each division has a chief, one or more deputy chiefs, and a new entry cadet officer drawn from among the senior pupils.

Uniform[edit]

Pangbourne has a distinctive Royal Navy uniform.

No 1's[edit]

For parades, Royal Navy officer cadet No. 1 uniform is worn: double-breasted black jacket with two rows of four Royal Navy brass buttons, and cadet insignia on the lapels; matching black trousers; white shirt and black tie; peaked cap with Royal Navy officers` cap badge, and black leather shoes.

No 2's[edit]

Normal day-to-day uniform is referred to as No. 2's and is the Royal Navy blue No. 4 action working dress; blue shirt and black trousers, with a blue serge belt. The blue woollen jumper with epaulettes and cadet insignia may also be worn, together with, on occasion, an Royal Navy blue beret.

"Rec rig"[edit]

"Rec rig" is a uniform worn when both No.1's and No.2's would be inappropriate or impractical. For boys the uniform consists of No.2 trousers along with No.2 shoes, a white shirt, divisional tie and a blazer, embroidered with the college`s crest. Those in the sixth form are permitted to wear chinos, brown leather shoes and a respectable shirt of their choice. For girls the uniform consists of No.2 skirt and shoes, black tights, white shirt, divisional tie and navy blue jumper. Additionally, pupils who have obtained their full college colours can choose to wear the Old Pangbournians` "Paravicinni" blazer.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Sport[edit]

Pangbourne College boat club blade

Pangbourne offers students a range of sports with professional coaching. The performance of its rowing crews is exceptional.[1] The school has won the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup four times at the Henley Royal Regatta, a record exceeded only by Eton College and Ridley College, Canada.[2] The college held the record for the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup from 1992 to 2011, when it was finally beaten by Abingdon School.

The college has a rugby club, with the first XV progressing to the latter stages of the Daily Mail Cup in recent years. In 2013 "The Red Wall" became associated with the London Irish Rugby Club. This now gives team members access to professional training through the London Irish`s Academy. A number of Pangbournians have gone on to play at county, academy and national level, whilst still at the school.

Non-sporting activities[edit]

The college has a Combined Cadet Force contingent consisting of all four sections: Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Marines. The college is one of only twenty or so schools in the country to host an Royal Marines Combined Cadet Force section. The Royal Marines section is an annual competitor for the Pringle Trophy held at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, Lympstone, and has won the competition more times than any other school.[citation needed] All students who join the school in the third form participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme at bronze level and attain their award.[citation needed] This has proven popular with the students, many of whom continue through to complete their silver and gold awards. In the year, 2013-2014, 13 pupils went to the Falkland Islands to complete their gold award expedition.

There is a marching band. Formed originally to provide fifes, drums and bugles to lead parades, it has now developed brass and wind sections as well, and performs outside the college for charity events. Each year it leads the Remembrance Sunday service parade through Pangbourne village.

Music generally plays an important role in college life; the school has recently opened a new music centre, and there are strong choral and instrumental traditions. Recently the college has inaugurated the Pangbourne College piano festival, in which participating pupils come from all over the Home Counties and London take part, using the college`s pianos in its three recital halls. There is an annual Pangbourne College composers` competition.

Leadership and prefects[edit]

Although Pangbourne places great importance on developing leadership qualities throughout the pupils' time at the college, it nevertheless puts particular emphasis on developing these skills in members of the sixth form (years 12 and 13), with a peer mentoring course for the lower sixth, and the opportunity to be promoted, with wide ranging responsibilities, in the upper sixth.

Pupil leadership positions
Abbreviation Position Remarks
CCCC Chief cadet captain of college Equivalent to head boy and girl
CCC Chief cadet captain Head of a division, one in each of the six divisions
CC Cadet captain Deputy head of a division, one or two in each house
CL Cadet leader As of September 2013 all upper sixth formers are appointed cadet leaders
CO Cadet officer A general term for all leadership positions

The upper sixth formers have a significant say in the college and are responsible for: teaching the third formers to march; the quality of dress in their divisions; helping to maintain good order in their divisions and helping the younger pupils generally. There are also many inter-divisional activities that the sixth formers organize, which all work towards the awarding of the Headmaster's Cup at the end of the year. Leadership is also widely encouraged in sport, the Duke of Edinburgh Award schemes and in the Combined Cadet Force.

Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel[edit]

The interior of the chapel, showing John Clark's stained glass memorial window (centre)

The Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in March 2000. It was built to commemorate the lives and sacrifice of all those who died during the Falklands War of 1982, and the courage of those who served with them to protect the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. The shape of the building was designed to resemble a ship, reflecting the college's naval history. It was largely due to this history that the college was chosen as the site for this national memorial chapel, together with the fact that 45 Old Pangbournians served in the Falklands conflict. More than a third of these OP`s were either decorated or mentioned in despatches; most publicly known of the OP`s taking part at the time were D.H. Scott-Masson (Pangbourne 1944–46) who was captain of Canberra, the P&O liner converted to troop ship and hospital ship for the conflict; and Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) S E Southby-Tailyour RM (Pangbourne 1955–59), who was one of the first ashore with the retaking of the islands. Apart from also being a gifted yachtsman, he is a prolific author, and among other books, he had published a detailed sailing guide to the coasts around the islands called Falkland Island Shores, which had to be hastily withdrawn by the Ministry of Defence at the outbreak of hostilities[3] The Queen returned to the college in 2007, together with the Duke of Edinburgh, Prime Ministers Baroness Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, and service chiefs responsible for the conduct of that war, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Argentine surrender. Links between the Falkland Islands and the college were also recently highlighted by the visit this year to the chapel of the Falkland Islands Governor, Mr. Colin Roberts.

On the south side of the building, there is the World War II memorial window, commemorating more than 200 former cadets who lost their lives in that conflict - a huge number, when one considers that between 1917 and 1939, the college only ever averaged around 150 cadets in any given year. A staggering number of medals and citations were won during this war by Old Pangbournians, including 2 George Crosses for service in the Merchant Navy: an Albert Medal won for saving life at sea in the Mediterranean, and converted to a George Cross in 1971; and a George Cross awarded in naval bomb disposal. A further 31 Distinguished Service Orders, 91 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 2 George Medals were won.[Note 1][3] The window denotes an airman, an Merchant Navy seaman, a commando and a naval officer. It was transferred from the college's former St. Nicholas Chapel.

Pangbourne`s war effort was so significant that it prompted a special visit from King George VI and his daughter, the then Princess Elizabeth, for the Founder's Day prize giving in 1943, at the height of the war. The college has had many other visits from members of the British Royal Family over the years, beginning with the Prince of Wales in 1927 for the college`s tenth anniversary - he later became Edward VIII; and continuing through to three further visits by the Queen; three from the Duke of Edinburgh; a visit from Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1980; and visits from Earl Mountbatten and the Duke of York, who is also Patron of the Chapel.

The Memorial Chapel – which cost a total of £2.3 million and was opened in March 2000 by Her Majesty The Queen – seats 580 within the ground floor area and gallery; its design , which came about as a result of a nation-wide competition won by Crispin Wride Architectural Design Studio, is reminiscent of the shape of a ship – almond or ‘mandorla’ shaped – denoting hands ‘cupped’ in prayer. Natural light flows down the pale coloured inside walls from clear glass surrounding the curved roof and diffused through its focal feature at the north end – a memorial window with stained glass depicting the Falkland Islands within Christ’s Cross surrounded by a lively sea in vibrant shades of blue, green, yellow and grey – designed by John Clark

Visitors experience a feeling of calm and comfort within the body of the church and gallery area – created by the soft ash and neutral colours surrounding them. There are also some beautifully engraved clear glass panels within each of the main internal and external doors, which take them on a journey from the turbulence of war to the tranquillity of peace.

About the Chapel, ''The Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel website

Each seat has been donated by an organisation or individual, and under each seat is a kneeler with the name of one of the Falklands` casualties.

Notable Old Pangbournians[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The full list comprises: 2 George Crosses; 31 Distinguished Service Orders; 91 Distinguished Service Crosses; 2 George Medals; 18 Distinguished Flying Crosses; 7 Air Force Crosses ; 17 Military Crosses; 2 CBEs; 21 OBEs; 7 MBEs; 2 British Empire Medals and; a Lloyds War Medal for Bravery at sea. 168 Old Pangbournians were mentioned in despatches.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Pangbourne College entry on the Good Schools Guide website
  2. ^ "Results of Final Races - 1946-2003". 
  3. ^ a b Lionel Stephens: Pangbourne College - The Nautical College and its History, Dovecote Press, 1991.

External links[edit]