Pangbourne College

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Pangbourne College
Pangbourne College Logo.jpeg
Motto 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
Students ~400
Gender Co-Educational
Ages 11–18
Houses 7

Navy Blue, Red and White

Publication Pangbourne Colours
Former pupils Old Pangbournians
Boat Club Pangbourne College Boat Club blade

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 designated as of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The 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. Mr. Garnier is the fourth civilian Headmaster; previously the administrative Heads of school were retired Royal Naval officers with the title of Captain Superintendent, assisted by civilian Directors of Studies.

The College holds a parade on the first Sunday of the month. These parades culminate on 'Founders Day'.

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 living at the College.

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. (In 2008 it had met minimum standards, with three recommendations for further improvement).


Pangbourne college

The College was founded by Sir Thomas Lane Devitt Bt. in 1917 as "The Nautical College, Pangbourne" (NCP), on the site originally occupied by Clayesmore School, now located in the County of Dorset. The NCP'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. 1917 saw the height of the German submarine scare, and this was a main 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 Cadet RNR (Royal Naval Reserve) status 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 the late sixties and early seventies 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.

According to the late Dr. Graham Perry (O.P.): "my memories of Pangbourne are happy ones, although the discipline in those days was over the top!" ("The Pangbournian" O.P. magazine, 2014). The Editor`s experience of life at the College in the late `60`s was of an institution founded on discipline and austerity, but also on kindness and justice.

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 the A Level equivalent of Higher National Diploma, (H.N.D.), for cadets wishing to embark on a career in the Merchant Navy, (M.N.).

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 has numbered on average around 200 Cadets/Students in any given year. Recently numbers have expanded to an average complement of around 400, largely due to the College becoming co-educational, and also opening a junior house.

The College was a boys` boarding school, but has been fully co-educational since 1996. A tradition is the raising of a flag - (a defaced Blue Ensign with the College`s red, white and gold naval crest in the bottom right hand corner) - during "Divisions." Divisions have happened since the College's founding in 1917. The teaching of Navigation and Seamanship O Levels continued into the early eighties. The title of Cadet RNR for every pupil has now fallen into disuse.


Pangbourne intakes students with a range of academic abilities at common entrance and sixth form level; yet all but a few students who study at A-Level go on to university, including Oxford and Cambridge.

Subjects taught to GCSE include: Art, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Design Technology, Drama, English, French, Geography, German, Graphics, History, Information & Communications Technology, Mathematics, Music, Physics, Physical Education, Religious Studies, Spanish.

Subjects available at A-Level are: Art, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Classical Civilisation, Computer Science, Design Technology, Drama & Theatre Arts, English, Economics, Film Studies, French, Geography, German, Spanish, History, Information & Communications Technology, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Music, Music Technology, Physics, Physical Education, Psychology, Religious Studies.


The boarding houses at Pangbourne are known as 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

All of the Divisions (houses) 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/she be 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 the 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 Founders Day. Each Division is presided over by a Housemaster or Housemistress, Assistant Housemaster/mistress, Matron, and a number of House Tutors. In addition to these, each Division has a Chief (head of house or Chief Cadet Captain), deputy Chief (Cadet Captain - some Divisions choose to have more than one), and a new entry C.O. (Cadet Officer). Each Division also has a set of house colours, which are only worn by its members on sports fields. Every Division has its own Galley (Kitchen), IT facilities, TV room and Gunroom. *Pupils aged from 11–13 years belong to Dunbar.


Pangbourne has a distinctive Royal Naval style uniform.

No 1's[edit]

On the first Sunday of every month the students have a parade. For this, Royal Naval Officer Cadet No. 1 Uniform is worn: double-breasted black jacket with two rows of four RN brass buttons, and cadet insignia on the lapels; matching black trousers; white shirt and black tie; peaked cap with RN 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 Naval blue No. 4 Action Working Dress (AWD); blue shirt and black trousers, with a blue serge belt. The blue woollen jumper (often referred to as a "woolly pully") with epaulettes and cadet insignia may also be worn, together with, on occasion, an RN 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 Naval Crest. Those in the Sixth Form are permitted to wear chinos, brown leather shoes and a respectable shirt of their choice. Additionally, pupils who have obtained their full College Colours can choose to wear the Old Pangbournians` gloriously striped "Paravicinni" blazer. For girls the uniform consists of No.2 skirt and shoes, black tights, white shirt, divisional tie and navy blue jumper.

Extracurricular activities[edit]


Pangbourne offers students a range of sports with professional coaching. The performance of its rowing crews is exceptional. 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 CCF 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 R.M. C.C.F. Section. The Royal Marines Section is an annual competitor for the Pringle Trophy held at the R.M. Commando Training Centre, Lympstone, in Devon, for which the school has a formidable reputation at, having won the competition more times than any other school. 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 the College 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 in the College. 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 also 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 6th form (years 12 and 13), with a Peer Mentoring course for the Lower 6th, and the opportunity to be promoted, with wide ranging responsibilities, in the Upper 6th. Promotions are as follows:

CCCC - Chief Cadet Captain of College (Head of College, one male, one female. (They are effectively the 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 6th are made Cadet Leaders to encourage leadership)

CO - Cadet Officer; a general term for all of the above.

The Upper 6th formers have a significant say in the College and are responsible for: teaching their 3rd 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 6th 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 DofE schemes and also in the CCF sections, where Combined Cadet Force ranks are awarded to reflect the merit of the individuals concerned.

Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel[edit]

The Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel

The Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel was opened by H.M. 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 (1944–46) who was Captain of the "Canberra," the P and O liner converted to troop ship and hospital ship for the conflict; and Major (later Lt. Col.) S.E Southby-Tailyour R.M. (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'd published a detailed sailing guide to the coasts around the islands called "Falkland Island Shores," which had to be hastily withdrawn by the M.O.D. at the outbreak of hostilities: (Lionel Stephens: "Pangbourne College - The Nautical College and its History," Dovecote Press, 1991.) 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 Islands and the College were also recently highlighted by the visit this year to the Chapel of the Falkland Islands Governor, Mr. Colin Roberts C.V.O.

On the south side of the building, there is also the WW2 Memorial Window, commemorating the 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 OP`s, including 31 DSO`s, 91 DSC`s, and 2 GC`s - for service in the MN, (an Albert Medal won for saving life at sea in the Mediterranean, and converted to a GC in 1971), and in Naval Bomb Disposal. 2 G.M`s were also won. There were 18 DFC`s, 7 AFC`s, and 17 M.C.`s. There were also 2 CBE`s, 21 OBE`s, 7 MBE`s, 2 BEM`s and a Lloyds War Medal for Bravery at sea. 168 O.P`s were mentioned in despatches. (Lionel Stephens: ibid.) The window denotes an Airman, an MN Seaman, a Commando and a Naval Officer. It was transferred from the former St. Nicholas Chapel.

Pangbourne`s war effort was so significant that it prompted a special visit from HM King George VI and his daughter, the then Princess Elizabeth, (the Queen being unwell), for the Founders Day Prize Giving in 1943, at the height of the war. Indeed the College has had many other visits from members of the Royal Family over the years, beginning with the Prince of Wales in 1927 for the College`s 10th Anniversary - he later became Edward VIII; and continuing through to three further visits of Her Majesty as Queen; three from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh; a visit from H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1980; and visits from The Earl and Lady Mountbatten and HRH The Duke of York, who is also Patron of the Chapel. Other visitors of note have included Admiral of the Fleet Lord Jellicoe of WW1 Battle of Jutland fame; Field Marshal Viscount Slim of WW2 Burma fame; and Admiral Lord Cunningham of Hyndehope, of WW2 Mediterranean fame, and one time Admiralty representative on the College`s Board of Governors.

The Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel cost a total of £2.3 million when it was opened by Her Majesty. The chapel seats 580 within the ground floor area and gallery. The design, which came about as the result of a nation-wide competition won by Crispin Wride Architectural Design Studio, is reminiscent both of the shape of a ship – and an almond or ‘mandala’ shape – denoting hands ‘cupped’ in prayer. Natural light flows down the pale coloured walls from the clear glass surrounding the curved roof, and diffuses through its focal feature at the north end. Here there is 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[disambiguation needed][3]

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.[4] 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. Special care is taken by the pupils to look after the chapel, and it is always kept in an immaculate condition.

Notable Old Pangbournians[edit]

  • Jeffrey Bernard, journalist and writer of the column "Low Life" in The Spectator, and subject of the play: "Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell" by Keith Waterhouse
  • Beverley Cross, playwright of "Half A Sixpence," starring Tommy Steel, among many other productions, (and late husband to actress Dame Maggie Smith)
  • Hon Jeffrey Richard de Corban Evans S.B.St.J., Past Prime Warden Shipwrights' Company, and Sheriff of The City of London, 2012–13
  • Sir Robin Gillett, 2nd Baronet, G.B.E., R.D., Master Mariner; youngest ever Staff Commander: Canadian Pacific Lines; R.N.R. Officer; Lord Mayor of London (1976–77), at the time of the Queen`s Silver Jubilee; and former Gentleman Usher of the Purple Rod
  • Jefferson Hack, journalist and magazine editor, co-founder of Dazed & Confused
  • Sir William Garth Morrison Kt., C.B.E., D.L., former Naval Officer, former Chief Scout and now Lord Lieutenant of East Lothian
  • Mike Hailwood M.B.E, G.M., motorcycle racer and 12 times Isle of Man T.T. champion - regarded by many to be the greatest motor-cycle champion of all time
  • Rodney Pattisson M.B.E., yachtsman and twice Olympic gold medallist
  • Captain John Ridgway M.B.E., S.A.S and Parachute Regiment Officer, writer, yachtsman, first Atlantic rower (with Chay Blyth), and founder of Ardmore Adventure School
  • Ken Russell, film director and producer, perhaps best known for his film: "The Devils"
  • Andrew "Bart" Simpson MBE, sailor, Olympic gold and silver medallist, and Americas Cup professional, who tragically drowned in a sailing accident off California on 9 May 2013. To honour his life and legacy, his wife and close sailing friends have established The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation to encourage youngsters into sailing
  • Colonel David Smiley L.V.O., O.B.E., M.C. and Bar, WW2 special forces and intelligence officer, SOE (Albania) and MI6 agent, author, and OC Mounted Escort at Queen's Coronation; and often considered to be one of John le Carre`s inspirations for "George Smiley," in his "Tinker, Tailor" series of spy novels
  • Frederick Treves B.E.M., and the Lloyds War Medal for Bravery. He won both medals when as a 17 year old he saved the lives of several shipmates when his M.N. ship was ablaze during Operation Pedestal, the convoy sent to relieve Malta in WW2. He became a famous actor after the war with over 100 credits for T.V. dramas and series, and in films. He also had a distinguished stage career at the National Theatre, and on radio
  • Very Rev Richard Shuttleworth Wingfield-Digby, Dean of Peterborough, 1966–80
  • Lt.Col. Ewen Southby-Tailyour O.B.E., Royal Marines officer, author, Yachtsman of the Year, 1982. (Please also see the section on The Falkland Islands War Memorial Chapel)
  • Lt.Cdr. David Balme D.S.C., R.N., who as a 20 year old Sub-Lieutenant, was the officer commanding a boarding party of eight ratings from HMS Bulldog on to U110, a U-boat captured intact in the Atlantic on 9 May 1941. On board he discovered the very first fully working naval "enigma" encoding machine to be captured, together with many code books and even U-boat navigational grid charts.
  • Tom Spencer, former Conservative MEP who became leader of the UK Conservative MEP`s, and Chairman of the EU Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. He stood down in 1999, after being discovered with cannabis cigarettes and gay porn
  • Blaine Harrison, Lead Singer of "The Mystery Jets," and Patron of the charity "Attitude is Everything," which makes gigs accessible to disabled people[citation needed]
  • Nigel, Lord Vinson, L.V.O., former Army Officer
  • John Young CBE, former Naval Officer and Chairman of Young's Brewery, Wandsworth
  • The Hon Francis (Frank) Davies multi-award winning record producer


External links[edit]