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In September 1926, a young Englishman named W R Coles came to India. He joined Barnes High School in Devlali and stayed ... until 1968. I am honoured to have known him personally. Many, many children have passed through the school ... and will remember Mr Coles and his passion for Barnes. My parents, who collectively spent some 35 years at Barnes and worked closely with Mr Coles, feel the same way.

I believe that there is no one more qualified to tell the story of Barnes than Mr Coles. Here, in his words, is the story of Barnes High School.

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Please visit the Barnes website which Gladys Flight (nee Fernandes) has set up. The internet Barnes community is growing steadily and is actively seeking to grow even more.

Please also visit the new Barnes website prepared by Kam Majd.

 

 
 

BARNES IN RETROSPECT

by

Mr. W. R. COLES

 

FORTY YEARS ON

When afar and asunder, parted are those who are singing today.

These words from the school song of Harrow, Sir Winston Churchill's old school, come to mind as I write of Barnes from 1926 to 1968, the nearly forty-three years I lived and worked there. Truly my companions and the children of my early years are all parted afar and asunder. Yet, like St. Luke, it seems good to me, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account that new generations may know the truth concerning things.

Just about a hundred years ago people began to think education for their children should be provided by Government. Before that there were schools for the rich. For the poor there were very few schools and those were mostly provided by the Church and charitable people. In the early 1700's many such schools were established in England. So it was that when the Rev. Richard Cobbe was appointed Chaplain to the Honourable East India Company's Factory at Bombay, he founded in 1718, in a building not far from the present Cathedral of St. Thomas in the Fort, a small free school where twelve poor boys were housed, clothed, fed and educated by just one master. That Charity school was the grain of mustard seed from which the mighty tree of Barnes has sprung.

A hundred years passed by. Another East India Company Chaplain, the Venerable Archdeacon George Barnes, realised that the Charity School could not possibly meet the needs of the hundreds of children then without any education. So he appealed for funds and started the Bombay Education Society in 1815, the oldest Society in the city interested in the welfare and upbringing of children. The first, small school was taken over. Numbers grew rapidly until it was apparent that new grounds and school buildings were essential. A large airy site at Byculla was given by Government. This time the girls were also provided for. New school buildings were opened in 1825. One of the copper plates commemorating the opening is now on the wall of Evans Hall, Devlali. The other remains with Christ Church School, Byculla, which with the parish church there, stand on part of the land given originally to the B.E.S. Much of the land was later sold to help build Barnes. A photograph of the old school used to hang in my office at Devlali. I hope it still does. When I arrived in India in September, 1926, I spent a night in one of the Byculla buildings. The buildings have long since been demolished to make room for modern blocks of flats.

The B. E. S. Schools as they were popularly known were primarily boarding Schools for Anglo-Indians, boys and girls, mainly belonging to the Anglican Church. However, day-scholars were admitted and they were of all castes and creeds. For another hundred years there seems to have been little change. Then in the early 1930's the B. E. S. amalgamated with the Indo-British Institution which had been founded by the Rev. George CANDY, about 1837. Byculla was by then crowded and unhealthy. Plans, initiated by Sir Reginald Spence and Mr. Haig-Brown, to move the Boarding part of the schools away from Bombay to the cooler and healthier Deccan Plateau began to take shape. A site of more than 250 acres at Devlali was purchased. On November 17, 1923, Sir George Lloyd laid the Foundation stone of Evans Hall.

Less than two years later, January 29, 1925, a special train brought the first boarders to Devlali. With old time ceremony, in the presence of many distinguished guests, Barnes was declared open by Sir Leslie Wilson, Governor of Bombay and patron of the Bombay Education Society.

This short historical sketch explains much of the present Barnes. It is still primarily, and I hope it always will be as long as there is need, a place where the poor Anglo-Indian children of the Anglican and Protestant Churches can be given a good upbringing and sound education. It is still a Church school where Christian ideals are practised and imparted. It is a boarding school, the largest in Western India. It has a long, proud record of service to the community going back 250 years. More has been added over the years and more still will be added in the future but the school will not, I am sure, belie its history. The memory of founders and benefactors is preserved in the names of the buildings: Barnes, Candy, Spence, Haig-Brown, Lloyd. Other names are remembered. Greaves House is named after Sir John Greaves, prominent Bombay business man of the firm of Greaves, Cotton, Director of the Bombay Education Society from 1930 and Chairman of its Managing Committee from 1939 to 1949. Royal House commemorates Harry Royal, an old boy of the B. E. S. school from the years around 1900 to 1910 who be came an important officer of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Honorary Treasurer of the B. E. S. for many years. Other old students may be honoured in a similar way in time to come. One name is yet to come and to me the greatest of them all, the Rev. Thomas Evans, familiarly but not irreverently, Tom Evans or just Tom. After being Headmaster at the old schools at Byculla since 1910, he became the first Headmaster of Barnes, without whom it would probably not have survived its early years. His portrait hangs in Evans Hall which we named in memory of him when he retired in 1934. A short, five feet two or three, plump, round-faced man with a merry twinkle in his blue eyes and a determined chin is how I remember him. That twinkle could change in an instant to a steely blue stare that few could outface. The chin seemed to jut out further then. A more determined, dedicated man would be hard to find. He moved to Devlali in 1925. Architects planned, committees discussed, contractors built, but one man, a resolute, little man, apparently tireless, really brought Barnes into being. He controlled, checked, yes, and at times drove his staff, the children, the servants, workmen and the Managing Committee till all was complete. In 1932 he became a priest. His attitude mellowed and became more embracing though still at times the schoolmaster broke through. In his fifties at this time, he was as active as many a young man half his age. He was extremely hard to beat at tennis; he climbed the surrounding hills, including Broken Tooth and Kalsubai. On his return to England he served as a country parish priest for nearly thirty years. He died on April 16th, 1962. Truly it could be said of him as of St. Paul, be had fought a good fight and run a straight race.

Barnes in 1926. The buildings were the same as now only they looked new, raw and bare. There were no gardens. The few trees were small and far apart. There were two separate and distinct schools, one for boys and one for girls, and none was allowed to forget that. A boy who looked at a girl was in danger of severe punishment. There were separate classes. In standard IX, the top class (equivalent to Std. XI today) there were four boys sitting for the Senior Cambridge and I think two girls. Numbers in other classes, especially the girls', were small. There were about 250 boarders in all and only a dozen day scholars. No Indian languages were taught. The boys learnt Latin and the girls French. Not much in the way of Science was taught and there was no division into Arts and Science in the top classes. Besides the Senior Cambridge in Std. IX there was the Junior Cambridge in VIII and the Prelim. in VI. All the boarders were Anglo-Indian or European. Among the day-scholars perhaps there were half a dozen Indian children. The boys wore white shirts and blue shorts as now but instead of shoes they had Ammunition boots, the type used in the army. They weren't very comfortable but were good for football. For the athletic sports most ran in bare feet. The girls wore a blue frock as much below the knees as now above. What they wore underneath is unbelievable. There were knickers and bodices, long stockings, at least two petticoats besides other garments for the colder weather. Above all, for both boys and girls, and staff, topees were compulsory. It was a punishable offence to be seen out of doors without one. Everyone was firmly convinced, doctors included, that there was sunstroke lurking for bare heads in the sun. It was possible to feed children on less than Rs. 10/- a month. Prices were low for everything and with them salaries were small too. Our servants earned about Rs. 10 or 12/- month compared with nearly 90/- they get today. In the school hospital children were often ill with malaria. That, with topees and other things is almost unknown now. The children's dining hall was upstairs in the big hall. The food was brought up from the kitchens by hand lift. Just as nowadays boys and girls never seem content with their meals and find fault either with the quality or quantity, so in the 1920's there were the same complaints. And so there will be till the end of time. At lunch time the staff had their meal on the stage facing the children. For dinner, a very formal occasion, we were expected to wear evening clothes: dinner jackets and stiff shirts for the men, long frocks for the ladies. There was a special staff dining-room where in turn the juniors had to sit at the high table with the Headmaster and his wife - terrifying ordeal at first. Much the same games were played as now but not badminton, volley-ball or base-ball. Instead there was some tennis. There was no swimming-pool as there is today. Just the stream which had no water when it was most wanted in the hot weather. Yet there was as much laughter and happiness then as now - but I think not so much studying then.

The A. F. I.-Auxilliary Force, India; the G. I. P. Rly. Rgt.- Great Indian Peninsula Railway Regiment; Cadet Company, Barnes School; strength, 2 officers and 60 cadets; officer Commanding Lt. A. A. Anthony, Second-in-command Lt. W. R. Coles. That sounds a rigmarole perhaps but it was very real in the life of the School from 1927 to1947. All the senior boys joined as soon as they were fifteen. There was regular army uniform: khaki shorts and tunic, grey shirts (everyone called them greybacks), 'Ammo' boots and everlasting putties that had to be continually wound and unwound and rolled up tightly. And of course extra large army topees with the G. I. P. flash. As accessories there were webbing belts and shoulder straps, ammunition pouches, haversacks and knapsacks; real bayonets and rifles. They seemed to weigh a ton to new recruits. The armoury was in the steel-doored room next to the science laboratory and the clothing store was in the room leading off the present Std. X Science. Parades were held on Friday evening and Saturday morning -before breakfast. There was endless polishing of boots, belts and buckles. Thank goodness the buttons and badges were black. Company-Atten-tion! SlopeArms! Present-Arms! What punctilious smartness was drilled into everyone before a ceremonial parade. And no amateur stuff either. A regular Staff Sergeant from the army put the Company through its paces. Then how everyone chucked out his chest at the Guards of Honour for Lord Brabourne, Sir Roger Lumley and others. Boots were useful for their click when smart turns to right or left were ordered but oh! their weight on route marches, and the blisters! Highlights of the year were the shooting classification and the annual camp with the rest of the battalion. On the 25 yds. miniature .22 range in the school the early training was done. Then came the annual classification into 1st. Class shots, 2nd. and 3rd. This was done with live .303 ammunition on the military ranges. The kick of the recoil bruised many a shoulder. The butts party whose duty it was to look after the targets and signal back the scores took more delight at waving the red flag for a miss than at planting the white disc over the bull. We did not live under canvas in camp every year but we nearly always joined in the big field day, the final parade and all the sporting events. One of the darkest secrets of history is how one year Devlali was captured by the Barnes Cadets. Boxing night saw at least half a dozen Cadets matched against the privates and and corporals of the other companies of the Regiment, With the coming of war in 1939 how valuable became those A. F. I. certificates gained in school. Victory in 1945 was closely followed by Independence in 1947. On the very morning of August 15, all A. F. I. units were disbanded forthwith-by express telegram. So passed a phase of Barnes that will not return.

The 1930's were times of stringency and change. I was married while on furlough in England. The first news we heard on our arrival at Barnes was of a money crisis. All over the world there was a depression. Trade was bad everywhere. Businessmen went bankrupt. Many people lost their jobs and those who kept them had their salaries reduced. Barnes was affected with everyone else. Apart from the general world-wide trouble, the school had for the first six years at Devlali not paid its way. Every year there were deficits running tens of thousands of rupees. Because of that we still owed the builders more than six lakhs, and every year there was interest to pay amounting to over Rs. 40,000. So there was ushered in a hard period of austerity. Many of the original staff left around these years. Mr. Evans decided to retire in 1934 and I succeeded him as Headmaster in May. I was only thirty and not very experienced. Ahead stretched years of the strictest economy but gradually we cleared our debts and learned to live within our means. By 1939 we were beginning to build up reserve funds. In 1937 we started the Employees Provident Fund. It was in the early thirties that our first Indian boarders were admitted. We. dropped Latin and French. For a time we taught Urdu; then Hindustani as preached by Mahatma Gandhi. Lastly we settled for Hindi. To start with neither the majority of the parents nor the children took kindly to Indian languages. Eventually we were reconciled to one language and, when in addition to Hindi we had to introduce Marathi, we did feel badly dealt with. The winds of change were blowing. Common sense, too, dictated we should be reorientated. With the change in languages came Indian history, emphasis on India and Asia in geography. For nature study the birds and beasts,' trees and flowers of India took-the place of robin red-breasts, oaks and daffodils. Co-education became complete in these years, partly as a matter of financial expediency but fundamentally as a matter of principle. The kindergarten classes had always been mixed. Now we added an extra class yearly till in all our classes there were boys and girls. My own family was growing up. Rosemary, born in 1932, began attending school. James, born three years later, suffered from dysentery when he was only a few months old and never properly got rid of the germ. In 1935 my wife and I with the children enjoyed a six months' furlough in England. Those were the days of Hitler and the Nazis in Germany. Storm clouds of war were gathering thick and fast. In India the struggle for Independence grew fiercer year by year.

At first it seemed the war would pass by Devlali but it was not long before changes came. Overnight part of our school compound was requisitioned and all the land to the west where we used to have our cross-country runs, around Surprise Hill was put out of bounds to form part of the new School of Artillery with its ranges stretching to Square Top and beyond. From a small peacetime garrison of two or three hundred, Devlali and the surrounding area eventually became an enormous Transit Camp holding at its maximum 70,000 men. They came from Australia and New Zealand only to be quickly on their way again to the deserts of North Africa. Regiments came from England to go always further east to Burma or Malaya. Amongst these men and elsewhere Barnes was well represented as more and more old students joined the Forces-mainly the Army, though also the Air Force and the Navy. Old Girls became nurses or Joined as W. A. C.'s (Women's Auxilliary Corps). Younger men on the staff went off to enlist. Gradually it became more and more difficult to find teachers. Retired men and, in some cases, misfits had to be engaged. At times classes had to be combined since no teachers at all were available. While the roll of old students in the Forces grew there came from time to time the sad news of casualties, prisoners of war and deaths on active service. The Military Hospital expanded fivefold to deal with the mounting toll of wounded men sent back from the fighting areas. At the end of 1941 and the beginning of 1942 war came close to India with the capture of Burma by the Japanese. Of the civilians from Rangoon and other Burmese towns who managed to escape by air or ship or by trecking over the mountains, some came to Barnes - children and adults both. Three teachers and some matrons joined us in this way. At one time it seemed there was nothing to stop the Japanese coming into Assam, Bengal or even further. For a period they had command of the sea. It was considered possible that planes from an aircraft carrier might bomb Bombay and Devlali. So at Barnes we set to dig trenches, erect blast walls, learn First Aid and undergo training in A. R. P. (Air Raid Precaution). At any hour of the day or night the Headmaster could be seen, and heard, cycling around the compound, blowing on a whistle. At the first shrill blast everything had to be stopped, even a meal, and off all had to troop to their Air Raid Stations. Thank goodness this phase did not last long.

Every effort was made to entertain the troops. We had some wonderful cricket matches against teams including top club players from Australia, and football games with teams including one or two professionals from the English Leagues. Individual soldiers were invited to our homes. That for many was what they appreciated most-a little touch of home. Just to sit quietly and relax, have a cup of tea and a chat, mostly about their families. Professional artistes from the stage and screen, organised by a special Government Department, E. N. S. A., were sent around the big troop centres. In Devlali, at first all the entertainments were held in Evans Hall. We took in most of the Chapel and all the balconies. Even then so great was the crush that even Colonels did not mind sitting on the floor in the aisles. Variety shows, orchestras, plays of all and every kind, Barnes saw in those days. What is now the school of Artillery Children's School near the Cathay Cinema, was built as the Lumley Canteen. One night a week till the canteen finally closed down at the end of 1947 a team of the staff of Barnes used to run it, first preparing food, then serving it. By the end of it all we could cut bread, prepare sandwiches, pour tea with the best. In a two-hour period one night we served 968 cups of tea - which works out at eight cups a minute. Feeding the boarders during the war was not easy. We used to get our milk from the Military Farm but at just a week's notice we had to make our own arrangements. Potatoes which in pre-war times came from Italy or East Africa were often nonexistent. If it was not wheat, it was rice, or sugar or something else which could not be had for love or money. Luckily it never happened that there was a shortage of everything at the same time. Our class-work suffered inevitably from lack of proper staff and also from the booming of guns practising on the ranges throughout the day and night. These handicaps were experienced in England with the Air raids. The Cambridge school certificate examining body let up a little on their normal standards. Our children had to write their answers in pencil with carbon copies so that if the ship carrying one set of answers was sunk, there was the second set which might get through in safety. One year the question papers did not arrive in time. Unluckily for the candidates who hoped to be excused from taking the examination, fresh single papers were flown over and the printing was done in India. Destruction and death touched Barnes. The disastrous dock fire and explosion in Bombay brought orphans to the school. Their fathers had been killed while on duty with the Fire Brigade. In 1944 tragedy struck the School itself. Three boys were killed by the explosion of a mortar shell which had been found just outside the boundary and which they were investigating at the rear of Candy Block. Despite distractions and disasters life went on. In 1941 Mr. and Mrs. Fernandes were married and the wedding reception was held in Evans Hall. Mr. Fernandes worked for the Bombay Education Society from 1918 to 1924 at Byculla and from 1925 onwards at Barnes until he retired in 1965. He was in charge of the school office and the Headmaster's secretary. Mrs. Fernandes was a teacher from 1937 to 1964. Between them they served the school for well over seventy years which must surely be a record for any school. My son, James, had another serious attack of dysentery in 1942. It was decided my wife should take him and Rosemary home to England. Their journey by sea in the midst of the war was perilous even though their ship went round the Cape of Good Hope and almost into the Antarctic to keep clear of submarines. In England they went bang into the air raids of the Battle of Britain. At last 'D' day came, followed by victory for the Allies in Europe. A year later, after the atomic blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war in Asia, too, came to an end.

The din of battle ceased but the turmoil and struggle for Independence in India went on, to be brought to a sad climax with Partition. The separation of East and West Pakistan caused much bloodshed and a gigantic refugee problem. Formerly there were few Sikh and Sindi children in the school. Now they came in dozens and twenties. More than ever before Barnes became cosmopolitan in outlook, and was indeed, as all similar schools have been, an oasis where caste, creed, colour or nationality were of no import. This was eloquently illustrated the day Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. At first it was not evident who his assailant was and the minority communities in Devlali and elsewhere were fearful. Barnes that night became a haven of refuge for children and adults. Devlali was now a Transit Camp in reverse. The men who had two, three or four years before passed through on their way east now returned on their homeward way to the west. With them went families who had lived in India all their lives, whose children had come to Barnes and other such Schools. There was fear, of the future and what would be the place of Anglo-Indians in the new India. Our schools were the poorer for this exodus which even now has not ceased. It seemed as if the cream of our teachers and students had deserted us. Yet, if anything, there was better opportunity for employment than before. Financial aid from Government for schools was continued. Special grants to Anglo-Indian schools were to be cut but only gradually, over a ten-year period. In all this uncertainty the Managing Committee of the Bombay Education Society debated the advisability of continuing to run Barnes. Long and fierce grew the arguments for and against. Finally those who thought it wise to close and sell lost. They promptly washed their hands of the Society. On those whose faith made them vote for continuance now rested the onus of proving their decision right. How well they struggled, Barnes today gives evidence. After six months' furlough in 1951, I had barely been back a week before I was asked to go to Poona to look after St. Mary's Training College for men and women teachers. The previous Principal had left; the new one was expected in a month or two. Handing over the running of Barnes to my First Assistant, I went. As Barnes with other schools expected its main supply of young teachers from St. Mary's, it was sound policy to keep the College going. In the event I had to stay a whole year before the new Principal could come. Back at Barnes at the commencement of 1953, life was running once again at its peacetime, normal pace. Numbers increased, double divisions were required in some classes. Our studies improved. More children took the Cambridge examination and more passed. The old Junior Cambridge was discontinued. As a war memorial we wished to build a separate Chapel. In the architect's plans a school chapel held a prominent place but there was never enough money in the school funds to build one. Since 1925 we had been raising our own fund. By 1939 we had about Rs. 6,000. As a result of our new efforts in 1946 and the following years, we added nearly another Rs. 20,000. The money is invested with the B. E. S. and must by now be about Rs. 35,000. 1950 was our Silver Jubilee. Special commemoration bronze medals were struck and awarded to all with any claim to distinction. There were fun fairs, a grand Jubilee Ball in Evans Hall, special prizes including silver fountain-pens. Those of the staff who were celebrating their personal jubilees were given silver plaques or, in the case of servants, Government Saving Certificates. 1954 saw another crisis. Mr. Morarji Desai in the Bombay Government passed orders that only children whose mother-tongue was English could be admitted to Anglo-Indian schools where the medium of instruction was English by constitutional right. All other children were to be compelled to attend Indian language schools whether their parents wished that or not. If persisted in the order meant starving our schools of three-quarters of their students. Ruin, no less, faced us. Mr. Frank Anthony, believing that constitutional rights of parents were being invaded, decided on behalf of all Anglo-Indian schools throughout the country, to challenge the order in the courts. A specific school and specific parents had to be found in whose name the case could go forward. It was Barnes that supplied both. Mr. Justice Chagla in the Bombay High Court ruled that the Order was unconstitutional. The Government went in appeal to the Supreme Court at Delhi. There the Chagla decision was upheld. Our Schools were saved and the right of parents to send their children to any school of their unfettered choice was vindicated. Some who had been fearful of opposing Government foretold a difficult time ahead for being the spearhead of the attack. In fact there was not the vestige of harassment or ill-feeling on the part of the Education Department. On the contrary our relations with Government became more cordial. In 1955 1 was the President of the Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools. At the annual conference that year in Bombay, Mr. Hitendra Desai, now Chief Minister of Gujerat but then Education Minister in the undivided Bombay State, opened the proceedings and made appreciative reference to the work of our schools.

The years 1955 to 1960 were largely a time of preparation. In 1960 all Government financial aid was to cease-by our own choice. We could still be eligible for aid but there would be too many strings attached to grants after that. Something over Rs. 70,000 a year would have to be made up. Most of it was done relatively painlessly. Our fees from the beginning had been all-inclusive-books, clothing, stationery and so on. Now we asked parents themselves to equip their children with a little more each year. Some small increase in fees there was but for those entitled to help from B. E. S. resources, there was no cutting back of the provision made for them. The old Senior Cambridge examinaton changed its name to the Indian School Certificate examination but the papers were still set and marked in England. Only the administration was transferred to India, to be the responsibility as it still is of Mr. A. E. T. Barrow, the secretary of the Council. Mr. Barrow taught at Barnes from 1938 to 1944. Later on, in 1966, when he needed an assistant secretary in New Delhi, he took Mr. W. R. King, also on the staff of Barnes from 1950 to 1965. 1963 was to usher in new requirements for passing the I. S. C. E., particularly in mathematics and science. In the Arts there was to be little change. Instead of teaching the combined subject called Physics-with-Chemistry we had to prepare for separate Physics, separate Chemistry and Advanced Mathematics. Since then we have added, in 1967, another separate subject-Biology for the benefit especially of the would-be doctors. Mathematics is perpetually undergoing great changes. The traditional methods of teaching and even the content of the subject is under constant review. It is inevitable in the new, atomic, computerised, modern world. Figures for tile year 1958 afford a comparison with those ten years later. Then there were 338 boarders; in 1968, over 450. Fifteen girls and boys sat for the Senior Cambridge then, fourteen passed, three in the First Division. In 1968 forty out of forty-one passed with eleven in the First Division. The day-scholar population has fluctuated. In 1958 it was 200, the same as it is today but in between it climbed to over 250. The opening of new schools and the expansion of others quite naturally affected our numbers. Some parents whose children had a long way to come to Barnes-an hour's journey morning and evening preferred schools closer at hand. 1958 saw the first of a series of long distance excursions organised by the school. Ellora and Ajanta, Mysore, Ootacamund and Bangalore; Kashmere. The war with China in 1962 put a stop to those exciting travels. When next we tried in 1963, the Railways were so overcrowded that we gave up the idea of further journeys in large numbers. To the south of the school, in the Sayadries, there stands up a 4,500 ft. peak whose correct name is Awandhe, but which for Barnes has always been Broken Tooth. Several times in my early years I and others had climbed to the base of the Tooth itself without ever getting to the summit. A party of seniors got to the top in 1959 with the help of an experienced climber and ropes plus local knowledge from the nearby villagers. Soon afterwards with the arrival of the Rev. E. Goodman to be the school chaplain, a regular outward Bound Club came into being. Looking back, this period was one of many-sided activities. The School Magazine which started a new lease of life in 1956 under the title, The Barnicle, a short form of Barnes Chronicle, is evidence of this fresh zest.

The early sixties saw the reshaping and enlarging of the old 'Duck's' Pond into a swimming-pool to be really proud of. Out of the one-seventy-foot length, often muddy and for half the year and more empty during the dry weather, was made a safe, shallow pool for the smallest children and a senior pool, 25 metres long, and 4-1/2 ft. deep throughout for serious swimming and racing. At the down stream end a ten-foot deep pool was excavated exclusively for diving with 1,2 and 3 metre boards. The rough, unkempt, banks of the Duck's Pond were terraced and planted with trees and flower beds. To feed the pool a well was dug on the north side and an electric pump installed so that there would always be fresh water. Finally we built dressing-rooms. All this cost something like Rs.40,000. We collected Rs. 20,000 ourselves and the B. E. S. put in the rest.

The new pool was opened in 1962 by Mr. N. Ferguson, the chairman of the School Managing Committee. Three other amenities sprang up in this period; the School Shop, the Library and the senior boys' recreation room. What used to be originally the boys' bathing room at the west end of Evans Hall, though not used for many years, was converted into the School Shop incorporating the separate and smaller tuck shops for boys and girls which had so devotedly been managed by members of staff. Not only tuck was now available but everything from exercise books to football boots. A school library had always been in existence but it was only under the Rev. E. Goodman, a trained librarian before being ordained, that it was fittingly housed, arranged and catalogued. The British Council helped with a magnificent gift of Rs. 5,000's worth of new books. Similarly there had always been recreation rooms for the children but it was Mr. MacInnis who showed what could really be made of them, by his development of the senior boys' room. The equivalent of two class-rooms on the ground floor of Spence Block formed the shell. Gradually, by the boys' own efforts, chairs, tables, couches, a radio, record player, games and magazines were added. The whole was kept spotless and as polished as a new pin. On the outbreak of hostilities with the Chinese in 1962 and again with Pakistan in 1965 Barnes, in company with rest of India, contributed to the Prime Minister's Defence Fund, made food parcels and provided comforts for the troops on the northern borders and the wounded, some of whom were sent to the Military Hospital in Devlali. Another landmark. In 1963 we passed the six hundred mark in our total of students. My wife who had been in England with the children since 1942 returned to India in 1964. The next year we went on furlough, contacting Besians wherever we went. That means everyone with connections with the B. E. S. schools-the old Byculla school, Christ Church, and Barnes. In 1951 while in England I had the idea of bringing together all three groups in one association. In England there is an annual get together. That is where I met most Besians in 1965. On the return flight we stopped off at Bahrain and were right royally entertained by the Kanoos, Jhangianis, and particularly Malcolm Wrightman and his wife both one-time teachers at Barnes. In India the Besians are for the present not very active but that they were is evidenced by the annual Besian Prizes awarded to the best scholars in the top classes. Other Besians there are in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South and East Africa and in the Persian Gulf, in fact, everywhere.

The plane from Bahrain bringing us back to to India touched down safely at Santa-Cruz. On reporting my arrival to the Chairman, Mr. P. S. Whaley, he asked what were my future plans. I pointed out I was already far beyond the official retiring age of fifty-eight and that beyond sixty-five the Education Department would not permit my further service. It was agreed that I should retire at the end of 1968. A generous upgrading of staff salaries with corresponding increases in pay for all grades of workers came into force from April, 1966. Concurrently both boarding and tuition fees were raised. The annual budget hit between five and six lakhs compared with my first, in 1934, of under one lakh. Many of the buildings were reroofed at a cost of half a lakh. It was becoming clearer that a major overhaul of the electric wiring and of the sanitary fittings throughout the school would soon have to be undertaken. From January, 1967, a Bursar was appointed to control the business side of the school. I was asked to prepare a scheme for extending the accommodation to take 200 more boarders, bringing the maximum to 600. Without a much more copious supply of water, that was not feasible in my opinion. Instead, a less ambitious plan was adopted to take up to 480. This meant increasing the size of the dining-hall, rearranging the kitchen and storerooms. Each of the sixteen dormitories, originally planned, very lavishly, to hold twenty-five now quite comfortably took thirty. Bathrooms attached to the dormitories were furnished with more showers, wash-basins and commodes. Two other innovations pleased everyone, especially my wife, for she had been telling me for a long time they were really necessary. At the end of 1967 in addition to the old school bus, then fourteen years old, a new Standard Herald car was bought. Just before the monsoon of 1968 all the school roads were tar-macadamised. So the months slipped by consumed with planning for a new era. Our studies improved culminating in the record success of the I. S. C. E. classes of 1968. Our numbers grew, our discipline was steady and the general tone as good as it had ever been. More and more was spent on feeding. The cost per head per month which was once less than ten rupees was at the end eighty rupees. At my last prize giving I claimed I was handing over the school in good condition to Mr. J. L. Davis, the incoming Head. I still feel I was justified in my claim.

I have not gone into complete retirement. At the request of Bishop Luther I am now in administrative charge of Auto-Skills, Nasik, where automobile mechanics are trained. The job is similar to the one at Barnes but vastly scaled down; 20 students instead of 650, a total staff of ten instead of sixty and more, two or three letters a day to answer instead of dozens; no parents to interview. As I sit back with less to do and reread this tale of mine of Barnes over the past forty-three years, it seems most of my time was taken up in administration and matters impersonal, figures, time-tables, budgets and so on. Of course, that was not really so. There was the staff, teaching, domestic and the more humble bearers, hamals, coolies, who worked with me and without whom nothing could have been achieved. Some stayed a short while only but there were always the stalwarts with many years of service to give stability and the fruits of their experience. Above all else were the children for whom Barnes exists and around whom the staff, the planning, everything revolves. Five generations of them have passed through my hands and the wonder still holds me.

Awkward cubs they were when first they came to school. Then they grew in stature, strong they grew in mind. till came the time for parting when onward they would go as men to face the world! God be with them all till we meet again.

 
 

 
 
 
ONWARD BARNES.
 
1. Hear our loyal anthem, as we make it rise
To our School, with all our might;
Barnes has reared us, taught us all the good we prize.
Here we've learned what's true and right.

Chorus :
Onward Barnes ! Upward Barnes!
Shall be our watchword and our aim.
Till the echoes ring, let us sing
To your honour, praise and fame.

2. Awkward cubs we were when first we came to School,
Often grimy, spoilt and slack.
Heavy was the way till we had learnt the rule,
Learnt to know and keep the track.

3. Grown we are in stature, strong we are of mind.
Now we see they nobly live,
That forsake vain glory, gentle are and kind,
Ever strive their best to give.

4. Comes the time for parting. Onward we must go.
Face the world as men at length.
But we will remember all the School we owe.
May she grow from strength to strength.

 
 
 
 

 
 
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© David C King, 1996-2003.
Email: dck@myprivacy.ca