BECKSIDE 2018-06-19T20:02:18+00:00

A complete digital issue of The Beckside from 1949 has been reproduced below – enjoy some memories. 

We make no apology for making this a “Pirates of Penzance” issue, for the Spring Term of 1949 will always be remembered as “the term when we did ‘Pirates’.”

There has been a tendency during the war, and in the immediate post-war years to find the ordinary activities of a boarding school a heavy enough demand on our energies. With the production of “The Pirates of Penzance” we have re-discovered for ourselves what many previous generations of Aytonians know: that in a big community effort which makes demands on us until we are tired, and then, goes on demanding, we find a happiness and satisfaction that nothing else gives, and we are bound together in closer friendship than before. It is for this reason that “the time, patience, and personal effort necessary to make a success” of such a production, seems to us so worth while.

“Give all thou canst: high Heaven rejects the lore of nicely-calculated less or more,” is a principle which would help the world to find some of its lost happiness.

School News


The Senior Arts Association must thank Miss Poole, Miss Bowness and Miss Nicholson for the very enjoyable evenings which they have given us this term.

In the first meeting of the Term, which was held on February 5th, we were entertained by a group of girls from Kirby Secondary School. Under the tuition of their art mistress, Miss Poole, they had prepared a puppet show, building their story round the nursery rhyme “Little Miss Muffet.” It was enjoyed immensely by everyone, and I am sure that many members of the association felt encouraged to do something in the same line, at Ayton.

February 19th brought the second meeting of the Term, in which we were introduced to American Square Dancing by Miss Bowness. Most people thought that this was a most unusual thing to do in an Arts Association meeting, but it worked very well and proved enjoyable to everyone. Mr. Porter had rather a monotonous task at the piano, playing practically the same tune again and again, but I believe he enjoyed it.

The last meeting, which was held on March 5th, produced a programme which was a complete contrast to the former meetings of the Term. In this meeting the Drama Group entertained us with a play, “Merry Widow Welcome,” which they had produced with the aid of Miss Nicholson. Owing to many of this group being occupied, with the “Pirates of Penzance,” we were somewhat afraid that the remainder of the group would be unable to undertake an evening. We were entirely mistaken, as the play was much enjoyed. This was shown by resounding laughter which came from the audience, usually at the expense of Henry Pickering, a very humorous character in the play.

Despite the time taken up by the production of the “Pirates of Penzance” this Term, I am sure that the Senior Arts Association meetings have also been successful.

Brian Lockey (15 years)


This term we have had only three visitors to take Evening Meeting, and old have had some interest for us. Joseph Carruthers, head master of Wigton Friends’ School, came for January 30th and spoke on his School, comparing it in part with Ayton. He described to us the reaction he felt when seeing the beauty around here, and the beauty of the Lake District.

On February 20th Ettie Mercer told us of her experiences, in Jamaica, and her journey there, while in her teens. I found the most interesting part to be her description of a young servant girl’s character whom she met.

Of these three Meetings, I thought the last one, given by Donald Court, was the most interesting. He started by introducing himself as a doctor and lecturer at King’s College, Newcastle, and telling us of his first experience with horses. This was when he visited a farm while still a young, raw, town boy. The farm lad invited him to have a ride on his pony, but as soon as the enthusiastic boy mounted, the wicked lad let off a gun in the pony’s ear, which made it race round the field four times and finish up in the stable, Dr. Court not knowing whether he or the pony was the most frightened ! This was related as an experience with real horses, but then he went on to talk about horses as symbols of natural and unnatural death, fear and health, as his interpretation of Revelations, chapter 6. For an illustration of his views about death, he described sitting with his beloved grandmother on the night of her death. This he did partly from a medical point of view so that I did not find it morbid, but, unfortunately, a few members of the Meeting did. After this satisfying Meeting, I felt an urge to take part in a discussion with the interesting doctor, but unfortunately, my urge was left unsatisfied. We are looking forward eagerly to his next visit.

Audrey Seddon


The good work of German Relief has been carried on again this term and we have once more helped our two friends in Germany.

A circular letter was sent to parents, asking them to give any old clothing, shoes, books and toys that they could spare. We had a splendid response and were able to send twelve twenty two-pound parcels to Germany. An obstacle which came in our way was the lack of money needed to send them to their destination. Another appeal was made and the School responded admirably with £2 12s. and so our friends in Germany can enjoy the clothing we no longer need.

Jean Manship (15 years)


For the last two years we have had, at the end of the football and hockey season, a social, to which all those who have taken part in 1st XI. matches throughout the year are invited. It has proved very successful and! is a grand climax to what is always an exciting season’s football and hockey.

The success of this year’s social was due largely to the careful planning of Miss Harwood and Mr. Morgan and the very pleasant way in which they made us feel “at home.” Adding greatly to the success, of course, were the “eats.” We had coffee and a most appetising spread of cakes. Our thanks to Mrs. Burrell and her staff.

Let me again say how much we enjoyed ourselves, and may the socials of the future be as happy and enjoyable as the ones we have attended. Good luck to next season’s XI’s.

Anthony D. Smith (17 years)


We started to equip the stage with the necessary scenery and lighting effects for the “Pirates of Penzance “production at the beginning of the Spring term, under the leadership of Mr. Jones.

There were twelve members in the Stage Graft Group of the Senior Arts Association who offered to help make the scenery, so we were divided into three groups and then allotted our work. There were nine flats, six rostrums and four swivel curtains to make.

We worked at this jab while the cast were rehearsing at night, from 7 o’clock till 8.30, and as much as possible in our own spare time.

When the flat frames had been constructed, there was the canvas to glue on to them. The canvas had been stitched by Miss Smith and some of the VIth form girls.

There was a great deal to be done, also, on the lighting set, and this was successfully done by Joe Robinson and Alan Weighell, under the supervision of Mr. Dunn.

Although sometimes it was rather awkward and sometimes a little dull doing this work, we enjoyed it on the whole and were well satisfied with the result in the production.


We had a very unusual form of entertainment from a parent at Staff Week-end this term. On consulting our fixture cards, we found that we were to be entertained with conjuring by Mr. W. Snalam.

We entered the gym full of expectations and prepared to keep our eyes open to catch some of the tricks of the trade. We were disappointed in this, however, for very rarely did anyone see any slowness of hand as our attention was diverted by lively chatter on the part of the entertainer.

Quite a few of the juniors had the delight of being called on to the stage to act as assistants. This pleased some of them greatly and there was great competition as to who could get up there first. Mr. Snalam did some tricks that might be termed as dangerous juggling with pound notes and engagement rings, though the owners were given a guarantee that they would get them back.

His last trick pleased the audience most, as it involved the manufacture of sweets which were then thrown out into the audience. The unfortunate ones who did not benefit from this were given one on leaving the building.

We thank Mr. Snalam, very much for his excellent entertainment and hope that in future any more parents with such useful and enjoyable hobbies will come along and put them, before the school.

Sheila Moore (15 years)


How some of those senior boys grumbled when they had to clear the end of the terrace near the swimming bath, last summer term! One would have thought they had been called upon to build the notorious Canadian Pacific Railway, instead of using a pick and shovel for about an hour. I am quite sure, however, if they could see the fruits of their labours they won’t bear a grudge any longer. Before these extensive changes were made, that part of the terrace was a wilderness. But now one can indeed “lift up one’s eyes unto the hills,” and see the beautiful view of the distant Clevelands.

It seems incredible that by substituting clear outlines for ones of different shapes and shades, men could effect such a marvellous change to another part of School. The sunken garden itself is by no means finished, seats have to be constructed and rock plants set to give a variation to the sharp outlines already there. We hope that the girls will play their part in keeping the sunken garden tidy, because it is a just payment to the boys who helped in the building of it. As the girls have the sunken garden, I hope further pleasant additions will be made for the benefit of the boys’ side.

Owing to the development of the swimming bath, the words “Compulsory Bathing” will not have such a sinister sound as, they used to have, In fact these developments should create a rise in attendance for the optional bathes, the bath should now be a sun trap and there should be a rise in temperature of the water. The wide terrace of steps on the theatre side is both useful and beautiful: it will provide extra space for teaching, or serve as a very pleasant stand for spectators; and it link-, the theatre with the terrace, giving this very beautiful part of our grounds a unity that it has not had before.

Alan Burns (16 years)


On April the first, 1949, we all went into breakfast, as usual, after April fooling many people.

We had our first course of porridge, then out came the trolley and to our surprise, there was no food on it, but parcels all neatly wrapped up in white paper. Mary and Sheila began to give them out; of course, most of as thought it was something to fool us. When we got our parcel on table nine, there was a little verse stuck on to the paper, so Derrick Smith, who is on the end of our table, read it to us. This is what it said:

“We’re delighted to serve, we enjoy the fun, But now it is time the Spring cleaning was done. So to all the scholars of Ayton School, A happy Easter!’ and April Fool.”

After we had read the verse, the parcel was opened and to our great surprise there were eight brightly coloured eggs, red, purple, yellow and green ones. At the end of breakfast, Christine stood up and thanked the domestic staff for their lovely surprise, and also on their poetical part of the surprise, too.

Beryl Goodfellow (11 years)


When morning Assembly was first set apart for a short period of worship, it was the custom for the Headmaster to read a short passage from the Bible, on which to base one’s thoughts during the silence which followed. As time went on, changes took place and different members of staff chose the readings for the week. The readings varied: passages from the Bible, short poems, and extracts from novels were read to illustrate the theme for the week’s thought. This kind of Assembly continued until last term, when it was felt that we were drifting away from our original intentions, and so it has been the aim this term to bring back the kind of Assembly we used to have when the passages read gave a clear lead for worship. I still think that morning Assemblies could be improved upon and I feel that more passages from the Bible would bring about the improvement.

John Cockrill (17 years)

I think that to improve the readings they should be evenly mixed, so that we do not have too many religious readings. Readings from the Bible, I am, inclined to think, go in one ear and out of the other. I do not mean that we should cut out readings, from the Bible altogether, but I think the readings should not all have a religious motive.

Roy R. Tyerman (15 years)

As morning Assembly is the first organised activity of the day far the whale school, I think that the aim of the readings should be to start the day well. The theme behind the readings should certainly be connected with worship, but this does not necessarily mean a series of passages from the Bible.

I am sure that the school as a whole derives more benefit from the modern and simplified translations of the Scriptures, such as Dorothy Sayer’s “Man Born to be King,” than from the Revised Version of the Bible, which is often difficult to understand. The lower half of the school should be considered when readings are chosen as it is an advantage, if they, too, can really appreciate them.

Music, skillfully chosen, is always welcome as a change on one day of the five. I would suggest, however, that variety and interest in readings are all-important and should always be considered first.

David Blackburn (15 years)

I think Assemblies could be improved by the use of music. Music usually settles my mind in a single line of thought which is so necessary far silent worship.

Dennis Yare (16 years)

I agree with one of my contemporaries in that we should have more Bible readings, but with stipulations.

There are passages in the Bible that just do not come within comprehension in the fifteen minutes of Assembly, and even if the older ones do understand them (owing to Scripture lessons), the younger ones, which comprise half or two-thirds of the school, do not. This kind of difficult passage will lead to a holy dread of Assemblies in future years. Poems would break down this feeling, but, please, well-chosen poems! And, finally, just to see that this feeling of dread does not develop, let us have a “Humour Week,” perhaps just once a term, which would ensure attention to all readings. Here I may be detracting from the purpose of Assemblies and readings, but I feel it is necessary.

Brian Sayer (15 years)

I think the singing of a hymn every morning, instead of one on Thursday mornings only, would be an added improvement. The members of staff responsible each week for readings could choose their own hymns to fit in with the theme of their readings. In this way the feeling of worship, I think, would be increased.

June Berriman (16 years)

A great improvement could be made on this term’s Assembly readings. I think they have been drab and certainly uninteresting to the younger members of the school. I used to enjoy a former Geography master’s readings. At the beginning of every summer term his subject was “British Sportsmanship,” and he invariably read the story of the old-fashioned fast bowler who once delivered a ball which passed the wicket keeper, went through two coats, and killed a dog an the boundary. I appreciated this type of reading and derived a great deal from them and I sincerely hope that next term’s readings will not be as uninteresting as this, term’s.

Raymond Newbigin (16 years)

While I feel it would be almost impossible to make morning Assemblies perfect, I do think they could be improved. The music on Friday mornings is, to me, a great joy, but it is definitely a secular enjoyment; since it comes only once a week, however, I do not think there is any great cause for alarm. Bible readings do not interest me very much. I derive more interest from bath poems and thought-provoking extracts from novels, and I like finishing Assembly with a hymn.

Elspeth Rutherford (15 years)

Morning Assemblies are, on the whole, enjoyed by the scholars and we hope that they will continue to be a time in the day which is looked) forward to.

Our view is that the, theme of the readings should never be allowed to stray to subjects not closely connected with worship, but should keep to religious topics. The system used hitherto of maintaining the same theme throughout the week has been successful and we hope to see it continued. While we favour readings from the Bible, we recommend other illustrations of the theme, which should be as interesting as possible. Stories and incidents from true life help to focus one’s attention and will make it easier for juniors to concentrate. We feel, however, that the standard of the readings should be intended primarily for seniors, as the juniors will gradually acquire a greater understanding. Juniors would lose less by only a partial grasp, of the meaning than would be last if the level were lowered.

We enjoy our one day of music very much and think that the person responsible for the week’s reading should feel free to choose a hymn occasionally. The length of readings is difficult to determine and our suggestion is that they should be short enough to allow for a few moments silence before announcements are made.

Joan Wolf (18 years)
Christine Johnson (17 years)




“Rise and shine.”
“Ah, Teller, can’t we have another minute or two?”
“Sorry, you’ve had an extra ten already. Get out or I’ll rag your bed.”
“Hey, steady on with my ‘accume’ and H.T. batteries! You’ll have the acid over my bed !”….
“Did you listen to ‘Much Binding’ last night? Wasn’t it super?”
“Not ‘arf. Smashing joke about the bootblack.”
“Someone’s pretty funny joke. Someone’s flogged my hair-oil!”
“It’ll turn up-probably under the pipes.”
“That’s what you think.”……
“Hey-you! Come on, it’s time for breakfast.”
“Sorry, sir. Coming as soon as I can undo this knot. Ah, got it!”
Henry R. Pickering (14 years)


One morning as we were coming down from the Lodge, a golden light seemed to hit our eyes, it was “a host, a crowd of dancing daffodils.” Most of them were the small, wild ones, while the rest were the tall garden variety. Each morning since then, they seem to have multiplied until that corner of the field appears to be a yellow carpet.
Sometimes, while lying in bed, we can see squirrels, but in the half light it is impossible to tell whether they are red or grey. Occasionally, we see rabbits playing without fear on the grass tennis court. Every morning we hear the thrushes and wood pigeons and hosts of other birds, but the best of all is the glory of the daffodils.
Judith Hall (14 years)


Oh, how cruel the noisy rising bell is, it has disturbed a peacefully and cosily tucked in little group of junior girls! Yet with the first sound nearly half of them are wide awake and in their games clothes, ready for their morning exercises, as there are some very enthusiastic trainees for the coming sports. But, alas, what is left when the little group of runners are on their morning sprint around the track! Here and there a pile of clothes with someone hardly visible buried underneath still engulfed in a lovely dream. How pitiful it is to tear them away from their slumber-land into a cold wash-room, by pulling back their clothes with the words : “Time you got up, it’s seven o’clock.” But it has to be, and it is endured with happy visions of long lying-in during the holidays.


Not a grunt was heard, not a waking sound,
As the bell in the dormitory clattered,
Not one of the six could bring herself round,
For at six forty-five-what mattered?
We lay like Prefects taking their rest
With our heads underneath the covers,
For many more moments unconscious and blessed,
Unaware of the chaos above us.
Then the clock of B. Dorm tolled out seven,
And next door the counting begins,
Melodious and rhythmic the sounds reaching heaven
Wake us stir and remove our pins.
Few and short were the joys in our heads
And we spoke not a word to our neighbour,
But we steadfastly gazed at the ends of our beds,
And thought of approaching labour.
Not a move was made, not a limb was stirred
And we lay there surprisingly still,
Far although it was time, we also had heard
That the morn was excessively chill!
Then a sleepy one raises an arm,
And languidly gropes for the clock,
Good Heavens ! What cry of alarm!
She shrieks-and pulls on a sock!
The room is transformed, rapid action takes place,
(How it’s done is not known to this day!)
But at seven twenty-five, with elegant grace,
Fully dressed, they step forth for the fray.


24th-26th March, 1949

I believe the idea originated with Mr. Porter last term. On his arrival at Ayton, he started to organise the musical life of the school on a more democratic basis, with numerous committees of boys and girls to help him. One of his best supported efforts was the “Choral Society.” We sang in hymn singing and at the Carol Service at the end of last term. I think he was attracted by Sullivan’s music to “The Pirates of Penzance,” with little thought, at first, of a full production, but as we proceeded, the more we sang the better we enjoyed it, and it became evident that we MUST put it on to the stage.

All uncertainty was cleared up at the beginning of this term, when Mr. Carr announced that the production would definitely take place near the end of March.

Then the hard work started. Mr. Dunn was producing the opera, and at first the time was divided between musical and stage rehearsals. We sweated at both, and soon we had the opera “creaking” – as Mr. Dunn would say, but gallons of oil were needed to make it run easily. At this stage Mr. Dunn and Mr. Porter combined their rehearsals and music and acting were fused. It was then that the real work began : rehearsals, were taking place almost every night, yet there was other work to be done somehow. We became tired, but I think that the tiredness added to our enjoyment. Such institutions as West Lane Hospital and the San. took toll of some of our members, and at one period the prospects of the production were decreased by a minor ‘flu epidemic. To counteract this, Mrs. Carr dosed us all with penicillin tablets after each meal and I can still picture the cast coming out of the dining room sucking round, yellow tablets.

The hired costumes arrived late on Tuesday evening, from Brighton, and you can imagine the fun we had seeing other members of the cast-especially staff-walking around in piratical dress. I cannot imagine spending a more pleasant half hour than we spent trying on our costumes in Room 3. We found waist bands, red squares, kilts, and such piratical garb and wondered just where it was going to fit. But after all our speculations, the costumes fitted perfectly.

Then came the performance. It is being reviewed in another part of this issue, so I shall not comment on it. But I must repeat a conversation overheard in the village. One rather nervous woman, after seeing the pirates going down to a performance, remarked that “it wasn’t safe to be out on these dark nights.” But an old sage, who had seen both policemen and pirates coming from the gym after the performance, countered this statement with, “It’s orl right, luv, there’s been a rema-arkable increase in’t Bobbies.”

I should like to say “Thank you” to everyone who make this ambitious production possible; every member of our community “pulled his weight” magnificently and if there had not been this cooperation from the youngest to the oldest, the “Pirates,” would not have been the success and the delight it was

Raymond Newbigin (16 years)


24th-26th March, 1949

“The Pirates of Penzance” was the fourth collaboration of the great partners, coming in 1880 after the enormous success of “H.M.S. Pinafore,” the moderate success of “The Sorcerer “and “Trial by jury,” and the failure of their first venture, “Thespis.” It was first produced in the United States, where D’Oyley Carte had a company touring to prevent “pirated,” and often inaccurate, versions of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas finding a golden market. Sullivan was still enjoying his talent for light music, and the obligations of his success in this field had not yet begun to make him feel he was neglecting his duty to serious music. “Hail Poetry!” however, at the end of Act I. of the “Pirates” is evidence that the oratorio style was never far below the surface; one can listen to it with enjoyment in the satirical context of the light opera, but a whole evening with it would be a penance.

For the School to aspire successfully to put on any one of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, three problems had to be solved at the outset: how to overcome the restrictions of a small stage, how to make effective use of voices which, while they would be sweet, would be small, and how to make us forget the absence of Sullivan’s orchestral colour.

I was glad myself that a small and possibly inexperienced orchestra was not used ; it would have increased the difficulties for the singers and could not have revealed to us all the skill and humour of the original orchestration. The pianist, Muriel Thomas, was completely successful, and where she got a chance of holding equal place with the singers, as in General Stanley’s “Softly Sighing” (Act II.) it was with real delight that we heard her take advantage of the opportunity. I thought the orchestral overture on the gramophone a mistake: it is only with utmost difficulty that a theatre audience can be brought to listen to music when the curtain is down; there was no chance at all, with an excited audience in a school hall. I should have preferred it on two pianos with, if necessary, an enforced silence.

Problems of staging and of immature voices were solved to a large extent by the extended “apron” stage, which brought the principal singers out into the audience and gave their voices every chance to be heard. The device was completely successful, and the words of almost every song, even the choruses, were easily and clearly distinguished. I remember the girls and the policemen in “Go, Ye Heroes” (Act II.) as the best example of part singing on Saturday evening, while the trio, “A Paradox, A Paradox,” was sung with a confidence and a brilliance almost professional.

It was a pleasant departure from the usual to see General Stanley’s daughters all looking young and charming: it is not often that there is really “not one whose homely face or bad complexion “makes the protestations of perfection to Frederic invalid. But I could not help wondering how the energetic Major General produced so many beautiful daughters in less than three or four years. Was he perhaps a Mohammedan, or Mormon?

I would remind these maidens of the chorus of the need to act as well as sing and look beautiful; “How beautifully blue the sky” should be their pretext for concealing their obvious interest in the doings and conversation of Mabel and Frederic, and when they are silent the young ladies should be striving to get as near as possible in order to hear and see as much of the lovers as they can. They lost a chance of adding to the comedy there.

By the Gilbert and Sullivan enthusiast the stage “business” is jealously watched to see that the traditions of seventy years’ standing are faithfully observed. Gilbert himself -,was rigidly set against allowing liberties with either his script or his stage directions. What he would have said could he have heard a portion of “H.M.S. Pinafore” inserted bodily into the text of the Pirates,” I hate to think; yet if my horrified ears heard aright this was done on one night at any rate of the performance. [The horrified ears were misled; the “What never? Hardly ever” of “Pinafore” was repeated by Gilbert in the original edition of “Pirates” as “What, all of them? Well, nearly all” Ed.] Far more legitimate and extremely attractive were the girls’ dances in both acts of the opera and the vigorous hornpipe of the pirates, while the drill of the policemen on their first entry reached a perfection and precision contrasting strangely with the imbecile countenances assumed by this talented Force. These gentlemen and their Sergeant are to be congratulated on extracting every possible nuance of expression from their words and music.

I suppose the role of Mabel, the heroine, is as exacting as any in the repertoire of Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Her two main arias, “Poor Wandering One” and “Ah, leave me not to pine,” are both difficult to sing, and the coloratura of the first song is a fiendish test for a young and inexperienced voice. Small wonder, then, that Mabel became somewhat fixed and glassy in her concentration on getting every note. “Ah, leave me not to pine” came out sweet and pure as a bell: while it vas interesting to see how when “Poor Wandering One” is repeated at the end of the opera, Judith Crossley, now having seen all obstacles successfully surmounted, carolled forth with a freedom and confidence she did not dare to have in Act I.

Someone must be blamed, however, for the omission of “Oh, here is love and here is truth,” perhaps the producer was unable to work his leading lady into a sufficient frenzy of rapture. I think Frederic could have done it, but a love duet is not easy to make convincing when the young lady is still young enough to be self-conscious. Ruth, the piratical maid of all, work, is Gilbert’s first example of the ageing spinster. The tragedy of the loving but unloved female regretfully finding herself on the shelf was something that Gilbert never ceased to find funny, and later on in “Patience,” for example, and still more in the “Mikado,” this unfeeling humour of the librettist provoked Sullivan to give some of his finest music to the character at whom Gilbert sought to poke fun. In “The Pirates,” Ruth is cruelly treated when in Act I. she is exchanged from Pirate King to Frederic, back again and back once more.

We laugh uneasily there. In Act II. Ruth’s loss of Frederic is lost in the development of the plot around General Stanley. Marjorie Wilson’s singing was not powerful, but it was sweet and beautifully clear: I never missed a single word. But why was she allowed to look so young: I was never convinced of her forty-seven years, and when she re-appeared with the Pirate King in the ruined chapel of General Stanley’s home she looked in her smart tricorne and cloak as attractive a young woman as even the exacting Frederic could desire. Frederic himself looked a true hero and sang like one. One wondered how far General Stanley’s daughters needed to assume their admiration in “How pitiful his tale, how rare his beauty.” But he should have had a second costume for Act II. It was surely not seemly for one in pirate dress himself to propose to lead the police against the piratical stronghold. Philip Bell, as the Pirate King, was a tremendous spectacle.

What an asset to be able to roll one’s eyes and show the whites like that! His facial expressions were so varied one was apt to forget that he was contributing a fine voice to the part. I liked also his aide, Samuel, who showed a real appreciation of the timing as well as the quality of his lines.

Major General Stanley achieved a poise and an assurance that I have not seen excelled by Martyn Green himself. I certainly don’t believe I have ever heard “A Model Major General” done better. “Softly Sighing” demands somewhat greater musical accomplishment, and found out his limitations as a singer. But the late Sir Henry Lytton had no voice at all, and I felt William Hall was worthily in the tradition of Grossmith, Lytton and Greene-and as a Gilbert and Sullivan devotee I can give no greater praise than this.

Margaret Bowness, of the School, produced the scenery, and the delicious little view through the window of the ruined chapel was refreshing and effective, for that scene is often rather gloomy and circumscribed. The view of the headland in the School version was extraordinary effective. I have yet though, to find a scenic artist who will pay attention to the evidence that is provided not only in the stage directions about the first scene but in the script, “We are quite alone and the sea is as smooth as glass.” Only once have I seen a sea which was really calm-and in that case the tide was out, although we have elsewhere (Pirate King: “Well, it’s the top of the tide and we must be off”) evidence that it was not. Margaret Bowness’s waves were true to tradition.

The Stage Group, under the able direction of Stanley Jones, must have put in an enormous amount of work in the construction of scenery, and in making additions to the lighting set. They are to be congratulated on all the work they did behind the scenes.

But when all has been said of the caste, much of the praise distributed to them rightly belongs, as they know, to producer and musical director. The use of thirty-four people on that stage was a tribute to Blakey Dunn’s ;skill; so, surely, was the way in which the value of each word of the dialogue was given its importance. Only the rather bewildering alternation of night with day in Act II. seemed unnecessarily disturbing; I think it would have been better to have plumped for moonlight and relied on that for the illumination throughout.

Bernard Porter had his singers well in hand. He was lucky in being able to start in a school with an established tradition and enthusiasm for fine singing, but he has developed it in a way that has made musical history and a new and most promising departure for Ayton. The fruits of Mrs. Harper’s work were also evident. Without the foundation of her training, young soloists could not have tackled these difficult parts with so much success.

What a perfect vehicle for singing and drama the Gilbert and Sullivan operas provide. There is no other work in English of this quality. “We found the musical piece in the theatre poor, vulgar and mean to a degree and have sought to provide in its place pieces which are well constructed as to plot, witty, and in good taste, with music of the highest class.” That was what Gilbert said the great partnership set out to achieve, and worthily they did so. I hope “The Pirates” is the first of a Savoyard tradition at Ayton. May they never stray into the banalities of sugar and sentiment provided by other composers and librettists.

Stanley F. Sweet (Parent)



On the Photo:
Back row: Stanley Jones; ??; ??; Major-Gen. – Bill Hall; Raymond Newbiggin; Pirate King – Phillip Bell. Third row: Margaret Featherstone; Irene Wardle; ?Jean McNeil; Marjorie Wilson (in the dark hat.) Second row: Policemen ??John Cockrill;?; Derek Smith; Judy Crossley; Dan Yare; ??; ??; Les Donaldson; and Hal Benbow on the extreme right. Front row: Ann Tindale; Irene Frost, Margaret Scott, Judith Dudding, Mary Bell, Margot Ayre, Shirley Rushton, Jean Sweet, Christine Johnston, Joan Wolf

Can you fill in the remaining names? If so please let us know

Cast List:

Major-General Stanley – William Hall
The Pirate King – Philip Bell
Samuel (His Lieutenant) – Raymond Newbiggin
Frederic (The Pirate Apprentice) – Derrick Smith
Sergeant of Police – Stanley Jones

General Stanley’s daughters:
Mabel Judith Crossley
Edith Jean McNeil
Kate Isabel Wardle
Isobel Margaret Featherstone
Ruth (Pirate Maid-of-all-work) Marjorie Wilson

Pirates and Policemen:
H. Benbow, L. Donaldson, G. Easton, D. Noyes, R. Tyerman, D. Yare (Tenors). A. Burns, J. Cockerill, D. Downey, S. Gaunt, B. Lockey (Basses).

General Stanley’s Daughters: M. Bell, J. Coates, J. Dudding, J. Gatty, E. Rutherford, D. M. Scott, D. Tindale (Sopranos) M. Ayre, I. Frost, C. Johnson, S. Rushton, J. Sweet, J. Wolf (Altos) 


Stanley Jones (Sergeant of Police), Phillip Bell (The Pirate King), and William (Bill) Hall (Major-General Stanley)

Judith Crossley (Mabel) and Derek Smith (Frederic)


By a parent – who went to the School Show chiefly to please his daughter, and who received a pleasant surprise!

After a perfect evening’s entertainment, my thoughts went straight to the work put into this production by the Conductor, Producer, and Pianist. One can understand complete enthusiasm by the School members in such a grand game as Amateur Theatricals, but from experience of handling many concerts, I know the time, patience, and personal effort necessary by the management committee, to make such a success as this performance of “Pirates.”

From the musical angle, my impression was that this show was under complete control all the time by your conductor, and the accompanist left nothing to be desired, and I say without fear of contradiction that this combination went a long way to coordinating the whole production.

It is difficult to pass an opinion on individual artistes, and frankly everyone was good in the terms of an amateur show. Naturally, some were better than others, but it would not be fair if one did not mention the performance of Mabel and Frederic.

In Mabel’s singing there was a sweetness and quality of tone that was excellent, and with maturity there can be little doubt of her becoming a first-class artiste.

I personally think that Frederick was the surprise of the evening. One can expect a polished display from an adult cast, but in the case of a boy doing a big part for the first time, I feel he deserves more than casual congratulation on his singing, acting, and all round performance. The Major-General’s daughters would have done credit to a much more experienced Company, and certainly looked their part and acted and danced it with complete success. The singing was good, and the stage deportment excellent.

The Pirate King, with his terrifying display of teeth and temper, and first-rate acting, and his band of merry Pirates deserve a special pat on the back: they were extremely true to type. The Major-General, too, was extremely good.

NOW THE POLICEMEN. On looking back, I have had several smiles to myself on picturing in my mind’s eye those boys with their badly fitting uniforms, and excellent handling of their duties in a true Gilbertian fashion, especially the small rather plump boy with a permanent smirk, who was so thoroughly enjoying himself. The Sergeant of Police had his men completely under control, and the whole result was a good display of amateur acting.

The setting, scenery, and general production of the whole show made the display on Saturday evening a very good and creditable performance of a difficult subject to produce, a limited stage and with all especially with its drawbacks.

I always feel that if it is possible to get Gilbert and Sullivan produced in the colourful-humorous-and musical way intended by the Authors, it is an achievement of credit. This production did credit to AYTON SCHOOL, and must have impressed all visitors like myself who were privileged to see the show, and who must have come away feeling refreshed, entertained, and with happy memories. Thanks are due to everyone connected with the production, and I can only repeat that if all visitors enjoyed the show as well as I did, all the cast, and everyone in any way connected with the production, however slight the connection, must feel the effort and hard work involved was worth the doing.



At the time of going to press, the Financial Statement for “The Pirates of Penzance” production is not quite completed. It is clear, however, that after production costs of about £60 have been paid, we shall have a profit of approximately £57 to hand over to the School Committee for the Development Fund. We regard this as very satisfactory indeed, and wish to thank all those.-and especially those whose names do not appear either on the programme or in “The Beckside,”- who have helped to make such a result possible.


Six-forty five, and up goes the curtain.
Is everyone here? I cannot be certain.
The chorus is singing its opening song,
Suddenly, “pop!” Good heavens, what’s wrong!
Only a fuse that’s decided to blow.
Why, at this moment, I’m sure I don’t know.
The electrician’s no good, and the curtain boy’s hopeless,
Scene shifters are noisy, and the call boy is useless.
The cast lose their “props,” and fall over chairs
And make the stage manager count his grey hairs.


Ten Ayton School Girls,
Stood in a line,
One broke bounds
And then there were nine.
Nine Ayton School Girls,
Getting up late,
One lost her stockings
And then there were eight.
Eight Ayton School Girls,
Learning twice eleven,
One got her sums all wrong,
And then there were seven.

Seven Ayton School Girls,
Armed with hockey sticks,
One hit the ball too hard
And then there were six.
Six Ayton School Girls,
Learning to dive,
One got cramp
And then there were five.
Five Ayton School Girls,
Breaking the law,
One got caught
And then there were four.

Four Ayton School Girls,
At Whitby, in the sea,
One couldn’t reach land,
And then there were three.
Three Ayton School Girls,
Their prep they did do,
One was caught talking
And then there were two.
Two Ayton School Girls,
With a ball were having fun,
One wasn’t changed
And then there was one.
One Ayton School Girl,
Eating a bun,
She broke her front tooth
And then there were none.

“Film Review”

Mrs. Adam and Mr. Morgan might well adopt as their motto “It’s a vain man who tries to please everyone,” but they do their best, and if this term’s films have not been quite what we wanted, we may continue to hope for something better in the future.

The first film this term was “Treasure Island,” a grand blood and thunder which everyone enjoyed. It was the type which thrills every boy and girl, no matter what age, and, let it be whispered, some adults, too.

The second film of the term was “Make a Wish,” and if I were allowed to make a wish, I should wish that we need not be afflicted again by these American futilities-generously accorded the name of “film.” The “hero” of the film was a precocious little boy with wavy hair and dimples, who burst forth into song at every feasible opportunity, in fact, the motto of the film might well have been, “Sing and the cast sings with you, talk and you talk alone.” Some of the female hearts in the school, however, were charmed by him, and if some felt, as I did, that the application of a cane in a sensitive area would not have done him any harm, we can only say, philosophically, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” However, in all fairness to Mrs. Adam, we must say that this was not the film ordered, it was a substitute for “Victoria the Great”- destroyed by fire.


The last film was “Tawny Pipit,” a bird story. This, film was received in different ways, some thoroughly enjoyed it, but some were a little bored. There were several good portrayals of rustic characters and the British Army was amusingly characterised by what is supposed to be a typical gawky private. One could not help but be affected by the beauty of the countryside, and the thrilling moment when the eggs hatched out. However, at times it seemed as if the actors were not quite sure what to say next, and they filled up the gap by saying that the bird had only been seen in England once before.

The last film of the term was undoubtedly the best, and I think everyone, without exception, enjoyed it. It was the film of Jane Austen’s delightful novel, “Pride and Prejudice.” The headstrong Elizabeth Bennett was admirably played by Greer Garson, and the proud and arrogant Mr. Darcy by Laurence Oliver.

The film was concerned with Mrs. Bennett’s attempts to marry off her five daughters, and her excitement when two rich and eligible young gentlemen came to live nearby was almost incredible. Naturally, she did everything in her power to make her daughters create a good impression, and when, finally, her two eldest daughters were married to the rich young gentlemen, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, her joy knew no bounds. Of course, there were quarrels and misunderstandings in the manner of ail good novels, but to everyone’s complete satisfaction, true love conquered.

The film would not have been complete without a villain, who was, in this case, Captain Wickham, a spendthrift and ne’er-do-well, who eloped with the young Lydia Bennett. However, Mr. Darcy, as befits a hero, found the young couple, made Wickham marry Lydia, settled his debts and gave him a substantial sum of money on which to start his married life, so all ended happily.

I think I express the wish of all in asking for more films of the standard of this one.

These, then, were the films for the term. May I suggest, however, that it would be interesting to take an opinion poll after each film, thereby helping Mr. Morgan and Mrs. Adam in their very difficult task.

Joan Ridley (15 years)