Dominic Smith ⇓

My School (DHSB)

 
This page is archived. It was last modified in November 2009 and it will probably not be updated.

My School (DHSB)

During my last year at Meavy Primary School, I passed the 11+ examination and was accepted at Devonport High School for Boys in Plymouth.

At about an hour's bus journey (in rush-hour traffic) from my home, it was quite a long way to go but I enjoyed studying there.

Buildings

The school is housed in some buildings built as a military hospital by Prisoners of War during the Napoleonic Wars. The distinctive block design was designed so as to decrease the risk of infections and disease, then thought to be carried by air. The arcade (not colonnade) is, if memory serves, the longest in the country. Anecdotally, and much to the amusement of students, the biology department was the old psychiatric ward and the caretaker's office was the old mortuary. A painted white sign pointing to the Dispensary (now the Design & Technology department) can just be seen painted on one of the arcade's pillars.

Uzel

Half of the school had actually been owned by a recently-closed school and DHS got the rest of the buildings and their pupils, just before I first arrived (resulting in some females being in the Sixth-Form - very confusing in an all-boys' school!)

One of the greatest benefits the school gave us linguists was Uzel. Basically, the school owns a house in a small, remote village in the middle of the Côtes d'Amor area of Brittany called Uzel. The house had been left in a will to be used for educational purposes and was subsequently bought by the previous headmaster, Mr. Peck, from the Mairie for just 1 Franc (about €0.012!) Several thousands of pounds were spent converting the ruin to an inhabitable study centre with dormatories and kitchens, etc. but it was eventually opened in the spring of 1992 - just before I started that September).

My first trip was in October 1992 when the great Trefor Farrow, Head of Music, took the school's Friday Choir, which I had only just joined, to Uzel to sing Fauré's Requiem and Schubert's Mass in G. Following this trip, I went almost every year, not just to practise French but also for other broadening and character-building experience. In the sixth-form A-Level French class, we were sent out to the nearby town of Loudéac to study for the Baccalaureat for a week in a French class: a very different experience from studying for A-Levels!

Friday Choir

Another major part of my life at DHS was Trefor's Friday Choir. Whilst I don't sing much anymore, I did join them in Easter 2002 for their Messiah from Scratch concert, which was very good fun. While I was there, I got the chance to sing many works (below) and, better, the choir requires no audition. Of course, I started as a treble and moved down over the years to a bass but, unlike many choirs Trev actively encourages staying while your voice breaks.

  • Fauré - Requiem
  • Schubert - Mass in G
  • Rutter - Requiem
  • Rutter - Gloria
  • Vivaldi - Gloria
  • Mozart - Requiem
  • Britten - Noye's Fludde
  • Handel - Messiah
  • ... and various anthems

We went on concert tours to Uzel, Valkenburg (Holland), Paris and also Ireland, and also sang on Classic FM in 1993. (A recording originally made by the BBC, but that's a long story...)

Trefor Farrow, the Friday Choir's conductor, eventually retired in July 2005 after over 40 years at the school. Some photos of the occassion are on Flickr but you will need to be one of my friends on that site to see them.

[x] Me

I am Dominic Smith and this is my personal website.
I am a radio amateur, Agile project manager and website developer living in Cambridge.   More about me »