The College Returns from Poltimore – Summer 1945
On the 5th October 1945, the College started its first term back in Dover, after the military had left, having occupied the grounds of Dover College during the Second World War.
However, before the College could return from Poltimore, there was a lot of preparation required to enable the College to reopen at the beginning of the Michaelmas term in 1945.
These preparations started as early as the Spring holidays, when a group of pupils under the Headmaster (Mr Renwick) and Major Ewart (a master at the College), gathered at Dover, camping in School House amongst the debris, caused as a result of being occupied during the war, whilst being fed in Priory House.
They proceeded to get to work on making a full inventory of the furniture which had remained at the College during the war, as it had been stored in the Refectory Classrooms, which had the windows blown out, resulting in the furniture being in a very dirty condition.
The furniture had all been cleared out and moved into the College Refectory, so that the classrooms could be repaired.
By V. E. Day, which had been celebrated with a bonfire, together with the lighting from every House possible, without black out. Work on getting the College buildings back into some form of condition was well under way.
As there was a possibility of Major Bruce-Johnston being granted an early release from the Army, the decision to re-open Leamington House again as an independent house was taken.
As there was unfortunately not many of the original old members of the house still around, a number of boys of all ages from other houses were invited to join Leamington House, it is reported that this request was responded to superbly.
The last term at Poltimore saw a full-scale Prize giving, over which Colonel Astor presided and he expressed the College’s gratitude to the many friends made in Devonshire.
This was followed by a performance in the gardens, of scenes from ‘A Midsummer’s Night’, at which a presentation was made to Mrs Munns for all the hard work she had done with regards to the catering requirements of the College after taking over from Mrs Renwick for the last two and a half years of the College’s stay at Poltimore.
This signalled the start of moving the College back to Dover, which meant packing up all of the furniture, which was largely carried out by the boys, whilst the packing of the rail containers was duly undertaken by professionals, all of which took place between the 10th and 15th of September 1945.
Whilst in Dover another team, under the guidance of the Headmaster and Major Ewart, first removed all of the furniture which had earlier been moved and stored in the Refectory, to the houses and classrooms. When completed they unloaded and distributed what had come up from Poltimore as soon as it arrived at the College.
The Michaelmas term duly began on the 5th October 1945, with the arrival of 163 boys, of whom only two had been at Dover before the outbreak of war in 1939, resulting in every boy being issued with detailed instructions, which included a map of the College Close.
It was reported that it was strange to see the boys getting out their maps to navigate their way around the College and Close.
College life in these early times was not easy, this was mainly down to St Martin’s House not being ready to receive members of the house. As a result, Major Ewart and his wife temporarily lived in accommodation on the Folkestone Road, while Matron, Miss Smith (who had been with the College throughout the evacuation) resided in the Sanatorium, the boys of the house were housed in the Refectory, and were distributed amongst the other houses, for their meals.