This week we go back to the School’s 75th year in 1965.
The greatest change to Barker’s built environment in 1965 was the opening of Leslie Hall. Officially dedicated on August 14, the building included a hall with seating for 996 people, an undercroft, a tuckshop and specialist rooms for Languages and Art. Furthermore, plans for the extension of the Science Block were under way and the refurbishment of the Assembly Hall to become the Sir Thomas Buckland Library was in its final stages.
As far as the academic side of the School was concerned, it was reported: “The School generally has worked well in the classroom during the year… Unfortunately there are fewer prize winners in Form II and III than usual, not because boys in these forms have less ability, but due to the fact that consistent effort has not been evident from boys of talent who are content with their second best” (The College Barker, 1965, p. 12). Given that 1965 was the last year of the Leaving Certificate, there was much thought and discussion amongst staff regarding the implementation and teaching of the new Fifth and Sixth Form courses. Staff were praised for their efforts during this time of change.
Sport was a major part of school life. Nearly 250 boys played Cricket, with the 14A team remaining undefeated throughout the season. The standard of Tennis was reported as being very good, with many of the players having a keen eye and good ball skills. The Rugby season was not successful in terms of the number of games won, but enthusiasm was high. In Swimming and Athletics Barker performed competently, and some pleasing individual results were achieved.
In regards to the creative arts, there was a pleasing overall improvement in the musical life of the School. In August, Barker teamed up with Abbotsleigh to produce Noyes Fludde, the first musical to be performed in the new Leslie Hall. The new Art rooms were always full of boys making models and working with clay. The Pottery and Art Exhibition in term three was evidence of the hard work that had gone on throughout the year.
The co-curricular side of the School was very active. Students were involved in clubs for Debating, Chess, stamp collecting and photography. The International Club was founded and aimed to provide students with a broader outlook on other countries and people of the world. The Junior Farmers Club raised sheep and grew vegetables, whilst the Bushwalking Club headed for the south coast and climbed the Castle. At the Annual Ceremonial Parade, the Barker College Cadet Unit was praised by the Guest of Honour, Major-General Sir Denzil Macarthur-Onslow, for its impeccable standards of dress, its steadiness and discipline. To mark the occasion of the School’s 75th anniversary, the Unit was presented with a unit flag and a national flag.
For the 197 boarders, life improved over the course of 1965. Plume House was redecorated with fresh paint, new fluorescent lighting and rejuvenated floors. The interior of Carter House was also redeveloped to include a common room. At the beginning of term three, professional caterers were employed to manage the School’s kitchen. By all accounts, “meals for the boarders improved in both quality and quantity – and the variety of food and presentation of it has amply indicated the value of this experiment” (The College Barker, 1965, p. 16).
In 1965, Barker looked back with pride on the achievements of the past and ensured the foundations for the future were well laid. In 2015, as the School commemorates its 125th anniversary, it is only appropriate that we do the same.
Caption: The 1965 Barker 1st XI Cricket team ready for a game.