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of John Blagden.
maths and physics, his wife Jill taught
domestic science but above all they both organised many school
trips during the 1960s and 1970s.
WebMaster additions / changes)
Equivalent to £589.00 in Jan 2012 using the RPI.
Diss Grammar School Trips.
"From 1960, when Jill and I joined the Grammar school
we organised various trips, mostly skiing but we also
did a visit to Scotland, staying in Edinburgh, youth
hostelling hiking trips in the peak district and visits
to Earl’s Court to the Schoolboys (later School boy
and girl’s) exhibition. They produced a number of
The tour operator with whom we booked for Scotland
was about to go bankrupt, it did so half way through
the week that we were away but, fortunately, it was
ABTA bonded. However when we arrived (Edinburgh wm) we
found that they owed the hotel in which we were staying
for the two previous trips and that they had not made
proper arrangements for the various excursions. Fortunately
I had taken quite a big contingency fund from school
and managed to set up things as they were supposed
to happen. On a trip to Glasgow,
whilst we were ‘doing’ the city the coach driver spent
the day supporting the local brewing industry, was
arrested at the coach station and carted off. We had
to wait for another driver to come from Edinburgh.
It was on this trip that the worst accident to any
member of one of my groups happened – worse that anything
that happened whilst skiing. One of the girls was running
down a tree lined street in Edinburgh, turned round
to see where the others were and ran into a tree hitting
it with her knee. She broke her knee cap and, to this
day, still walks with a limp. (Suzanne
Kemp from my memory wm)
Going to Earl’s Court from Liverpool Street was
always interesting, for most of them it was the first
time on an underground. Somehow they managed to get
on a tube train and leave one of the staff behind when
the doors closed.
The walking trips produced nothing more interesting
than an accident with the hired minibus on the way – fortunately
only a scrape.
We took a group skiing every year from 1966, some years
because the interest was so great and I would not take
too large a group we took one at Christmas and one
at Easter. The first few years travel was by train,
to Liverpool Street, across to Victoria, then to Folkestone
and hence to Boulogne, couchettes to Basel, then a
change to the local Swiss network (changing
from standard to narrow guage railway at Chur wm).
This was at the time when it was impossible to buy
foreign currency, except with a special form from the
bank. I had to get everyone’s spending money, there
was a limit of £25 per person per year some of this
would already have been spent by the travel operator
for hire of equipment and instructors.
The cost of the first trip to Disentis was £39*1,
when, a few years later the price went up to £50 Jill
and I felt that the would be the end of school skiing
- the last trip that I took from the High School was £530.
Two of the resorts that we visited, Einsiedeln and Engelberg were
approached by a rack and pinion railway which provided
a new mode of travel for most.
Later it became cheaper to fly but when we went
Borboule to ski on the Puy
de Sancy there was still a group of parents that
would not consent to their children flying, part of
the group went out by boat and coach, accompanied by
Jill and Don Swanton, one of the school governors.
I flew with the rest. Going home from this trip we
found two aircraft waiting for us at Clermont
Ferrand airport – that agency also went bankrupt
For school skiing I was always looking for the cheapest,
but safe and serviceable, option, hence we moved round
resorts, Bled to
ski in Bohinj in
what was then Jugoslavia and even to Vitosha in
Bulgaria. In Bulgaria we had to have a communist party
guide with us all the time who fed us the party line
about every conceivable subject. This was another interesting
trip. The hotel had double booked some rooms so we
had to have camp beds put up in some in order to accommodate
the party. There had been blizzards for several days
before we arrived, these had brought the power lines
down. It was an all electric hotel with no electricity – no
heating, candles for lighting, no hot food. At breakfast
everyone was supplied with a large tot of rum to warm
them up before they went out, Fred Stratfold and I,
after a quick conference, decided that only the staff
should avail themselves. The hotel was a very modern
building, of which the intourist guide was very proud, it
had one wall completely (single glazed) glass, the
ground level doors fitted so badly that every morning,
if it had snowed overnight, there was a snowdrift across
the dining room. Most resorts we visited at least twice,
the second time you know your way around, but not this
one! However, the ski equipment supplied was very good
indeed, but not withstanding that, the next year it
Some of the Italian resorts featured among the more
reasonably priced, one year when visiting Claviere,
on the Milky
Way ski area, we flew to Turin and then went on
by coach, on arriving in Claviere the driver stopped
in the main square and said we had to get out, she
was not going to attempt to turn into the hotel; apparently
shortly after leaving the airport she had lost normal
brakes, she didn’t worry on the main roads but she
was not going to try and manoeuvre around a town with
I have no doubt that the pupils on the trips could
tell many more stories, some of which I would rather
not know about!! In spite of what appears to be a chapter
of errors I think that I can say that they were almost
universally enjoyed." (I
certainly enjoyed Disentis, cold and crisp. Scotland
was not as good, cold and bleak. It was John who 'let
me loose from Norfolk', I escaped three times in all wm).
Worth for the
Thanks John and JIll, an organiser's nightmare.
There are a few photos of school trips in the Photo
Gallery. Somewhere there is an 8mm home movie of
the Disentis trip!
If you have any memories
of school trips or got any photos, films or recordings
then the Old Dyssean Soociety would be pleased to hear
from you. Use our contacts
page to do this.