The Ceremonial Opening of the School
30th April 1956


THE occasion of the official School Opening was somewhat marred by the unavoidable absence of the Vice-Provost of King's College, Cambridge, Dr. John Saltmarsh, MA., who was to have performed the ceremony and named the school. Owing to the sudden death the Provost, Mr. Saltmarsh found it impossible to leave Cambridge, but we are looking forward to a visit from him in the not too distant future. His presence at the opening ceremony would have completed explicitly the link that exists between this district and King's College which, for centuries, held much of the land in Ruislip, and which, according to Letters Patent of 1443, was named "the College Royal of Blessed Mary and St. Nicholas of Cambridge." However, County Alderman S. Graham Rowlandson, M.B.E., J.P. (whom we congratulate on his knighthood conferred in the Queen's Birthday Hons List) graciously agreed to step into the breach and perform the ceremony.

The tone of the meeting was beautifully and reverently set by the short service of dedication conducted by the Rev. R. Iliff. MA. Vicar of Emmanuel Church, Northwood, assisted by the Rev. C. D. Bacon. B.A. B.D., Methodist Minister for Northwood, and the father of one of the boys. Parents and boys sang "Soldiers of Christ, arise," and then we listened to the noble words of the 28th chapter of Job: "Where shall wisdom be found and where is the place of understanding?" The dedication of the School reminded us again of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of scholars, and in our prayers we asked for God's blessing on all who shall learn and teach in our school, that all may have that true love of learning. Then came the Blessing and we moved to the secular part of the Ceremony with an introduction of the notable guests on the platform by County Alderman Mrs. K. M. St. P. Crump, B.Sc., and a welcome to the parents who packed the Assembly Hall.

Alderman Rowlandson has conquered severe physical disability by sheer determination; he is a business man who knows what business men look for in a boy leaving school, and parents listened with interest as he spoke of his satisfaction that the School was well able to provide for the education of the complete man one able not only to read and appreciate great authors and to be at home with book learning, but one able to use his hands and his mind and take his place in a technical world. Then with the formal naming of the school, we were carried back through the centuries from a world pre-occupied with nuclear fission and technicalities to one of Christian scholarship, and we became the Grammar School of Saint Nicholas.

The Head Master developed the same theme as Alderman Rowlandson with a difference of emphasis. In an age in which the creative instinct was being stillborn because of ready-made entertainment and the like, the school would have won a notable battle if every boy were able to fill his leisure time with a worthwhile creative pursuit. But the school's aim was scholarship : by all means teach boys to use their hands and equip them for leisure, but he hoped also that sitting in the Hall there were boys who would be the first of a long line of scholars to proceed from the new St. Nicholas School to the ancient college of St. Mary and St. Nicholas, and so complete the link that was implicit in the name. A vote of thanks to Alderman Rowlandson and Alderman Mrs. K. M. St. P. Crump was proposed by Mr. John Miles, M.A. LL.B., the Chairman of the North-West Middlesex Divisional Executive. Before his retirement Mr. Miles was Head Master of Bishopshalt Grammar School and could therefore speak of Mr. Watson who some years before had been a member of his staff. It was enlightening to have some inside information on one's own head master or so the boys seemed to think! In his leisure Mr. Miles enjoys making and listening to music, and he congratulated a music-loving Head Master on the choice and performance of the choral items during the ceremony. Under their conductor, Mr. James, the School choir had sung Sheep may safely graze" and, a happy choice in this bi-centenary year, Mozart's "Ave Verum," in which they had been joined by some members of the staff. A final piece was "The Music Makers," by Martin Shaw, sung by the whole School as if they really felt the joy of the singing.

And so to the end of the ceremony with our thanks again expressed to our guests by Councillor W. D. Charles, J.P., the Vice-Chairman of the North-West Middlesex Divisional Executive, who returned our thoughts appropriately to the ancient foundations of our country, and who expressed the desire of all of us that in some measure, from St. Nicholas School as from them, there might be a succession of young men who would one day serve God in Church and State.

Summer 1956 School Magazine


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