Dear Old Cottonians
Recently we sent around an email with a link to the downloadable file “History of Bishop Cotton School, Shimla” – Researched by Colonel (Retd) R. Dewan, Written by Raaja Bhasin with an Introduction by Ruskin Bond. We do hope many of you enjoyed reading it. Old Cottonian Richard [Dick] D’Abreu from Australia wrote back in reply and also sent in a few pictures, appended below.
It was good to read the History of BCS, written up in so much detail. I was able to recall the part written up from 1936 to 1946, the accuracy of which was so precise. In 1937 Allan Fennell was the School Captain. To me at aged 9, I would mistake him for one of the staff, I was in awe of all the school prefects. Fred Brown was a senior student in my time. He was an excellent hockey player and an all round cricketer, and although I was a few years years his junior, I came to know him quite well. He left school in 1939, with his fellow hockey friend Malcolm Petters. Fred then returned as a member of the school staff while I was in Fifth Form. He was first a master at the Prep school for a while, but then, Cannon Sinker transferred him to the senior school. He became my House Master of Curzon when I was a House Prefect. In his single days he became engaged to our Bursa’s daughter Pat Murphy. His living quarters was one end of the Curzon C dormitory. One of his duties was to have the House boys over to his quarters on a Saturday evening. He would often trust me the key to his quarters on Saturday so as I could lock up after the boys left at 9.00pm, while he was out taking his fiancee Pat to the pictures in town. I left school before he married. For a few years while I was in the RAAF in Australia I kept contact with him, but regrettably lost touch when I was with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan. Many years later while retired in Perth Western Australia, I met up with Malcolm Petters. He used to ring up his old friend Freddy Brown quite often. I used to go over to Malcolm’s home and chat with Fred also for a while. It was sad when Alzheimer’s got the better of Fred and he could not remember me.
I also recall all the school operas that we sang in under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Priestley …In the opera Trial by Jury, as mentioned in the BCS History the boys took the part of girls in the opera. I was pleased I sang as a Tenor so did not qualify to be a girl. The singing of Handel’s Messiah in Simla in 1943 was a highlight. The photo of the choir is included.
Old man Karam had the tuck shop on the first playing field. His son we called Silly Billy ran the tea shop next door. Rs 2.00 was the maximum pocket money we were allowed each week, in those days it would buy quite a few things. At the end of each term we would have 10 days holiday, for this my parents would allow me Rs 50.00. We would think we were rich.
Mr. Fisher was a senior master that taught us Physics. I think he was also a House Master. When we used to quite often play up in his lab, he would call us out by name and say “Take your books and leave the class..you are only wasting your parents money…all you people realize is the stick… ” He was also in charge of the little photo lab and darkroom where we could go and do our own developing and printing of films. I had a Box Brownie camera of which I took the photo of Simla in 1937.
I would like to also make mention of the end of year House Chews each House would indulge in. Our parents would contribute to a fund which would go towards buying tasty curries and Indian sweets for everyone to enjoy. This feast would take place in the main dormitories of each House. Sometimes I wish I could wind back the clock 70 odd years to those memorable school days.
My best wishes…Dick D’Abreu.