Date Posted... Oct 22nd 2022
The Annual Reunion Dinner on 22 October 2022 marks the 100th occasion that a formal dinner event has been held. It was originally held at a restaurant in Truro, a practice which continued for many years. To mark the occasion, it seems appropriate to take a look at what happened at that first dinner in 1905, which was covered in detail by the local press and the school magazine.
The following comes from the Truro College Magazine in April 1905.
The first Annual Dinner of Truro College Old Boys’ Association was held at the Princes Restaurant, on Thursday, February 16th, when about sixty guests were present. The whole proceedings from first to last were of an exceptionally enjoyable nature. This was largely due to Mr Wallace Smith, the secretary, who arranged matters with commendable skill, which all who participated appreciated to the full. The chair was taken by the Head Master (Mr H.W. Vinter, M.A.), who is also President of the Old Boys’ Association. The guests included the following:- Sir George Smith, Mr Hugh Rice, and the Rev G.E. Young, governors; Mr Chas. Bryant, secretary; Mr H. Sanders; Messrs. Mills, Fletcher and Orpet, assistant Masters; Old Boys – Messrs E. Beard, A.J. Hosking, T. Jennings, N. Rickard, W.H. Lobb, H. Rosewarne, J. Jeffrey, W.J. Paynter, L. Stephens, R. Tippett, S. Hawkey, R.G. Hughes, J.S. Rule, T. Wickett, S. Wickett, T. Roskilley, P. Richards, J. Cardell, A. Jenkin, W. Dunstan, – Shakerley, J.B. Read, G. Read, H. Rice, Jun., S. Rowe, S.J. Polkinhorn, H. Williams, H.F. Pearson, J.L. Higgins, F.R. Pool, A.J. Hawkey, H. Martyn, Rex Rice, J. Jennings, J.W. Fairweather, W. Smith (sec. Old Boys’ Association), H. Crewes (assist. sec. Old Boys’ Association), W.F. Rice, G. Burrow, C.F. Rice, W. Hearle, Claude Harvey, S.T. Hoskin, F.W. McCoskrie, J.E. Poad, S. Norton, A.J. Hocking, J. Warwick, and W. Trounson.
The loyal toasts were submitted from the chair, and duly honoured, after which the Secreatary read letters of apology from the following, among others:- Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence, Bart., M.P., Messrs Amos Jennings, J.P., John Lake, Vivian Thomas (Ex-Mayor of Penzance), Ernest Rowe (Camborne), J.B. Milton (Penzance), F. Roper Bate (Cardynham), F. Tremain (Redruth), W.J.M. Hawkey (Newquay), Nicholas Holman (Carbis Bay), T.M. Lowry (Okehampton), E.H. Wilton (Redruth), J.G. Richards (The Lizard), J. Paynter (Camborne), H.S. Prideaux (Camborne), W. Prideaux (Camborne), J. Mitchell (Yelverton), W.J. Sandow (Chacewater), J.J. Mitchell (Dounden).
Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence wrote from “King’s Ride”, Ascot, Berks, as follows:- “I have to be in Liverpool on the 8th February, and I think it is practically impossible to get to Truro by the 9th; but I quite appreciate your kind invitation, and if I could have arranged my plans, I would have made an effort to be at your gathering of the Truro College Old Boys. But I must be content with sending all greetings and best wishes for a very successful gathering.”
Mr Ernest Boyns (West Holme, Camborne), wrote :- “I have not fully recovered from my recent severe illness in India. I do sincerely trust that the function will be an annual affair. My brother Frank is in South Africa.” A vote of sympathy was passed with Mr Rowe, and a hope expressed for his speedy recovery.
Mr E.H. Wilton in his letter said he was the oldest Old Boy – the first to leave of the 25 original boarders.
Mr A.J. Hosking submitted “The Ministers of Religion”, expressing his sympathy with them, many of whom it had been his pleasure to associate with and share their friendship.
The Rev. G.E. Young responded. He said they rejoiced to recognise that the great schools of the land contributed so many engaged in the work and the ministry of the Christian Church. They rejoiced to believe that Truro College had sent out many to participate in the work of the ministry, and that the School not only looked after the development of things physical and mental, but the truest manliness of Jesus Christ. He regretted the absence of his Supt. (the Rev. J. Reeves Brown), but he would convey their greetings, and acquaint him with the sympathetic way in which they had received the toast.
Mr Fairweather, an old Master, received quite an ovation when he rose to propose the “Army, Navy, and Reserve Forces,” which he did in an admirable speech; which was followed by the singing of ‘Rule Britannia’.
Capt. Geo. Read responded, and expressed an opinion that if all the Old Boys of Truro College were not, they might to be members of the Reserve Forces.
The first Annual Dinner of Truro College Old Boys’ Association was held at the Princes Restaurant, on Thursday, February 16th, when about sixty guests were present.
Col. Sir George Smith also replied. He believed the days were past when it might be deemed that there was any conceivable difference of opinion as to the necessity of the strength of their defensive forces (applause). He particularly said “defensive” forces, because those who had buckled on accoutrements for several years might be as free from the love and glamour of offensive warfare as any Quaker. He joined it believing it was “the strong man who keepeth his house whose goods are in peace” (applause). He believed the Army was true, loyal, brave and intelligent. Reforms might be necessary, but without referring to individuals and parties, they might be perfectly sure whoever had the task of modernising the British Army or the army of any free country, whose traditions had to be kept to the voluntary principle, had no easy task cut out for them (applause). He hoped their lines of defence were such that the old epigram of Moltke might be profoundly prophetic of the future. He said he had conceived three different plans of getting a German army into England, but had never conceived one for getting it back again (laughter and loud applause). It was a gratification to state that patriotism had been seen in the Old Boys of the College in an active and spirited manner, and when on March 7th the War Memorial was unveiled in Truro Cathedral there would be found engraved upon the tablet the names of three Old Boys of Truro College (applause). He fervently prayed that the emblazoned letters which existed on the walls of the College itself might ever be kept to three, because he prayed that the labours and prayers of the British Monarchs, like their own, and successive statesman, might keep the country at peace; but he also prayed there might exist a spirit amongst the Old Boys and their successors, who would be ready to have their names added to that list in case of dire need, in case of national stress (applause).
Mr J.B. Reed said considering the purpose of the gathering, the toast which he had to propose – “Truro College Old Boys’ Association” – might be fairly considered the toast of the evening (applause). Perhaps those who framed the toast list might have remembered in placing him down to propose the toast that years ago he was a somewhat enthusiastic member of the School Debating Society (hear, hear). Such a class he considered of great importance to any school, and he hoped they kept the society going. The work of the Old Boys’ Association was very valuable, in that it tended to bring the old boys into contact, not only with each other, but with the present boys as well, and thus led to a continuity of the work of the School and its influence (hear, hear). It had his best wishes, as he believed it had of all the old boys who took any interest in the School (applause). He trusted such gatherings as those would be continued (hear, hear). He believed his experience of the School extended over as long a period as anyone’s; from his first entrance to his leaving there was a period of something like seven years. The School owed much to their first Head-master, Mr Turner (applause), and he hoped their Association would help to continue the old friendship between past and present masters, as well as between the old boys and the masters. That Association, he believed, would, among other things, help to cement and continue those personal feelings of mutual friendship, and, therefore, he proposed with great heartiness ‘Success to Truro College Old Boys’ Association’ (applause).
There was no reason why Old Truronians should not stand equally well with those of other old schools of whom they read so much … and form a solid bond of union the world over, which should knit them to the old School, and do the School not a little good as far as its future was concerned.
Mr Wallace Smith was the sole respondent to the toast, Mr T. Wickett having had to leave early to catch a train. Mr Smith (secretary) said in the first place they were pleased to be there to claim the exercise of freedom of speech and, within reason, freedom of action. They had not always met in the presence of Mr Vinter on such terms as those (applause and laughter). Their memories took them back to times when there were one or two disagreements between them and Mr Vinter (laughter), when they believed they were right, and did so to the present day (loud laughter). It was a pleasure, therefore, to be able to stand up and emphasise the fact that they could speak their minds without hearing “Smith, you are marked!” (laughter) or “Jennings, two marks!” (renewed laughter). He ought to say, as he did not wish to make invidious comparisons, that both Jennings had heard that before (applause and laughter). He desired also, without making any invidious comparison, and other directors would, he was sure, forgive him to mention one. He voiced the expression of all the company when he acknowledged the kindness of Sir George Smith (loud applause) in being present with them that night. They were pleased to see Mr Rice, Mr Bryant and the Rev Mr Young present, all busy men, but remembering the social, the home, and the county calls upon Sir George’s time, it was indeed, a kindness on his part to come amongst them that evening (applause). As far as the Old Boys’ Association was concerned, he had had little to do with it; but had it not been for Mr Vinter, it would have been defunct long ago. Mr Vinter was its president, and its patrons were the two former headmasters – Mr G.O. Turner and Mr Jackson (applause). An apology was due to some of the Old Boys, whose absence probably that evening was owing largely to their not having been invited. They found it difficult to keep in touch with all the Old Boys, and he was afraid the circulars and post cards had not reached all. He desired to convey through the Press, therefore, an apology to any Old Boy who had thus been missed, and should be pleased to receive the names and addresses of any Old Boys not at present members of their Association. It was the duty of every Old Boy to be a member of the Association (applause). There were very fine cheers to that, but a great many of the Old Boys there were not members (laughter and “shame!”) But they were going to circularise them till they were (laughter and applause). By being a member, and taking the magazine, they would be able to know the doings of all notorious (laughter) Old Boys. They should hand in, therefore, their names – and their subscriptions – to his sleeping partner, Mr Crews (loud laughter and “Oh!”) He should regret the day if Mr Vinter should be removed from the College, for he was the life and soul of the Association (hear, hear), and the splendid state of his health and his perfect condition of mind were due to the way in which the Old Boys had brought him up (laughter). He had an ambition that they might see that Association continued on a permanent basis. There was no reason why Old Truronians should not stand equally well with those of other old schools of whom they read so much. Let them be true Cornishmen, clannish as far as their school was concerned, for their lads were scattered in every clime, over every land, and over almost every sea (applause), and he hoped, and his ambition was shared by them all, that they might make the Old Boys members of the Association, and form a solid bond of union the world over, which should knit them to the old School, and do the School not a little good as far as its future was concerned (applause). They wanted Old Boys to exemplify in their lives and characters the true characteristics of the true Englishman, being straight and honest, and doing nothing that was mean (applause). Truro College in the past had turned out such boys; and wherever they were, let them do nothing that would disgrace the School, but let them be true men in the highest and best sense of the term (loud applause).
Mr F.W. McCoskrie proposed the toast of “Truro College”. He said he did not do it with the greatest of pleasure, but failing any other text, like a good old Methodist, he must fall back upon experience (laughter). He could speak from experience of Truro College (laughter). He was one of its original members, but it was always his misfortune in those days to be misunderstood (laughter). Some people to-day had an impression that he was a dangerous man, but a quieter worm never wriggled in the earth (loud laughter). It had been said that “bread was the staff of life”. He had not the slightest doubt about it, looking back over the days when he went to Truro College, and remembering the breakfasts they had (roars of laughter). There was bread, plenty of it (laughter), and they occasionally showed it to the butter (roars of laughter). They used to cut the bread, he believed, by a gauge; he wished very often that they would have gauged the butter by the same measure (laughter). He believed they used to have twenty good conduct marks to start the week with. If they lost five they lost their half-holidays; if they lost ten they lost the other half-holiday. He did not remember having his two half-holidays all the time he was there (loud laughter, – misunderstood, sir (renewed laughter). There was also a mark for diligence. His father used to say he was good-for-nothing young rascal (laughter). His father was a Scotchman, and when words failed he used to apply the other remedy (loud laughter). He used to say he was really fearfully lazy. He could not think where his father’s eyes were; but during the whole time he was at the College, bad as he was – and he did not wish to cloak it (laughter) – he never missed but one for diligence during the five terms he was there (cries of “Misunderstood again” and roars of laughter). He had as good a share of the education of the school while he was there as any boy living; and he tried to make good use of it. The education was given in a first-class way by Mr Turner (applause). It was pleasantly and effectually administered (hear, hear) – indeed, in a manner leaving little or nothing to be desired. There was one great feature in the school life – the motherliness of Mrs Turner (loud applause). He himself valued human sympathy as much as any man, though he had fear of no one, and it was just that motherliness on Mrs Turner’s part that made the school after all a home (applause). He was a light-hearted, go-ahead boy, and others were always misunderstanding him, but Mrs Turner understood him, and he appreciated her kindness and sympathy. He desired to give them the toast of “Truro College”, an institution of which they as Old Boys, and the county generally, had need to be proud, and one which he trusted everyone in that room in particular would pray might long exist to spread a great influence for good throughout the world (applause).
The toast was drunk with musical honours.
Mr H.W. Vinter, MA, the present head-master, acknowledged the toast:
He said he was pleased to see such a representative gathering that evening. He knew some boys were there who dated back to the very beginning of the School, which was in its 25th year (applause). He thought if they looked back on the history of the School they would acknowledge that they had justified their existence, and they intended in the future, as in the past, to be a progressive school (applause) The first chairman of directors was the late Mr Bickford-Smith (hear, hear), to whom they owed a great deal during the early history of the School (applause). It was in the autumn of 1879 that Mr Turner was appointed head-master – and he might almost say Mrs Turner (hear, hear), for the School in its early stages would not have taken the position it did but for the help Mrs Turner gave it. It was the pioneer days of a School that were always hard. One boy had said: “The directors put up the building, but Mr and Mrs Turner made the School” (applause). He believed the School was opened on January 20th, 1880. The boarding-house was at 4, Strangways-terrace, the school work being carried on in the Congregational lecture-hall. On the opening day there were 25 boarders and 10 day boys, and the first and only assistant master then was Mr Vincent. The first prize day was in December, 1880, and the gentleman who distributed the prizes on that occasion was Sir Geo. Smith (applause). No better selection could have been made (hear, hear), and he personally was grateful for all that Sir George had done for Truro College (applause). In that prize list it might surprise them to know the boy who took the dux prize was F. McCoskrie (applause, and a Voice: “Misunderstood again!” and loud laughter); second, J. Jennings; third, T. Jennings (loud applause). In 1881 an additional house had been provided. There were about 30 boarders. Then the great day came – June 11th, 1881 – when Mr W.A. McArthur, M.P., the Lord Mayor of London, came down in state and laid the foundation stone of the magnificent pile of buildings on the top of the hill (applause). That occurred during the Mayoralty of another great friend of the School, to whom their sympathies went out in his illness – Mr Amos Jennings (applause). In January, 1882, the building was opened. There were then 70 boarders and 30 day boys, and in May, 1883 he had the honour of being elected second master (applause), Everything was then in a very unfinished state internally, and in the grounds. At that time there were 90 boarders and 38 day boys, and in January, 1884, they reached the highest total of 109 boarders. The health of the School had been remarkable during all these years, and they had been very free from accident – a remarkable fact considering the enthusiastic way in which they had taken up school games (applause). In 1887 it was with great regret that he saw the departure of his friend, Mr G.O. Turner (applause), with whom he had worked splendidly for several years. Then there was a period of about two years when Mr Jackson was head-master, and it was only fair to say that some of the Old Boys did not know what his iron rule had been, but they did appreciate what Mr Jackson did for them (applause). He was enthusiastic in work and in play (cheers), and he considered Mr Jackson did much to establish the educational status of the School. During his time they had their first matriculant – Dr Coleman (applause), and from that time down to that night they had kept up a good succession (applause). In January, 1890, he had the honour of being elected head-master of the School (loud applause). Since then he had seen many improvements 0 the building of a gymnasium (hear, hear), for which their friend, Mr McCoskrie, kindly drew the plans (applause); the chemical and the physical laboratories; the sanatorium, which had been a great success (Mr McCoskrie: “Not true!”); and altogether, if some of the Old Boys could see the School to-day, they would see the equipment was good, and that the School was thoroughly able to carry on its work (applause). It was in 1892 that the Magazine was started. It was, therefore, in its 14th year, and that spoke well for it (hear, hear). It had been greatly praised, and had been a great medium between the present boys and the past. They were issuing 350 copies every term, and it found its way into every part of the world (applause). Only the other day two Old Boys abroad found each other through its pages. The Old Boys’ Association had been started, and was in its tenth year (applause), and he believed eight boys present were at its inauguration. As to the future: Was it not possible for them to do something to mark the 25th year of the School’s existence? In domestic life they would not like to Passover such a festival. Could they not, as a school, do something during that year? He thought he should be right in reporting that they had scheme in hand. The governors of the School were about to build new class-rooms, and what concerned him was this: in this scheme the governors had practically agreed that they should have a library and a reading-room (applause). He would not like to make that an occasion for begging; but it would be a very gracious thing if the Old Boys would really think about it, and see if they could not during the year raise £100 towards fitting up the reading-room, and make it thoroughly up-to-date with the best books for boys (applause). He had known 800 boys to pass into or through the School since he had been there, and if some of these received a personal letter from him on the subject he hoped they would appreciate it. It would do them good, and the School also, and they could thus fittingly mark the 25th year of the School’s existence (applause). In Cornwall there was a great need of secondary schools. If they looked round the county one was sure of the fact, and he hoped the County Authority would not forget the good work of Truro College had done during its 25 years’ existence, in some cases under great difficulty, and that they would help them in the future to bring the College to a still higher degree of efficiency (applause). They might be proud of their past as a school, and take great hope for the future. He wished all the boys great success in their various callings, and hoped everyone would be a power for good wherever he might be found in the world. (loud applause).
Mr Mills (one of the masters) proposed the “Governors of Truro College” in an admirable speech. All the old boys and present boys were, he felt sure, proud of such governors as theirs, who had, with such disinterested zeal, and generosity, and unselfishness, looked after their alma mater (applause).
Sir George Smith, replying, said he complimented them on the rally of Old Boys that night, and the spirit of camaraderie which was represented, a spirit which ought to, and probably would, assist the future history of the College, believing as he did an Old Boys’ Association inevitably reached and reflected credit upon the School itself. The directors and governors who remained had nothing to regret in the step they took when they inaugurated the School on the hill on the day previously referred to. They had had ample satisfaction for all they put forward on that occasion. In the admirable address given in the Concert Hall on the day of the foundation stone laying by Mr S.D. Waddy, afterwards Judge Waddy, they were reminded that the Wesleyan Church, under whose auspices the School was founded, had been first an evangelising and secondly, an educational church (applause). There were those amongst them who would champion those principles to the end (applause). From that day to the present the directors had watched the progress of the College with the greatest pride. They had seen its growth, not only in numbers, but in popular esteem, the growth of successes in its examination lists, the entrance of the College into the physical life of the county, and its advent, by its alumni, into the outer world, and they could not help referring to the pride which repeatedly they had felt, as boys of the College had made their mark in the county and the Cornwall beyond the seas, where they worthily bore positions as Englishmen of honour and trust. They looked with special pride upon that which should be the particular object of every school – the greatest object, the greatest aim of school life – the school character (applause). As they had looked over the past 25 years, and seen the production of that as represented by that gathering, and remembered the mark which it had made upon the county life, and the surrounding public life of that and other communities, they were proud of the efforts some of them made in the establishment of the College on the hill (applause). He would remind them of the pregnant remark of the great Consul of the early part of the last century. When reminded that the new nobility which, as its great Emperor, he was beginning to create, had not he great traditions of the ancestors of the old Noblesse, Napoleon said: “No, they poor things had ancestors; mine are ancestors; they had forebears; mine will have successors” (applause). He wished them every joy and prosperity in that expectation (loud applause).
Mr Chas. Bryant, also replying, said the Board of Governors had given the College the best attention, and for a considerable time not only put their capital into it, but carried the personal responsibility of £2,000 or £3,000 to keep it in the position which was demanded (applause), and although established under a religious denomination, no man on the Board had ever turned his little finger to make a proselyte (applause). Now the Central Board in London had taken it over, and everything would be done to keep the School in the utmost state of efficiency. Mention had been made of Mrs Turner, and he was sure every boy in the School would speak in the same enthusiastic tones of Mrs Opie (applause).
Mr W. Hearle proposed “The Visitors” in a neat little speech, and Mr H. Rice and Mr H. Sanders responded.
Mr E. Beard proposed “The Press”, to which Mr F.T. Dowsing. Editor of the Royal Cornwall Gazette, and Mr Bluett and Mr Lake replied. On the motion of Mr Hocking, Mr Wallace Smith was cordially thanked for the way in which he had arranged the meeting, and the Chairman expressed his personal indebtedness to Mr Smith for his labours.
During the evening songs and other musical items were agreeably rendered by Messrs. Stanley Norton, H. Sanders, F.T. Downing, Shakerley, E. Beard, Fletcher, W.F. Rowe, and S.J. Polkinhorn, jun. The accompaniments were shared by Messrs. H Sanders, W. Smith, and N.E. Rickard.
The proceedings closed with the National Anthem and ‘Auld Lang Syne’.