Clifton College Website

Student Contributions

Jacob Dirnhuber
Lower Sixth
School House

Clifton and Bude

Clifton and Bude

December 2nd 1941 will always remain infamous for the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour. This attack shocked the United States, bringing them into the war and changing their foreign policy from isolationism to the dominant global power that it is today. History has proved time and again that one incident, be it large or small can change things for the future. Pearl Harbour will always be an example of this. A much smaller, much more insignificant bombing took place exactly a year before the attack on Pearl Harbour. So small, in fact, that few know or care about it, and the memories of it are exclusive to this School.

During the blitz of Bristol, the Council (Governors) of Clifton College decided to keep the School where it was, instead of evacuating. This attitude changed on December 2nd, 1940. A large bomb fell on New Field, nearly destroying both Wiseman’s and Polack’s Houses. The School decided that it was too dangerous not to relocate, and an evacuation took place. The army agreed to swap the Clifton College campus for the resort of Bude in Cornwall, housing pupils in hotels; a decision which not only changed the future of the School, but also led to the D-day landings being planned in School House when the Americans took over the School.

The absence of certain facilities and the presence of others led to widespread changes in the School’s policy and traditions. For the first time, the School ate meals as one, not in their Houses as they had traditionally. When they returned, they discovered that the army had converted the ‘Big School’ building into a dining room, and a decision was made to adopt the communal dining system for good. The first House Drama Festival also took place, and continues to this day. The timetable was changed, and certain subjects were done away with, while others were introduced. The Preparatory School moved to Butcombe House, and as a testament to this, the youngest pupils are now introduced to education at a School called Butcombe.

70 years on from Bude, the legacies of Cornwall remain in this School. Some changes might have occurred with or without the evacuation, and some would not. The only thing that is certain is that the smallest things can bring about the biggest changes.

4 February 2011

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