www.belmontschool-hassocks.org.uk

 

OB NEWS

OLD BELMONT EVENTS: 2007


ESTATE VISIT: Friday morning, 1st June 2007

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Your Committee, [David Chaundler, Ray Dunsbier, Gus Gordon and Dale Vargas] organised the nostaglia trip of a lifetime, back to the Belmont estate on 1st June. 35 OBs and 11 Wives, Girl Friends and Sisters visited the Belmont School grounds, by kind permssion of the owner of the modern Belmont. Most drove, but some wanted to complete the nostalgia by arrive by train at Hassocks Station, from Victoria - then walking across the fields to Belmont. [SEE PHOTO REPORT - SCROLL DOWN].

Well, the dams certainly weren’t exactly “running” - it was the middle of summer – but it was possible to detect their former course, at least at the top. After 50 yards or so, there was dense shrub growth – and a magnificent, huge redwood tree. It must have been there in the ‘fifties and for many years before, and obviously escaped Max Burr’s tree cull of that time. Early comers had been able to converse with the head gardener who claimed that streams still run after heavy rain.

The grounds have been beautifully kept by the present owner – except for the woods, most has been kept as mown grass - and there were enough recognisable features to get one’s bearings; there has been no landscaping or changes in levels. The cricket pavilion (the “new” one, that is; the one built by Mr Walters and his team in the sixties) is still there and the big poplar between the first game football and cricket pictures still dominates the ‘12 acre field’.

I was able to identify the spot where Taft was shot by Max Burr trying out his new air pistol, and Dunsbier mi found where he had put an arrow through some unfortunate’s leg - although he couldn’t remember the victim’s name. The bloodstains had been grown over. There was a lot of shooting at Belmont in the 1950s.

The new house, still called "Belmont", perhaps best described as architecturally ‘different’, is situated on the former top lawn. The tennis court looks to be on the same site as the school court, but the rose garden has gone and the swimming pool has been filled in. At the bottom of the estate, the ‘carp pool’ has been cleaned out and extended, and boasts a wealth of ducks and other water fowl; in fact it is probably cleaner than the old swimming pool ever was.

The ‘goose field’, so called for its usage in the ‘thirties – Mr Avis tells me the eggs were thought to be too strong for eating and so were used only in cooking - is also under grass. The geese were all killed by a feral dog sometime in the mid-thirties and the field was then turned into a rifle shooting range. It seems strange to me that it was never revived for that purpose after the war, although many of the teachers must have been proficient in the use of firearms. Perhaps there was enough shooting going on elsewhere.
As far as I know, no one called at the former chapel, now a private residence, although the incumbents are known to be friendly.

I had fully expected to be disappointed by this visit but was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It was a beautiful day, and the company unique!  My thanks go to Pritchard Gordon who had negotiated the visit with the owner, and Chaundler ma who organised lunch at nearby Hurstpierpoint College, and all the admin.

You can click on any photo for a larger view [in JPG format],
or click here to view the SLIDE-SHOW!