The Leas School,  Hoylake

The Pavilion

contributed by Adrian Stevenson

During the Second World War, the RAF requisitioned the school buildings for use as a rehabilitation centre for non-officers. West of the gym the RAF added a range of buildings, including the PFO (Physical Fitness Office) at its southern end; in 1947 the pavilion was tacked on to the RAF range - see the pavilion clock in the view from the west.

Per Ardua Ad Astra, the RAF motto, was painted inside the pavilion on the west wall; Through Adversity To The Stars, maybe that stiffened the resolve of nervous batsmen awaiting their turn, quailing in front of the photos of confident teams of years gone by. The motto had been suggested in 1912 by a young officer of the nascent Royal Flying Corps (Military Wing). Interestingly, this young officer, JN Fletcher, was an Old Leasian!

Once a year, for the parents' cricket match, the pavilion became very hospitable, replete with plates of sandwiches and awash with gin. I remember my father calmly catching single-handed a stonking six which would have smashed through Mr Fetherstonhaugh's head and one of the pavilion windows; the catch had to be single-handed because in my father's other hand was a large gin (of which, of course, not a drop was spilled).

The pavilion featured as the immediate backdrop for another annual occasion, the presentation of Sports Day prizes. A local dignitary or a parent or a headmaster's relative would make a short speech, then hand out a surprisingly large amount of silverware (on loan, not for keeps).

As well as being used for its designed sporting purposes, the pavilion also served (until the end of the 1960s) as a sort of common room for Third Form and upwards. Ping-pong tables could be erected, pulled out from their storage along the walls. And it was in that room that Mike Rutherford (later to form the band Genesis) taught me the only 3 or 4 guitar chords I ever learned.

In quiet times during summer lessons when the sun was shining, school staff and visiting relatives of the headmasters would sit in front of the pavilion, the best spot being at its eastern end, where there was a wind-sheltered alcove with a sundial. On the ground in front of the sundial was inscribed this cosy verse:

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth;
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

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