"somewhere to put bits and bobs for the time being"
- Foundation Centenary 2005
- The Coronation of Elizabeth II, June 1953
The decoration of Form rooms and girls' reports from the towns and villages, and from Margaret Atkinson who was among the Guides lining the route.
- The Golden Jubilee of EHS, 1905-1955
- Looking forward to the move to Downham Road
- Official Opening of the New Building, 21 Oct 1957
- The move to the The New Buildings, from the May 1958 EHS magazine
Ely High School, 1905-1957
Operation SHOPPING BAG
Opening Day - We welcome HRH THE DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER.
Some Buildings Speak - What Does Our School Say?
- Miss Tilly's recollections 1936-66, from the 1965-66 EHS magazine
- Service of Thanksgiving, Ely High School 1905-1972, Ely Cathedral, 21 July 1972
EHS Alumni on the web please click EHS Alumni on the web
Extracts from the School Magazines
This motto translates as 'Bravely to the Top' - was introduced when the school moved from Bedford House to a new campus in Downham Road in 1957 in recognition of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing reaching the summit of Everest on 29 May 1953.
Miss Tilly, a Classics scholar, hoped it would inspire her pupils to reach the peaks of academia.
History of the City of Ely Schools - British History Online
This and that
- Memories of first day 
from the Ely Standard, 3 Sep 1998, courtesy of Chris Jakes of the Cambridgeshire Collection.
Riverside report with Ann Powell [née Harding]
Fifty years ago this month I stood on the pavement outside Bedford House in St Mary's Street, a very new High School girl. In a navy blue beret with a bright yellow badge, a three pleat gym slip, navy and yellow tie and probably the regulation gaberdine mac. A spanking new leather satchel from Blakemans' shop and shoes polished to please a sergeant-major.
Eventually a teacher came out and herded the new girls into the school. The Headmistress, Miss Tilly, was away on a sabbatical in Rome, studying her beloved Etruscans. Her place was taken by the equally formidable steely-eyed Miss Defew.
The school had expanded to accommodate the influx of scholarship girls after the 1944 Education Act. In the playground a row of concrete prefabs stretched along the wall. About 80 new girls were divided into three classes, A, Alpha and Remove. As Lower IIIA, we were shown into the end prefab. The cloakrooms were so over-crowded, the whole class shared pegs in what was no more than a cupboard. Girls from all the villages way out in the fens as far as Lakenheath and Mildenhall travelled each day.
So there we were being given the chance of a lifetime, Classics, Mathematics, Science and languages. I do wish someone had explained what phonetics were before we launched into French accent and what Nominative, Vocative, Accusative represented before we started Latin. I was hopeless at languages, it came as a great relief when because of staff shortages we had to choose between French and Geography in the Lower Fourth.
- Broadcasts in the Bedford House days
03/08/10 Christine Fuller (Bell): Looking at 1954 school magazine, I wonder if any one remembers that on the afternoon of 26 March 1954 the school was hushed to listen to a section of Womans' Hour on the Light Programme entitled Journeying with Johnny when Miss Tilly’s younger sister Rosemary Popplestone recounted some of her travels in Africa with her young son John, born in 1951. I wasn’t aware until then that Bedford House had the means to broadcast right around the school!
- Some Burwell girls who came to EHS 1943-1960
- Refresher on the naming of EHS Forms
14/07/10 based on Christine Fuller (Bell) and Jackie Sotheran (Bidwell): Unless joining in later years, pupils would enter EHS in one of the L.III forms - each year could be sub-divided as required into A, Alpha or Remove forms - then progress through the school, some to the Sixth Form:
L.III 1st form
U.III 2nd form
L.IV 3rd form
U.IV 4th form
V 5th form
L.VI Lower 6th form
U.VI Upper 6th form
If anyone knows the origin of this way of naming forms, and whether it had any predecessors, please contact us. Did the above convention run until 1972?
Jackie adds: When I joined in 1957 - the first year of the New Building - forms were L.III A and L.III Alpha and this was the naming convention through all my years, up to 1964.
There was a decision after the first-year exams, possibly based on Maths and Latin results. Some girls were moved across, in both directions, I think only half a dozen. Latin was taken by A girls only (an essential University entrance requirement in those days? Only A girls were expected to consider University?)
Some girls joined in third year after a 13-Plus exam and they had to go into Alpha as they had not studied Latin.
- A Magnificent Old Boy in his Flying Machines
10/07/10 Christine Fuller (Bell): I spent this morning interviewing Wing Commander Ken Wallis MBE (born 1916) who was an Old Boy of EHS in the preparatory school in the 1920s. Amongst other things, after an illustrious career during WW2, he invented the autogyro featured in a James Bond film, which I was privileged to see this morning, along with many other similar machines. Only yesterday at the age of 94 he flew a 2 seater autogyro with a passenger from a grass field near his home.
His father had the shop in Ely known as “Walbro” where I used to take the accumulators to be charged to power our radio. A wonderful man with a razor sharp mind still – an inventor, entrepreneur, a superb model maker, thrill seeker and thoroughly nice human being. It was a privilege to meet him.
Ken Wallis died in 2013.
see Alumni on the web
- We had the sweet shop adjoining Bedford House
08/07/10 Roger Sykes, formerly of 30 St.Mary's Street, Ely: As an old Soham Grammarian, I was attracted by the news that you now have a website for Ely High School for Girls.
I was born in 1931 at the house and sweet shop adjoining Bedford House. I have several memories of those days when I was growing up in the 30s and 40s. They include such things as the girls waving and calling to me whilst I played outside in our small garden, overlooked by the upper windows of the school. Hearing the voices of teachers on summer days when the windows were open.
We sometimes had a teacher as a lodger. I am still in touch with Ruth Buttenshaw (née Green) who taught maths and geography 1947 to 1951 who lodged with us. Also another teacher at that period whose surname escapes me, but whose Christian name was Marion. Our grammar school bus on the home run terminated outside the school, and hence my home, in the afternoons and loaded up with the girls. I daresay many patronized my mother's sweet shop. Some summer evenings Dr Tilly appeared on the flat roof overlooking our garden. As neighbours my parents, and me too sometimes, were invited to plays put on by the school. I remember too attending a speech day in the old Rex cinema.
I hope these few memories are of interest and I wish all success to the website and am sure you will have many contributions from the "old girls" who discover it.
- early 1960s - The one about the mercury
Sylvie Short (née Coleman): a story contributed to keep a promise made to the late Jackie Sotheran ...
The science teacher, Miss Haynes, set up an experiment in one of the labs involving a small bowl of mercury. Passing through on my way to the playground with two friends, I stopped to look and became mesmerised by the silvery liquid, dipping in a finger and watching it spread.
I think I must have said something like, 'Ooo, I'd love some of that,' as after break I was walking back into the classroom when one of the two friends said, 'I've got something for you,' and pushed a pen-top into my hand half full of mercury that she'd liberated from the experiment.
We were still giggling about this when the door opened and Miss Haynes appeared asking who had 'stolen' the mercury and, in doing so, ruined the experiment. It was obvious that she already knew who the culprits were as she said it one of 'those' voices and was looking directly at my two friends. I could see that they were about to own up, but realised I couldn't let that happen as they would never have touched the stuff if I hadn't said I wanted it.
Slowly I stood up and said that I was responsible. She turned her fearsome gaze onto me and asked me to return the liquid. I carefully extricated the pen top from my desk, but was shaking so much that I added insult to injury by dropping it and we all watched in horror as it shattered into a thousand tiny silver balls that scattered themselves all over the classroom floor. Miss Haynes was not amused.
and ... Missing the Bus
I had to travel from Swaffham Prior to Ely, changing buses in Soham every morning. One day a friend and I decided it would be fun to miss the bus on purpose and hitch a lift to school (Why? I have no idea) so we did. We were picked up by a man driving a lorry-load of baskets, told him we had missed the bus by accident and he dropped us at the school gates. The register must have been taken after Assembly in those days as we were able to hide in the cloakroom, join our class on the way to assembly, (much to the amusement of our bus companions), and our form teacher was none the wiser.
We did this again and it worked, but the third time we weren't so lucky and, when we arrived a school very late in the morning our silly prank was discovered. On this occasion my father was summoned to school to see Miss Defew, the Deputy Head, as they were, quite rightly, alarmed at us putting ourselves in such danger. We were both severely reprimanded - '...that is not the behaviour expected of the young ladies who attend this school...' - and we never did it again.
Years later my dad told me the thing that most surprised him about his interview with 'Deefie' was that as soon as they'd settled down for a chat she offered him a cigarette!
- Eastern Counties Season Ticket
- Songs of Praise
- Jill Burroughs (Human) has written for the Soham Grammarians' website of the work of her father WAG Burroughs as a photographer in Soham, prompted by the recent donation of a painting by her father, previously unknown to the family, to Soham Village College. Jill was Head Girl at EHS 1960-61. new Feb 2015
- Soham Grammarians co-productions
We are grateful to the Soham Grammarians for helping us to be present on the Internet.
If you took part in any of the SGS drama co-productions with EHS (see via Productions) or someone in your family, or know of, was a Grammarian you may like to visit their website www.sohamgrammar.org.uk
WORLD WAR II
- Edna Gotobed in Bergen Belsen
- Ella Thurmott - VE Night May 8 1945 in London
- Jews’ Free School: Evacuation News Sheet Issue No.11 Nov 1940
IN THE GYM. We seemed to be back in our School gym when we joined in our first gym class in the fine gym of the Ely Girls’ High School. This gym is equipped with the most modern apparatus, largely of the Swedish type, and Mr. Joseph makes such full use of the equipment that our gym hour is crammed with every variety of gym exercise. The parallel bars, brought from our School in London by Dr. Bernstein, provide splendid scope for new work, and in this work Mr. B. Cousin is giving valuable help. We may truthfully say that our gym hour is “our finest hour” and we are deeply grateful to Miss Tilley for her kindness in allowing us the use of the gym for this grand work.
from the http://www.jfsalumni.com/ website: many of the Evacuation News Sheets can be viewed and often have interesting news about events in Ely and the villages in the area
page created 25 Jun 10: last updated 21 Feb 19: 29 Feb 21