The Indefatigable: End of an Era as School Closes
Continued from July/August Edition of Anglesey Informer - Patrick Purser's autobiography of his time at the Indefatigable Boarding School, Llanfairpwll (1977-1991).
Other factors were weighting the odds further against our success in attracting recruits. By now, all local authorities had virtually ceased to fund "out of area" education.
The MOD had decided to "means test" any application for boarding school fees from the Service ranks.
Crudely, this meant that whereas an NCO should send his son "for free" to Inde; now he was required to pay an albeit small percentage of the fees. This, of course, the majority were not
prepared to do.
Also, these education grants were only available for personnel
stationed abroad, where a rapid reduction in manpower was in progress. Both these developments had a drastic effect upon our recruitment and income.
To cap it all, the Gwynedd Education Authority withdrew its considerable annual bursary grant to sponsor local youngsters. The intake age was finally lowered to eleven in the hope of recouping on numbers.
In spite of modest annual increases in fees, still low by national standards, the school, for the first time in its long history, was deeply in debt to the bank.
In March 1991 I had reached the age of 60, and deciding I had had enough of the stresses and strains of teaching, retired at the end of that Summer term.
The final desperate "shot" fired in order to keep the school on an even keel was the introduction of a "Sixth Form" in an effort to retain boys to sit A levels. The retention was small. Most "Inde" boys were not A level calibre.
Finally in 1995, at a staff meeting on the last day of the summer term, unusually, a member of the Board of Governors attended and baldly announced to the assembled
company that as from "now" the school was closing down, and the Receivers were being called in!
It transpired that the bank had foreclosed on an overdraft of over Â£500,000!
One of two members of the teaching staff set themselves up, together with a few local parents to try and re-open the school. Though very laudable, the plan was doomed to failure from the start.
Once a school has closed and the pupils dispersed the chances of "turning the clock back" are minimal.
In the Autumn of 1995 the liquidators held an auction to realise the complete assets of the school. Everything, from beds, uniforms, band instruments, right down to the Ship's Bell came "under the hammer".
What a sad sight it was to see every intimate item which had formed the very "essence" of the school, stripped down, labelled and waiting to be sold. The place was packed. Dealers, like vultures, had descended from every direction.
There were private school representatives hoping for a bargain. And there were many who were merely curious. I attended on behalf of the Old Boys, intent on purchasing the Ship's Bell for the Association. I had earlier asked for the bell not to be
included in the auction, but was told that everything had to be sold to try and meet debtors' demands.
At first I was the only bidder for this item. I later heard that the dealers had agreed amongst themselves not to bid against me! I would have been able to get it for less than Â£100 until one lone voice started bidding too!
When I thought I could bid no higher the hammer fell in my favour
at Â£1,200! Together with the figurehead, safely out of the way in Liverpool, we had managed to save the two most priceless artefacts belonging to "Indefatigable".