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History of the Barbican

The LCGSB School Magazine

The original Barbican magazine cover Lewes castle barbican after snow

HE Barbican magazine was the record of the many events at the school as seen from the pupils perspective. It contained reports of all major school events, news from the houses, the various societies, sports, other extra-curricular activities, reports from old boys, and literary works, some of dubious merit. It was issued to all boys and staff once and sometimes twice a year.

We are only able to see extracts from the Barbican because of the generosity of Old Boys who have loaned their own copies to be processed into Web pages. We are pleased to acknowledge the help from John Davey, our Chairman and former teacher at the school, Paul Giles, John Hart, Philip Ray, Colin Message, and Geoff Brightwell. In July 2000 we received eight Barbicans from one of our very oldest Old Boys, Ivor Wycherley. Some of these date back to the early 1930s including issue No.2 from 1932! In September 2000 Joe Warr sent us issues 10 to 16 inclusive. We still needed issues 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8.

We later found that copies of these issues, formerly the property of the Old Lewesians, had been deposited in good faith with the County Record Office for safe keeping. However, repeated requests to have these back on a temporary basis for transcription have been met by obstruction and refusal at every turn. For sheer determined bloody-mindedness and lack of cooperation they take the biscuit! The Moral: Never put any documents in the County Archive if you might ever need them again.

These early missing numbers are now very rare, especially No 1, and we thought it unlikely that we would ever find copies. Thankfully, help came from an unexpected quarter. The family of our founding headmaster, Mr. Neville Bradshaw, found a collection of school memorabilia, once belonging to Mr Bradshaw himself, and presented it to the Old Lewesians. In that collection are all of the first twenty-four Barbican magazines bound into three volumes. Thanks to NRB and the Bradshaw family the missing magazines are now with us and appear on our website!

The Last Barbican

As a result we now have the complete sequence of Barbicans from 1931 onwards giving a complete history of the School from the pre-war days, through the war with all its problems and loss of life, the austere post-war years, the building of the Chapel and the post-Bradshaw era. The last issue, No 43, in 1967-68 is almost certainly the last. It is a matter of some regret that the final year of the school was not documented with a closing issue. For that reason the happenings in the last year of the grammar school are lost to posterity.

If any of our younger OLs who were at the school through the transition to the comprehensive system can tell us of any such final magazine or record appearing in the last three terms of the School (68-69) we would like to know about it. Was the forty-third Barbican showing "1967-1968" on the front cover (see below) the very last edition? Did anyone attempt to put on record the achievments of the boys and the School in that final year? Who was the last Head Boy and who were the leading figures?

We are bringing you the main highlights of each issue. We have tried to pick memorable events and names that are capable of being recalled, events that had a lasting significance, items of exceptional literary merit and items that might amuse you. Note: comments in square brackets [thus] in these excerpts are explanatory notes inserted by your webmaster. There are also some photos from news clippings and other extraneous sources added to the text for the purpose of illustration.

Each of you will have spent only a few years at school and so what happened before and after your school life is likely to be based on somewhat sketchy information picked up from friends, local newspapers, reunions and other chance sources. We aim to flesh out that knowledge using the school magazines and, of course, contributions from those of you who have something to offer by way of anecdotes or other material.

The History of the Barbican Magazine

THE early history of the magazine can be charted now that the early editions have come to light. The first edition appeared in the late autumn of 1931, recording events in the first year, Sept 1930 to July 1931. From comments in Barbican No. 2 we discover that the First Issue, Barbican No. 1, was in fact printed at the school by the boys and staff on the school printing machine. Webmaster can remember this machine, in 1950/51, located on the landing outside the Prefects' Room, which at that time was the small room above the staff-room - the one with the balcony. One can only marvel that this one amateur production is of a quality virtually indistinguishable from the subsequent professionally printed issues.

One curious feature of the Barbican sequence is that the thirteenth issue in June 1939 was numbered 12 - so there are two consecutive issues numbered 12! In those far-off days folk were more superstitious than today; it was common for a house to be numbered 12A instead of 13; people would step into the road to avoid walking under a ladder! With the fear of war so widespread at that time it is not surprising that number 13 was avoided.

Annual magazines were the general pattern but in the years from 1934 to 1938 nine numbers appeared instead of five, the magazine appearing twice in most of these years. This may be because it was seen more as a literary platform for the budding poets and short-story writers of the day than as a record of the happenings at the school. Certainly they carried far more literary work than was found in the years before and after that period.

During the war, with its various disruptions and shortages, publication was somewhat irregular. In the confusion and exhaustion at the end of the war the 1945 issue was delayed and eventually appeared as part of a double issue (21 and 22) in 1946. From 1946 to 1968 the pattern reverted to one each year, with the exception that the 1959 issue was delayed so that it appeared in 1960 just as the Chapel was opened and Mr Bradshaw retired. There was then a gap of a year and a half under the new regime until the 1961 edition appeared - without the familiar barbican woodcut front cover. The Barbican was printed by various printers in the early years but Farncombe & Co., the local printers produced it for many years. It was hand type-set, the technology for small magazines in those days.

The 1966 Barbican cover The 1961 Barbican cover

In 1961, the year after the Chapel opened and Mr Bradshaw retired, the magazine appeared in a new format. The size was about the same, 125 x 185mm, but the woodcut of the Barbican on a light blue front-cover was dropped in favour of a topical photograph on a glossy white paper - for 1961 a photo of the new chapel. Various photos and pieces of art-work were used over the next few years. The name, of course, was retained.

Barbican cover 1968 - Was this the last one published ? In 1967-68, the last known issue, the size increased to 145 x 210 mm with one column in Courier typeface justified left. The name was retained but the cover has a symbolic image of the school blazer badge showing Lewes castle - not the Barbican! It is noticeably thicker than before, reflecting the wider range of school activities, but it is most unattractive compared with early editions. Content apart - it is ironic that the first edition of the Barbican had been such an outstanding example of the printer's craft and the last edition the worst!

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