The 'Swinging Sixties' and a Period of Change
By Alex Bateman
The 1960s opened with, in 1961, the 50th birthday of Harrow County School. In that relatively short time, the School had excelled itself in all areas, although most of that success had arrived in the previous fifteen years.
As had happened with the 21st anniversary, a book celebrating the event was published, 'The Golden Jubilee Book'. It headed a year of celebration, including a Reception at the Stationers Hall for Staff, CCF Dinner and Dance, Jubilee Dinner, and a combined Cadet and Scout Review Day. The crown of the year was the visit by the Education Minister Sir David Eccles, who did not normally make such visits. Harrow County was the exception to the rule.
The 1960s was a period of considerable change at the School, with academic success reaching its peak, tempered with the more relaxed way of life. The cadets, for so long a strong sight in the School, came in for increasing criticism (it being the time of the cold war), while Gaytonian magazine, the School journal, received its first 're-vamp' in 1965, with the format and content changing to reflect the changing times. The following year it was judged the best school magazine in the country, quite an achievement, and another in the long line of awards to the School. Later that year saw the retirement of its head, Dr. Simpson. Not always popular, and thought by many boys to lack a sense of humour, 'Square' Simpson, had been perhaps its most dynamic head. He had joined the School immediately after the war, and did much to increase its standing in all areas. He has been accused of trying to emulate the famous neighbour on the Hill, but whatever the opinion, the lasting and most fame Harrow County has is arguably down to him.
1965 brought a new head in Roy Avery. His style was more relaxed than that of his predecessor and this circulated around the School. The conscription towards the Scouts and Cadets slowly and quietly began to diminish, which made for a slightly smaller but more friendly unit. Successes elsewhere continued unabated.
Overseas visits had been a feature of school life for many years, but in the late 1960s, boys travelled further afield, with trips to Lapland, Iceland and Spitzbergen amongst others.
It was around this time that the first mutterings of abolishing Schools like Harrow County were uttered. It was proposed that the School site would be used for a new seven form entry, mixed-ability school. However, with the election in 1970 of a new Conservative Government, the plan was withdrawn. An almost audible sigh of relief could be heard. However, the seeds had been sown and as the 1970s approached, uncertainty hung over the School once more. Could the School survive?