On the penultimate day of the school year at Barrow Grammar School for Boys, something happened to upset our headmaster, again. Sanctions would follow.
Normally 500 boys were loosed onto the sports fields to play organised, disorganised and chaotic games including the popular “stick” or “roger dodger.” This day all were ordered into form rooms.
Escape to Earnse Bay
Everard and Vaughan, were not naturally rebellious. Both were pillars of school sport and culture. Everard going to university and Vaughan, vice-captain of school rugby and captain of house rugby, was for the R.A.F. We could see no sense in returning to rooms without books, so quietly left via the back gate and in ten minutes had cycled to the warm, dry, hard sands of Earnse Bay.
The Wreck of the SS Anastasia
At the North corner of Walney Island the wreck of SS Anastasia seemed temptingly near and over a shallow stretch of slack water and we paddled out. Anastasia was wrecked by sailing onto a sandbank with her cargo of iron ore. Now only the rusting hull remained. Around the stern was an inviting, warm, deep pool – great for diving.
Eventually we returned to land, now cut off by 50 yards of rapid current filling Scarth Hole. We swam fully clothed, shoes in pockets. Everard was a strong swimmer but I saw the bank rushing along, as terrified, my feeble doggy paddle barely beat the current.
A Tall Tale
We got back for lunch. WR Rayman a.k.a. “Punch”, invigilating, stopped behind me and shattered the expectant silence with a loud, “Vaughan, have you wet yourself?”
“What’s all that water underneath your seat?”
“Erm, it’s a long story sir.”
“Come and tell me this long story”, he ordered and I expected ritual humiliation to follow. He heard the story, asked no questions and concluded, “All right Vaughan, off you go and don’t make a habit of it!” It went no further. The only harm was my drowned watch.
Later, two children aged about 7, brother and sister were lured to Anastasia and swept away by the tide. One washed up eight miles away near Hilpsford Point, the other was never found.