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10th Anniversary ORIGINAL10th AnniversaryMESSAGE 10th Anniversary

NAME: Vic Coughtrey  Vic CoughtreyThen & Now

DATE: 19 August 2014


On the 31st August 2014 it will be ten years to the day since John Bibby slapped the newborn website into life with the very first thread. Neither he nor I could have suspected that it would grow and grow into something of a sprawling giant! To mark the first decade - or to start us off on the next - I've initiated this special anniversary thread with a sort of summary of how we came to be and how we have developed over the ten years.

The origin and evolution of this website is rather curious (as, indeed, is the website itself). In 1998 I started to construct a website which was going to be a history of the Coughtrey family. I didn't get very far along that road before allowing myself to be sidetracked into a history of this particular Coughtrey and the original idea was forgotten.
After a few chapters I inevitably came to my QE era , which was a far from happy one. I was delighted when Nigel Palmer contacted me as a result of discovering my (somewhat inaccurate, he says) description of him among the QE chapters (8‑11). A reunion followed and we still meet up from time to time. The most recent get-together, a nostalgic walkabout of High Barnet, joined by fellow OE of the 1954 intake, Brian Hond, took place only last month. A stroll around the outside of the deserted school (see pic) was followed by lunch at the Black Horse, 1950s/60s haunt of 'Tiger' Timpson.

Anyway, to return to 2004, following a few more messages from OEs who had come across my personal site I thought it might be an idea to start a sister site, this time specifically for OEs, which could be entirely independent of the OE Association and the official QE website, thus permitting a wide spectrum of opinions and impressions of the school - mostly as it was, rather than as it is. Frankly, I didn't think for a moment that it would succeed, or I might never have embarked upon it!

Soon after its launch, John Bibby submitted that first thread. Ten years on and here we are with 154 threads and a total of around 1400 messages (original messages plus replies) from 123 contributors - some a lot more active than others, of course). The online museum has developed beyond expectations and now contains quite a wide variety of material.  One of you (can't remember who it was) has called the whole website "a substantial social document". I liked that and incorporated it into the introduction on the home page! From my log stats (compiled largely from those temporary cookies I plant on your computers) I know that many people visit the site, in some cases many times, without contributing any replies or starting new threads. 

The way the site has developed is quite interesting. Despite my assertion from the outset that the site was not going to be coloured by my unfortunate personal experiences at the school, I think that in the early days it was, to some extent. At any rate, the site seemed to attract rather more 'anti' sentiment than anything else. If anything, the pendulum may have swung just a little too far in the other direction by now, the hint of a cosy nostalgia having blunted the former edginess. I must confess that my own attitude has softened over the ten years, partly, I suppose, as a result of the website itself. I've even found myself reacting to some of the fiercer criticism of the school in the '50s with "Oh come on, it wasn't that bad!" Heartfelt praise for one or two of the masters I detested has occasionally stirred up some unaccustomed sensation that I was less than wise not to take advantage of the no doubt sincere efforts of those gentlemen to give me an education before I was cast out into the wide world. I like to think that the site has prompted others to revise their own time-filtered attitudes to the place, whether for better or for worse.

This website would, of course, be nothing at all without you contributors, especially the dozen or so who have been prolific posters as well as providers of stuff for the museum over the years. Several of the more important features of this site, such as the editing log, were originally suggested by contributors. I simply interpreted their suggestions. I do, however, claim full responsibilty for the Wider World section, which has taken off quite well and has considerable potential, I believe.

And now for the next 10 years ...


NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 11 September 2014


I would warmly second your invitation to those entering the site without contribution to register their arrival to it but of course better still would be if they should take a little time to make at least a small contribution with some thoughts or even anecdotes. Once more congratulations for your work on the site over these 10 years.

I'm afraid I removed that invitation on 23/10/14, Jas. After nearly a year not a single visitor had taken it up and the various notices about it and the special form were taking up valuable Web space.
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