Old Dartechs' & Wilmingtonians' Association
Ex Tenebris ad Lucem


This poem "EX TENEBRIS AD LUCEM" appeared in Volume 1 Number 1 of the Dartford County Technical School for Boys School Magazine pre 1950 and gives a rather oblique account of events in the School at that time. To help to make sense of this verse, Rhoda Windgate-Blackmore (a member of staff at the School from 1943 to 1949) made some notes notes on the poem in 1990 based upon her memories of the School. 

If you can help expand upon these notes we would like to hear from you. 

EX TENEBRIS AD LUCEM

(AND BURNHAM ROAD CAME TO WILMINGTON)  

NOTES ON "EX TENEBRIS AD LUCEM" - page 36 of Dartford County Technical School for Boys School Magazine, Vol 1, No 1. <1950) - writen by R E Windiate-Blackmore, Orpington, 1990.

 Author: "Percy Flage" - I feel this must be L V Wall, the Headmaster, who was an English graduate. It seems to be his "style."

 ("And Burnham Road Came to Wilmington") - Burnham Road, Dartford, was the site of the sports field - quite a distance from either of the two buildings used by the Technical School (Essex Road and Lowfield Street).

 

They saw not light who Vulcan's metals forged,
They knew not air, nor space, who Bunsen served,
Their entry into Essex was no road,
Where changing Season's gloried colours showed.
Plunged in the Stygian gloom of corridor
They laboured, turning face from Nature's doors
To questioned forms of algebraic laws.
Delighted urchin urged his comrade on
To bandied words against tutorial wit,
And without playing fields were battles won
And Hastings fought again in sunless pit.

Lines in verse 1.

1 - This probably refers to the metalwork shop at the Lowfield Street building.
2 - Probably relates to the Science Room at Essex Road - J R Barr's domain! (Head of Science Dept).
3 - Refers to Essex Road?
5 - The corridors were dark at Essex Road!
7 - Relates to H F Lunn, Mathematics master, who taught in the Annexe - two rooms in a corrugated iron extension.
10 - The "playground" at Essex Road was below the level of the road
I1 - hence "sunless pit."

The eager throngs of twenty-fives moved on
From Annexe to rooms Five, Three, Two and One.
From studied figures astronomical in size
Full many a stubborn conflict stairwards ran,
Urged from behind by both the Scottish Clan.
Until, behold, the need brought forth the man!
The proof of falling body's rated speed
By constant gravitational increase
Was proved, but not by Attwood's known device,
Nor Fletcher's Trolley, harmlessly precise,
But Henderson -and nearly Henderson's decease-
From forty feet of brickwork span by span-
Flat on his back, on concrete, what a man!

 

Lines in verse 2.

1 - Classes contained about 25 boys; 3 classes in each year, la, ib, ic.
5 - "The Scottish Clan" probably relates to Mr McCaskill, who was definitely Scots and maybe Mr Lunn, mentioned above, both of whom used the two Annexe rooms.
7-13 - The other half of the building at Essex Road had never been completed and the bricks on the corner had been left stepped so that at a later date the other section could be added. This gave a series of small "steps" up the side of the building which the most adventurous of the boys would climb, placing bets to see who could climb the highest. Henderson apparently reached 40 ft and then fell! I remember the occasion quite well - he was rushed to West Hill Hospital with quite severe injuries but survived to tell the tale and after a long convalescence, eventually returned to school.

Our Youth for ever doubts attractivenesses
Those pristine smells that billowed 'neath the stairs:
Our noses oft refuse provided messes.
Though Science needs the peg not canteen fares.
Each one has made his single contribution!
For some each set occasion brought the grace;
We can't forget the linguist's missed time-keeping
Nor fail to smile at Griffey's double race.
   
The clock has stopped - it does not play
   
Since when you start eight hundreds yards ago-
   
I do not mind, I take again - if say-
  
You kindly run the Half once more,  yes, no?

 

Lines in verse 3.

1-2 - No doubt refers once again to the Chemistry Lab.
4 - 'peg' probably relates to Mrs Pegg, supervisor at the School Canteen at the Lowfield Street building. (Mrs Pegg succeeded Miss Burgess as CooklSupervisor)
7 - Relates to Mr Altschul, a Czech, who taught languages, was eventually naturalised becoming Mr Andrews. His new name never really suited him!
9-12 Making fun of the way Mr Altschul used to speak!

There's not a doubt but practised pedants are
Loved for their quondam quips by those afar;
Deep subjects learned, pure and applied de la,
And ex-curriculum bird-watch is kept ooh-la!
Full many a knight has wound enchanted horn
Against old massy, frowning barbicans,
But modern steel's coarse, corrugated ridge
Denies the modern gallant from the bridge.
Past memories of Vod and shirked quadratic,
The dignified rebuke of Flad emphatic,
The straining for perfection urged in Wood,
Will all be oft remembered as they should.

 

Lines in verse 4.

4 - "bird-watch" relates to Miss Bird, who was the lab assistant.
11 - Probably relates to Len Gregory, the woodwork master, and my father's first (step) cousin.

 

Puerile the floods once seeped into Room One-
Torrents now take their place at Wilmington.
The roofs projected river flung below
Fills to the brim the twelve-inch globes aglow.
Swift to the fuses spring th' alarmed staff
While in the rooms below the Prefects laugh.
There they arraign the Wily gang kept cleaning,
Laugh themselves Hoarse and feel the job has meaning.
Cleaner we are than erstwhile was our custom
Where dusty strata marked the years in bands,
Until a Hawk descended, plunged with besom,
And re-discovered Kent in Essex lands.
We mourned his leaving, perpetuate in ink,
His memory never Lethe-wards shall sink.

 

Lines in verse 5.

9 - Refers to the Essex Road building which was old and difficult to keep clean.
10 - "The Hawk" is Mr Hawker, the caretaker, appointed in 1946.

 

Just as the gaudy-hued and dainty fly
Leaves off the dusty casing for the Sun,
So sloughed we off the circling Essex tie
And struggled to the sun of Wilmington.
Now look we back f rom present, pleasant fields
Nor hold our former ugliness too tough,
For, though the gold refined our trial yields,
All crucibles are dark and stained and rough.

PERCY FLAGE.

 

(The remainder of the lines are rather too obtuse for me, but I think that 40 years after the publication of this issue of the school magazine, my memory has served me fairly well!)

R E Windiate-Blackmore