As part of the annual Three Days in June activity programme at Downside, some pupils were given a box to explore from the Archives. The box was filled with letters and images exchanged between two OG Australian boys and their family. 

In 1894, two cousins, Jack Watkins and Tom Makinson, aged 13 and 12, sailed from Sydney to begin their life as Downside pupils. Their cousin, George Heydon, also joined them at the School. It is believed that the decision to come to Downside School was for the Benedictine education, which was not available in the Colony. 

Looking through the various letters, it is interesting to find that a number of traditions and activities remain the same, or at least similar.  The boys talk about ‘the half hour’, which we know as ‘the half’ and societies such as the Abingdon Society. Trips to Bristol Zoo, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bath and other local areas are fondly remembered and sport was clearly as important then as it is today.

To have a snippet into the life of two OGs from over 100 years ago is both fascinating and a privilege.