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Trip to Champex Lac in Switzerland

Here is the group outside the hotel in Champex. Please email if you can put a name to any faces. Thanks again to Terry Stokes for this picture.

Mr. S. Ransome tells us "The seated group are The owner, Mrs Miles (wife of Leonard 'Smiler' Miles who taught maths until the end of the 1961/62 year), the owners wife and Mrs Joan Ransome. At the very back far left, I believe, is Graham Silcock, Chemistry teacher. Other members of staff on that trip were Colin Smith (English) and Mr Rogers (Metalwork- I think). "

Peter Hunt says: "I am on the far left, behind/to left of the chair of the Hotel owner; looking to left, with three buttons fastened on my coat!!  I recall being asked by Mrs Ransome to help her young son (he was 9 years old and therefore not at the School). I think I was thought of as a reliable swot!!! "

Stella Mc Dowall says: "Starting from the right, where I know a few names: one unknown, then Robert Keal with head slightly turned to say something to Pat Griffin (in dark coat); next to her is Elaine Tarrant (with eyes closed) and between and behind Pat and Elaine is Keith Baldwin, in profile.  To the left of Elaine are three boys I remember but can't put a name to, then John Hunt (light jacket and no hat).  John is behind Mrs. Ransome and the hotel owner's wife. Graham Silcock (chemistry teacher) is correctly identified at back left (I know this because he later became my brother-in-law).  And the little boy hiding down behind Mrs. Miles could be Bruce Coombes, perhaps."

"We were all in the first form at the time and it was a great adventure to be off all together to a foreign country.  One incident I remember was when 
one of the teachers (no names ...) was waiting at the bottom of a chair lift to make sure that we all got on safely and once we were all at the top we
waited for ever until he made it up himself, probably having missed several chairs."

The staff on the trip: L to R Colin Smith (English), Graham Silcox (Chemistry), Mr Treble, Wyn Miles (wife of Leonard Miles - Maths), Joan Ransome and Roland Ransome (both Geography).

Photo courtesy of Stephen Ransome


Stephen Ransome says: "The group from CNS pose with the local lifesaver (note no barrel) at Martigny Station, a mainline station in the Rhone Valley. We had to change trains for Orsieres, a 20/25 minute rail journey. (Orsieres is on the way to the St Bernard Pass, hence the dog). From Orsieres we had to catch the PostBus to Champex Lac. This trip was repeated every time the party ventured out on trips away from Champex, even when it snowed.

I am on the extreme left ( in CN St Mary's CoE uniform and shorts!) and Colin Smith (Staff) is 4th from the left. "

Photo courtesy of Stephen Ransome


The group arrives back home at Chipping Norton Station. It was thought this picture showed the departure of the group but the platform pictured - across the footbridge - was only used for trains arriving from Kingham. More definitely, Mr S. Ransome (seen in the top picture aged nearly 10) tells us that "the lad with the sombrero did not have it on the journey out!". Two railway staff can be seen by the doors, normally they would only have one or two passengers to deal with. Mr Treble is in the foreground, with cap and glasses.

Photo courtesy of Terry Stokes

Chipping Norton Station, Switzerland trip 1960

Chipping Norton photographer Mr Packer stops the group on the footbridge for a photograph, doubtless to the annoyance of those further back! The steam loco has uncoupled and run round its two-coach train while Mr Packer set up his camera; in a minute it will propel the coaches (Great Western built, now in BR livery) into the tunnel and then haul them back ready to depart from the Up platform.

The outward journey was on the 20th April 1960 and about eighty second and third formers, plus six teachers took part. Judith Dix once named everyone on this picture for me but stupidly I didn't write it down. Can you help? please give a brief description of the person and where they are standing if you can name anyone. Email me at if you can supply any information about this picture.

Identified so far - Mr Ransome the Geography teacher is standing diagonally below the gas lamp wearing a long scarf. In front of him is Mr Treble. Left of Mr Ransome is Mrs Ransome. The girls at the bottom of the steps are (left) Valerie Seymore from Enstone and (right ) Lynsay Thompson from Over Norton. The man to the right of lady in white coat is Norman Stokes. Next to Norman Stokes wearing a cap is his son Terry Stokes. The boy standing above Lindsay Thompson is Philip Tustain, next but one above him in the school cap is Patrick (Paddy) Huckin.

Elizabeth Cope (formerly Elizabeth Ransome) writes:

My parents were Joan and Roland Ransome both geography teachers at the school and my father took several trips to Switzerland in the 60s.  I think this one was to a lovely village called Champex Lac.  My parents are standing on the bridge stairs at the top.  I am behind my mother's head but I think I was only 11 at the time and was strictly not part of the trip. My brother who must have been 9 stands in front of my mother.  I can also recognise my Grandpa who must have come to meet us.  These trips were very popular and people saved up for ages to go.  We went from Chippy station in the train and then changed trains at Kingham and I presume went to Dover. We then went overnight through France again by train.  It was very exciting.  I am surprised that my father didn't have a nervous breakdown but he enjoyed them. He gave talks about the holiday afterwards to the parents with coloured slides!"

Terry Stokes tells us: "The Girl standing below Mrs Ransomes son is Dianne Roughton from Over Norton. The lad right at the front with the zip fronted coat looks like Algy Anderson from Stonesfield but not too sure about him. "


The article below appeared in the 1960 issue of "The Nortonian" and is credited at the beginning to "members of the second and third forms" and at the end to fourth-former Keith Baldwin. Did the group really travel all the way to the channel port by special train? Perhaps it's more likely the only special was between Chipping Norton and Kingham. Please email if you know. Reading between the lines of this article, it seems there was indulgence in alcohol and cigarettes in the evening and subsequent smuggling of the same items through customs!

by members of second and third forms.

On Wednesday, 20th April 1960, about eighty second and third formers and six teachers set off from Chipping Norton by special train for Champex, Switzerland. We crossed the Channel in the evening. Fortunately the sea was not rough, and nobody was sick. In France we passed straight through the customs and boarded the night train.

Late in the evening we set off across France. Nobody slept much that night, with the result that everybody felt tired in the morning. We had breakfast early in the morning at Basle, and continued the journey to Champex. We had to finish the journey to Champex by coach, on a narrow road which wound tortuously up the mountainside.

On Thursday afternoon we settled ourselves in and then wandered round Champex, which is on the shore of a lake. As it was still fairly early in the year we did not see many wild animals. Almost as soon as we arrived we were given some money, and immediately the shops began to open. Whenever we were given our money the shops opened; this was the only time we could depend on their opening. We often went out in the boats which were for hire on the lake. The weather was very good while we were there, although there was still some snow about, as there had been a fairly heavy fall of snow ten days before we arrived. It snowed again one night during our stay. It was often quite cold, especially in the shade, and it froze every night, as one boy dis­covered to his cost when he left out his wet shoes overnight. We sometimes found mildew on our shoes in the morning, as there was no heating. When we had time to spare, or in the evenings, we played cards, or patronised the Alpine Club and left the Staff to their teahouse. Wine and cigarettes were very cheap out there.

Friday afternoon we walked to the Alpine gardens, but when we arrived there we found that they were closed. Saturday morning we went on the chair lift to the top of La Breya (7,339 ft.: Champex is 5,000 ft.). They were single chairs and we had to get on and off while they were in motion. On Saturday afternoon we walked, staggered, crawled, to the top of a mountain behind the hotel. We sat down at the top to recuperate and admire the view. Then we slid to the bottom again.

Early on Sunday afternoon we set off on a long, long walk to the Gorges of Dumand. It was all downhill going, which wasn't so bad. After a time we became separated into groups, and certain members of the party were lost. Only a few of us arrived at the Gorges, and when we did we found they were closed, because the path was unsafe. We began to wonder if everything in Switzerland was closed. We managed to get back safely—just. When we did arrive at Champex we fell on to our beds, very footsore and weary.

On Monday we walked round Champex Lake. On Tuesday we went to Chamonix in France. We wandered round Chamonix and bought souvenirs. Then we went to meet the others. Certain of the 'young ladies' were somewhat alarmed by the appearance of an inebriated gentleman, who proceeded to entertain us with a variety of songs and dances. A certain member of the Staff gallantly stepped forward to reason with him, and was promptly greeted as a long lost son. At that moment a van drew up and the man was persuaded to depart.

The journey back was mainly uneventful, although some of us experienced some discomfort on account of the fumes issuing from a faulty heater. The journey back across the Channel was somewhat rougher than that going, and several people were sick. When we reached England we calmly faced the customs officials while answering "no" to their questions. Luckily they did not search us, and we arrived home safely with all our booty.

Keith Baldwin IVA.