Horn rings the changes

5th November 2004 at 00:00
A village school somewhere in the Yorkshire countryside has, maybe on the wall or forgotten in a store room, an Alp horn - one of those huge booming jobs with the distant end resting on the ground.

How do I know this? In Stephen Winkworth's Amazing Times, a collection of articles from The Times, one from 1955 mentions that a West Riding head jokingly asked County Hall for an Alp horn. He wanted it to call pupils from outlying smaller schools who came to him for some lessons.

County Hall, (frustratingly they wouldn't say which school it was) entered into the spirit of the thing. Disapproving of the costs - pound;30 was mentioned, plus a velvet jacket for the blower, and travelling expenses for a tuner from Interlaken - they replied with a letter which suggested using an alternative signalling device "such as a set of tom-tom drums".

It is a lovely example of the banter that once went on between heads and local authority officers. I guess things are a little more pressured and boring these days. Or are they? Let me know.

And the Alp horn? I nearly forgot. The Times story adds that a month after the original correspondence "an Alp horn arrived as a gift from a Times reader in Switzerland".

So where is it now? I've tried on and off for a long time to find out. I even asked Gervase Phinn, who used to patrol that neck of the educational woods (or moors) as an inspector but he knows nothing of it. So who does?

Amazing Times, Unwin 1982 Write to primary@tes.co.uk

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