There are 2 aspects to property restoration which are particularly satisfying. The first, of course, is the process of restoration itself – changing an un-loved old building into one of high quality once more. The second aspect is human.
Of the visitors to Westcliff who have expressed interest (and delight!) in our restoration project we have been privileged to meet a number of folk who have a soft spot for the place. Of course, we have been privileged to meet with many members of the Westcliff Old Girls Association. Their stories and recollections have amused and enlightened our contractors.
We have also been privileged to meet many of the students who attended Weston College have gone off to forge careers in art and design.
Occasionally we have been graced with inspections from people who actually lived at Westcliff – one who was even born at High Cleve!
Others have a special connection with the place – former policemen, couples who courted in Prince Consort Gardens, local hoteliers who remember the “Booze Cruise” ferries from Cardiff in the days when Welsh pubs were shut on Sundays and the Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers playing at the Royal Pier Hotel in July ’63.
One old girl with whom we have been in contact for longer than most, has been particularly helpful to us. Her photographs of the school, her friends and herself are evocative of a time of learning and fun at Westcliff. Her latest news is that her uncle, Squadron Leader John Rowland, has written a book which will be published in March through Pen and Sword Books. The book is entitled “Return Flights in War and Peace” and promises to be a fascinating read!