Bishop’s College Library
Mr Alleyne was very keen to introduce a library into Bishop’s College. The problem was the College had no money to put in the necessary fittings or buy books. My first recorded discussions took place on Sept. 26th with Mr Alleyne when we ‘drew up rough plans for its development’. I made a note in my diary at the time expressing concerns about when, or if, we’d ever be in a position to get it organised.
We began enthusiastically. George and Cathy contacted people in the States and I wrote to the Rev. Mears in my parish church in Cumbria. Some weeks went by but we eventually got some results. Cathy and George rustled up support from USAID and the parishioners of Silloth in Cumbria, eventually, collected enough books to fill two tea chests and had them shipped over, but it would take some time for them to arrive.
The books that were already available needed to be checked and classified. The job was keenly taken on by some of the girls in 5A. They made a note of each title, author, publisher, date published and the number of copies. Each one was then given a reference number. All the information had to be put on to reference cards. This proved more difficult than we thought: a) because we couldn’t get the materials and b) because the typewriter I’d had shipped out from England arrived in ‘a shocking condition. It had really been battered around en-route and had been torn from the base rivets’.
The project stalled for lack of funds for library furniture. However, by January Mr Alleyne had persuaded the Governing Body to let him have some petty cash (that was a drama in its own right) and he allocated $25.00 EC to the project. The Catholic fathers kindly donated some ‘discarded table tops’ and George and I had the bright idea of using the old lids off the Nutmeg bins for shelves. Made of very old, seasoned Pitch Pine, they were ideal but hell to saw.
The $25.00 was spent on nails, staples and a length of cow chain. Our plan was to cut the chain into short lengths and use the sections to support the shelves. The plan worked well and we stayed within budget.
George and I spent a good four days sawing, hammering and nailing until finally, on January 28th we were all but done. It took another month before we were able to afford the paint for the shelves and study desks.
Now all we had to do was wait for the overseas book shipments to arrive.
I’m not sure when the books arrived from the USA but I do recall Cathy and George had acquired a considerable number. The consignment from England took ages to arrive. It wasn’t until early April that I sailed to Grenada to look for them.
‘I spent the day on the quayside by the Geestbay Industries searching for the shipment…. I eventually found them and had them put on board the Perseverence ‘B’.’
I seem to remember Paddy’s brother in law, Goldwyn, had agreed to make a short detour on his way up to PM and drop them off at Hillsborough Jetty.
So finally, by April we had the library open and functioning.
The library proved to be very popular but we were concerned that a number of books were going missing. One evening, after their customary walk beyond the town, stopping in on different homes, Goot and Marion returned almost aching with laughter. Seemingly, wherever they went small numbers of books were being openly, and proudly, displayed in different homes. Far from being annoyed, Goot thought it a really encouraging sign that people were taking book ‘ownership’ so seriously.