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Royal Commonwealth Society : Public Schools Empire Tour to New Zealand. 1929


Royal Commonwealth Society

<p style='text-align: justify;'>A collection of photographs by an unknown tour member consisting of black and white lantern slides most measuring approximately 75 x 55 mm. Most of the slides have been captioned: the titles of those without captions are enclosed in square brackets.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The Public Schools Empire Tours came into being through the Church of England Council of Empire Settlement's decision in 1925 to send a party of schoolboys to Australia after the visit to England of a party from the Young Australia League. The first tour of 40 boys (although it had originally been hoped to send 200) provided the impetus to arrange tours to different parts of the Empire on a regular basis. The ideal behind the trips was the worthy ambition to promote interest in, and knowledge of, the various countries of the Empire: participants were encouraged to learn about the history and geography of the places visited through lecture, reading, and prizes for essays and photographs. As Monty Rendall, one of the most tireless workers on the tours' behalf, put it:</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>'What can we do to strengthen and perpetuate these bonds?...Well, in the first place, the knowledge of the Empire in our schools is progressing at an incredible pace. History and geography, which took little notice even of the nineteenth century, have moved into the twentieth ... but no amount of books or lectures will have half the effect of a voyage across the water. For the young, certainly, seeing is believing. Personal contact is worth a ton of text-books' (Rendall 1928).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> In the years of its existence the PSET's Committee sent parties to most of the larger Empire territories: Canada, Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and India being the most frequently visited. Much of the organizational work was taken on by Margaret Best, who became honorary secretary to the first experimental tour in 1925 and continued working for the scheme until its demise during World War II. For her services she was awarded the OBE in 1929 and the CBE in 1938.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The 1929 tour, with which these slides are concerned, lasted from 4 January - 18 May 1929. It consisted of a party of 45 youths from various public schools in the charge of J.R. Darling, Assistant Master of Charterhouse. The boys travelled to New Zealand via the Panama Canal and the Pitcairn Islands (the collection contains a few slides of both these places), arriving at Auckland on 11 February. A month and a half was spent in various parts of New Zealand before leaving for home on 28 March. The return journey, via Suez, was broken for a brief stay in Sydney.</p>

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