Cross Country or Down Stream?


Lloyd Cross Country Team 1955  Back L to R: Ian Bailey, Tim Hughes, Colin  Stuart.  Sitting L to R: Peter Black, Brian Black, Michael Nelson. Sitting on the ground: Peter Johnson.

Cross Country or Down Stream? 

Plumtree School held assembly at Beit Hall six days a week. The school plays were held there too. It also doubled as the town’s bioscope (cinema).  Most importantly once a year girls from Evelyn and  Townsend Girls High Schools in Bulawayo, sixty miles away, were bussed to Plumtree for a school dance. Thanks to Mrs Hessom’s instruction  on the Connemara Mine Tim Hughes was able to join in and practice his steps. Unfortunately he didn’t have an ear for music so his steps were not in time, much to the discomfort of the girls.  Tim was much more adept at cross country running.

Cross Country or Down Stream?

The course was about three and a half miles in distance, out through the school gates near the church, across the railway line that led to Bulawayo.   There were a number of manned check points to ensure that the runners kept to the proper course.  The finish line was back through the school gates with a big reception by the teachers and non-competitors cheering for their particular boarding house.

The runners wore all white singlets, running shorts and “tackies” (tennis shoes). Training for the cross country race had to be done by all the boys through the veld into the district around the school on certain afternoons for a couple of months before the big race. Senior boys led the training and decided where to run each time.

On one of the training runs a local dam was flooding over the spillway. Hot and sweaty, the lads jumped into the raging water to have a swim.  A few were swept downstream. Tim saved himself. He and the others ran downstream as fast as they could. John Honman was swept the furthest but finally managed to cling to a thorn tree.  A human chain of runners saved him. Nobody died so Lloyd house master probably never heard about it.

Many thanks to Tim Hughes of Queensland, Australia for the picture and the excerpts from his unpublished manuscript Matambega and Son written in the 1980’s.