www.Poundswick .org.uk

ARGO - the school magazine

ARGO was published approximately once a year from 1957 and was an honest attempt to reflect the life of the school. It was edited by a team of volunteer pupils who also had the unenviable task of drumming up a reasonable balance of material for each issue. Looking back through old copies, the high standard of writing is very evident, as is the fervour with which inter-house and inter-school competitions were reported; the magazines exude enthusiasm and a tremendous sense of belonging to Poundswick.
The first issue of ARGO appeared in June 1957, towards the end of the school's first year. Unlike later issues, which were professionally printed, this one had a printed cover with typewritten and duplicated pages, the whole being stapled together; an "in-house" job but very effective, nevertheless. It contained house and society reports and a selection of prose, poetry and articles written by the school's very young (mostly 11-year-old) pupils.

The unattributed editorial of this first issue offers some explanation for the choice of the name ARGO. "The name should be short so that it can be boldly printed and it must have some connection with the school whose work it contains". "The Poundswickian" and "The Willow" were considered but ARGO was chosen as being appropriately nautical given the presence of a sailing ship on the school's coat-of-arms. The editorial goes on to point out that "ARGO was, of course, the name of Jason's ship, the bearer of the Golden Fleece and is now a symbol of adventurous enterprise. We hope the magazine will live up to its name". It did.

Linda Struggles (1956-63), Dennis Preston (1963-70), Dave Millett (1957-64) and Mike Russell (staff, 1960-72) had the forethought to look after some of the copies that came their way and so, thanks to them, I can show you these covers. The format of the 1957 issue was a bit smaller than A4, about 10 inches by 8, but the later, professionally printed issues shown below were roughly A5, with about 80 pages per issue.

Christmas 1958

Christmas 1960

Spring 1962

July 1963

March 1964

February 1965

March 1966

May 1967

Until 1968 the format of the magazine was fairly consistent. A short editorial was followed by Junior and Senior House reports. There was then a section on school activities which included music, drama, fundraising and reports from the various school societies such as Chess, Pottery, Puppets, Art, Photographic, Pets, Gardening, Debating, Swimming, Sixth Form Society, Student Christian Movement and in later years, the School Council.

An Out of School section followed, with details of school camps and holidays, overseas exchange schemes, canoeing trips, field study visits, the school's involvement with the Community Volunteer Service and visits to places of interest. The magazine ended with a section on School Sport which recounted the school's fortunes in battle with other Manchester schools in football, rugby, swimming, hockey, tennis, badminton and a host of other games. In a few short years Poundswick showed itself to be a force to be reckoned with; even the prestigious Manchester Grammar School was not infrequently thrashed by teams from Poundswick.

Interspersed with all this was an entertaining selection of poetry and prose on topics ranging from Concorde (which had not yet made its maiden flight) through British Justice to A treatise on the Common Banana. In order to keep the cost of the magazine down, advertisements were carried and, looked at today, these are themselves quite entertaining. Local cycle shops sold Meccano sets and the major banks advertised heavily for new recruits as did the Royal Navy and the R.A.F.

Horne Brothers gents outfitters placed a regular ad which always included some sort of brain teaser. In one edition a paragraph of Latin was offered for translation, with the solution printed upside-down below it. I'm still struggling with it forty years on, but Latin never was my subject, as Don Sparks would be quick to tell you. This one offers some paragraphs for punctuation. Any offers?
The first edition of ARGO to appear after the change from Grammar to High School was published in November 1968 and it was of a rather different style from previous issues. Firstly, it was bigger and almost square in shape with the covers slightly larger than the pages inside. In his editorial, Mr. F. M. Welsh declared that "the new Argo attempts to escape from the old style of lists and tedium . . . . we are thus freed from a boring mass of duty reports on House and Club activities". Hmm. It was my observation that people enjoyed the House and Club activities so what was wrong with writing about them? Inside, the magazine was divided into three sections: In School and Out, Stories, poems and pictures and Sport 67-68. It is still a lovely magazine with interesting articles of a high standard but the lack of House allegiance and its associated competitive bite is very evident.

The November 1968 edition of ARGO and its front page

Of particular interest in this issue was an unattributed article about the "Poundswick Hovercraft". In 1967 a new school society called the Technical Activities Group had been set up under the guidance of Mr. K. Moorby (Metalwork) and Mr. M. F. Russell (Physics) to cater for pupils who wanted to learn more about how the knowledge of the scientist is combined with the applications of the technologist.
The group's first (very ambitious) project was to build a two-seat hovercraft which was entered into a national competition sponsored by the Daily Express and B.P. It was 18 feet long, weighed over 1000lb and was powered by three 197cc Villiers two-stroke engines. It was all home-built, including the propellers which were hand-carved by a particularly talented pupil.
The ARGO article describes the hovercraft's successful test runs across the school playing field and the photograph above shows it in action in the national competition. With uncharacteristic modesty, ARGO fails to tell us how it was placed but Dave Lane (1966-71) recalls that it won the competition by a huge margin and was then promptly disqualified on a minor technicality; it was a few inches too long! However, the competition organisers were so impressed with its performance that they made a special award to the Poundswick team in recognition of their remarkable achievement.

Click Here for a technical description of the Hovercraft.

ARGO was always a difficult magazine to produce. It was usually late off the press and the printer was changed several times during its life, which probably reflects a general level of dissatisfaction with the service they provided. Typographical errors were not uncommon, particularly in more technical articles, and paper and print quality were variable. The technology of magazine production was, of course, much more tedious and labour-intensive than in these days of direct keyboard input. It is not surprising therefore that in 1967 it was decided to partially replace, or at least to supplement, ARGO with a simple, in-house, duplicated magazine called Impact. Does anyone know how long Impact survived? Does anyone have any copies of it?

So how many issues of ARGO were actually published? Tony Miles, in his editorial of February 1965, gives us a clue: this issue was the ninth. Together with issues in 1966, 67 and 68 this makes the total figure at least 12 and we are short of covers for the issues which must have appeared in 1959 and 1961. If you have either of these, please get in touch!


Summer 1961

Well, eventually someone did get in touch! Robert Senior (1956-63) e-mailed in January 2006 to say yes! yes! I've got one! So, thanks to him, here's the cover of the Summer 1961 issue. Robert tells us that the editorial proclaimed that this was the first occasion on which two issues of ARGO had appeared in the same school year; namely Christmas 1960 and Summer 1961 and that it was hoped that this would become the norm.  This 'norm' was also achieved in 1963 when editions appeared in February (see below) and July, but never afterwards - unless you can tell us otherwise!

Now we're short only of the 1959 issue. I bet someone's got one!


February 1963
Now here's a very interesting and unexpected piece of the jigsaw puzzle! It was sent in by Valerie Cowan (1959-1965) in March 2013, and it shows an edition of ARGO published in February 1963.  And to prove it, Valerie has included the title page with the date!
So if Tony Miles was correct when he declared that the February 1965 edition was the ninth, we have now accounted for them all, and the elusive 1959 edition never existed!

So what happened after 1968? John Tomlinson (1976-83) tells us that ARGO resurfaced in the mid-seventies as a duplicated-in-house effort and in 1981 and 1982 two editions of a magazine called simply Poundswick were published. If you have any more information about these, or have any other copies of ARGO, Impact, or Poundswick, please get in touch.

There's not space to include much of ARGO's content on this site so I thought I would include a link to just one article, which I will change from time to time (although so far, not very often!)