Memories of Campbell House

By Melissa Rodgers | Posted: Thursday August 1, 2019

Nevil Paterson shares some memories of his time at Otago Boys' and staying in Campbell House.

We lived in dormitories of up to 15 students and had a small locker to keep our clothes in. We also had a locker in the recreation room for our school books, we had a locker in an outside shed to keep our sports gear and our tuck boxes.

Number 8 Dorm Boys from 1956 — Nevil Paterson


Life was very regulated.  Breakfast then off to school. Back to Campbell house for lunch. Tea at 5pm (preceded by grace) . Compulsory prep period from 7 till 9 then bed.  Each Sunday before we went off to church we had dorm and locker inspection.

Prep in the recreation room (approx 1955) — Nevil Paterson

On a Friday night we were allowed to go to Joe Browns Dance Studio in town to learn to waltz, quickstep and other real dances. Had to be in by 10pm.

Campbell House Ball in the Recreation Room (1956) — Nevil Paterson

Church on Sunday was compulsory, We were given 6 pence (5 cents) for the collection plate and were allowed to go out for lunch and tea but we had to get permission each time. 

We got half a crown pocket money each Thursday - we got town leave after school on Thursday but had to be back by 5pm.  On a Saturday morning we were allowed to scar the neighborhood looking for gardening jobs to supplement our pocket money. The standard rate was half a crown an hour - 10 shillings ($1) a morning.

Showers were communal - usually 3 shower heads side by side on a concrete floor with an open drain. There was only 2 or 3 baths for a total of 80 boys. 

We all dined together and the house masters had a table at the front of the room. We had to stand when they entered.  Heating was minimal. As I recall there was a pot belly stove in the recreation room and probably a couple of heaters in each dorm.

Housemasters were able to use the cane and leave rights could be cancelled.

It was a hard life that I am sure would not be tolerated by the youth of today but we thoroughly enjoyed the life and I am sure we turned out better people and citizens because of it.

A winter view from the balcony of Upper Dorm in 1954 — Nevil Paterson