House System

MountaineerThroughout history mountaineers have pushed themselves to the very limits of the physical, emotional and intellectual to achieve ever higher and more difficult conquests. As such, they have to demonstrate skills such as great endurance, effective teamwork and courage to achieve their goals.

This is very similar to what we expect of students at Ixworth Free School through our ethos of the ‘6Cs to Success’. Like mountaineers, we encourage students to push the boundaries of their abilities to ensure they redefine what they thought was ‘possible’ so that they do not settle for less than they are capable.

In this way, through conquering difficult journeys and experiencing different pathways whilst with us, our students achieve the rewards of their labour and gain a sense of overarching pride in all that they do through our celebration of their success.

It is for this reason the house system at Ixworth Free School commemorates four British mountaineers:

James David FORBES (1809 – 68)
Martin CONWAY (1856 – 1937)
George MALLORY (1886 – 1924)
John TYNDALL (1820 – 1893)

A brief outline of each is given below:

James_David_ForbesJames David FORBES (1809 – 68)
A gifted scientist and a capable high-altitude explorer, James David Forbes was one of the first Britains to be considered a true Alpine mountaineer. Drawn to the Alps in scientific discovery, Forbes found a landscape of beauty and inspiration that satisfied both his thirst for mountain exploration and his urge to push back the boundaries of understanding.

Born into a noble Scottish family in Edinburgh, although his father favoured a career in law for his son, Forbe’s true calling began to emerge when he was 17. In 1826, during a tour of Europe with his family, he showed a particular interest in Italy’s Mount Vesuvius. Not content just to admire the smouldering volcano from afar, Forbes conducted detailed investigations into the geological nature of the area. After attending Edinburgh University and furthering his scientific career in Cambridge and London, he became professor of natural sciences at Edinburgh University, an appointment that led him to undertake scientific research across Western Europe.

Throughout his life Forbes undertook several notable climbs and published more than 100 scientific papers on glaciers and geology. He also produced an important study on the boiling point of water at different altitudes and wrote several books about his travels into the Alps.

by Alexander Bassano, dry-plate glass negative, 1895Martin CONWAY (1856 – 1937)
At the end of the 19th century, as the pattern for modern alpinism was being laid down, those whose passion was mountain exploration moved away from the Alps to the Greater Ranges. Martin Conway was at the forefront of this shift, organising the first climbing expedition to Asia’s Karakorum Range in 1892. He reached a world altitude record there of 6,800m (22,300ft), having climbed to a subsidiary summit of Baltoro Kangri. In 1881, he published The Zermatt Pocket Book, the first climbers’ guide in any language.

Conway was educated at Cambridge University, where he read mathematics and developed an interest in woodcuts – the start of his career in art history. By the mid 1890s, Conway was an established art critic and a brilliant networker ambitious to enter politics. He succeeded in his quest, ultimately entering the House of Lords.

George_Mallory_1915George MALLORY (1886 – 1924)
George Mallory was a popular individual, a man who articulated better than anyone the romance of climbing Everest. His quiet charisma and athletic ability combined to make him the ultimate mountaineer – someone who is forever climbing towards the next summit.

Born in Cheshire, in northwest England, Mallory’s father was the local rector, and as a boy, George’s first climbing ground was the roof of his father’s church! At 13, he won a mathematics scholarship to Winchester College, a top public school, where he also excelled as a gymnast. In his final year there he was introduced to climbing by a master, R L G Irving, a member of the Alphine Club.

Mallory went to Cambridge University to study History. His natural grace and charm brought him into the university’s inner circles, and he formed close relationships with some of the most celebrated literary and artistic figures of the day. He also became quite a radical figure, interested in socialism and supporting women’s suffrage.

In 1921 Mallory was part of a successful reconnaissance expedition to Everest, as little had been known regarding the northern approaches. In 1924 Mallory returned to Everest as part of a much stronger mountaineering expedition using experimental oxygen equipment developed by Australian George Finch. It was clear that bottled oxygen could make all the difference to future expeditions. In 1924, Mallory joined an Everest expedition again however it was to be his last as Mallory and Irvine never returned.

JohnTyndall(1820-1893)John TYNDALL (1820 – 1893)
One of the outstanding scientists of the Victorian era, John Tyndall is remembered today for proving that the Earth’s atmosphere has a greenhouse effect.

Tyndall excelled in algebra, trigonometry, and geometry, but was prevented from going to university due to insufficient funds. Instead he joined the Ordnance Survey of Ireland as a draughtsman. In 1842, he was transferred to Preston, in England, where he was later dismissed for protesting about poor working conditions.

After lucrative spells as a surveyor in Manchester and Halifax during the railway mania of the mid 1840s, Tyndall found himself out of work again, and took a teaching job at Queenswood College in Hampshire, which was the first school in Britain to have a chemistry laboratory. After saving sufficient funds, he went to the University of Marburg in Germany and sprinted through the degree course, earning his doctorate in record time.

It was, however, his abilities as a lecturer that drew Tyndall into the scientific establishment. His scientific career was wide-ranging and significant, mixing the theoretical with the practical. In 1857, Tyndall climbed Mont Blanc with the English mathematician Thomas Hirst. It was his first major ascent and showed his characteristic grit, mixed with a kind of fearless disregard for the dangers he faced. He would go on to make many other major climbs.