Building for the Future

In 1955 Abbot Alphege resigned to be succeeded by Dom Maurice Martin as Abbot. Abbot Martin appointed Dom Brendan Minney, formerly a member of the Alumnate and a founder member of the lay school, as Headmaster. Unused as he was to schoolmastering, having spent most of his priestly life on the parishes, Fr. Brendan brought during his six years of office a renewed stability and sense of progress to the school. His period of office saw the erection in 1957 of the much needed wooden classrooms, followed in 1960 by the most costly and ambitious building project up to this time, the permanent general classroom block with gymnasium and stage, later to be known as the "Martin Building" after Abbot Martin.

Dormitory and House accommodation still left much to be desired, especially in Kemble, which was divided into three geographical sections. Junior boys of the time will recall living in 'Junior House' or 'Woodview Cottages' on the Abergavenny Road. Sixth formers may, however, look back with thanks to Fr. Brendan for his establishment of a thriving Sixth form common-room with a billiard table, his recognition of Sixth form values.
With the opening of the Martin Building in September 1960, Fr. Brendan also saw the foundation of the new, third House, Vaughan, called after Archbishop Bede Vaughan of Sydney, a former Cathedral Prior of Belmont. Though the House had no proper geographical location, being scattered strangely between Junior House and the Martin Building, nevertheless, under its young Housemaster, Dom Roger Hosker, it quickly grew into a real entity with spirit and drive like the other two Houses.

In 1961, Fr. Brendan, desiring to return to his former pastoral work, resigned and Fr. Roger was appointed in his place. He attacked the job with great vigour, reviewing every aspect of the school structure. For the first time 'streaming' was introduced to classes; the rules were carefully 'combed' and tighter discipline introduced and games, especially rugby and athletics, took on a renewed dynamism. Gradually the overall numbers of both boys and staff increased with a view to establishing a highly-qualified, close-knit "small" school based on an optimum socio-economic figure of two hundred and fifty.

The first money-raising campaign was launched in 1963 with the hope of raising £250,000 to cover a total building and improvements plan for the monastery, the school and Alderwasley. Although this figure was never actually reached through the campaign, enough money was raised to plan and build the two fine House accommodation blocks. Whereas most public schools have to make do with converted old, quasi-monastic buildings, now Belmont had "the finest accommodation of any boarding school in the country", as described by the great Headmaster of Downside, Dom Wilfrid Passmore, who opened the second building.