School Trips – The EGS Konigswinter Incident

Event date: Late 1950s

Location: Konigswinter, Rhineland

An EGS Magazine of the time carried this reminiscence from Neville Hortop of a school trip – he was co-leader on several to Europe with George Dixon and Bob Wisden – on this occasion to Germany.

The EGS party was installed in a hotel halfway up the Drachenfels and well above the town of Konigswinter, too far for anyone to go down to the town after dinner following the exertions of the day. After three days, an abusive letter was delivered to George in the morning from the Headmistress of a certain Girls Grammar School. This stated that her girls were in a hotel in Konigswinter and that she was disgusted and ashamed of the behaviour of the EGS pupils, such that she almost felt sorry to be English. She proceeded to state that she would be sending a letter to our Education Authority recounting the (alleged) misdeeds and would be forcibly demanding that those in charge should never be allowed to escort school holidays again. She apparently put her charges to bed by 9:30pm and “our pupils” had congregated on the road below their bedrooms catcalling, exchanging repartee with the girls and abusing her staff when they attempted to move the boys on.

Leaving Bob Wisden in charge of the EGS party, George and Neville hastened to the girls’ hotel. Neville admired immensely the icy calm and control that George was keeping in the face of this unprovoked and abusive tirade. However, the girls’ party had already departed for a day trip to Rudesheim; a note was left saying that George and Neville would return after dinner at 8pm.

Neville then took George for coffee and a group of English boys aged 14 – 16 appeared in the cafe with a young teacher in charge; George invited them to join the table. Asked where they were staying, the teacher replied that they were based at the next village just along the Rhine. Then, out of the blue, he added: “We come here in the evenings and have a great time chatting up the girls in a hotel up the road from underneath their bedrooms. The battleaxe in charge has them in bed by 9:30; she doesn’t half get mad with us but we give her as good as she gives us!” All this from the teacher in charge, who had given George all the ammunition he required.

Neville recalled the encounter that evening as follows: “George and I entered the dining room of the girls’ hotel at 8pm; the atmosphere was frigid. George was at his best: quietly and calmly he reiterated the incident in the cafe; he further explained the position of the EGS group’s hotel and the tender ages of the boys (11-13). He assured the Headmistress that he fully understood her resentment at the treatment her charges were receiving. However, she had assumed that we were the guilty party without being certain of the true facts and he and his colleagues had been grossly maligned and threatened; nonetheless, he would put it all behind him if she would simply ask for her letter to be returned to her.

Astonishingly – or perhaps not so given the circumstances – she remained silent; not a word had been spoken other than by George. To his eternal credit George simply beckoned me to stand, gave the girls’ school staff a withering look, threw the letter on the table in front of the Headmistress and walked out, head held high. Masterly I thought. Good old George.”