Monday, 22 March 2010

Price, Rosen and Ash at Walworth/Mina Road


These turned up in a collection of Paddy Price’s photos donated to us (research project on Walworth English) by his daughter. We’re not sure what the production was but Pat Kingwell’s notes record that Walworth School Weekly Staff Bulletin Number 12 for week ending 13th December 1957 records that G. Martens and A.O. Bey's "The Hopeful Travellers" was put on for four nights, with Mr Gus Grealey the main organiser. Here’s Paddy painting the set for it -- and what painting, and what a talented man!  

There are various items on Harold Rosen (on the stage, facing the camera, Walworth 1956-58) elsewhere in this blog -- search in the ‘Labels’ for Rosen. Anyone with any more memories of him, please email me at I'll post them here if that you agree.

Or any memories of Gus Grealy, who also taught English.

Mr Ash, the other man in the picture, was Wilf Ash who taught Technical Drawing and in my day had some sort of senior status, having been at the school since it opened as an experimental comprehensive in 1946 and indeed before the war (in Walworth Boys’ Central School as half of it then was). He had certain definite functions in the school like (reluctantly) giving out exercise books and marshalling pupils along the road for dinner in the Bagshot Street canteen.

Not being an English teacher he’s outside our study but I still want to write about some of his stories -- in a separate posting. For now, I remember him as a diminutive sergeant-major type who stood for old-fashioned elementary school teaching when teachers ruled with a stick and maintained absolute silence. He seemed to me, as a young idealistic teacher, an obstacle to progress -- and there were still a lot of his type around. I may well have been misjudging him.

I remember the first staff meeting when a new head, Peter Brown, took over from Guy Rogers, some time in the mid-1960s. Brown opened with a lengthy statement of his high-minded principles and aspirations for the school. I can’t remember what they were exactly but imagine they referred to the changing status of youth, the need to modernise the curriculum, the desirability of students exercising choice, the value of self-directed learning and the need to go beyond talk and chalk and the far-reaching reconstruction of British society and economy. We’re here not just to run a school but to bring about Education -- and should think about what that meant, taking nothing for granted -- that sort of thing.

-        Any questions or comments?

You bet.

-         Mr Ash?

Breaths were bated. Had this old stickler been seduced by Mr Brown’s progressive ideas? was he about to move us from high principle into the excitement of a new curriculum? to introduce group work in technical drawing?

-        Headmaster, do you want to keep the same arrangements for the chalk?

This reflected either a highly skillful subversive strategy or sheer obtuseness. Poor Mr Brown must have wondered what he was up against.

Fortunately the staff in general gave him more of of a chance -- for a while.

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