History – Chapter 4

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CHAPTER 4

H. D. ANTHONY 1933 – (1939)

Appointed to succeed McLeish, H D Anthony, MA, BSc, PhD, was in name Headmaster until 1947 but his effective headship ended in September 1939. He had a brilliant academic background and was now forty years old. Like McLeish, but his junior by two years, he had been a boy at Upper Latymer School. His first degree he took at Queen’s College, Cambridge and he held a commission in the army from 1915 to 1919. From 1929 until it closed in 1932 he had been headmaster of Elmfield School, York. He was a bachelor.

Anthony more than once paid tribute to the school as he found it. “I refer to the spirit of the school. No one would deny its reality, although it could not be weighed or measured. It pervaded every activity of school life – the House, the classroom, the playing field, the numerous school societies, the Old Boys’ Association. Though all these shared in it, the spirit of the school was greater than their sum, for it welded them into a living unified whole – KGS – of which boys and staff were proud to be members.”  He built with success on that spirit.

In the 1939 public examinations 63 candidates all obtained the general school certificate, 46 of them with matriculation exemption. 8 candidates secured higher school certificates with intermediate exemptions for arts, science, commerce, engineering or first MB. A State scholarship was gained. During the years 1933 to 1939, 14 boys secured between them 13 university open scholarships or exhibitions and 4 State scholarships. Three of these awards were to Faraday House Electrical Engineering College and it is no surprise that the principal of that institution was guest of honour at speech day in 1938. Also among these awards was D J Krivine’s open scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford, the school’s first “Oxbridge” award since 1922. For most pupils the normal leaving age was sixteen and general schools matric, still the accepted aim. The number of boys on a two year Sixth form course rarely exceeded twenty, although the Michaelmas term usually saw a number of short stayers or “Commercials”.

In 1937 the school acquired a purpose built art and craft block to replace the very unsatisfactory classroom or even cloakroom accommodation which had hitherto served. This provision enabled more space to be given to the library. On the sporting side “Sam” Burton continued to have charge of cricket with assistance from Whiteley. In 1933 they instituted “Cricket Week” – a whole week of one day matches against visiting school teams. Burton retired from the task, after seventeen years, in 1934. Whiteley replaced him and cricket week continued until 1939. Powerful athletics teams were developed by Rhodes, the Seniors coming within two points of securing the Bowles Cup in the Middlesex Secondary schools Athletic Sports in both 1937 and 1938. In 1936 field events – javelin, discus and shot – were introduced and in 1938 pole vault facilities were provided on the school field. All house activities continued, including boxing, for which a shield was given, named by the donor’s request, “The McLeish Shield”. In 1938 the school took part in the London Secondary Schools Boxing Championships. 1934 was a very good year for football, of which W. Davies had for long taken charge. The first eleven equalled a twenty year old record of fourteen games won and only one lost. Swimming was a widely practised activity but the school standard was a disappointment, especially to Peter who was a prime mover of the Middlesex Secondary Schools Swimming Association and its secretary from 1929 onwards. Dr Anthony was himself a keen swimmer and saw the need for better provision for the activity. As a result in 1934 the Fives courts fund, which had not aroused much enthusiasm, became the swimming bath fund. House whist drives, concerts, cruise lectures, play profits, local operatic society performances and in 1936 another bazaar, which owed much to the drive of the Head Boy, Alan Lewis, all raised money. By the outbreak of war a planning stage had been reached, but nothing more.

Among clubs and societies which appeared or reappeared in this era was a formidable Hobbies club with sections for stamps, Meccano, model aircraft and Homby railway. There were photographic and “cine” societies and in 1938, after two years in abeyance the French society re-emerged as “La Société Française,” reporting its activities in French.

At the end of the 1937 school year C H Hughes retired. We have already noted his immense services to the school. He left to take charge of a parish in rural Norfolk. His successor as music specialist, J N Hancock, maintained all the now long established traditions until the coming of the war changed everything.

Orchestra 1937

Orchestra 1937

Hughes’ religious instruction work was taken over by D W J Woodman, who had already for a year been Gould’s assistant in the classics department. Woodman had been Head Boy and captain of Ratcliff, noted for his inexhaustible enthusiasm. He proved to be a major asset to the school in his new role. He founded a junior dramatic society which from 1937 to 1939 staged an annual evening of one-act plays. The 1933 school play, “The Merchant of Venice” was produced in eighteenth century costume by Whitmore, a step considered at the time to be highly revolutionary for KGS. It was his only play, but as art master he had a close association with literally dozens of others.

The “Camp” had now become the “Cruise” lecture. A G (inevitably “Gracie”) Field took a leading part in the organisation which hired the troopship “Neuralia” and later the new “Dilwara”, each summer for cruises to the Baltic and Scandinavia from 1932 to 1938, with one excursion south to Lisbon, Casablanca and Madeira in 1936. In 1938 there was also a school party to Switzerland. Anthony went on both trips and gave both lectures!

The effective public report on the school’s progress continued to be speech day. Anthony secured the Charter Mayor of Willesden, the Astronomer-Royal, the Bishop of London, the Principal of Faraday House College and the Hon Lily Montagu. He introduced the custom of an annual report given on speech day by the Head Boy, dealing with school sporting activities. At the 1935 event the Bishop of Willesden unveiled a stained glass window depicting Bishop Winnington Ingram, to match that of his predecessor as Visitor, Mandell Creighton. It was provided by the Old Boys Association and Evan Evans, who was present. Next year both Evans and Hunt were in attendance to propose and second a vote of thanks to the principal speaker and in 1938 the first headmaster was again invited, this time to present the sporting trophies. It was pleasant to see him brought back more fully into the school’s awareness than at any time since 1910. He had underwritten the cost of a portrait of Wilfrid Hunt by Hugh Reviere, presented in 1934 and the” Ap Ifan” prizes were continued. He was present at the planting of trees and shrubs and placing of seats around the school pavilion which marked the Coronation in 1937. Evans gave much and asked for little more than that the boys be made aware of the Welsh national hero, Owen Glyndwr.

Staff 1934

Staff 1934

Back row: H A Peter, C E Hughes, J W Jenkins, W B Rhodes, R Whitmore, H Thomas, W H Williams, L Thompson,
H T Sharpe, J L Whiteley, W W Rollinson, J M Pullan, T H Yarwood
Front row: W Davies, H E Gould, A G Field, W H E Bentley, J Westbury, Dr H D Anthony (Headmaster), W G Bowden,
S Burton, D B Fry, B J Moranhan, G F Carpenter

The years between 1933 and 1939 saw a number of staff changes other than those already mentioned. W W Rollinson (English and history), A T L Southwell (French), G W Dakin (science), S F Hann (mathematics), G J Evans (PT in replacement of Morahan), and G F WaIters (mathematics) all joined. A J Stuart replaced Field as head of history in 1934. He was to become a regular player in the England hockey team and naturally found himself in charge of school hockey. To this was added school cricket and in 1938 he took a memorable 193 runs off by no means contemptible school bowling in the annual staff cricket match. In 1939 L Thompson, the handicraft master died at the age of fifty-one. H Thomas, appointed to teach geography in 1931, completed a PhD degree before he left in 1935.

Staff 1939

Staff 1939

In the autumn of 1938 Britain came to the brink of war with Germany. Heavy air attack was anticipated and for a brief but very tense period the school assembled daily prepared for evacuation to the provinces, gas masks at the ready and luggage packed. The crisis passed with the Munich Agreement but few really believed that the danger had been more than postponed. One sequel for KGS was the revival of an army cadet unit. Commanded by the Headmaster, it was affiliated to the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), unlike its predecessor which had been attached to the Middlesex Regiment. Less than twelve months later war arrived. The cadet unit, which had just taken part in its first annual camp, was closed down since all its officers had joined the armed forces. Dr Anthony had joined the territorial army in the period since Munich and, grotesquely, the headmaster of a secondary school of over four hundred boys, faced with the unprecedented problems of emergency evacuation of its buildings and its home town, took up duty as a lance-corporal in a unit of Royal Engineers.

Prefects 1939

Prefects 1939


Next: Chapter 5 – ACTING HEADMASTERS, J WESTBURY 1939-1942, W G BOWDEN 1942-1948

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