Herbert Pitchford – The last Headmaster at the Bond End School

Reverend Francis Edward Jackson Valpy (1839 – 1843)
Rev. F.E.J. Valpy was the son of Rev. Dr. Richard Valpy who was for many years, the Headmaster at Reading School and one of the founders of the public school system.

On the death of his father, Francis succeeded him. He was by this time himself a Greek scholar of some repute and had published several textbooks on the subject that had been adopted by a number of schools as the ‘standard’ work.

He lacked however, his father’s gift for teaching and organisation and during his time as Reading Headmaster, the number of pupils decreased from over 200 to just 30. He moved to Burton Grammar School to take the vacant headmaster post! This he was able to do largely through his brother-in-law, Rev. Peter French who was successful in his post at Stretton.

Francis Valpy was however, no more successful than he had been at Reading and once again, the school fell into decline with a greatly reduced number of pupils. He only managed to survive for four years by which time, there was considerable pressure for him to be replaced.

The only known account of him reads “He is only remembered for his very tall beaver hat with neither crown nor brim, referred to as ‘the chimney-pot’, and his swallow-tailed coat with shiny buttons which he wore as everyday wear”.

Reverend John Fisher MacMichael (1843 – 1851)
Reverend J.F. MacMichael was a very different character to the Headmaster he replaced. He was educated at Richmond School in Yorkshire following which, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1833. He graduated in 1837 having during his time there, been awarded second prize for English Declamation. From Cambridge, he was Master of University College, London. He was the author of an edition of ‘Xenophon’s Ananasis’ and an edition of the Greek New Testament.

Shortly afterwards, he spent three years at sea, from 1838 to 1841, as a naval instructor.

In 1842, he took the post of Vice-Principal at Hull College. Just one year later in 1843, to accelerate his career, he successfully gained the position of Headmaster at Burton Grammar School to replace the ineffective Rev. F.E.J. Valpy.

He stayed at Burton Grammar School for eight years before leaving in 1851 to become Headmaster of the much larger and more prestigious Grammar School in the cathedral city of Ripon in the Harrogate district of North Yorkshire. He was also appointed curate of Monckton, Ripon. He eventually became Honorary Canon of Ripon Cathedral and died there in 1872. He was buried in the Cathedral’s burial ground.

Reverend Stuart H. Fagan (1851 – 1855)
Reverend S.H. Fagan joined the school at fairly short notice on Rev. J.F. MacMichael’s relatively unexpected departure. Little is actually recorded of Rev. Fagan other than his reign as Headmaster only lasted four years and he was replaced in 1855.

It is known that his son, H.M. Fagan attended Burton Grammar School from around 1868 before going to Worcester College, Oxford, which suggests that after leaving Burton Grammar School, Rev. Fagan remained in Burton concentrating on his work within the church.

Reverend Henry Day (1855 – 1873)
Reverend Henry Day was the son of Rev. Thomas Day of Mendlesham in Suffolk. He was educated at Harrow for whom he played cricket. He won a College Scholarship in 1846 where he gaind a number of prizes for English and Latin. He won the Chancellor’s Medal for poetry in 1848 and a first class Tripos in Civil Law. He later won the English poem prize twice (beating Tennyson himself who only won it once!). He was admitted to the Inner Temple and ordained deacon by the Bishop of Norwich in 1851.

From here, he became curate of Drayton, Berkshire and second master of the associated Abingdon School.

He finally arrived as Headmaster of Burton Grammar School in 1855 and was to remain there until his early retirement in 1873 at the age of 46. He was to remain in Burton for the rest of his life until his death in 1893.

Charles Undershell Tripp (1873 – 1884)

Reverend Thomas Wall Beckett (1884 – 1900)
Reverend T.W. Beckett was born at Wellington, Shropshire in 1836.

R.T. Robinson (1900 – 1930)

Sydney Ernest Wilson (1930 – 1935)
Sydney E. Wilson was educated at Christ’s School in Sussex where he enjoyed both sporting and academic success gaining, representing the school in both Rugby and Cricket and secured a place at Cambridge to read Matematics; he was also a member of the school orchestra with an interest in music.

His education was interrupted in 1917 to take up service in France during the First World War before returning in 1919 to resume. At Cambridge, he gained a First Class Mathematics Tripos and published a number of maths papers. He also gained a BA degree in 1922 and an MA in 1928.

He became Senior Maths Master at Blundell’s School. This was a prominent public school, sometimes referred to as ‘The Eton of the South-West’ located in Tiverton, Devon.

He was appointed Headmaster of Burton Grammar School in 1930, with the tough job of stepping into the shoes of the very popular and highly effective Mr R.T. Robinson. He remained in the post for five years during which time, the school pupil population exceeded 300 for the first time. He left in 1935 to become the Principal of King William’s College on the Isle of Man. He finally passed away in 1973.

T.W. Parkin (acting) (1935 – 1936)

W.D. Fraser (1936 – 1941)

Harold Stephen Moodey (1941 – 1950)
Harold Moodey was educated at Chatham House Public school where, aside from being an outstanding scholar, he was senior prefect, captain of cricket and captain of football.

He gained an Open Scholarship to Oxford and took first class honours degrees in Natural Science and Chemistry. He entered Jesus College, Oxford and was there were war broke out. He then ‘enjoyed’ distinguished service in the Royal Air Force. Back in Jesus College after the war, he gained college colours for football and rowing and became president of a number of societies including Oxford Colleges Scientific Club.

As a post-graduate, he wrote a number of papers and textbooks and had a distinguished teaching career as second master of Chemistry at the esteemed Liverpool Collegiate School and Head of All Sciences at Hampton-on-Thames Grammar School.

Colleagues had nothing but good to say about him before he suffered some kind of mental illness and some unsuccessful procedure that had a very negative effect on his mental well-being. He went off sick just before Christmas, 1949, and was reported to be seriously ill. One morning in May, 1950, to the shock of the school, he went to Burton Railway Station and committed suicide by jumping in front of a moving train. When the police visited his Stapenhill home, they discovered the true extent of the tragedy. His wife and teenage son and daughter were all found dead as the result of head injuries.

Herbert Harrington Pitchford (1950 – 1958)

William H. Gillion (1958 – 1973)


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