From 1996 the term ‘Head’ has been used, replacing the previously used term ‘Headmaster’.
There is much evidence that Benjamin Townson was a very successful and much admired first incumbent of the Leighton Park headship. However, his name is equally associated with one of the saddest stories in the school’s history. His two-year-old son Geoffrey caught scarlet fever and died on 15th March 1894. Benjamin, undoubtedly weakened by the distress of this event, died himself of pneumonia ten days later, aged 48.
The letter which he and his wife Edith wrote to the boys in their charge remains one of the treasures of our Archives collection, as this extract illustrates: "While we are grieved that the brightest part of the term should be darkened for you, we hope, now that the little soul is at peace, that you will in no way place any restriction on your enjoyments. We do not want our darling forgotten, but that he should always be remembered as having added beauty and happiness to all of us here."
Herbert Jones had the unenviable task of taking over the headship of Leighton Park when Benjamin Townson died in 1894. He had previously served as Second Master, and he was highly regarded science teacher. He was a keen sportsman and played in most school teams, as was the practice in the days of low school pupil numbers. He married Ethel Lean in 1895. When they left Leighton Park in 1899 they founded their own prep school, The Downs School, Colwall.
The LP historian S.W. Brown described John Ridges as ‘an enthusiastic man of high principles, cultured and gifted too, who was more in his element in the classroom than in administration.’ One can surmise that, in the world of education, he is not alone in that respect!
Charles Evans is remembered for the high quality of his leadership. He brought calm and steady guidance, which was especially useful in the years of the First World War. A committed pacifist, he was a great spokesman for the Quaker point of view, yet he was respectful of the right of those who didn’t share his point of view to choose to join the armed forces.
This renowned educationist also piloted the school through a world war, and the records we have of his speeches during that period illustrate his calibre as a leader and as a man who cared deeply for his pupils. When he left Leighton Park he became Professor of Education at the University of Hull.
John Ounsted became Leighton Park’s Headmaster at the age of 27, and was younger than any of the teachers in his charge. Remembered for his sharp intelligence and scholarship, he was greatly interested in Natural History. In the last year of his life he returned to the school to open the new Mathematics teaching buidling, which bears his name.
Bill was a strong leader at a time when the school was negotiating the rapids of something tantamount to a social revolution. He kept the school on an even keel and oversaw some important developments, including the admission of girls to the Sixth Form.
As well as his wisdom and enthusiasm, Jim brought to the school his previous experience as Headmaster of a maintained school as well as the insights and expert wordsmithery of a published novelist. His was a quinquennial not without its challenges but firmly rooted in Quaker tesimonies and values.
John’s characteristic kindness, geniality and ability to empathise with everyone in the school community were amongst the attributes that served him and the school very well at a time of significant changes, notably the extensive building developments of that time, and the introduction of full co-education in 1993.
John presided over a period of great change, particularly in the realm of educational reform. He was concerned to maintain and extend improvement in academic standards, but never at the expense of the extra-curricular activities and other aspects of community life. Amongst other things, he spearheaded changes to theschool day and his name will always be associated with the arrival of our central dining facility, Oakview.
In his relatively short time as Head of Leighton Park, Alex brought a renewed dynamism to the post, and worked hard to find creative solutions in the face of changes to the school’s consituency.