Old Fritz and Old Wilf
Last week, I visited Germany's Versailles, the splendid Sanssouci summer palace of Frederick the Great at Potsdam outside Berlin. It was enchanting, and the palace itself - only twelve rooms in total - has astonishing rococo work. But the magic was the memories it awoke of studying Frederick the Great, the commanding Prussian king of the eighteenth century, at school rather a long time ago.
Walter Batty was brought up, as I recall, in Warmfield near Wakefield, which - when he was young - had its own grammar school. I visited him there a couple of times. He lived with his elderly father, whose great passion was keeping a couple of pigs, for which Walter was forever boiling potatoes as feed. He had a fairly humble background, and for a head of department at a direct grant school, a fairly humble lifestyle.
The story went, indeed I think he told me it, that Walter secured a scholarship to University College, Oxford to read history. He was a contemporary there of Hugh Trevor-Roper. They both got Firsts, but Walter's was the better First. He was asked to do doctoral research but declined. He needed to earn a living to help support his parents and so went into school teaching. He helped me to follow a similar path (not the teaching bit, mind) - to Oxford (Keble, with an exhibition) to read history, and securing a First. It took me another thirty-five years to get my PhD.
All this was brought to mind by Fritz's Potsdam palace. And it prompts me to say, very belatedly - thanks, Mr Batty!
My sentiments entirely . Forever grateful to him. We visited him together as you will recall
Hi Peter - yes I do. I went back a few years later, I guess about 1978, and it was sadly a very different Walter Batty that I met.
You must tell me about that sometime. Will email you to catch up
I too visited Walter at Warmfield - it was Normanton Grammar that he attended, I believe - both in 1973/4 and again perhaps a decade later. As you say, much changed (alas). He died just before Christmas 1989. One if the pair of cottages (there were his two spinster cousins next door) was for sale a few years back.
I too had assumed it was Fritz Turner (though he never taught me).
Yes, I remember 'Fritz' Turner - though not why he had the nickname. He commanded the bookroom on the ground floor, just opposite his classroom, from which - if anyone ventured in at lunchtime (not advisable) - a fug of pipe smoke blasted out. I don't think Wilf Batty smoked (or did he?) - but he must have been smoked like a kipper from his regular lunchtime chinwags with Fritz, whose other main lunchtime activity was filling up the kettle for the perpetual brew.
Andrew. Just came across you blog. I had the privilege of Wilf as a form teacher in 1976 or 77. This was his final year at LGS. I recall him as a frail gentle man with a passion and enthusiasm for history. He had a small library of history text books in the classroom and on his final day he presented each member of the form with one or two signed books. I suppose he didn't want to carry them home but prefer to think that it was just his generous way of sharing his passion for history and perhaps ensuring that we remembered him. I think Wilf was one of the only teachers who had the questionable honour of having taught (or perhaps tolerated) my father (Clive), my uncle (Norman) in the late 1940's and myself.
In memoriam, 30 years on.
Sorry Andrew this is a bit off-topic I'm afraid but...unless I'm mistaken you (James Hargrave) are my cousin "Jamie" that I've had no contact with for the past 50 years and apart from replying to this comment, I haven't got a clue how to get in touch. I know you were in contact with my mum but she sadly passed away last year. It would be nice to hear from you. If you reply to this comment, then maybe Andrew would be so kind as to pass on my email address to you and then we can go on from there. Sorry for abusing your blog Andrew, I hope that it's okay.
I will put you in contact in a week or so, Stephen - I can’t do so earlier for logistical reasons (unless you can message me your email address).
Thanks Andrew, I've sent you my email address.
I have passed on details to Andrew. I welcome contact.
Excellent! Looking forward to getting in touch.
My first year at LGS was 1963/64 - I was in 2t ( 'Fritz' Turner's form). 'Wilf' Batty taught history and 'Nod' Stevens divinity.
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