The transcript below is of an article I have from a local paper. Unfortunately, I didn’t always record date or paper of origin. I shall do some research into it and try to locate the original. If you can add to this story with your own memories or pictures please contact me
Kingham Hill School will say goodbye to a ‘character’ next month, when Mr Bill Clarkson, groundsman and staff instructor of cadets takes his leave after nine years.
Bill Clarkson – generally known as ‘Sergeant-major – is giving up the job on medical advice. Last winter he had a bad thrombosis in the leg which put him on his back for weeks, and at 58 he feels the time has come for a lighter job.
He and his wife are going to Warwick, where he will take over as curator of the Royal Hussars Regimental Museum. This is housed in the Lord Leycester Hospital, founded by the first Earl in Elizabethan times.
As one of the hospital’s 12 ‘Brethren’, Mr Clarkson will have to take part in the traditional Sunday procession to church in period costume – a piece of ceremonial which should be to his taste.
The son of a warrant-officer, he was born into the Army – at Shorncliffe Barracks, Folkestone. During the 1939-1945 war he was a parachutist with the Special Air Service.
Since the end of his professional soldiering he has been a painter and decorator, a prison officer and a parks keeper for the London County Council.
His versatility has been useful at Kingham Hill where besides caring for 25 acres of playing fields and drilling 100 cadets, he has been tuck-shop assistant, and make-up artist for the dramatic society.
His going will leave vacancies too, in the Special Constabulary and on Kingham Parish Council.
“If you want to come and see me at Warwick,” says Bill, “it’ll cost you two bob to get in.”
Below are some of my own memories of Bill.
Bill would come around the houses from time to time in the evenings and give us haircuts. I imagine we all had one once or twice a term. Just another string to this man’s long bow.
On our way to top school or between classes we often saw Bill in the tractor mowing the vast areas of grass; the playing fields and the grassed areas between the top school and other buildings and between the houses. It always looked good and short.
He gave us drill instruction; marching at correct speed, correct marching commands, right dress, attention and at ease, saluting, on Monday’s at CCF, getting us ready on parade for Captain T Bowker. He drilled the Guard of Honour, of which I was a member along with, I think 11 others, including with 303's which we had to leave at chapel door afterwards for Lord Hailsham, Minister of State for Education and Science, later Lord Chancellor, at Speech Day, 1961. Open and close order, correct measurements and distances, shoulder arms etc. Great military precision and each member of the guard, a real volunteer.
He also helped Mr Meerendonk with the tuck shop and he can even be seen helping the school play (check the back row)
When I left school in 1962, I wrote to him and received letters back. I still have two of them, one was after he left Kingham Hill, addressed from Leycester Hospital. But on several visits soon after leaving Kingham, I visited him in his flat around the back of the tuck shop next to the stables/garages.
From my recollections he was a big man, smart, courteous, a soft talker, a real gent.
In the article above it states he was at Kingham Hill for 9 years. He left in 1966 – I have a letter from Warwick dated March 25th 1966. I also have a record that he took over as the ‘professional’ in the CCF from Mr Gill in September 1958. He must have been at KHS for about two years before that. In 1966 he was 58.
I have done a bit of research and believe he was born in September 1908, in Elham, Kent. Named William Arthur, he married Teresa J Hough in the first half of 1964. He died in the first half of 1971.
Below is an extract from a letter sent to John Timmins from Peter Worsley, along with a photo of Bill in his sealed knot outfit.
I recently visited the ‘Former Staff’ section of our website and was jolly interested to read Frank Foster’s recollections of Bill Clarkson. I note that he was on the Hill between 1957-66 and from thence went to Warwick, where he and I happened to link up, to lodge at the Lord Leycester Hospital, working as a guide (in order to get from under Teresa’s feet). They’d tied the knot in their middle years and, after his death, Teresa moved into a flat in the town.
I was working in Warwick in those days and lived only half a mile from the Clarksons. He’d become a member of the Sealed Knot (photo enclosed which you may keep) and enrolled me as a member of ‘the Warwick Foote’. He’d drill his foot soldiers on the central courtyard within the Lord Leycester Hospital and thankfully never came out with ‘laptoon’.
Joining other national Sealed Knot groups, we’d re-enact civil war battles and usually on the sites of the original encounters. I well recall the late Michael ‘Ali’ Marples who was a Clyde boy and school prefect when I was a ‘Plym’, dressed in his smart cavalier regalia and mounted on a horse for the battle of Newbury which we enacted on Wash Heath, should you know Berkshire. Andrew, who had also been in Clyde, joined me on that occasion.
The factory manager where I worked in Warwick was good enough to allow me time off to attend Bill’s funeral in the town’s parish church (St Mary’s) where I joined several of my fellow pike holders in the congregation. A sad day indeed and a great loss of a splendid friend and character. You must let Frank know how much I enjoyed his piece when you’re next in touch.
End of extract