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Headmasters: Oswald Flecker

Posted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:16 pm
by geoffreycannon
Geoffrey Cannon, Peele A 1951-1958

I would also like to suggest contributions on headmasters by name. Hope this doesn't sound formalistic

Oswald (HLO) Flecker. After Hamilton Fyfe he was the great early Horsham period headmaster. It must have been hells difficult to run a big public school at a time when younger masters were in the wars. and soon afterwards also, and all the more so when so many boys came from tough backgrounds. That's another topic.

I write to correct an error in another contribution which gives a false impression. In it, it's said that Oswald Flecker was known as 'Oily Flecker'. No, that's not correct, plus it implies that he was seen as a greasy-type character, which is quite wrong. My recollection, of his final years, was that he was seen as
rather majestic.

His nickname was 'The Oil'. Just that. The reason (well before my time) was that when he became headmaster he addressed the school, and in his speech he said 'I like to think that you are the machine, and I am the oil'. Well! Did that stick!

Re: Headmasters: Oswald Flecker

Posted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:58 am
by michael scuffil
I only met Flecker once, at my interview. He was retiring that year. I said I wanted to design aeroplanes when I grew up, and he said 'Aeroplanes, horrible noisy things...' I probably looked at him as if I thought he was mad (I did). But the rest of the interviewing panel (which included Seaman) just laughed, which reassured me.

I think the main criticism of Flecker must be that he stayed too long -- 25 years. And one gets the impression that towards the end, his supervision of the staff resembled that of the Irish RC hierarchy over its priests -- lax at best. If he'd left soon after the war (and everyone -- even Buck, who hated him -- agrees that he saw the school through it superbly) it probably would have been better for his reputation, and certain reforms might have come sooner.

His funeral service was held in CH Chapel in the presence of his ashes. I attended as a 12-year-old out of curiosity.

Re: Headmasters: Oswald Flecker

Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:51 pm
by postwarblue
I always saw HLOF as a figure of Olympian detachment.

I never did get to the bottom of why Buckie loathed The Oil so heartily - I have heard that it was because of HLOF switching the school from Latin to Greek. Allegedly after a heavy evening in the Common Room Buckie was said to have urinated on the 'HEADMASTER' plaque beside The Oil's front door. But then Buckie was rather a flawed diamond, as became apparent. In retrospect I don't think much of him as a housemaster.

But then nor did I ever understand why Buckie had such a loathing for CS Lang (who had left well before I arrived).

Re: Headmasters: Oswald Flecker

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 5:37 pm
by Fitzsadou
HLO Flecker was clearly very much a member of the establishment (not only because he is one of the few persons I ever saw wearing spats). This explains why he was selected to be a member of a Royal Commission to investigate education in the British West Indies in 1948 or 9 (I think). He may well have merited this appointment because of his knowledge of education and his intellectual powers. Another explanation may be because he was a very senior member of the Freemasons, a Grand Deacon (not to be confused with the Grand Dragon of the KKK, mentioned by Woody Allen). He was thus number 5 or 6 in the hierarchy. The big chief at that time was the Duke of Gloucester, the President of CH.

Re: Headmasters: Oswald Flecker

Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:12 pm
by Kit Bartlett
Has any one ever considered writing the biography of HLOF?. There must be many Old Blues of his period who will have many
memories of his time in charge of the school. One of the problems in getting a well rounded account would be that most reminiscences would naturally be of the relationship of pupil to Head Master. As far as I am aware his three children are all still alive.
Over to somebody perhaps.
Chris Bartlett

Re: Headmasters: Oswald Flecker

Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:03 pm
by michael scuffil
One of his biographical problems was that he was always 'brother of the more famous...' In his case, James Elroy.

Re: Headmasters: Oswald Flecker

Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:46 pm
by DavidRawlins
I heard, whilst I was at CH, that he was a Labour supporter. I do not know if this was true.