The Old Oswestrian Society is sad to learn of the passing of Old Oswestrian Peter Humphreys at home on 29th January 2012, at the age of 95.
The son of John Humphreys OO, Peter was at School from 1924, when he entered as a boarder, until 1932.
Peter was at School during the summer term of 1926, 'the term of the fire', when fire broke out in the roof of School House, spreading through 8 bedrooms and causing much damage (see photos) in spite of the attentions of the Fire Brigade, the boys and the Masters.
Peter's daughter Jane Niblock recalls her father's memory of the event. "The Headmaster [Ralph Williamson] elected to send all the boys home the next day. So the parents were sent telegrams stating "Fire at school. Boys all safe. Coming home tomorrow"."
In fact the boys did not get the extended holiday they had hoped for and were boarded out with friends locally whilst the Head and some of the Staff pitched tents on the Headmaster's lawn until the dormitories were habitable again. The weather was kind and meals were served on the lawn under the shade of the cedar tree.
"The boys were all billeted in Oswestry and Dad stayed with someone who subsequently became a bishop - as Dad said, it was the one and only time he slept with a bishop!" Jane adds.
She continues "The story I really like about him was that along with his brother Frank, they rode or drove horses to school each day from Evenall (the farm on the Halston estate near Whittington, where Dad was born) - not only as a means of transport but also to break in these horses. Their father reckoned on getting a couple of horses ready to sell on for riding or driving from each term (or it might have been half-term, i.e. 6 weeks), and I suspect this paid for the school fees, among other things. The horses were stabled on the Fab Feet side of the traffic lights (was it once the Coach and Dogs? [now Textile Express]) where an ostler unsaddled/unhitched and fed and watered them and then made them ready for the boys to ride home at the end of the school day."
Peter continued at School until he was 16 which was "almost unheard of in those days", and shows, as Jane considers, that her grandfather "must have believed strongly in education".
Farming at New Marton Farm, St Martins, for many years Peter was Hon Secretary to the Old Oswestrian Society and a great supporter of the School, becoming a long-serving Governor and Chairman of the Governors from 1976-1984.
Jane remembers that her father "was very proud of pushing through the purchase of Bellan House for £10 with his fellow governor/s (Eric Thomas, I think). He also imposed iron discipline on meetings and timed people out if they spoke for too long!"
It was due to Peter's efforts, and those of other OOs including Norman Ellis and N T Hughes, that the OO Society was rejuvenated after the Second World War; the Memorial Hall [gym] was funded by money raised by Old Oswestrians in memory of those who lost their lives in both World Wars and was completed under his term as Hon Secretary.
The naming of the School's assembly hall, the Peter Humphreys Centre, opened in 1986, recognised Peter's tireless efforts on behalf of the School and keeps his memory alive in the School today.
We extend our sympathies to Peter's daughter Jane and grandchildren Lucy and Tom, both OOs.
The funeral arrangements are:
Monday 13th February, 10.30am
St Andrew's Parish Church, Welsh Frankton - service followed by interment in the churchyard and afterwards at New Marton Farm - all welcome.
Family flowers only.
Donations if desired either to St Andrew's Parish Church or RJ & AH Orthopaedic Hospital League of Friends.
All enquiries to David Davies & Sons Tel: (01691) 653116.