Recollections of Dr. Lionel Carey, written by Anthony Walters (1952-1955 S)
At a Bromsgrove School reunion held in Washington D.C. a couple of years ago, the subject of a previous headmaster, Dr. Lionel Carey, emerged. Apparently, he was not the most highly regarded head, following one of the most beloved heads of Bromsgrove, the Rev, D.J. Walters, who saw the School through the war years, and beyond. I think it is important to recognize the differences between these two headmasters, as I perceived them.
D.J. Walters was perhaps the last of the "Traditional" style of headmaster. Frank Middlemass who played the headmaster, Algie Herries, of Bamfylde School, in the TV version of R.F, Delderfields book, "To Serve Them All My Days" reminded me very much of D.J. - Fatherly, kindly yet astute, very knowledgeable and shrewd. He knew all the tricks and both the staff and the students who liked and respected him.
On the other hand. Dr. Lionel Carey came in not as a new broom, but rather more like a tornado. He took the whole School by storm. A modern educator with modern ideas, he shook Bromsgrove like a terrier shaking a stuffed toy! It was probably exactly what the School needed and his tenure set the stage to develop Bromsgrove into the modern and so very successful learning institute that is is today. Of course the staff reacted exactly as one would expect, and it did not take long before the fall out began, and Dr. Carey started to surround himself with like-minded teaching staff.
I have one observation and one story I would like to relate, as I was one of the few people still around, who were pupils at Bromsgrove under the aegis of both D.J. Walters and Dr. Carey.
My father, Bernhardt Walters, attended School with Dr. Routh as Headmaster, while my two brothers Brian and Barry, attended under Rev. D.J. Walters.
My academic record prior to Bromsgrove was bad to poor. I failed the eleven plus, and to this day, I don't think I actually passed the Common Entrance Exam, but was accepted into the School, by virtue of family history and my father's ability to pay the fees!
Thus, on arrival at School, I was assigned to the Lower IVth. After an extraordinary academic year in which I garnered at least four Cs, I was in the following year assigned to the Purgatory Class, known as "Remove" where the flotsam and jetsam of the School floated along until either through age or parents resignation to their sons inability to learn caused them to leave the hallowed halls with at least "a Public School education".
Enter Dr. Lionel Carey. At the beginning of my third year at Bromsgrove. This was to be my last year at Bromsgrove, but Dr. Carey had other ideas. Scarcely had School started in September 1954 (?) when the gaunt figure of Dr.Carey stormed into the class. Calling us a bunch of "Hum... Lazy Lizards", he outlined a course of action that would, if we worked hard, garner some "O" Levels, and, if we attained three "O" Levels, we would be promoted next year into the VIth Form and wear the coveted plain cream boater! To this end, the hated "Remove" was abolished and we were now known as Vth D, Fifth Formers no less!
So for the rest of the year, we studied a limited number of subjects each and every day. At the end of the year we sat our "O" Levels, and I proudly passed three out of the six. Not spectacular, but, it gained my father’s grudging acceptance to let me stay at School for one more term and be in the VIth Form! I proudly wore the cream straw boater handed down to me from my eldest brother Brian. So one final term in the Sixth and one more "O" Level later, I left Bromsgrove.
That was December 1955. How I retired at age 58 from the banking industry and how I became a Vice President and Group Manager of First Union/Wachovia Bank, is directly attributable to the intervention of Dr. Carey into my life at Bromsgrove. I will always be grateful to him for giving me the incentive to reach out and up.
Now for the second part. This is a true story that I was able to authenticate by one of the participants, all of whom have by now probably passed on to the Great Public School in the sky.
Sam Darby, the Housemaster of School House, who lived in what is now I believe Hazeldene House, in conjunction with several of the teaching staff members and the then Bursar of Bromsgrove, had all chipped in and purchased a barrel of wine from France. At the appropriate time the wine was shipped over from France and was delivered to and put into the cool confines of Sam Darby's cellar, there it reposed in quiet maturity until it was properly rested and ready for bottling.
It so happened by accident or by design that the new and not widely liked headmaster Dr. Lionel Carey, was away from the School for a few days, possibly attending the annual Headmasters' Conference. The time was set; the bottles prepared and like a clandestine gathering of a secret society, the various and sundry participants gathered on the appointed evening around the about-to-be-broached barrel. The barrel was indeed tapped and the wine flowed freely. Bottles were filled and much tasting took place. It did not take too long apparently for the whole consortium to become well and truly influenced by the fruit of the vine!
Sometime around midnight, the boys in the dormitory next to what was then the headmaster's house, were woken up to raucous chanting outside. On opening the dorm windows, they were surprised to see and hear about five or six people dancing round in a circle singing "Down with Carey, Down with Carey".
News of this event was whispered about the next day, although quickly suppressed by the School House Monitors who, I have no doubt, were urged by Sam Darby to keep it quiet! But the "cat was out of the bag" so to speak. However nothing more was said and by then the Summer Holidays were upon us, and by the next term all had been forgotten.
Some ten years later, my wife and I were invited to dinner in Chelsea, by an old friend of my parents, Frank Davies. "Uncle Frank" had been around since I can remember and had stayed in our house many times. He was the Bursar at Bromsgrove at the time of the wine bottling.
After a few drinks, I asked "Uncle” Frank about the dance by the somewhat inebriated masters. It took a while but "Uncle" Frank did in fact confirm that the incident took place. I was also able to ascertain who else was in the bottling party, but the years have blunted my memory, and less I slander an innocent party, those names shall remain locked in my memory. If anyone else has any recall of this I would like to have confirmation.
Editor's Note: The Rev. D.J. Walters and the writer, Anthony Walters, are not related.