by Alex Bateman
In 1975, the new school of Gayton High emerged from the shadow of its illustrious predecessor, Harrow County. It was not just a change in name, a number of long standing members of staff had retired, and in changing from a grammar school to a comprehensive, it had lost its top two years.
The first head master of the new school was Harry Hull, who had relinquished his position as head of Bourne School in Ruislip, where he had been since 1960. With the great upheaval of the proceeding few years, it was no easy task to take over a School that boasted such a rich history in all areas. Despite the illness and death of his elder son, Harry took on the challenge with calmness and courage, working hard to be sensitive to the varied attitudes of his colleagues, not all of whom welcomed the change from grammar to comprehensive. He was well aware of the reputation of Harrow County, and tried to install some of the traditions in the new school. He was also a frequent visitor to the Old Gaytonians home at Sudbury.
Harry did not run the School with a rod of iron, but did carry an air of authority about him, while at the same time punctuating it with moments of humour.
With ill health dogging him, he decided to retire, doing so in 1982. He moved to a farmhouse in Wales with his wife and remaining son, where he set about renovating the property.
Sadly, Harry passed away only a couple of years later.
Harry Hull - Obituary
by Kenneth Waller
Harry Hull. first Headmaster of Gayton High School, died suddenly of a heart attack at his home in Llanrhaladr-ym-Mochnant, Central Wales, on 23 November 1993. He was 67.
Educated at Yardley Grammar School, Birmingham, from 1937 to 1944, at eighteen he was awarded two Scholarships, one in Geography to Birmingham University and the other to the Birmingham College of Art. After considerable internal debate he opted for the former, which he took up after two years' service in the Royal Navy from 1944-46.
He began his teaching career in the Birmingham area, first at Handsworth Technical School as a Geography specialist, then at Tipton school, Staffordshire. In 1955 he accepted a post at the Regent Oil Company School, Point a Pierre, Trinidad, and later the headship of the Shell School, Port Fontin.
Returning to England in 1960, Harry was appointed headmaster of Bourne School, Ruislip, where he remained until his appointment to Gayton in 1973.
Harry was a remarkable and talented man. He was well aware of the bitterness many of his new colleagues felt over the destruction of the School they had loved so much and which had taken many years to build up its traditions and high standards of academic achievement. Bearing in mind the domestic tragedy faced by Harry and his wife Joyce about that time, in the illness and death of their elder son, John, one admires the calmness and courage with which he faced the tensions and trials at work.
He worked hard to be sensitive to the very varied attitudes of his staff, as he set about re-organising the curriculum to cater for the needs of the first intake of boys into the new comprehensive. He made bold decisions in an effort to retain as much as possible of all that had made Harrow County special and to uphold whatever could be upheld of its academic standards.
His care for individual boys was a feature of his kindness and consideration much appreciated by the parents. The boys knew too that behind the forthright and occasionally brusque manner wa sa humorous and individualistic personality worthy of their respect. One remembers his brilliant caricatures of members of staff, some of which, to the delight of the boys, were published in the Gaytonian.
In 1981 he retired with Joyce and his son Richard to a hill-top farmhouse in mid-Wales, surrounded by virtually derelict outbuildings, and which, although a Grade Two Listed Building, was itself badly in need of repair and redecoration.
This, thanks to his skills in gardening and decorating, he raidly converted to an enviably beautiful home in equaly attractive grounds. He decorated the rooms with a wide variety of skilful copies and adaptations of famous paintings by artists he particularly admired. His ability in this field was remarkable and he was delighted to receive a number of commissions during his retirement for paintings of this type.
He was consistently busy, planning improvements, writing a humorous novel, attending to his goats, revelling in his new way of life.
We bid him farewell with affection and regret his passing. Our thoughts go to Joyce and Richard in their time of mourning. We wish them well.
Kenneth C. Waller
(From the Old Gaytonian, 1994)