Speech Day 1948 took place in the Coliseum Theatre, Harrow. 1,100 guests, staff, parents and boys heard Mr. George Thorn and his Second Form singers entertain, the Headmaster, Dr. A. R. Simpson, made his report, and Lord Webb-Johnson, K.C.V.O., President of the Royal College of Surgeons, distributed the prizes and gave the address.
The Head Master began his report by expressing the feeling of distinction conferred on everyone by the presence of Lord Webb-Johnson, for he was a distinguished man, a Baron and a Knight Commander of the Victorian Order. It might be suggested that these illustrious Orders gathered in our times a meaning beyond their illustrious import. Victorianism, in the reality and maturity of its standards, was the manhood of a steadily sane old culture. Our age was the childhood of the precarious "new." The "old," despite its wars, was comparatively an age of peace, whereas the "new," even in peace, was substantially the age of war.
To be an educationalist was to know the character of the "new" age, to know its youth, and to temper the future with the past. Victorianism could be powerful in its example, and have a restraining influence on our Young Democracy with its freedoms and new concepts of education. They should be based on an intensity of purpose and endeavour, on the Christian ethic, tolerance and good humour. The present tendency to replace sound learning by free, self-chosen interest, work by ease, modesty by forwardness, and earnestness by frivolity, was clearly the downward path to individual and national ruin. That would be the greatest of tragedies; for their material, the youth of to-day, was, as seldom before, shining and eager, possessed of a will to live actively, physically well-endowed, devoid of pretence, sensitive of self and the existence of right and wrong. But it was also impatient, impetuous, uncertain, spiritually vague, or even lost. To guide youth was the task of the School, and Dr. Simpson called on all - teachers, taught, parents and governors to co-operate in that task, to bear in mind that in the "new" era, schools were becoming the bastions of the home, the Church and the State.
The Head Master reviewed the academic progress of the past year, the outstanding achievements in scholarships and entrances to Universities, and the presentation of almost 300 candidates for the School Certificates Examinations, General and Higher. In all branches of sport the high level of past years was being maintained, the Cross-Country Team having won the Ranelagh Trophy and the Ives Shield; School players had been chosen to represent Middlesex in School County Cricket and Rugger matches: the rowing eight had competed for the first time in the Head of the River Race. The Parents' Union had been revived; The School Tourists' Club had visited Switzerland, Belgium and France: School Societies were many, diverse and very active: the achievements of Old Boys of the School gave particular pride and satisfaction.
In conclusion Dr. Simpson referred to the retirement of Mr. R. R. Jones... who had, in his 29 years of service, a sure place in the hearts of all who knew him.
The prizes were then distributed.
Extracted from Gaytonian, December 1948