Harrow County School for Boys

Mr. Arthur Haley - Music Master 1959-76

Mr. Haley died on Tuesday, 13th January, 2004 at the age of 87.

Click to read a tribute by his son-in-law, Old Gaytonian Roger Bowen.


Mr. Haley with Form 3A 1961 Mr. Haley with form 3B 1963
With Naval Cadets 1971 With Naval Cadets 1973
With Naval Cadets 1974 CCF Review Day 1976

Reminiscences of Arthur Haley (1)

by Stephen Beaumont (1971-77)

It has probably been nearly a year since I looked at the Harrow County website but as I was driving to work this morning I found myself recalling a dream that I had last night. I rarely remember dreams and this was vague but concerned Arthur Haley who taught me music and organ between 71 and 77. This prompted me to check the website this morning to see if there was any information about him.

Seeing the headline that he passed away earlier this week saddened me and made me wonder why I checked the site today. In addition, there was the announcement that Hugh Skillen also died earlier this month. He was my French teacher for several years. (Many memories of "the language lab" and French exchange visits!)

Arthur Haley was a true gentleman and although I was not in the same league, musically, as people like Carl Jackson, Simon Kesselman, Jon Coad, Simon Salisbury, Andrew Findon or Nick Austin, I have continued to enjoy singing, playing piano and organ. Several of my organ books still have pencil markings in them in AH's hand.

I remember the thrill of singing the Bach Magnificat at the school (I was actually a treble soloist) as this was the first time I had sung music like that with full orchestra. Singing at The Purcell Room in 1973 was also an amazing experience.

I remember his pride at achieving the FRCO qualification on the new organ at the "new" Catholic Church in Love Lane, Pinner (which he referred to as "a glorified bathroom"), and the enthusiasm for the many G&S operas that we put on over the years.

A different side of Mr Haley was seeing him in Naval Cadet mode, and despite being an RAF cadet, I once went on a Naval Cadet trip to Guernsey on a "motor fishing vessel". The West Country crew spiced their language generously with four-letter words, and I distinctly recall how incongruous it seemed that AH was in this environment.

He and his wife suffered terribly when involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, and I recall that he was away from school for many months. I'm not sure that he was ever quite the same after that. However he got me through music A level and I am grateful to him for steering my musical talents (such as they are) in new directions.

At the end of every organ lesson, when I would thank him, his response was always, "the pleasure's mine". It was certainly my pleasure and honour to have known him, and feel sure that many past pupils will agree.

Reminiscences of Arthur Haley (2)

by Frank Kirkham

In addition to being our music teacher, I shall remember him for several other reasons. He organised and led at least two trips to Dublin in the summers of 1962 and 1963. I enjoyed both, particularly the train journeys to Holyhead. On the second trip we were standing on the platform awaiting the Irish Mail at Watford Junction when a nearby diesel shunter gave two loud different-noted blasts of its horn, presumably to remind the signalman that it was standing waiting on a main line. It made everyone jump with its “Aaaarrgh, Ooooogh!!”. To the immense amusement of those around him “Bill” Haley responded to its short melody by shouting “E-flat, Gee!!”

When I was in 2A I remember one music lesson when he asked if anyone played the piano. We had to listen to a couple of our classmates hammer out basic tunes or go through five-finger exercises. Anyone else?” asked Mr H. Johnny Hall calmly raised his hand and slowly advanced to the piano. We were then entertained by one of the most natural play-by-ear pianists I have ever heard. Without any music and grinning at the class most of the time rather than seeming to look at the notes, a couple of exciting jazz or maybe brand new Beatles tunes resonated round the room. How we cheered and applauded at the end. Sadly, Mr H never invited Johnny to repeat the performance, but at least he allowed him to finish on that particular occasion, even if the style of music was not quite to his taste!

AH was my form teacher when I was in 3B in 1963/4 and took us for RE (or did we call it RK then?). I joined the choir at about this time. I did enjoy singing but the perk was being able to sit on chairs during assembly, albeit those uncomfortable ones with canvas stretched between tubular steel bars which were slightly too close together. Choir practice once a week sometimes clashed with rifle-cleaning. Although he was a CCF officer in the Naval section, there was no doubt where Mr Haley’s priorities lay over this clash of interests. He became quite cross if we skipped choir practice to clean a rifle and I seem to remember that Sergeant Dick Thwaites resolved the problem by opening the armoury on a different day of the week to accommodate choir boys! I rather think he had rumbled that fact that one week I missed both, using the other as the excuse!


return to Staff page

return HOME