Harrow County School for Boys

The 1920s and peace...

by Alex Bateman

Randall Williams had taken over a young but already distinguished School in 1919.  He was a different character to Ernest Young, but one well suited to the task, and as it turned out, the longest serving head Harrow County School was to have.

Coming after the seemingly golden years of Young, and the dark days of the First World War, the School faced a demanding period.  School uniform had only recently been restored, while other problems over staff and premises remained.  He carried on many of the activities begun by Young, but had a more sympathetic air to him, embracing the under achievers as much as those who excelled. He tried, with the aid of George Thorn, the Music Master, to raise the musical output of the School, and for a time, the local population benefited from concerts and dances held at the School.  However they were short lived, possibly with the appearance of the local cinema.

Instead, a School Orchestra was formed, a 'School Hymnal' appeared, and probably most well known of all, a new School Song, 'Worth not Birth' written by the two masters made its mark.

With the loss of Gaytonians during the war, the task of a School War Memorial fell to Randall.  In 1923 he instituted 'Founders Day', originally held in October, but later changed to January, becoming more a celebration of the Schools birthday.

Randall Williams early years at the School were not however without controversy.  Six Houses had been created by 1912, but within a month of his arrival he proposed to cut the number by two.  It was not a case of last in first out, but more because of their position in the House standings, constantly 5th and 6th.  This met with bitter opposition but did go through.  Another item was the introduction of Rugby into what had been a soccer School.  With the reputation HCS (and the Old Gaytonians) later gained at this sport it seems odd now, but this too met with opposition.  For five years the two sports existed side by side, but in 1926 Soccer was abolished altogether.  Many accused Randall of snobbery, claiming he was trying to have HCS looked upon as a Public School!

One notable item that appeared at the School at this time was the cricket pavilion.  Long needed, Randall threw himself into the task of raising the money needed for it, and leapt to its defence when after completion, complaints poured in from local residents.

With the growth of the surrounding area, expansion of the existing School was looked at.  In 1921 a £2,500 scheme proposing alterations to the buildings and the inclusion of a new dining room was put forward, but not accepted.  Four years later  a revised plan, costing some £10,000, and allowing for two new laboratories, six classrooms, a dining hall and common room was proposed and this time accepted.  The new wing of the School, along Sheepcote Road was completed in November 1927

The headmaster had many crosses to bear in the post war years.  Inspections of 1920 and 1922 commented on the lack of clerical support he had, a fact only rectified in 1925.  A more bizarre episode happened in 1928 when Randall made a request for a telephone.  So outlandish was the request viewed, that the 'Harrow Observer' commented: "…we fail entirely to understand why the headmaster wishes to introduce such nuisances into his School…"  After much discussion, a telephone arrived.

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