www.Poundswick .org.uk

Staff Biographies

Contributions from a number of Old Poundswickians have enabled me to put together a few Staff Biographies. We currently have three:

Albert Gilpin
Miss G. M. Champness
Bill Hutchinson

It is certainly not my intention that this page should host only biographies of staff who are no longer with us and so what I could do with is a few enthusiastic living ex-members of staff who might be willing to provide some information for their own biographies. So come on, you ex-Poundswick staff, this site is intended as much for you as for pupils so who's going to get the ball rolling?


Albert Gilpin

Mr. Albert Gilpin

Mr. Albert Gilpin, M.B.E., B.A. was Poundswick's headmaster from the opening of the school in 1956 until his death in 1972. A few months ago I received an e-mail out of the blue from his grandson, Miles. He put me in touch with his father, Albert's elder son Michael, and between them they offered to put together some words about his life for this site.

The product of their offer has yet to materialise despite a few gentle prompts, although I am hopeful that they will eventually come up with the goods. However, lack of progress has prompted one enthusiastic Old Poundswickian to take up the challenge to see what she could find out for herself. Margaret Steele (1963-70), who now lives in Clitheroe, Lancashire, remembers her mother showing her an article about Mr. Gilpin's death in the Wythenshawe Express just after it had happened. Armed with the knowledge that he died in December 1972, Margaret took herself off to Manchester Central Library in search of a copy of the article. She found it.

Using information from the article, I have compiled this very brief summary of Mr. Gilpin's life, which I hope you will find interesting.

Albert Gilpin was born in 1915 and was brought up in Rotherham, Yorkshire. After leaving school he studied languages at Sheffield University and began his teaching career before the start of the Second World War. During the war years he became a member of the Intelligence Service and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, earning the M.B.E. in the process.

After 1945 he rejoined the teaching profession and worked under several Local Authorities before being selected as headmaster of Manchester's only co-educational Grammar School. He and his family moved to Patchcroft Road, Peel Hall and he settled down to his task. Within a very few years his vision, drive and energy resulted in the school having an enviable reputation for high standards and competitiveness.

Mr. Gilpin's house
on Patchcroft Road

But then the axe fell on Grammar Schools and as the 1967 deadline for conversion to Comprehensive approached, many of his hand-picked, top-line staff left for pastures new. This must have been a very difficult time as he attempted to replace a huge amount of lost talent.

He became a City Magistrate in 1968 and died on Wednesday 20th December 1972 immediately after conducting the school Carol Service. He was 57.

To most students, Mr. Gilpin was a quiet, unassuming man almost remote in his manner. There can, however, be no doubt that he was the driving force behind everything that happened at the school; Poundswick went where he directed.

When Bill Hutchinson retired in 1976, a party was held for him at the school and I was one of many former pupils invited to attend. It was inevitably a jolly occasion and during it Hutch gave a short speech about his time at Poundswick. However, when he came to recall Mr. Gilpin's death he literally broke down and cried. Can you imagine Bill Hutchinson in tears? Well he wept that night. His tears spoke more than any words for the depth of respect that he had for Mr. Gilpin. It was a respect that was shared by everyone who knew him.


Miss G. M. Champness

Nobody who was at Poundswick during its first 15 years or so could fail to remember Miss Champness. Yes, she was strict; a disciplinarian. She could quell the most rebellious behaviour in an instant with one of her withering looks. And yet, from e-mails that I have received from numerous Old Poundswickians, it is clear that she is remembered with tremendous affection. In many ways she epitomised all that was good about Poundswick in its early years; discipline, respect, encouragement, fairness, order, pride in the school and clear boundaries between what was acceptable and what was not.

I often get asked "do you know what happened to Miss Champness ?", well let me tell you what I do know:

Miss G. M. Champness

Miss Gladys Margaret Champness joined the staff at Poundswick in 1956 as Senior Mistress and immediately assumed responsibility for the pastoral care of the girls. You can imagine Mr. Gilpin going through the process of selecting staff for his brand new school; he must have been delighted to recruit someone of her experience and strength of character.

Miss Champness was born in Ardwick, Lancs on 26th August 1909. She started teaching in the 1930s at Harpurhey Grammar School in North Manchester and thus had over 20 years teaching experience by the time she came to Poundswick. Indeed, a number of Old Poundswickians report that their parents recall being taught by Miss Champness in the 1930s and 40s. She taught Maths - very well; but could turn her hand to any role that you could reasonably expect of any teacher - mentor, confidant, counsellor, adviser, listener. Dennis Preston (1963-70) remembers that her nickname was "Dolly"; a name used with affection rather than malice and he suspects that she actually quite liked it! Out-of-school, Miss Champness was a keen tennis player and a member of the Bowdon Tennis Club where she was Ladies Singles Champion in 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1954.

During her time at Poundswick Miss Champness lived on Rivington Road, Hale. She retired in July 1969 and moved to Kirkby Lonsdale in the Lake District to live with her brother, John and sister, Kathleen.
Dave Hamman (1964-71) recalls that when she left, his maths class bought her a small Wedgwood vase. She was genuinely touched by this gesture and suggested that any pupil visiting the Lake District should look her up. At least one person, Colin Waite (1958-65), did so and you can read his recollections on the
Your Favourite Teachers page.

Miss Champness's bungalow
in a sunny spot
at Kirkby Lonsdale

Miss Champness died in the Nuffield Hospital, Lancaster on 3rd February 1986. She was 76.

If you can tell us anything more about her time at Poundswick or about what happened to her after she left, please get in touch; there are many Old Poundswickians who would love to know.

I'm particularly grateful to Dave Evans (1956-63), who spent many weeks doggedly pursuing many false trails - and ultimately a few fruitful ones - researching information on Miss Champness and also to Linda Struggles who came to Dave's rescue when he ground to a halt with the Champness family tree.

Bill Hutchinson

At an appropriate moment at Bill Hutchinson's retirement party in 1976, some former Poundswick pupil spontaneously shouted "Three cheers for Mr. Poundswick!" It was responded to with unanimous enthusiasm. Everyone cheered. Hutch beamed. You couldn't help but feel that the very fabric of the building resounded to this magic moment.

Mr. W. J. Hutchinson

We all know that in many ways Bill Hutchinson was Poundswick; he was the high-profile, sleeves-rolled-up drive and energy behind the place. If, as a pupil, you were for Poundswick then Hutch was for you. On the other hand, if you let it down, or by careless deed or word brought upon it reproach, he would spare you no mercy; he loved Poundswick and he expected you to love it too.
Mr. Hutchinson was born on 9th December 1915 in Moss Side and went to Ducie Avenue School for Boys and then to Central High. He read Maths at Manchester University and after graduation got a job with Marks and Spencer. However, he soon realised that he wanted to be a teacher and he saved up to put himself through a teacher training course. His first posting was to Central Grammar School in the mid-thirties. He then moved on to Urmston Grammar School before starting at Poundswick in 1956. As its original Second Master and unquestioned right-hand-man to Mr. Gilpin, he already had 21 years of teaching experience behind him and was overjoyed at the prospect of helping to create a brand new school.

There wasn't much at Poundswick that Hutch wasn't involved in. Teaching Maths was his bread-and-butter but he also strove hard to expand pupils' social skills by organising (and encouraging others to organise) all manner of social and practical activities: dances, plays, sports, handicrafts, visits to places of interest, you-name-it. If you wanted to know where he was you just stopped and listened; somewhere in the distance you'd hear iron-foundry type noises and see a cloud of rising dust: there'd be Hutch! Everything he did was done with incredible enthusiasm; there were never any half-measures. When the Grammar School was in its twilight years and everyone was faced with the gloomy prospect of Poundswick going comprehensive I remember talking to him about it and, expecting him to be doubtful, was amazed to find him enthusiastic and determined to give it his best shot, which I'm sure he did. Many other staff saw the coming of comprehensive as the signal to move on. Not Hutch. Poundswick was his life and Poundswick was where he would stay.

Outside school, Hutch was a very practical person and he would go through phases of intense enthusiasm for particular activities. At one stage he learned the knack of making Formica-faced table mats. After school he would monopolise Mr. Stansfield's woodwork shop and turn them out at a rate that would put a modest factory to shame. Come the next School Fair, there they would be; either for sale or offered as raffle prizes. Later he had a passion for turning wooden bowls and then for making oak jewellery boxes. My research for this website has brought me into contact with many Old Poundswickians, both pupils and staff. A few of them were lucky enough to have been presented with a bowl or a box as a personal gift from Hutch. These are invariably shown to me with great pride; treasured items indeed.

Hutch loved dancing, indeed it was while dancing at the Embassy Ballroom in Whalley Range that he met Eileen, the girl who was to become his wife.

Not surprisingly he took it upon himself to organise ballroom dancing lessons for pupils at Poundswick. Teenagers understandably tended to regard ballroom dancing as a bit "sissy" and I was never able to work out how he managed to persuade (or was it coerce) all manner of unlikely rebels to take it quite seriously and, in some cases, to get very good at it. He never looked more at ease than when he was "tinkling the ivories" at a school dance with a hundred or more couples swaying to his accompaniment.

Hutch in July 1971

As custodian of the Poundswick website I am privileged to get dozens of e-mails every week from Old Poundswickians and many offer their memories of Hutch. Perhaps not surprisingly, many boys remember him as being hard, strict, uncompromising, bullish and some were obviously never able (or never felt inclined to try) to penetrate his outer shell. On the other hand, many girls describe him as "a sweetie" or a "big softie"; they were generally quicker to recognise that although hard on the outside he was kind, supportive, protective, encouraging and remarkably approachable when you broke through to the real man underneath. Like I said earlier, if you were for Poundswick, Hutch was for you, but on the other hand . . . . .

Hutch retired at the end of the summer term 1976 at the age of 60. He was still in good health and continued to give private lessons and to do part-time teaching.

Bill with Wendy Berry
at the 1995 Pinewood Reunion

His interest in handicrafts progressed with renewed vigour and his house on Thorley Lane, Timperley, continued to resound to his DIY activities, woodwork, rug-making, tapestry, decorating and a dozen other practical pursuits. He also continued to be a driving force behind the regular Poundswick Grammar School reunions held at the Pinewood Hotel, attending them all, including the very last one in 1995.
Mr. Hutchinson died on 11th January 1996 after a period of illness. He was 80. His funeral took place on a bitterly cold winter's day at Altrincham Crematorium and it has been described to me as a reunion itself. Almost every member of staff who had served with him at Poundswick was there. They, together with many hundreds of former Poundswick pupils will never forget their friend, colleague, teacher, mentor; their Mr. Poundswick.