Famous Old Wodens

Last updated: 26 June 09

Reg Kingston, OBE, FRCS (WBHS 1949 – 1954)

Left WBHS in 1954. Worked in family business as ‘apprentice butcher’ for 2 years. Returned to Wednesbury Commercial College and Wolverhampton Tech to secure A levels. Liverpool Medical School 1958-1964.

Junior Training posts in Surgery in 10 West Midland Hospitals. 1964-1976.

Consultant Surgeon (Specialist in Colorectal Surgery) 1976-1999.

Surgeon with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Rwanda,Liberia,Ethiopia,Sri Lanka) 1999-2003.

Awarded OBE was for setting up and running a small clinical research unit that studied Colonic and Breast Cancer. We also researched outcomes in General Surgery.

Hung up scalpel 2003.

Gordon Hughes

While at the dinner on 8 May 09, I spoke to Geoff Taylor and discussed with him a photo I showed him of the 1950/51 First XI football team which included him and me. He pointed to Gordon Hughes (then a tricky right winger) and said he became a brilliant chemist and was involved in development of the contraceptive pill, becoming a multi-millionaire.

This was news to me but I have been following it up on the internet and find there is back-up for Geoff’s comments. In a New York Times obituary of Herchel Smith, Dr Gordon A Hughes is quoted on Herchel Smith’s pioneering work on the pill and Dr Hughes is said to have studied under Smith for his doctorate at Manchester University and to have joined him at Wyeth, the huge pharmaceutical company based in the USA.

There is also, it appears, an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, by Laurie Hall, Gordon Hughes, John J Lombard Jr about Herchel Smith –www.oxforddnb.com/index/101076721/ offsite

Trevor Reynolds

Right Rev John Hughes (~1946 – ~1952)

Hughes became Bishop of Kensington, not Southwark (a more senior bishopric) where, apparently, he was much loved and a full obituary appeared in the Daily Telegraph in 1994 – they will have a copy on file. I recall clearly that his nickname amongst his juniors was “Henpeck”, partly because of his beak-like nose and also his severe and unsmiling approach to his prefecture. He died in 1994 at the age of 59 and there are web references to him. He had a younger brother, also at WBHS, Philip, who was inheritor of a variation on the nickname, thus “Chicken Nibble”.

Obituary in The Independent offsite

Peter Maddox

Terry Perks

Walsall Observer. … Press Secretary to Margaret Thatcher…. Researching … any contributions welcome!

Alfred John McIlroy (b 12 Dec 1936, d 11 Jul 2003)

Newspaper correspondent for the Daily Telegraph – obituary offsite.
Researching … any contributions welcome!

Dr F H Garlick

University professor …. Researching … any contributions welcome!

Harold Rich (b1927, WBHS 1938-45)

There is so much to say about Harold Rich —well-known Midlands pianist often heard and referred to on the radio — that he needs a page to himself!

Geoffrey Summerfield (b1931, WBHS ~1942 – ~1949)

From The Times obituary 12 Feb 1991:

Geoffrey Summerfield, teacher and writer, died on February 7 at his home in New York, aged 59. He was born at Willenhall, Staffordshire, on May 31 1931.

Summerfield believed intensely in the vivifying power of the imagination. Much of his work as educator and writer was devoted to sustaining a case for the nurture of imaginative awareness in children and young people, and his sudden death, after a short illness, deprives the academic communities of the English-speaking world of a trenchant thinker whose gifts will be greatly missed at this time of educational change.

Summerfield was a scholarship boy at Wednesbury High School for Boys, and from there he went to honours in English at Queen Mary College, London, in 1952. After service as an education officer in the Royal Air Force he took a post graduate certificate at Birmingham where he won the Elizabeth Cadbury prize as the outstanding student of his year, and from 1957 onwards he pursued a varied career as schoolteacher and lecturer in colleges of education. From 1965 to 1979 he was senior lecturer in the department of Education and English at the University of York.

During this period, Summerfield published works in which theory and practice complemented each other. On the one hand, in editing such books as English in Practice (1971) he helped to show a way forward for those who wished to free the curriculum from “flaccid pieties”. He also helped to edit a selection of Matthew Arnold’s writings on education.

On the other hand, he formed a creative association with Penguin Education in the years of their brief glory, and with his anthologies Voices (1968) and Junior Voices (1970) he set a new standard for the presentation of literature to children. He was later to publish children’s verse of his own, by turns funny and observant, collected in the appropriately entitled Welcome (1983). Summerfield’s questing mind was matched by a pilgrim energy, and for varying periods, he taught at institutions in Canada, the United States and in Australasia.

Eventually, he left York — selling his precious book collection — and (as he inelegantly put it) “bummed around” rather in the style of a latterday wandering scholar. Eventually he settled in New York where he taught for a while at Queen’s College at the City University, then in 1987 he was tenured as full professor at New York University where he became director of the “expository writing” programme. Here, as in Britain, he showed a natural capacity to stir the imagination and intelligence of his students, and those who attended official seminars in the university or unofficial ones in the Violet Cafe will remember the occasions for their crackling wit and repartee.

In addition to his work in education, Summerfield was a devoted and sensitive editor of the writings of John Clare. In 1964 he published (with Eric Robinson) outstanding editions of the Later Poemsand The Shepherd’s Calendar and these were followed in 1966 by the Selected Poems and Prose. This work was crowned last year by Summerfield’s masterly edition of the Selected Poetry for Penguin Books.

His study of children’s literature in the eighteenth century, Fantasy and Reason (1984), bespeaks his enduring love of the literature of the English Romantics — and his passion for book collecting. (He once propounded the formation of a society of bibliomaniacs anonymous, who might vainly try to dissuade fellow members from the addiction).

Geoffrey Summerfield was twice married. He is survived by three children of the first marriage and by his second wife, Judith.

Bryan John Holmes (b1939?, WBHS 1950-1955, “Onky”)

(Photo courtesy of American Adventure)


In print since early 70s. Over 30 western adventure novels published under the three names of “Ethan Wall”, “Charles Langley Hayes” and “B J Holmes”.

Latest book (2001): Bradford’s Pocket Crossword Dictionary (published by Peter Collin Ltd, through WHSmith)

Now retired but during college/university career published 30 plus academic/professional papers in UK and abroad. (Last was in The International Journal of Supply Management, under the auspices of University of Arizona.)

Also a handful of shorter fictions (horror, ghost etc) including fiction broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and a six-part series for RTE (Radio Telefis Eireann).

Forthcoming books scheduled for publication Oct 2002:

  • “Cryptic Crosswords – Cracking the Code”
  • “Jake’s Women” (novel)

An appraisal of Bryan’s early fiction can be found in Twentieth Century Western Writers (published by St James, Chicago)

Up-to-date bibliographies may be found in The International Writers and Authors Who’s Who (Cambridge and London) or The Writers’ Directory (St James).

Sir Kevin Satchwell    (b1951?,  WBHS 1967 – 1969)

Kevin Satchwell is still the Head of Thomas Telford school in Telford. It achieved 100% GCSE results. Kevin is very much in the forefront of educational thinking for the sort of courses devised and for the development of courses for other schools and teachers. The school is massively oversubscribed and, it is said, parents will move house or cut throats to get their children in!

Peter Horley

More information about Kevin and his school may be found at:

Many more links may be found from UK search engines. Some of the above may stop working as they point to news services which may “retire” the articles. He also had a whole page devoted to him in the Times newspaper on 22 Nov 2000, entitled “May I be excused, sir? I’m just popping out for an interview!”.

Henry Treece    (1911-1966, WBHS 1924? – 1927?)

Henry Treece was an author of children’s historical novels. I have one on my bookshelves entitledThe Eagles Have Flown which is about Britain 60 years after the Romans have left. Another novel is Hounds of the King which is about 1066 and the Battle of Hastings. His books were published by Knight Books in paperback but originally by the Bodley Head. I don’t know how many books he eventually wrote or whether he is alive or dead.

Peter Horley

Henry Treece was a highly-regarded novelist from Wednesbury, known chiefly for his stories for young people, about Vikings, although he also wrote several historical novels for adults, one of the best of these being The Green Man, a Norse re-working of Hamlet .  All his novels are kept in a special section devoted to him in Wednesbury library.

David Calcutt

The great Henry Treece wrote some wonderful books on history for children but much appreciated by me when my son discovered them in the 1980s. Most notable was the viking trilogy, Viking Dawn, Road to Samarkand, Viking Sunset, truly moving novels – read them, they are still available in the second-hand world.

Peter Maddox

You can read more about him at:

David Calcutt    (b1950?, WBHS c1961-c1968)

David is also an playwright, storyteller and poet, with quite a long list of successful radio/theatre plays and books. You can read more about him at:

Lord Archer of Sandwell (b1926?, WBHS 1937-43)

Peter Archer, formerly MP for Tipton and Rowley Regis Labour peer.

Member of House of Lords; his interests include human rights, disarmament.

Graduated from University College London with the degree of Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), University College London with the degree of Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) and London School of Economics with the degree of Master of Law (LL.M.).

He was admitted to Gray’s Inn, as a barrister in 1952; remaining a Barrister until 1999. He held the office of M.P. (Labour) for Rowley Regis; Tipton between 1966 and 1974 and Warley West between 1974 and 1992. He held the offices of Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney-General between 1967 and 1970; Bencher in 1974; Solicitor-General under Wilson and Callaghan between 1974 and 1979; Crown Court Recorder in 1982. He was invested as a Queen’s Counsel (Q.C.) in 1971 and as a Privy Counsellor (P.C.) in 1977. He was a Member of the Shadow Cabinet, 1980-87 and Intelligence and Security committee.

He was created Baron Archer of Sandwell, of Sandwell, co. of West Midlands [U.K. Life Peer] in 1992.

He wrote the books The Queen’s Courts, (published in 1956), Social Welfare and the Citizen (1957, editor), Communism and the Law,(1963, with Lord Reay), Freedom at Stake(1966), Human Rights(1969), Purpose in Socialism(1973), The Role of the Law Officers(1978) and More Law Reform Now(1984, editor).

Source: http://www.thepeerage.com/p4441.htm – thanks to Alan Gutteridge for finding this.

Picture of Lord Archer with Mathematics master, Ernest Powell, Speech Day 1968.