Thursday, September 22, 2011

Robert Vickers ROWLAND - Headteacher to 1964

Robert Rowland
Robert Vickers ROWLAND was head teacher at the City of Coventry Boarding School 1961 to 1964.

UPDATE - January 2012
In this revised post, Alison Rowland has kindly provided a photo of Robert Rowland, some corrections and further information. Additionally I've added some new links to magazines that mention him and some material from The Boarder 1961 (The magazine of the City of Coventry Boarding school)

The photograph was taken in his office at the school, I think in late 1963/early 64

David Partridge, one of the pupils in the early 60's remembers him fondly " Mr Rowlands had been a student at Gottingen University before the war and then a bomber pilot in WWll, difficult time for him I think. He was very good news, and he also taught French rather well."

Contribution from Alison neĆ© Rowland (Thank you Alison)
Woolverstone Hall

Somewhere, I have a full obituary for my father which appeared in Janus, the school magazine for Woolverstone Hall, the school where my father taught before becoming Head at C of C.  My father won an exhibition to Cambridge, but did not take this up because of the outbreak of war.  Following his war service first as a pilot and then in intelligence, he attended The University of Birmingham where he obtained a First Class honours degree in German.  He went on to do a teacher training qualification, winning the Cadbury Prize for Education, and then spent time studying at Gottingen University (not Heidelberg, as mentioned by one of your contributors), before beginning a career teaching modern Languages.

My mother, Barbara, continued to live in Cleobury Mortimer after my father’s death, until she died in 2001, aged 79. She is buried, along with my father and my sister, Susan, in Neen Savage churchyard – a place full of memories. My mother forged a long and lasting friendship with my father’s successors at the school, George and Margaret Parker."

Robert Rowland is remembered at Woolverstone Hall via the Rowland Memorial Prize -
" A new prize, the Rowland Memorial Prize, will be competed for for the first time this term. The fund from which this prize will derive is made,up,of contributions from members of the teaching and administrative staff who worked at Woolverstone Hall with the late Mr. R. V. Rowland, and from the Old Boys' Association. It will be awarded to the winner of an annual essay competition, set by the deputy Headmaster on a subject of general rather than specialised interest."

It's clear from an article that appeared in the Coventry Standard in 1964 that he had envisioned a better future for the school " "This is not a monastic life....I would like to organise school dances but there are not enough girls in the nearby area" He also had a vision for developing a 6th form." 

From the City of Coventry school magazine - The Boarder (Issue No 4 July 1961) we read, in the editorial
" ...we look forward to a new period in the school's history - a period which will be inaugurated when Mr RV Rowland takes over headship in september. He has already spoken of his keeness to come to the school and our best wishes go to welcome him."

And from page 4

Mr Rowland at the 1961 Cross country presentation (by the chair).
With the death of  Mr RT Morris an era in the history of our school ended; with the coming of Mr RV Rowland, the new Headmaster, a new age begins, the exact outlines of which will not be visible for some time.

Mr Robert Vickers Rowland is of Welsh extraction but was born in Birmingham and attended school in Solihull. Soon after leaving school war broke out and he went into the RAF and became a pilot. When the war ended he studied at Birmingham University and took a degree in German. Afterwards he did postgraduate work at Oxford and in Germany.

He has taught in a number of schools, the most recent being Prince Henry's school in Evesham and Woolverstone Hall. The latter is a boarding school run by London County Council and is similar in some respects to our own school.

When I asked him for his first impressions of the boys, he said that it was their neatness which was most notable. He said he was impressed by the tidiness of the school and also the general politeness he met whilst walking around during his visit to the Founder's Day Cricket Match.

With some trepidation I asked him if he had hopes for the school. He smiled and in a loud voice said, "Good gracious, yes." He went on to say that he wanted new buildings and to ensure the school maintained its good record. He also expressed a wish to cultivate new interests in the school and was keen on furthering the development of the social committee."
M. McAvoy - Form Upper 1V

Also from the same magazine -

(Twenty one Years A School (1940 - 1961) Extract.
"In June of this year the school celebrated its twenty first birthday. Parents, friends and old boys were invited tot he school and at luncheon Mr Lambley, the Acting Headmaster, welcome the visitors and made brief references to the history of the school.

Mr Rowland then introduced himself and said that he hoped that the support this function received would be offered to other school activities in the coming years. He added that he had never seen before so many representatives of different aspects of school's life gathered at anyone function."

Robert Vickers Rowland's grave - Neen Savage Church
Sadly he died February 28th  - Rosemary Webb Rehill recalls " Bob Rowland had been visiting a boy who was in jail. He was on the M6 and rear ended a broken down lorry. The big scandel was that he was "over the 8". The sad part was that Barbara Rowland had just had a baby (Jonathan)......Bob Rowland had three children, Sue, Allison and Jonathan. He came to City of Cov. after Mr.Morris had a heart attack in the assembly hall during a play. I think? it must have been early 60's. late 50's. Sue was the same age as me. After Bob died in that tragic road accident. The Rowlands moved down to a house in the vicarage in Neen Savage. Barb. Rowland bought land from Jim Davis (I'm guessing insurance money) in the village and had a small house built. Sue was killed in a tragic road accident a few years later in Kinlet.."


While doing a search on the internet related to the school I came across this obituary to Bob Rowland -

ROWLAND. Robert Vickers, died February 28th, 1964, in a car accident. He was Headmaster of City of Coventry School, Cleobury Mortimer. He left a widow and three children."

The quote is from The Silhillian - The Silhillian is the magazine of the Old Silhillians' Association. It includes news of the school, messages from the committee, news of old boys, reminiscences of School, news of the Old Silhillian sports clubs and obituaries of Old Silhillians and former masters.

I found a pdf version from 1964 on the internet -

To look through the pdf version on line click the link below -
Robert Rowland was a pupil at the Solihull School - a British Independent school situated near the centre of Solihull, West Midlands, England. 2010 saw Solihull School celebrate its 450th anniversary since its foundation in 1560.


In 1560 the revenues of the chantry chapels of St Mary and St Katherine were diverted for the endowment of a school for boys. The revenue of the chapel of St Alphege was added to the fund six years later enhancing the capacity of the school. The education remained based in teachings of The Church and the desire to turn out 'respectable, thoughtful, successful young gentlemen'.

Samuel Johnson
In the 17th century it became a boarding school and the number of pupils grew. The school became more notable and well thought of due to the involvement of several prominent families. Much of this development came under the Headmastership of Rev. Richard Mashiter who, in 1735, was famously elected ahead of Dr Sameul Johnson, the celebrated author, essayist, and lexicographer. Johnson was passed over because the school's directors thought he was "a very haughty, ill-natured gent., and that he has such a way of distorting his face (which though he can't help) the gent[s] think it may affect some lads in the pursuit of learning". The successful applicant Mashiter was, by marriage, related to the aristocratic Holbeche family and his daughter married John Short, a well-respected surgeon in Solihull who would go on to serve the school as a Feoffee for 57 years. Short's six sons were all educated at Solihull School and became professionally and socially successful. One of whom, Robert Short, rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the army of The Honourable East India Company and later became 54th Lord of The Manor of Solihull. Due to a strong affection for Solihull School he expressly recommended it to his fellow officers and peers, according to the diaries of Caroline Clive.

In around 1879 the Feoffees were replaced by a board of Governors who allowed £4,345 to be made available for an architect, J. A. Chatwin, to be commissioned to build a new school on a new site for 80 day boys and 20 boarders. Upon the building's completion in 1882, the school relocated to the new site on the Warwick Road from its previous location on the edge of Brueton Park. 'School House' is now a grade II listed building. Expansion continued on this Warwick Road site into the 20th century. Over the course of the 20th century the school grew steadily from 200 to nearly 1000 pupils.

Read More here -

Solihull School boasted two known Silhillian poets, both who had houses named after them - it could be that Bob Rowland was in one of these house but so far no information on his life at the school.

One house was " Jago (Maroon) - named after 18th-century poet and Old Silhillian Richard Jago. Jago went up to University College, Oxford and then returned to Warwickshire, eventually entering the clergy."

Richard Jago - Poet. Born at Beaudesert near Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire where his father was Rector. He was educated at Solihull School and University College, Oxford, becoming friends with both William Somerville and William Shenstone, the latter having a lasting influence on his life and work. On leaving university he became a curate at Snitterfield, Warwickshire.

His poetry gained him recognition and patronage, but he continued to spend most of his time at Snitterfield and ornamented the vicarage grounds, influenced, no doubt, by the enthusiasm for landscaping of his friend Shenstone. At his own request he was buried in the a vault in the church.

Richard Jago is remembered for his poem Edge-hill, or, the rural prospect delineated and moralised (1767). This is a long and rambling work in four books describing the famous Battle of Edge Hill during the English Civil War in 1642 which took place on a ridge in south Warwickshire. It has some clever descriptions set at different times of the day and contains many references to the local scenery. He recalled his Solihull schooldays in Book III.
Source (there are links to his poetical works on this site).
Also more information on Richard Jago can be found here -

He afterwards referred to his schooling there with these lines,

"Hail, Solihull! respectful I salute,
Thy walls; more awful once! when from the sweets
Of festive freedom, and domestic ease,
With throbbing heart, to stern discipline
Of pedagogue morose I had return'd
But tho' no more his brow severe, nor dread
Of birchen sceptre awes my riper age.
A sterner tyrant rises to my view,
With deadlier weapon arm'd."

The pedagogue morose was one John Crompton (1704–35) and the sterner tyrant the literary critic and his pen. From there, in 1732, he went up to University College, Oxford, taking his MA degree in 1738.

The full text of the poem and others by Richard Jago can be found here

Another poet with a house named after him at the school was - " Shenstone (Black) - named after 18th-century poet, Old Silhillian, classmate and lifelong friend of Jago, William Shenstone. Shenstone went up to Pembroke College, Oxford and then returned home to manage his family's estate."

More of William Shenstone here -

Son of Thomas Shenstone and Anne Penn, daughter of William Penn of Harborough Hall, then in Hagley (now Blakedown), Shenstone was born at the Leasowes, Halesowen. At that time this was an enclave of Shropshire within the county of Worcestershire.

Shenstone received part of his formal education at Halesowen Grammar School (now The Earls High School). In 1741, Shenstone became bailiff to the feoffees of Halesowen Grammar School.
While attending Solihull School, he began a lifelong friendship with Richard Jago. He went up to Pembroke College, Oxford in 1732 and made another firm friend there in Richard Graves, the author of The Spiritual Quixote.

Shenstone took no degree, but, while still at Oxford, he published Poems on various occasions, written for the entertainment of the author (1737). This edition was intended for private circulation only but, containing the first draft of The Schoolmistress, it attracted some wider attention. Shenstone tried hard to suppress it but in 1742 he published anonymously a revised draft of The Schoolmistress, a Poem in imitation of Spenser. The inspiration of the poem was Sarah Lloyd, teacher of the village school where Shenstone received his first education. Isaac D'Israeli contended that Robert Dodsley had been misled in publishing it as one of a sequence of Moral Poems, its intention having been satirical, as evidenced by the ludicrous index appended to its original publication.

In 1741 he published The Judgment of Hercules. He inherited the Leasowes estate, and retired there in 1745 to undertake what proved the chief work of his life, the beautifying of his property. He embarked on elaborate schemes of landscape gardening which gave the Leasowes a wide celebrity, but sadly impoverished the owner. Shenstone was not a contented recluse. He desired constant admiration of his gardens, and he never ceased to lament his lack of fame as a poet.
Shenstone died unmarried.

From his poem the School Mistress

" In every village mark'd with little spire,
Embower'd in trees, and hardly known to fame,
There dwells, in lowly shed and mean attire,
A matron old, whom we schoolmistress name,
Who boasts unruly brats with birch to tame;
They grieven sore, in piteous durance pent,
Awed by the power of this relentless dame,
And ofttimes, on vagaries idly bent,
For unkempt hair, or task uuconn'd, are sorely shent."

The full text and other poems by William Shenstone can be found here along with other poem.

Another copy of  The Silhillian has been found on the internet - this time from 1935 while Robert Rowland was still a pupil. There is a  small mention of him receiving a certificates on page 150 and mentions of other Rowlands from Shirley in Birmingham (using the 'Find' button.). Follow this link to view the pdf file for this magazine -

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