The Education Act of 1944
King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon 1945-1963


Tom Barnsley, an appreciation
by Denis Dyson


Few can have realised the remarkable variety of Tom Barnsley's interests, in all of which he excelled: a would-be professional footballer in his early years, brilliant at tennis, skilled at work in wood and metal, in the construction of models and in fine lettering, a magician of professional standard, a lifelong beekeeper, the architect of his beautiful garden, botanist, geologist and of course geographer and gymnast, the holder of two degrees, he was all of these and much more, combining with them wide reading, a love of poetry, of his native north Warwickshire, above all of his family, and a deep religious conviction. A country walk with him was a revelation, as apparently clumsy fingers delicately dissected a flower, or as he brought the distant past to life when he traced the evolution of the country scene over thousands and millions of years. An apparently hard critic of youth, of the Welfare State, and of human nature, he put his fingers unerringly on all their failings, but this only thinly disguised a warm heart and sense of fun.

After more than 35 years of teaching he enjoyed his retirement to the full, the days occupied by study and workshop practice at Nuneaton Technical College, by the exercise of his skills in his wonderfully equipped home workshop, and by the care and expertise lavished on his garden. Unfortunately he was in his last year or two much troubled with arthritis, and the curtailment of his physical activity was a disappointment faced with courage, and partially mitigated by his purchase of the Encyclopaedia Britannica as a means of satisfying his thirst for knowledge. Only a fortnight before the end he had been successfully operated on for a hip replacement, to his great wonder and joy and the promise it gave of a return to activity. Unhappily the bitter cold just before Christmas put a sudden and fatal strain on a heart that had already given him trouble on more than one occasion.

It was noticeable that it was of Tom that Old Boys revisiting the School always asked, and there will be few of those who knew him who will not echo the simple tribute of the American boy at KES 20 years ago, William Parr, who heard the news with sadness so soon after his visit in the summer: "I shall never forget Tom Barnsley".


Denis Dyson, physics master 1926-1975
writing in 1979

Related article

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