A Blue Coat boarder during the 1950s, Frank Irwin’s memories of the School have been captured in his book ‘Memories from the Mid-20th Century’, published in 2007 by the Blue Coat Brotherly Society.
How would you describe your time at the Blue Coat?
I arrived at the Blue Coat School as a boarder in 1950 and walked each day along the roads to Mosspits Lane County primary school where I took the 11+ examination in 1952. Having passed that, I attended the school’s grammar stream for the next five years. During my time at the School I loved taking part in as many sports as possible. From an early age I was interested in table tennis and regularly took part in tournaments arranged by the School. Following on from my Blue Coat education I continued to play table tennis for many years, and ultimately qualified as a National Coach. I am very grateful for the playing experience the School provided me with.
How did your experience at the School prepare you for your career?
The School became my home for the greater part of my formative years. I think the School regime, in making us all learn to be independent and to look after ourselves first engendered a spirit of entrepreneurial existence, which helped in later life.
What has been your path since leaving the School?
I left the School in 1957 and joined the Merchant Navy as an apprentice engineer. In the years that followed I achieved a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, which provided me with an opportunity to travel the world on Shell Tankers, visiting Japan, India, Iran, Iraq, Singapore and many other countries. Once completed, a little naughtily I left to get married and started to work on the mainland. From there I moved into the soap making industry, and then to the pharmaceutical industry where I became a senior engineer. My expertise allowed me to set up my own very successful engineering consultancy business.
What do you do now?
To celebrate the School’s 300th anniversary in 2008, I along with former Blue Coat students penned a book entitled ‘Memories from the Mid – 20th Century’, documenting our memories of the School during the 1930s through to the 1950s. Now enjoying my retirement I remain an active member of the Blue Coat Brotherly Society, a fantastic society that has allowed me to remain in contact with many of my former classmates.
What would be your advice to students at the Blue Coat today?
1. Do not waste your education time, use it wisely.
2. You can satisfactorily mix top level sport with your studies as long as you balance your time.
3. Treat your fellow pupils and teachers with the respect they deserve!
4. Teachers, be careful how you treat your pupils as one day they might write a book about their time at the Blue Coat School and YOU may feature in it!!
If you would like to buy Frank’s book ‘Memories from the Mid-20th Century’, or would like to find out more about the Tricentenary Series please click on the link below