Arthur Godfrey Jenkinson 1874-1968

Arthur Godfrey Jenkinson was born in Streatham, London on 24th March 1874, the eldest son of William Wilberforce Jenkinson and Alice Leigh Bedall. In the entry for Arthur’s baptism in the register of St Leonard’s, Lambeth, William’s occupation is stated as ‘Gentleman’ , but by the time of the 1881 census, this had become ‘Land Agent’.

Arthur was educated at Westfields School which he left for Winchester School in 1886 and then to Dulwich College in 1888. In 1893 he was a Junior Hulmes Exhibitioner, at Brasenose College, Oxford going on to achieve 2nd class Mods in 1895, a pass in Lit. Hum. In 1897, BA in 1898 and finally MA in 1901.

The 1901 census sees Arthur resident in the Teachers’ Hostel of Aysgarth School, North Yorkshire, with five other masters at the school. During the school summer vacation in 1903 Arthur completed the course for the Diploma in Education at Oxford. He took the examination in December of that year and received the diploma on 23rd June 1904.

In 1908, Arthur was ‘Interim Master’ at Edinburgh Academy and it is interesting to note that M.W.Keatinge, who was elected to the first Readership in Education at Oxford in 1902, had been appointed special Modern Language Master at the Academy in Edinburgh in 1896 . They were undoubtedly well-acquainted by the time Arthur returned to Oxford to obtain his Diploma.

In April 1910, Arthur was appointed to his first headship at St Austell’s County School in Cornwall. The fee-paying school had opened two years previously amid considerable local opposition but, with the support of Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who was one of the school governors, he eventually won over the staff and the local community. However, there was still conflict with some of the other governors of the school who accused him of ‘being a snob and not of their class’.

On 4th August 1910, Arthur married Emily Margaret Stewart, the 4th daughter of Capt. James Stewart of Cathcart, Glasgow. The 1911 census return tells us that they were living at 2, Elm Terrace, St Austell.

The outbreak of war in 1914 cut short Arthur’s efforts at the school and in December he announced at the school assembly (perhaps with some relief!), that he had volunteered to join the Army. The Supplement to the London Gazette of 19th August 1915 announced his commission as temporary second lieutenant in The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), 24th Battalion (2nd Sportsman’s). He disembarked at Calais, France on 7th December serving in the Army Ordnance Corps there and later as Director of Ordnance Services for the British Force in Italy. He wrote many letters to the school, some of which were published in the school magazine. They describe his training and his work as an ordnance officer both before and after his overseas service and, during his periods of leave, he returned to give lectures on the war as well as to ‘donate’ pieces of equipment to the school musuem. In March 1919, Arthur was discharged with the rank of Major and returned to the school to resume his position as headmaster. The next year he established a memorial fund for stained-glass to be inserted in the windows above the main staircase of the school in honour of those who had fallen during the War. Most of these ‘Old Boys’ are listed on the school website.

In 1921, Arthur was appointed as the first headmaster of Hemsworth Secondary School (later Hemsworth Grammar School), Pontefract, which opened in November of that year with 101 pupils and a staff of four. He had a reputation not only as a disciplined academic, able to speak French and Italian, but was also keen on sports, music and drama which he enthusiastically introduced into the school. He himself was a keen dancer, musician, actor as well as the author of the school song, writing the words in collaboration with the music teacher, Mrs Wilks, who contributed the melody.

Arthur had a much happier relationship with his governors in Yorkshire, as the school history of 1922 shows:

“Mr. Jenkinson also clearly enjoyed an excellent relationship with the Board of Governors in these early days, thanking them for their increasing energy and interest in the school, which was admirable, and for their tolerant attitude and unvarying courtesy towards him. They were all looking forward to a time when the school would be regarded as one of the best in the West Riding.”

The historians of Hemsworth Grammar School have provided considerable detail of the history of the school and Arthur Jenkinson’s place in its daily governance, educational and cultural life until his retirement in 1937. Reports of meetings of governors, relations with the local authority, the daily duties of a headmaster, his active participation in dramatic, musical and dance performances, his founding of the Old Students’ Association (later the Old Hilmians’ Association) and his handling of some of the early difficulties with the association. His thinking about curriculum issues and development and the purposes of schooling – as opposed to training for employment – decision-making around staffing and premises to cater for an expanding school population, presiding over events such as Sports and Parents Days, Folk Dancing and School Plays, are all documented in historical accounts for each year between 1921 and 1934 and then through the transcription of school magazines from 1934 onwards.

Arthur retired from the school in 1937 and he returned to live in Oxford with Emily, at ‘Carolside’, 20 Jack Straw’s Lane, Headington. According to the online history of Headington, they were still living at the same address in 1947 and 1956. Emily died there on the 8th October 1961.

On 21st March 1964, Arthur returned to the school for a celebration of his 90th birthday which was attended by many of this former pupils at the school.

He died on the 11th February, 1968 aged 93. His death was registered in March 1968 in the registration district of Banbury.

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The photos on this page and in the attachment are reproduced with the kind permission and generosity of the authors of the Hemsworth Grammar School website