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Glen Pride

Mr Glen Pride

[Madras College Oral History Interview between Mr Ted Brocklebank (TB) and Mr Glen Pride (GP). The recording was transcribed by Veronica Whymant.]

[Start of Recording]

TB: Let's start really at the beginning. The Kindergarten. Your memories of your days in the Kinder - 1932, I think you said it was?

GP: Yes, when I was five. I went in 1932. I've got the list here of the teachers if you want them.

TB: Yes, Dawson and Gartlay.

GP: Yes, there were Dawson and Gartlay on the ground floor and upstairs was Forrester and then, of course, the final class was Hamilton. And the things that I remember about it very, very briefly of the Primary was, first of all [pause], sorry.

TB: That's alright. Who was the Head Teacher? Maybe it would be better if I just do it in a conversation type of way.

GP: Well, it might be better that way.

TB: Who was the Head Teacher at the Kindergarten then?

GP: Miss Hamilton. She did the, what they call, the Quali Class. The Qualification or the Control Class. And that's the one that ensured that you, which class you entered in the Secondary department of Madras.

TB: And did you have an A, and a B and a C when you went up to Madras?

GP: I wouldn't like to say that. I don't think they did. I would like to say that we went up as a whole class. She was a very successful teacher! There were examinations but you didn't seem to think about them. They weren't terribly important. At least, I didn't.

TB: No.

GP: You would see my various report cards, which seemed to be pretty satisfactory to say the least.

TB: Well, very satisfactory! You seemed to be first in most things! And what you seemed to have was an ability on the Mathematics side and on the English side which is quite unusual. Usually one or other is the stronger.

GP: Yes. That kind of dual thing followed me through the school and, of course, got me in to certain problems later in life, which were revealed that, having followed the Science and Mathematics side and going up to university on that score, I then, as you know, reverted to the Art College and eventually ended up an Architect. But it was just the way things turned out. That was it.

TB: You had also a musical bent, didn't you? You played the piano, didn't you?

GP: Yes, that was right. I was sent to Music. The first Music teacher I went to at Madras (privately, of course), for private piano lessons, was James Easson and Easson, of course, went on eventually to become Director of Music Education in Dundee. He was followed by Miss Affleck and from a very rigid set of concerts which Easson set, Miss Affleck was a complete change. She enjoyed all sorts of music! Encouraged all sorts of choirs and transformed the concerts considerably. I, of course, went on to be one of her private pupils and, once or twice in school concerts, I was called upon either to accompany people or I performed once with another pupil on a two-piano concert.

TB: Was that the Gavin Muir concert with whom you played? I remember you said, Edwin Muir's son.

GP: Oh no, that's a different thing. Muir arrived out of the blue.

TB: Edwin and Willa came down from, I think, Orkney, didn't they?

GP: Edwin and Willa arrived and Willa, particularly, in her biography, stated that they had great hopes that Edwin would be taken in by the University and get a post there. But when they arrived, they found that there was nothing for him and then Willa went on to teach at New Park School and that allowed their son, Gavin, to get his education there without much problem in the economic side of it. It didn't last long and Gavin eventually ended up in the Primary and then the Secondary of Madras. He was quite a talented lad. A little bit odd in his way. But he was also a good piano player and, in those days, the really popular music was, sort of, Joe Loss and his 'In the Mood' and it was great fun encouraging Gavin to give us a rendition regularly on the old piano up in the Gymnasium of 'In the Mood'! He was also talented in Mathematics because he went on to win the Mental Arithmetic prize which was, in fact, a knife. Maybe not P.C. [Politically Correct] these days but that was what the prize was for Mental Arithmetic.

TB: When you went up to the senior school, I guess it wasn't long before the war broke out after that?

GP: That's correct.

TB: And you talked about a number of Jewish people came to St. Andrews obviously trying to get away from the awful situation they were in in Germany and there was one in particular who you talked about who was Finlay Feundlich?

GP: Yes. In the period before the war, a year or two before the war, there were various German Jews and families arrived and their children came to the Primary Department. We always regarded them, quite unjustifiably, as odd because they were dressed differently from us and, when provoked, they reacted by spitting at us which, again, was an unusual thing to happen. One really outstanding person who arrived was Hans Finlay Feundlich. He was the nephew of Professor Finlay Feundlich, an assistant to Einstein, and he was appointed to be the Professor of Astronomy at the University.

TB: Yes. And I think, when you spoke last, you said that you didn't really remember there being big numbers of displaced people or people who were being moved to rural areas to get away from the big cities. You didn't really have much of a recollection of that?

GP: That's correct. I've no recollection of the evacuees in Madras. There may have been some but I never was in contact with any of them. They may have been directed, perhaps, to the Burgh School or something like that but I don't remember it in Madras in the Secondary Department.

TB: But you did have a vivid memory of your own near-miss when a German bomber came over?

GP: That's right. Madras, I think, was quite marvellous in the way it managed to continue to encourage sport and other side events in the school. For example, the Debating Society continued right through the war and, not only did it continue in the classroom, but we even travelled to Cupar and even to Waid and that was, indeed, the first and only time I've travelled in the East Coast railway line. One outstanding memory of the Debating Society was when the siren went off and the teacher in charge - it was an evening debate - and the teacher in charge decided that he would close the debate and send us home. George Ferguson, my friend, and I were going pretty smartly down Queen's Gardens when we heard the bomber coming over, pretty low, and the next thing we knew was the detonation of bombs and we charged into one of the entrances of the houses at Queen's Gardens just in time to receive the fragments of glass from a shattered cupola in the hall. After everything had settled a little bit, we continued, rather quickly, on our journey home. In fact, this was the episode in St. Andrews' history when a stick of bombs was dropped and it landed mostly in and around St. Mary's Quad.

TB: So, during the war, I know you did join up to the A.T.C. [Air Training Corps] and you were interested in flight. Was that a Madras squadron?

GP: Yes. 1302 was the Madras A.T.C. squadron, Air Training Corps Squadron and, you know, we got basic teaching concerned with aircraft identification and wireless and things like that. One of the little side issues of being a member of the A.T.C., we were able to get, at the weekend, to Leuchars and get into the light aircraft (I think they were Avro Ansons) and there we joined the aircraftsmen who were learning the Beams Approach techniques. It was quite a short flight. There were no seats or anything. We just sat on the floor of the aircraft and zoomed around the airport! The other thing, a minor thing, was that I did get chosen to run for the Scottish A.T.C., to represent the Scottish A.T.C. at White City down in London during the war and I had to run the quarter mile but not very successfully!

TB: But you were athletic because you were a swimmer and you were also a runner. You had successes in both of these, didn't you?

GP: Yes, I won the cup in 1945. The Kyle Cup for Athletics and I won the Swimming Cup in 1944.

TB: And then rugby, which was to become a great love of yours. You played rugby all the way through Madras.

GP: That's right. My first recollection of rugby and Station Park, where the matches were played, was watching the Rector of the time, J. D. McPetrie, just in his ordinary suit and soft hat, refereeing one of the matches. He was an excellent Rector and a tremendous and great encourager of Sport throughout his time at the school. I was also fortunate in having Tommy Robertson, who was a Science Teacher, an excellent rugby player but, thanks to an accident with a motorbike, he was pretty badly crippled. But that didn't stop him from coming down to the training field and I am sure my scrum techniques - pushing low and straight - were determined by whacks from his stick! Later on, when he recovered and was a bit more mobile, we met again when I was playing for the University and he was refereeing university matches.

TB: Before we leave Madras and come on to your time at University, were there Prefects when you were at Madras or did that come later?

GP: I think there may have been Prefects and I think we got little badges that we would wear.

TB: Who chose these? Would it be the Headmaster?

GP: Well, again, I think it is the case that the, I'm not sure. We were told by the Headmaster that we would be a Prefect but I think he might have deferred the matter to a teacher or something.

TB: What about, did you get a braid when you got in to the rugby team or the cricket team?

GP: What I got was, early on in my career at the school, I was awarded a rugby cap in 1942/43. It was wartime and, although I had been awarded a cap, I think I had to wait about two years before it eventually was delivered because they had a lot more important things to deal with in wartime.

TB: So, when you left school and went up to university, you decided at that stage, I think, that Science was your bent and so, you went through and did your degree, really, to be a scientist.

GP: That's right. I decided that my results at school were very encouraging for the science side and I went on and I went through the course. You had to have a collection in the first year and I did Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics and Astronomy, believe it or not. I was disappointed because although I spent a whole session doing that subject, it was all mathematical and I never looked through the telescope once! It then boiled down to, in the second year I got rid of my Chemistry, which I was not very happy with at all, and eventually it boiled down to Physics and Applied Mathematics and, eventually, I went on to do Honours Physics which, as you know, in St. Andrews is called Natural Philosophy. But, by that time, I was not very (it's difficult, this), by that time my enthusiasm for Science had waned and I was inevitably getting told or being hinted around that you had an excellent business, my father's architectural firm, at which I could join and why did I not do that? Eventually, even the most big-headed ideas eventually get turned and I decided that I would, once again, after four years at St. Andrews University, go and do the course at Duncan of Jordanstone, Dundee, for Architecture. I managed, because of my university degrees, to do a five-year course in four years and, therefore, managed to get my education finished before I was called up to do my National Service.

TB: I should have, before we left Madras, one of the stories that you told me was about Alfie Law, the Head of Science!

GP: Yes. Alfie Law, Head of Science, spent the best part of the war trying to make a simplified version of a Molotov Cocktail and, every so often, he managed to gather a few interested military persons and the whole lot would troop down to one of the bigger boundary walls that surrounded the school and Alfie continued to throw bottles at the walls trying to provide minor explosions! Unfortunately for Alfie, the military deputations generally left talking and muttering about damp squibs!

TB: OK. So, while you were at University, I know you played rugby for the University but you also had loyalties to the Madras FPs [Former Pupils] which has actually carried on throughout your life. I think you managed to combine playing for both teams?

GP: Well, initially, I went straight in to the Varsity 1st when I went up. In fact, it may have been one of the attractions of university when I played some trials before I even went up to University, I was told by the selectors that I would be playing for the University 1st and that was an encouragement, another encouragement, to go to University. I still wanted to help Madras and, certainly, at any long vacation I switched on to Madras FPs who, by that time after the war, had been resuscitated. As I moved from University to Art College, their rugby, such as it was, took place on a Wednesday and therefore I was free on Saturdays to play regularly for the FPs. Eventually, I was appointed the Captain of the team and when I got older and stiffer and retired from rugby itself, from the playing itself, I became Chairman of Madras.

TB: Yes and I think you mentioned President and all the senior positions that you can think of!

GP: Or President, yes.

TB: Yes. Who was the best rugby player out of Madras that you ever played with?

GP: Oh well, I think we had two Internationals. We had Hamish Scott - a Wing Forward - and, of course, we had Ian Swan - a Winger. Scott, of course, only got one cap but Ian went on to have quite a number of caps for Scotland.

TB: And then, of course, when you had finished your playing days, your connection with Madras wasn't really over because then, professionally, you became involved and architecturally.

GP: Yes. The first time I was involved with Madras architecturally was I was approached to see if something could be done about the changing facilities at Station Park. Up till that time, there was the famous corrugated iron hut, which had been perforated, allegedly, by javelins. The allotted site was at Jacob's Ladder where, in the winter, we used to sledge of course and which, at present, is occupied by the Physics block of the University. And there I designed and got built a very simplified block of changing room facilities. A few years after that, there were major changes in that area of the town. The University acquired the North Haugh from the Strathtyrum Estate and the Fife County acquired Station Park from Strathtyrum Estate and the two were separated by a new road, a section of road which went from St. Andrews to Guardbridge. I was approached then for the purpose of designing a changing room and other facilities at the Station Park, alongside the old Guardbridge road and this was a much more approved pavilion which was used not only by the school but by FPs rugby and hockey and so on and it exists to the present day. As a gesture, the Madras College Centenary Committee provided a silver salver with their thanks expressed on it for myself. My firm of Architects was approached after the war to improve the school itself and the first thing that was provided was a completely new classroom block and, at the same time, a new gymnasium block. This allowed the old gymnasium to be converted in to an Assembly Hall and also a Concert Hall. In other words, school concerts were held there. This was achieved by removing the east gable and incorporating the Sixth Year classroom.

TB: But you had nothing to do, you said, with the building of the 'Celtic' Block?!

GP: Exactly! There were other minor improvements among the cloaks and the toilet and changing accommodations. Later on, the Local Authority decided to carry out some very major additions to Madras, including the 'Celtic' Block and that was undertaken by their own staff.

TB: So, what do you think, looking back, at the thought that Madras is now, the old school, is going to pass into the hands of the University and a new school is to be built out at the North Haugh?

GP: I, personally, would have liked the additions to the old school demolished and I would have liked the old school to be completely preserved and put into working order and sensitively designed additions at the back. In other words, I would like to see the original school kept. I think there are schools all over the country who would give their right hands to have a building like that and I, personally, would like to see it retained and, as I say, sensitively extended.

TB: I suppose the only argument is the costs for refurbishing the sandstone, to bring it up to standard would be such that Fife Council, I think, decided that it was beyond their means.

GP: Yes, there will be costs involved but, again, I think Fife Council is culpable in so far as they seem to have written off maintenance many, many years ago and, if the maintenances had been properly carried out and timelessly carried out, there wouldn't have been the expense. And certainly, I'm sure, that the school itself provides quite a large amount of accommodation and, therefore, you didn't need to provide new buildings for that existing accommodation and, thereby, would save money in that respect.

TB: Yes. That's fine, Glen, I think we've covered virtually everything there. A great feat of memory on your part!

GP: The only one I was hoping to tell you about was the fun and games we had down at HMS Jackdaw.

TB: Oh yes! But that was during your army time, during your RAF time, your National Service time?

GP: No, that was the rugby.

TB: Oh, that was the rugby!

GP: Remember, one of the aspects of wartime rugby at Madras was, first of all, that you had to have a bit of ingenuity doing your Away games. We managed to carry out them all! We even got up to Crieff to play Morrison's Academy! The other thing is, of course, you sometimes met up with a variety of Service people, of teams to play and one of them was HMS Jackdaw down at Crail and we happened to have a changing room which was adjacent to the decontamination centre where the gas was leaking a bit and the result was, the whole team ended up in tears!

TB: Well done, yes, I remember that!

GP: I think we've covered everything.

TB: I think we've covered everything else. Excellent!

So that's an interview between Mr Glen Pride and interviewer, Ted Brocklebank, on Monday 4th September, 2017.

[End of Recording]