|5 Jan 2021|
R.I.P. Arthur Bowden (1928-2021) who died on New Year's Day in Salisbury Hospital, aged 92, after a long, very busy and eventful life and, let it be said for the record, without Covid-19.
"Titch" (5' 2") as he was always known, but not to his face (!), was a Salisbury boy, educated at Bishop Wordsworth's School where he came back to spend his working life as a legendary teacher of French, and later on as the Bursar. "Legendary" is an overused term these days, but it is certainly appropriate in Arthur's case. Nobody ever forgot Arthur, or his infamous sidekick and minder, Betsy, the size 14 gym slipper that lived in his desk drawer
I don't know of anyone ever seeing it used except as a demonstration on his desktop, but that display and Arthur's reputation as a black belt judoka (about which he was always smilingly enigmatic) were enough to ensure wrapt attention from young and impressionable 12-yr olds!
He was a Cambridge graduate, and apart from his teaching was also renowned as a pedant, wit, humourist, rugby player, rugby "mover and shaker" at Salisbury RFC and Dorset & Wilts Rugby, administrator, Rotarian and overall whirlwind.
His teaching style was "Old School" - i.e. put the fear of God, or worse into the pupils when they first met and then gradually ease off as they pupils became more mature. As young adults onwards the pupils then began to become friends and acquaintances, as so many tributes to Arthur have testified.
In the 6th Form his lessons could be punctuated by a humorous observation, a risqué joke or Ravel's "Bolero".
He impressed many former pupils with his ability to listen and help in matters beyond teaching, be that summer private lessons on the subjunctive or dealing with sea-sickness on a trip.
His enthusiasm for French and France inspired several pupils to make a life over there. In my own case, he was the reason I spent a season playing rugby there before going to university.
Beyond this, he organised French exchanges, French Assistants at school and put in place the "Lang. Lab." which was cutting-edge technology at the time.
Arthur was known in many areas of Salisbury and well beyond the school. He and his lifelong wife, Joyce, were always involved in the town's community whether at the Rugby Club, Rotary meetings or Salisbury Amateur Operatic Society.
He will be greatly missed and long-remembered by all those who met him.
With current Covid regulations it is not yet clear how and when a Memorial Service can be held, other than perhaps a small family private funeral at present.
If you would like to send a tribute or anecdote I am currently putting as many together as possible which can then be used at a Memorial Service and presented to his wife, Joyce, at a later date.
Feel free to send these to my personal e-mail address and do say the dates you were at BWS to give a little context:
For a taste of tributes and stories already coming in see Linkedin under Andrew Rattue (Principal at St. Clare's, Oxford) and Dr. Stuart Smallwood (BWS HM).
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