Leslie Thomas Waddams

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Leslie Thomas Waddams
Nicknames Snag
Education Latymer Upper School, Hammersmith; St. Catherine's College, Cambridge; London
Roles Headmaster
Years at BGS 1945-1954
Subjects Mathematics, Religious Instruction
Predecessor Herbert Haycroft Morris
Successor William John Ricketts

Leslie Thomas Waddams was appointed as headmaster of Boston Grammar School on 1 May 1945.


Paul Mould Centennial Anthology

Leslie Thomas Waddams TD, MA, BSc was a pupil at Latymer Upper School, Hammersmith from 1918 to 1928. He was admitted to St. Catherine's College, Cambridge in 1928 and was awarded his master's degree in 1935. He also held a London B.Sc. degree with first class honours in maths special. He taught at Dr. Pattenden's old school Christ's Hospital, Horsham from 1932 to 1941 and was head of the mathematical department of Glasgow Academy from 1941, until he came to Boston Grammar School in 1945.

He was a long-serving member of the Territorial Army but did not undergo military service, as he was considered better employed in his school post than teaching at OCTU.

Waddams' appointment followed on the heels of the 1944 Education Act, which offered two alternatives to BGS: it could either become a 'voluntary aided school' or a 'voluntary controlled school'. With the former the local education authority would pay all maintenance charges but the foundation would be responsible for all extensions and capital outlay with the exception of playing fields. The latter alternative would mean that the Lincolnshire Education Authority would take the endowment and become responsible for every expense and the governors would lose all control. In spite of the threat of future financial difficulties, the governors applied for BGS to be designated a 'voluntary aided school'.

The Education Act abolished fee-paying and boys of eight and nine could no longer be admitted: entry was to be solely on the basis of eleven-plus examination results. At his first Speech Day Waddams said: "... I, personally, consider that the advantages will far outweigh the drawbacks. We hope to be classed as a voluntary aided school, which will mean that our governors will still have the largest measure or control ... The method of entry is the most marked change ... There are drawbacks to this but I must say I can not see any greater injustices by this method than by the old, or any other, scheme"

When a team of HM Inspectors came to the school in 1949, there were seventeen full-time masters and two part-timers (music and religious instruction). Their report was considered 'highly satisfactory' and it coincided with, in Waddams' own words, the rather astonishingly good results in the school certificate for 1948-1949, when fifty-two out of fifty-eight candidates gained the certificates and a record number of boys matriculated.

The early fifties brought female pupils to Boston Grammar School for the first time in its history. Three Boston High School girls took Physics lessons with the sixth form. The experiment proved succesful and other subjects ranging from mathematics to Russian had female pupils in their classes.

Leslie Waddams was a representative governor of Laughton's Foundation; a governor of Boston High School and served on the governing body of Carre's Grammar School, Sleaford, as a representative of the University of Cambridge. He was also a keen cricketer, an enthusiastic Rotarian and an Anglican lay reader. Older local theatergoers still recall Waddams' performance in the title role of Boston Playgoers' Society's production of 'The Man who came to Dinner'.

Waddams left BGS at Easter, 1954, following his appointment as headmaster of the Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School at Rochester, Kent.

Boston Cricket Club - 1954 report (Jack Hudson, President)

This season we shall miss the well-known figure of Mr L T Waddams. During the past few years he has rendered yeoman service to the club and to cricket generally. On the field he has been a shining example of keenness and sporting spirit, whilst behind the scenes his wise counsel has helped to steer the club to its present strong position. We shall miss his exploitation of the "Donkey-Drop", but we should, club and spectators alike, wish him well in his new sphere of action.


From the August 1998 issue of The Old Bostonian

Leslie Waddams was appointed headmaster of Boston Grammar School in the Summer of 1945. When 'Dot' Morris retired, the response to the advertisements for a successor was enormous. Over 400 enquiries were received and 234 applications were completed. After eliminating those over 40 years of age (the Governors had agreed in advance to seek a young man) 157 candidates remained. 8 were shortlisted of whom 2 withdrew.

Of the 6 left 3 were eliminated and the remaining 3 were interviewed. The ballot resulted in Leslie gaining 9 votes, AN OTHER 3 votes and AN OTHER 1 vote.

During his interview Leslie was given the opportunity to ask questions. He said that he had noticed that the headmaster’s house was gas lit and expressed the hope that electricity supply be installed. The governors present were 'strangely silent' and made no comment. It was only later that he learnt that their chairman, Tom Kitwood, was also chairman of the local Gas Company. Nevertheless, in due course, his wish was met.

As a boy Leslie was a pupil for 10 years at Latymer Upper School and from there went up to St Catharine's College. He gained a masters degree and also held a London BSc with first class honours in mathematics.

He taught first at Christ's Hospital, Horsham and then moved north of the border to be head of the mathematics department of The Glasgow Academy. And from there to Boston.

His headship of Boston Grammar School from 1945 to 1954 was at a time of acute national austerity. He took over the year after the 1944 Education Act came into force, the provisions of which produced problems for the governors. It is to the credit of the governing body and the head that they achieved major advancement of the school when pupil numbers were increasing and money was hard to come by for essential facilities and buildings.

From first to last Leslie never lost his faith in the future of the school; his belief in the potential every boy possessed to be fulfilled by the right schooling, whether in the classroom or on the field of sport; his approachableness which inspired confidence in all governors, staff, pupils and parents. He proved to be an outstanding headmaster.

He left Boston Grammar School in 1954 to take the headship of Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School at Rochester, Kent.

He retired in 1971 and on that occasion a colleague spoke of Leslie’s great qualities of leadership, delegation and never-failing support and advice. Of his concern for the young that same colleague said: "I have attended a large number of functions at which he was asked to make a speech. On every single occasion he has defended stoutly the outlook and progress of the modern teenager, even when all about him were pouring scorn on their habits and discourtesy."

In retirement Leslie busied himself helping a teacher friend re-establish and equip St. Andrew's School, Nukuʻalofa, Tonga in two spells, the first of two years and the second of one year with a two year break back in the UK.

He then settled in Rochester for the rest of his life - a life truly devoted to the well-being of the young whatever their abilities.

Note: The above obituary as printed incorrectly indicated that Waddams' retirement project was at St. Andrews School, Turi in Kenya. The correct location of St. Andrew's School, Nuku’alofa, Tonga is now included here.

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