William John Ricketts

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William John Ricketts
Nicknames Sid
Died 26 June 2004(2004-06-26) (aged 90)
Education Wolverhampton Grammar School; Jesus College, Cambridge
Roles Headmaster
Years at BGS 1954-1969
Predecessor Leslie Thomas Waddams
Successor Philip Frederick Johnston

William John Ricketts (d. 26 June 2004) was appointed headmaster of Boston Grammar School on 16th March 1954.

Before BGS

Ricketts was educated Wolverhampton Grammar School. Having gained T.D. and M.A. at Jesus College, Cambridge he went on to be assistant master at Campbell College, Belfast and headmaster at Bangor Grammar School, County Down (1947-54).

After BGS

After leaving Boston Grammar School, Ricketts migrated to Australia in 1970 where he taught at Peninsular Church of England School, Victoria. He died 26th June 2004, aged 90.


Paul Mould Centennial Anthology

William John Ricketts TD, MA was educated at Wolverhampton Grammar School, where he captained both the cricket and football teams. He obtained an open scholarship in mathematics at Jesus College. Cambridge, where he took a double first and won his college colours for soccer. He taught at Campbell College, Belfast, before serving for two and a half years with the Royal Corps of Signals overseas, mostly in Burma and on the North West Frontier of India. He was demobilised in 1946 with the rank of lieutenant-colonel and returned to Campbell College as senior mathematical master. From 1947 to 1954 he was headmaster at Bangor Grammar School, Co. Down.

He was appointed as headmaster of Boston Grammar School in 1954 and on the 17th January, 1955 there was a service at the 'Stump' to commemorate the quater centenary of the granting of the charter to Boston Grammar School in 1555. It started the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the issue of Philip and Mary's letters patent. It was the forerunner of the Charter Day service held annually ever since.

January 17th was a Monday and a procession marched from the school playground to the Parish Church. Care was taken, as frozen snow covered the road and they were allowed to go past the Five Lamps on the wrong side to make it easier. The boys of the school were already in church and many Old Boys. The service was conducted by the vicar, Canon Eric Kent Ellis and the sermon was preached by Canon Cook. The congregation was headed by the mayor, William Adlard Midgley, the parliamentary secretary at the Ministry of Education, Dennis Vosper MP and the local member, Sir Herbert Butcher. Headmaster Ricketts said prayers and the lessons were read by the head boy, John Henry Malcolm Fox and the Revd J Parker, Boston's superintendent Methodist minister.

The day's celebrations continued with an informal tea party in Big School, in which Old Boys took the opportunity to renew old acquaintances and later there was a dinner at the Assembly Rooms. The chairman of the governors, William Lawson Alexander presided at the dinner, which was necessarily limited. Dennis Vosper in his speech stated: ... "I feel it is a matter of some concern that your school should go on in its present tradition. I can assure you that in my belief there is a very large place for the voluntary school in our education system today ... It is your school not the ministry's. You must maintain the tradition, which tonight culminates in this 400th anniversary."

Other speeches were made by the headmaster, Professor Burchnall, Sir Herbert Butcher, the mayor, the Earl of Lancaster, Alderman OB Giles, AW Newsom and WH Mason, vice-chairman of the governors.

That summer there was a successful fete in the school grounds and the Old Bostonian Annual Dinner had a special quater centenary flavour with the showing of a film of the January celebrations by Reg Grant of East Heckington. Hubert Turpin published a booklet, Boston Grammar School, 1555-1955, a short history and it was later reprinted. The idea also took shape during the early months of 1955 of adding appropriate stained glass in Big School. A well-supported appeal enabled ten panels, illustrating various aspects of the school's history, to be inserted in the bay window on the west side of the hall.

These were unveiled by Lord Ancaster and dedicated by Canon Ellis at a ceremony on 1st November, 1956. One panel clearly depicted the mayor, town clerk and headmaster at the declaration of the Beast Mart; WA Midgley, CL Hoffrock Gnffiths and WJ Ricketts.

Shortly before Mr. Ricketts' arrival, a new headmaster's house had been built in Rowley Road and the headmaster's old house had been converted into two flats for masters. The ground floor of No. 1 South End was used as temporary classrooms for the mathematics and science sets of the sixth form and the old kitchen became a biology laboratory. Work began, however, in December, 1956 on a major new extension, designed by a former pupil, Frederick Ralph Bozeat, a member of the drawing office staff of Holland's County architect. Chairman of the Governors, WL Alexander, laid the foundation stone on May 16th, 1957, saying: "... It was not just a foundation stone but a milestone in the school's history."

The new buildings were officially opened on October 30th, 1958 by Sir Oswald Giles, who had been associated with the school for over half a century: first as minute clerk to his uncle, RW Millington, then as clerk himself and now as County Council chairman. He received a presentation from the head prefect, Frederick J Allday and was thanked by the headmaster. A plaque was unveiled on 21st May, 1959 by Mr. Alexander in the new hall, commemorating its opening and that of the science buildings. The science block consisted of four laboratories, each with a preparation room and accomodated four dasses of thirty. The old science block was adapted to provide three classrooms, two of which were later converted into biology laboratories.

The foundation's financial inability to fund these extensions resulted in the school becoming 'voluntary controlled', instead of 'voluntary aided'. Previously there had been ten foundation and five representative governors; now it meant that there would be only five foundation governors and ten of the seats held by the LEA.

In 1960 the prefects started to wear distinctive lapel badges and ties. Participation started in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme. The splendid new sports pavilion was opened on May 29th by Mr. Alexander and in September the new staff common room came into use. The following year the Big School was transformed into its present function as the school library.

A modest swimming pool was built in 1964 on land purchased from Mr. ST Belton and it was appropriately officially opened by the mayor, Geoffrey Moulder. Instructions for pupils in vehicle maintenance and driving, under the auspices of the local road safety committee and supervised by the police, began in 1965 and in 1967 fourth formers and upwards enjoyed a new sporting activity - rowing.

Mobile classrooms had to be obtained in 1968 to provide more teaching space and by 1975, when the number of pupils had risen to 574, 200 boys were taught in the mobiles.

On Sunday, 15th December, 1968 Professor Burchnall performed the ceremony to hand over four panels of stained glass, which were installed to mark the fourth centenary of the erection of the Elizabethan hall. The four panels depicted the men, after whom the school houses had been named: Muston, Gannock, Parry and Laughton. The dedication was by the chairman of the governors, Canon Peter Ellice Paine, vicar of Freiston with Butterwick.

After Mr Ricketts' wife died in 1957, he remarried into the well known local Murray family. He served on Holland Education Committee and took his turn as Chairman of the local Rotary Club. He resigned in 1969 to emigrate to Australia, where his wife had relatives. At a social evening in the new school hall on 16th December, 1969 Canon Paine presented the departing headmaster with a canteen of cutlery and a plaque bearing the borough coat of arms was presented by the mayor, George Whitehead, later Judge Whitehead.

See Also