The Prescotian Webzine


Arthur 'Alfie' Baxter [1925 - 1973]

Mr. Arthur Baxter's sudden death in December was a shock to us all and a tragedy to the School and his family. He had taken up his position as Deputy headmaster but fifteen months before, after having served the school for seven­teen years, mostly as Head of History Department and Sixth form tutor, but also, of course, as the most enthusiastic of cricket masters and supporter of the Dent project.

It is not solely for what he did that we will remember him, but for what he was as friend and teacher. He had all the qualities of a true schoolmaster; indeed, he was a man who loved tradition, not because of its sentimentality, but because it sustained and strengthened in an era of constant change and irritation.

He was a master of quiet conversation, of gentle but striking wit, of vivid reminiscences of other people and events. We flourished as a result of his good comradeship, stimulating teaching and belief in the highest academic, standards. Nothing, except perhaps a perfectly executed cover drive, or lst XI victory, gave him more pleasure than the achievement of an Oxford Open Scholar­ship by one of his pupils (John Parkinson's at Brasenose awarded in 1972 was in itself a memorial to him).

He was one of those quiet, but thoroughly effective men whose strength came from a closely reasoned personal philosophy. We cannot measure what he gave to us "in the significant hours of our life” but we are grateful that our paths ran side by side for so many of his forty-eight years. [J.C.S. Weekes]

I remember Alfie as the quiet, gently assertive man who led the 1st XI cricket team of which I was a member in 1973. He was the epitome of fair mindedness who never used nor needed a loud voice to maintain order and respect. [Ian Lawrenson]

I was never good enough at cricket to see the sporting side of "Alfie", but he taught our small (four, I think) A Level History group. He was always calm and courteous and, despite his small stature, had quite a strong and stable presence. His illness and death deprived us of a good teacher and a thoroughly decent and good man (it also had a marked effect on our grades, as Andrew Jack and I - who were both supposed to get A or B - got D and E in our A Levels!).

I was asked to be one of the pall-bearers at Alfie's funeral, which was quite an honour - I believe that his wife recognised how important the school was to him and so wanted four sixth formers to perform this role. The others were, I think, Alan Crickmore, Peter Chadwick and Brian Jones. The worst moment was arriving at the Baxter home and finding out, without having been given any advance warning, that Alfie had a twin brother! I can remember the feeling of absolute shock as we were met outside the house by what I could only assume was the poor man's ghost!

Finally, as has been said elsewhere, I was amazed to discover that Alfie was only 48 when he died - I suppose that everyone over 30 seems ancient when you are in your teens! [Tom Storrow]

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