The Prescotian Webzine

Memories of Michael J M Brown, Headmaster 1963-1967
My first view of Michael Brown was from the back of assembly in early September, 1963. Owing to our alte family holiday, I had missed the first three days of my fledgling PGS career and had yet to be introduced to my 3B4 form tutor, Brian Gray and my new classmates. Consequently, I was stood near the back of the hall, uncertain and in awe of this huge man who swept by in his black academic gown on his way to the stage.

However, I did have one thing in common with this imposing man, we were both newts! We both had to prove ourselves to a critical audience. I was the first boy from my extended family to pass the eleven plus exam and go to the Grammar School. My father should have attended but family finances in the thirties ended his chances. Hence, he was concerned to see his son do well at PGS.

Michael Brown was taking over the mantle of headmaster from the institution known as Spencer Briggs. These were huge shoes to fill indeed and he must have been acutely aware that everyone was watching and dissecting his every move for signs of weakness.

I soon learned that there was no weakness in his caning technique when he spotted me from his office as I climbed to the top of the wall bars in the hall and then waved my hand through a broken pane of glass. I made a mental note not to be invited into his office again! Rumour went round in my second term that he had caned an Upper Sixth lad for wolf-whistling the petite blonde English Teacher, Miss Williams in the staff room corridor!

I remember that he had allowed the fifth form the privilege of not needing to wear school caps. Then, a further concession came when he announced at the start of the Summer Term that fourth years were exempt as well. The next morning he appeared incandescent with rage as he had been walking his dog in Prescot Park. He had then discovered the emebrs of multiple fourth year school cap burnings. He the ordered a cap check for the following day. How many newts were temporarily relieved of their caps that day?

I managed to keep myself out of Michael Brown's reach when horror of horrors, he joined Prescot Cricket Club playing alongside my father in the 3rd. XI on the back pitch in Burrows Lane. At the time I was the scorer for the 2nd. XI so my acquaintance with MJM was limited. However, the fear of my father discovering any misdemeanours was the stuff of nightmares.

One Saturday afternoon as Prescot 3rd. XI were batting, my father got into conversation with MJM and enquired about his approach to parental complaints about the school. In an answer that would do justice to Brian Clough, he replied that he would listen quietly to the complaint in his study and then challenge the parent's "bottle" to continue the complaint to a higher authority. He would simply explain that it was a privilege to have a place at PGS and that any pupil only had, according to the 1944 Education Act, a legal right to a seconday education. So, the unfortunate parent was given the option of a rightful entitlement to a secondary modern place and the tacit opportunity to climb down gracefully on the complaint!

In my third year, my form 4B1 were less than excited to find out the identify our history master was MJM. I have to admit, it worked in motivating me to have my homework in on time for a change. There was also the added bonus of greater than average chnace that we would have a cover teacher as he was preoccupied with some school emergency or appointment!

Later in that year, I was batting in the cricket nets in Burrows Lane when I top edged a pull shot into my left eye. On arriving at my next history lesson, Mr. Brown asked me to explain the black eye that I was sporting. Nothing could convince him that I had not been fighting after school. perhaps his caning wrist was twitching for a victim.

Without warning, he had resigned and was moving on at the end of my fourth year! Rumours spread that he was taking over a prestigious private school as a protest to creeping comprehensivisation of state education. Whatever the truth, he was my headmaster, burnished concurrently with me at PGS.

From Whence MJM Came and Went
Former PGS Headmaster, MJM Brown was the head of history from 1957-63 at Wallasey Grammar School. A quote from the Old Walleysan website reveals, "It was interesting to see that M J M Brown smoked a pipe, so he and M Riddle were probably responsible for a large part of the smoke, which floated in Remove L2 from the staff tearoom after every break ....... and he subsequently became head of Chislehurst Grammar School after his stint at Prescot."

On the Chislehurst Grammar School website, the following picture of MJM Brown in 1972 shows him in official pose. Move your pointer over the photo for enlargement!


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