W C Hall, KES Staff 1960-64

There are various mentions of W C Hall on the OEA website.

From David Cook, KES 56-63

I was saddened to read on your website of the death in May 2009 of W C Hall who taught Physics and Chemistry at the school between 1960 and 1964. I knew he was in Adelaide and had not had the presence of mind to look him up when I visited the City in early 2008, and was hoping to get another chance in the near future.

W C Hall
Mr Hall, July 64

W C (Bill) Hall was known to us as Charlie Hall. Although he was a Chemistry graduate, I think of Sheffield University, he arrived at KES in 1960 to teach Physics. He was allotted to to teach Physics to those select few of us who had opted to study Chemistry, Physics and Biology at A level and for whom the single General Science O level in which we had all been tutored was an inadequate preparation. Whether he realised, as we did not, the magnitude of the task was uncertain as he embarked on this task to a group whose background (and indeed continuing present) in Mathematics was less than desirable. However he turned out to be a fine teacher. I remember his lessons well. He rigorously introduced the theory and mathematical proof of the concept in question, followed by worked examples, calculation classes and laboratory practical work when each of us would perform the relevant experiments individually, followed by a write-up where we were expected to show a thorough grasp of the principle we had been investigating - including the appropriate calculations. More rarely there would be a demonstration when the need for more expensive apparatus was the order of the day.

Perhaps his most memorable demonstration was that of the Wimshurst Machine when he used the principle to charge himself up to a static voltage of many thousands, using the discharge to earth to light a Bunsen Burner. Standing on an ebonite plate to earth, he grasped the output terminals, one in each hand, and enlisted a boy to turn the handle of the machine. After a minute or two he requested the Bunsen be switched on and pointed a finger at it, gradually getting closer to the metal of the Bunsen, and eventually discharging with a spark to the Bunsen sufficient to light the gas. A wag at the back commented, "Sir, wouldn't it have been easier to use a match?" I wonder if Physics teachers are allowed to do this sort of thing today?

He commented one day he had to find out about 'Mariotte's Bottle.' It was in the syllabus specifically, but he had no idea what it was. He returned the next week, to give us no more than a 5 minute resume of what it was, building on our previous work on hydrostatic pressure. He explained that it was something he knew about all the time, and had frequently used the technique. He just didn't know it was called 'Mariotte's Bottle.'

I remember also he was a devout Christian and occasionally led Bible Discussion groups. He also assisted with the sports teams. I remember one Saturday he was in charge of us in the third eleven football team away at Owler Lane on what has to be the most curious pitch the game has ever been played on. The Centre Circle was in the middle of an enormously deep hollow with the goals and wings seemingly about 10 feet higher than the centre spot. "Ridiculous expecting lads to play on pitches like this," he commented. He would always refer to 'lads.'

After two years he in fact moved to teach Chemistry when a vacancy became available and took us in the 2nd year sixth form where his tutelage was able to convert my 'C' In Chemistry to an 'A' for which I will be eternally grateful, as well as for my pass in Physics.

A few years ago having been directed to this website he commented in relation to the Head, Nat Clapton:-
"I was interested to find your web site. I taught physics and chemistry at the school between 1960 - 1964: the Clapton era.

I was responsible for getting the school's opposition to becoming comprehensive into the morning newspaper's headlines (acting as the staff/newspaper go-between).

I became quite friendly with Mr Clapton, visiting him when I was in business (for a period I was science and maths editor of the Oliver & Boyd Publishing Co). He was a deeply unhappy man, never recovering from his wife's death. The school was his life, even working there on Boxing Day. He had intended to retire and live at Norwich.

He had an intense interest in films. So did I, running two film societies at the school, and so we spent hours discussing films. He would pay for the screening of an expensive film to the entire school at the end of term, and got excited if the sun shone, thereby dimming the screen image.

Of my nine jobs, the one at King Ted's was one of the most fulfilling and I have happy memories of my four years. Now my wife and I live in Adelaide."

In a separate email to me he said, "I was just 21 years old when I started teaching there (on my first day some students thought I was also a pupil!). The students (you!) were helpful, wanted to learn, and could tell if someone (me!) was trying hard, and so you were forgiving and supportive. But weren't the staff a heterogeneous bunch?"

Charlie Hall was a first class teacher.

David Cook
19 Oct 2009