B C L Kemp

BCL Kemp. Hardinge 1939
Courtesy of Wellington College Archive

Brian Charles Lavers Kemp was a schoolmaster who was initiated into the Lodge in 1934 and served it for twenty-two years, much of that time as our Assistant Secretary at Wellington. He was the first member of Common Room to join the Lodge that was not an OW, and one of five new members of the Lodge that year, and particularly welcomed as a firm link to the teaching staff.

Kemp, BCLK as he was known to most boys, or Bertie as he was known to friends and colleagues, had been educated at Manchester Grammar School and Rossall; he had been both a scholar and cox of his Oxford college, Corpus Christi. He was a committed servant of the College. He was President of Common Room, its second senior Tutor (Hardinge 1931-41; Hill 1941-53); the Head of the Science Department (1932-53), the sponsor and compère of its cinema, the Scoutmaster of the Senior Troop, the head of Civil Defence, and the founder and conductor of the Sing-Song Society, which inspite of its amusing name hid a serious purpose, that of raising money for the Mission and the Walworth Clubs.

The 1953 Yearbook listed his many lasting and timely contributions to Wellington on his retirement:

“The most tangible expression of BCLK’s work at Wellington is the Science buildings, brought into use in 1935. Excellent in their equipment and amenities, these when new could stand comparison with those of any English secondary school; and after eighteen years they are in no danger of obsolescence, and are such as a school would be hard put to it to finance today.

Hardly less important in the School’s history was its system of air-raid shelters, built largely with boy labour in the years immediately before the second world war. B.C.L.K.’s inspiration was behind it all, and behind the later developments of fittings and comforts. It is hardly fanciful to believe that but for this system the School might have been forced into a prolonged exile as a result of withdrawal of boys, or of requisition by the authorities; with what results in the interruption of its traditions or in the spoliation of its lovely setting one can hardly guess.

These almost prophetic labours B.C.L.K. followed up by establishing a highly efficient A.R.P. system. In this work he was typically thorough and conscientious, and no respecter of persons when rebukes were earned for slackness, or for breaches of the blackout regulations; just as he could be trusted loyally to support his deputies if they incurred unpopularity in the performance of their duties.”

His other memorable passion was for speed, and anything on 3 or 4 wheels, especially his Siddeley Special called “Gargantua”.