Local History Society

 Families: W. J. Verrall, Headmaster


William John Verrall's name (always quoted with the initials 'W. J.', though his school nickname was 'Bunny') regularly appeared in the 'Reading Mercury' and 'Reading Standard', because the headmaster at the village school was very active in other areas. His wife Edith was also very active in village life. Their son Alec was a Prisoner of War in Germany for much of the war. In Spring 1946 Alec married Kathleen May Nailor of Barkham, at Arborfield Church.

Here we read of the Verralls' departure, as reported in the 'Reading Standard' of July 11th 1947:

Headmaster Retiring - Mr. W. J. Verrall’s 22 Years’ Service

Mr. W. J. Verrall, Headmaster of Arborfield Church of England Schools, who is retiring at the end of the summer term, has been teaching for 42 years.

Certificated in 1905, he held his first appointment at St. Peter’s Boys School, Bexhill-on-Sea; spent five years at Palmer School, Wokingham; and nine years broken by two years’ war service, at Brimpton Church of England School near Newbury; finally coming to Arborfield in May 1921: a total of 40 years' teaching in Berkshire.

Mr. Verrall has always entered fully into all the social and other activities of the village. He was:

-  hon. secretary of the Cricket Club from 1921 – 37;
-  treasurer of the British Legion 1922 – 44;
-  hon. secretary of the Flower Show for fifteen years;
-  a Parish Councillor since 1940, and
-  chairman of Newland Parish Council during the past year;
-  chairman of the Village Hall Management Committee, the Library Committee,
           and the local branch of the National Savings Committee;
-  agent for the Royal Berks Friendly Society;
-  and a member of the Royal Observer Corps for nine years.

A Church Warden and a member of the Parochial Church Council, Mr. Verrall has been a choir member for fifty years, including a period as Choirmaster at Barkham.

Mrs. Verrall, who was also a teacher before her marriage, is a member of the Mothers’ Union, the British Legion Women’s Section, and for many years was secretary of the Women’s Institute.

The Verralls lived on the premises, in the School House.

Typical of their activities were the following articles from the 'Reading Mercury':

January 21st 1945: ARBORFIELD – ENTERTAINMENT: An entertainment, organised by the Women’s Section of the British Legion, took place at the Village Hall, with Major Morris as MC.

There were old-fashioned dances and games and, in addition, Mrs. Verrall’s Players presented ‘Shadow Passes’, in which Mesdames Moore, Capper, Jarvis, Newton, Goddard and Brooks took part; and ‘Gossip’s Glory’ (Mesdames Jervois, Edwards, Scott, Kent and Slade).

February 24th 1945: ARBORFIELD: An article on a talk given in the school on future education, by Mr. Verrall.

The 'Reading Standard' also announced his successor on September 5th:

New Headmaster:

Mr F J Andrew has been appointed headmaster of Arborfield Church of England School in succession to Mr W J Verrall.

Mr Andrew was trained at Culham Training College and certificated from there, he became a master at Westcott Road Council School. In June 1940, he joined the RAF, was commissioned as a Flight Lieutenant in Bomber Command, and served as a navigator in operational flights over North West Europe and over Burma. Demobilised in April 1946, he was appointed to Wantage Council School as an assistant master.

Aged thirty-one and married, Mr Andrew is a keen sportsman; his particular interest being football and cricket.

[Frederick and Freda Andrew were recorded as living at the School House for some years. They appeared in the 1953 Electoral Register. In the next register transcribed by the History Society (that of 1960), Cyril Arthur Pigott and Irene Elizabeth Pigott were registered at School House.]

The Wokingham Times of October 10th 1968 carried this obituary headed, simply, Mr. W. J. Verrall':

Mr. W. J. Verrall, who was headmaster at Arborfield, Newland and Barkham C. E. School from 1921 to 1947, died at his home in Sway, in the New Forest, earlier this week. He was 86.

A well-known and highly-respected figure, Mr. Verrall was Headmaster of Brimpton School for nine years before coming to Arborfield. Since his retirement in 1947 he kept in close touch with Arborfield and continued to take a keen interest in the affairs of the school.

Back to Families Page







Any Feedback or comments on this website?  Please e-mail the webmaster