Howdenshire History

First headmaster of Goole Secondary (Grammar) School: Clarence Jacob Forth

Goole History > Goole People & Families > C. J. Forth


Widely and affectionately known as "C. J.", Mr C. J. Forth, M.A., B.Sc., was the first headmaster of Goole Secondary School, named later in 1933 as Goole Grammar School.


The Goole Times, 3rd April 1931, described his retirement. Much of the archived microfilm is damaged and largely illegible, but what can be made sense of includes:



... entering into retirement, Mr Forth relinquished his duties when the school broke up for the Easter term and the school's second head, Mr R. B. ... of the Holmfirth Secondary School, will take over when the summer term commences. When Mr Forth was appointed at the school twenty-two years ago, there were 160 pupils and a staff of eight.

" ... The war came five years after we had opened. We did not happen to have a big list of boys old enough to be called up, but those we had responded to the call. A number of them went through unscathed, but 14 lost their lives. Two former members of the staff were killed.

"Through the years there were a number of former pupils who have attained good and responsible positions. Two or three stand out. There is Sewell, who is professor of English at Capetown University; Platt, who has had a distinguished career for ... years at Leeds University, and who promises to have a more distinguished one; Davies, who has taken a good position with the Mond chemical group, and ... others.

"The school now seems thoroughly well equipped to do good work for the ... It has five hundred scholars and a staff of 23. The school has been served during the past twenty odd years by about ... teachers, of whom practically all have been high-minded, capable and devoted; nearly 3000 past and present pupils ... with many grateful memories of them. I personally am extremely grateful to the senior men and women on the staff who have made my work extremely easy. Mr and Mrs ...on have been the only caretakers in the 22 years and it is owing to their love of the school that the building is better kept than any other of its age in Yorkshire. Many people do not realise the invaluable way in which the school has been served by the last two chairmen of the governors, the late Mr William Smith and Mr Bevan."

Mr Forth, who is a native of Bingley, was the son of a Baptist minister. He was educated at Wyggeston School, Leicester, one of the biggest in the provinces, and on Saturday he received a letter from his headmaster there, who is now 86 years old and who retired twelve years ago. Mr Forth was at St. Catherine's College, Cambridge, where he became 22nd Wrangler. Later he took his B.Sc. at London University.

Mr Forth saw teaching service at Bolton and Plymouth before he had his first experience of a mixed school at Woolwich Polytechnic, where he was senior master. From Woolwich he went to Wakefield Grammar School as senior mathematics master, which position he relinquished to come to Goole.


The Old Pupils' Association presented a cheque for £34 16s. to Mr Forth at an agreeable social evening at the school. Mr C. Rushworth, Chairman of the Association, presided, and items were contributed by past and present pupils to an excellent musical and dramatic programme. There were nearly ... present.

The presentation was made by Mr Rushworth, who said the duty he had to perform gave him great pleasure, but at the same time it was tinged with sadness. Mr Forth had been with the school throughout the whole twenty odd years of its existence and in that time had merited the respect and honour which was conferred upon him. There were present those who remembered the time when they crossed the threshold of the school when it was scarcely completed, wondering what was in store for them. Mr Forth soon set their minds at rest with his kind words, letting them know that they had one whose sympathy they had. Since then, many people had been through the school and each one had had the same sympathy shown to him or her. Their interests had been Mr Forth's interests, and his interest in them had not ceased when they left the school. He had always been ready to help them. They were proud to have known him and hoped that the friendship would continue. All present would be with him in wishing Mr Forth health and happiness in his well-earned rest.

Mr H. D. Moore said he had been one of the first of the school's pupils to come from the old grammar school and to meet Mr Forth. He would like to add his testimony to what had been said. They had all appreciated him greatly, though perhaps at the time of their being at school they had not. There were divergences of opinion between master and pupil and it was not until later in life that they could look back to realise and appreciate the kindness and support they had received from their schoolmasters. He personally had found Mr Forth a very true friend on many occasions.


Mrs Rushworth recalled the predecessor of the Secondary School, which had two rooms, one at Christ Church and another at North Street Wesleyan Church, while drill took place in the Sailors' Institute. There had been a happy little band of workers, under Miss Louis, which had been rather antagonistic to the idea of the new school and which regarded the new headmaster as a kind of usurper. But when they met Mr Forth they realised that everything had been for the best. She could not say what Mr Forth had done for the school, but he had built it up as a school and whatever it might attain in the future would be through Mr Forth's efforts. He had made the way easy for the one to follow. "We honour and love Mr Forth," concluded Mrs Rushworth.

Responding, Mr Forth said, "Old boys and girls, I don't know what I can say to you. It is not easy for a man to say goodbye when he has had just the feeling for you folks that I have. But you and the others have been the lot of my life. There won't be a day when I shan't think back to Goole."

When he first came to Goole, continued Mr Forth, he was told many stories to the detriment of the townspeople, but when he came into the school he found they were all so different. He used to wonder if the boys and girls under him would become what the old lot had been. There were present that night people representing every year of the school. He knew a lot about most of them. They had taken their places in life, were doing their duty in life and were honoured in life. And it meant much to him.

When he heard that a presentation was to be made to him, said Mr Forth, he tried to stop it, but he was told it had gone too far. He thought, "Oh! I can't take things from you. I would rather give you gifts than receive them." So he decided to follow the example of Mr T. W. Ireland, headmaster of the Mexborough Secondary School, and start a fund to help "hard-up" pupils leaving the school, by loaning them sums for such things as apprenticeship fees and college equipment. He would start that fund with a gift of £25 and add to it the cheque the old pupils had handed him. It would give him much more pleasure that way than any other.

He had had twenty-two rounds with Father Time and it was time for him to leave the ring. He did not know what he was going to do. He was going to take life as it came, but he would not like living it without them all.



Some years later the Goole Times, 2nd August 1946, announced:



Headmaster of Goole Grammar School for 22 years, Mr Clarence Jacob Forth died in the Fielding Johnson private hospital, Leicester, last Friday. He was 75 years old. Until his retirement in 1931 Mr Forth had been the only headmaster the then Goole Secondary School had known, for he was appointed to the position when the school was opened in 1909.

A native of Bingley, Mr Forth was the son of a Baptist minister. He was first educated at Wyggeston School, Leicester, and later at St Catherine's College, Cambridge, where he became 22nd Wrangler. He afterwards obtained his B.Sc. degree at London University.

Mr Forth first taught in schools at Bolton and Plymouth before becoming senior master of Woolwich Polytechnic, from where he went to Wakefield Grammar School as senior mathematics master. He was appointed headmaster at Goole while at Wakefield.

There were 160 pupils at the new Goole Secondary School when Mr Forth began his duties, but under his direction the number grew until, when he retired, its pupils numbered 500. Throughout his career in Goole Mr Forth exerted a great influence on the town's educational life, and his retirement was marked by presentations subscribed for by the staff and by many thousands of pupils whom he had taught. With the money he received as part of the gifts made to him, Mr Forth endowed a fund whose object is to assist pupils in need of apprenticeship fees and college equipment.

After his retirement Mr Forth returned occasionally to Goole, but his visits during recent years had become very infrequent. The funeral took place at Goole cemetery on Monday afternoon, being preceded by a service at the Parish Church. The service, which was conducted by the Rev A. Jowett, was attended by a number of Mr Forth's former pupils at the Grammar School, and also a representative number of teachers who had served under Mr Forth. The chief mourners were Miss Winifred Forth (daughter), Mr Norman H. Smith and Mr Werner Pincus.

An Appreciation by W. Calder is added:-

With the passing of Mr Forth, the pupils and staff who were members of Goole Grammar School before 1930 have lost a much esteemed headmaster and friend. Mr Forth's engaging personality endeared him to those who were privileged to know him. He saw his school grow until the original number of pupils was doubled, and he took great pride in the extension of the school premises which had become necessary to accommodate the 500 pupils who were receiving secondary education when he retired.

He was above all a great teacher with a sympathetic understanding of even his youngest pupils, and he had an individual knowledge of every pupil in the school. A man of wide scholarship, he was not only a Senior Wrangler of Cambridge but was also deeply read in literature, history and science, and an omnivorous reader with a most retentive memory.

At the same time he had practical interests and was a skilled craftsman in woodwork. Latterly he took up rose cultivation as a hobby and the garden of his home, 197 Boothferry Road, was a feast of colour in summer. He knew his roses almost as well, and as individually, as he knew his pupils.

"C. J." won the affection of staff and pupils alike. His relations with his staff were most cordial and friendly, while his old pupils, in whose careers he maintained a keen interest, were always sure of a kindly welcome when they revisited him.

After his retirement to his native village of Kirby Muxloe, near Leicester, he was always glad to see his many friends from Goole. We who knew him will long remember him as a fine personality, a great scholar and a great gentleman.

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