Albert Unsted

Between the Wars the Rifle Corps became the Air Training Corps 1356 (North Cotswold) Squadron, Commanding Officer Ft/Lt. C. Rayner-Booth, also a School Governor. During WWII, Albert Unsted came as an assistant teacher with Millwall Central School, which was evacuated to Campden. In September 1942, Rayner-Booth recommended him for a long-term post at the Grammar School, as he had technical qualifications and was a Pilot Officer with the ATC. This was initially refused by the Board of Education but Unsted stayed and became the woodwork master until his retirement in the early 1960s. Mr & Mrs Unsted are remembered for their lunchtime ballroom dancing sessions in the school hall. Although Mrs Unsted was larger than her husband and they looked an ill-assorted couple, they were remarkably nimble in their steps and the sessions were popular – with the girls, the boys stayed away!

Do you remember Albert Unsted?

Bill Buckland says:

Mr Unsted took over when FitzHugh retired and after I had ceased to take craft lessons as being one of the more academically gifted A stream. He was one of the ATC officers but his main impact on my life was on the dance floor. I must have been in the sixth form before I realised that the only legitimate way of clasping a young lady to ones bosom was in a dance. In the winter and when it was wet, dances were held in the school hall during the lunch hour. So, eager to participate in this activity, I had to learn old time and modern ballroom dancing. My teacher was Mr Unsted and we waltzed and quickstepped around the woodwork room until I could be let loose on the dance floor proper.

My first dance was either the Moonlight Saunter or the Square Tango but my partner was definitely Mary Plested who could lead whilst going backwards and instil an unwarranted degree of confidence in an inexpert partner. I began to regret eating lunch in Park Road and hurried back to school to resume my terpsichorean efforts.

This page was added on 27/02/2015.

Comments about this page

  • Sniff was a wonderful woodwork teacher, and I looked forward to his lessons hugely. The classroom was an old building near the pavilion, this being the last year of the Grammar School, just above what became the North Block. It smelt of years of wood dust, and contained a sailing dingy that was constructed over a long period, and we later used in Youth Club outings to Langorse Lake. Sniff always had something positive to say about pieces of work, even if they weren’t very good. He examined each in turn in front of the assembled class, holding it up to the light and turning it as though it was a work of art. “Splendiferous!” he would say, a word that I use to this very day.

    By Ian Elliott (04/02/2017)
  • Mr Unsted was known as ‘Sniff’ and I well remember his ballroom dancing lessons held in the school hall at lunch time. Few or no boys attended, no doubt thinking it an unmansculine occupation, and so taller girls were cast in the role of men which led to difficulties later in life when I wanted to lead my male partners!

    By Tess Taylor (01/03/2015)

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