Fred Whitehouse

by A. E. Coulson

I first met Fred Whitehouse in the autumn of 1927 when he interviewed me, but I had known something of him long before that. He had turned the pupil-teacher centre into a new type of secondary school called a County School which had grown rapidly in its first few years and in 1916 moved to new premises in Frith Road where I met Fred on that sunny autumn day of 1927.

Prince George and Mr Whitehouse

Mr. Whitehouse about to ask the Prince to open the school door officially.

It is difficult to remember Fred independently of the band of very able men he had appointed in those early years; but looking back after more than fifty years I like to appreciate the good things Fred did for the school. I remember his keen interest in gardening and trees. Every year the flowering cherry trees outside the old school in Frith Road are one reminder and the Old Boys’ avenue of trees in Astor Avenue is another reminder in the autumn. Alas, the lovely collection of shrubs and trees which he had planted round the present school mostly disappeared during World War II but a few plants still remain.

When I first came to the school Fred told me that he expected all his staff to regard themselves as schoolmasters and that teaching was only one part, although an important part, of being a schoolmaster. I think that has remained one of the guiding principles of the school under each succeeding Head. Under Fred’s guidance the academic life of the school flourished but academic success is mainly for the more able and Fred was fervent that all his pupils ought to be taught to become good citizens. When I meet Old Pharosians from all over the world I am continually reminded that the school has helped many of them to become good citizens of towns and villages far removed from Deal and Dover.

Fred was a good churchman, a born organiser and a very able administrator. The county benefited much from his untiring work. At this time when we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the present school buildings by H. R. H. Prince George on 9th December, 1931 it might be useful to remind ourselves that the County Architect designed the buildings in collaboration with the Headmaster, who succeeded in impressing many of his own ideas during the planning period. The buildings which were opened in 1931 reflected Fred’s historical interests. The lower level of the buildings has a Norman reminder in the brick arches; the next level has an Early English bias and the school chapel has distinct Gothic overtones. The school tower was designed as a fireproof escape from all levels and the castellation on the top made the appearance more pleasing. In 1931 the many innovations with soundproofing and fireproofing and the general design were featured prominently in the Architectural Review of the year, altogether a fitting memorial to an outstanding Headmaster.