TowneleyGatehouse TECHNALIANS  Burnley Heasandford Towneley

HOME PAGE General  Interest Of General Interest . . . . ALAN  LAWSON

Alan Lawson's  Education and Interests
Commences teaching at BTHS January 1961
On returning to my Alma Mater June 1961
School Trip to Snowdonia September 1961
Keswick Weekend December 1962
The Climbing Club 1964-1965
The Astronomical Society 1965
Faiwell to Towneley 1965
And Finally, "The Moor Road"
"The Walks in . . . " series of guide books
The first Old Boy of the Towneley school to become a permanent member of the staff from January 1961 to July 1965 (when he left to become Head of Science at St Theodore’s Comprehensive School).

Educated at Towneley Technical High School -
Head Boy and Senior Prefect 1950-1 and 1951-2
Gawthorpe House Captain
Active in -
·    The Science Society
·    The Philosophical Society (to which he gave a talk on Galileo in 1951)
·    The Art Society
School Editor of the “Townelian” Christmas 1952
School representative on Burnley’s “Junior Accident Prevention Committee”
Scholarship to Manchester University, October 1953
Graduated BSc 1956;  
MSc in Engineering (Manchester) 1963
One-time President of the Burnley Holiday Group, CHA and HF
Member of the Masque Players (Burnley)
Interests in Mountaineering and Hiking; with an ambition “to swim in every river of the North Country”.
Vol.1 No.5  
June 1961

The Easter Term began on 9th January, 1961, and Mr. I. Red­head, M.A., B.Sc., B.Com., well-known as former Head of the Maths.Dept. here, and Deputy Head of the Old Towneley School, assumed the Headmastership.
We also welcomed Mrs. Burrows in place of Mrs. Waddington, Mr. A. Lawson, B.Sc., in place of Mr. Johnson, and Mr. B. D. Mac-Donald, on permanent supply.
(Mr. Lawson is the first Old Boy of the School to become
 a permanent member of the Saff.—Editor.)

Twias on 'the foggy Calder's silver strand,
(All gaily decked by man's most dext'rous hand,)
That I received in ever-growing youth,
The rudiments of academic truth.
Where from ihe mighty Masters' fiery wit,
This feeble, flickering torch was dimly lit;
And from those minds (O sparkling streams so wise!)
Was irrigated to my present guise.
I see before me on the marsh's rim,
Those sagging walls and lofty galleries dim
Where loyial friends (and foes) of yester year,
Within the dust, like spectre-wraiths, appear.
And when the marching, steady feet are still,
And corridors with vernal sunshine fill,
I hear once more the dreaded cries of pain
That followed on the swiftly swishing cane.
O pleasant years!    O gracious mem'ries sweet!
(Forget the homework and the dragging feet,)
In that Olympus, where the jovial male
Had yet to fawn on Aphrodite's tale.
Here on the dais within my mystic lair.
Where through the gloom the pupils thickly stare
On wild experiments that wrongly track
And rout my startled limbs in vile attack,
I little thought in youth's ideal flight,
That hard-worked Masters swotted half the night;
That marking books was such a fearful stew;
That periods and days so lengthy grew.
Yet praise Aeneas, who from Heasandford Troy,
Didst found this Rome—this haunt of girl and boy;
And on Empyrean Calder's soggy plain
Didst raise to learning, this most sweet domain.

A. Lawson.
[TECHNALIAN  Vol.1 No.5  June 1961 p.22]

On Friday, September 1st, 1961, thirty-three pupils and two of the Staff set off for Snowdonia. Mr. Lawson soon discovered that he had left his coat in the crush hall. A prompt return was made to retrieve it. On the journey we had an hour's stay in Chester, and half an hour at Swallow Falls, Bettwys-Coed. We reached our Guest House at 5-30, and shortly afterwards a party of ten boys from near Oxford arrived. They quickly became attached to our girls.

The programme for the week included the Aberglaslyn Pass, Snowdon. LJyn Gwynant, walks round Beddegelert, and coach trips to Criccieth and Portmadoc, Caernarvon and Abersoch.

Certain members will remember that there were wasps about, and that wrong turnings can be awkward. On behalf of the whole party we take this opportunity to thank Mr. Lawson and Miss Whiteside for a very enjoyable holiday.

Judith Chadwick, VI (a).
J. Whitham VI (a).
[“Technalian” Vol.1 No.6 – June 1962, p.21]

Technalian Vol.1 No.7
June 1963 p.2

From December 7th to 9th 1962  a party of 19 Sixth Formers (14 boys and 5 girls) and 5 members of staff spent an interesting and enjoyable week-end at Derwent Bank, Keswick. Thanks are due to the Holiday Fellowship Ltd and to the manageress for much kindness and consideration.
(Left) Alan Lawson at Derwent Bank, December1962
Mr A Lawson and Miss M Whiteside, September School Trip to Snowdonia, 1961
(Above) Alan Lawson Rock climbing 1964
Rock climbing 1965
(Above) Alan Lawson (on right) and Climbing Club 1965


The Climbing Club is comparatively new to the School and, since last year, has enjoyed a fruitful prosperity. Dances, organised every Thursday lunchtime, in the School Hall, greatly extended the funds available to the club. This, coupled with the sale of home­made toffee and ginger beer, assisted the club in the purchase of some essential equipment.

Many trips have been organised since the foundation of the club, including trips to the Lake District and Blackstone Edge. On each of these occasions a good, keen attendance was recorded.

In all aspects, the club has been a success; and this has largely been due to the untiring efforts of our President, Mr. A. Lawson. I would, however, like to take this opportunity of thanking all our members, without whose loyalty and hard work, the club could not possibly have enjoyed the success that it has.

[Technalian” Vol.1 No.9 June 1965  p.17] 



The Ghosts of Newton and Halley have been hovering around us in the last year. In the long night watches when the moon has been veiled, the spirits of Herschel and Laplace have stirred and been seen amongst us. We have begun to observe the mysteries of the Heavens, and like Babylonian Priests upon our flat roofs, gazed at the fiery stars and dazzling Aurora, lighting in fantastic shimmers of incandescence, the dome of heaven. We have, in short, founded an Astronomical Society.

The initial impulse came from Mr. Phillip Horrocks, who pre­sented us with a lO inch Cassegrain Reflector Telescope. The energy of Kevin McLoughlin and others of the Sixth Form took up the challenge, and using this great telescope, with other less powerful instruments, we have observed two eclipses of the moon and taken observations at sundry other times.

 And now, with the indispensable assistance of Mr. Horrocks. who assembled a 15in reflector, and converted our lOin. reflector to a photographic telescope, we have taken over a disused air-raid shelter on the playing fields, and we shall shortly erect a steel dome to house the telescopes. The dry interior of the shelter (hereafter called the observatory), is ideal for storing equipment and so we shall shortly join the British Amateur Astronomical Society and undertake a series of systematic observations under their aegis.

 This Summer will see the new dome glinting across the wide green slopes of the Holmes, and the coach parties to and from the ancient Hall will see our observatory and its glittering cap, standing on the banks of the Calder. 

The Science of Astronomy is the most ancient of all the scien­tific disciplines. We only hope we can arouse the same enthusiasm, which consumed the classical ages of the Georges, when Astronomy and Fashion were one. 

[“Technalian” Vol.1 No.9 June 1965 p.16]

Astronomical soc 1965
(Right) Alan Lawson, physics teacher, with members of the Towneley Astonomical Society (left) Kevin McLaughlin and (centre) Colin Ormston.






The departure of a Master is customarily the occasion for the exchange of an immense number of platitudes which are otherwise only used on civic dignitaries at the opening of a new municipal sewage works. The only difference is that the sewage has no effec­tive reply. Well, before the big guns begin the cliches bombardment here are a few well-worn phrases as a preliminary blast.

The things that will haunt me most will be the immense corridors, echoing to the unco-ordinated tramp of unwilling feet. From down their distant glooms I would hear the far-off shrieks of lonely classes battering the furniture, or even better, battering one another. Or as the bell signalled ten minutes' release, the wild and fantastic cries of erupting piles of formerly inert bodies. And the cleaners (bless 'em !) doling out the sawdust as a winter dusk settled in its home—the furtive corners and sombre crevices of the Towne-ley corridors. As I get older, I seem to see them lengthening as if they were alive, generating themselves into vaster and lengthier right angles, so that the long walk from the staff room to room twenty-five would become endless, and staff and children would go searching and prying for a vanished teacher who had disappeared into the infinities of space.

Or if you need a new interest come into my back-room—the resting place of the Physics apparatus in between teaching bouts. The waste pipe and Mr. Jump (our hard-working caretaker) regularly fight it out, leaving behind on the floor the tidemarks of each encroaching flood. Often in some happy reverie, I would use the sink for some innocent purpose, like washing my hands, which get whiter than white, when I would become aware of a soft swishing and gurgling around my ankles. With a cry of dismay, I would jam on all brakes (i.e. turn off the tap), but it would be in vain. The sink would gleefully empty itself and turn the floor into a sullen lido, where the galvanomites raised their tiny dials and sig­nalled for help. It has become so bad that all apparatus on the floor is provided with life belts. If the pipe isn't finally repaired, perhaps I shall sail away on the morning leak.

These are things I shall remember but it is my colleagues and the Hiking Club that I shall regret leaving. The time in the climbing hut in the Lake District when we all drank from a foaming bucket of Shandy—the dream of every drunkard. Or the eager Sixth Formers who enthusiastically set off from Ambleside Youth Hostel with full packs, climbed Rossett Gill, and who nearly expired on the seemingly endless humps of Glaramara. I can recall the time when we visited Aysgarth Falls. After viewing the falls, I led the merry band down river whilst I anxiously looked for the path down to Redmire. With my usual luck, I missed the opening and led the hearty mob (who didn't know of my mistake) over a fence of brushwood, to find myself confronted by a large red-faced and angry farmer. "Whose the comedian in charge of this party ?" he shouted, and the "loyal" band as one man pointed to me. After blushing and explaining that they might look funny, but I couldn't help that, we all clambered back and began the search for the proper way out. As \ have never been allowed to forget the incident, I might as well record it for posterity.

So before I zoom off for the last time on my sturdy but unreliable steed, I want to thank Mr. Redhead, my fellow teachers, and all the pupils whose company I have enjoyed. My motor bike will have to become accustomed to a new parking space and drip its oil on virgin territory. There, as you enter the front door of Towneley and view the oil-soaked concrete you will have a memorial of me. The winds of Autumn will scatter the dust over the oily patches, the tail light will finally disappear through  the arch and with a roar I shall be gone.                      

Alan Lawson

[“Technalian” Vol.1 No.9 June 1965 pp.20 - 21]
"And finally I should like to close with a poem of my own and hope that everyone who walks and climbs in (our local) countryside will have the same delight and satisfaction that these moors have always given me."


High on the marsh-wet heath,
The track is steep.
The gravel dull and grey
Like moorland sheep.

The narrow climbing way
Clings to the hill,
And parts the tussock grass
And spans the rill.

The moor becomes the world
As clouds blow,
The mist drifts o'er the waste,
Wraithlike and slow.

The grouse's startled cry,
The plover's moan
The whole forgotten lands
Are harsh as stone.

Is this a place of ghosts?
The road for men?
Or has the road an end
Beyond our ken?

The dark peaks are silent,
Save for the wind
Which meloncholy speaks
And is unkind.

These hills eternal view
Time's lonely grey;
Lies history here along
This ancient way.

Can human ear discern
The packhorse bells?
Is there a sound, or none
Upon the fells?

The chant of pilgrim prayers?
Or is it just the reeds?
A murmered prayer of praise
Said on the beads?

Gone! There is no answer
No sound or sprite:
No other being hails
The evening light.

So there! A distant Inn,
The world of men!
Where glowing hearths replace
The moor and fen.

But yet towards the East
The sedge blades grow,
The wilderness is dusk
The sky is low.

High on the marsh-wet heath,
The track is steep.
The gravel dull and grey
Like moorland sheep.

High on the marsh-wet heath,
The track is steep.
The gravel dull and grey
Like moorland sheep.

Alan Lawson
From Introduction "Walks in Bronte Country"
[Gerrard, Nelson 1964]
Walks in Pendle Country
1st Ed. 1963
[Gerrard, Nelson]
Walks in Bronte Country
[Gerrard, Nelson]
Walks in Hodder Country
[Gerrard, Nelson]
Pendle 2nd ed
Walks in Pendle Country
2nd Ed. 1967
[Gerrard, Nelson]
Al Wilson (New Zealand) -  "Alan Lawson was head prefect when I was at Towneley. I am not sure that he would remember me as there were a few years between us. However, I certainly remember his speech at prize-giving in the Mechanics, even to this day! He certainly made an impression" (4/4/10)