Tommy Corke

 Do you remember
Tommy Corke?

Tommy was an art teacher at Kettering Grammar School in the 1950s and possibly in the 1940s as well. He lived in Geddington, was quite a ‘character’, loved his football and was well known in the local pubs.

Professor Alan Brookes lives near Oxford now, but went to Kettering Grammar School, leaving in 1958, and was taught by Tommy, who was a great influence on his life and subsequent career. He would like to honour Tommy’s name, but needs more information and stories about his time here.

To jog memories, perhaps the following supportive information might help:
1  Mr Perry was the science teacher at this time,
2  Barry Chambers, who became a Kettering Borough Councillor, and Mayor in 1973, was a fellow pupil,
3  J L Carr was Headmaster of Highfields Primary School from 1952-7 and Professor Brooks received many letters from him.

If you remember Tommy Corke and have any information about him or his family, please get in touch with Professor Brookes on 01491 873109.

I mentioned this name at home and was told the following:
He loved his football very much and if play wasn’t up to his standard, he would run round the football field (off Grafton Road at that time) with an axe! Any more stories like this?


    1. Malcolm Baird

      Sun 08th Jan 2017 at 10:52 am

      I was a pupil from 1953 to 1955, when I was moved to Corby Grammar School as it had opened in 1955, and remember Tommy being very explosive in his teachings! He was also great at painting in any medium, especially dirt from the classroom floor.

      • Pam

        Sun 08th Jan 2017 at 12:18 pm

        Hello Malcolm,
        Thank you for your comment, it seems that all memories of Tommy Corke are good ones.

    2. Alistair Dawson

      Fri 27th Jan 2017 at 9:36 pm

      I was at KGS from 1952 until 1959. Tommy was a “one-off”.We even had a
      song about him.

      During an art class in the huts (temporary accommodation that lasted too long)
      one winter day a lad in my class placed a blackcurrant fruit gum on the top of the
      coke-fired stove.

      It bubbled, finally giving off a puff of smoke and a smell like burning rubber – much merriment ensued. and Tommy had to decide what to do.

      The stove had been located in a corner of the room. Tommy began at the opposite corner, asking every boy in turn if he had put the gum on the stove.

      Poor Dave S****s, sitting by the stove; the last boy to be questioned, got a few cuffs around his ears from the irate Tommy. Having predicted his fate, he took it “like a man” as we used to say.

      Tommy was also a councillor in Geddington and was frequently mentioned in THE NORTHAMPTONSHIRE EVENING TELEGRAPH, standing up for tenants against
      the Buccleuch Estate’s property managers.

      I guess we all liked him.

    3. David McPherson

      Wed 01st Mar 2017 at 11:01 pm

      I was at KGS 1st to 5th forms at the same time as my friend Alistair Dawson. I don’t remember the incident he describes but it sound exactly like a prank one of our classmates would get up to. Mention Tommy Corke to anyone of our vintage who attended KGS and they all remember Tommy Corke. He was a one-off. My main recollection is that Tommy would talk about all subjects under the sun for threequarters of the lesson and we would only do some “art” in the last quarter. In that respect, I would say he was an ineffective teacher but he probably realised many if not most of us were not remotely interested in art and his stories were much more interesting. His comment on my school report in form 1R in 1953 on art was “a weak subject” and I have no quarrel with his assessment which was spot on. A real character.

      • Pam

        Thu 02nd Mar 2017 at 12:17 pm

        Hello David
        I’m always impressed by the amount of memories that former pupils have of their teachers. Tommy must have made a strong impression on his pupils, to have such a good reception.
        Thank you for your comments, Pam


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