Mr George Bradford – Born in 1925 in Muirkirk, George was a popular secondary school English teacher from the mid to late 20th Century.
He initially taught at Gallowflat School in Rutherglen in the mid 1950’s. By the 1960’s, he was still living in Rutherglen and travelling to Blantyre for work, he was known locally as “wee brick.” An unsung hero of the Scottish Education system, George had one arm and it is unknown how he lost it.
He worked at Calder Street Junior Secondary School in the 1960’s, then later at Blantyre High in Boswell Drive where he was also Deputy Head certainly between 1973 and 1982 assisting head teacher Mr Montgomery and later Mr Peter Moncreif.
George’s wife was also a teacher working in Burnside. In the 1960’s he drove a Ford Anglia Car and it is said, he was partial to a Lightbody’s pie! He was well respected and fair and could turn his ability to be able to stand in for most other teachers if they were absent. He even allowed the children to call him by his first name, which was something unusual for that time.
A story is remembered where he held a class on limericks, with an opening suggested line by him being “There once was a teacher called Brick”, and you may imagine how the children found delight in filling in the subsequent missing lines.
He was also strict and a draw of his belt would be enough for any child to behave again. His belt was with him at all times, kept over his shoulder, under his jacket although a wooden ruler usually sufficed for minor offences. He was certainly stricter with boys than girls. He was known to give out some corporal punishment with that leather strap, as was commonplace in those decades and was a good aim with a blackboard duster. There is even an urban myth that he once broke a desk with his strap.
However, the belt was used seldomly and he had a kind side too, even known to have loaned children money if they had forgot their cookery class money or reward them with a sixpence for having the best essay. He appreciated hard work, made children believe in themselves, appreciated honesty from those in his class and returned that sentiment by giving career advice to older pupils.
He was also known to have a sharp sense of humour. He would often produce a Daily Record newspaper and read some of the day’s current affairs with pupils, the paper said to have been easier for his one arm, than reading larger broadsheets.
His interests extended to being involved in running the local football team and he was a keen gardener. Upon his retirement in the mid 1980’s, following his long and illustrious career, he moved to Ayrshire not far from Robert Burns’ House, coincidently with poetry being another dedicated hobby.
George passed away in 2001, ahed 76 and is is fondly remembered as being a gentleman, a scholar and one of the finest teachers that Blantyre schools ever had.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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