Saturday, November 10, 2018


Part Six | 1968-1970 

'..(Knox) Cunningham liked to go through (to) the boys' quarters to provoke them with his outrageously reactionary views and encouraged them to challenge school rules. Robert Philp, house tutor at Arniston, said, 'He used to come back rubbing his hands with glee, saying, "That's stirred things up a bit." Blair was not interested in politics at that time but, as a former parliamentary private secretary to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, Cunningham offered him an early glimpse of the glamour of Downing Street...'

John Rentoul Tony Blair

'Tony Blair says himself that he had a very privileged education, which is news to those of us in Edinburgh schools. We thought he went to Fettes, generally known as Fetish, and regarded then as a gothic penitentiary for the hopelessly depraved...'
Andrew Marr Notebook (26.10.2005)

During 1968 and the remainder of the years that Tony Blair was a pupil at Fettes College, Ronald Selby Wright's links to royalty and the highest levels of politics were maintained:

'The only Committee I have really enjoyed was that established in August 1968 by Mr Edward Heath, then Leader of the Opposition, to examine the proposal for the creation of a Scottish Assembly under the Chairmanship of Sir Alec Douglas-Home... It met on seventeen occasions between September 1968 and March 1970...

It was a great privilege for me to work under Alec Douglas-Home... Alec Home and his father had always been so kind and friendly and I had been the guest of each on more than one occasion at the Hirsel - on three occasions accompanied by the Canongate choirboys...'   

RSW Another Home 

new hall for the Canongate club was opened on November 29th 1968: 

'Messages of goodwill were received from H.M the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales...' (AH)

And, the Queen visited again, one morning in May 1969:

'..I arranged for some members of the congregation and a number of leading local Canongations to be presented to her, whom she met in the Hugh Blair Room, before meeting others while she drank coffee in the drawing room...

Before she left to a rapturous reception from the crowd outside, and not least the children of Milton House School, she planted a tree in the front garden to commemorate her visit...' (AH)

A fifth 'Royal tree' was planted by the Prince of Wales during a similar visit in 1970...

During that same year, Ronald Selby Wright attended a special commemorative service at Fettes:

'..Then there was the great Centenary Service of Fettes College on 31st May 1970, an evening service in memory of the Founder, Sir William Fettes, when, at the close, a wreath was laid by the Head of School on his tomb in the Churchyard...' (AH) 

Tony Blair at Fettes College was perceived as an attention-seeking miscreant, and not only by 'Masters':

"He was certainly keen on being noticed, whether it was for his views or his pranks. He liked the attention very much." 

Nicholas Burnett 

He has, similarly, also been characterised as having been "..a very superior wind-up artist.." during those Fettes College teenage years. In 1970, according to John Rentoul, Tony Blair's allegedly obnoxious behaviour was such that he 'risked expulsion'.... 

Fettes boys regularly engaged in something called 'Outside Service'. Ronald Selby Wright, who was a "great supporter" of Tony Blair according to Eric Anderson, is thought to have been a key factor in ensuring that Blair was able to stay on to study for and take his A' Levels. 

Tony Blair '..volunteered to help run a summer camp for Selby Wright's boys' club.' This activity is presumed to have been viewed sufficiently favourably to effectively counteract the negative impression from his highly annoying conduct in school, experienced by, among others, his last house master, Bob Roberts. 

Bob Roberts was reportedly the only master to beat Tony Blair, ' him six of the best at the age of 17 for persistently flouting rules.' (John Rentoul)

But, as a fellow pupil has put things, it seems that Ronald Selby Wright made sure that Tony Blair got through to the Fettes finishing line: 

"Some might say that if it hadn't been for going on one of those camps, Tony might have found himself leaving the school a little earlier than expected.. But it was also an astute move on his part. If he had been shown the red card, Selby Wright would have put in a good word for him..." (Nick Ryden)



MR Anthony Chenevix-Trench, 51, who has just given up the headship of Eton, will take over one of Scotland's top public schools after having a year off.

His appointment as headmaster of Fettes College, Edinburgh - motto: Hard Work - was announced yesterday. Fettes with 450 pupils, is about a third of Eton's size. Its fees are £615 a year.

Mr. Chenevix-Trench, who was headmaster at Eton for six years, will take up his new post in September next year when the present head, Dr. Ian McIntosh retires.

He said last night: "I am very happy with the appointment. I am also looking forward to having a year off."

He intends to spend most of the year writing and had been invited to write a book on education with the title "The Pursuit of Excellence."

His new appointment means he will have been headmaster of both schools where the best known modern fiction hero - James Bond - was "educated" according to the books written by Ian Fleming.

DAILY MIRROR July 24th 1970



..From 1952-1955 Mr Chenevix-Trench was housemaster of the biggest house at Shrewsbury School during which period beating by the housemaster, previously rare, became quite common. Trench developed the theory of the punishment alternative, offering those who were about to be beaten a choice between the cane (with trousers on) and the strap (with trousers off). Beatings with the cane normally took place in Trench's official downstairs study, while beatings with the strap took place in the more informal surroundings of his drawing-room, or, on some occasions, a bedroom. During the beatings, the door was locked and the boy would be required to lie on the couch or bed to receive his punishment.

PRIVATE EYE unknown date 1964-1970   


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