The Maltonian Web


Alfred Barty, Senior Master

A tribute from The Maltonian December 1955



IF a School is to be a happy place, the scholars must be conscious of an underlying stability, and their affections must find a focal point not so much in the abstract concept of a school as in certain persons who come to be thought of as " the school."

Mr. Williams aroused such affection and such a sense of continuing tradition; and when he left, the school had in some sense to rebuild itself. But not entirely-for Mr. Barty, so long Mr. Williams' colleague, was left to continue the tradition. Now he, too, has left to begin a well-merited retirement, and the School this Term seems a different place.

Mr. Barty, "A.B." to everybody, came to us in 1919. The School was smaller then and seemed in truth like a rather large family. In this family circle the Bartys quickly found a place, for Mr. Barty's life has been blessed by the companionship of a wife as warm-hearted as she is unassuming.

And so the Bartys' home became a symbol of the friendliness of our School, and many a new scholar or member of the staff first lost his sense of loneliness or newness in that house.




But let us not forget that Mr. Barty was above all a very fine teacher. History and Geography have always been popular subjects in the School because they were well taught, with the comprehensive sweep which transforms a subject into an education. As for the Music of the School, there can be few schools of our size where a musical tradition is so firmly rooted. It must be a joy to Mr. Barty that in the year of his retirement virtually ten per cent of all the scholars were members of the School Orchestra.

His services to the School outside the classroom have been too numerous to mention. Naturally he found work in planning and executing School excursions and in organizing concerts; but he was also a brilliant improviser, especially of teaching aids or mechanical devices, where his great skill with his hands could have play,

Writing of him as Headmaster, I can say that I was very fortunate in my first Senior Master. We had our enthusiasm for music as an instant bond of communion, and I received from Mr, Barty many a sound piece of advice where, left to myself, I might have trampled unnecessarily on established traditions.

Go-getting teachers, unblushingly using their posts as mere stepping-stones and contributing little to a school beyond examination passes, affect to look down on the man who stays. They are quite wrong; the teacher who stays until he absorbs so much of a school's tradition that he himself becomes part of it makes probably the most valuable contribution of all to our English school system. The affection felt for these dedicated men in schools all over the country is proof of their worth.

Mr. and Mrs. Barty have returned to their native South; but we must hope that in the course of a serene and lasting retirement they will make many opportunities to revisit the Northland of their happy exile.