Bedford Modern School
(May Bedford Flourish)
|Type||Public School and Independent day school|
|DfE URN||109728 Tables|
|Houses||Oatley, Mobbs, Tilden, Farrar, Rose, Bell|
|Colours||Black and red|
|Publication||The Eagle/ The Sports Eagle/ The Eaglet|
|Former pupils||Old Bedford Modernians http://www.obmclub.co.uk|
|School Song||"School of the Black and Red"|
|Unofficial Motto||"Modern 'till I Die"|
Bedford Modern School (often called BMS) is a Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) independent school located in the county town of Bedford, Bedfordshire, England. BMS comprises a junior school (ages 6–11) and a senior school (ages 11–18).
Bedford Modern School has its origins in The Harpur Trust, born from the endowments left by Sir William Harpur in the sixteenth century. Since the separation of Bedford School and BMS in 1764, the School has had four names – the Writing School, the English School, the Commercial School and finally Bedford Modern School, the last change being made in 1873 to reflect the School's modern curriculum, providing an education for the professions. BMS provided education not only for the locality but also for colonial and military personnel seeking good education for their young families.
In 1834 BMS moved to buildings designed by Edward Blore in Harpur Square, Bedford. The successful growth of the school meant that the buildings became increasingly cramped and in 1974 the school moved to new premises in Bedford. The Foundation Stone for the new building was laid by Margaret Thatcher. On 11 May 1976, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II unveiled a commemorative panel at the new school building during her visit with H.R.H. Duke of Edinburgh.
Following a tradition of over a hundred years the Senior School Houses of BMS were: North, South, East, West, County and United Boarders. This last comprised the combined boarding houses: Culver, Shakespeare, and School House. The day boy houses often, though not always, reflected the parts of the town or county from which the boys hailed and were mentioned in the chorus of the school song.
A decision was made in October 1997 for the House system to play a more central role in the School and to reinvigorate internal competition whilst upholding its fine traditions. Six Heads of House were appointed from the staff under the direction of a Senior Head of House, with the brief to establish a modern House system to be integrated into a new school structure and working week, beginning in September 1998. A competition was launched to establish the new house names. The Houses were named in honour of six Old Bedford Modernians who had gained national or international recognition in their field.
Each house has its own tie which consists of stripes of the three school colours and their own house colour. Inter-house sports cover all major and minor sports run by the school, at both Junior and Senior level, and range from rugby and hockey (major sports) to shooting and fencing (minor sports). There are also non-sporting events such as quizzes and Music and Drama competitions. Students take leadership roles as House Captain or House Deputies.
Monitors are selected, following a written application process, from students in the Upper Sixth. Each team of monitors works with a specific year group, and are led by two Senior Monitors, appointed by the Head Master. Senior Monitors, along with the Heads of School, are entitled to wear a red trim on their blazer.
Boys in years 7 to 11 wear their house tie and school blazer alongside black trousers and a white shirt. Girls may wear the school shirt or black trousers with the school blazer (girls' blazers have a red and black braid). Sixth form students wear a business suit.
Until 2003, BMS was a day and boarding school for boys. Following 12 years of discussions, Bedford Modern School closed its boarding houses and became coeducational in September 2003. In 2013, BMS celebrated 10 years of coeducation, with a play written by Mark Burgess commissioned to celebrate the event.
BMS is notable for both rugby union and rowing, competing regularly against other schools such as Bedford School, Berkhamsted School, Bishop's Stortford College, Eton College, Hampton School, Harrow School, Kimbolton School, Haileybury, Merchant Taylors, Oakham School, Oundle School, St Albans School and Stamford School. Other popular sports include cricket, hockey, athletics, fencing, rugby fives, football, swimming, table tennis, tennis and water polo.
Bedford Modern has a strong sporting tradition with many former students going on to compete at national and international levels including two former Captains of the England Rugby Team and a former Captain of the England cricket team:
- England Rugby Caps: Horace Finlinson, WB Thomson, Edgar Mobbs (Captain), Arthur Gilbert Bull, Dick Stafford, Harold Day, Dickie Jeeps CBE (Captain) and Lionel Edward Weston
- England Cricketers: Arthur Jones (Captain), Geoff Millman, Monty Panesar 
- Olympic Medallists: Major-General Charles Howard Foulkes CB CMG DSO (field hockey Bronze), John Yallop (Rowing Silver), Tim Foster MBE (Rowing Gold)
- Boat Race Oarsmen: Sir Archibald Dennis Flower Kt, William Poole, Sir George Edward Godber GCB, David Leadley, Joseph Dominic Kinsella, JD Hughes, Tim Foster MBE, David Gillard, Kenelm Richardson (Cambridge cox)
- Paralympian, Julie Rogers
- Rugby Fives British Champion: Matt Cavanagh (2004 and 2006)
Each year, the school puts on two major productions, normally musicals, with full orchestra and set, in its 300-seat auditorium. It also hosts its own Shakespeare Festival, in which local schools are invited to take part. The Sixth Form has its own theatre company, Theatre in Transit, which puts on a piece of theatre each year at professional venues. Music also thrives at BMS, with over 20 bulbs including the School Orchestra, Choir, Chamber Choir, and Concert Band. The Music School features a recording studio, and individual practice rooms. In September 2014, the Chamber Choir performed The Armed Man at the Royal Albert Hall as part of Sing UK's 'A Mass for Peace'.
Combined cadet force
The School's CCF is one of the oldest in the country, having existed since 1863. BMS is one of very few schools in the UK to have all four arms of the Service within its Corps: Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Bedford Modern CCF also invites students from nearby Rushmoor, St Andrew's and Bedford Free School to be part of the Corps.
The school has several of its own publications, the most prominent of which is named The Eagle. Published mostly biannually since 1881, the magazine doubles as an archive of life at the school during that year. The Eagle is mostly designed and edited by sixth form students, and since 2000 is printed as a glossy magazine with around 48 pages. It often also includes feature articles and interviews from former students. Other publications include The Eaglet, which, until recently, was included as part of the main magazine, and includes articles from the Junior School. Another publication is the Eagle News, which is published for the benefit of OBMs. It includes School news, and follow-up articles of former pupils.
List of headmasters
The following have been Head Masters of Bedford Modern School.
|Name||Years as Head Master|
|William Henry White||1821–1831|
|Rev. Robert Burton Poole||1877–1900|
|Cecil William Kaye||1901–1916|
|Canon Arnold Cecil Powell||1917–1922|
|Henry Weddell Liddle||1922–1946|
|Rev. John Edward Taylor||1946–1965|
|Peter John Squire||1977–1996|
- Rev. Thomas Blyth DD (1844–1913), later author and Commissary to the Archbishop of Ottawa and Bishops of Niagara
- Professor William Hillhouse FLS (1850–1910), first Professor of Botany at the University of Birmingham
- Edward Mann Langley (1851–1933), founder of the Mathematical Gazette and creator of Langley’s Adventitious Angles
- William Jesse MA (1870-1945), later Principal of Meerut College (1903–23) and Headmaster of Kenton College, Kenya
- Sir Percy Nunn (1870–1944), educationalist
- Ralph Robinson Wood (1876–1954), later headmaster of Bishop Feild College, Canada
- Ronald Welch (1909-1982), author
- Michael James Hugill (1918–2013), later headmaster of Whitgift School (1961–70) and Assistant Master at Westminster School (1972–86)
- Michael Harrison OBE (born 1925), later Chief Education Officer, City of Sheffield (1967–85)
- William Birkett Cook MA (born 1931), later Headmaster of Durham School (1967–72) and Magdalen College School, Oxford (1972–91)
- James Geoffrey 'Fess' Parker CBE (1933–2012), later High Master of Manchester Grammar School (1985–94)
- John Moore (born 1943), footballer, 1st team football coach
- Christopher Stuart Parker CBE (born 1947), later headmaster of Nottingham High School (1995–2007)
- David Davies (born 1957) author and historian, former history master
- Mark Burgess (born 1960), actor and playwright, Head of Speech and Drama
- Jason Riddington (born 1968), actor, former Head of Drama
- Rob Hardwick (born 1969), Director of Rugby, former England Rugby International
- Chris Willmott (born 1977), football coach and retired English footballer
- H.D. Harvey-Kelly (OBM) was a World War I pilot who was credited with being the first RFC pilot to land in France in the war, and of being the first RFC pilot to down an enemy aircraft
- Charles Carroll Wood (OBM) was the first Canadian to die in the Second Boer War. He was the great grandson of Zachary Taylor (12th President of the United States) and is the namesake of Chaswood, Nova Scotia
- Cecil Vandepeer Clarke and Stuart Macrae, WW2 inventors, took a prototype of their limpet mine to Bedford Modern School swimming baths, which were closed for such occasions. Clarke was an excellent swimmer and was able to propel himself through the water with a prototype bomb attached to a keeper plate on webbing around his waist
- Dame Alice Owen's School was evacuated to BMS for the entire duration of World War II
- A.O. Jones (OBM), former captain of the England Cricket Team, invented the cricket position of gully
- James Oswald Anderson (OBM) played football for Argentina in its first ever official national game against Uruguay in 1902
- Bedford Modern has educated two former captains of the England Rugby Team namely Edgar Mobbs and Dickie Jeeps. Jeeps was also captain of the British Lions in 1962
- Christopher Fry (OBM) talks about BMS when interviewed by Roy Plomley on Desert Island Discs – Christopher Fry on Desert Island Discs
- Captain Richard 'Dick' Howe MBE MC (OBM), was an escape officer at Colditz Castle during World War II
- Gordon Thomas (OBM), an investigative author, journalist and novelist got the scoop on the nationalisation of the Suez Canal for the Daily Express in 1956. Thomas was a cousin of the poet Dylan Thomas
- John Sessions (OBM) talks about BMS when interviewed by Sue Lawley on Desert Island Discs – John Sessions on Desert Island Discs
- An annual ‘Long Swim’ was established under Dr Poole (headmaster 1877-1900), a ‘free-for-all’ swimming race in the River Great Ouse from Bedford town bridge to the ‘Suspension Bridge’. The gruelling event was stopped in 1957 due to river pollution
- An annual compulsory steeplechase takes place at the school for each year group
- David Scott Daniell (OBM) wrote about his schooldays at BMS in his first novel, Young English
- The school’s Prichard Museum, a collection of artefacts sent back to the school mainly from old boys around the world, became Bedford Museum. George Witt was also a major benefactor to the school's museum
- Norman Friskney, later headmaster of Wilson's School, writes about his time as a Master at BMS in his memoirs, With Gun and Gown (2012, ISBN 978-1-86151-009-9)
Old Bedford Modernians
Former pupils of the school are known as Old Bedford Modernians (OBMs).
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- http://www.bedford.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/council_news/archived_news/february_2012/on_your_marks.aspx On Your Marks! Bedford Borough to host teams from around the world ahead of London 2012
- "Sing UK - Welcome to Sing UK!". singuk.org. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
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- Obituary in The Times, 4 June 1981
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- Young English. The story of a schoolboy. London, Jonathan Cape, 1931
- "British Museum - Term details". British Museum. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
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