Clifford ‘Butch’ Ingham was a member of the Boys’ Division Staff for 28 years, whose legendary status continues in the memories of generations of Old Boys, and Bolton School folklore, to this day. Although a well-respected teacher of Classics, CHI achieved this status through the ‘Trek Camps’ he ran for many years.
Following his death, in 1988 a group of Old Boys established the Clifford H Ingham Bursary, to commemorate his work at Bolton School and, in particular, his association with the Trek Camps. The fund continues to offer financial support to Boys’ Division pupils who wish to participate in Outdoor Pursuits activities which they would otherwise be unable to afford.
Below, you can read the obituary published for Clifford in the 1986 Boltonian; and the tribute to his time at School, printed in the same publication following his retirement in 1970.
Clifford Ingham, who died in February, was a true polymath and will be remembered by generations of Boltonians for his diversity of interests.
He was the son of a railway guard which was, perhaps, directly responsible for his lifelong and encyclopaedic knowledge of railways, especially the ‘Premier Line’, namely The London North Western Railway (LNWR). All of his camps, of which more later, had railway travel as an integral part of the adventure and he was never happier than when he was on the footplate on the journey, emerging at the destination windblown and smut covered.
He taught classics, and especially Latin, for 28 years at Bolton and even continued elsewhere after his ‘retirement’. He had a unique, almost indescribable, method of teaching and marking which proved its success as every diet of O and A Level examinations announced their results. On his travels he liked to visit sites of classical antiquity and to introduce adolescent travellers to the mysteries of the Roman and Greek civilisations.
However, it is for his camps and journeys that he will be chiefly remembered. He introduced boys to life in Youth Hostels and under canvas and took them abroad, long before widespread foreign travel was fashionable. Even there he broke new ground, going to France soon after the War, venturing to Yugoslavia in 1955 – before the tourists got there, and was first behind the Iron Curtain to Czechoslovakia in 1960.
He was sure, however, to have two camps per year, one abroad and one in Scotland, especially the Highlands and Islands where he had a peculiar affinity with the population. Certain memories of his trek camps will live on in memory – his conversation with an old priest on a bus near Spliton the Adriatic Coast (they spoke in Latin!); his complex negotiations with a Mother Superior and Police Chief in Santiago de Compostela which resulted in a motley crew of Bolton School boys being allowed to camp in the grounds of a Convent; and making porridge over an open fire in a croft in South Uist while the son of the house played tunes on his bagpipes.
His passing ends an era, for it is doubtful whether we shall see his like again. He will be missed and remembered by generations of boys who took advantage of his diverse interests and they will all be passing on their sympathy to his daughter and family.
Barbara, bitten by many of the same bugs, not only continues with the smallholding at the family home in Croft, but runs camps, initially with Guides, but also with Rangers and the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, encouraging large numbers of young people to wild camping in the mountains – clearly it is in her blood!
Dr J Haworth (1950-60)
“He’s on the footplate, helping to drive the damn’ thing.”
With this reassuring piece of intelligence began no small number of long journeys at some stage of an Ingham trek somewhere in the British Isles during the days of the late-lamented iron horse.
This endearing flair for the unorthodox, such instructive displays of healthy eccentricity have been the hallmark of a man who in July 1970, retired from 28 years’ devoted full-time service on the teaching staff of Bolton School.
Clifford Hardiker Ingham joined the School’s Classics Department in September 1942, from Boteler School, Warrington, after a varied career both in the world of learning and in the teaching profession. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School, where he was captain of Harriers and champion miler and five-miler. He graduated in 1929 from Manchester University in Classics and Ancient History with ancillary papers both in Psychology with General Philosophy and in English.
The years that followed were engaged, inter alia, in farming, research, excavation of Romano-British sites with Professor Atkinson, teaching English for a year at Zaqaziq in Egypt, and studying for Part 1 of the Classical Tripos at Christ’s College, Cambridge. From this protracted apprenticeship emerged the personality, pugnacious and Churchillian in aspect, breezy yet gentlemanly in demeanour, who was to join that remarkable team of dedicated professionals who in the thirty and more years of the Poskitt era made Bolton School the focus of their careers and of their lives.
It was in advanced Sixth Form work that could be seen the enormous scope of CHI’s learning. Here the frontiers between the academic disciplines were swept away. A chance word in a text could produce a rich and beneficially informative digression to the point where Higher or Advanced or Scholarship Latin ceased to be merely a hermetic, esoteric pursuit, but became, rather, the vantage point for the investigation of a whole world of literature, history, thought and civilization. His greatest regret was that he could never really give a permanent impetus to Greek studies, academically his first love. Very occasionally he won the odd hour on the timetable. Yet his dedication was again apparent here, in his lunch-time classes and free periods given up to small groups of the faithful, like a fugitive priest ministering to Catholic Recusants.
As a School personality Clifford Ingham afforded much more than litterae humaniores. With two School activities, the Railway Society and Cross Country Running, his name will always be affectionately associated; the former he founded at the beginning of the Summer Term 1944, the latter in the term following, in conjunction with Mr A E Berry. One recalls a rich variety of other activities (how did he find time for them all?): his contribution to the bass section of the Choral Society, his organization of the daily Lesson roster for School prayers, his periodic film shows and accompanying ‘bun fights’, his presence as official speaker or as active participant in sundry Discussion Groups, his daily quests to the School Dinner refuse bins in search of pig fodder. Many will recall with some amusement the loading of huge dixies, abrim with pig-swill, into the rear compartments of a succession of long-suffering vehicles, while those with longer memories will be able to picture a remarkable motor-bike bestridden by a figure swaddled in so many outer wrappings as to resemble a brown version of Mr Michelin.
CHI contributed with a wry humour, an explosive laugh and a generous concern to the atmosphere of the Staff Common Room. At times he delighted to be conspiratorial, provided that everyone in turn shared the secret. The clutching gnarled hand, the mouth-corner advice or protest or anecdote, growled around clenched teeth, formed a harmless exercise which disconcerted none and ultimately endeared him to all.
To several generations of boys, however, Clifford Ingham’s most significant contribution to their lives will probably be the hikes, treks and camps, in the ‘Paiton’ tradition, which he maintained from his days at MGS. One is staggered to have to recognize that he conducted no less than 82 such trips while at Bolton School and 102 in all schools. In his 28 years’ service the New Year-Easter-Summer sequence of expeditions was broken only twice, at Easter, 1953, and at New Year, 1968.
To be present on an Ingham expedition was both to gain an experience of people and places and to acquire a liberating angle of vision that would be cherished and remembered for a lifetime. A certain cachet attached to the names of the trips one had known; to the connoisseur they were to be rolled around the tongue like choice vintages or sported like battle honours.
The unspeakable weight of organisation and responsibility involved in the running of such trips as these has to be seen at first hand to be fully appreciated. Those who over the years have expressed their gratitude to CHI in this magazine have often, one suspects, failed to grasp the extent of their indebtedness. Mention too must be made of the long sequence of trips within the British Isles. Here Clifford was most at ease in his visits to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland where he has made many lasting friends. Often wearing the kilt and wrestling with the Gaelic he was assured and at home with a people whose sturdy character and hospitality – untarnished by the Pax Romana – he prized more than those of any other. Never for longer than a couple of years did he absent himself from North Britain.
His linguistic talents, of course, went beyond Greek, Latin and Gaelic; he showed a willingness to tackle most of the languages of Europe. One delights especially, though, at the recollection of his persuasive fluency in Classical Latin (worthy of a Cicero) in an interchange with a Mother Superior in Santiago de Compostela when the official Hispanic linguist had retired frustrated and sulking like Achilles to his tent; his haggling over the price with Athenian traders in Ancient Greek must have been a close parallel. Incongruity was often a characteristic of such occasions, whether it was a motorcoach dragged by Breton oxen, the clatter of camp dixies in a Madrid hotel, or the pitching of tents on an Italian sulphur bed. Let it be added that the ‘culture-vultures’ always got their due ration, despite the contrast in styles with the ‘white-collar brigade’.
Not surprisingly, CHI is want to evoke with pleasure the unforgettable occasion at Easter, 1959, when two School parties converged in Florence, an event which gave him the opportunity to regale at a sumptuous dinner on his own camp site the stately figures of Richard Poskitt and Bill Brown.
Even as his immense efforts for the School are recognised, even while we acknowledge in full the extent of our indebtedness, we should remember that Clifford Ingham has found time to be a devoted husband, father and grandfather, to be a keen member of the Classical Association, to serve his local church as organist and to tend a smallholding boasting bees, pigs, chickens and a rich assortment of fruit and vegetables. Indeed, the many visitors who have been welcomed to South View will testify to the quality of the farmhouse teas and to the splendour of the groaning board. Here at Croft has lain his escape from it all. Here the farmers are always careful to put back more into the fertile soil than they take out. Such has been CHI’s rule in life. While we wish him and Muriel a long, peaceful and contented retirement, it is good news to learn that at least for a while he will continue at Bolton School in a part-time capacity. Floreat in aeternum.
Professor R C Willis (1945-53)