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News > In Memoriam > RIP John Williamson

RIP John Williamson

We are sorry to report the loss of former staff member, John Williamson.
15 Aug 2023
Written by Rachel Dare
In Memoriam

OPs will be saddened to hear that former Design and Drama Technician, John Williamson (82-07), passed away peacefully on Wednesday 2 August aged 79 years. Our thoughts and condolences are with John's family and in particular his wife, Judith.

John’s funeral will be held at 1.30pm on Thursday 24 August at the East Riding Crematorium Octon. Details have been circulated to OPs, but please contact the OP office if you would like to attend. For further information or to leave a message of condolence please click here

Thank you to Alan Heaven (Former Head of Drama, 85-20) and Steve Ellis, Head of Design for their assistance in putting together the following tribute to John.

RIP John Williamson (Former Support Staff, 82-07)

John joined Pocklington School in 1982 as a technician in the Design department. After the opening of the Tom Stoppard Theatre (TST) in 2000, he worked between both the Design and Drama departments for a short while before transferring fully to the latter where he remained until his retirement in 2007.

As a new teacher at the school in 1990, Steve Ellis’ first clear memory of John was of him helping a student to modify an old 250MZ motorcycle engine to install into the boys’ one-man hovercraft. John spent a lot of extra hours helping students beyond the classroom and he was the go-to person for metal fabrication and machining, being a very accurate and skilled machinist; Steve still remembers John’s patience in teaching him to use the oxy-acetylene welding set in a safe and workmanlike manner.

In the theatre, John was more than just a technician; he was the builder of many extraordinary sets, continuing the work he had done when all drama was held in what is now the Music School. Memorable designs included the set for the Bacchae in the Music School which reached up into the balcony via a huge staircase; the pier for Romeo and Juliet in the TST; and a London Street for My Fair Lady for which he also constructed two barrows with handmade wheels. Former Head of Drama, Alan Heaven, can remember John recounting how the wheels were the hardest thing he had ever done. The barrows still exist in the theatre and are emblazoned with an advert for JD Williamson & Co. 

John made a significant contribution to the school’s extracurricular activities. He was a founding member of the Pocklington School Archery Club which ran for almost 30 years. He put so much energy, enthusiasm, and dedication into making it a success and keeping the equipment safe and functional, spending many hours re-fletching arrows after students had bent them out of shape! He was the provider of the fun elements too, making many unusual targets from flour-filled balloons to plastic water bottles and straw-filled sacks. On one memorable occasion, he even made a full-sized archer as a target when the school hosted the Royal Armouries’ Towton Archery presentation.

John was also a founder member of 'Solstice', the School's Yorkshire Longsword Morris side, for which he played the melodeon, advised on dances, and made most of the props, applying his huge knowledge and experience of music and traditional dance.

In retirement, John busied himself making a large-scale railway to run around his garden, and a barrel organ! He always maintained his interest in the school and what everyone was doing.

John was a craftsman and a maker through and through as well as being a talented folk musician. He had a real enthusiasm for passing on his own passion and skills to the students as well as encouraging everybody’s need to plan ahead. A true inspiration, his work was detailed, his organisation precise, and his attention to detail exquisite.

He will be sadly missed.


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