The Robert Wells video legacy

Robert Wells was born in September 1927 in the West Suffolk Fens, near West Row, and attended a local primary school and then secondary school, leaving at age 14 and starting work on the Fen waterways. The following year, 1942, his father was promoted to a job in Bury St Edmunds, and the family relocated there. Always a supporter of education and learning, Robert’s father wanted him to have the opportunity to attend King Edward VI School. In order to achieve the required standard to get in there, Robert had to study hard on his own. The relevant books were purchased, and a quiet atmosphere and space to study were provided at home. French and Latin had to be self-taught from scratch, and other subject knowledge built up. Robert reached the necessary level, and attended King Edward VI School from 1942 to 1945, gaining his School Certificate, a truly remarkable achievement. After school, Robert joined the Royal Engineers for his National Service, which was spent mostly in North Africa and Malta.

Robert met and married his wife Pat in Northampton, and the couple set up home in Winchester, adding two daughters to the family in due course. Robert spent the remaining 36 years of his working life as a Land Drainage Officer at the Hampshire Office of the then Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in Winchester. His work took him to farms all over the county. He carried on living in Winchester until his death, at the age of 93, on October 30th 2020. You can read a fuller account of his life in the “Old Burian” Magazine of 2021.

Robert was a keen supporter of the Old Burians’ Association and always talked of his time at King Edward VI School with great affection and good memories, so much so that he undertook a project in 2003-2004 to produce a video documentary film running for more than 2½ hours, which he called “King Edward VI School, Bury St. Edmunds – THE ONGOING STORY”. We are very grateful to his family and especially to his daughter Sally-Jane for making this film available to us and allowing us to reproduce the edited excerpts below.

(click on the pictures to play the videos)

1 – Robert revisits the old Grammar School site on the occasion of the 2003 Annual Reunion

2 – Robert at the 2003 OBA Annual Reunion Dinner

3 – Robert recounts some family history and (from about 4’40”) his first day at the Grammar School in 1942

4 – Robert tells the story of the various buildings used by the Grammar School since 1550

5 – Robert reflects on Speech Days, Examinations and memories of the old Gymnasium

6 – Robert remembers special services in the Cathedral, and the end of term

7 – Robert and John Reed visit Miss Kilpatrick in
April 2004