Soham Grammarians - Mr KD Drake

Soham Grammarian Autumn 1942

K Drake is Arts and Crafts Master at Orpington Central School.

Soham Grammarian Autumn 1948

This term we welcome two new members of the staff. Both are old associates of the school - Mr Drake is an old boy, who was outstanding for his dramatic and artistic work as a pupil, and Mr Taylor is a well known former member of the staff. We wish them both a long and happy stay at the school.

from the 1949 School photo

from the 1952 School photo

Soham Grammarian Autumn 1946

The following is the first of a series of articles from Old Boys who have made a success of various professions. It is hoped that they will prove of interest to Old Boys, many of whom will know the writers, and also to present boys, who should find them useful as well as interesting. The writer of the first article is Art Master at Swanley Modern School, Kent, and he painted the fine mural decoration in the Music Room when he was at school.


Teachers of Art may achieve their heart's desire in many ways, but they must all have one beginning in common. They must have a sincere and abiding interest in all forms of Art and Craft together with a fair degree of ability. To this must be added a general education to Matric. standard, for it must not for a moment be supposed that the Art Teacher will be required to teach only Art. In any case, 'tis a dull fellow that can play only one tune.

Well - I began by taking Matric. at sixteen in the usual way, and, as I had very little idea about the future, it was decided that while I made up my mind I should stay at School and sit for the H.S.C. in Art and English. This proved to be an admirable decision, for it gave me a considerable advantage over my fellow-students when I began training.

To the student at Soham this was perhaps the only way of using the two years that must pass before entering upon training at eighteen or nineteen years of age, for there was no Art School in the vicinity where I could study Art to an Advanced standard. I realize now that it would have been much to my advantage if I had been able to attend an Art School during this time, on a part time basis.

While I was studying Higher, I finally decided that I wanted to be an Art teacher, and therefore began to enquire into the various possibilities ahead of me. I found that two courses appeared to be open. I could, supposing I made the grade, go away to an Art School where I could spend about four years in learning to an advanced degree how to draw and paint, after which I would sit for my Art Teacher's Diploma. This is equivalent to a degree and would be a qualification for Teaching in an Art School or similar institution. At the end of this I would have to take a further one-year course in professional subjects, such as Teaching Methods and Practice, Psychology, History of Education etc. in order to gain any Teaching Certificate.

The other course was to go to a Teachers' Training College where I should learn to be a teacher in a general sort of way, and, while there, specialise in Art. (At the moment this is a Two-Year Course, but it is quite likely that it will soon be come a Three-Year Course). At the end of the two years I would have the opportunity to spend a third year specializing in Art and generally soaking myself in all aspects of it.

For me, the Art School was quite out of the question, as it would have meant that my parents would have to pay for me until I had passed my final examinations, a matter of four or five years, which was too long a time. So it had to be the Training College.

As nobody had anything definite to tell me about Training Colleges I wrote to practically every institution I had ever heard of, and a good many whose names I had recently seen in print. I received much information, much of it baffling, but by a lively chance I decided to place Goldsmith's College, New Cross, at the head of my list, just because I actually knew someone who was there.

After much anxious waiting, I received an invitation to go for an interview together with a portfolio of school-work. So loaded, with heavy heart and portfolio, I travelled to London. They liked me, and I was in. As the shortage of teachers is great just now, I believe that Education Authorities are generous to the intending teacher. For me, the position was far from easy, and I had to borrow from the Local Education Authority, who gave help in such cases.

College for me was a time of hard work and great pleasure. I learned many new and exciting things and gradually began to feel my way. But chiefly I learned how fortunate I was that I actually liked teaching. I believe that any one who wished to teach should have an opportunity of trying it out a little before he embarks on his training. I certainly became a teacher by a happy accident.

I would like to add as a final note that I am most grateful for all the training I received at school which was outside the school curriculum. I mean the various dramatic activities and the many opportunities they presented for really practical work, the fabric printing, the painting of stage scenery, the opportunities for really using Art in a practical way, and these things have been of equally valuable assistance since I have been teaching on my own account.

I can only add that Art Teaching is a career full of possibilities. It is still a fairly unexplored field with plenty of opportunity for individual effort. New methods, new ideas are constantly being brought forward, and never for one moment is the life dull.

Financially, the teacher has much to hope for, but to the teacher the job is the first consideration. If you want a job which is satisfying, always fresh and interesting, and above all, necessary, then the career of the Art Master has everything to recommend it.


Soham Grammarian Summer 1954

MR DRAKE: Most members of the School will already have heard with regret that Mr. Drake is leaving us at the end of this term.

Mr Drake, who was himself a boy at this School from 1929 to 1937, hails from Sutton and is a Fenlander born and bred. The murals in the Technical Sixth Room were done by him when he was a schoolboy, and his drawings and lino-cuts once adorned the pages of this Magazine.

In 1948 he returned to the School as Art Master. He developed the pottery side of the art department and much of the boys' work has been publicly exhibited in national competitions. Art experts, including many from abroad, who have visited the School, never failed to be impressed by the high standard of work of Mr. Drake's pupils. Apart from the fine pottery tradition which he has established, he leaves another legacy in the gas-fired brick kiln, which he designed and built in his own time, working day-long during the Easter holidays. Mr. Drake was also responsible for our stage scenery, of which perhaps the finest example was the deck of "H.M.S. Pinafore".

During the last two or three years Mr. Drake has been running the School National Savings Group and with such success that members at a recent National Savings Conference asked him to address the assembly on how to achieve such results as his!

As a member of the Old Boys' Committee, Mr. Drake has also acted as the link between the Old Boys' Society and the School.

Boys will long remember carrying home with them at the end of term a specimen of Mr. Drake's exquisite calligraphy, for never have boys had such artistic comments on their reports before, though, alas, these never had that virtue of illegibility that decently obscured the caustic comments of other masters.

Mr. Drake is going to Kidbrooke Comprehensive School where he will have a staff of assistants, a whole suite of art-rooms, all the lavish equipment that the L.C.C. is pouring into this national show-piece - and 1,700 girls to teach ! It is understood that Mr. Drake as one of the only two males among a staff of nearly seventy, is being provided with a private staff-room where he can seek refuge. Mr. Drake takes with him the gratitude of the School for his many services and our best wishes for a happy and successful future.


Drake, Mr Ken D, Art & Pottery 1948-54: via Russell Drake
Ken Douglas Drake known in the family as 'Dilly'. He died on 24th May 2002, leaving a wife Meg and two children Janna and Gillian. He was Russell Drake's uncle and taught him for the first two years he was at Soham. Ken was at the school for 6 years as Art & Pottery Master and must have left in August 1954, being replaced by Pete Askem. He had been a pupil at the school before the war and had painted many murals on the walls around the entrance hall, main staircase and landing, many of which were still clearly visible, although faded, when Russell was at Soham.

If you can add memories of Mr Drake or provide other photos of him, please contact the editor.
page last updated 12 Nov 2007