The Wonderful Mr Norman Clegg


I must write in response to Mike Russellís shameful attack on the great Nori!

How could you be so unkind as to accuse this great engineer of being a useless teacher? Mr Clegg was my hero as he introduced me to the wonderful world of bench fitting and light engineering. I can see him now, pipe in mouth, inspecting my work which I had meticulously drawfiled and telling me it was very good.

Does anyone else remember the metalwork lesson where we all listened whilst he sat before the pile of exercise books which we had taken home and covered in brown paper before doing our homework in them? Norman began a speech in which he said that in this class only one boy had the ability to meet the high standards he expected. Only one boy had applied himself to the task and produced work worthy of this workshop! He then said, and I remember the words as if it were yesterday, ĎCome and collect your book, Cooperí - yes me! My heart filled with joy as I collected that book. This was praise indeed from such an icon of metalwork and I have treasured that book ever since!

Martin Waller and I once tried to make a steam engine but were unable to complete it since the schoolís budget didnít run to purchasing Ďreamersí, which were tools for drilling the smooth surfaces necessary to produce steam tight fittings for the piston. However this wasnít Mr Cleggís fault and Iím sure he would have procured these if he were able. He followed our project with interest and was as sorry as we were when we came against this obstacle.

I forgave him and defended him at open night when I was slaving over cutting a metal bar with a hand saw and my dad came in and asked why the teacher didnít let us use the electric saw which was just a few feet away. I explained that some power tools were just too dangerous for us boys to use!

I donít remember the report incident so Iím sure I didnít open mine Ďcos Iíd remember being strapped! Well as for this being a black mark on Mr Clegg I canít agree. The reports were addressed to our parents and those who opened them themselves were definitely in the wrong.

Dear Mr Clegg wasnít a great teacher by any means but I donít think he deserves some of the harsh words thrown at him. He was more of an instructor than a teacher and accordingly his aim was to get boys to produce good bench fitting rather than explore metal as a medium. Now that approach worked for me and got me interested in working with metal but I can quite understand how other boys regarded him as a boring old fart. Perhaps I was a burgeoning boring young fart but I loved drawfiling and riveting and drilling and sawing so Norman, for me, was the God of the metalwork shop!

Nothing more can be said.
In his piece on the staff at Hathershaw during the 60's Mike said of Norman Clegg -

"Nori Clegg was the worst type of teacher and the worst I ever had at Hathershaw. Perhaps someone who reads this might want to add kind things about him to counter-balance my vitriol!"

Alan Cooper has responded to this with the following...........