SAMUEL JOHN VICTOR ROUCH (1935 – 1964)
“John Rouch,” as he was later known, became headmaster on January 1st 1935. He was appointed out of the 144 applications that were made for this post. He had previously been an Assistant Master at Cheltenham Grammar School, where he had taught for ten years.
Samuel John Victor Roach was born in Charfield and his birth was registered in Thornbury in 1897. He was educated at Katherine, Lady Berkeley Grammar School at Wotton under Edge.
In 1901 the census shows that the Roach family lived in Westbury on Trym. His father Joseph Roach aged 40 was a draper and his mother Phoebe aged 35 who like her husband came from Charfield in Gloucestershire. In the census John as he became known had two sisters (Dorothy and Mary) and a brother (Frederick). The 1911 Census shows that the family lived at Tyndale House in Charfield.
In World War I John enlisted in the Gloucestershire Regiment. He served in the 2nd and 4nd Battalion where he rose to the rank of sergeant before becoming an officer on 30th October 1917. We understand that he was a 2nd Lieutenant. He earned the British War medal and the Victory medal.
John was a graduate of Bristol University with a B.Sc. in Physics, Chemistry and Geography. By 1927 he had adopted the name of ‘Rouch’ and it was under this name he married Anne Morrice in the Cardiff District.
We understand that under Mr Rouch’s headship the tradition was revived of the Founders’ Service at St Mary’s Church. This seems to have been part of his whole philosophy in running the school which was to respect tradition and civilised behaviour.
Sport became important in the school, possibly for the same reasons , and with the advent of Mr Rouch colours were awarded for cricket, hockey, football and tennis. The cricket pitch was laid and generations of schoolboys (including the creator of this website) learned that walking across that part of the school field other than as part of an actual cricket match was a serious offence! Mr Rouch introduced rugby into the school in 1937, having been convinced of the benefits of that game by a teacher who had played for Cardiff.
Mr Rouch was also concerned with widening the experience of his pupils. Before the advent of World War II seriously hampered European travel the school began to organise trips abroad and visits were made to Switzerland and Belgium. Photographs of the Belgium trip, post war travels and other activities can be seen on the ‘Trips‘ page on this website.
Mr Rouch also found time to be the Vice-President of Thornbury Football Club. In October 1957 he used his contacts in sport to invite Sir Stanley Rouse, then Secretary of the Football Association and later president of F.I.F.A, to be the guest of honour at the club’s dinner at Cossham Hall.
His pupils naturally had rather mixed views on their rather formidable headmaster; certainly we have one reminiscence from a former pupil which suggests that this was a period when one had to show proper respect for authority;
“ As far as the junior school was concerned, his presence was felt in every classroom and every corridor in the School. He was all powerful and frightening, armed with sarcasm and just an occasional disarming injection of pleasantness. One never knew what to expect when summoned to his study where one waited and waited and shivered until the ‘traffic lights’ on the door post changed from red to green. Having knocked and entered the narrow room, the first image was a very large wooden desk which almost totally obscured the man behind it – small and bespectacled, hatchet-faced with pointed nose and short, straight hair thinning at the temples. The narrow framed spectacles were removed, the piercing eyes were revealed and a tirade could begin; this often ended with an instruction to, “Go back to your duckpond!”. Behind the desk was kept a cane whereby Rouch could reinforce his point of view but luckily we were never introduced. “
Mr Rouch retired in 1964 and moved away from Thornbyury.
He was buried in the cemetery of the church of St Peter and St Paul in Bleadon in 1988. His wife Anne (born 1888) was buried there in 1990. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger image of the memorial stone.