Tributes paid following death at 85 of Barnard Castle historian, teacher and former councillor Alan Wilkinson (From The Northern Echo)
For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Tributes paid following death at 85 of Barnard Castle historian, teacher and former councillor Alan Wilkinson
TRIBUTES have been paid to an honourary freeman of Barnard Castle, described as an institution in the town, who died last weekend.
Alan Wilkinson taught at Barnard Castle School for 36 years, served as a local councillor for 46 years and, as a leading local historian, was author of the definitive work Barnard Castle: Historic Market Town.
He passed away after a period of ill health, aged 85, at his home in Barnard Castle on Sunday.
Mr Wilkinson was a pupil at Barnard Castle School from 1937-1944, earning college colours in football, cricket and tennis.
Higher education took him to Queen's College, Oxford, before he returned as a teacher at Barnard Castle School in 1952.
During his career, he was a housemaster for 22 years, head of drama from 1964 and appointed head of English from 1973.
He coached rugby and cricket and introduced many children to the thrill of the theatre before his retirement in 1988.
He was also an active committee member of the Old Barnardian Club.
Out of school, Mr Wilkinson became a councillor in 1961 and when the Urban District Council ended in 1974, he joined Barnard Castle Town Council, eventually retiring in 2007.
During this time, he served as mayor four times and in 2010 was made an honourary freeman in recognition of his service, which ranged from designing the popular mini-golf course to transforming The Witham Hall from a furniture shop to an arts and community centre.
He also served as chairman of the Abraham Hilton charity and president of Barnard Castle and District History Society.
As a local historian, he frequently gave talks on regional subjects and also led tours on the theme of Dickens in Teesdale, including, on one occasion, for the cast of the Royal Shakespeare Company prior to their departure to the USA for a production of Nicholas Nickleby.
His last book, Dotheboys and Beyond, was published just last year.
Alan Stevens, current head of Barnard Castle School, said: “We are all deeply saddened to hear of Alan's passing.
“He was something of an institution in town and in school. He seemed to have an inexhaustible knowledge of the area and especially of Barnard Castle School.”
Mr Stevens added: “I looked to him as an authority on the school's history and, like a true schoolmaster and gentle man, Alan's interest was always rooted in people.
“His reflections on the school's history were really about former masters, his own colleagues and the boys whom he guided and mentored to become young men. We will miss him greatly.”
Mr Wilkinson was married to Jean and father to three daughters and two sons.
At their meeting on Monday, members of Barnard Castle Town Council observed a minute's silence to remember both Mr Wilkinson and their former colleague, Margaret Hamilton, who died last month.
More Barnard Castle News
- Motorist who tried to evade speeding conviction jailed for four months
- Activities for young people in east Durham
- Make your own treasure box at The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle
- Castle campaign gathers support
- Orkney beer's debut at Teesdale real ale festival
- Labour and Lib Dems clash over next mayor of Durham
- Durham council cuts top £100m - but there's another £100m to come
- New cabinet and chair at Durham County Council
- Fury as villagers learn Todhills tip will close
- Overseas visits to North-East and North Yorkshire fell last year