Wednesday, 23 September 2020

John Westaway on Vic Dennison

Huge thanks to John Westaway for taking the time to send me some memories of Vic Dennison: President for 1980, which are shown below:
John will have his own post on the blog in due course.

Vic started teaching at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital in Bristol (the school I attended) in, I think, January 1966, one term into my A level course. He was surprised at how little we'd done in the first term and set about putting that right! 
He was keen on fieldwork and organised a number of short field trips as well as a week's field course in the Peak District (staying in a Youth Hostel at Grindleford Bridge, if my memory serves). He also introduced us to the Bristol branch of the GA, both through its lectures and field excursions. He also arranged for us to go on some field excursions run by, I assume, an equivalent geology organisation. I also associate Vic's geography lessons with a classroom with a view over Bristol, whereas geography lessons with Vic's predecessor were in a room with a view only of the school yard. 
I can only assume that Vic was responsible for this! I suspect my grade B would not have been achieved were it not for the arrival of Vic! He was also partly responsible for me ending up in the Geography Department at LSE, of which Vic was a graduate. Had it not been for him, I doubt that LSE would even have been on my list - and they were the only institution to offer me a place!

Some years later, probably around 1974 or 1975, by which time Vic was teaching at Filton College, my wife, who was teaching geography in ILEA across the other side of Western Avenue in White City from me, had organised a residential A level field course in the Mendips. I suggested that Vic, who lived in Churchill, and whose natural habitat was the Mendips, might be able to offer advice. We called in to see him when we were down in Bristol during a school holiday. Not only did he offer advice, but he also offered to lead a day's fieldwork during their stay - a most generous offer.

Fast forwarding by about 20 years, I attended the GA Conference in Oxford in my first year as geography professional officer at SCAA
I was to give a SCAA geography update - this would have been during the course of the first revision of the Geography National Curriculum. Much to my surprise, someone who must have known of my earlier association with Vic arranged for Vic to introduce my session. 

At the conclusion of my talk, Vic thanked me and said that it must have been okay because he'd stayed awake! That, I think, was the last time I saw Vic.

Image copyright: John Westaway, showing Vic Dennison leading his Peak District Fieldtrip in 1967.

Monday, 21 September 2020

1980: Mr. Vic D Dennison

When Vic Dennison became President he was a Lecturer in Geography at Filton Technical College in Bristol, an FE college.

Vic Dennison took over the Presidency at the start of the 1980s.

He was involved in a number of committees of the Geographical Association over his many years of service to the Association.
He had a strong link with the city of Bristol, which has provided a number of Presidents over the years, as readers of the blog will be aware from more recent posts.

Vic also wrote reviews of publications for 'Teaching Geography'.

He was born in the 


His Presidential Address had a slightly different start. It was called 'The Use of Geography', and referred to his suggestion that as the Conference schedule was so packed, perhaps the Presidential Address could be taken out to make room for some other events. I might suggest that myself...

He referred to a great many things in the Address, which had a different feel to many I've read in that it was a very personal story rather than being research based or with a particular focus or theme.

He referred to his time as a teacher, and at the age of 18...

" Inspector decided that as a teacher I was too dour; but he knew that I wanted to go to university and that the only way I could do that was to sign the pledge to teach for five years, so he did not mark me down as unsuitable and I was allowed to go on. I seem to remember that the previous teacher President said that she was considered unsuitable as a teacher in her training days (Jones, 1976). Perhaps this will become a qualification for the Presidency."

He was not entirely convinced by the use of games and simulations in the classroom:

"At school level, I think we are making a mistake in concentrating on the conceptual approach, especially in conjunction with teaching methods more appropriate to mature minds. I am talking here about problem-solving exercises and role-playing games. I suppose it is fun to play games in the classroom but the thought of well-fed, energetic youngsters playing the poverty game is just obscene: and what an imagination a young pupil must have to pretend to be a Saxon invader in a foreign land looking for a site for his settlement - difficult enough for him to imagine the present world stage, let alone what it was like 1500 years ago."

I have not been able to find much else about his time at the GA, but have a few potential leads which may result in an update in the next month or so.

A contemporary of his, Sheila Jones, who was GA President in 1975, told me:

Vic was a long serving member of the Bristol Branch, teaching at Queen Elizabeth's School and Filton College of Education. For many years he attended the GA conference, always having a question or two at the AGM . When Pat Cleverley and I first went along to conference he was very helpful. He was a great field worker. He lived on the edge of the Mendips, an area about which he was very knowledgeable


“The Geographical Association.” Geography, vol. 72, no. 1, 1987, pp. 77–79. JSTOR,

Presidential Address: "The Use of Geography" - this article provides a review of the conference in 1980 and some of the challenges facing the subject at the time:

It was interesting to see the session by an MP at the conference. He also said it wasn't the 'new geography' following Madingley which was the problem...

I like the idea of that... perhaps one to bring back...

If anyone has any further information on Vic Dennison please get in touch. I will contact the college as well to see if they have any records on Vic but they have merged with other colleges since he worked there... Images also welcome...

Vic retired to the Mendips. I was able to find a little more about him from a society which was active there, which he was the Chairman of, and wrote a letter which was published in 'The Times' in 1986 on the theme of the Mendips AONB.

In 1995 he gave a talk in Weston Super Mare.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Early 1980s: Leicester GA Branch

In July 2020, there were quite a few tweets involving people with a connection with the Leicester University PGCE course, and people such as Eleanor Rawling and Patrick Bailey in particular.

Judith Roberts shared images of some of the documents in her PGCE file which she had kept all this time - I've kept mine too, and images from that will appear in due course.
Here's the images that Judith shared of the GA Leicester Branch 1979-80 programme.



Tuesday, 15 September 2020

1981: Ted Gledhill - an appreciation

Written by the 1980 President Vic Dennison. Ted Gledhill was a long serving member of the FE Section Committee of the GA.

Monday, 14 September 2020

John on Jim

I posted about L J Jay quite recently, followed by some memories of him.
I was listening to GeogPods again, with John Lyon interviewing Margaret Roberts. It's well worth catching up with if you haven't heard it.

I get a mention towards the end, which is nice.
John also mentions that his own tutor was Jim Jay, so I asked him to tell me a little bit about him, and this is what John sent me:

He was a lovely man. He interviewed me for a place at Sheffield University for the geography education course. I’m not entirely sure how he assessed me as being suitable for the course and indeed as a teacher. As I recall he did most of the talking. Obviously he was sharp ... and perceptive. 

'Geography teaching with a little Latitude' is a wonderful book and somehow expressed all that made him a high quality tutor. It’s packed full of practical ideas, challenges the reader to think about their own practice and how to improve, yet all the while being served up with his gentle humour. I’ve still got it. Chapter four on image and reality could be used very effectively for perception of place today.

He invited us all for tea with his wife at his house in Dore and we had a wonderful time. He had the ability to make people feel rather special. He certainly made us evaluate the what and why of our planning. An all round excellent teacher trainer.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

1979: Crossword

Here's a crossword puzzle in 'Teaching Geography' in 1979. Why not print it off.... bonus points for any correctly completed answers...
1 across is Madrid.

Robinson, A. (1979). Geogames: Geographical Crosswords for the End of Term and Other Occasions. Teaching Geography, 4(3), 134-144. Retrieved September 13, 2020, from

Saturday, 12 September 2020

More memories of 'Jammy' Morris

Regular readers will know that I have had several posts with memories from those who were taught by Joseph Acton Morris' known to many as 'Jammy' (or Mr. Morris)
He was GA President in 1965, and was a teacher - a rare thing for a GA President.

Thanks to Jill Taylor for contacting me last week. She told me:

I am writing in response to the request for memories of Mr Morris. When my father, Arthur Kerry, retired, he started to write his memoirs, which we put into a book. I enclose this short account of a school trip involving a Mr Morris (I believe the correct one) in around 1930. (The given date of 1936 must be a misprint, as he was born in 1917.) As you can see, my father was not the most exemplary student, so I bear no responsibility for the account contained herein! 

Here's the image she sent me - click for full size. It describes a field trip to a farm at Filey on the East Yorkshire coast in 1930... 

I think most geography teachers have strong memories of residential field trips - some of which they daren't share for fear of legal action, or approbation... My lawyer has advised me not to mention that time in Gordale Scar when...

GA Oxford Branch Programme 2020-21

A vital part of the GA's support for teachers is the network of GA Branches with their programmes. These are going online this year, or in some cases being reduced due to issues with an appropriate format for the sessions to avoid safeguarding issues.

Here is an example of one branch's programme.... some excellent speakers on here...

Friday, 11 September 2020

1979: Professor John Allan Patmore

Updated September 2020
Professor (John) Allan Patmore was an academic geographer linked to the University of Hull with a particular interest in leisure and tourism.

I wasn't able to find out much about his time at the GA from the usual sources, and to begin with not much about the man himself. I still have very little about his time as President.

He was Professor of Geography at the University of Hull, which he arrived at in 1973, with a particular interest in leisure and recreation, a subject he wrote a lot about, including a series of books, articles and papers, including writing about this for GA journals. Regular readers of the blog will know that I did my teacher training at the University of Hull, so have a connection with this place, although we didn't mix much with the actual undergraduate geographers, and the postgrads had a better dining hall...

It seems that he was also linked with the University of Liverpool to begin with, before moving to the University of Hull, where he eventually became a Professor.

He was born on the 4th of November 1931, and graduated from the University of Oxford. in 1952 according to a book edited by Robert W Steel.

I found a mention of him in a newsletter published by the Assocation of Jewish Refugees in Great Britain in 1967. He was given some money from the 'Thank-you Britain Fund' to pursue his research on Leisure and Land Use.

I gained further information from a newsletter associated with the LUPTS (showing his lifelong interest in the railways).

Liverpool University Public Transport Society (LUPTS) was formed in 1958 by a group of undergraduate students at the University with a mutual interest in all kinds of transport. Patmore was the first President of the Society

His inaugural Professorial lecture was given in 1974, and called 'People, place and pleasure', and published at the time. He was an expert in tourism and leisure and is referenced in a great many books and PhD theses. Here he is on people's holiday choices:

"The two prime factors in the choice of holiday destination are the friction of distance and the lure of the sun, factors that are equally applicable abroad and at home." (Patmore, 1983)

I wonder what we would have made of the current state of the tourist industry after Covid-19.

He was eventually the Vice Chairman of the Sports Council, now known as Sport England.
In his obituary, he is described as follows

“…a strong religious conviction - he was a Methodist lay preacher - and a moral compass that underscored all that he did. For us, we will remember his interest in and knowledge of railways in all their aspects but, in particular, his friendship and support."

In 1980, his Presidential lecture was entitled "Geography and Relevance" and had some illustrations when it was reproduced in 'Geography'.

Patmore, J. (1980). Geography and Relevance. Geography, 65(4), 265-283. Retrieved August 26, 2020, from

It also included one of the most well known quotes on the value of fieldwork in it:

Observation is the key to the importance of landscape to the geographer. It links him firmly to reality, it develops his appreciation and poses the questions he must answer to develop understanding. 
Contact with the actual landscape is contact with reality. Confined within classroom walls, geography is an impoverished shadow, like chemistry without experiments or biology without recourse to tangible specimens of plants and animals.
J Allan Patmore, 1980
He went on to say:
A training in geography enhances appreciation not through its intrinsic merit but because it is concerned to go far beyond the simple visual record and experience to consider context and process. The resulting understanding may be partial and incomplete, limited both by the extent of the observer's training and experience and by the inherent problems posed by elements in the landscape itself, but of almost equal worth is the curiosity aroused in the attempt.

Patmore, J. (1980). Geography and Relevance. Geography, 65(4), 265-283. Retrieved August 26, 2020, from

He was also made a CBE as part of his work with the Sports Council. 

Allan sadly died in 2018, aged 87, he apparently lived in North Ferriby, Hull.

I also found some reference to him at the University of Hull thanks to Justin Woolliscroft.


Notice Gallery for PATMORE
Obituary notice:

British Geography 1918-1945, Edited by Robert.W Steel - published in 1987.
Chapter 12 was by J A Patmore, where he gave a personal perspective on the period.

He describes Stanley Wooldridge with his "eyebrows bristling" (note to self, get eyebrows sorted before the GA Conference)
Elements from this have appeared in other Presidents' entries from the period.

Yorkshire beyond the Millennium:

A rather nice tribute to Patmore was published in the magazine of the North Yorks Moors Association (NYMA) journal 'Voices of the Moors' in Summer 2018 - written by Tom Chadwick. He was associated with the organisation for some time, and President of the YNMA from 1993 to 2001.

Allan’s connection with the North Yorkshire Moors goes back to his childhood when he lived with his parents in Wetherby and was a regular visitor to the moors and coast.
This brief summary of Allan’s academic career and his involvement in the study of recreation and the countryside is a mere snapshot of his huge contribution to understanding the problems of balancing the human activities of recreation and sport and preserving the beauty of the countryside. Nowhere is this more important than in our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. - PhD thesis he supervised

If anyone can provide me with some more information on Professor Patmore that would be appreciated. This is a fairly brief entry compared with other recent ones.

Updated September 2020
Thanks to Brendan Conway for his additional contributions...

Also his work on 'Access to Water'

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

'Why Study Geography?' - coming soon...

Hijacking the blog today for a bit of a sales pitch....

Geography is the big-picture subject for our times. It encompasses subjects ranging from the microscopic – how soils form, and how those soils can be protected and managed well to grow food, for example – through to things as large-scale as the future trajectory of megacities and the threat of ever more warming of the planet. Alan Parkinson’s guide clearly and carefully explains why geography is worthy of study, at GCSE, at A level and at university. It is bang up to date. Students, their teachers and parents are all likely to find it essential reading.

Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, University of Oxford

Just ahead of lockdown, I met with Richard and Sam from the London Publishing Partnership about writing a book in a series explaining why students should teach different curriculum subjects. The History book is already published, and others are on the way. The lockdown gave me the time and the inclination to meet a quite tight deadline, and after several drafts, hundreds of edits and tweaks and rewriting, the book is now about to go to print, and is set for publication in October.

The book explores why the study of geography is so important. It looks at how the subject developed, links between school and academic geography, how to apply to study geography at university, the different types of courses, how to make the most of your time at university, what careers geography can lead you into and with case studies of individuals who studied geography and who went on to do interesting things with it, and others who came into a geographical field later. There are also suggestions for how you can develop your geographical thinking, and make the most of your powerful geographical knowledge. Thanks to those people who kindly contributed to the creation of this book, which helped me shape my own thoughts, and has also led to me starting to write another related book to connect with my planned GA Presidential theme for 2021-22.

I think this book would be helpful for several different groups of people:

- for teachers of Geography, who are keen to find out about how the subject developed, and what contemporary geography courses look like
- for parents of students who have shown an interest in studying geography at HE or undergraduate level
- for those staff whose role includes preparing students for UCAS choices and university applications, or writing EPQs and related activities to support a move into academic study
- for those staff who are involved in helping with careers options for those who may want to secure a job or internship or apprenticeship instead of
- for those who simply want a few copies of a book around the place to direct those who they know might go on to study Geography at university to read to find out more...
- as a gift for Y13s who do particularly well, and head off to university (hopefully to study geography)

Please let your UCAS / Careers teachers at school know about the book - great for Options evening as well to have around to show the value of the subject to so many careers.

It would be great to get this book into as many schools as possible. Although the book is UK-focussed, it would also be useful to those in the USA and other countries, including in International Schools and those that follow UK-based exam specifications.

Go HERE to pre-order your copy and if you think you might want a small (or large) order o multiple copies then let me know and I'll put you in touch with the publishers to see whether we can arrange a discount.

And why the beans on the front cover? If you get a copy you'll find out why :)

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

1980: GA thoughts on the school curriculum

A report by Richard Daugherty and Rex Walford in response to Government proposals for the School Curriculum, published in 1980. Another of the many policy documents the GA has created over the years.

Daugherty, R., & Walford, R. (1980). GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS FOR THE SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN ENGLAND AND WALES. Geography, 65(3), 232-235. Retrieved August 26, 2020, from

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Sixth form geography report

January 1979 saw the publication of a report by the Sixth Form and Universities Working Group on Skills and Techniques for 6th form geography.

Skills and Techniques for Sixth-form Geography: A REPORT BY THE SIXTH-FORM AND UNIVERSITIES WORKING GROUP OF THE ASSOCIATION. (1979). Geography, 64(1), 37-45. Retrieved August 26, 2020, from

1960: A little project for you

Saturday, 5 September 2020

D B Grigg

David B Grigg took over as the GA's Honorary librarian from L J Jay in 1973.
He was noticeable in several Annual reports following his appointment, retiring in 1977.

He was also an author, writing several books and scientific papers on topics ranging from agricultural systems to Ravenstein's Law of migration.

One of so many people who gave years of service to the GA, but who few people today remember, and which this blog hopefully will counteract in some small way.

If anyone knows more about David's time at the GA, please get in touch.


Wednesday, 2 September 2020

1979: Some dimensions of geography

Professor J. H. Paterson is Professor of Geography in the University of Leicester. This article is based on the lecture he delivered to the Joint Annual Meeting of the Geographical Association, the Royal Geographical Society and the Institute of British Geographers on 18th April, 1979, during the Annual Conference of the Geographical Association.

He produced this diagram.

PATERSON, J. (1979). Some Dimensions of Geography. Geography, 64(4), 268-278. Retrieved August 26, 2020, from

John Westaway on Vic Dennison

Huge thanks to John Westaway for taking the time to send me some memories of Vic Dennison : President for 1980, which are shown below: John ...