LEAVER The Holly Leaf (1948)

Mr B. R. Dyson - Left February 1947

B. R. Dyson, who entered the School in September, 1935, and left it in February, 1947, to take up his new job at Didsbury Emergency Training College, is already something of an institution with most of us.  Affable conversationalist, efficient M.C. At our School socials, passionate exponent of all the arts of the theatre from "floods" to footlights, from make-up to mime, deep student of the camera, jobbing electrician of no mean order, and last but not least, informed and serious teacher of English literature, with expert knowledge of our local dialect, he leaves gaps in our school life which cannot easily be filled.

"B.R." Must have a very special feeling for this grim, lugubrious but not altogether unfriendly building of ours, for he first made its acquaintance as a small and no doubt terrified boy of 10 or 11 when it was then occupied by the Central School.  He has consequently been familiar with the rigours of "C.L." And the gloomy twilight of the Hall for more than twenty years.  Before long he was engaged in the pleasures of the theatre in which he is still immersed;  but I have been unable to uncover any details of his early theatrical career other than his successful rendering of a number of agricultural parts, such as the First Reaper in The Tempest, or the Third Gardener in Richard II.  In due course, he reached the eminence of the Sixth Form and I remember him then as a person of geniality and good sense.

From the Central School he passed to the University and research work, but my confidential dossiers are silent between them and his return to Orchard Lane apart from appreciative Press notices about his notable contribution to the Sheffield Glossary and his work for the Thespian Society.  Some critics, however, are most emphatic that it was during this period that there was first launched upon the world the unique offensive weapon "cette machine formidable", the Dyson Pipe.

When he became our English Master in 1935, Tobias and the Angel, Trelawny of the Wells and The Aristocrat followed in quick succession, and those excellent photographs on the Upper Corridor, which commemorate these plays, may also be regarded as a fitting reminder of the man who produced them.  It is against the background of these performances that most of us will remember him;  a dark magician juggling deftly with the sickeningly intricate box of electrical tricks up in the Hall;  or "selling" the latest idea on stagecraft;  or perhaps dressing-down some embroy Donat in a voice surprisingly deep for a man of his stature.

I have mentioned his "chattiness".  That is "B.R." all over.  You will be hard put to think of a subject upon which he will have nothing intelligent to contribute - but you will never get him to lose his good humour over it.  This essential geniality combined with intellectual alertness made him one of the most respected members of the Staff.

It was this same "B.R." who returned to the school for a second time after playing his part in the tragic and wearisome retreat from Burma, where he saw things better forgotten, and at last came home with a nasty dose of malaria, a collection of superb photographs and some exceedingly vivid stories.  I say "the same 'B.R.'" But perhaps the Staff saw more than one symptom of a change - perhaps a certain impatience with old routines or even an increased richness of vocabulary.?

Let me hasten to record at this point that his close association with the Holly Guild which existed long before the war, remained unbroken afterwards.  Many students, indeed, will always connect the Guild, and especially its Dramatic Society, with B. R. Dyson.

We shall all feel aggrieved if he fails to renew our impressions of him from time to time - but maybe there is no need to fear, for we have long since ceased to believe that "B.R." will easily renounce those switch boxes upstairs, or, for that matter, his bachelor state!

Mr. T. S. Turner.