Drummer strips as new head takes charge - Welwyn Hatfield, 1971

PUBLISHED: 08:44 19 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:53 19 June 2017

The Avdel children's party, Christmas 1970.

The Avdel children's party, Christmas 1970.


A much-respected headteacher took over a Welwyn Garden City school just a week before a rock drummer caused outrage by stripping off in Hatfield.

David Hitchin was 34 when he took over Stanborough School.David Hitchin was 34 when he took over Stanborough School.

Scanning the pages of the Welwyn Times and Hatfield Herald from January 1971, my eye was caught by the headline ‘Drummer strips on stage’.

Both newspapers reported that a “nationally known group Hawkwind” had angered the organiser of a “pop music dance” at the Breaks Youth Centre.

Jim Hodgkinson described the mid-song strip as an “undesirable gimmick”, and assured worried parents future groups booked would have to accept a contract clause insisting they stay “decently dressed”.

Hawkwind, who had released their debut album the previous year, are notorious for lineup changes, but according to hawklord.com, the offending drummer was Terry Ollis.

Mr Hodgkinson said: “Some youngsters I have spoken to since said they were not embarrassed. Some people seemed to think it was funny.”

I wonder whether the stunt would have amused or concerned David Hitchin, who had only just become headteacher of Stanborough School at just 34.

Mr Hitchin, still in charge when I left the school in 1983, was politically incorrectly described as “one of the youngest headmasters in Britain”, and I believe still lives in WGC with his wife.

The former grammar school had gone comprehensive just three years earlier, a controversial change endorsed by its new head.

Elsewhere in our pages from January 1971, I notice an advert for a “young lady” to assist a senior accountant - that would break at least two laws today.

We also reported on the latest film to appear at the WGC Embassy cinema - Where Eagles Dare, starring the unlikely combination of Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.

Print deadlines must have delayed our report of the Avdel children’s Christmas party until January 8, but I wonder if readers can recognise any faces from the photo - the guests would be now in their 50s.

Serious industrial action was commonplace in the 1970s, and we reported how children had been sent home from ten Welwyn Hatfield schools as striking tanker drivers had prevented heating fuel deliveries.

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