Harry and Florence Humpherson
Harry was the eldest of the four children of Alfred and Mary Humpherson of Bewdley. His father, an alderman, was a horn manufacturer, the family firm having settled there in the early 1800s. Harry was baptised at St. Anne’s, Bewdley, on 20th November 1864.
Destined to be a music teacher and then a headmaster, Harry trained at the now closed St. Peter’s College, Saltley, Birmingham. His first teaching post was at the Church of England school in Ribbesford, a hamlet near Bewdley. He became organist at the parish church where, on 3rd September 1891, he married Kate Joyner, a dressmaker from Bewdley. Both were 26.
Harry next became a schoolmaster in Glasbury, Radnorshire. While there his only daughter, Florence Ellen, was born. She was baptised in Ribbesford Church on 20th November 1892.
On 31st October 1893, Harry Humpherson became headmaster of Martley’s National School at the top end of the churchyard. It was opened by Lady Ward in 1846 as two adjacent schools for boys and girls aged 7-14. There were about 56 enrolled pupils but attendances were often less depending upon activities such as harvesting, as children were allowed time off to help. The school became co-educational in 1915; Humpherson taught the 11-14s and a mistress taught the younger children. He was a strict but highly respected and popular headmaster for 30 years. He retired to Worcester in January 1924, aged 60.
While at Martley, his two sons were born, Victor William in 1896 and Harry Reginald in 1900. Victor was to play for the Worcester County Cricket Club in the 1920s and to become an eminent dentist. Reginald, a motor engineer, was the National Trombone Champion in 1932. His forte was dance music. He was also a bell ringer at Worcester Cathedral. He died in 1975, his ashes being buried in Martley churchyard.
Harry Humpherson died at 48 Tunnel Hill, Worcester, in July 1948, aged 83. His wife Kate predeceased him in January 1933, aged 67. Both were buried at Ribbesford.
Apart from being a headmaster, music teacher, organist and choirmaster, Harry Humpherson had a number of other interests. He was Secretary of the Witley and District Farmers’ Club for 18 years, and Clerk to Martley Parish Council. He was a noted rifle shot winning trophies in Volunteer and Territorial battalions of the Worcestershire Regiment.
Harry was St. Peter’s organist for 28 years, a post filled for the next 45 years by his very popular daughter Florence. Brian Draper remembers pumping the organ for her before the church was wired for electricity in 1950. She was known to have walked from Worcester for church services.
She was a qualified teacher who taught music at Martley’s infant and at other schools. Between 1959-66 she was the music teacher at St. Clement’s, Worcester. After a long illness she died, aged 74, on 3rd April 1967. She was buried in St. Peter’s churchyard.
The plaque was erected in 1966 before Florence died. As she was heard to say, “It is a rare privilege to be able to polish one’s own memorial”!