Herbert John Gubbins


End of term at the College. A badly damaged card showing boys about to leave for the station

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Assistant master at Ardingly College from 1919 to 1924. During his short stay at Ardingly, Gubbins produced an interesting series of borderless, sepia-tinted cards of the College, which were labelled on the back "Published by H. J. Gubbins, Ardingly College". The cards have neat, machine printed titles and are numbered.

As a general rule, this website excludes publishers who supplied only a few cards to a single specialist institution, such as a school or College. Gubbins, however, deserves a place because his cards are of high quality and unusually varied. Judging from the numbering, he may have marketed as many as two dozen different cards. No doubt it was because he taught only briefly at the College that his cards are difficult to find today.

The card shown above (Number 16) is sadly the worse for wear, but shows a horse drawn cart laden with boys and their trunks waiting to set off for the railway station at the end of term. One cannot but feel sorry for the horses! A more pristine version of the same card is reproduced by David Gibbs in his history of the College, A School with a View (2008, James & James, London). Another memorable card is Number 17, which shows a gymnastic display at the College, reportedly in 1923.

Herbert Gubbins (Gubbens) was born at Gussage All Saints near Wimborne in Dorset on September 17, 1887. His parents, Stephen Edgar Gubbins and Mary Eliza Gubbins (formerly Cripps), had four children, three of whom were girls: Mabel L. Gubbins, Louise Gubbins and Evelyn Alice Gubbins (1893-1954). Stephen Edgar Gubbins worked as a carrier in the 1880s and 1890s, but then became a farmer. He had been born at Gussage in 1859. His wife came from the nearby village of Crichel.

After working briefly as a grocer's clerk, Herbert Gubbins gained a University of London BA in Intermediate Arts, and turned his hand to teaching. He taught at a succession of schools before gaining an appointment at Ardingly College. From 1915 to 1917 he was senior assistant master at Hillsborough School at Ealing Common, then joined Russell Hill School at Purley. In 1917-1918 he was at Murchison Castle School at Edinburgh. Short appointments at North Eastern County School at Barnard Castle and Brighton Grammar School followed in 1918. In 1924, after leaving Ardingly, Herbert Gubbins took an appointment as senior English master (with German) at Beddingham College, a newly created boys' boarding school at Leatherhead. How long he stayed at Beddingham College is unclear. When his father died in 1938 in hospital in Wimborne, Herbert Gubbins became his executor, and was described in the probate register as a retired schoolmaster.

Herbert Gubbins died on October 17, 1950 at the Cottage Hospital in Alton, aged 63, and was buried at Gussage. His brother in law, who was married to his sister Evelyn and lived in Alton, registered the death.

While working at Ardingly College, Herbert Gubbins, like many junior masters, had to take a turn in running the College tuck shop. It can be assumed that he produced the cards to sell at the tuck shop as souvenirs of the College and for boys to use when writing to family and friends. Whether the cards were sold elsewhere is uncertain. The College archival records for the period just after the Great War are sadly limited, and little is known about Gubbins. If any reader has any more information about his activities at Ardingly please get in touch with this website.

Acknowledgement: Adrian Vieler has been tireless in searching out information on Herbert Gubbins. His continued assistance is gratefully acknowledged.

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