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NICOLSON, Ken W (1902-1975)

Ken Nicolson.

Ken Nicolson.

NICOLSON, Ken W (1902-1975)

In 1921, when only eighteen years of age, Ken Nicolson was appointed by Francis Rolland as the foundation headmaster of the Preparatory School. Born in Fremantle, WA he was educated at Caulfield Grammar School and the University of Melbourne and was recommended by the Principal of his Teachers’ College to Rolland. He filled this position during its formative years until 1927 when he resigned to travel abroad.

After some years in Tasmania, he returned as a teacher to the Senior School from 1942 to 1966 and during this period was Housemaster of Morrison and later Knowle House from 1952 to 1963 where he was responsible for some 250 day boys.

He was a fine cricketer - playing district cricket for Richmond. He was also a fine footballer playing 23 games from 1923 to 1924 for the Geelong Football Club. He coached the first cricket eleven from 1942 to 1956 and was notable as the coach when the team won the APS championships in 1946 and 1947. Sport was not his only interest as he was active with the Geelong Repertory Society as an actor, producer and president and was a council member of the Geelong Association of Music and Art of which he was made an Honorary Life Member. He originated 'Prep News' . A Preparatory School motto ‘Jouez bon jeu’ – ‘play fair’ used in the early days of the Preparatory School was attributed to him.

Pegasus in December 1965 published the following account of Mr K W Nicolson: 'Mr. Nicolson, who retires at the end of this year, served on the staff of The Geelong College from 1921 to 1927 and from 1942 to the present.

A native of Fremantle, Mr. Nicolson was educated at Caulfield Grammar School and the University of Melbourne, and was selected as a youth of eighteen to be Head of the College's original Preparatory School. The Principal, then Mr. F. W. Rolland, sought a man, young and enthusiastic, who would understand and lead boys and who would be understood by them. Young Nicolson, coming with the strong recommendation of his Teachers' College Principal, impressed Mr. Rolland as the man to fulfil his vision. He was allowed to do the job in his own way, a tribute both to him and to his wise Principal. During the 1920's he gave the Preparatory School its real character and laid the foundations upon which it was to grow in later years. The motto, "Jouez bon jeu", was selected by him, he originated the "Prep. News" and he began the active sporting life of the Prep. School. At that time, he was a member of the Geelong League First XVIII and played district cricket for Richmond. He became a foundation member and first Secretary of the Geelong Amateur Football Club, being a moving spirit in its foundation. He also represented the State in amateur football.

Ken Nicolson (Pegasus 1965)

Ken Nicolson (Pegasus 1965)

He was thus, a man to whom the boys naturally looked as to a leader and one with a zest which inspired them to emulate him. At the end of 1927 Mr. Nicolson resigned to travel abroad and, on his return, entered the business world in Tasmania. When he rejoined the College staff in 1942, he took up the teaching of Mathematics and English in the senior school. He coached the College First XVIII in 1942-3 and the First XI from 1942 to 1956. His cricket coaching was marked by the winning of two Public School premierships, in 1946 and 1947, the first and only outright victories achieved by the College XI.

He arranged many tours of College teams and, in particular, initiated the reciprocal Easter cricket visits with Scots College, Sydney. His interest continued after his time as coach, and even as recently as 1963 he arranged and managed a cricket tour of New Zealand for members of the school First and Second XI's. His contribution to this kind
of activity reached a personal climax in 1959 when he made a world tour as manager of the Australian Old Collegians' cricket team.

From 1952 until 1960, Mr. Nicolson was Housemaster of Knowle House which brought with it responsibility for the school's 250 day boys; and he was also Housemaster of Morrison Sports House up to the time of the reorganization of sport on a six house basis. In 1963 he was appointed Master-in-charge of Third Forms and each year since has exercised pastoral concern for third formers in their first year in senior school. The success of this attempt to help the new boys enter into the at times bewildering life of the College without losing their identity can be attributed in large part to Mr. Nicolson's patience and understanding.

Mr. Nicolson, although a most active schoolmaster, has always been an example of the value of making a contribution to activities outside the College. Apart from his work in
the field of sport, he has been a most valued member of The Geelong Repertory Society as actor, producer and president, and a member of the Council of G.A.M.A., of which he has been made an Honorary Life Member. His interest in drama was, of course, turned to good account at the College in his production of school plays.

He has been such a familiar figure at the College for so many years, and has given so much of his life and energy to the welfare of Collegians, that his retirement leaves the
school the poorer, although we are all richer for having benefited from his devotion to his job and his friendship. He will be well remembered by all who met him in classroom and common room for his constant geniality: his good humour and personal warmth; and all his friends wish him and his wife many happy years ahead.'

Sources: Pegasus, December 1966 p15; Obituary-Pegasus, 1975 p102; Ad Astra, September 1975.
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