Obituaries

Captain Eric M brown

You will have seen the reports that Royal High former pupil Captain Eric Brown has passed away at the grand age of 97 after a short illness. Eric attended our RHS London Club dinners in 2011 and 2012, as guest speaker, together with his partner Jean and he made a big impression on those audiences with his inspirational speeches. One of our members, Gordon Burt, has provided links to some of Eric’s obituaries taken from publications at home and abroad

I would also highly recommend the podcast of his Desert Island Discs appearance of 14th November 2014
Link to download podcast
– Will

Bruce Banister 1929 – 2015

Bruce Banister was born on April 7th 1929 and grew up in Edinburgh where he attended the Royal High School, leaving in 1947. At school Bruce captained the rugby and cricket teams, sang in the choir and also performed in school plays. One of Bruce’s uncles was the manager of the Mecca Ballroom in Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge area which, at that time, was the largest dance hall in the city. Bruce liked to visit the Mecca Ballroom where his uncle showed him the rudiments of the business and this may be one reason why Bruce later chose to build his career in the hospitality industry.

After leaving school Bruce did his National Service then studied hotel management in Eastbourne, East Sussex, where he met his future wife Betty who was studying on the same course. Bruce and Betty married in April 1953. Much of Bruce’s successful business career was spent in the Trusthouse Forte group where he managed several of the group’s flagship London hotels such as the Hotel Russell in Russell Square and the historic Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair. Bruce had an eye for detail and colleagues who worked with him valued his team management skills. Outside of work Bruce enjoyed spending time with Betty and their children Jeremy and Sara. Jeremy recalls that Manchester United stayed at the Hotel Russell in 1968 in the run-up to their European Cup Final match against the Portuguese champions Benfica at Wembley stadium. Jeremy and his father travelled to the match in the Manchester United team bus and then watched a memorable 4-1 victory for United.

Bruce was also a stalwart of the Royal High School Club in London, serving as President in 1980, and organising many of the club’s events in his London hotels. Bruce continued to take an interest in the arrangements for the club’s annual dinners until bad health overtook him in recent years. Bruce’s funeral service was held in the Cemetery Chapel at Tunbridge Wells Crematorium on 20th August 2015 with family and friends in attendance. After the service the party adjourned to the elegant Royal Wells Hotel where, at Bruce’s request, we toasted his eventful life with champagne.

Further appreciation

I think it’s fair to say that Bruce as a long-serving member of the Committee was second only to Jim Rowan (Hon Sec 1977-91) in helping to maintain the Club’s activities in the latter 1900s with the Annual Dinners being held at the Russell with Bruce as the coordinator probably from well before 1980 up until 1996 when the Forte Group was taken over by Granada.

Bruce had served in several positions at the Russell before moving to
Brown’s and so revered was he that one had only to mention his name at the
Russell years afterwards for the staff to bend over backwards to assist the
Club.

Alastair Maclean

David Robertson 1933 – 2014

David attended the Royal High School at Regent Road from 1944-1951 from his home in Stenhouse, from where he cycled each day unless poor weather enabled him to take the tram! At the school David was a member of the choir.

On leaving the school, aged 18 years old, David moved to London where his initial introduction to Knightsbridge was by virtue of living in a Civil Service Hostel. Having started in the Customs and Excise, he later transferred to the Land Registry.

David met his wife Barbara in 1957 at a St Valentines day dance and they were married in 1960. Two children, Gavin and Ann were born in 1962 and 1965 respectively.

Having taken early retirement David was a member of the Wey and Arun Canal Society and The Probus Club and enjoyed walking in various locations from the family home in Horsham, West Sussex.

David died on January 20 2014 at home, aged 80, after a long illness which somewhat cruelly robbed him of his mobility. He is survived by his wife, his two children, his three grand-children and his sister Margaret who still resides in the Stenhouse family home.

David was a regular attendee at the RHS London Club’s autumn drinks parties and he took a keen interest in events at the current Royal High School in Barnton. David will be sadly missed.

James Rowan 1921 to 2012

Jim was born in Edinburgh in 1921 where his father was a customs officer in Leith docks. He had two elder sisters Betty and Nan and a younger brother Jock. Jim attended the Royal High School from the age of five until the age of 15/16. Jim started school at the Royal High primary at Regent Road, transferring in 1931 to the newly-built primary school at Jock’s lodge, before returning to Regent Road for his secondary schooling.

Jim joined the Merchant Navy in 1939 after the start of the Second World War as a radio officer, a third of his classmates didn’t survive the war. After marrying his wife May in November 1945 Jim decided the Merchant Navy was not a job for a married man, and after a short time in the Post Office, he decided to join the police force. However, as he was below the required height for the Edinburgh Police he decided to move down to London where the height requirement for the Metropolitan Police was 5′ 8″, his exact height. He retired from the Met Police with the rank of Inspector in 1973 and then joined the GLC until his retirement in 1986. Jim also served as an elder of the Trinity United Reformed Church in Bromley. In retirement Jim resumed his travelling and enjoyed several cruises and other trips both on his own and with his family.

Jim retained his link with the Royal High School Club all his life, attending the annual dinner in London every March, something he had done since 1947, for a Club record 63 dinners. He also served as Secretary of the London Club and was President in 1972. During his time as Secretary the annual Cheese and Wine evening was started as a way of involving wives and partners in the London Club events. Jim and May organised the Cheese and Wine evenings, and other social events, with assistance from their daughters Anne, Frankie and Claire. Jim was a stalwart of the Royal High School Club in London and his familiar figure will be sadly missed.