Robin Brodhurst (PR 1965 – 70)
Robin BRODHURST (PR 1965-70) (brother of Tom Brodhurst (LI 1967-71) died on 16 January 2023, aged 70, suddenly but peacefully.
He was a prolific schoolmaster, military and naval historian, as well as being a knowledgeable jazz enthusiast and Club cricket player and cricket historian. He had a remarkable zest and enthusiasm for life. This was evident in the 400 or so people who attended his Thanksgiving Service.
Robin’s childhood was spent in Winchester, at the College, where his father, Podge Brodhurst, was a respected and loved master and housemaster. His grandfather, Harry Altham, had also been a Winchester College master, and a cricket historian and administrator. Both these men influenced Robin’s course through life.
From Cheam Prep School, Robin went on to Marlborough. While not excelling in the classroom or on the sports field (though he was the scorer for the first Eleven), he became a keen mountaineer. After training for the Army at Sandhurst, Robin joined the Royal Green Jackets in 1973. He had two tough tours of duty in Northern Ireland in the Troubles, as well as later serving abroad. After six years, he decided to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps into schoolmastering. He took a History degree at Goldsmiths College, London University, where his younger fellow students affectionately referred to him as “The Captain”. He was inspired by some fine military historian lecturers, with whom he stayed in academic touch all his life. He enjoyed a year in Cambridge at Selwyn College (1982-83) for his post-graduate certificate of education (PGCE), before embarking on his successful 30 year career as a school master (never a teacher) in 1981.
Starting at Berkhamsted School, Robin then went on to Ampleforth College in 1985. In 1990, and when further promotion was unavailable to those not monks, he made a move to Pangbourne College at the time when the Head Master was seeking a “Renaissance man with an interest in books, bats or boats”. Robin fitted the bill perfectly. Within a couple of years, he was promoted to Head of the History Department, a role he held for the next 20 years. He was a traditional but inspiring teacher, caring passionately about his subject and imparting knowledge to pupils, those less able as well as the more gifted.
Over these years, he attracted increasing respect in academic military and naval history circles. He wrote and published, in 2000, a book on Dudley Pound, Churchill’s Anchor, a wartime admiral to one of Robin’s great heroes, Winston Churchill. He later edited the papers of Field Marshal Lord Brammall.
He also served efficiently and enthusiastically on several military and naval committees: the Navy Records Society, the Army Records Society, the Society for Nautical Research, and the British Modern Military History Committee. He was a stalwart, committed and vocal participant on the annual Battlefield Tours organised by the BCMMH.
Robin was a longstanding member of the MCC, attending matches whenever he could, enjoying the cricketing camaraderie off the field as much as the cricket on the field. In 2021, he edited and published correspondence between his grandfather, Harry Altham, and Don Bradman, the eminent Australian cricketer, from the late 1950s, about the “throwing“ controversy. He was hugely knowledgeable about jazz music, with a library of some thousand CDs.
Marriage came late in life, and mellowed him. The Mill at Stanford Dingley was a warm and welcoming multi-generational family home. Pea and Robin became generous hosts, and Robin had a deep affection for his step-children and grandchildren.
Robin remained full of life, vitality, interests and optimism, right up to the time of his unexpected death.