St Peter's School and Church, Walworth

St Peter's School and Church, Walworth

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Keith Baugh introduces Bob Marley to Peckham

If there was a prize in the 1970s for the coolest teacher in South London, it would surely have been presented to Mr Baugh the Art teacher at Peckham Manor School.

Keith Baugh was one cool dude admired by all the pupils from the 1st Year to the Upper 6th. In contrast to the more authoritarian figures at the school, he was arty and trendy, and got on great with everyone. He even kept his guitar in his classroom, one of the art rooms at the Technical Wing, and occasionally played it for the kids. How cool was that! Forty years later, with his shock of white hair and beard, he looks like he could have stepped out of Led Zeppelin or the Who or another classic rock band.

One of Keith's crowning achievements was inviting musicians Bob Marley and Johnny Nash to play an acoustic gig at the school. This was in 1972 when Bob Marley was relatively unknown and Johnny Nash was the big star. The concert, to a couple of hundred lucky souls, may even have been the springboard to Bob Marley's success as one of the twentieth century's most influential and much loved recording artists.

The BBC's The One Show (click on You Tube link above) recently filmed a segment at the old Peckham Manor School site where Marley and Nash played. The school is long gone but the three main buildings in Peckham High Street, Sumner Road and Cator Street all remain.

Keith revisited his old workplace and met up with a couple of former pupils who witnessed the show. One of them was Walworth Road's very own George Dyer - the Threadneedle Man.

I was a 12 year old at Peckham Manor School at the time but I somehow managed to miss the performance. Despite that, having so many West Indian mates, meant reggae was the backdrop to my school days and played a big part in my music listening. We had the Tighten Up LPs constantly on the turntable at home, whilst the sounds of Toots and the Maytalls, Jimmy Cliff and U Roy filled the ether in Peckham and Camberwell.

Mr Baugh always remained in my memory, and it was a great thrill to meet up with him at one of his art and photography exhibitions a couple of years back. Check out his website here.

Jack McInroy, May 2016.