Mr John Durnall (OS Former Head of Geography)

Died: 4th December 2017
Notes: Mr Durnall was appointed Head of the Geography Department in April 1961 and retired in 1992 after completing thirty-one years service. To read more about Mr Durnall's time at SGS click on his name.

The School was saddened to receive the news of Mr Durnall's passing.  Our thoughts are with Mr Durnall's family and friends at this time.

The Funeral service of John Durnall took place at St George’s Church, Buxton Road, Stockport on Monday 11th December 2017.

An extract from The Stopfordian 1992:

Mr J. G. Durnall

John Durnall, who was appointed by Mr. Philpot as Head of the Geography Department in April 1961, retired in 1992 after completing thirty-one years as head of Department. This is an unique achievement of long service for he was in charge of Geography throughout his time in the School.  Moreover, he was the last of Mr Philpot’s Masters to retire.

When John Durnall arrived, Geography was a small, unimportant subject; the work covered “capes and bays” with an emphasis on Physical Geography and regional study. He guided the subject through a series of fundamental changes in the seventies and eighties. John Durnall was advanced in his thinking and his progressive approach ensured that the Department adjusted quickly and easily to the new Geography.  Philip Hallworth O.S., who became Head of Geography at Clifton College, spoke eloquently at the O.S.A. Annual Dinner of J.G.D.’s inspiring teaching which made Geography a lively area of interest for so many Stopfordians over the years.

With his way of acquiring the impossible J.G.D. quickly built up a store of posters, maps, globes, books and instruments so that Room 8 became a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of geographical gems. Many geographers remember “Jed” for his exhilarating and entertaining fieldwork trips at Betws-y-Coed or at Ainsdale where he would hurtle along over the sand dunes in great heat with a stick, hat and a ruck-sack containing a hundred essential items from Earl Grey tea bags to a whirling hygrometer.

Old Stops. at dinners and reunions were as quick to imitate “the Colonel” as to recall amusing incidents. It is no wonder J.G.D. was known to so many pupils for he was the first to talk to Sixth Formers about Higher Education; he was master in charge of rugby; he was Housemaster of Nicholson; he organised the School trophies; he ran end-of-term film shows for Junior School pupils; he organised the Venturers for many years; he prepared the School Calendar; and he took Stopfordians to countless places.  John Durnall was equally well-known outside the School as a Reader at St. George’s Church and a Chief Examiner on the Joint Matriculation Board at Ordinary Level.

J. P. Ashcroft