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Photograph: Class in the UK

John Simkin

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The photograph below is one of the best known in the UK. Taken at the Eton v Harrow cricket match at Lords in 1937, it is often used to illustrate the class gap in the UK.

Ian Jack has researched what happened to these five boys. Their names, left to right: Peter Wagner, Tim Dyson, George Salmon, Jack Catlin and George Young.

Salmon, Catlin and Young, were three 13-year-olds who lived close to Lord's and were in the same class at a Church of England school, St Paul's Bentinck, a few minutes' walk away in Rossmore Road. All three had been to the dentist that morning and then decided to skip school and hang around instead outside Lord's, where the Eton-Harrow match offered money-making opportunities to any boy willing to open taxi doors and carry bags, or to return seat cushions to their hirers and claim the threepenny deposit.

Wagner and Dyson both attended Harrow School. It would be expected that Wagner and Dyson would have had more successful lived that the three working-class lads. In fact, that was not the case. Jack Catlin, after leaving school at 14, rose through the ranks of the civil service and moved to a senior job in a government agency in Weymouth. Young and Salmon both served during the war in the Royal Navy, and both had been married for 53 years. After the war, Salmon became a foreman for Imperial Metal Industries and helped the firm establish a network of warehouses across Europe. Young started a window-cleaning business and set up his four sons in the same trade.

A year after this photograph was taken, Tim Dyson's parents arranged for him to join them for his summer holidays at their army quarters in Trimulgherry near Secunderabad. Dyson died of Diptheria on 26 August 1938, aged 16. His father was captured by the Japanese at the fall of ingapore and died in a Korean prison camp on 22 November 1942, four years after he buried his only child.

Peter Wagner worked successfully as a broker in his father's firm for three decades after the war but by 1979 he was clearly mentally unbalanced and died in the East Sussex asylum at Hellingly on Friday 13 April 1984.



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