No. 195

OSB Logo The Old St Beghian
  July 2019


Christopher (Chris) Bradshaw Harrison-Beck (SH 68-73)

Paul Boughton (SH 68-73) has kindly submitted the following:

‘Gentleman, Rockstar and Legend.’

“Chris was born in Kendal on the 25th of August 1954 and began his time at St Bees in September 1968 where I first met this amazing man. Chris lost his mother nine days after he was born and he was brought up by his father Harry and his step mother Helen. Neither Chris nor I had siblings and I always thought of him as my surrogate brother. I am very honoured and proud to have known him, and to have shared some wonderful times together as schoolboys at St Bees and afterwards as older chums, but still naughty schoolboys at heart.

Chris harrison-Beck During Chris’s time at St Bees, it soon became clear that as well as many other things he was a talented musician; he used to spend hours on his guitar in our study strumming away to Hendrix or Gallagher among many other infamous sounds of the era. He had all the Rockstar looks, including crazy hair, so he and I would go to great pains to avoid being caught by the weekly hair inspection during prep, which was either by wetting our hair with oil or by placing an elastic band strategically behind our ears to pull the hair up off the collar. On many occasions, when our very cunning method had failed and we had been scalped by ‘Sweeny Todd’, our local Whitehaven barber, Chris and I would persuade the local chicken farmer to part with some newly laid chicken droppings, which we would smear on our hair and scalp to assist the growth; we also used Baby Bio, which never seemed to have the same effect.

Chris and I shared a study with Andrew Johnston, whom we loved dearly, despite teasing him from time to time over his obsession with becoming a Thespian.

The Oddfellows Arms (Oddies) at the top of the village provided Chris and I with a local hostelry which was not too bothered about under-age drinkers as long as they could pay for their beer and could hide amongst the regulars in the back room. I do recall one Friday evening, when we had been to collect some crabs from a local fisherman called Jack, that we caused havoc in the Oddies as the top of the bag must not have been tied properly; most of the crabs escaped and buried themselves beneath the large metal heating pipe under the seats around the room. We never did retrieve any of the escapees and suffice to say did not venture into the pub ever again without a suitable disguise.

Chris disliked cricket nearly as much as I did. We could never understand why anyone would wish to stand around for hours waiting for someone to knock a ball towards you; it was like watching paint dry. This view of the sport led Chris and I to volunteer for the local community service volunteers, to ensure we were otherwise engaged (on good causes) when cricket was being played. We helped less fortunate families in Egremont with tasks such as painting and decorating their homes; our best gig however was to look after some elderly residents in a local care home in Whitehaven. The residents soon came to look forward to our visits and we made many good friends among the old folk and would bring them the odd cigarette and beer if we could. 

Another memory of Chris which I will treasure for ever concerns Richard Branson, when he was a young budding entrepreneur and just starting his Virgin Records empire from his school study. Chris would liaise with him by Royal Mail and ‘Richard’ as we knew him, would send us handwritten sheets of second hand records, most of which we could buy for a few pennies. Richard later invested in a very cheap typewriter and would send the same information in typed form but punctuated by lots of Tippex (if that existed then) or corrections and the like. Shame we didn’t hang on to those early sheets of Branstonobilia.

There are housemasters and housemasters and we had two good ones during our time at St Bees. We were lucky to have Sam (LEM) Parkinson in the early days, who was a very kind man (his wife Mrs P was even kinder and let us get away with murder). Lem taught us French and always told anecdotes during his lessons about the many places he had visited or lived in during his rich life. He drove a Saab, which was a very cool car indeed. I think he also taught us something else but conveniently I think I’ve forgotten what that was! We all had a crush on his daughter Elizabeth, who later became a client of mine at Lazards and latterly Flemings in London.

On Lem’s retirement, David Marshall took the reins. In our sixth form years his sensible attitude was often reflected in his conversations with us. Chris and I loved these chats as he was a very pleasant and interesting man.

Despite his background and obvious status, Chris was one of the most genteel, understated, humble and grounded individuals I have ever met. He was generous, kind and honest, which are rare qualities in a human being. Everyone who knew him loved and respected him dearly.

Chris owned one of finest and largest estates in the UK, the Middleton Estate in Westmorland and lived at Elm Lodge Ravenstonedale with his fiancée Viv and her two children. He retired in 2001 from Gilkes Engineering in Kendal where he had followed in his father’s footsteps (Harry was Gilkes’Sales Director) and became their most valued field engineer, Chris remained a non-executive director until 2017 and then retired to spend more time with his family and to renovate his beautiful ancestral home.

Chris has two brilliant children in Harry and Charlotte and also two wonderful grandchildren, Franky and Lily Grace.

Christopher Bradshaw Harrison-Beck August 25th 1954 - 11th April 2019 was laid to rest on Friday 3rd of May 2019 at St Oswald’s Church in Ravenstonedale.

Charles Scott (SH 68-72), Roger Webster and Paul Boughton (SH 68-74) attended the service to pay their respects and the following Old St Beghians and Chris’s peers have all sent their sincere condolences to the family: David Storey (SH 67-72), Tim Penrice (SH 67-72), John Dias (SH 68-71), Andy Crummey (FS 67-74), Clive Mendus (FN 68-73) and Steve Brown.

Donations in Chris’s memory on behalf of the Great North Air Ambulance (GNAAS) may be sent to Hayes and Parkinson Ltd., Captain French Lane, Kendal LA9 4HS.”




The St Beghian Society    
St Bees School,    St Bees,    Cumbria,    CA27 0DS

Tel: (01946) 828093     
Email:      Web:

                                                                  Facebook Logo