A champion of local history

Well-regarded local historian Malcolm Doolin has died aged 68, writes Graham Millington

Malcolm Doolin

Malcolm Doolin

Malcolm Doolin was a local historian and author of The Boys of Blackhorse Road: The story of an elementary school war memorial. The book paid tribute to the 52 pupils and three teachers of the former Walthamstow School who fought and died in the First World War. A reviewer enthused that the well-researched book provided: “An excellent background to the school, to the London they lived in, to the men themselves.”

Malcolm was born in Dover to a family of seafarers – indeed his father was a sailor in the Second World War. After attending a Roman Catholic primary school he joined Dover Grammar School for Boys and went on to Worcester College to train as a teacher of history and English.

However, from age 15 he made up for what he believed to be a limited education by pursuing his many interests and these included regularly catching a train to visit and explore London. He also loved cricket but had a real passion for the theatre and he saw many of the great actors of the period.

After leaving college in 1973, Malcolm began his teaching career in London and after displaying high levels of commitment and enterprise, he was appointed head of year at Brampton Manor School in Newham. During his time in schools Malcolm demonstrated a real concern to enhance the school experience of children, particularly those who were vulnerable and challenging, and he developed an excellent vocational and life skills programme. He became known for his efficiency and commitment and as his seniority grew his efforts in the realms of staff development led to Brampton becoming one of the first training schools in the country.

Malcolm stayed at the school until the early 2000s when he decided to go self-employed as an educational consultant, instead of pursuing a headship. Consequently he created Astra Education, a venture which proved very successful, and Malcolm became highly regarded in the education sector.

In 2004 Malcolm married his long-time partner Eve whom he had met when both were helping in school drama productions. Eventually they produced shows together of such quality that two of them were transferred to the Theatre Royal, Stratford.

Malcolm was greatly interested in the First World War and in 2013 he completed a master’s degree in war studies. At this time Malcolm became an invaluable member of the Walthamstow branch of the Western Front Association (WFA) and as usual demonstrated his customary drive and innovation, becoming engaged in numerous local and national projects commemorating those tragic war years.

Malcolm was very well regarded by all those who worked with him. He was energetic, committed, wholly approachable, and humane. These qualities he brought to the world of education and to history and with his passing, both have lost a true champion.