Arthur Chisnall

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The Independent Online

Your obituary of Arthur Chisnall [by Pierre Perrone, 4 January] omits a key point in Chisnall's life that totally changed him and, through him, the lives of many others, writes John Pilgrim.

In the Fifties he spent a year at Coleg Harlech in North Wales. The college then offered a year's disciplined residential study to people, largely working-class at the time, who for some reason had never had the chance of a university education. That year opened new vistas for Arthur, who spent a great deal of time persuading others to follow his example. He did indeed operate as an "outreach social worker", in Soho, as well as Richmond. In his somewhat Machiavellian and devious manner he persuaded many to follow his example and apply to Harlech.

Through Arthur a small but steady stream of twenty- and thirty-somethings had their first taste of serious education at Coleg Harlech and went on to those universities, notably Hull, Birmingham and Newcastle, that welcomed adult students. An ex-pop performer myself, and by then a street bookseller in Charing Cross Road, I will always be grateful to Arthur Chisnall for his pioneering work in education. He deserves to be remembered for that - as well as his effect, through Eel Pie Island, on the Sixties pop scene.