Allen Chisnall

News has filtered through to the Old Boys of the death earlier this summer of Allen Chisnall who was Head of Maths between 1963 and 1988. He died in a care home in Blackpool aged 88.

Here’s the article written for the school magazine on Allen’s retirement by John Taylor who worked with Allen and succeeded him as Head of Department.

Allen was educated in Blackpool in his early years before moving on to Stretford GS where he soul searched in the sixth form before changing from arts subjects to specialising in Mathematics. From here he progressed to Manchester University, and after graduating in Maths he continued with an M.Sc. in Astro Physics and would have completed a PhD but for starting in his chosen career as a teacher. It was during this time that Allen became an authority on computing, working on the first computers in this country and then spending four months as a student in Toronto, Canada, with this new British invention.

His first teaching post was at Huddersfield College (where he taught the father of two of our present sixth form Further Maths students, who himself is now a Professor of Physics). From here he moved to Stockport School and then in 1963 to Altrincham Boys as the new Head of Mathematics.

Allen’s success as a teacher can only be admired. He is not only a brilliant mathematician but also a very successful teacher (two qualities not often synonymous). As well as the countless boys who have benefited from his teaching throughout the school there is a very long list of boys who have been lucky enough to have entered Cambridge to read Maths, not without a great deal of effort in coaching by Allen.

Outside the classroom the school has benefited from many of Allen’s interests. For many years he organised large parties of boys for fell walking trips, visiting such places as South East Ireland, The Isle of Arran, The Lakes and the Pennines (having walked the Pennine Way at least twice).  He is described as the fastest and fittest walker I know by Mr Coleman – a view which would be endorsed by Roger Fish, an ex-head of P. E.

His love of music and ability to play the organ and piano led him to help in school plays and his musical effects to The Tempest in 1969 are still remembered.

His other interests include bird watching, cookery and gardening. He can understand Russian and has written a number of books (notably Maths and Astronomy) but his modesty prevents from making these and other facts well known.

The school will sadly miss this modest, gentle, scholarly and somewhat private gentleman. His efficiency shows in the way he has run the school stockroom and his willingness to pass on his experience shows in the number of J.M.B. committees he has been involved with in shaping the future of school mathematics. His most recent post at the J.M.B. as chief examiner in Special Further Mathematics reminds me of the lager advert – reaches the parts that other exams cannot reach. Gone will now be the famous Chis-steps, a phrase relating to manipulating at least four lines of complicated algebra in your head. But his memory will always be with me in particular, and his invention of the further maths function Chis will always bring fond memories.