Ernest Ashley Bramall , Sir

Ernest Ashley Bramall , Sir

b: 6 JAN 1916
d: 10 FEB 1999
21 Hugh Street

London

SW1
Obituary, The Guardian 12 February 1999:

In a long lifetime Sir Ashley Bramall, who has died aged 83, did many things well. In and out of Parliament by the age of 34, he had been called to the Bar a year earlier. But it is not on his parliamentary or legal work that Bramall's claim to distinction, rising at times to greatness, can be said to rest. He was, above all, a leader and his chosen field was education. He was also a Londoner.So it was that after an earlier experience as a Westminster councillor (1959-68), and as a member of the London County Council, that Bramall became leader of the Inner London Education Authority in April 1970. Thereafter he led the authority until May 1981, a period of office longer than anyone in the preceding 120 years.

Bramall had an unuseual early childhood followed by a more conventional middle class educational route to adulthood. As a small boy he was educated at home by his father, who had been invalided out of the Army. His mother was a socialist with bohemian leanings, and taught her son to act. This was followed however by Westminster School on a scholarship, boarding school in Dorset and Magdalene College Oxford, where he read PPE and became treasurer of the Oxford Union.

In 1945 Major Bramall, who had spent the war in the England at GHQ Home Forces, found himself in Germany, where he helped to re-establish the democratic trade union movement. Back in England, he entered mainstream politics and won Bexley for Labour only to lose it in the 1951 election, by 133 votes to Edward Heath. The end of his parliamentary career was, however, only the beginning of his public life.

When Bramall and his colleagues took over the leadership of ILEA in 1970, their problems were formidable. The 1970s were turbulent years. The shortage of teachers was at times acute and many schools were on the verge of breakdown. There was a decline in population and institutes of long standing had to be re-structured. The 223 secondary schools at the beginning of the decade were reduced to 151, and 27 colleges became 15.......

During the years of his leadership the ILEA's policy committee considered more than 1000 reports dealing with every new development or controversial matter affecting the Authority. At 164 of the 165 meetings which examined and refined the thinking behind those reports, Sir Ashley toom the chair. He brought to his educational work a rare combination of qualities. There was that fine legal mind tirelessly sifting fact from opinion, examining and checking the evidence and always displaying a profound respect for natural justice in his dealings with people.

To be consistently amiable was not one of Bramall's priorities; nor was it only fools that he did not suffer gladly. Able political colleagues (and he had many) who were slow to take a point that he was making, or officials who fell short of his own high standards of precision, could find themselves addressed with asperity. He was responsible for a budget of some £900m a year, but inside him there was always a London ratepayer willing to raise his voice against the waste of even comparatively small sums.

Unlike some politicians, Bramall did not suppose that being elected brought him instant understanding of all the issues. He was a good and usually patient listener. Having listened, he reflected. When difficult decisions had to be made, he waved his hands; dialogue was possible if they stayed below his shoulders. Once raised above that level, further discussion was futile. Great leaders need courage, not just of the physical kind though there may be a need for that. There proably still remains a deep gash on the door of Bramall's office, where a small hatchet missed him on one confrontational occasion when a group of angry parents - having failed to get their children into the school they wanted - protested at County Hall. But the decision to press ahead with the ending of corporal punishement in secondary schools - in the face of powerful objection - required real courage. So, too, did the decision to comply with the then government's "guidance" on public expenditure, and in the teeth of the displeasure of some of his colleaues to reduce the authority's expenditure by more than £25m in one year.

Those of us who worked with Bramall in his days at the ILEA - he was ousted when Ken Livingstone took control at the GLC - and afterwards will remember him not just as a notably effective local authority leader, or simply as a friend, but as a person whose values we felt able to share. Finally, for Ashley Bramall, Gery, his wife, whom he married in 1950, and the younger members of the family, music was always central ....... It (is) impossible to hear children singing in London schools or playing in their school orchestras without recalling the support for music and the other expressive arts which it was consistently Ashley Bramall's great achievement to sustain and promote. Peter Newsam.

Illtyd Harrington adds: Ashley was dapper neat and pristine with a mane of immaculately groomed grey hair. He discharged his public duties with dedicationand style and certainly with no wish for self-aggrandisement. His passion would surface in the County Court Rent Tribunal or before the Boundary Commission. He was one ot the few lawyers to witness at first hand the disastrous social consequencies of Henry Brooke's Rent Act in 1957. He used his skills to outsmart the slum landlords while his standard work on the Rent Act is still prescribed reading for young barristers.

Unlike many in local government he had his hinterland. I wonce saw him singing in the chorus at a performance of Verdi's Requiem in the Albert Hall. His love for the old City of Westminster was palpable.


"Pimlico Matters" March 1999 (A Newsletter for Parents, Students and Governors of Pimlico School): Extracts:

Parents will be saddened to hear of the death of Sir Ashley Bramall on 10 February. He was Chair of Pimlico School Governors from 1970-1994 and was instrumental in setting up Pimlico as a comprehensive school with a Special Music Course in 1970......... Sir Ashley gave an enormous amount of time to the school - Governors meetings, staff appointments, school performances and musical events. Throughout he behaved with dignity, honesty and respect for others. Pimlico has always been a high profile school and I have been grateful for his support and candour which has always helped me and the school to move forward. His selfless contribution to Pimlico and the wider community will be missed but never forgotten. P. Barnard.


Obituary, The Friday Review, The Independent 12 February 1999: Extracts:

Born in 1916, he was chairman of the Oxford University Labour Club, and treasurer of the Oxford Union by the age of 23. During the Second World War he served in the Army, attaining the rank of Major. He was closely involved in Operation Fortitude, the brilliant Allied deception operation which tricked the Germans into keeping their Fifteenth Army tied up in the Pas de Calais long after D-Day. Bramall spoke German fluently, having travelled there many times before the war.......

He was elected to Parliament for Bexley in 1946, winning a closely fought by-election on the very day that the new Labour government brought in bread rationing. Ironically, that unpopular policy had resulted from the need to keep the German population in the British zone from starvation...... He held the seat till 1950, losing to the Conservative candidate Edward Heath, by 133 votes. Although he fought Bexley again in 1951 and 1959, his public service became focussed on local government. Joining Westmenster Council in 1959, he served as leader of the Labour opposition for a number of years. He served on the Council until 1968.

In 1961 he was elected to the London County Council for Bethnal Green - the start of a 26-year career on first the LCC, later the Greater London Council (GLC), and on the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA). From 1970 to 1981 he led the ILEA with great skill and effectiveness. The post was unpaid, but the duties more than full time. Under his leadership the drive to build a truly comprehensive secondary school system in inner London was redoubled. In addition to being a passionate believer in comprehensives, Bramall was dedicated to improved nursery provision; better school accommodation - all too many schools still had outside toilets; and to school meal provision. He paid particular attention to the very special situation in London schools following immigration..... For example ... over 100 different languages were spoken by London children and many thousands lived in families where English was not the first language.......

The remarkable achievements of the ILEA under his guidance ended in 1981 with the hard-left take-over at County Hall. Bramall was replaced as Leader in one of a series of ill-advised decisions by the Labour Group, then considerably influenced by the collective madness and fundamentalism sweeping the London Labour Party at the time. The change undermined the ILEA and eroded confidence just as it needed maximum support in the face of a doctrinaire Conservative government. Bramall's removal from ILEA leadership marked the start of a series of tragic events which led to the abolition and break-up of this remarkable education authority.

Although hurt by the events of 1981 and in little sympathy with the gesture politics of the hard-left GLC and ILEA leadership in subsequent years, Bramall remained active on the GLC and ILEA and re-focused his activities into other areas. His lifelong love of music and the arts was underlined by his chairmanship of the National Council for Drama Training between 1981 and 1989. He also served as a Governor of the Museum of London from 1981 and as Honorary Secretary of the Theatres Advisory Council from 1987 to 1991. He was a governor of (Pimlico Comprehensive School) from the time it was built in the 1960s through to his death...... From 1984 to 1990 he was a member of the Council of City University and in 1992 became Chairman of the Westminster Further Education College ..... Martin Garside.


Obituary, The Daily Telegraph 15 February 1999: Brief extracts giving another political opinion:

Sir Ashley Bramall, the former Labour leader of the ILEA who has died aged 83, was responsible for abolishing the capital's remaining grammar schools............. evidence of declining standards in inner London shook public confidence in Bramall's policies......

Bramall's own children, it was frequently observed, had not been subject to these educational experiments but had been sent to grammer and private schools. Yet, for all their differences, Bramall's opponents respected his integrity....

After the Left under Ken Livingstone took control of the GLC in 1981 Bramall was summarily sacked and replaced by a young TUC researcher. The outcry over Bramall's dismissal was such that the next year Ken Livingstone invited him to stand for the - purely ceremonial - chairmanship ot the GLC, to which he was elected unopposed. In 1983 he also won the chairmanship of the ILEA. The education authority was eventually abolished by the Conservative Government in 1990 and its schools handed over to the 12 inner London boroughs.

Ernest Ashley Bramall was ...... the elder son of Major Edmund Bramall, an early socialist who ran a garage selling Rolls-Royce motor cars. Ashley Bramall's younger brother Edwin rose to be Field Marshal Lord Bramall, the former Chief of the Defence Staff.

(At the outbreak of war) He went into the Northamptonshire Yeomanry and was later transferred to the Reconnaissance Corps before being posted to the Staff College............ His parliamentary career was cut short when his old friend Edward Heath took (Bexley) in the 1950 General Election by a narrow margin of 133 votes.

Bramall was twice chairman of the Council of Local Education Authorities, and for five years led the employers' side of the Burnham Committee, which sets teachers' pay scales.......

He was knighted in 1975, and became Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London in 1981.

END

NB: Lady Gery Bramall says that it was Ashley's mother who was the socialist, not his father, and she is not aware that he went to Westminster School on a scholarship.
Biography
21 Hugh Street

London

SW1 Obituary, The Guardian 12 February 1999:

In a long lifetime Sir Ashley Bramall, who has died aged 83, did many things well. In and out of Parliament by the age of 34, he had been called to the Bar a year earlier. But it is not on his parliamentary or legal work that Bramall's claim to distinction, rising at times to greatness, can be said to rest. He was, above all, a leader and his chosen field was education. He was also a Londoner.So it was that after an earlier experience as a Westminster councillor (1959-68), and as a member of the London County Council, that Bramall became leader of the Inner London Education Authority in April 1970. Thereafter he led the authority until May 1981, a period of office longer than anyone in the preceding 120 years.

Bramall had an unuseual early childhood followed by a more conventional middle class educational route to adulthood. As a small boy he was educated at home by his father, who had been invalided out of the Army. His mother was a socialist with bohemian leanings, and taught her son to act. This was followed however by Westminster School on a scholarship, boarding school in Dorset and Magdalene College Oxford, where he read PPE and became treasurer of the Oxford Union.

In 1945 Major Bramall, who had spent the war in the England at GHQ Home Forces, found himself in Germany, where he helped to re-establish the democratic trade union movement. Back in England, he entered mainstream politics and won Bexley for Labour only to lose it in the 1951 election, by 133 votes to Edward Heath. The end of his parliamentary career was, however, only the beginning of his public life.

When Bramall and his colleagues took over the leadership of ILEA in 1970, their problems were formidable. The 1970s were turbulent years. The shortage of teachers was at times acute and many schools were on the verge of breakdown. There was a decline in population and institutes of long standing had to be re-structured. The 223 secondary schools at the beginning of the decade were reduced to 151, and 27 colleges became 15.......

During the years of his leadership the ILEA's policy committee considered more than 1000 reports dealing with every new development or controversial matter affecting the Authority. At 164 of the 165 meetings which examined and refined the thinking behind those reports, Sir Ashley toom the chair. He brought to his educational work a rare combination of qualities. There was that fine legal mind tirelessly sifting fact from opinion, examining and checking the evidence and always displaying a profound respect for natural justice in his dealings with people.

To be consistently amiable was not one of Bramall's priorities; nor was it only fools that he did not suffer gladly. Able political colleagues (and he had many) who were slow to take a point that he was making, or officials who fell short of his own high standards of precision, could find themselves addressed with asperity. He was responsible for a budget of some £900m a year, but inside him there was always a London ratepayer willing to raise his voice against the waste of even comparatively small sums.

Unlike some politicians, Bramall did not suppose that being elected brought him instant understanding of all the issues. He was a good and usually patient listener. Having listened, he reflected. When difficult decisions had to be made, he waved his hands; dialogue was possible if they stayed below his shoulders. Once raised above that level, further discussion was futile. Great leaders need courage, not just of the physical kind though there may be a need for that. There proably still remains a deep gash on the door of Bramall's office, where a small hatchet missed him on one confrontational occasion when a group of angry parents - having failed to get their children into the school they wanted - protested at County Hall. But the decision to press ahead with the ending of corporal punishement in secondary schools - in the face of powerful objection - required real courage. So, too, did the decision to comply with the then government's "guidance" on public expenditure, and in the teeth of the displeasure of some of his colleaues to reduce the authority's expenditure by more than £25m in one year.

Those of us who worked with Bramall in his days at the ILEA - he was ousted when Ken Livingstone took control at the GLC - and afterwards will remember him not just as a notably effective local authority leader, or simply as a friend, but as a person whose values we felt able to share. Finally, for Ashley Bramall, Gery, his wife, whom he married in 1950, and the younger members of the family, music was always central ....... It (is) impossible to hear children singing in London schools or playing in their school orchestras without recalling the support for music and the other expressive arts which it was consistently Ashley Bramall's great achievement to sustain and promote. Peter Newsam.

Illtyd Harrington adds: Ashley was dapper neat and pristine with a mane of immaculately groomed grey hair. He discharged his public duties with dedicationand style and certainly with no wish for self-aggrandisement. His passion would surface in the County Court Rent Tribunal or before the Boundary Commission. He was one ot the few lawyers to witness at first hand the disastrous social consequencies of Henry Brooke's Rent Act in 1957. He used his skills to outsmart the slum landlords while his standard work on the Rent Act is still prescribed reading for young barristers.

Unlike many in local government he had his hinterland. I wonce saw him singing in the chorus at a performance of Verdi's Requiem in the Albert Hall. His love for the old City of Westminster was palpable.


"Pimlico Matters" March 1999 (A Newsletter for Parents, Students and Governors of Pimlico School): Extracts:

Parents will be saddened to hear of the death of Sir Ashley Bramall on 10 February. He was Chair of Pimlico School Governors from 1970-1994 and was instrumental in setting up Pimlico as a comprehensive school with a Special Music Course in 1970......... Sir Ashley gave an enormous amount of time to the school - Governors meetings, staff appointments, school performances and musical events. Throughout he behaved with dignity, honesty and respect for others. Pimlico has always been a high profile school and I have been grateful for his support and candour which has always helped me and the school to move forward. His selfless contribution to Pimlico and the wider community will be missed but never forgotten. P. Barnard.


Obituary, The Friday Review, The Independent 12 February 1999: Extracts:

Born in 1916, he was chairman of the Oxford University Labour Club, and treasurer of the Oxford Union by the age of 23. During the Second World War he served in the Army, attaining the rank of Major. He was closely involved in Operation Fortitude, the brilliant Allied deception operation which tricked the Germans into keeping their Fifteenth Army tied up in the Pas de Calais long after D-Day. Bramall spoke German fluently, having travelled there many times before the war.......

He was elected to Parliament for Bexley in 1946, winning a closely fought by-election on the very day that the new Labour government brought in bread rationing. Ironically, that unpopular policy had resulted from the need to keep the German population in the British zone from starvation...... He held the seat till 1950, losing to the Conservative candidate Edward Heath, by 133 votes. Although he fought Bexley again in 1951 and 1959, his public service became focussed on local government. Joining Westmenster Council in 1959, he served as leader of the Labour opposition for a number of years. He served on the Council until 1968.

In 1961 he was elected to the London County Council for Bethnal Green - the start of a 26-year career on first the LCC, later the Greater London Council (GLC), and on the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA). From 1970 to 1981 he led the ILEA with great skill and effectiveness. The post was unpaid, but the duties more than full time. Under his leadership the drive to build a truly comprehensive secondary school system in inner London was redoubled. In addition to being a passionate believer in comprehensives, Bramall was dedicated to improved nursery provision; better school accommodation - all too many schools still had outside toilets; and to school meal provision. He paid particular attention to the very special situation in London schools following immigration..... For example ... over 100 different languages were spoken by London children and many thousands lived in families where English was not the first language.......

The remarkable achievements of the ILEA under his guidance ended in 1981 with the hard-left take-over at County Hall. Bramall was replaced as Leader in one of a series of ill-advised decisions by the Labour Group, then considerably influenced by the collective madness and fundamentalism sweeping the London Labour Party at the time. The change undermined the ILEA and eroded confidence just as it needed maximum support in the face of a doctrinaire Conservative government. Bramall's removal from ILEA leadership marked the start of a series of tragic events which led to the abolition and break-up of this remarkable education authority.

Although hurt by the events of 1981 and in little sympathy with the gesture politics of the hard-left GLC and ILEA leadership in subsequent years, Bramall remained active on the GLC and ILEA and re-focused his activities into other areas. His lifelong love of music and the arts was underlined by his chairmanship of the National Council for Drama Training between 1981 and 1989. He also served as a Governor of the Museum of London from 1981 and as Honorary Secretary of the Theatres Advisory Council from 1987 to 1991. He was a governor of (Pimlico Comprehensive School) from the time it was built in the 1960s through to his death...... From 1984 to 1990 he was a member of the Council of City University and in 1992 became Chairman of the Westminster Further Education College ..... Martin Garside.


Obituary, The Daily Telegraph 15 February 1999: Brief extracts giving another political opinion:

Sir Ashley Bramall, the former Labour leader of the ILEA who has died aged 83, was responsible for abolishing the capital's remaining grammar schools............. evidence of declining standards in inner London shook public confidence in Bramall's policies......

Bramall's own children, it was frequently observed, had not been subject to these educational experiments but had been sent to grammer and private schools. Yet, for all their differences, Bramall's opponents respected his integrity....

After the Left under Ken Livingstone took control of the GLC in 1981 Bramall was summarily sacked and replaced by a young TUC researcher. The outcry over Bramall's dismissal was such that the next year Ken Livingstone invited him to stand for the - purely ceremonial - chairmanship ot the GLC, to which he was elected unopposed. In 1983 he also won the chairmanship of the ILEA. The education authority was eventually abolished by the Conservative Government in 1990 and its schools handed over to the 12 inner London boroughs.

Ernest Ashley Bramall was ...... the elder son of Major Edmund Bramall, an early socialist who ran a garage selling Rolls-Royce motor cars. Ashley Bramall's younger brother Edwin rose to be Field Marshal Lord Bramall, the former Chief of the Defence Staff.

(At the outbreak of war) He went into the Northamptonshire Yeomanry and was later transferred to the Reconnaissance Corps before being posted to the Staff College............ His parliamentary career was cut short when his old friend Edward Heath took (Bexley) in the 1950 General Election by a narrow margin of 133 votes.

Bramall was twice chairman of the Council of Local Education Authorities, and for five years led the employers' side of the Burnham Committee, which sets teachers' pay scales.......

He was knighted in 1975, and became Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London in 1981.

END

NB: Lady Gery Bramall says that it was Ashley's mother who was the socialist, not his father, and she is not aware that he went to Westminster School on a scholarship.
Facts
  • 6 JAN 1916 - Birth - ; Hove, Sussex
  • 10 FEB 1999 - Death - ; London, England
  • 1939 - Fact -
  • BET 1939 AND 1945 - Fact -
  • BET 1946 AND 1950 - Fact -
  • 1949 - Fact -
  • BET 1958 AND 1966 - Fact 14 -
  • BET 1959 AND 1968 - Fact -
  • BET 1970 AND 1994 - Fact -
  • BET 1970 AND 1981 - Fact -
  • 1975 - Fact -
  • BET 1982 AND 1983 - Fact -
  • BET 1994 AND 1999 - Fact -
  • Nobility Title - Sir
Ancestors
   
?
 
   
  
  
?
 
Ernest Ashley Bramall , Sir
6 JAN 1916 - 10 FEB 1999
  
 
  
 
   
  
  
Katherine Louisa Skinner
17 OCT 1843 - 1920
 
Family Group Sheet - Child
PARENT (M) Edmund Bramall , Major
Birth
Death
Marriageto Bryda (Katherine Bridget) Westby
Father?
Mother?
PARENT (F) Bryda (Katherine Bridget) Westby
Birth18 AUG 1887
Death
Marriageto Edmund Bramall , Major
FatherAshley George Westby
MotherKatherine Louisa Skinner
CHILDREN
MErnest Ashley Bramall , Sir
Birth6 JAN 1916Hove, Sussex
Death10 FEB 1999London, England
Marriage1939to Margaret Taylor at (Marriage dissolved 1950)
Marriage1950to Germaine Margaret Bloch
Private
Birth
Death
Marriageto Avril Vernon
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) Ernest Ashley Bramall , Sir
Birth6 JAN 1916Hove, Sussex
Death10 FEB 1999 London, England
Marriage1939to Margaret Taylor at (Marriage dissolved 1950)
Marriage1950to Germaine Margaret Bloch
FatherEdmund Bramall , Major
MotherBryda (Katherine Bridget) Westby
PARENT (F) Margaret Taylor
Birth
Death
Marriage1939to Ernest Ashley Bramall , Sir at (Marriage dissolved 1950)
Father?
Mother?
CHILDREN
Private
Birth
Death
Marriageto Lois Shaw
Marriageto Helen
Private
Birth
Death
Marriageto Diana Reed
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) Ernest Ashley Bramall , Sir
Birth6 JAN 1916Hove, Sussex
Death10 FEB 1999 London, England
Marriage1939to Margaret Taylor at (Marriage dissolved 1950)
Marriage1950to Germaine Margaret Bloch
FatherEdmund Bramall , Major
MotherBryda (Katherine Bridget) Westby
PARENT (F) Germaine Margaret Bloch
Birth
Death
Marriage1950to Ernest Ashley Bramall , Sir
FatherV Bloch , Dr
Mother?
CHILDREN
Private
Birth
Death
Marriageto Elisabeth Werres
Descendancy Chart