Lincoln Christ's Hospital School

Lincoln Christ's Hospital School
Educating in Lincoln since 1090


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It is with sadness that we announce the death of Ian Collins at the age of 79. Ian taught at the school from 1974 to 1994 when he retired as Head of Chemistry. He had joined LCHS in 1974 upon the amalgamation of the four schools, having previously held the same post at the Girls High School on Lindum Hill. The staff picture of 1973 shows Ian, sporting a contemporary hair-cut, on the left-hand edge of the second row from the bottom, just behind the bearded Roger Seal.

Traditionally the three sciences were taught separately in secondary schools, a pattern which has been partly restored in recent years after two decades or so of integration. Consequently there were three separate heads of department, and a head of faculty, and also four separate offices and storerooms, each with a very separate character. The lean-to on the south side of the Biology Hut was noted for white rats in cages for teaching purposes and the occasional wild ones under the floor which had defied the exterminators. The Chemistry office had its own unique atmosphere as did the labs with bottles of acid, Bunsen burners and all the rest set out along the benches, ready to use. However, ‘Health and Safety’ was coming and a great clean-up ensued. Indeed at one point in the 1990’s many of the LCHS chemicals had to be removed because substances retained in some cases for half-a-century were now deemed to be unfit for use in school experiments!


Chemist Jim Baker has worked in Lincoln schools for over 40 years, including twenty as Ian’s deputy. Jim has many anecdotes of life in the labs of which spring to mind at this moment of loss, commemoration and reflection, and thanks Ian for allowing him the freedom to develop as the maverick he remains today

  1. “A couple of minutes into a 6th form lesson to a group I shared with Ian, the group said 'Sir, Mr Collins taught us that last lesson'. At break when I asked Ian about it he apologised and joked in his usual way saying he'd got the wrong topic and said it must be his memory going. As a result I filled a coffee jar with naphthalene balls and labelled the jar 'Mr Collins' Memory Balls' and kept it on the front bench for all our 6th form lessons.”
  3. “ One day when the handle broke off Ian’s coffee mug.  He told me about this 'hyperbond' glue he had to stick it back on.  I told him not to risk it as his mug would contain hot drinks.  He smiled and pulled on the handle and told me it would be fine.  Anyway, a few days later when he sat in his chair to drink his hot coffee, I heard a shout and Ian 'shot up' took his trousers off and rushed into the adjacent lab and immediately doused the affected area with cold water from the tap. Unbeknown to Ian there was a lower school girl at the back of the lab. I reminded him of my words and told him never to try and glue back handles on mugs again.”

Life as a teacher isn’t always easy, but it remains a hugely important role. A lot of good Chemistry was taught in the two decades when Ian Collins was at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School and former pupils from his classes achieved great things. They will remember him fondly for giving them а excellent grounding in the arts of being a good scientist. Remembered, not forgotten. In the words of our long-serving Science technician, Simon Button, “we remember Ian as the wonderfully talented Chemistry head of department with a great sense of humour!”  CRW



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