Leading authority on witches

A picture from 1998 this week, which captures on the left “yours truly” and on the right Edgar Peel, who was without doubt our area’s leading authority on all things connected to the Lancashire Witches.

My first meeting with Mr Peel was back over 60 years ago, when in August 1954, I began my school days as an 11-plus exam failure at Primet Secondary Modern School, with our genial geography teacher being Capt. Edgar Peel.

Mr Peel had been made a captain while serving in the army during the Second World War, and while out in the Far East in 1945, he was badly wounded and was to return home.

Mr Peel’s teaching career saw him at Park, Primet and West Craven Schools, where if you stepped out of line, his trusty strap would certainly sting your hand for hours.

In that summer of 1954, Mr Peel was one of the teachers who took us to Whitehough Camp School and took us on most entertaining treks to the top of Pendle Hill, with wonderful stories of the Pendle Witches. He would later write a definitive, best-selling book on those, as Mr Peel said, “terribly superstitious and misdirected times”.

In Mr Peel’s later years I would often visit him at his home where he would always say: “Geoff, please call me Edgar”. I never could. To me, he will always be Mr Peel, my renowned teacher.