A FORMER teacher from Upper Tean has discovered that the founder one of the country’s most infamous department stores - and current ‘TV star’ - was a regular visitor to the area.
Millions of people in the UK have been gripped to their television screens every Sunday evening to tune into the hit ITV period drama Mr Selfridge.
Set in 1909 London during a time period where women are enjoying an ever increasing amount of freedom, it tells the story of Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridges department store.
But few will realise that on many occasions, Harry Gordon Selfridge was a regular visitor to the area with all his family when he and his wife Rosa sent their only son, Harry Junior, to Abbotsholme School in Rocester 1911.
Former teacher at the school, Derek Sederman, from Upper Tean, researched Mr Selfridge’s time in the area after recalling he had seen his name on a past register.
He has previously written a book ‘A History of Abbotsholme School 1889 - 1989.’ Mr Sederman said: “I have researched it thoroughly and it is very interesting to find out he was a regular visitor to Uttoxeter and the aurruondig area after sending his son to Abbotsholme.
“I was on the teaching staff at Abbotsholme from 1960 until 1999 and responsible for the archives of the school for about 25 years from 1983 until 2008.
“Pupil number 358 at Abbotsholme was Harry Gordon Selfridge Jr. According to the records it appears the Selfridge family sent for a school prospectus in 1909.
“Mrs Gordon Selfridge and her mother in law first visited Abbotsholme on February 1, 1911, and that Harry Gordon Selfridge Senior and his wife visited the school and signed the visitors book in March 19, 1911.
“Harry Jr entered Abbotsholme on May 4, 1911, at the age of 11, and left in February 1913.
“It is very clear from the numerous entries in the school magazine that he played a very full part in school life.
“Members of the family were frequent visitors, including Harry Senior, no doubt to check on the young lad’s progress but also because they felt part of the Abbotsholme community.”
The first visit from the family, who originated from America, was with grandmother Lois.
Lois had been a headteacher at Jackson High School in Michigan. It is understood the family had heard of the work of the then headmaster at Abbotsholme, Cecil Reddie, who was widely regarded as a genuine leader in education worldwide.
Harry Gordon Selfridge Senior is recorded as speaking to the Abbotsholme Parents Association in London “with great force, eloquence and charm” about the education his son was receiving.
The ITV drama, which features Jeremy Piven (pictured) playing Mr Selfridge, has been commissioned for a second series to air in 2014.