New research on George Hogg and the Chinese Cooperative Movement - 1941 to 1951

Kuang Ying presents his book and follows the Harpenden George Hogg trail - 11 August 2023

‘Interest, indeed reverence, for George Hogg‘s significance remains high in China, particularly in Shandan, where he relocated the Bailie School in 1944.

Kuang Ying’s ‘Compilation’

On 11 August 2023 we* were delighted to meet Kuang Ying and his wife Liu Zi on a visit from China, together with Zoë Reed, Richard Poxton and Frances Wood from SACU (Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding). Frances acted as an indispensable interpreter. Kuang Ying brought with him copies of his recently published Compilation of Historical Materials from Shandan Bailie School in Gansu, China (1941 / 1951) and presented them formally to Harpenden Museum and SACU, with a copy to be passed on to St George’s School. He also gave copies of recently discovered very short film clips showing George Hogg at Shuangshipu in 1943.

Kuang Ying’s father and uncle were pupils at the school in Shuangshipu (Shanxi province) where George Hogg was headmaster. With him they trekked the 700 miles north-west, eventually settling in Shandan where the Bailie School was set up in a former monastery in the winter of 1944-45. Their memories of George Hogg and Rewi Alley, who continued to run the school after George’s death in July 1945, inspired Kuang Ying, on his retirement in 2009, to research surviving records and to set up a WeChat group of some 63 children of Bailie School pupils, now spread all over China and even in Andorra and Britain. This provided a wealth of information together with respect for the ideals of this industrial training school, and for the inspirational leadership from both George Hogg and Rewi Alley.

The George Hogg trail

To evoke Harpenden of the 1920s and 1930s, we visited, courtesy of the Lawes Agricultural Trust, Red Gables, George’s birthplace on West Common (former home and studio of Frank Owen Salisbury), and nearby Wayfarings, designed for the Hogg family by Eustace Salisbury, who was also the architect of Red Gables.

The current owners restored Wayfarings and its garden – with the first swimming pool in Harpenden – during the 1990s and allowed us to see this spacious, comfortable middle-class home of the 1930s.

Presentation of ‘Compendium’ to Harpenden Museum

Gavin Ross, Society Chairman, welcomed Kuang Ying to a preview of Harpenden Museum and a very modest display in memory of George Hogg. In a brief ceremony copies of Kuang Ying’s book and certificates to celebrate the donation were exchanged. Kuang Ying spoke about his research and of the strong association with George Hogg’s birthplace Harpenden and St George’s School.

Passing the common, where sheep had still grazed in George Hogg’s childhood and the Silver Cup pub where he had a farewell party with his friends before setting off on his ‘gap year’ in 1938, we had lunch at the Inn on the Green – birthplace of Frank and Eustace Salisbury. It was less easy to see Leyton Road and the High Street as it was known to the Hogg family, who were regular attenders of the Methodist Chapel, as the site is now redeveloped as the Waitrose wine department – and which had been the Regent Cinema in the 1930s.

With the visit taking place during the school holidays, St George’s School was closed and staff away, so we were delighted that former headteacher Norman Hoare – who had been involved in exchange visits between the school and Shandan – was able to welcome Kuang Ying, and show us the chapel and old library, still much as they were in George Hogg’s time.

About Kuang Ying

I am a retired cadre in Nanyang Oilfield of Sinopec. My father lived and studied as a boy in Shuangshipu, Lanzhou and Shandan Baille School in Shaanxi Province from 1944 to 1951. I have been studying the history of Rewi Alley, the Isco (Chinese Industrial Co-operative Movement) and the Bailie School in Gansu province since 2009. My research results, a compilation of historical materials from Shandan Bailie School in Gansu, China (1941 / 1951), were published at my own expense in July 2020. This book is the first academic monograph of the Gansu Shandan Bailie School at home or abroad. It has more accurately restored the historical truth, and the basic project of Rewi Alley and China’s Industrial Cooperation Movement and Gong He/Gung Ho at the Shandan Bailie School. The book is 580000 words, 684 pages.

About Zoë Reed and SACU

Zoë Reed, former SACU Chair [2009-2023] was the liaison person between SACU and Kuang Ying in arranging the visit. SACU is a small Educational Charity, established in 1965 with the aim of building friendship and understanding between the peoples of China and the UK. Spreading the wonderful story of George Hogg’s contribution to the people of China is very much in keeping with their mission. However, Zoë also had a personal reason for linking with Kuang Ying as her father too was one of the ‘Bailie Boys’ who attended the same school as Kuang Ying’s father.

After the visit Kuang Ying sent Zoë the following message via WeChat which was translated via the function in WeChat:

Hi, sister Zoe. We are safely back with our relatives in London. Today’s visit to Harpenden is an unforgettable experience for me. The tour of Principal Hogg’s life and study in his youth, which you carefully arranged, left me with a myriad of thoughts and was very educational. At noon, the British lunch was sumptuous, and the atmosphere was harmonious, which let me experience the living conditions of the British people. The contrast between Harpenden and London makes me feel the happiness of the people here. All in all, today is the most unforgettable day of my trip to Europe and the UK. It was also a very memorable day in my life journey. Thank you very much for your arrangement. Please also extend my thanks to Dr. Wood. May happiness and health always be with you. We look forward to seeing you in Beijing or elsewhere in China.

* The Local History Society members welcoming and guiding the visit were Gavin and Rosemary Ross and Roger Butterworth.

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