Former Larne Grammar teacher loved theatre and film

Fred Aicken.
Fred Aicken.

A film and theatre enthusiast who taught for many years at Larne Grammar School has died aged 98.

Frederick Aicken, who grew up in the town before moving to Hatfield, Hertfordshire in the 1960s, passed away on June 18.

The former science teacher was also a regular contributor to the Larne Times in the 1950s and 60s, writing a weekly film and theatre column under the pseudonym Jaques.

Born in Newtownards, Fred moved to Larne at the age of three, living for a time on Victoria Road.

His father, Harry, was manager at the Regal Cinema in the town, instilling a love of the arts in his son from an early age.

Fred attended Larne Grammar, and later Queen’s University Belfast, where he obtained a Masters.

He later returned to his former school to teach science, and settled on Wellington Avenue with his wife Helena, son Gareth, and daughter Lynne.

In the 1960s, the family moved to Hatfield, with Fred taking up a post as Head of Science at Welwyn Grammar, later Stanborough School.

“Although his day job was in science, he had a lively interest in the arts,” said Mr Aicken’s son, Gareth.

“He continued throughout his life to be involved in films and theatre; he wrote a few radio plays and TV plays, some of them about Ireland.

“He was a man of very wide interests, which I think people would remember him for.”

Fond memories remained of Fred’s time in Larne, Gareth added: “He enjoyed teaching there and working with the Drama Circle.”

In a letter to Fred’s family, local man Billy Burns - also a former theatre columnist for the Larne Times - wrote: “Fred was my physics teacher for a bit; alas I had little interest in science, but what he did instil in me was a lifelong love of theatre and cinema.”