Anne Smith (JRHS teacher/principal 1970-99)
Apart from the abiding sense of what good company everyone was, which
made for an enjoyable day throughout, the most outstanding aspect for me
was the way in
which the gathering went beyond the grammar school
framework which is the raison d' etre of the website (and nothing
wrong with that at all).
Nevertheless, the presence of Peter Oxlade (JRCS 1940-44)
took us back to the days of the Central School where Ruskin began, and a
fair number of people were teachers or pupils in the comprehensive
school, some in both. I was pleased, too, to see that not all those
present were teachers or pupils, but that there was a librarian from the
college, and even a life-class model!
I think anything which can emphasise that, good though the grammar
school may have been, John Ruskin's benign influence over many people
began before, and continued after, that period.
It was great to hear the message from Charles Smith, though
disappointing that he could not be present; Mike Grant, who
taught metalwork, is 88 and was much in evidence.
I hadn't seen over The Mill since the 1970s, when it was full of
hurdles and old desks, so it was great to see over it now that it has
been refurbished; and that was a good break after the excellent lunch.
By the way, one of the waitresses in The Surprise attended the college
at Selsdon and did not know until yesterday that the school had ever
existed at Shirley! So that was another little piece of education.
I think that Tom Thomas (JRGS 1957-64) and the whole
Macdonald Family deserve all our thanks for what was a most successful
day, which deserves repeating in some format or other.
My own preference is not to have a formal dinner, which might put
some off because of the formality and also the probable cost; but mainly
because you tend to be stuck on such occasions, and a buffet gives an
admirable chance of circulating and talking to those you know, those you
knew, and those you have no recollection of - the latter group likely to
increase with age, at least in my case!
(JRGS teacher 1961-71)
I have just noticed on
the bit about Anne Smith's father, Wing Commander Millington.
At the end of the war I was a pupil at King Edward VI Grammar School in
Chelmsford, Essex (deputy head boy in 1949) and although not politically
minded at that time - later I graduated externally at London University
in a heavily-weighted politics BSc (Econ) - I do remember that the
MP for Chelmsford elected in 1945 was Wing Commander Millington of the
Commonwealth Party. I little knew during the two years I overlapped with
Anne on the school staff that she was his daughter!
Although Anne is still very recognisable from those days I think I
may not be, as she did not seem to recognise me at the reunion. Neither,
I think, did Bill Patterson. We did not overlap but the staff
cricket team was always sure to be beaten by Purley Grammar School staff
when Bill (ex-minor counties player, I believe, and a teacher at Purley)
bowled us out cheaply and then knocked off the required runs! We
reckoned he owed us a pint or two afterwards but we're still waiting!
J. C. Lowe, himself, was a former minor counties player, if my memory
serves me well; he must have been delighted to hand the school over to
I was delighted to meet several former colleagues on Saturday -
have yet to give Brian Cook an earwigging for non-appearance. I
was happy to recognise a few pupils from my time even if they did not
all remember me!
ML adds: Sadly, Anne
Smith's father, Ernest Millington, died in May of this year, following
his 93rd birthday.
Peter Oxlade (JRGS 1940-44)
I thought the Ruskin Reunion was a success and pay tribute as do others
to Richard "Tom" Thomas and Ian MacDonald, together with
all those who assisted them in the organisation and all that goes with
such an event. Well done and in keeping with the old School Motto.
I had not realised that Mike Grant was 88 but he certainly
does not look it. As I understand it, he was a teacher between the years
1971-1986 - see the list of
Attendees; Anne Smith describes him at a metalwork teacher.
I had several lengthily conversations with Anne who rolled back the
years with memories. Bill Patterson was as engaging as ever and
"hosted" his table in the gentlemanly manner that one always expects of
It was a pleasure to meet
Paul Graham who has played such a part in production of The Mill
and continues to do so with his latest contribution of photographs.
The list of those I had the pleasure of meeting was extensive and it is
a pity that not all those memories can be shared in this news page!
When the event got under way at The Surprise I realised that there
were but few members that I recognised but, in contrast, it soon became
clear that all of us have that one thing in common be it JRCS or JRGS or
JS Six Form College, or even JR College. To share the memories and
experiences of so many was indeed a very great pleasure.
On the evening of the Reunion I telephoned Charles E. Smith to
report the day's events. Charles and Elisabeth were absolutely delighted
hearing all that had happened during the day and of the people that I
had managed to talk to. I did pass on to Charles all the good wishes
that others had asked me to give him and I also told him that when I was
asked to read out his Greetings to the Reunion making his
apologies for not being to attend, he was really delighted.
I told him that some of the content raised much laughter and large
smiles on so many faces it was a joy to behold - yes, he was most
delighted and thanked me for letting him know how the successful the day
There was one other comment made about the value of The Mill
website and how much we all owed to its webmaster for hosting such a
valuable vehicle that had given so much pleasure to so many - would the
Reunion ever had taken place in the depth that it had without the input
from Mel Lambert over the years? Well done and thank you, Mel, from all
This is the message from Charles E. Smith that
I read out on his
A personal message from Charles Edward Smith, former JRGS Mathematics and Senior Sports Master, 1942-1978, who will be celebrating his 97th birthday this coming
16th of November.
“I had hoped to be with you at The Surprise for this Ruskin
Reunion, but anno domini has told me otherwise. Disappointing, but there
“I enjoy being able to keep in touch by reading the contributions
to the JRGS website, and being reminded of you all and of your varied
“My very best wishes to you all, many of whom are now spread to so
many parts of the world.
“I shall be thinking of you at the reunion as I raise my glass to
the memory of JRGS and all it meant to you and to me.
“So it's goodbye for now from C.E.S. - you know “Smithy” … “Old
Smut” that mild little man you used to brush to one side as you raced
down the school corridor. No? Very well then. I’m that mixture of Attila
the Hun, Genghis Kahn and The Ogre from the top of the beanstalk! Please
“Bless you all.” -
CES August 2009. |Images by Ian Davies|
Terence Morris (JRGS 1942-50)
I enjoyed reading about the JRGS reunion last Saturday, which I was not
able to attend. I think my year (class intake of 1942) may be getting a
bit thin on the ground but there are still some of us about who were in
the Vith between 1947 and 1950. Those with whom I am in contact are no
longer in the Croydon area.
What prompted me to send this message is to ask: Is anyone going
to organise a party/event for Mr. Charles "Smithy" Smith when he
turns 97 in November? I reckon ALL birthdays after 90 are special! I
remember him with great affection as a really good teacher.
My sport always being cycling I was rubbish at team games, but
"Smithy" might be interested to know that to celebrate my 78th birthday
I piloted a tandem (Croydon built by Chas Roberts of Gloucester Road, by
the way) to the top of the Mont Ventoux for the second time in three
years. But I would still be absolute rubbish at teams games, "Smithy"!
Thanks to him I was introduced to the literature of the Old
Testament in RI. And yes, we were terrified of him in the Tamworth Road
gym in 1942. Commands like; "Up on the wall bars, boy!" and "Up! Up! Up!"
come to mind. Yet I have a suspicion that he too, being new in 1942,
might have been apprehensive about us "brats" - as new boys were then
known in their first year. Ogre, Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun? Not
really. He was a pussycat when you got to know him!
Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66)
While attending the Reunion I took the opportunity to revisit the colour
photos taken in 1991 by
Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62) shortly before demolition of the Upper
Shirley Road school location. These
Then & Now images show some of
the former school buildings that were replaced by the new housing
development within Postmill Close.
I have also provided some personal recollections about the Ruskin
Reunion on the News Pages.
Peter Hurn (JRGS 1967-73) adds:
I've scanned an article on the Ruskin Reunion from the Croydon
Norman Pippin (JRGS 1958-63), Andrew Strevens (JRGS 1958-63),
Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62), John Byford (JRGS 1959-65),
George Strelczuk (JRGS 1958-66), John Walker (JRGS 1958-65),
and co-organizer Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) | Front: Mike
Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65), Barbara Room (Library Resources
Manager 1976-2005) and Martin Nunn (JRGS teacher 1957-73). ©2009 Croydon Advertiser All
Peter Hurn offers:
By the way, Cliff Cummins'
aunt was at Lady Edridge School with my mum, and are still in
John Byford (JRGS 1959-66)
And here is an announcement from the 4th Sept edition of the