In June 2003, Nick Goy (JRGS 1963-70) discovered the existence of the Local Studies Library and the Croydon Archives whilst researching into the fate of the JRGS Organ.
The first visit was made on 14th and 15th August, 2003, by Nick and Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66), who met with the Archivist, Chris Bennett. The Archives contain a huge collection of historical documents from the Croydon schools - of which the one for John Ruskin, under all its guises, is one of the more extensive.
The key document it contains is the School Log Book. This was, effectively, the diary for the school and contains entries for all the main events in the Ruskin history. From our point of view this is a valuable source of exact dates.
Normally, Council rules dictate that a School Log remains closed for 50 years from the date of the last entry. However, special permission has been sought to view and reproduce entries from the Log Book - provided that 50 years has elapsed from the date of those entries. This has allowed us the privilege to see, and begin to document, the history of the School up until December 1952.
Although we could apply to the Director of Education to view later entries (for which further permission could be granted), we have chosen not to do so at this stage. On reading the Log entries to which we had access, it is apparent that it contains some staff details of a more personal nature. Given that a new staff member who joined the school in 1953 might now be in their early Seventies, and therefore probably still alive, it is obvious why there has to be a closed period.
As responsible researchers, we should respect the privacy of those staff who gave us so much in our formative years and are happy to wait until the data becomes available by passage of time. The school magazines, which are freely available, give us good information from 1953 onwards - and in some respects are better than the Log in that they contain full articles on a subject rather than one- or two-line entries.
Apart from the Log Book, the Archives contain a lot of other useful documentation. For example:
Plus many other miscellaneous documents!
Viewing the Croydon Archives
The Archives are available for viewing - but you MUST give notice of your intended visit, because all the documents have to be retrieved from storage. The Museum of Croydon now includes Museum of Croydon Gallery, Riesco Gallery, Exhibition Gallery and Research Room, which currently is home to the former Local Studies Library collection and the Croydon Borough archive, and is located on the lower ground floor of the Croydon Clocktower, next to the Riesco Gallery. (Formerly, The Local Studies Library was located on the third floor of the Central Library in Katherine Street, Croydon.)
Any and all school enquiries referring to admission registers etc. should be directed to the current archivist Lindsay Ould. The Research Room has a 20-day working period to respond to all enquiries, but tries to react as soon as possible. Because records carry closure periods, visitors are advises to check the collections catalogue online.
The former archivist was Chris Bennett, who left the area in 2003 to become County Archivist for Hertfordshire. To help people decide what they might like to look at in the archive, Chris has created a detailed list in PDF format of the available documents and artifacts. (This document also provides details of how to contact Chris - now superseded by the information provide above - together with Archive opening hours for planning personal visits to view the material; please check current hours and archive location before planning a visit.)
Aside from being a former archivist in Croydon, Chris also had an interest in the author D. H. Lawrence. By coincidence, Chris knew of Mr. McLeod, the second headmaster of John Ruskin Central School. Between 1908 and 1911, Lawrence worked at Davidson School, along with Mr. McLeod. Our former headmaster befriended the author, and the two corresponded up until 1927. Chris had researched this friendship, and written a short piece on Mr. McLeod for the Local Studies Library files. Chris kindly allowed The Mill to publish his work, which provides insight into Mr. McLeod's pre-Ruskin career, and shows how he appears in a number of books - by both Lawrence and Helen Corke - as an inspirational character model. Chris' work can be found here in PDF format.
You can find the McLeod Letters in the volumes of "The Letters of D. H. Lawrence," published by the Cambridge University Press. [more] It might be best to borrow the books from your local library. Although there are only 56 letters, they are spread across six volumes! Unfortunately, copyright laws prevents us from showing any of them on this site.
Using copies of original Ruskin documents from the Local Studies Library and the Archives to visually illustrate the history of the School, the following Timeline pages provide just a glimpse of what is available. We have tried to summarise the key findings of our visit - but two days was by no means adequate to fully document all the facts available. (Other documents will be added during the coming months.)
We plan to return to the Local Studies Library and Croydon Archives, but if anyone visits the Archive for themselves, we would be grateful for any contributions. This area of the website is intended for recording hard fact that can be backed up by documentary evidence from the time - reminiscences and views will continue to be published in the usual areas.
All Archive documents have a Reference Number - so if you want to view them for yourself, it's a lot quicker if you know the number. Each Croydon School has a Reference. John Ruskin is SCH63. The pages below and other linked pages will contain the complete number for the documents referred to.
And so to the pages! Click here to begin the journey through the archives: Log Book and School Record
Or use the following links to directly access the appropriate time period:
Paul Graham, Mel Lambert and Martin Preuveneers have also prepared the following material:
Please send any messages and memorabilia to
©2023 JRGS Alumni Society. All Rights Reserved. Last revised: 17.02.23