JRGS  "Top Ten Schoolmasters"
JRGS Alumni Society

Top Ten Favourite
JRGS Teachers

JRGS Alumni Society


With 2006 marking the 20th Anniversary of the sad passing of John Christopher Lowe, the school's third headmaster, we invited Alumni to compare reactions to the many teachers who had influenced them positively during their time at John Ruskin school. We asked them to send us their Top Ten List of Favourite JRGS Teachers.
(A full list of our school masters and mistresses can be found here.)

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66)

1. Alan Murray - his expectations that pupils should be humane and generous like him were rarely shattered; really made you think about politics and society.

Subject: History                        [More]

6. Anthony Field - a bundle of nervous energy - made you want to become involved.

Subject: English

2. Anthony Crowe - radical, questioning, pricked pomposity, opened doors in the mind.

Subject: English

7. George Pearman - a most friendly, dedicated and humane man.

Subject: Chemistry

3. Martin Nunn - committed and approachable; loved his subject and his charges.

Subject: Geography

8. Vincent Gee - never made me feel an outsider even though I was hopeless at art technically.

Subject: Art

4. Leonard Chaundy - could be pompous, but a very thorough and professional teacher.

Subject: Physics

9. Walter McElroy - a genuine and thoughtful drama teacher from outside the usual school environment.

Subject: English/Drama

5. Ronald Pearce - I ended up teaching Maths - enough said!

Subject: Mathematics

10. Terry James - a breath of fresh air - no, make that a hurricane.

Subject: Music


Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65)

1. Alan Murray - a patient, venerable man with a true soul.

Subject: History                        [More]

6. Anthony Davey - lively and engaging, and capable of true inspiration.

Subject: Physics

2. Dennis Green - driven, focused, in love with his career and capable of firing enthusiasm in others.

Subject: Biology/Zoology

7. Anthony Field - energetic and involving, with a reflective grasp of a complex subject.

Subject: English

3. George Pearman - patrician, patient and totally understanding of what boys are capable of absorbing.

Subject: Chemistry

8. Kenneth Maggs - professional and focused, yet capable of bringing Latin alive to indifferent schoolboys.

Subject: Latin

4. Ronald Pearce - brusque, worldly and his own man - capable of motivating a mollusc.

Subject: Mathematics

9. John Lowe - sometimes distant and aloof, yet totally caring of his charges.

Subject: Sixth Form Studies

5. Brian Cook - passionate, volatile but totally in love with his subject.

Subject: Physics

10. Leonard Chaundy - a statesman amongst teachers, with a professionalism second to none.

Subject: Physics


Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62)

1. Alan Murray – a committed yet modest man in all respects who encouraged us to think about world affairs and the effect they had on our everyday lives.

Subject: History                        [More]

6. Vincent Gee – a brilliant teacher who inspired and encouraged me and gave me the opportunity to get involved in painting stage scenery.

Subject: Art

2. Dennis Green – an enthusiastic teacher and form master who was passionate about his subject.

Subject: Biology/Zoology

7. David Thomas – a real gentleman who was approachable and always encouraged accuracy and neatness.


3. Martin Nunn – a committed, caring and approachable teacher who went to great lengths to thoroughly prepare his lessons.

Subject: Geography

8. Anthony Hasler – the human face of physical education.

Subject: PE/Religious Education

4. Anthony Field – a driven man in all matters English and someone who encouraged me more than anyone to appreciate classical music.

Subject: English

9. J N Rhodes - blunt and to the point, he taught History like it was.

Subject: History

5. Anthony Davey – an enthusiastic and likeable teacher who was wholly responsible for my eventual grasp of mathematics.

Subject: Physics

10. Charles Peacock – a teacher totally dedicated to his subject, and someone who I came to respect through my involvement with his stage management.

Subject: Geography/Geology


John Byford (JRGS 1959-66)

1. Alan Murray - gentle, humane, encouraged us to think critically and analytically, his love of history in the widest sense was infectious.

Subject: History                        [More]

6. Charles Peacock - inspirational geography teacher, indulged map lovers.

Subject: Geography/Geology

2. Colin Tucker - treated us as adults, got involved in extra-curricular activities.


7. George Pearman - genial wizard, maker of nasty smells and small explosions.

Subject: Chemistry

3. Anthony Crowe - widened horizons in literature, courageous in stepping outside the curriculum for the pupils' benefit.

Subject: English

8. Brian Cook - how do you break a yard ruler? Delighted small boys with his destructive powers.

Subject: Physics

4. Philip Murphy - supportive teacher, another model of patience.

Modern Languages

9. Ronald Pearce - sympathetic maths teacher, masses of patience for slow learners.

Subject: Mathematics

5. William Cracknel - the human face of the Ruskin Board Room, all round nice guy.

Subject: English

10. Anthony Field - enthusiasm for his subject was infectious.

Subject: English


Derek Charlwood (JRGS 1958-64)

1. Anthony Field - Never lost his temper, never had to discipline in the old fashioned way but held a class, particularly when discussing first world war poets - a subject I still enjoy.

Subject: English

6. Martin Nunn - an approachable and understanding man.

Subject: Geography

2. Anthony Crowe - again English, but encouraged rather than disparaged, particularly good at getting us to express ourselves through our writing.

Subject: English

7. Leonard Probert - took me for metalwork, very patient and understanding, even to people with two left hands like me.


3. H D Ackroyd - a shy man, took us for Commerce after dropping French - made the subject interesting. I understood it!

Subject: Economics

8. David Thomas - like Mr. Probert, a very patient man, and a decent form master too.

Subject: Woodwork

4. J N Rhodes - made dull facts and figures interesting, explained consequences of actions.

Subject: History

9. Desmond May - I didn't learn much French with him, but he was good fun in the classroom - once gave a boy 4% in a first-year exam for spelling his name correctly and entering the following answer on the paper 1a) Un, 1b) Un, 1c) Un, with no further questions attempted.

Subject: French/Games

5. Charles Smith - a forbidding man but could make a subject come alive, and could be very humorous. When playing in goal once, after a ball had gone in over my head, said: "There you are, boy - if you knew your trigonometry you would have saved that".

Subject: Mathematics/PE

10. Charles Peacock - I was never taught by him, but worked backstage on several school productions - let us get away with some things, but knew how to stop us before trouble occurred.

Subject: Geography/Geology


Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) Chinnockadds: Today I think I would struggle to name and comment on 10 of the staff; names, yes, but comments, no, not at this distance in time.
   For me, the most memorable teacher of all was Mr. Chinnock (pictured left) - I don't even know his first name unless I look it up - who taught us woodwork, which I was later to follow by doing the same. I remember him as a genial, gentle man and, yes, a gentleman. He was very quiet, patient and a skilled craftsman imparting to us a feel and love for tools and timber which in my case definitely rubbed off. I even used one of his pet phrases in my own classes - "Come round my bench." And I thought of him every time I said it!
   Mr. Alexander was another memorable and favourite teacher; one of the few to succeed with me. Firm, dedicated and able to impart a love of mathematics and number.
   I had several different English teachers, but I think that Mr. Griffiths had the most impact on me to impart a love of the language. Quietly spoken and another dedicated teacher.
   Similarly. Mr. Fisher (pictured left) tried very hard to teach me French but it was to be another 40 years or so before I was able to pick up from where he left off! How I wish I had worked harder with him in his classes, it might have been easier for me today. He was a good teacher though for all that.
   I did have Mr. Peacock for geography all through the school although Mr. Brooks, I believe, took me in the earlier years. Although I enjoyed geography and recognised Mr. Peacock as a good teacher of that subject, I was not able to partake in his expeditions which I feel I missed out on. I can remember being the monitor taking weather readings at Shirley during weekends and holidays; the weather station was on the flat roof outside the geography room

Terry Weight (JRGS 1959-65) adds:

1. Alan Murray won first place easily for his teaching and enthusiasm for history; I still love reading history books and still recall much of what he taught me or I read because of him. He was a good form master too.

2. Anthony Davey saved my school life in 1963. I was in the 3M (form master: Mr. Murray) that suddenly became the fast-track class. Others will remember the chaos that resulted from not having done this from the start. I was not placed in the group to do physics GCSE early, which would have reduced my choices and progress for A-Level. I subsequently got an A grade in physics A-Level. Mr. Davey promoted the case for a few of us to do the O-Level early and off his own back gave us extra lessons after school to catch up the curriculum. What an example!

3. Anthony Charles Field taught English with energy and fun. I was so disappointed when he left (in about 1962 is my memory, not as per the website) - how much better my English results were with him and would have been had he been there for the next few years. Surely every one remembers "Fred" and the fun we had with jokes about him and with him.

4. Ronald Pearce - what an energy, what a motivator (even if he was not lovable at the time) and what a great Maths teacher!!

5. Neville Graham deserves a strong positive mention. He spent many hours at week-ends and evening enabling us to play football Crippsand other sports. He was a good PE teacher whose classes I was always happy to attend.

6. George Pearman was a great Chemistry teacher. I enjoyed his classes so much I nearly did A-Level Chemistry even though four A-Levels would probably have been too many for me, and my chemistry was probably not good enough. Did he ever swallow that piece of chalk? Don't know but he could take a joke!

7. Kenneth Cripps (pictured left) put my Maths on a strong basis for university that enabled me to be successful there and since.

8-10. There are certainly others who deserve a mention but these seven still have strong positive and special memories. I would like to stop there.


Anne Smith (Senior Mistress, Deputy Head and Principal, 1970-99) adds:
Of course I don't remember all the teachers mentioned in these initial lists; but here are my comments on those mentioned here.

1. Alan Murray - I don't know anyone, teacher or pupil, who did not admire and respect him, not only as a teacher but for inaugurating the 15 Society.

2. Martin Nunn - Didn't get on at all with those who needed persuasion to want to learn. Extremely supportive but unobtrusively of William Peacock when he lost his eyesight. Still working with the young in his retirement.

3. Vincent Gee - Great teacher of the appreciation of art, not just of art. Cultured but sufficiently acerbic with it.

4. Walter McElroy (pictured right) - 110% committed; incredibly talented and cultured as - perhaps - only intellectual Americans are. Hid his lights under a bushel if doing so meant that colleagues would do chores for him. (We knew it but did them all the same!)

5. Terry James (pictured left) - The only teacher of whom "Joe" Lowe was afraid! Genuine eccentric, intolerant of little minds. Great joker - remember his variations on the organ? Totally committed to music.

6. Dennis Green - Dedicated his teaching life to JR. Prejudiced, intolerant and cared for the pupils and that they only had one chance.

7. Brian Cook - Wild-haired professor - but committed to giving pupils the experience he had enjoyed of his subject.

8. Tony Davey - I knew him later as a friend not as a teacher - but after he had retired from full-time teaching he was employed for years part-time at Trinity, who knew a good thing when they saw one.

9. Kenneth Maggs - Never repined at changing times - for example, the death of classics - but adapted Mr. Lowehis methods and subjects to suit the times. Taught World History, Social Studies, Italian, bits of French and German. Caring Head of Year, respected Cadet Corps Obergruppenführer.

10. John Lowe (pictured left) - Appeared overbearing at times but actually shy and unconfident. Opposed to girls and comprehensive education, he was actually very kind and caring towards less able pupils, and the lower ability girls loved him.

That's 10! I hope someone adds Charles Smith to their list. He was very respected in Schools' County Cricket circles, as I discovered as the mother of an England under-16 cricketer.

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©2023 JRGS Alumni Society. All Rights Reserved. Last revised: 17.02.23