Your Webmaster recalls his first day at the school six decades ago...
As I mentioned in a recent
email to The Alumni, I started at JRGS in September, 1959 - almost 60
years ago. And what a terrifying experience it was. I was weedy for my
age and, with a birthday in August, younger than most of the incoming
boys in 1M. Also, the sixth-form lads were larger and more fierce-looking
than I was used to at my mixed junior school. And the all-male
teachers, with their black gowns, were much more intimidating, I recall.
Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA. May2019 Email
Colin Taylor (JRGS 1959-64) adds: I also started at Ruskin in '59 and I'm sure I was in the same class as our webmaster: 1M with Mr. Kenneth Maggs. I was also terribly skinny in those days - I grew up with very little appetite for food. I remember people like Derek Powis and Roger Holcombe who seemed very beefy to me. Also "Robbo" Robertson. I thought Ken Maggs was a lovely guy. (Incidentally I heard he lost his hand during the war when the field gun he was on got hit by a German shell.) I was very much into football in those days but my pathetic body didn't get me very far. I was always a defender and recall usually playing left back with Martin Loveday playing right back. Fond memories.
(JRGS 1955-60) adds: My one overriding memory of that first
day arriving at the new school on Shirley Hills in 1956 was of being
corralled by older boys, who tied my shoe laces to the railings. It was
impossible to untie them so I had to snap the laces and walk around with
loose shoes! Then there was the threat of the dreaded foaming “lurgy”in
the tanks outside the kitchens.
Geoffrey Farmer (JRGS 1959-64) adds: Thanks to our webmaster
for forwarding all the emails relating to the 1H and 5U
class photos; I was busy
moving house at the time and never got round to responding. However, the
current correspondence was a welcome distraction at a stressful time.
Bob Hyslop (JRGS 1953-60) adds: I have three memories of my first day at Tamworth Road in September 1953:
1. I felt VERY lonely and miserable in a corner of playground dominated by much larger boys charging about in front of a rather bleak and unwelcoming building.
2. I cheered up tremendously when I secured my place in the back row next to a large window. So? I quickly realised I could look down at the site of the murder in November 1952 of a policeman by Christopher Craig. Even then the case had already leaped into notoriety. Craig (16) pulled the trigger but it was his partner, Derek Bentley. who hanged in January 1953. Why? Nobody under 18 could be hanged then, but anyone involved in the crime ran that risk. The case caused controversy for nearly 50 years, producing several books and a film, Let Him Have It.
3. I nearly forgot. Just in front of me sat Pete Grey, and we've been friends for nearly 70 years.
Quite a day, I would say.
Bob Wane (JRGS 1945-53) adds: Here are some of my
recollections of early days at JRGS.
Peter Baron (JRGS 1959-66) adds:
I too started at Ruskin in September 1959 and was in 1G with the art
teacher Mr. "Vic" Gee. (What did he do all day? I don’t
recall Art being high on the agenda of learning at Ruskin!)
John "Jack" Jackaman JRGS 1951-1953) adds:
My arrival at JRGS was a transfer from the Heath Clark Central School in
Thornton Heath. I passed my 11-Plus examinations but had been evacuated
to Perth in Scotland, and was hence unable to attend the usual
associated interview. As a result, I ended up at Heath Clark where I
passed the Oxford School Certificate and met my future wife.
Richard “Tom” Thomas (JRGS 1957-64) meets Martin Preuveneers for lunch...
I was very pleased to travel down from Shrewsbury to London on Saturday, 18th May, to meet for lunch with Martin Preuveneers (JRGS 1958-65), pictured below on the right. Martin was over in the UK for one of his periodic visits from the USA. We first met for coffee and a chat at his London townhouse in Mayfair, before going to Corrigan’s in Mayfair for lunch.
We had an excellent meal and
were able to put the World to Rights over a glass of red wine. Following
that, in brilliant sunshine, we walked around Grosvenor Square to see
the complex conversion works underway on the former American Embassy
Building, which is Listed, as well as similar such works on several
other buildings around the Square. It seems the ongoing rate of
development and conversion work in London remains very high.
Karl Smith (JRGS 1946-51) recalls life and schoolrooms at Tamworth Road site...
It was most interesting to read a report on the 2019 Lunch Meeting and to know that there are plans to mark the centenary of the John Ruskin schools in Croydon. And also note that the Tamworth Road building drawings are still around.
I attended JRGS from December/January 1945/46 on my return to
Croydon following my father's displacement to South Wales from October
1940 to November 1945 when he negotiated his return to Croydon Airport.
attended the school from shortly after its change from Central to
Grammar and was in the first year to sit the London General School
Certificate Exam that superseded the Oxford ones; that was in 1948. I
was also in the last year to sit these at Higher Schools Cert before the
introduction of GCEs. During the later part of this time there was much
interest in the feasibility of a new school to be purpose built at
Shirley incorporating the old windmill into use.
The school had two tarmac playgrounds, the larger facing
Tamworth Road which afforded access to the building at two doorways. One
of these was at ground level, between Music & Woodwork rooms, the other
via a flight of steps to an intermediate level leading (a few steps up
again) where the School Secretary’s office was located (Mrs. Vera
Garwood for most of my time), through which two smaller rooms
overlooking the rear yard. One of these was the Headmaster's Study, the
other being used as Lower Sixth Common Room. In my year there were 13 of
we lads using it. Being so close to Mr. Lowe meant that our misdeeds
there were carried out quietly.
Karl W. Smith, CEng., FRAeS, Heckington, Lincolnshire. May 2019 Email
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