Recently, I received an email from Justine Bainbridge,
which reads as follows: "I’ll spare you from a convoluted story, but the
long and the short of it is that I found an old flash drive, and it has
some very cool photos on it. I think your alumni may like the one I
attach of John Ruskin School in 1958.
"I'm about to post some of the other pics to Facebook, to see if I
can locate the rightful owner."
Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
This image looks to have been taken at the conclusion of
a Speech Day in the main School Hall - parents seem to exiting before
JRGS pupils. Held in
Friday 28th of November,1958, at 7:30, the speaker
that year was R. M. H. Thompson MP, who at the time served as
Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Health.
Does anybody spot a familiar face? Maybe their own?
I confirmed with Justine that she was not a former pupil. "No," she
says, "I didn't attend the school. I'm actually in Scotland and I was a
(mature!) student at Forth Valley College in Stirling, and went on to
degree studies at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland. At some point
- although I don't know where, when, or why - this flash drive ended up
in my toolbox here in lower Perthshire. It's an absolute mystery as to
who it belonged to prior to that.
"On the flash drive there's a file named 'Family History'. I opened
it up just the other day whilst looking for an old birth certificate,
thinking this was a drive and file of my own that I'd forgotten about.
Of course, that was when I realise that it isn't mine Each file has
either a first name, a date, or a location attached to it, but the
information is scant. There are no surnames, no full addresses, and some
folks are simply labelled as 'Mum,' or 'Granddad,' or by their first
"I'm a big fan of family research so I've been using Ancestry.com
alongside Google Maps and Facebook to see if anything at all registered.
That's when I found The Mill website. From census books, old
maps, etc. I've established that the pic labelled '263 Long Lane' may
have been taken in Croydon in the mid 1950s/60s.
"I'd love to track them down so that I can return this flash drive
to the rightful owner. I'll send some other pics shortly, once I'm on my
laptop. There's no more like this big group shot, but some of the other
pics may be of former pupils. One may have been called Michael."
Justine also supplied this image
right of a JRGS pupil named John, in his new school uniform and
about to set off for his first day at JRGS in September 1957. Does
anybody recognise these streets or the setting?
Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA; June 2020
I have received an additional five images from Justine Bainbridge that
show our mystery JRGS pupil, "John," in football kit and
together with other unidentified locations.
Click on any thumbnail to view a larger version.
John in soccer kit - July 1958
John in cricket whites - 1958
John and friend - date unknown
John in Long Lane front garden - date unknown
Families at an unknown event
Terry Weight (JRGS 1959-66) adds:
Which of these photos is labelled "263 Long Lane"? (My family lived
quite near there.) I ask because the area behind this house - Longheath
Gardens - was (I think) full of those small prefabricated homes that are
shown in the baby photo. It also seems possible that the gate in the
baby photo and the small boys photo could be the same, but I think the
prefabs were not replaced until the Sixties, and then with the
multi-storey buildings there now. So, I suspect it is not the same gate
since there is a house in the background. However, I don’t recognise the
road with John on his first day at school; I don’t think this is Long
Lane. If his first day was September 1958, he was of course one year
ahead of us. It looks to me in the
speech-day photo of 1958 that John is three rows back and three from
I am puzzled by the photo labelled John in cricket whites - 1957.
He is wearing a JRGS cap. If he started in 1958, he would not be doing
this in 1957 or 1958. [ML: This has been corrected; see below.]
John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds:
The clue is 263 Long Lane; it would have been prefabs back in 1958. It's
part of the A222 from Croydon, imagine driving along Lower Addiscombe
Road; at Ashburton Park the A222 becomes Long Lane; and, not far from
Elmers End, it becomes Croydon Road. The prefabs would have been not far
from where Long Lane becomes Croydon Road.
There were 102 prefabs built on the Longheath Estate from 1945-49
(By way of comparison there were 320 in New Addington, where my family
lived, together the webmaster's.) More information from this
And there is a image a pre-fabricated Arcon house taken on Longheath
Estate can be seen
Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66)
I sometimes used to cycle along Long Lane on my way home - although via
Portland Road in South Norwood was a bit shorter - and remember it well.
I looked on Google Earth and there are newish houses replacing the
Paul Johnson (JRGS 1966-73)
Isn't that a remarkable story! Flash drives haven't been around that
long, relatively speaking, so someone will be missing it! I'm afraid
that 1958 was a bit before my time, but I reckon someone's going to come
up with a name or two!
Mike Beaumont (JRGS 1955-60)
I cannot spot myself in that 1958 speech-day photo - I’d have been 14.
But it brings back memories of being in that hall about six rows back,
with the rich sounds from the organ and singing the school song and, at
Christmas, Adeste Fideles!
Roger Hall (JRGS 1959-66) adds:
I have no idea who "John" is, but what a lovely set of photos that are
very evocative of the era. I wonder if the perfabs are a part what
became the Monkshill Estate between Shirley and West Wickham?
Your Webmaster adds:
Justine has confirmed that the
prefab image file is labelled 263 Long Lane. As she writes:
"You would not believe the lengths I've gone to over the last week to
come up with that Croydon theory! If I told you I'd turned the Internet
upside-down, then that would be a pretty apt description of my
investigative efforts. If anything, I'm dedicated when it comes to
Regarding the image shown above of two children on a
garden gate, "I had sent this one to you as a location reference as
houses can be seen in the background," Justine says. "There's definitely
a few kids in the family, possibly two or more siblings - or
perhaps cousins - by the names of Michael, Maureen and Karen. Their
mother may be called Irene/Rene or Esther."
Justine also clarifies:
● John in uniform dated Sept
● John in football strip dated July 1958.
● John in cricket whites is dated 1958 only.
Justine has also sent another batch of images from the flash drive,
covering a seaside visit, an office outing and more shots of domestic life.
As she writes: "Some pics add context to the story and, in
particular, to John. In addition to the seaside photograph, there's an
additional folder named 'Hemsby' within the main 'Family History'
folder. These show family members together on holiday in Norfolk. It
looks like there are perhaps five children in the family. To recap, four
of those names, so far, are Maureen, John, Karen and Michael. [Hemsby is
a seaside resort some 7.5 miles/12.1 km north of Great Yarmouth - ML]
"I have no idea what school was the scene of the schoolgirl
picture, but that seems to be John's
sister Maureen sitting bottom right.
"In the family group besides a caravan, the car number
plate was registered in London in 1957. I'm wondering if John and
Michael were twins!? If not, they do seem very close in age.
"I've added the final picture below because it would appear to provide
some info about the occupation of John's dad. According to the bus
board, it's an annual staff outing. The firm of Percy Trilnick made women and
children's clothing, and was located in London's Regent Street.
"I'm still no closer to a family surname but I've yet to post these
Click on any thumbnail to view a larger version.
Playing in front garden - April 1958
Family holiday in Hemsby, Norfolk
Family outing - date unknown
John's sister, Maureen, seen center row far right
Annual staff outing - 27 August, 1938
Finally, here is a map from Google.com of
Long Lane, Woodside, where John's family may have lived, and an
image of the house at the end of the street - 263 Long Lane -
pictured in July 2109. ©Google.
Click on either thumbnail to view a larger version.
Terry Weight adds:
What an interesting detective story! I assume alumni know that
old electoral rolls are available either in the local library or
in document form at the British Library. Perhaps someone living
in Croydon might look?
As we see in Google Maps street view, 263 Long Lane is a red brick
house of a very similar age to where I lived. My old house was
built in 1947. I suspect these houses were built at virtually
the same time. The
Baby Photo shows prefabs opposite. John would have been born
in early 1947 or late 1946, and therefore the photo could
therefore be at the front of 263 (just). In this case, it is
possible that three prefabs were at that time on the small piece
of land between 263 Long Lane and the main road, which you can
see in Google Maps.
Playing in the Front Garden Photo a puzzle. The house is
pebble-dashed, suggesting this is not 263 Long Lane nor does it
look like a prefab. I also note that the house in the
Cricket Whites and
Football Kit photos is also pebble dashed. I think there
were pebbled dashed, pre-war houses in the area of Long Lane,
look at the houses in Mardell Road and also further up Long
Lane, going towards Croydon, between Bywood Avenue and Stroud
I also note that there is no "twin" in the photo by the
Car and Caravan; perhaps Michael was a cousin, or took the
photo. It seems slightly unlikely that John’s "twin" would not
also be attending JRGS, and they would probably be much more
memorable to The Mill readers. If he was a twin, it is
possible Michael died before 1958.
John and Friend also may not have been taken at 263 Long
Lane. The house in the background is a similar vintage to those
of my house and 263. I don’t think this is opposite 263,
although the houses now on the other side of the main road are
much more modern.
I am also still puzzled by the
Cricket Whites photo. John could have been trying them on
for the photo in 1958, but he would not have worn them for a
game or sports afternoon until 1959.
Other than that, I still have no names to suggest. I'm not sure
that this contribution helps much in finding the family except
perhaps the electoral roll suggestion.
Vernon Rees (JRGS
"John" was a couple of years behind
me so I don't recognize him. However, close scrutiny of the
1958 School Photo may put him in the second row from the
front and ninth from the far left. Identifying those either side
of him may prove fruitful. The picture of John
sitting on the gate with a friend shows them both wearing
caps from The Life Boys, the junior branch of The Boys Brigade,
so that may be an avenue of research. Regrettably I am a duffer
at this new fangled technology, although I did find a number of
sites relating to the Boys Brigade.
I hope that may be some help.
JRGS 1953-60) adds: I’m sure I’d have been somewhere at any
Speech Day in those years – if it was for the event on 28/11/58 then I
appeared on the programme. In the photo, on the front line, second from
the right) is Peter Grey (with glasses), who accepted O-Level
prizes for History & Geography; on his right is Terry Procter
who, two years later, received A-Level prizes for English & Latin. We
three, after 60+ years, are still friends and intercommunicate
regularly, though time has undermined personal visits.
In 1974 I attended the function for the retirement of headmaster
John Christopher Lowe MA. Two scraps of conversation remain with
me: Mr. David Rees regretting the advent of girls into the school
(and I’m sure many ex-pupils will know why); and the only fellow
classmate there commenting that nobody was interested in what he’d done
- he owned two small companies - unlike ex-pupils who’d thrived in the
academic world. (I was then a lecturer at Chichester College.) In a way,
both comments sum up changing attitudes.