JRGS News Archive Page 83
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 83 - Jul thru Sep 2016 -

JRGS Alumni Society


Lack of space prevents our including the following items on the main News Page, but here are some interesting
events/comments from the past several months.

 Roy Wilkes (JRGS 1960-65) unearths an interesting item of memorabilia...

JRGS Cycle Pass from 1960sI thought the Alumni might be interested in this image of my cycle pass that I came across a little while ago. I had it from my start at JR; it's not exciting but just a memento. Click in the thumbnail to view a larger image.

   I was at the school from September 1960 to April 1965, when I left from LV1ScA to Mr. "Sam" Chaundy’s supportive comment that “… industry is crying out for tea boys.”

   The Mill is a good site. I'm so sorry about the demise of the Shirley site and the changes thereafter that have destroyed what was there.

   My current base - and for the last 30 years - is a village called in Norfolk where my second wife, our daughter and I have a small equestrian property/business.

Roy V. Wilkes, Filby Norfolk; September 2016 Email


 Roger Hall (JRGS 1959-66) reports on reactions to his oyster-farming project...

Further to my recent news item about oyster farming, and my becoming a director of Porlock Futures, a community interest company that we hope will harvest and sell between 300,000 and 500,000 oysters per year, it looks likely that in the very near future I will become a famous national oyster personality!
   We are now in our first commercial year with the oysters, although we haven’t sold many because they are still too small; it will probably be next summer before we get going properly. But we are still the only Class A site in the whole of England and Wales - the best category for testing done by the Food Standards Agency for bacteria, etc. Our local Michelin standard chef has said these are the best oysters he has ever tasted. Our local restaurants are desperate for them.
   And the press have gone mad:
• Today, I have just come back from our oyster beds having been photographed for an article for the Weekend Telegraph Magazine’s "Best of Britain" series to be published on 15 October.
• Last Friday I was being filmed by BBC's Escape to the Country. That programme will be broadcast next summer, and will repeated for years after that. It will be a five-minute feature.
• Tuesday a week ago I was being filmed by ITV Countrywise with the presenter Ben Fogle; that also will be a five-minute feature, probably broadcast during this October - I’ll let the Alumni have the date when they inform me.
   I don’t ask for these profiles; we just keep getting requests through our web site. But it is a good story. Our request to the local community to give us loans for five or seven years of up to £1,000 has raised £107,000 – just fantastic! And farming oysters is green, sustainable, environmentally friendly and different.
   So that’s the fame bit sorted – now how do I become rich?

Roger Hall, Porlock, Somerset; September 2016 Email


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) reports on a Ruskin Reunion in San Francisco...

On Thursday of last week my partner Merelyn Davis and I traveled north to The City by The Bay to celebrate my birthday this past Saturday, and to visit the re-opened San Francisco Museum of Modern Art/SFMOMA, while spending time with two alumni: Martin Preuveneers (JRGS 1958-65) and John Cobley (JRGS 1958-65) with their respective wives, Maxine and Evelyn.
   We journeyed on Saturday to Alameda, west of Emeryville where we were staying at the Sheraton Four Point Hotel, for a much-appreciated cup of English tea and a late-afternoon catch-up with Maxine and Martin. Martin had booked a table at Flora Restaurant in Oakland, as shown below, to which we repaired for dinner. Sadly, because of scheduling complications John and Evelyn could not join us. On the advice of our server, we all ordered the same entree: pan-fried halibut - truly delicious. Click on any thumbnail to view a larger version.
   Our chat during dinner ranged far and wide, during which we learned of recent trips that Maxine and Martin had made to Tibet, plus Russia and Romania; Martin also traveled earlier this year to Cornwall for visits with family members living there - including several nights sleeping in a tent, he revealed. (Maxine has been spending time in Minnesota to take turns looking after her aged mother; we missed seeing her on a recent trip to San Francisco last October with Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66), as detailed here.)
   We also learned about Martin's collection of vintage railway posters, and plans to add a subterranean storage area to his house in Central London to hold these and other favorite possessions; he has become, we learned from Maxine, something of a pack rat, with memorabilia scattered in various locations. As it turned out, Martin will celebrate a major birthday next month, and is planning to spend more time in the UK during the coming period, visiting friends and family in his retirement.
   During our afternoon soiree in Oakland we were also treated to a YouTube video of Maxine on Fender bass and Martin on acoustic piano playing "Misty" and "Love Letters In The Sand" on June 5 at the Rossmoor Adult Community's Fireside Room in nearby Walnut Creek, CA. Is there no end to this duo's musical talents? More

JRGS Alumni Meeting - August 2016

JRGS Alumni Meeting - August 2016

From left: Merelyn Davis, Maxine Preuveneers,
Martin Preuveneers (JRGS 1958-65) and Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65), at Flora Restaurant, Oakland.

From left: Martin Preuveneers (JRGS 1958-65),
Evelyn Cobley, Merelyn Davis, Mel Lambert (JRGS
1959-65) and John Cobley (JRGS 1958-65)

JRGS Alumni Meeting - August 2016 JRGS Alumni Meeting - August 2016

Martin Preuveneers (JRGS 1958-65) and Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) at Flora, Oakland.

From left: John Cobley (JRGS 1958-65), Evelyn Cobley, Merelyn Davis and Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) at SFMOMA.

On Sunday we journeyed into the city to visit SFMOMA, and lunch with Evelyn and John Cobley, together with Martin, who travelled across the Bay by ferry from Alameda. Evelyn, John, Merelyn and I had time before lunch to tour some of the interesting photographic exhibits in the enlarged galleries, sharing impressions of vintage images from the museum's permanent collections, together with iconic shots from the past several decades. We also found time to wander through a couple of rooms containing abstract paintings and sculptures.
   As I discovered, John enjoys nature and is often to be found walking within the wooded areas close to his home adjacent to The Presidio in western San Francisco, close to the University of San Francisco campus. John enjoys the familiarity of these wooded surroundings, and has become friendly with a number of regulars. He also feels comforted by the familiar surroundings. "Familiarity leads to ownership," he offered, a feeling I share in terms of regular visits to works of art in Los Angeles museums, and coming to more fully understand the artists' intentions and finding additional depth in such creations.
   A former neonatal nurse, Evelyn also has keen eye for art, sharing with us impressions of several installations.
   Although he is now retired as professor of the Department of Chemistry, John still teaches a weekly course at the University of San Francisco for non-science majors that is now in its sixth year. Entitled "Evolution & Human Origins," the interdisciplinary course "examines the evidence that all life forms on earth, including human beings, have evolved from a common ancestor by means of natural selection. We will draw on ideas from biology, geology, paleontology, philosophy and history in order to gain an evolutionary perspective on what it means to be human." Field trips during class time include SF Zoo, SF Botanical Garden and Cal Academy of Science.
   "While I focus on evolution theory I also try to de-mythologize the religious dimensions ... and overturn witches," John told me. I learned that the University of San Francisco was founded by Jesuit Catholics, but that USF welcomes students of every faith and those of no faith; an urban university with a global perspective that educates leaders who will fashion a more humane and just world. "They encouraged me to hold this course, which has been very successful," John stated.
   I recall that while standing beside a large-scale mobile in SFMOMA multi-story atrium by Alexander Calder, John offered that the evolutionary tree should be viewed in three dimensions - like Calder's multi-element moving sculpture - so that we could see the complex cross connections between key species that might otherwise be lost in a two-dimensional model.
   John also remains a long-time fan of Crystal Palace Football Club - "We used to live close to the Selhurst Park ground [in South Norwood]," he recalled - and watches games whenever he can on NBC Sports Live here in the States. He was also in France recently, visiting several members of The Reunion Band, ex-JRGS school chums who played so successfully at last September's reunion held at the John Ruskin College.

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA; August 2016 Email


 Colin Taylor (JRGS 1959-64) reports on a recent reunion with Tony Charles...

Colin Taylor at a reunion in New Zealand with Tony Charles

This picture was secured at a recent reunion with - on the left - Tony Charles (JRGS 1959-65) plus our respective wives Dorn and Sandy in Rotorua, New Zealand, on 12th of August, 2016. Tony and I both grew up in Norbury and went to Norbury Manor Infants and Juniors together, before joining Ruskin in 1959.
   I moved to New Zealand at the end of 1989, while Tony still lives in England. It's the first time we've met since the small reunion in 1989 (?) - a most enjoyable evening!
   Regards to all and thanks for supporting the JRGS website!

Colin Taylor, Rotorua, New Zealand; August 2016 Email


 Bob Hyslop (JRGS 1953-60) recalls our school masters and The 15 Society...

I was a pupil at JRGS from 1953 until 1960, and sincerely owe much of what I've achieved to that school. Below I offer fond memories of The 15 Society, of which I was a founding member. I also found The Mill interesting as a former editor of the school magazine - remembering with affection the patience and kindness of Mr. "Wally" Cracknell in that regard.
   I have a few comments about school staff. I heartily endorse all the praise of Mr. A. L. "Ego" Murray, if only for demonstrating how to treat one's fellow humans. Mr. "Rhino" Rees may have terrified me - even when I did A-Level Latin - but was largely responsible for me getting a reasonable grade, while Mr. Maggs was a welcome relief station. The site appears to have overlooked Mr. Woodard, the English teacher, with his dry humour and willingness to teach periods of literature not within his beloved 20th Century.
   Mr. Lowe may been somewhat distant but at times he really did have much to put up with. During my time these incidents included a "hanging body from the mill", a collection of police signs above a classroom ceiling, an embarrassing "raid" on Coloma School (with whom we did a stage production), and a mock election won by the Liberals with the Communists a close second (largely due to "special canvassing").
   With all that, I enjoyed my time at JRGS and have enjoyed a rewarding life. (I still have ties with two friends I made there.)

An Appreciation of The 15 Society
I found the piece by Cliff Preddy (JRGS 1963-65) on The 15 Society very interesting – if only because several years after its origin the society still appeared to keep its aura. I can say that because I was one of the founding members.
   The society was formed in 1959 with the active encouragement of Mr. "Ego" Murray, one of the finest men I’ve ever known in my life. The idea perhaps came from a growing idea among a group of sixth-formers that there was an interesting world out there and we wanted (needed?) to learn more about it. I suppose the main drivers were Barrie Sturt-Penrose and Roger Courtiour but immediately several other like-minded "gentlemen" - as the Head insisted on styling us -  joined in this "search for truth". From the start it was meant to be exclusive, membership by invitation only, with its own tie (displaying a yellow Greek letter psi – don’t ask me why, as ‘omicron’ is the actual Greek 15th letter).
   A small fund was set up to supply "nourishment" for speakers hopefully from the whole range of human endeavour. Two wildly contrasting speakers from those early meetings were a Buddhist monk (who amazed us by consuming both biscuit and its silver-paper wrapper before our eyes) and somebody from "The League of Empire Loyalists" (who irritated the Head by leaving lurid descriptions of Mau Mau initiation rites on a school notice-board). The 15 Society quickly became one of THE groups in the school to be in.
   While writing this, I realised I was so proud of being a founder-member I still have the tie!

Life after JRGS
Following my  seven years at JRGS, I graduated in 1963 from King's College, London, with History Hons (2:1). I then secured a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) and taught in secondary schools, followed by 15 years teaching several AL subjects at Chichester College of Technology. Somehow, I discovered computers and, in 1986, was recruited by ICL as a principal consultant in computer-based training. Ten years later I was back at Chichester running down towards retirement with PT teaching at the college and later for West Sussex. I retired in 2006 and since then have written historical novels and thrillers, all of which are now online. More.
   In 2011 my wife and I visited California - the adopted home of our webmaster - and so I set part of one of my thrillers there, photographing a building in San Francisco's Chinatown for a key scene. Thinking of those thrillers I made my hero - definitely not me! - an old boy of John Ruskin Central School, who left in 1945 with several references to the then-headmaster Mr. McLeod.
   Here's an extract:

"Don’t dare interrupt me again, Forbes. I don’t want to hear about your so-called thinking!”
   In the silence that followed, Jonas had a hard job keeping back a smile as the whole scene was playing out just like some of the interviews he’d had with Arthur McLeod in his study at John Ruskin Central School. The Headmaster was waiting for confession leading to a rush of penitential knee-scraping: Jonas was waiting for the Head to realise he had much more important things to do and dismiss the miscreant with either the stroke of the cane or a threat of suspension.
   Over the years the honours had been even and, in hindsight, Jonas considered he’d enjoyed as good an education as a perverse individual like himself could have hoped for. He wondered whether John Christopher Lowe, who’d taken over the year after Jonas had left, would have been so patient. He never bothered as to what Arthur McLeod might have thought of himself, content to be just one who’d given the Head premature grey hairs.

   From "Stay-Alive Runs Away". More

Bob Hyslop, Chichester, West Sussex; July 2016 Email


 David Anderson (JRGS 1964-71) follows the fortunes of two former schoolboys...

So a famous ex-JRGS pupil and former England manager Roy Hodgson (JRGS 1958-65) has disappeared from sight after the football calamity, but up pops another alumnus.
   I was watching highlights of Glastonbury the other night when Ralph McTell (JRGS 1955-59) - original name Ralph May, pictured right in 2003 - appeared on the Park Stage overlooking the site. He sang "England," a real tear-jerker of a song about our home country; it was so well sung and such emotional lyrics.
   You can find it by googling Ralph McTell Glastonbury - look for the "new songs" listing. And here.
   He must be about 70 now but still got it and going strong. His Wiki entry makes interesting reading.
   I wonder if Ralph ever got any advice from JRGS music teachers? (The name Mr. Hancock comes to mind, or maybe that was after he was there).

David Anderson, Southampton, Hampshire; July 2016 Email

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: I enjoyed Ralph McTell's performance of the song "England" at Glastonbury 2016 shown on BBC Two, as mentioned above, but I doubt very much whether he and Mr. "Spike" Hancock had anything in common, musically. Certainly the impression given in Ralph's autobiography is that he disliked virtually everything to do with John Ruskin Grammar School.

Graham Dewey (JRGS 63-68) adds: How strange life is. One minute you are talking to your wife about getting real bread from Anderson's across the road back in the Sixties. Then, next minute, up pops David, whose father was the baker!

David Anderson replies: I think that Graham has the wrong Anderson. My Dad was a printer!

Karl W. Smith (JRGS 1946-51) adds: Being somewhat older than either Roy Hodgson or Ralph McTell, I'm getting a bit muddled in some of my memories. This is in part anno domini and part through having attended two grammar schools: Pontypridd during the latter years of the war (when my father was sent there from Croydon Airport); and JRGS after we returned home in November 1945.
   Mr. Hancock I do recall but somewhere I also remember a Mr. Barber for Music - of course, we all called him Ali. Now one of them did quite a lot of singing and constantly sucked small liquorice-type sweets that he carried in tin in one of his jacket pockets. Can anyone please confirm that he really did exist and is not a figment of a senile imagination? I know he wasn't in Wales because there our Music teacher was Mr. "Bunny" Warren.
   I am one of the lads in the website picture of prefects and sixth formers, along with the late Terry Morris and Owen Everson, Anthony Nye & Co at Tamworth Road.
   Historic Croydon is also of interest. I moved away when I married in 1962 but have an immediate post-war book called "Our Croydon." At that time our Borough Council was already practicing many of today's "new" schemes. Among them its refuse collection vehicles were gas powered from sewage byproducts, and had wire-sided trailers for the collection of cardboard for recycling. More
   They also had a waste-food collection scheme; every household was given a galvanised lidded bucket, and larger bins were secured to nearby lamp standards. These were emptied regularly using a steam-powered vehicle (traction engine). The newly emptied bin was inverted over a steam jet and was sterilised in transit before being left at the next pick-up point. The waste was made into pig food which (I think) was both used for council-owned pigs and selling to others. Somewhere, probably on another computer, I have scans of those Croydon practices with gas-powered vehicles, should The Mill ever wish to reproduce them
   Remember, too, that all waste was deplored, largely due to the scarcity of supplies during the War. Rationing was coming to an end and no-one had much money to waste on fancy packaging. Until around 1950 all our food was delivered by the Co-Op in London Road, West Croydon. Milk came in a three-wheeled push cart, bread in a two-wheeled hand cart, groceries by horse and cart, while meat was delivered on Saturdays by a lad on a bike.
   As for shops themselves - specifically grocers at this point - all dried goods came in bulk and were weighed out at the counters before being paper wrapped for the customers. Margarine was one brand only - National - which we went to see this being made at The Creamery on Mitcham Common. Butter was weighed out, bacon was sliced, not pre-packed. And many shops had chairs for customers' use while they waited! Life was very different and more leisurely.
   Not only all that but there hadn't been bred a generation of malcontents who adulterated domestic goods so that everything has to be security protected to prevent or show evidence of tampering. Either that, or they did and we didn't notice!
   Somewhere, probably on another computer, I have scans of those Croydon practices with gas-powered vehicles, should The Mill ever wish to reproduce them.
   Another really noteworthy feature of Croydon is the Surrey Street Market, which was a fantastic scene, especially at Christmas. The sight of gas lighting late afternoon in the fog with chestnuts baking and the smell was fabulous. In common with many other sixth formers and university students, I worked for the post office for several Christmases. We were based on the Cherry Orchard Road Sorting Office. We were each allocated to a regular postman and, generally, he sorted - manually in those days - and we delivered, usually doing our rounds three times every day: early from about 7.30 or 8.00 am, another including packages about 11. The third round was after lunch. Generally we started around 6.30 to finish 4-ish.
   We always made a delivery on Christmas morning, too, to finish around midday. Oh, and the pay rate? Typically, just under the equivalent of 10 pence per hour. We could make 10 or 11 eleven pounds in the run up to the break. That was a lot of m0ney in those days; when I took a year out in 1952 I travelled across London and earned
£200 a year in that time. My future (and present) wife earned even less, but got free board and lodging as a nurse when she began her career a few years later.
   Again, I enjoy reading about the old school although find it sad that few of my contemporaries chip in. Two names come to mind who have been in touch: Bob Wane (JRGS 1945-53) and John Jackaman (JRGS 1949-51). John has sent me some good memories of his experiences in the TAF and RCAF, especially interesting to me because I spent 62 years in aviation-related work. That included work on two of the V bombers - Handley Page Victor (starting before it even flew) and Avro Vulcan - restoration to flight at the end of its life. But, I suppose, those aren't really topics of great general interest.

The image shown above was taken shortly after my 80th birthday when my wife Pat and I went around the Pacific a bit, starting with Santiago, Easter Island, Pitcairn (on Christmas Day) and so on, ending up in Tahiti. The trip was a mix of fascination and boredom - the latter when sailing an empty ocean, with no aircraft, no other ships and very little wildlife. Otherwise, these small islands were very similar and we often got very wet, passing through gaps in coral reefs in inflatable Zodiacs when the waves allowed. All of which is totally irrelevant to JRGS but we do enjoy that sort of holiday!
   As I've said before, so many of my contemporaries at JRGS have passed on that this image is unlikely to be of interest to very many. I only know just a little of two of them who are still alive: Father Tony Nye and Owen Everson, the retired Dean of Southwark Cathedral. I don't have any such claims to fame although I was one of the design team working on the Handley Page Victor bomber - straight from JRGS in1952 - and restoration of the last flying Avro Vulcan in the early 2000 years. In between, I helped clear the Hawker P1127 prototypes for their first hovers, and was present at the first ever vertical lift off.
   My wife Pat was a Pupil Midwife around Clapham, Battersea and Putney, riding a bike with a bag on the back, just as shown in the TV series Call the Midwife. She says it was very true to life and her sister swears it could so easily have been written about her! Those are our only major achievements - apart from having produced six sons!


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