JRGS News Archive Page 75
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 75 - Jun 2014 thru Sep 2014 -

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.

 Tony Childs (JRGS 1947-53) reports on an important birthday for Reg Whellock...

Reg Whellock - Sep 2012I received a phone call this past Friday from Reg Whellock (JRGS Teacher 1946-56), pictured right . Last week he had his hundredth birthday, and next week will be moving from Sutton into a home in Shirley. As the Alumni probably know, sadly his wife Doreen died during the past year and Reg has been living on his own.
   I gather they had a big family gathering to celebrate the birthday on the Isle of Wight. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version of the image secured by Frazer Ashford (JRGS 1962-69) at the 2012 Reunion.
   Reginald Baldwin Whellock was appointed to our school in 1946, and while at JRGS wrote his original textbook, which originally was notes for pupils. In 1946 he had a third of a prefab in the back playground at the Tamworth Road site as a laboratory, but eventually had the opportunity to plan and design the new laboratories for the new Shirley buildings.
   "In 1946 a job came up at John Ruskin in Tamworth Road, which was by then a grammar school," he revealed in an interview for Selhurst Grammar School for Boys' Old Croydonians website. "We moved into a house in Shirley in January 1947, near St John’s Church. I used to cycle because you couldn’t buy a car in those days unless you had a reason for it, or needed it for business. I eventually got a second-hand Ford from the owner of the Shirley Poppy.
   "At Ruskin I was Head of Biology and I was there for 10 years down in Tamworth Road. Then they moved up to Shirley, by the windmill near Shirley Hills. The architect designed the Biology Department and the garden and the pond all around my requirements, whereas in Tamworth Road I was in a pre-fab. I had a good time there. I wrote my text book, which was a great success." More.
   He left the school in 1956 to become head of science at Wandsworth Comprehensive - the first in the country. Subsequently, he became head of Walthamstow Comprehensive and was then chosen to be the first headmaster and creator of Greenshaw High School in Sutton, before finally retiring in 1979. More.

Tony Childs, Godalming, Surrey September 2014 Email

Karl Smith (JRGS 1945-51) adds: Many thanks for the news about Mr. Whellock - my best wishes. I remember him well as the Biology teacher at Tamworth Road, where he shared the prefab lab block with Mr. "Percy" Pearman. They also shared the same Lab steward: Mr. McGrath in my day.
   Recollections of biology activities there include their dismembering a piglet - from McGrath's own stock - and boiling up a cow's head in a big tin bath! Have to say I was glad that I didn't take biology in the 6th Form.
   Tony Childs, if I recall correctly, was a curly, fair-haired lad toward the left of the 1950 School Photo that's on the JRGS website.

Elisabeth Smith (widow of venerated  teacher Charles E. Smith) adds: Thank you for the really interesting and detailed latest addition. Our son Andrew will be particularly pleased to see it.
   I also enjoyed the items about Croydon Airport and Biggin Hill. One day this year my son drove me past Biggin Hill, where it seemed strange and disappointing that the two precious WW2 aircraft that had stood proudly beside the main gate had been removed. The reason given was that this year there would no longer be the anniversary flights. My neighbours and I regretted that, as we had been able to be excited by them in our own gardens for many years.
   No doubt the planes are now being looked after in some more sheltered place.


 Karl Smith (JRGS 1946-51) recalls teachers from school life during the Forties...

Before the 1939-45 war, my father worked for Imperial Airways at London (Croydon) Airport. Yes, London Airport was grass and the one runway was uphill towards Purley, and downhill when the wind direction reversed. Aircraft flew more slowly then and a headwind shortened the take-off run considerably. Post war there was excellent proof of that when an Anson taking off downhill crashed into one of the hangars. The pilot suffered broken legs, I believe.
   However, because of the war Dad was sent to Treforest in South Wales so my secondary schooling started there. At the end of hostilities we returned to Croydon and, in December 1945, I transfered to JRGS in Tamworth Road.
   In my first year there my form Master was Mr. C. E. Smith; quite a character of whom - as a not very athletic type - I was more than a little scared. From other comments I now suspect that his bark was the worst bit! At that age one didn't always spot the twinkle in his eye.
   Anyway, that was my return to Croydon at an age where I could begin to wander. Scouting led me to Addington - New Addington was just a planner's dream - and the nearby campsites of Bears Wood and Frylands Wood in Featherbed Lane. Before New Addington these were way out in the country for us townies. There were different ways of getting to these sites; cycle, bus to the bottom of Gravel Hill or walk with a trek cart from our base at South Croydon. There was even one occasion when our cart was towed up that hill by a police car! (One of the local Scout Masters was a Special and happened to be in it.)
   I was at JRGS from 1945 to 1951, a contemporary of Owen Everson, Anthony Nye and Terence Morris et alia, the three named being, I understand, better known to most of the likely current readers. Head Master in 1945 was Mr. McLeod, Mr. "Jerry" Myers was there before he moved to Head at Shirley. Other staff members of my time included Miss Hickmott ("Fanny" to the boys), Mr. R. N. Alexander, Mr. "Percy" Pearman, Mr. Leonard Chaundy, Mr. "Wally" Cracknell, Mr. George Manning, Mr. J. D. Mortimer (who taught Latin extremely well, and published a book An Anthology of the Home Counties), and Mr. Powlesland, who had a strong Welsh accent and later taught Latin, but not to my liking because I failed School Cert in the subject. Also there were Mr. "Puncher" Pearce, Mr. S. G. Evans, Mr. Lindsell (who became head of Lanfranc), Messrs. Whellock, V. J. Gee, Peacock, Chinnock and "Ali" Barber.
   Of most of these I have very happy memories, especially "Puncher", Messrs. Alexander and Evans, who instilled into me a love of working with numbers whose use in engineering generated my income for over 60 years. All of these, and our school secretary Mrs. Vera Garfield, can be seen in the school photo of about 1950 that, I think, the late Terry Morris provided. We are also in the Sixth Form photo of the period, which featured the Prevett Twins, Ronal Hawkins, A. D. McIntyre, Derek Howes, Peter Heath, Wilson, and me. (Apologies if I've not named all of them but I don't have the picture in front of me.)
   "Ali" Barber [ML: since corrected to Mr. "Spike" Hancock] and George Manning united to write the music and words, respectively, of the school song - "To his mem'ry by the mountain lake, a pillar stands alone etc"; "Ali" also established in me a loathing of Wagner's music, especially the Ride of the Valkyries; he seemed to play that for our music lessons all the time. Maybe he liked it or only had the one record, but that's the only one that sticks in my mind to this day! Incidentally, Ali was a relatively small man but had a good singing voice that he maintained by a seemingly continuous consumption of little black throat lozenges. The things we remember in our dotage!
   George Manning was a suave, elegant character who had not long been discharged from the RAF. We always presumed he had a commission because he wore a officer's greatcoat in winter. Either that or it was Government Surplus! But I doubt that. He taught English and my recollection is that he did it very well.
   Another member of staff was Mr. Norman Cresswell - otherwise "Stinker", because he used a cologne of some sort that was quite rare at that time. We probably all reeked of good honest sweat, it was expected - or so we thought at our ages. He lived in Court Drive, Waddon (with his mother) and walked to and from Tamworth Road every day, including home for lunch. I lived close by - in Waddon Court Road - and invariably cycled. There was a ruling at one time that boys had to live at least a mile from school, to be allowed to cycle. There was a shortage of cycle rack space.
   Of course, I had gone before the new school was built so don't know which staff members made the move. I do know that many voted with their feet when the school's status was changed.
   When we look at schools today, we expect to see car parks for all staff and even some pupils; in those days there was usually just one car and a couple of bikes. "Percy" Pearman cycled daily from Mitcham and I vaguely recall Mr. Whellock with cycle clips. "Puncher" Pearce came by tram to West Croydon from Thornton Heath; most came on foot or by bus. When Mr. McLeod retired, his place was taken by the young Mr. J. C. Lowe, who moved from Lancashire to Shirley. I'm not too sure if this is right but I seem to recall a speaker on a Speech Day soon after his arrival; a young man with a strong Lancashire accent, named Rhodes-Boyson.
   I also learned to fly from Croydon, and had to move to Biggin Hill airfield when it closed. New Addington had been started by then, so I had to pass through on the way from Croydon. Later, in 1961, I picked up my fiancée from Southend in a two-seat, government-surplus Chipmunk aircraft and returned to Biggin in progressively deteriorating weather. I actually missed the airfield but found the roundabout by the King Henry Drive's pub [The Addington Hotel], so it was a simple matter to follow the road to Saltbox Hill and land as they stopped all further flying for that day. That was her first ever flight - and the worst weather I'd met at that time.
   We locals generally didn't exactly appreciate New Addington even back then! It sounds as if it has got even worse.

Karl W. Smith. CEng., FRAeS, Heckington, Lincolnshire September 2014 Email


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) casts back half a century to our Sixties school life...

-- 50 Years 0n | Memories from Summer 1964 –-

With a tip of the hat to Alan Bennett, and his seminal work Forty Years On, I thought that it might be interesting to cast back a half a century to see what The Alumni were up to during the summer of 1964.
   I recall working some of that period on a holiday practical set by Mr. Dennis “Harry” Green, my form master and A-Level Zoology Master in Lower Sixth Alpha, a task that consisted of drawing anatomical sketches of several rabbit bones. We were instructed to keep the drawings simple but with clear labeling of each important skeletal part. I don't recall if my parents took our family away that summer. We normally went to bed & breakfast establishments along the south coast, or – rarely – to stay with relatives.
   A recent instalment of BBC Radio 2’s seminal Pick of The Pops with Tony Blackburn reminds me that The Beach Boys’ “I Get Around,” Dusty Springfield’s “I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself,” The Nashville Teens’ “Tobacco Road,” The Rolling Stones’ “It's All Over Now” and The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” were in the Top Ten, with Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” spending several weeks at number one.
   And a month later I entered the Upper-Sixth with form master Mr. Ronald “Puncher” Pearce, moving towards Zoology, Chemistry and Physics A-Levels in June 1965.

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA, September 2014 Email

Paul Graham (JRGS (1959-66) adds: Fifty years ago!! I wish I had our webmaster's ability to recall what I was doing that summer. Did I even have a summer holiday job? I don’t think so. My parents went on holiday in a similar way to yours most years, and by chance I still have some black and white photos from a Brownie box camera that I took on holiday in Cornwall in August 1964. Click on either thumbnail to view a larger version.

Stonehenge - August 1964

Perranporth - August1964

A shot of Stonehenge, at a time when it was
possible to get a lot closer to the site than you can now.

My family, including younger brother John,
with our half buried dog in foreground.

We stayed at a B&B in Perranporth – the first year we’d ventured outside the south or south east coast. I recall we stopped at Stonehenge on the way down on the A303 in Dad’s Ford Cortina. Did we have any work set by our schoolteachers – I expect we did but I don’t recall any details. I can imagine Puncher Pearce setting some.

John Byford (JRGS (1959-66) adds: Roger Hall (JRGS 1959-67) and I had planned the expedition to North Wales with ruthless efficiency. We would catch the London to Holyhead coach from the Victoria Coach Station, stay three nights at Capel Curig Youth Hostel, building up our fitness with low-level walks in that part of Snowdonia before a 12-mile hike over Pen-Y-Pass to the youth hostel at Llanberis. And so on for two weeks at other youth hostels.
   The weather was a mixture of sun and rain, clear skies and clouds so low that it seemed like a London smog- as can be seen from the image. We visited castles, Caernafon pre-eminent, and climbed mountains, with and without rucksacks. The highlight was our ascent of Snowdon: we had planned to take the Miner's Track, or was it the Pyg Track, both defined even today as a hard mountain walk but the weather was foul, low cloud had reduced visibility.
   We were pondering what to when the leader of a party of ramblers asked if we wanted to join them. Not thinking to ask which path they were taking, and being grateful for the offer, we accepted with alacrity. After an hour of steady uphill walking we needed to use our hands more often; on asking whether the path was the Pyg or the Miner's track we were told, no, it's the way to Crib Goch. Scrambling it was; up and up without ever a sight of the wonderful scenery.
   On reaching Crib Goch, there was the infamous knife edge ridge to traverse, occasionally the clouds lifted and there were glimpses of a lake far, far below us. Eventually we reached the summit of Snowdon, that's me on the right wearing the obligatory bobble hat. (Many years later I retraced my steps and marvelled at how Roger and I had made it along the Crib Goch arrête!)
   Back in New Addington there was no time to dwell on escapades in a far flung foreign land and I spent the rest of August 1964 working in Maloney's, a butcher's shop in West Croydon. The work was repetitive but eye-opening and the money came in useful in buying records and watching Crystal Palace Football Club, back in the (old) Second Division for the first time in 39 years.

Roger Hall (JRGS (1959-67) adds: I think that somewhere lurking in my attic is a black and white photo of me albeit somewhat thinner than I am now. These photos were not taken with a Kodak Brownie 127 (?); instead, a generous Father Christmas had bought me a Kodak Cresta 2. This camera took 120 film and had a slide with additional close-up and yellow-filter lenses. And I had got a flash-gun attachment – but you had to replace the bulb with each flash. I was always in the forefront of technology hence a subsequent career in IT!
   I cannot remember that degree of planning other than booking the youth hostels. Perhaps, John, your memory has been enhanced over the years, or is mine disappearing? Probably the latter. But you have brought back from the mists of time - rather than weather; has my sense of humour improved? - a very happy memory. It was a classic holiday with two people of our age: "Oh, you don’t do it like that, do you?" Part of learning that people are different and how to adapt to that. It may well have been my first holiday on my own and not with the family. Except that is for my escapades with the ACF and a certain Grant Harrison.
   Crib Goch is a bit hairy. I have been along it a few times. During my college years, I was staying with a friend who lived in Caernafon - Gareth Jones; who else in Wales? We decided to go up it, but the weather was poor. When we passed a feature twice and realised that we had managed to go round in a circle on what is virtually a knife edge ridge, we decided to come back down – gulp.
   Over the winter I’ll see if I can find any of the old black and white photos.
I haven’t time at the moment as I'm off to Strasbourg as the support driver for 20 cyclists on an Alsace/Black Forest tour. Then, on my return, I’ll be off somewhere else, yet to be decided as Di seems to want a holiday as well.
  And today I am writing a grant application to the Hinkley Point Community Impact Mitigation Fund for money to set up a website. I am involved with a group called Porlock Futures. We are a working party set up by the Parish Council to try to improve employment in the area. Our first project is a trial of growing oysters and mussels. We hope to set up England’s first community owned sustainable shellfish farm. It’s fascinating and we have attracted local and national press coverage along with TV and Radio. It’s all going very well at the moment, but what a learning curve. It’s certainly keeping my little grey cells going.
   Incidentally, in September 1964 I went into the sixth form from 5B and took Pure Maths, Applied Maths and Physics A-Levels. Then I went onto the University of Wales at Cardiff taking Industrial Mathematics, but left after 2.5 years!

Grant Harrison (JRGS (1959-66) adds: I recall that Roger and I also went to Snowdonia in early 1964 - Easter, I think. We went with his brother in law Martin (can’t remember his second name), who taught languages at JRGS for a while. We travelled up in his A35 van and stayed at a couple of youth hostels. I have a picture somewhere and will try and dig it out.
   I remember one incident at a hostel where two girls were passing themselves off as German, I guess to attract the boys, and Martin confounded them at breakfast by engaging them fluently in the language. Roger will probably remember the mountains we climbed better than me.
   Mons, Belgium - 2014Later that year, in the summer myself, Michael Horner, Bob Seward and Allen Miller (I think it’s Miller) hired a boat on the Norfolk Broads. It was our first proper holiday on our own. I’m amazed that the company let four 16-year olds loose with a 30-foot cruiser. Anyway, we returned it without too much damage, only a broken oil dipstick and some scrapes along the side. The song "Baby Love" will always remind me of that time.
   I have just come back from a week end in Mons, Belgium, commemorating the battle of Mons 22-24 August 1914. My grandfather was there with the 1st Battalion Queen’s Own Royal West Kents. It was extraordinary. Saturday morning there was a detachment of the Middlesex resting in the square and so many events taking place culminating on Saturday night with pipe band and a Son et Lumiere about the Angel of Mons. All very moving.
   I’ve attached a photo, shown left; click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
   I’m directing a play at the moment, written by a London playwright, Adrian Drew, about a nearby Norfolk village in WW1, featuring residents of the time, some of whom are on the war memorial. It will go on in London sometime after with a different cast and director. I’m just doing the local bit, so it’s all very WW1 the moment.
   I’ll try and find those photos of Wales 1964!

Graham Donaldson (JRGS 1962-69) adds: I don’t think there was anything too remarkable about this Summer, and the accounts I’ve just read tend to bear out that the weather wasn’t very good!
   We didn’t have a family holiday as such that year, as Dad’s work in the exhibition industry often meant long hours to meet immovable deadlines, sometimes spending the night at either Earl’s Court or Olympia to ensure that the stand was ready for the opening. Holidays tended to be at short notice when a window of opportunity appeared, but we had been to the Isle of Wight the previous year and got to Swanage in 1965.
   For the year 1963/64 I had been in 3U in Classroom 12 with Mr. "Fred" Field – and nothing was to change in 1964/65 apart from becoming 4U! A great and ispirational teacher who died at such a tragically young age – he could even make clause analysis seem interesting. I expect quite a few youngsters today have never even heard of it.
   I think it was July 1964 when we had a school trip to Portsmouth to see HMS Victory, though I can't remember who accompanied us. For some reason we left the train at Portsmouth & Southsea instead of continuing to the Harbour station, which is right next to the Victory – perhaps there was engineering work or something. Anyway, we were conveyed onwards on a pair of Portsmouth Corporation double-deckers, in their smart crimson and white livery with gold lining out and city crest with motto Heaven’s Light Our Guide. You don’t see gems like that today, other than preserved examples at special events.
   There were a few day trips that summer including Hayling Island in Dad’s Cambridge-blue Austin A40 Somerset, which was very temperamental. (A 1953 example is shown right) The A40 had one of those column-mounted gearsticks, which was very hard work, and on one occasion came off in Dad’s hand whilst trying to engage reverse in a narrow Kentish lane. Another problem was with the semaphore trafficators – if you tried to use the left one all the electrics fused, so it was a case of giving the left-hand circular signal when about to make this move.
   By that time I was also allowed out on my own, making use of the Red and Green Rover tickets that gave all-day travel, respectively, on Central and Country buses. However, this would be the last summer I could (legally) buy them at the child rate of 3/- (15p) as I would turn 14 the following year. One day I ventured into Southdown bus territory, continuing from Horsham to Worthing, along the coast to Brighton’s Pool Valley bus station, thence to Crawley and back to Croydon on a 405. I don’t suppose the whole thing cost more than ten bob (10/- or 50p).
   I also had a Box "Brownie" - indeed I still have it now, but the film has long ceased to be available. It always seemed rather profligate to use "all" eight photos in a day – an amazing thought given the possibilities of digital today.

Derek Charlwood (JRGS 1958-64) adds: 1964 marked my leaving from JRGS, after taking O-Levels. I had been in 5T (Mr. Thomas), our classroom being the technical drawing room. I knew I hadn't passed my GCEs, and had an interview with British Rail, where I was given the option of waiting for my results or sitting their own entrance exam, which I opted to do. I scored over 90%, and found myself reporting for work on 17th August at British Rail, Central Division, Line Manager's office at Essex House, one of Croydon's first "skyscrapers".
   Having disliked school from the age of five, I took to work, grasping it with both hands. I was so embarrassed at having to be shown how to use a paper clip to hold a sheaf of papers - something I had not had to do at school - but was determined to learn all I could. I made management by age 30 (rare in those days), headhunted by an international student travel company to become their European Secretary General, eventually retraining to give me a life not on the road, and I ended up running my own business in York. I do think I succeeded despite JRGS, not because of it!


 The widow of Robert Evans (JRGS 1958-65) reports on his subsequent career...

ML notes: Vanessa Evans had emailed asking if The Alumni would like to receive her copies of JRGS school photographs from 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964 which, as result, are currently on their way to my sister, who lives in South Godstone, Surrey. (I plan to collect them on my next trip to the UK.)

My husband Robert T. Evans went to JRGS in the 1950s and '60s; he was born in 1947 and died in 2005. While sorting out the loft I found four school photos of pupils; if anyone wants them please give me an address to post them - or they will be sent for recycling!
   It took me ages, but I think that I've found Robert's picture in the 1960 school photograph shown below: seven boys in on the bottom row and then up three rows. He's the boy in the middle. I don't remember his ears being that big, but they all look big! (One must grow into them.)

JRGS School Photograph - 1960

Center: Robert Evans (JRGS 1958-65)

And I have also located him in the top row of the 1964 school photo shown below

JRGS School Photograph - 1964

Center: Robert Evans (JRGS 1958-65)

After his schooling - I'm not sure when he left JRGS - Robert became a lawyer. He first worked at the Inland Revenue - inheritance tax - and sat the bar exams while working there; Robert was called to the bar at Gray's Inn in Michaelmas Term 1972. He then moved to the accountancy firm of Ernst & (Whinney) Young. After that, Robert moved to charity law (NCVO).

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: I think Robert Evans left JRGS in 1965. He was in 5F in 1962-63 doing O-Levels, and while in UVI Arts passed Economics, History and Geography A-Levels in 1965 - at the same time as a group of us, including the webmaster.

ML adds: According to Wikipedia, Ernst & Young (EY) is a multinational professional services firm headquartered in London. In 2012, it was the third largest professional services firm in the world by aggregated revenue. The firm dates back to 1849 with the founding of Harding & Pullein. The current operation was formed by a merger in 1989 of Ernst & Whinney and Arthur Young & Co. It was known as Ernst & Young until 2013, when it underwent a rebranding to EY. And NCVO, or The National Council for Voluntary Organisations, based in London, "champions and strengthens volunteering and civil society, with over 10,000 members, from the largest charities to the smallest community organisations."


 Tony Almond (John Newnham 1957-61) recalls Sixties life in New Addington...

I’m not sure whether any of the JRGS Alumni have been back to New Addington in recent years, but my impression as an old-Addingtonian - like our webmaster - is that it’s not a very nice place at all nowadays. It seems that the “Addo Army” influences life there in a none-too-pleasant way. Very sad, as it was a rather peaceful and pleasant suburb 50 years ago!

New Addington - August 1993

New Addington Estate, pictured in August 1993
Courtesy of Croydon Education Dept

   I think that many of New Addington’s problems date from when it came under the control of the Greater London Council. The Fieldway Estate was constructed, but the build quality was nowhere near as good as that of the older parts in which we both lived. A majority of the people who moved into Fieldway came from less salubrious parts of London and many of them were not particularly nice people. I once discussed the estate’s problems with a couple of friends who were Metropolitan Police officers and the essence of what they told me was that the Met were quite happy for any number of London villains to be living there, as they (the police) knew where they could usually be found, when necessary!
   The Addo Army is, I think, just symptomatic of the less law-abiding society in the area. From what I can make out it’s a loose, unpleasant assortment of yobbos and criminals of both sexes, of whom other residents are genuinely (and probably rightly) afraid.
   Central Parade looks much the same as it did although many of the trees, having reached maturity, have actually softened and improved its appearance. The old Boots estate where I lived no longer appears as attractive as I once thought it was; conversely the original council estate has matured and most of it does now look rather pleasing, many of the properties now being privately owned.
   Sadly the Fieldway Estate is beginning to look like a slum area; the terraced houses are of generally cheap and poor construction, whilst the apartment blocks are grey, solid, of uniform appearance and quite uninspiring to inhabitants and visitors alike. In other words, the apartment blocks are much the same as most others built on estates throughout the UK.
   It doesn’t need to be that way though. I’ve just returned from St Petersburg, where the apartment blocks (of which there really are a very large number) are mainly irregular in layout and height, are of very attractive and varied designs, and incorporate appealing pastel colours and/or patterns in their walls. And, to further improve peoples’ quality of life, they are all surrounded by tall trees and other vegetation. (I stayed in one ninth-floor apartment and the tops of the silver birches outside were above even my level!)
   However, I digress. Looking at Croydon as a whole, large parts of it including the centre are now quite scruffy. Areas to the north are dirty, run-down and untidy. The Whitgift Centre has been/is being rebuilt and North End (i.e. “the main drag”) was pedestrianised a few years ago, but this has done little to enhance the centre’s appearance and quality.
   In short, I don’t think I'll bother to visit either New Addington or Croydon ever again. They say "Don’t go back" and, from what I’ve seen and heard, that’s probably a fair comment.
   Sorry that even I, as one of life’s optimists, cannot find many positive things to say about where we grew up, but the reality is that it’s no longer the quiet, pleasant place it once was.

Tony Almond, Staines, Surrey (formerly, of course, in Middlesex) July 2014 Email.

ML adds: I was last on the Estate in December 2013 – admittedly only briefly and to look in at the new Lidl store where The Cunningham/Addington Hotel used to stand, and to see the shops along the Central Parade. The crappy weather had kept most people indoors, and I didn't drive through Fieldway.
   It all sounds pretty dismal; I always thought that the build quality of Fieldway never matched what we came to know from living on other sections of the housing estate. (My parents rented a three-bedroom semi on Stowell Avenue from 1951, transferring from Beulah Hill, Upper Norwood, until my father's death in 1975; Frazer Ashford - JRGS 1962-69 - offered Then & Now images of New Addington's Central Parade for the August 2008 issue of Your Croydon.)
   And am I right in assuming that those houses were not sold off by Croydon Council in as many numbers as the rest of the New Addington estate? Maybe ownership endows better treatment of such abodes?
   (Incidentally, back in 2008 Tony Almond alerted The Alumni to the fact that the headmaster at John Newnham Secondary School during the late-Fifties was Mr. Charles H. Myers - known rather irreverently to the pupils as "Jerry" - who previously had served as a French master at JRGS.)

Tony Almond replies: Sadly, I think “dismal” just about sums it up. And you’re entirely right about the build quality of Fieldway. A couple of years ago, when a young girl was murdered on that estate, the police searched the attic of a suspect’s terraced house. Unsurprisingly, they found that they could search all of the attics in the terrace at the same time – there were no dividing walls!
   I think your assumption about the sale of the properties is probably quite correct also, for two reasons. Firstly the poor quality of both properties and surroundings would have deterred most prospective buyers and, secondly, I doubt whether more than a few occupants would have been able to get a mortgage. From what I last saw of New Addington I concluded that the majority of houses other than those on Fieldway were probably privately owned now, and had benefitted enormously from their sale.

Phil Cowlam (JRGS 1951-58) adds: I date back to the school being in Tamworth Road and we had Croydon to roam in. Whitgift School was still in the Centre and the smell of freshly roasted coffee emanated from George Street. But all that has changed and gone the middle-class politeness which made it a decent town. The daft Overpass and even dafter Underpass had not been inflicted and the magnificent Davis Theatre welcomed illustrious world performers, such as the Basie Band.
   Today the town is vaguely aggressive and the population mainly of overseas extraction.
   So in that sense New Addington today is only a reflection of that change. But it is typical of many towns and, to a large extent, has suffered neglect by an uncaring Council whose attention is always directed towards revenue and not infrastructure. Bromley, by contrast, retains its old ambiance despite massive redevelopment.

Stephen Turner (JRGS 1958-62) adds: Reading the piece on New Addington brought back memories for me (and my wife Maureen, who lived at 1 Stowell Avenue when the webmaster's family lived there). We went back a few years ago to re-visit old haunts. Didn't like it!
John Graney
(JRGS 1962-67), who lived in Headley Drive from 1953 to 1971, adds: I went back to New Addington a few years ago to look at old haunts. It was not very long after the tramway was built and I had taken it into my head to see it. I had written an essay for my teacher Harry Bell at Castle Hill School in the 1950s. The set title was: "What does our town need". My response was that we needed a railway so we could get to the seaside more quickly!
   I was just as disappointed as others seem to have been. Yes. the residential areas with their mature trees and well-built and mostly well-kept houses looked good. The fact that the planners never expected so many residents to have cars - or telephones, but that is another story - meant that some of the green space had had to be sacrificed. Fieldway (which most New Addington residents do not regard as part of New Addington; it even has separate councillors) is, as ever, architecturally irredeemable. What I did wonder, however, is whether New Addington has changed, or have we?
   We have been well educated - thanks to JRGS and the pre-comprehensive system- most of us to a university standard. Many of us have travelled the world and now live in leafy suburbs or country villages. We are now more sophisticated, worldly-wise and, it has to be said, much older!
   I have many good memories of living in New Addington and very few bad ones. I had never even heard of the “Addo Army” before reading Tony Almond’s article. However, like him, I don’t think I will be going back that often.
BTW: Headley Drive and Castle Hill Avenue run together as a sort of "U" shape, with most of the middle of the "U" filled when I was a lad with prefabs. Both streets join with Lodge Lane.

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: I don’t have any particular knowledge of New Addington, but Tony Almond is unfairly knocking the GLC. Although the GLC was in existence when the Fieldway Estate was built in 1968, it was Croydon Borough Council that planned it.

ML adds: Apparently, the term "Addo Army" dates from an article published by the Croydon Advertiser in December 2011 about the Croydon Riots that occurred the previous August. Ward councillor George Ayres claimed that New Addington residents had lost faith in the police during the riots and were forced to take the law into their own hands. Giving evidence at the riot's formal inquiry, Ayres explained how hundreds of locals – calling themselves the "Addo Army" – went to New Addington's Central Parade the day after the riots because they had no confidence in local officers to protect the area. "Residents in New Addington feel isolated from the rest of Croydon," he said. "It is a place where there is a strong sense of community and they very much have their own identity. They do not feel like they are part of the Croydon community."

Elisabeth Smith (widow of venerated  teacher Charles E. Smith) adds: I was saddened, but not surprised, by the recent correspondence. In 1947 my parents and I were visited fairly regularly at weekends in Beckenham by two German prisoners of war who were unable to be repatriated to their inaccessible homes in the Russian sector. They were then working daily installing the foundations of the two blocks of flats at the top of the hill in New Addington, which have remained as an eyesore ever since, despite occasional proposals in the Council that they might be demolished.
   I remember New Addington as a pleasant place when I went there to work from 1955 until 1963. Sadly, "normal" attitudes and behaviour have been abolished by many in more recent years, and I'm told that a ride on a bus to or from NA these days is in constant noise from many mobile phone chats.

Paul Johnson (JRGS 1966-73) adds: I passed the old school site in Shirley only yesterday, as I have to often visit my Mum with Alzheimer’s. She lives in Woodside, a stone’s throw from where I grew up in South Norwood. Although I never lived in New Addington, my grandparents did, in Goldcrest Way. I think the truth is that everywhere has changed, and rarely for the better... or are we just grumpy old men? I know for absolutely certain that there’s no way I could return to living in Croydon – certainly not in South Norwood.
   I well remember a lesson at JRGS when we looked at the areas in which we lived, and classed them as "working", "middle", and "upper." (I can’t imagine such a thing being allowed today!) My South Norwood was definitely classified as "working"; it was then, and still is now. The area that truly amazes me is Thornton Heath which, I recall, we classified as "middle". If you take the A23 north to London from where we now live in Haywards Heath, you can’t avoid this town. These days I can’t wait to get through it, and normally with the car windows up!
   But it’s not all bad. Tramlink has made Croydon more 'together', I think. As I drove up Portland Road - my local high street in those days - only yesterday, I reflected on the wonderful shops we used to have, most of them now either boarded up, or derelict, or selling Jerk Chicken or some such offering.
   I agree, Tony; things change, and often, not for the better. I'm just off to polish my rose-tinted spectacles!

David Anderson (JRGS 1964-71) adds: It is interesting reading about how Croydon has changed. I used to live in Thornton Heath and now live in a pleasant part of Hampshire. I now have no need to go back to Croydon, and won't be anytime soon. (Ever!).
   I keep in touch with the owners of a motorcycle dealers which used to be opposite the ABC cinema at Broad Green. In August a couple of years ago we were in the South of France watching the evening TV news. The was coverage of the riots in London - the French have their own problems with riots - and I saw Tottenham. Next thing I thought: "I know where that is" and, sure enough, it was the premises opposite the ABC Broad Green burning like in the London Blitz after being looted and torched. The site (last time I heard ) is now an empty "bombsite" and the owners, now well into their Eighties, were still waiting for funds and dealing with the paperwork it generated. This might have changed now but progress was slow.
   Years ago the owner told me of the worry that he might get robbed and some months ago there was coverage of an attempted theft at another dealers at Windmill Bridge, where some felons tried to make off (but failed) with a brand new display motorcycle that was parked at the front of the shop! Croydon twinned with Dodge City.
   On to lighten the mood. It is now 45 years since the first Moon Landings [by NASA's Apollo 11 on 20 July, 1969] and I can recall watching the coverage by the BBC with commentary by James Burke on an old black-and-white TV in the Sixth Form Common Room at JRGS. It was grainy and indistinct but what an amazing moment. So much has changed since then (think about it). I wonder if any other alumni have memories of this historic event?


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) unearths new images of the school demolition...

While trawling The Internet, I came across these images on Geograph.com taken in June 1992 during demolition of the former school buildings on Upper Shirley Road. Although we have seen similar images before, these shots are taken from several different angles. Click on any thumbnail to view a larger version, or here to see all seven images on a single page.

JRGS Demolition - June 1992
Taken from Upper Shirley Road towards the school's formal entrance, the headmaster's office and the partially demolished Art Room

JRGS Demolition - June 1992
Taken from the cycle track towards the main
school entrance from the playground, and leading
to the cloakroom corridor.

JRGS Demolition - June 1992
The main hall with windows removed.

JRGS Demolition - June 1992
The main hall with demolished school block.

JRGS Demolition - June 1992
Close up of former school kitchen from main entrance.

JRGS Demolition - June 1992
Bus stop on northbound side of Upper Shirley Road.

JRGS Demolition - June 1992
©All images are copyright Dr. Neil Clifton and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons License.

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA, July 2014 Email

Mike Etheridge (JRGS (1963-65) adds: Sad pictures, and what a Taberner House 2014surprise that Taberner House in Central Croydon Taberner House 2014also is meeting the same fate, after being officially opened in 1968. Does that make its lifespan about the same as JRGS? And the Taberner House demolition news came some months ago prior to the building of the new Bernard Weatherill House on the site of the Fell Road offices, which had now been demolished. Staff moved into BW House less than a year ago and the contract to demolish Taberner House commenced in January 2014, I think. To date, the building has been over-clad with white protective material (see image left) but all the floors still remain intact (right). It will be demolished floor by floor - obviously starting at the top - and will be replaced with four high rise blocks of flats, including one block taller than Taberner House.

Mike Marsh (JRGS (1949-55) adds: Having watched the new school buildingd being built in anticipation of its opening in 1955, it saddens me to see its demolition, especially when one realises that its predecessor in Tamworth Road is still standing!

Ray "Sprout" Young (JRGS 1950-55) adds: I have just noticed the comments from Mike Etheridge and Mike Marsh about the demolition of Taberner House, Central Croydon, and JRGS. in Shirley. Mike Etheridge is quite close with his “lifespan” comments. Taberner House, I believe, was completed in 1968 and is being demolished now in 2014, making its life 46 years, whereas JRGS in Shirley was completed by December 1954 and, I believe, demolished in 1992, making a span of 38 years.
   I transferred from Tamworth Road, when all was ready, in January 1955, the first term. I was in 5P, dear old Mr. “Dad” Peacock's form, together with Mike Marsh. In that term, we sat our O-Levels, probably in the Main Hall. As both Mikes say, it's sad to see these buildings come down. I grew up with both of them.
   Incidentally, several folks at the Memorial Service for Mr. Charles Smith asked me how I got the nick-name “Sprout”. Well, I joined JRGS in September 1950 (golly, that's over 60 years ago!) and was placed in Mr. “Wally” Cracknell's 1C. The History master at that time was Mr. Brooks - “Babbling” Brooks to all. During that first term, in a moment of inattention, a badly aimed piece of chalk whistled past my head. Seeing it had no effect, Mr. Brooks shouted: “You there, Sprout!” I looked up amid tremendous laughter from the rest of the class and wanted the floor to open up. However, what a favour he did me, because gradually from that moment, the whole school knew me as “Sprout,” including many of the Masters.
   When I left the school and joined The John Ruskin Old Boys FC, the habit continued there - in fact, it has followed me to this day. I am in touch with Tony Coker, now in Belfast, who still refers to me by my nickname. I was also in touch regularly with Bob Sageman who sadly died three years ago, as did Lenny Pollard in the same year in Australia.
   Lastly, is there to be a Reunion this year, 2014?

ML adds: Current discussions for the next JRGS Reunion seem to be focused on an event for 2015, which is the 95th Anniversary of the foundation of the original John Ruskin Boys’ Central. Next year will also mark the 80th Anniversary of the school moving to Scarbrook Road, the 70th Anniversary of the school becoming a grammar school, and the 60th Anniversary of the school moving to the Upper Shirley Road site. The choice of a suitable venue - something more formal that a local pub - also is under consideration.

Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62) adds: It's a while back now, but I believe the JRGS Demolition Reunion held in 1991 was possibly organised by the [Library Resources Manager] Barbara Room, together with some of the surviving masters. Former teachers present were Charles Smith, Martin Nunn, Anthony Hasler, and maybe more. Ex-pupils I remember attending were John Carter, Peter Maguire, David Short, Stuart Smith, Ken McSteen and Bob Hawkins. (I think that's him in the photo on the wall bars below left.) Click on any thumbnail to view a larger version.

JRGS Demolition Reunion 1991

JRGS Demolition Reunion 1991

From left: David Short, Cliff
and John Carter

Attendees within main entrance
lobby/lunch room

JRGS Demolition Reunion 1991

JRGS Demolition Reunion 1991

Attendees up on wall bars in School Gymnasium:
From left
, unknown, Bob Hawkins (?), Stuart
, Cliff Cummins, John Carter,
Ken McSteen and
Peter Maguire

Attendees demonstrate agility on parallel beam:
From left John Carter, Ken McSteen,
Cliff Cummins, Peter Maguire,
Stuart Smith and Bob Hawkins (?)

As for souvenirs, although we were not invited to secure any I managed the secretary's door nameplate, as well as the Classroom 4 nameplate of Mr. Tryon, who taught Modern Languages:

An attempt was made by someone who shall be nameless to take an Austin Seven engine which, apparently, was used to give instruction on Car Mechanics. I also picked up Mr. Lowe's personal copy of the programme for the April 1960 JRGS Junior Dramatic Society's performance of Toad of Toad Hall, which is already accessible on the website.

Elisabeth Smith (widow of venerated  teacher Charles E. Smith) adds: I know my dear husband was heartbroken to have so many happy memories "rubbished" like that, and found it particularly galling that the venerated name was then transferred to the school in Addington Road, which spent years spoiling its reputation, before then changing its name again.

Anne Smith (JRHS/JRC teacher/principal 1970-99) adds: Barbara Room moved from being a secretary to librarian in time to mastermind the organisation of the new library at the Selsdon location. She left Ruskin shortly after I did as the commute journey from Sussex was a long one, but has recently returned to help in the revamping of the library/resources area, opened by the Skills Minister this term. I think Barbara is still offering a couple of days a week!
   However, the idea for the Demolition Reunion was the brainchild of the Upper and Third Year Sixth in 1989. Of course they had a lot of help from Barbara and other members of staff. I do remember that some of the mementoes put on display were stolen/liberated! Also that the balloons sent up to commemorate the occasion were a bit of a damp squib, though some of them travelled some distance.
   I'd also like to add that, while I sympathise with those to whom the Shirley site meant so much, the speed with which it came down is evidence of its complete unfitness for purpose in the '90s and beyond, not to speak of the village of "temporary" classrooms on the Mill Pitch.

Barbara Room (JRHS Library Resources Manager 1976-2005) adds: With regard to the Demolition Reunion, I don't really have very much more to add. As the Learning Resource Centre Manager, I did indeed have custody of all the archive material and my role was to help put everything out on display for that evening.

   Unfortunately, many of those attending became "souvenir hunters" and, together with Anne Smith, my team and I were appalled at the pilfering and desecration of irreplaceable items. The greatest loss was that of the Punishment Book/Books dating back to the 1920/30s. Everyone so enjoyed reading about the severe punishments for what would now be regarded as "minor discretions." For instance, a detention for not having a tie pulled up against a shirt collar, or being banned from Wednesday afternoon sports simply because one had been slow to stand up when a teacher entered the room. How things have changed! Only a few years ago I witnessed some teachers at their wits end as they tried desperately to gain control of their classrooms with students seemingly being in control.
   Thankfully, Ruskin is now in good hands and the status quo has been restored. It is a wonderful college to work in following an amazing turn around by some very committed, dedicated staff and indeed one very able governor!
   Other items that went on the missing list included some of those long, panoramic school photos. If they weren't actually stolen, they had great chunks torn from them, and I can remember sports memorabilia, for example, pennant flags that were exchanged at matches, also doing a disappearing act.

Barbara Room
Pictured at the 2009
JRGS Reunion

   Following that evening, what was left of the archive and memorabilia was taken by Brian Lancaster (History) to Croydon Central Library and safely deposited in the Local History Dept. where, as far as I know, it remains to this day.
   In conclusion, my only remit was to unearth the materials and to present them for all to see; sadly quite a few Ruskin Old Boys had other ideas, especially after a lot of reminiscing and quite a few ales too! No doubt many of their names should be in the Punishment Book for their behaviour that night.
BTW: I have been in France recently and now back at Ruskin for just a few more days. My latest stint had nothing to do with the Library/LRC, but I have been helping the Exam Secretary for the last 10 months, usually just three days a week, so I'm quite looking forward to being fully retired again very soon! And my brother, Doug Edwards, attended the school from 1958 to 1964.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) reports on BBC TV news item about Roy Hodgson...

I wanted to alert Alumni living outside the capital to an interesting news item from BBC London TV regarding England football manager Roy Hodgson (JRGS 1958-65) and his Croydon origins, including his attending our school. Click here for video.
   Incidentally, I was surprised to read that former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson feels Roy's hopes of winning the World Cup in Brazil are unreasonable, and claimed that Eriksson’s 2006 side had more to offer; he took England to the quarter-finals in Germany eight years ago and believes that Hodgson will be lucky to get as far in South
America. "I don't think any team were better than England at the World Cup in Germany,” he told the BBC. “I don't believe England have the chance to win this time. The quarter-finals would be a good achievement.” He also pointed out that only Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard from the 2006 tournament in Germany - where England were knocked out by Portugal on penalties - have survived to play under Hodgson in Brazil. “This time England has changed a lot, with new players. I think they will go through the group stage and then it depends on who they meet.” Time will tell!

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA, June 2014 Email

ML adds: As The Independent reported on Friday 21 June, England's 2-1 defeat to Uruguay means we have exited the World Cup at the group stages for the first time since 1958, after Costa Rica beat Italy 1-0. FA chairman Greg Dyke has confirmed that Hodgson - pictured left - will remain as England manager until the end of Euro 2016. With two years left on his contract, Hodgson said after the Uruguay defeat that he would not resign.
Image by Michael Regan - The FA via Getty Images. All rights reserved.


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