JRGS News Archive Page 72
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 72 - Mar thru May 2013 -

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.

 John Philipps (JRGS 1953-58) recalls life at the school and the late Alan Murray...

I recently came across The Mill alumni site, which I read with great interest, especially The Top-Tenner.
   Mr. Alan Murray got me - and a few others - through O-Level History in fourth form by sessions in what would otherwise have been our lunch break. I don't think they make them like that any more!
   I would dearly have liked to have attended the Reunion Meeting at The Surprise pub last autumn. Should another be organised I'd hope to be able to attend.

Thanks to the webmaster for organizing and maintaining the website.

John Phillips, Lewisham, South East London, May 2013 Email


 Peter Townsend (JRGS 1947-54) reports on a chance alumnus meeting...

I thought that the alumni might be interested in one of those odd happenings in life that occurred to me today.
   I was at my Rotary Lunch, where the topic of wind turbines and pollution was being discussed by some quite strongly feeling Rotarians, mostly against wind turbines. At the end I couldn’t deny that they had missed the topic of biofuels etc.
   I was brought up in Croydon, and I had to tell them how, in my youth, Croydon’s municipal vehicles were fuelled by methane produced at the sewage farm in Beddington. Each vehicle was fitted with four large cylinders of the gas.
   Afterwards, our local medic came up to me and asked which school I went to in Croydon; amazingly, he also went to JRGS but, being a little younger than me, was at the Shirley site. His name is Stephen Vaughan-Smith.
   We have known each other for many years, Stephen being the local medic and my being the local dentist. Strange after all this time, but I will be finding out more whenever the chance occurs. Previous JRGS recollections.

   Incidentally, I am currently recovering from a hip replacement on May 16, and out of the original pain - just sore now with a swollen leg, and on crutches.

Dr. Peter J. Townsend, Hatch End, Pinner, Middlesex, May 2013 Email

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: To add to the coincidence, although I cannot claim to be a close acquaintance of Dr. Stephen Vaughan-Smith, I do know of him through my 20 years working at Denham, where he and his family live. But I had no idea he was an ex-JR pupil, and I doubt he realised I was.

Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) adds: I note from Peter's recollections that he has just had a hip replacement. Just over a year ago I was told I needed my right hip replaced but I think due to lack of funding at Mayday (Croydon University) Hospital, and the fact that I was not in extreme pain, the hospital registrar decided to delay the operation. However, my hip seems to be getting worse, as expected, and I must soon consult my doctor about the situation.
   I would be interested to hear more about Peter's experience, especially the "good bits"!
   Also about a year ago I met Steve Kember at the local shops in Sanderstead - he had had both his knee joints replaced but was upbeat about the prospect of being able to run again.

Karl W. Smith (JRGS 1946-51) adds: With reference to Peter Townsend's comments above about gas-powered vehicles, the attached pages come from a vintage copy of Our Croydon, a council publication circa 1947. Clearly it was attributed to the Croydon Times but I don't know if it was ever published in the paper.
  Also in the same book are a couple of pages devoted to the collection of household food waste for processing into pig nuts. I've a vague recollection that the council also kept pigs!
   The collection process was interesting in that every home was issued with a galvanised bucket, whose lid was trapped by the handle. Where I lived - Waddon Court Road - there was a dustbin chained to a lamppost almost opposite our house, into which we regularly emptied our pail. Twice (I think) a week the bin was emptied into a container on the back of a steam-driven wagon. That bin was then inverted over a steam-jet steriliser, also mounted on the wagon. A newly-sterilised bin from the previous pick up replaced ours, and so the bins circulated.
   I really do feel we ought to be doing the same all over again. Just remember, Croydon led the way in the 1940s.

   Click on either thumbnails to view larger images.

Sewage-Gas powered vehicles

Waste food recycling

The use of methane gas to power various council vehicles.

The curbside collection and concentration of waste food.

The book Our Croydon, subtitled inside as "The Organisation and Activities of The Corporation of Croydon," actually belonged to my parents. The publisher would appear to be the Corporation itself; it was printed by The Galleon Press, Sydenham Road, Croydon. The origin says: "Town Hall, Croydon, 1947," price was one shilling. There is a foreword by the Mayor, H. Regan, that is dated December 1946, but no author is cited.
   Effectively, the publication is typical of the booklets produced by councils, giving details of medical, education, sports & leisure facilities, as well as services provided. Obviously it is funded largely by adverts from many local businesses. Being published immediately after the war, many of the measures necessarily introduced by that time were still going on.
   As far as salvage - now recycling - was concerned, the dustcarts had a trailer for cardboard but, of course, at that time they didn't have hydraulic compactors. Mind you, Croydon was ahead of some local councils with motor dustcarts; others still used horse-drawn ones that, when full, were collected and replaced using Scammell mechanical horses - little three-wheelers also used by the railways for local deliveries.
   I'm not sure that any of this is really relevant to JRGS except that it is named as one of the two boys' grammar schools wholly supported by the council. I hope that explains everything


 Paul Rayner (JRGS 1960-66) fondly recalls school life in the Sixties and beyond...

Paul Raynor - JRGS 1960-66Recently we were talking with friends about school mottos. I could not recall Ruskin’s for the life of me – no doubt the bottle of red wine I had consumed did not help. Anyway, I Goggled the JRGS Alumni web page and read John Byford's Memories entry and, noticing that I rated a mention in the section on sixth-form favourites, felt I should contact him.
   Click on the thumbnail left to view a larger image.
   I have now lived in Australia for 39 years, coming out to Melbourne in 1974. I joined BOAC when I left school in 1966 and did a three-year commercial apprenticeship followed by a number of years overseas in various far flung airports. I eventually took up the job of airport manager Melbourne and stayed in that position until 1999 when BA pulled out. I have worked in various Airline/airport jobs since and retired from the industry last year having spent the final three and a half years with Etihad, the Middle Eastern carrier, who are now more famous for sponsoring Manchester City and other organisations and clubs.
   I keep in touch with Richard Paynter, who is still in the UK but shortly is moving to the USA.
   I now live in Sydney with my partner Tricia and I have a son in Melbourne who has two daughters and a third due in October, and a daughter who lives in Tasmania with her partner and their two boys.
   My interest in Crystal Palace remains undaunted and I hope they progress further in the championship playoffs - although Brighton are a serious challenge. I guess my support reached its peak when I flew back to the UK for the 1990 Cup Final against Manchester United, which culminated in a 3–3 draw. I could not hang on for the replay, which was not a bad thing given the result. But for this win I doubt that Sir Alex would be where he is today.

Paul Rayner, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, May 2013 Email

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Paul's account includes a timely mention of Crystal Palace FC who, for the fourth time in a decade, are in the playoffs for the English Premier League. Their semifinal opponents are bitter rivals Brighton and Hove Albion; the matches, over two legs, are at Selhurst Park and Brighton's AMEX Stadium on the 10th and 13th of May, respectively.
   The account of the 1966 Ruskin geography school trip is on page 51 of the archived pages and includes a photograph of Paul with a BOAC cabin bag.

David Anderson (JRGS 1964-71) adds: I can recall the school motto after 42 years - but can't recall some much more recent things though! "Age Quod Agis," I think, on the blazer badge. I never knew what it meant. Google says: "Do What You Do Well" or something similar.
   All the very best from a beautifully sunny spring day in Hampshire, England.

Karl W. Smith (JRGS Tamworth Road 1946-51) adds: Age Quod Agis - if my memory is correct. Not sure about the spelling, "Agis" or "Aegis"? Must have a look at my old school cap.
Ray “Sprout” Young (JRGS 1950-55) adds: The school motto was Age Quad Agis, as I recall, and Mr. Rees reliably informed us it meant: “What ever you do, do it with all of your might!”

Terry Procter (JRGS 1953-59) adds: I seem to remember the school motto was AGE QUOD AGIS - Do what you do - but please correct me if I am wrong.

Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) adds: The motto was Age Quod Agis, I believe!


 Karl Smith (JRGS 1946-51) recalls more memories of school life in the Fifties...

I am still finding snippets of JRGS news that I’ve previously missed. Having read Terence Morris’ comments on our Sixth Form photo - I’m one of those who appeared in the rear row - I can confirm that the Woodwork Room was definitely NOT the Library; they were adjacent along one side of the Gym that was ruled over by the late Mr. C. E. Smith. At the back of the Gym was, originally, a second playground area that became the home of the precast concrete Biology & Chemistry Lab building.
   Mr. Whellock shared that building with Mr. “Percy” Pearman, who cycled to school daily across Mitcham Common. (Imagine teachers doing that these days!) Mr. “Puncher” Pierce, who taught me Pure Maths in the Sixth Form, arrived by tram to West Croydon from his home in Bulganak Road, Thornton Heath. Mr. S. G. Evans taught me Applied Maths, which I have used virtually all of my working life of 60+ years - and which I have taught to evening classes from time to time. Both of them, and Mr. Alexander, inspired me with a love of engineering maths that definitely does not extend to finance, otherwise I might not still be working! But it does keep me out of mischief and of my wife’s way.
   The lapel badges that Terry mentioned were worn by school prefects, one on the left lapel, another on the cap. Prefects’ caps had a red panel back and front and some “gold” braid. I still have mine somewhere.
   At one time, when we were 13 in the Lower Sixth, we occupied the Medical Room next to the headmaster’s study and accessed only through the secretary’s office (Mrs. Vera Garwood). If we made too much noise he didn’t hesitate to let us know, but always in the nicest possible way.
   Mrs. Garwood used to prepare cricket teas with the help of some of the Old Palace girls, which provided some incentive to supporters. She later remarried to become Mrs. Kidd and emigrated to Canada.
   It's good to know there are still a few of us around. Incidentally, I didn’t actually go to RAE Farnborough; I wanted to but the civil service offered me Fort Halstead so I rejected that offer and joined Handley Page to work on the top-secret aircraft that became the Victor bomber. It was an interesting time when you think that the Victor bomber attained subsonic speed in level flight, supersonic in a very shallow dive, and could carry 37,000 lbs of bombs internally. The Victor also reached heights of 68,000 feet and could, if required, remain airborne for up to 16 hours. (I cannot guarantee all at once.) Just how many of these were used to get one Avro Vulcan to the Falklands?
   OK, I have more recently worked on helping to get “the opposition’s” XH558 back to flight on a civil Permit-to-Fly as G-VULC. (Refer to Vulcan-to-the-Sky website if you want to know more about that.)

Karl W. Smith. CEng., FRAeS, Heckington, Lincolnshire April 2013 Email

ML adds; As a keen plane aficionado - my father worked as toolmaker for a supplier to the aircraft industry, at one time fabricating critical parts for the ill-fated British Aircraft Corporation TSR2 and later the BAC Concord - I was fascinated to read that Avro Vulcan XH558 returned to flight on 18th October, 2007, following an award-winning restoration programme. As the last airworthy Vulcan, the aircraft returned to the air-display circuit in 2008 and, reportedly, has been a crowd pleaser ever since.
   I can remember visiting the Biggin Hill Air Show each September during Battle of Britain Week - it was a long but healthy trek through the country lanes from New Addington to the former airbase, close to Westerham - to see displays of WWII and post-war aircraft from the UK and abroad. On one memorable occasion in the early/mid-Sixties, an Avro Vulcan on display took to the skies - one of the noisiest takeoffs I have ever heard, second only, probably, to the Vickers VC10 civilian aircraft - to join a Vickers Valiant and a Handley Page Victor in a flyby. I recall that was the only time that all of these famous "V Bombers" were seen in close formation together at one time. YouTube

Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) adds: The book Vulcan 607 by Hawker_Hunter_Rowland White describes the Falklands' attack code-named "Black Buck" by Avro Vulcans on the Port Stanley airfield and, of course, details the number of Victor tankers involved. I have the book in front of me but cannot find the relevant page that describes the total number of planes involved in the first attack, but it may have been up to 14.
   Our old school colleague Keith Looseley (JRGS 1958-65) used to fly the reconnaissance version of the Handley Page Victor, a plane that was always a favourite of mine since I saw it "loop the loop" at Farnborough in 1958. More recently, a Victor - all of which were grounded in about 1993 - took off by mistake at Bruntingthorpe during a taxiing display, as shown on YouTube. Victor Design.
   Our family has a background in the aircraft industry and I was heavily influenced by my older brother's experiences at the Hawker aircraft factories at Kingston and Ham. One of the planes he worked on was Neville Duke's record breaking Hunter as shown right. (Click on the thumbnail to view a full-size image.)
   Now that I'm retired, I seem to spend most of my time radio control aeromodelling or thinking about it!

Bob Wane (JRGS 1945-53) adds: I have just read about Karl Smith and his memories at JRGS. From the Sixth Form photo, I am sure that I met up with him in 1953 at Battersea CAT, as it was known in those days. He was a dab hand at keeping my Cucciolo motor (on my bicycle) going.
   His recollections all concur with what I remember.

Karl Smith adds: I recall a few names from the past. When I first went to JRGS the head boy/school captain was Norman Baldock, who took holy orders, as did Owen Everson and Anthony Nye. Was there something special about RE at our old school, I wonder?
   I remember seeing Anthony Nye as Lady Bracknell [in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People]. I seem to recall now that the late Derek Howes made a good job of Canon Chasuble in the same December 1949 Dramatic Society production. [In fact, Derek Howes played Lane, Mr. Moncrieff's servant; Bernard Leadbeater took the role of Rev. Canon Chasuble, while Owen Everson was seen as John Worthing. - ML]
   The first school play I saw was the one in which Michael Jeffery appear as an angel. His appearance brought the house down - not the intended reaction, but probably provoked by his normal performance as a school prefect! I believe he went on to become a professional musician, Harpist with (I think) The Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra at an early stage of his career.
   Clergy, Angels, Harps... If I'm wrong maybe someone can correct me?

David Anderson (JRGS 1964-71) adds: I note that our webmaster is interested in aeroplanes; he may be interested in the following.
   An old school friend of mine, Dave Calderwood (JRGS 1964-70ish) whom I have kept in touch with for over 40 years, spent his career in journalism covering lots of things, including producing light-aircraft publications. If you Google Dave you will find his website and all the details of what he has done.
   Dave recently moved to The Pyrenees and runs a website for Ex-pats and Tourists of things to do in the mountains - Google "Go Pyrenees." There is a fair bit of light aviation in the Pyrenees, some of it hairy stuff from the articles here. A few of us JRGS Alumni will be attending Dave's 61st Birthday Bash come September. It's a wonderful area with so much to do.


 Tony Hollands (JRGS 1952-58) recalls a Sputnik prank from the Fifties...

Further to mention in these pages by JRGS teacher Derek Peasey regarding a "very convincing sputnik made by sixth formers," all I know is that following the launch of sputnik by the Soviets [in October 1957], some of the Upper Sixth decided to put up a "satellite" to cash into the then-current media obsession with space exploration.
   The resulting "object" with flashing lights and beeping sounds was left on Mitcham Common at night; inside were batteries with Russian labels. The local police reported an " a flaming object falling to earth". From press reports it was obviously very successful.
   However, Reading University claimed responsibility.

Members of the Ruskin crew decided to organise a raid on Reading to put the record straight. Myself an other Lower 6th members joined in with transport from unknown sources to leaflet Reading to put the record straight. Hence the copy leaflet, which ran to several thousand copies.
   I reckon that this was the outstanding ex-curricular action of my generation and needs to be recorded before we all go!

Tony Hollands, Longframlington, Northumberland, March 2013 Email

Phil Cowlam (JRGS 1951-58) adds: It wasn't a "Sputnik." According to The Daily Telegraph, it was a shiny 'Russian Rocket" about 9-foot long with CCP and a Hammer & Sickle insignia, a long aerial, all carefully made up in the JRGS metalwork shop by a group of conspirators. It had a flashing "bleep" and circuit board purchased from Proops, with its own parachute - all of which carefully laid on Mitcham Common over some bushes. Scattered Russian notes - printed on the school's Adana Press - demanded that it be returned to the Soviet Aeronautical Institute.
   From the road across Mitcham Common all that could be seen was a mysterious flashing bleep in the distance... until a squad car spotted it and its parachute, the casing "fallen open" to reveal electronics! What a coup for those cops!
   A few days later, Reading University claimed the stunt for themselves. Mr. "Joe" Lowe, normally reticent, now cognisant, marched into the prefect's room with that usurping newspaper report and placed it without a word on a table. The room went deathly quiet - but talking continued. It was only then that the secret trophy and smoking room, reached via a cupboard, was discovered in the roof. Colditz again!
  Incidentally, the prank wasn't to cash in on space exploration; it was to celebrate the (sinister) planting of an IRA bomb - never admitted - on the Croydon Town Hall steps the year before - a "bomb" that emptied the town centre until bomb disposal experts could arrive to de-fuse the two sand-filled aluminium cylinders connected to a battery and alarm clock...


 Peter Oxlade (JRCS 1940-44) reports on the health of ex-head Bill Patterson...

I have been aware that for several years William Patterson, a former headmaster of John Ruskin Grammar School from 1973 to 1990, has been suffering with Alzheimer's disease. Like so many others with this problem, Bill forgets peoples' names, places and many other things that used to be taken so much for granted.
   Bill is magnificently supported throughout this time by his ever-loving wife Phyllis and family, who are totally committed to looking after him. There are times when Bill has to go back into hospital for treatments. And there are times when he has to go into Respite Care just to give Phyllis time to recover enough to have him back home to be looked after. Recently, Phyllis had a fall and fractured her hip bone and she had to spend time in Hospital. Even then she made strenuous efforts to get herself released so that she could have Bill back home to look after. That is in my view takes courage and love of a very special kind.
   I have had the privilege to known Bill for many years and, on many occasions, enjoyed his company and remarkable stories. Bill served in the Royal Air Force and became a flying officer as a pilot in Bomber Command flying, amongst others, the famed Avro Vulcan bomber. I remember him telling of the time when the Squadron Officers Mess was to hold a party - probably to celebrate St. Patrick's day - and it was decided that original Guinness beer should be available. Bill was instructed to fly to Belfast, purchase a few crates of the liquid, and bring it back safely in time for the party in the Officers Mess. Bill did just that! It makes a nonsense, me thinks, of the phrase "Just going out for a drink"!
   Bill was captain and president of Shirley Park Golf Club; his presence there in those capacities were much appreciated by us all at the club. The after-dinner speeches were a real pleasure to listen to.

Peter Oxlade, Shirley, Surrey, March 2013 Email


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