JRGS News Archive Page 71
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 71 - Nov 2012 thru Feb 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.

 Jonathan Sindall (JRGS 1955-59) reports the sad death of teacher Desmond May...

Des May - 2007Many alumni will be saddened to hear of the death on 14 February, 2013, of Des May, pictured right, who was JRGS form master, French teacher and sportsman from 1956 to 1960. A small group of us had taken to visiting Des over the last few years - arranged by the late, inimitable Roger Walters - and had much enjoyed his and Sybil’s hospitality.
   Des started his teaching career with all of us in 2M, where we endeavoured to instruct him in the facts of teaching life. We lost, ‘Sir’ won. Des went on to have a successful career, ending up as head of a the prestigious Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School, Aylesbury, Bucks. More
   Our thoughts are with his family. There will be a memorial service at 2pm on Friday, 28th of February at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Tring.

Jonathan Sindall , Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, February 2013 Email

Alan Maynell (JRGS 1957-62), adds: I have fond memories of Mr. May. My favourite will always be of him loosing his patience with one of my fellow pupils. "Don't be so childish... er... Childs! The lad's surname, of course, Childs. Somehow the impact was lost!!
   To this day I still value the little Schoolboy French that I can muster when I have groups of French riders on track with me.

Anthony Hasler (JRGS Teacher 1959-72) adds: I remember Des - we overlapped by a year at JRGS.


 Brian Dyer (JRGS 1959-66) reports on an alumni reunion of four old school chums...

JRGS Reunion - January 2013The attached photo shown left is of four old boys at their recent second reunion (left-to-right): Terry Weight (JRGS 1959-65), Peter Baron (JRGS 1959-66), Tony Charles (JRGS 1959-66) and yours truly. We were all in the same class from 1959 until 1963, including 2C, 3M and 5U, when the Sixth Form separated us. Click on the thumbnail to view  a larger image.
   Terry and I re-met at the JRGS Reunion in 2009 and then organised a get-together with the other two in November 2011. This went so well, we repeated the experience in January. We met in London for lunch and a few drinks.
   It is amazing how much fun you can get from seven years of shared memories so long ago. I am now planning our next event with wives and a more significant venue.
   We met in London because we are widely spread; I live near Ashford, Kent and am still working; Tony lives near Exeter and is retired, although still a magistrate; Peter owns and runs a book shop in Suffolk; and Terry is retired and lives in Herefordshire.
   We wish all of our old friends also well!!

Brian Dyer, Smarden, Kent, February 2013 Email

Terry Weight (JRGS 1959-65), adds: The four of us met both times at Porters near Covent Garden, for a long lunch, and then repaired to a bar for further amusement, beer and friendly chat. We talked of old friends, some of our JRGS sporting experiences and our lives now and since JRGS. It felt like the same four people who we all knew in the 1960s – do we really change? In many ways, during our chats my conclusion was: "Not that much, even if we have had lots of developmental experiences".

Peter Baron (JRGS 1959-66), adds: Having attended a couple of mini reunions with Terry, Brian and Tony, I have been shamed into supplying The Mill with my potted history since leaving JRGS in 1966.
   First of all, I have spent many an hour on the excellent JRGS website, wallowing in nostalgia. The webmaster has done a great job!
   When I left in 1966 after A Levels, I decided not to trouble the university system. Instead I joined Royal Insurance and, after initial training, became a claims inspector, based in South London. I left Royal in 1977 to become a loss adjuster and, after completing all the necessary exams, moved to Nottingham to open a new office for my company with managerial responsibility for East Midlands and East Anglia offices. The profession changed dramatically in the late 1990s and, following a merger with another company, I was made redundant.
   My then-wife and I took the decision to move away and buy a small business, so we acquired Halesworth Bookshop in Suffolk, which I still own and run.
   On a personal note, I married in 1971 and have two children, James and Sarah, and two small grandsons via Sarah. I divorced in 2003 and have lived in Halesworth with my partner Diane, a primary school teacher, for the last 10 years.
   I could go on and on, but I think that is enough of my history to avoid boring the reader!

ML adds: Both Brian Dyer and Peter Baron are pictured in this image of the JRGS Cricket XI from August 1963, while Terry, Tony and Peter appear in this image of the JRGS Football XI from about 1961/62.

Anthony Hasler (JRGS Teacher 1959-72) adds: I joined the staff at John Ruskin in 1959 so these four ex-pupils were there when I started. I will not pretend to remember their appearance but the names are all familiar.


 Stephen Turner (JRGS 1957-62) recalls school life & masters from the late-Fifties...

I have been reading some of the latest reminiscing with interest, particularly how we selected John Ruskin in preference to other institutions. I remember the form that had to be completed but not any interviews. My parents chose JRGS as it was a new school and nearest to our home in New Addington. The next I knew was a letter telling my parents that I had passed the 11 Plus and was going to JRGS. Could I have forgotten the interviews? Surely not. My intake in 1957 contained several boys from New Addington, all of whom I think were in the same class - 1G (for Mr. Gee).
   Unlike so many of my approximate contemporaries, my passage through John Ruskin passed without much if any distinction. It embarrasses me now to recall what a wastrel I was. I don't remember any of the teachers who are referred to my such affection much at all. My saviour was Mr. Robertshaw my form master for 4R and 5R. My last two years were no entirely wasted, although it surprises me even now that I managed to leave JRGS with almost no French at all despite five years of it. I enjoyed Geography with Mr. Nunn (glad to see he is still around) and History with Mr. Rhodes. I never was any good at maths. Mr. "Rhino" Rees is still a frightening concept.
   The only one of my contemporaries that I see on your great site is Thomas R (Tom), the remainder being Thomas P, Finch, Blackwell, Skinner, Childs and Pigg, to name a few that do not appear.
   Thanks for organising this site. Since as I live in Far North Queensland, I doubt I shall ever get to a reunion but even after 50 years since I left the place it still holds an odd fascination.

Stephen Turner, Mossman, Australia, January 2013 Email


 Rodger Holcombe (JRGS 1959-64) is seeking pals from School of Church Music...

A very good friend of mine is looking to locate some JRGS Alumni from late Fifties/first half of the Sixties, with whom he attended the Royal School of Church Music at Addington Palace. Peter Hood is hoping to make contact with David Lewsey, Raymond Brett, Malcolm Ford, Graham Telfer and Brian Weller.
   Please contact the webmaster, who will forward the responses to myself and Peter, who now lives in Eastbourne, having felt the pull of his fellow retired bank managers! More
   Although I recall and kind of recognize the webmaster from the Richmond get-together picture shown below, we moved in different circles. I was non-academic and finished in the dreaded 5T; my family then moved to Yorkshire and I did the sixth form there. I'm not sure that I would have had the chance of A-Levels at JRGS. Cricket and Lacrosse were my specialist subjects!

Rodger Holcombe, Burgau, Western Algarve, Portugal, January 2013 Email

Peter Hood (Selhurst Grammar Alumnus) adds: Many thanks for The Mill's help with my search. I was not a JRGS pupil; my secondary school was Selhurst, but boys in the RSCM Addington Palace Choir came from all over Croydon and most secondary schools were represented. I have known Rodger Holcombe since our youth-club days in Shirley so, knowing that JRGS had an excellent Alumni site, I sought his help in tracking down those of my former chorister colleagues who, as I recall, attended JRGS.
   I think the guys listed were a year or two older than me - I was born in 1948 - although David Lewsey is possibly the same age as me. The only other information that I have is that Brian Weller went abroad many years ago - Canada & America have been mentioned. The last sighting of him was on the West Coast of the USA.
   Thanks again for your help.

Raymond Brett (JRGS 1959-66) adds: I went to the Royal School of Church Music for about three years. Malcolm Ford and I went together a couple of times a week, and were friends through school; we played a lot of table tennis in the bike-storage area. But I have not kept in touch with any of these fellows.
   I remember my Dad making me continue to go RSCM when I was 14 and my voice was breaking. It ruined my voice and have not been able to sing well since. It was a fun group of boys who went to RSCM and I enjoyed the tea and football before choir practice.
   I am retired for three years and have been spending the winters in Palm Desert, California and the summers in Calgary.

Andrew Robertson (JRGS 1959-65) adds: I see that Rodger Holcombe is looking for ex-RSCM boys, of which I am one. I started in 1H, Mr. "Spike" Hancock's class, progressing through Mr. "Rhino" Rees' class, then Mr. "Beaky" Cornwall and then Mr. Tony Davey, finishing off with Mr. John Adkins - need I add more?
   Through the other end of the telescope, those were good days; they certainly stood me in good stead. My contemporaries were Terry Haselden, Doug Rose, Ken Collins and John Holden. I  sat near Rob (Lennie) Lawrence and Barry Tyler, and not far from John Ward. [In alphabetical order, as was the general practice for JRGS classes? - ML] Ray Brett was in my class, I think, he would probably know me as Robo.
   I went to the RSCM from age 9 when I was as Gilbert Scott primary - just opposite the path which leads to Addington Palace. I have fond memories of the place and, like Ray Brett, I continued to sing until I was 13. I was also singing at St. Edwards in New Addington over the weekend, but it all got a bit too much, particularly because I was also in the Cadets and playing guitar with Terry and Doug. Incidentally, Terry lives not far from me: he is in Bournemouth; I'm in Corfe Mullen, which is just outside Poole. As I recall, we used to sing a lot at the Special School for Spastics, opposite Coombe Woods.
    I had occasion to phone Martin Howe - the then-principle of the Royal School of Church Music - as I was looking for a choral education for my younger son. He told me that the RSCM had moved to Suffolk or Norfolk - I forget - and that he was still in touch with some of the old boys. My son went on to sing for Westminster Cathedral.
   Keep up the good work, and remember me to any who knew me: John Byford for one; Mo Whitfield for another nine - he was with me at Gilberts Scott, along with Julian Smalley.

ML adds: The School of English Church Music (SECM) was inaugurated in December 1927, to consist of a training college for church musicians and an association of affiliated churches who committed themselves to attaining high standards. Housed at Buller’s Wood in Chislehurst, Kent, the college opened in 1929 and continued until the outbreak of war in 1939, when most students were called up for military service. In 1945, the SECM became the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) within the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral, and in 1954 moved to Addington Palace, the former country residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury. In 1996 the RSCM moved its administrative centre to Cleveland Lodge, near Dorking, Surrey, and then to Salisbury, Wiltshire, in 2006. More


 Karl Smith (JRGS 1946-51) recalls school chums and life in the Fifties...

As one of the "bodies" in Terence Morris' Upper VI photograph from 1950 I was most interested to see it although disappointed that, originally, he couldn't spell my name; Karl, not Carl!
   My schooling began at Waddon School at the same time as another JRGS Old Boy (later teacher) Roy Frederick Baldwin. That would have been September 1937 when we were both rising five-year olds. I didn't know it at the time but Terry lived virtually across the road from the school, in Cooper Road, facing Duppas Hill.
   The outbreak of war in 1939 caused Waddon School to be adapted for use as a hospital and we were all effectively kicked out. With hindsight I now know that Roy was evacuated but I was not. With other Waddon school friends I then attended a sort of Dame School, run in her Waddon Close home by a Mrs. Bull until the school re-opened. I don't know the dates of these events.
   However, my father worked on Croydon Airport for Imperial Airways so hostilities soon led to his removal to a factory building in Commerce Way, but not before a few bombs had fallen on the airfield - including one on the spot where he would have been working had he not decided to stay at home after lunch and bring his more valuable tools with him! That one didn't explode but he always said it made a hole in the floor and stopped in the coal stored beneath. True? I'm not totally certain about the last part but can vouch for his odd premonition.
   In October 1940 Dad was moved from Croydon to Treforest, South Wales, to the new aero engine overhaul and repair centre now occupied by GE engines. By this time Imperial Airways had become British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and its repair workshops became an arm of the Ministry of Aircraft Production, Propeller and Engine Repair Auxiliary (MAP, PERA).
   In consequence I had to change schools, initially attending Hawthorne School, then Park School Treforest until the "scholarship" exam results enabled me to switch to Pontypridd County (Pontypridd Intermediate School for Boys) in 1943. Change came again when Dad managed to get back to Croydon in November 1945. And so I joined John Ruskin, when Mr. McLeod was headmaster.
   In my first year at JRGS C. E. Smith was my form master and my schooling continued. I sat the first University of London School Cert exams in 1948 (Oxford papers had been taken previously) and HSC in 1950. Having made a mess of my Physics exam I sat the first GCE "A" Levels in 1951. By this time Mr. McLeod had retired, his place being taken by Mr. Lowe.
   In the sixth form we were joined by pupils formerly at Archbishop Tenison School; I'm almost sure that Peter Heath and Anthony Nye came one year and were followed the next by Roy Baldwin and Gerald Scivier. I remained in contact with Roy and with Philip "Flapper" Bamford until their deaths some two years ago. I still exchange news with Gerald Scivier, who took up dentistry and, oddly, met my wife before I did when they both worked at Southend Hospital. He was already married at that time and he and his wife occupied a flat adjoining the student nurses' accommodation.
   Incidentally, one of the last things Philip Bamford asked me was how his nickname of "Flapper" arose, my recollection is that it started in 4th Form English lessons with George Manning. He encouraged contributions to a sort of form newsletter to be read out at the beginning of some lessons; a lad named Alden had an incredible sense of humour and regularly described boxing matches between two of the most peaceable members whom he called "Batty" Butler and "Flapper" Bamford.
   As for me, I joined the design staff of Handley Page in 1952 to work on the Victor Bomber aircraft and have spent the rest of my life to date involved with that industry. I still do some consultancy work whenever it arises.

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

Terence Morris (JRGS 1942-50) recalls the 1952 Farnborough Airshow and other aeronautical memories: I was fascinated to read Karl Smith’s recollections, including those of Croydon Airport and the Farnborough disaster when the De Haviland 110 piloted by John Derry broke up during a run over the airfield. I well remember going down to Hampshire on the back of his motorbike. We were both taking photos of the aircraft at the time and the whole thing appeared surreal. The image that has stayed in my mind is that of one of the wing sections fluttering down and turning over and over like a great piece of cardboard blown by the wind.
   In addition to Derry and his observer, 29 spectators were killed when the engines and other wreckage ploughed into the crowd on the ground.
   I also have a vivid recollection of the bombing of the Airport on 15th August 1940 when, after months of the ‘phoney war’ things turned seriously ugly.
   That day I had gone to West Wickham to visit an aunt and we were having tea in the garden when the sky overhead was suddenly shattered by the sound of Hawker Hurricane fighters taking off from nearby Biggin Hill aerodrome. They had scarcely gained height and I recall their undercarriages being still visible before becoming fully retracted. The noise of their Rolls Royce Merlin engines at full throttle was deafening. Then all was silent until the air raid sirens began to wail. Nothing seemed to happen for an hour or so and after the "all clear" I made my way to the bus stop for the journey home.
   Then I saw it. A vast column of dense black smoke rising slowly into the sky in the direction of Croydon. As we waited for the bus, someone quietly said: “They’ve got Croydon Aerodrome”. Indeed, "they" had.
   Croydon Aerodrome (or Airport) was the pre-war equivalent of Heathrow. Passengers in chauffeured limousines would come down from the Imperial Airways premises in Belgravia to board the great silver-bodied Handley Page air liners in which they would spend several hours seated in wicker chairs flying to Paris, or several days (with nightly stopovers) on their way to India. The airfield was now a fighter station, surrounded not only with aircraft repair and maintenance workshops but also with factories, including that of the Bourjois perfumery. The raid was a success in that it disabled the airfield and damaged support facilities. It also scored a direct hit on the Bourjois factory where most of the 60 civilians died, many of them young girls. Six airmen also died. A neighbour, who was an aircraft engineer, was dug out of the rubble some time later, having had the good sense to take shelter under his steel workbench.
   This was, in effect, the curtain raiser to what became known as the Battle of Britain, during which the Luftwaffe sought to eliminate RAF Fighter Command as a prelude to invasion. With no threat from the air, the Junkers Ju 52s that had carried passengers before the war would be dropping not bombs, but hundreds of parachutists who would secure the ground for the troops awaiting embarkation in the invasion barges on the French Channel coast.
   No-one in southern England who lived through what became that cloudless Indian summer could forget those seemingly endless days in which the sky was crossed and re-crossed by the vapour trails made by German bombers and their fighter escorts and those that sought to bring them down. The Messerschmitt Me 109 was a fast and deadly aircraft, but met its match in the Supermarine Spitfire that was to become the icon of the battle. In reality, the Hawker Hurricane was more numerous and bore the brunt of the struggle.
   Relentlessly, day after day, every fighter airfield in southern England was bombed. Crashed fighter aircraft were salvaged for spares and the long trailers, known as "Queen Marys" (after the great Cunard Atlantic liner), were a familiar sight carrying these wrecks. Fatally for the Germans, and apparently on the orders of Hitler himself, the bombing was switched to London in an attempt to destroy civilian morale. In those few precious days, while London suffered, the airfields were made serviceable once more. The switch was a tactical error that was to prove fatal for the enemy’s invasion strategy.
   Yet it was a close run thing, and some propaganda releases were absurdly inaccurate. One Sunday, when the Luftwaffe had taken a particularly heavy battering, it was said on the wireless that 189 enemy aircraft had been destroyed when the total was nothing approaching that number. Eagerly, we believed it.
   It all seemed a far cry from those summer evenings when, as a treat, I used to be taken to the roof garden of the Aerodrome Hotel where we watched the great Handley Page biplanes with names like Hannibal and Heracles landing and taking off. I’m sure Karl will remember the Airport beacon, known locally as the ‘Red Hot Poker’ that was said to be visible from the Channel coast.
   As for the area around the old Airport, most of it is now built over. The Propeller pub on Purley Way is demolished and Waddon School is long gone and replaced by houses.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) reports on a recent alumni gathering in Richmond...

In what seems to be a repeating pattern, I was only able to squeeze in a last-minute gathering during my recent trip to London, which ended earlier this week.
   On Sunday evening, Paul Graham, (JRGS 1959-66), his new partner Jane Paterson, John Byford (JRGS 1959-66), your webmaster and his partner Merelyn Davis foregathered at Pizza Rustica in Richmond for a pleasant Italian meal after a pre-dinner drink at the nearby Orange Tree pub.
   The talk was of former days at JRGS, and present triumphs; of Paul's imminent retirement at the end of December, and a Christmas Sojourn to Berlin, where his daughter now works; of John journeying the length and breadth of Britain following the successful career of Crystal Palace Football Club, and his associated journeys to wherever art is to be found; and this writer's impressions of the Mother Country after an absence of nearly two years.
   Click on the image below to view a larger-size version.

JRGS Alumni Meeing on 25 November, 2012

From left-to-right: Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65), John Byford (JRGS 1959-66), Merelyn Davis, Jane
and Paul Graham, (JRGS 1959-66) at
Pizzeria Rustica, Richmond, on Sunday 25th November.

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA November 2012 Email

John Brigden (JRGS 1959-64) adds: None of you look a day older!
   My family is still living here in Calgary; my first UK pension payment has made it here - another milestone. It is generally cooler although we like to think that we air condition the outdoors rather than the indoors.
   I did some consulting in Alaska this summer and we took holidays there as well; the plane shown below left is only slightly younger than me. In late October we met this cuddly fellow shown right in the wild on the coast of Hudson’s Bay. He’s waiting for it to get colder and go out on the ice and hunt. Once you relax and act like a native it gets better!
Click on either thumbnail to view a larger-size version.
John Brigden in Canada Polar bear on the coast of Hudson’s Bay

 ML adds: I recall that John Brigden, Paul Graham, John Byford and your webmaster spent three formative years together in 2C, 3M and 5U between September 1960 and June 1963; John Brigden and John Byford spent the following year in 5B while Paul and I transitioned into the sixth form. (That was a bizarre period for the 3M/5U class, when we were cramming 30 months of lessons into 18 and an accelerated transition to the sixth form a year earlier than planned. Not all of us in 5U secured the necessary five O-Levels required to enter the sixth form, hence the two JBs having to repeat their fifth year, together with Roger Hall, Grant Harrison, Roger Taylor and others.)
   As coincidence would have it, John Brigden and I started at JRGS in Mr. Maggs' 1M, while Paul Graham and John Byford were assigned in 1959 to Mr. Hancock's 1H.
   It also comes back to me that during our Italian meal at Pizzeria Rustica in Richmond we discussed the reasons for choosing JRGS as a secondary school. "It was definitely my mother’s choice not mine!" Paul Graham recalls. "In fact she put down: 1 Dulwich College: 2 Whitgift Trinity; and 3 JR. I remember her explaining that they were all good schools and I just accepted that. I’m sure that our Junior School teachers must have had an influence, but I don’t remember it now.
   "Where I came from - South Norwood/Anerley - it was relatively common for boys to try for Dulwich College and it would have been marginally easier for me to travel there. (A 12 bus and a shortish walk.) Also, my family came from East Dulwich and I had a cousin who went to the College. In fact, my mother’s first two choices didn’t come off, so I went to JR."
   As John Byford explained on his Memories page: "Whitgift and John Trinity seemed far out of reach to a New Addington boy in a class of over 50 pupils at Fairchildes Junior School. Therefore it was either John Ruskin or Selhurst Grammar. Ruskin was nearer but there was never going to be anything other than one choice, because Ruskin played football and Selhurst played rugby."
   My parents also had hoped that I could get into Dulwich College, but the morning that the multiple-choice application form was to be posted off to Croydon Council, I amended my first choice to JRGS. Why? Mainly because I liked the smart uniforms of the pupils who went there, not to mention the buildings and windmill, but also because Shirley was closer to the New Addington Estate on which we lived than other Croydon-area grammar schools. (I guess I was less adventurous in those dim, distant days.)
   What were other alumni's reasons for choosing JRGS?


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