JRGS News Archive Page 70
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 70 - Jul 2012 thru Oct 2012 -

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.

 Jeremy Clarke (JRGS 1951-57) fondly recalls schoolmasters from the Fifties...

I have only just discovered the website - an absolute delight to renew acquaintance with many of the teachers I knew, and to look back at the events and people who shaped the school. Secondly, I have to say my computer has no truck with Outlook Express, hence my sliding in from the side rather than making a full-frontal approach.
   Two entries on teachers are particularly poignant for me. I remember my first encounter with Mr. C. E. "Smut" Smith. Meeting him unannounced as he strode into the first gym lesson 61 years ago was a never-to-be-forgotten experience. He did not raise his voice above a loud whisper but the menace in it and not least in his glaring look was enough to quell 30 eleven-year old voices in an instant. But he was my form master for four years and I do not believe I could have had a better, for that fearsome exterior belied a warm and understanding nature - or was it that he softened as we matured? Certainly he was never short of encouragement for those having difficulty or praise where deserved.
   That softer side showed most markedly when he came with Mr. "Dad" Peacock (not "Pad', at least not in my time) on a geographical trip to the latter's beloved North Yorkshire. For he was then nothing like the fiercMr. Joseph Norton "Spike" Hancocke disciplinarian he purported to be in a school surrounding. Despite the relative familiarity with him on that trip and indeed on a subsequent one to Switzerland, there was never anything other than great respect and regard shown him. 
   The other teacher whose name rang bells was Mr. Alan "Ego" Murray. I was never actually taught by him but he was actively involved in the musical side of the school from the moment of his arrival.
   Mr. "Spike" Hancock
- pictured right - was thus much relieved of the burden of piano accompaniment to the choir and, on occasions, he took choir practice while JH concentrated on the orchestra. Perhaps it was this indirect contact that made him one of the most pleasant of teachers and one of the easiest in conversation. I also recall that during my time he attained a musical qualification, LRAM or ARCM I think, though it does not appear with his name in the 'Teachers Roster' on the website.
I'd never been much of a singer at primary school, finding it difficult to reach many of the notes in the songs and hymns commonly sung. A similar shyness followed during Form 1c's first music lessons. But, within a few days, Mr. Hancock had identified me as an alto and insisted I join the choir, especially as I could already read music. He also gave particular attention not just to work on and hone an underused voice, but to give its owner the confidence to sing.
   It's also Mr. Hancock's fault I didn't fulfill Mr. Lowe's ambition that I go to University. By the fourth form the choices had been made and I had found myself doing Latin with Mr. Rees for a University entrance, not that I was that keen on the idea. But, at the same time, the music class was in full swing and audible.
   One day in fifth year Mr. Rees, who knew of my musical interest, decided he'd had enough of my being diverted away from the niceties of irregular verbs and the poetry of Catullus and told me that, since I was obviously so much more interested in music than Latin, I should go and see Mr. Hancock forthwith. I did, and he offered sufficient coaching to get me through "O" Level at the first attempt despite starting a year behind. Another teacher to whom I am indebted
Mr. Norman "Stinker" Cresswell  
I was never taught by Mr. Norman Cresswell - pictured left - but does anybody else of my generation remember his storytelling? At times in early days when, I assume, another master was absent, he would sometimes sit in and read a story for us. Not only was he expressive but would often adopt different voice pitches and accents for the various characters. I cannot now recall what he read, only that he was quite capable of transfixing a class of 11-, 12- or 13-years olds for the full 40-minute period, which seemed to fly by.
   Then Mr. Culcheth, a very pleasant man though sometimes with a short fuse. We would imitate his inability to sound the letter "R" - though never in his presence, of course - and his habit of making a point with the stab of a hand having the middle fingers folded back. I remember his wife too: she also was an historian and I can recall her being absolutely doubled-up with laughter when some locally-found archaeological exhibits set out for an Open Day were labelled as "noodles" rather than "nodules".
   Mr. Peacock was in his element during a geographical field trip to North Yorkshire on which we climbed all three Mr. Vincent Jospeh Patrick "Vic" Geeof the main Pennine peaks and travelled everywhere by bus... that is when we weren't trekking between Youth Hostels. He was convinced there was no way I'd pass my GCE geography exams. I can still see the mixture of incredulity and delight on his face when I did so. (56% I think.)
   Mr. Warne was a tall gangling man, whose round-shouldered stoop and slightly pigeon-toed walk belied a very capable sportsman. It was a revelation when, one morning at assembly after the move to Shirley, he officiated at the organ and continued to do so once or twice a week thereafter.
   Mr. Fisher was another master who never taught me but I can vividly one occasion when a teacher - I cannot remember who - had lost control of the class and we were making a fearful racket. Mr. Fisher appeared in the doorway and, as if by magic, silence reigned before he'd taken two steps across the threshold. That was the power of a good disciplinarian displayed as the school he later headed found out.
   Mr. Gee
- pictured right - held sway away from the school in that overgrown shed beyond the Pitlake Bridge until he got his own north-facing room at Shirley. He gave up on me so far as Art was concerned until he found I had some skill at calligraphy. Thereafter I got particular and patient attention in that field while others were struggling with perspective. I owe him a debt for unearthing a skill and nurturing it.
But that is enough for the moment - I need more time to digest all the information.

Jeremy Clarke, Chislehurst, Kent, October 2012 Email

Jeremy Clarke adds: I'm still slowly working my way through the various sections of the website and have come upon two quite significant - to me! - pieces of information.
   It's astonishing to find that during the School Concert in 1952 I played a recorder duet with Brian Thorogood. Even more astonishing is the news that the late Mr. Hancock awarded me (jointly) the Junior Music prize, which I received at the 1955 Speech Day.
   Now, it is said that, as rule, the older you get the short term memory tends to fade but the long term one becomes sharper in focus. Am I an exception, because I have not the slightest recollection of either of these events? On the other hand so many of the names are extraordinarily familiar and in many cases I can put faces to them. very odd!
   By the way, how many alumni remember Alderman Cole? He had, as I recall, such a quiet voice that anybody sitting more than three rows back from the stage hadn't a hope of hearing anything he said. Yet in his position on the Education Committee his attendance at Speech Day was a given. I often wondered how he managed at Council meetings, especially if he were opposing a motion.


 Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) reports on this year's Sunbeam Alpine rally...

Sunbeam Alpine Owner's Club Meeting, 2012The Sunbeam Alpine Owners' Club Meeting was held at Bewl Water near Lamberhurst, Kent, in late-August. Although I do not own an Alpine, I was invited to attend by my friend Paul, who helped organise the national event. Alpine owners from France attended, together with others from all over the British Isles.
   At about mid-day there was an Alpine trip to the toy museum in Northium, plus a continuation to Rye in Sussex and then return to Bewl Water. I rode from Bewl Water to Rye in an Alpine club member's open-top yellow 1963 Alpine.
   It's the first time I have ridden on an extensive journey in an Alpine since mine was stolen in 1981. The Alpine I travelled in is shown right.
   An album of images can be found here. | 2011 Bromley Pageant | 2010

Mike Etheridge, Sanderstead, Surrey. October 2012 Email


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) discovers a quartet of vintage school images...

While roaming through the Internet, I located these images on the Friends Reunited website. Click on any thumbnail to view a full-size version.

So far, consulting with Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) and John Byford (JRGS 1959-66), we think that we have identified Martin Loveday and Steve Kember in the upper-left picture. Can The Alumni help with any other names?
   Below that are two colour images of the old school building, probably taken in 1984; the first shows the front entrance and the assembly hall, while the other was taken in the rear quadrangle looking south, with the Biology Laboratory to the right.
   The large black-and-white image shows The Windmill, and was probably taken in 1954/55 during construction of the school building on Upper Shirley Road. ©E. A. Sweetman & Son, Tunbridge Wells. All right reserved.

Mel Lambert, Burbank, California USA, October 2012 Email

Terry Weight (JRGS 1959-65) adds: You may be right about Steve Kember but I am not sure about Martin Loveday. In the summer of 1962 we would all have been 14-15. I don’t think these guys look that old; Steve would have been 13. It would have been strange for Martin to play with the younger year. If it had been our year, then I would recognise most of the players, and I do have a cricket photo of many of them.

Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66) adds: I like the picture of the front of the school. You can see our old classroom of 2C very well - such memories!

ML adds: Anthony Crowe was our 2C form master from 1960/61, prior to a year with Alan Murray in 3M and then David Rees in 5U. Mr. Crowe's room, with the Junior Library at the back, was directly above Mr. Lowe's office over the formal school entrance lobby/dinner room.

An Alumnus who prefers to remain anonymous adds: Sorry but it's not Steve Kember on front-left, since he is too old for this team. I can tell you it's taken at Westminster Bank Sports Ground in Norbury.
   Other names are: Rear from left: Mick Ford, blank, blank, blank, blank, Peter Wilmer, blank; Front from left: Blank, Vincent Simeone, Christopher Ford, blank, blank.
   These chaps were all September 1962 intake, so this is not a 1961 photo; I think it's 1963. I recognise them from 5G fame, and the others were that year intake.
   Given time, the memory cells might kick in!

Geoff van Beek/Downer (JRGS 1962-69) confirms: The mystery photograph from left-to-right: Top #1: Mick Ford (one of our celebrities, now an actor) Top #5: Peter Wilmer | Bottom: #2: Vince Simeone #3: Christopher Ford (who later became head boy).

Richard Winborn (JRGS 1961-68) adds:JRGS School Photo 1962 - Roy Hodgson I am sure that the boy in the centre of the front row is Chris Ford. I think he was in the year below me, though I can't quite remember, since I knew him through Crusaders and not just at school. He is wearing the Crusaders badge in the photo.
   I know that Steve Kember was in the year above me, though I can't place him in the photo. But the boy on the far left of the back row looks familiar.
   While on the subject of photos of famous football names, I took my copy of the September 1962 school photo to the recent reunion and someone pointed out Roy Hodgson (JRGS 1958-65). You may know this already but, if not, he is fifth from the left in the second row from the back in attached image, shown left; click in the thumbnail to view larger version.

Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) adds: The building is on the Nat West sports ground, which may still exist in Stanford Road, Norbury. As for the cricketers, I do not recognise any of them!

Peter Eades (JRGS 1963-69) adds: Thanks for the wonderful memories that The Mill brings.
   The JRGS cricket team picture I can help with. Firstly, I think the year is wrong - it must be after 1963.
I was in the same class as Chris Ford in primary school so he was the same age as me; we would have started JRGS in September 1963.
   Top row (L-to-R): Mick Ford, Pete Mayers, unknown, Williams, unknown, unknown. unknown
   Bottom row (L-to-R): unknown, Simione?, Chris Ford, unknown, unknown.

Martin Loveday (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Regarding the recent snap of a cricket XI, I can only say that I hardly knew myself and certainly didn’t recognise Steve Kember. As for the others, I didn’t know either names or faces. This seems strange as I think I may have been the Captain! I do remember a chap called [Colin] Holcolme who was an excellent cricketer but I certainly don’t see him there. Time has obviously not treated me kindly regarding memory!
   I used to have similar snaps - taken much later - of both the football team that won the Croydon Schools Cup at Crystal Palace and a cracking cricket XI – I can’t find either at present though ! Shame I cannot seem to locate the football snap but included such names as Kember, Tyler, Dyer, Ralph, Taylor, Lawrence, Baron and some "also ran" called Hodgson!
   Sorry not to remember the rest but it was a truly great team!
   I was also interested to see the above report of the Sunbeam Alpine Club's rally by Mike Etheridge – my wife and I run a Bed & Breakfast only three miles from Bewl Water, and we had two of the members from the Owners Club staying with us.

Reg Weir (JRGS 1964-70) adds: The cricket photograph that has caused some debate was discussed among a couple of contemporaries of mine - Stuart Hills|JRGS 1964-70 and Andy Hosking|1964-69 - and we can assist by clarifying the identity of the chap in the front row, bottom left. It is Dave Gridley, who was also a very good footballer and athlete. I seem to recall he broke the record for the 880 yards at the Croydon Arena. We played in the same Croydon Sunday League team, Tamworth F.C., which was started primarily by students at the College of that name in 1972 - and which was, of course, the former JRGS location in Tamworth Road.
   Sitting on Chris Ford's left is Bobby Rook, and next to him is Ian (Digger) Blandford. Bob Kirby is top right on the left of Pete Wilmer; next to Pete is John Coulter. I don't know the chap next to him but then comes Chris (or was it Phil?) Green. Sorry, don't know who is next to the famous Mick Ford.
   Pete Wilmer, Vince Simeone and Bobby Rook were, like me, from New Addington. It seems to me that, looking at other old photos on the website, that NA was well represented on the playing fields. From my point of view that was my only worthwhile contribution. Mr. Graham seemed to be the driving force behind football and athletics with Mr. Smith of course. (Incidentally, my family moved to New Addington from Pirbright, Surrey, in 1959 after my father had completed 23 years service in The Irish Guards. We lived on King Henry's Drive, and during the Sixties my mother worked in Vulcan Way for Hunts Capacitors. I went to Wolsey Primary. There were a large number of other boys that made it to JRGS. I am still in regular contact with a few of them. I now live in Shirley.)
   When I think of the amount of time spent after school and on Saturday mornings I have to congratulate them for their unselfishness. We often had the luxury of a coach trip to Reading University, for example, and to Dorking Grammar. If anyone else had the task of being a football captain do you remember being summoned to Room 1 during the dinner break to collect the shirts from Mr. Smith to hand out to the team which had been posted up on the notice board and to collect your pre-paid bus tickets ? If I couldn't locate everyone or was told what to do with the shirt, it made life interesting when reporting back to Mr. Smith. Selhurst Park and The Top Rank suite were regular distractions.
   Mr. Smith turned red, then purple and demanded for the culprit to be brought to him. There was either a change of heart by the rebel or they would never get another chance to represent the school. The school came first.
   I recall being told by Mr. Graham casually in a corridor that Crystal Palace had contacted the school to ask about my availability but he told them I had a fixture to fulfill and I needed to concentrate on my "O" Levels. I concentrated so hard I managed to pass one. I was more interested in a different sort of passing. At least after all these years I have been able to get that off my chest.
   Below I have included a couple of snaps of a 1969 Basketball Team and a 1969 Football team. Click on either thumbnail to view a full-size version.

JRGS 1969 Basketball team

Left-to-right: Mel Cooke, Bobby Ellis, Alan
(Dickie) Dighton, Reg Weir, Tony Gould.
Behind: Sports master Neville Graham.

Back Row/left-to-right: Malcolm Wilson, Roger Waller,
Chris Ford, Stuart Salter, unknown, Gordon Owen.
Front Row/left-to-right: unknown, Reg Weir,
Tony Hemmings, Pat Levey, Bobby Ellis.

Note the lace in the football. I get a headache just thinking about it. If anyone wants to share any of their JRGS sporting memories it would be great to read them on the site. Age Quod Agis.


 Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) reports on the Fourth John Ruskin Grand Reunion...

Co-organiser Ian Macdonald with Anne SmithThe fourth John Ruskin Grand Reunion was held on Saturday 6th October, 2012, at its usual venue with tours of The Shirley Windmill. As before, the event at The Surprise pub function room was open to Alumni, teaching and other staff members who attended at Tamworth Road or at the Shirley Windmill site up to 1991 - plus their spouses/partners.

   A full report with more images from Frazer Ashford and others can be found here.
   Co-organisers were myself and Richard "Tom" Thomas (JRGS 1957–64), who was
absent through work in Australia.

Ian Macdonald, Shirley, Surrey, October 2012 Email


 Clifford Cummins (JRGS 1956-62) reports on memorial service for Charles Smith...

On the 11th August 2012, around 80 relatives, friends and former pupils and staff from the John Ruskin Grammar School gathered at the Parish Church of St John the Divine, Selsdon, to celebrate the life of Charles Edward Smith. Click on the thumbnail right to view the cover of the program.
   The welcome and introduction was given by the Reverend Ian Brothwood, who said how much he appreciated the support given by Charles to St John’s over a period of many years.
   A moving tribute was made by Andrew Smith, who gave us a brief history of the long and full life of his father. He reminded us of the early days when Charles was educated at a school where the headmaster and his deputy were captains in the Royal Marines. It is very likely that this early part of Charles' education is where the idea of strict discipline came from! On passing his 11 plus exam, he went on to Gosport Grammar School .
   In 1934, he became a teacher at Ingram Road School in Thornton Heath and, in 1941, joined the staff at John Ruskin Central School in Tamworth Road, Croydon.
   Andrew paraphrased a reference from the Headmaster at John Ruskin who said ”Mr C. E. Smith joined my staff primarily as an instructor in Physical Training... but I found I had also gained a class master of the highest quality in Mathematics and Religious Knowledge”.
Charles E. Smith - 1912-2012   Andrew went on to say how dedicated his father was to teaching and how sorry he was to retire. However, Charles found many interests to fill his retirement, including joining a walking club, taking up water-colour painting and becoming a steward at the Fairfield Halls.
   After the third hymn we had the pleasure of hearing an arrangement by Andrew of “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” by John Rutter, played by Andrew and his wife Sue with daughters Rhiannon, Katharine and Imogen.
   Afterwards, Charles Smith’s daughter Helen read an excerpt from Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan, which Charles had written down towards the end of his life.

   After the service we were invited to join the family at Selsdon Park Hotel for afternoon tea, where there was an opportunity to meet Charles’ wife Elisabeth and the rest of the family including daughter Helen, her husband Peter Turner and their children Bridget and Joseph.

   The John Ruskin contingent was as follows:

  • Martin Nunn - teacher 1957-73

  • Peter Oxlade - pupil and later Governor - 1940-44

  • Ray “Sprout” Young - pupil - 1950-55

  • John Youldon - pupil – 1951-56

  • Robert Youldon - pupil - 1954-61

  • Clifford Cummins - pupil – 1956-62

  • Richard “Tom” Thomas - pupil - 1957-64

  • Ian Macdonald - pupil - 1958-65

  • Graham Donaldson - pupil - 1962-69

  • James Barter - pupil - 1970-73

It is fair to say that this was a joyful celebration of a man whose life began only a few months after the sinking of the Titanic and when aviation was still in its infancy.

Clifford Cummins, August 2012 Email


 Mike Beaumont (JRGS 1955-60) meets up again with two school pals in France...

Alumni Meeting in France - June 2012

My wife Barbara and I drove down to the Dordogne in France at the beginning of June to stay a few days with Bob Johnson and his wife Jenny, who have a house south of Bergerac. On a number of occasions we also got together with Colin Blunt and his wife Betty; they live just 20 minutes away.
   The photo left that shows the "Three Ruskineers" at one of our most recent reunions. Pictured left-to-right: Bob Johnson, myself and Colin Blunt; click on the thumbnail to view a larger image.
   As you can imagine, we spent some time over a few glasses reminiscing about our JRGS days under headmaster Mr. "Joe" Lowe and form master Des May between 1956 and 1960.
   We all pursued our separate careers after leaving school and it wasn't until we were in our early 60s that we all met up again. Since then we have become great friends again. More.

Mike Beaumont July 2012 Email


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