JRGS News Archive Page 58
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 58 - November 2009 -

JRGS Alumni Society


 Richard Thomas (JRGS 1957-64) reports the death of Fifties alumnus Bob Phillis...

Bob Phillis - Septmeber 2009I was sorry to hear the news that Sir Robert Phillis (JRGS 1957-61) passed away on 22nd of December at the age of 64. He had been suffering from cancer, which had initially led to his early retirement. Bob is pictured left at the recent Ruskin Reunion, held in Shirley during early-September.
   The former chief executive of Guardian Media Group, Bob announced his retirement from that position in early 2006 on health grounds. As he stated at the time: "I was diagnosed with an early-stage bone marrow cancer last summer. Since that time I am pleased to report that my treatment has progressed well." He stepped down in July. "By relinquishing my full-time role as chief executive of the group, I will be able to concentrate on my non-executive responsibilities and create the time and opportunity to pursue other interests," he said at the time.
   Remaining at GMG as a non-executive director, Bob was also chair of independent production group. All3Media, served on the boards of ITV and the Lawn Tennis Association, and was president of the Royal Television Society.
   GMG, the publisher of The Guardian, owns The Observer, Trader Media, several regional newspapers and a radio division and is wholly owned by the Scott Trust.
   Bob joined GMG in 1997 from the BBC, where he was deputy director-general for five years. During that time he "Guardian" funeral notice - 30 Dec 2009had a variety of other roles, including chairman and chief executive of BBC Worldwide and managing director of the BBC World Service. Prior to that, he held senior positions in commercial broadcasting, including chief executive of ITN.
   Our thoughts go out to Bob's wife, Jean, and The Phillis family, to whom we have also sent personal condolences on behalf of ex-Ruskin staff and pupil. Guardian Obituary.

Richard "Tom" Thomas, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Dec 2009 Email.

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: And here, shown right, is the funeral notice published in the 30 December issue of The Guardian. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
   Included below, for Alumni that cannot access the newspaper's website, are scans The Guardian's obituary,  news announcement and a library image of Bob Phillis, taken from the 23 December issue.
   Click on any thumbnail to access a larger version.
©2021 Guardian Media Group. All rights reserved.

Guardian obitituary - 23 December

Guardian article - 23 December

Guardian photograph - 23 December


 Mike Blamire (JRGS 1956-57) has scanned some scrapbook pages...

I recently came across this scrapbook. The pages I have scanned contain signatures and best wishes from others in my class at JRGS. I believe I was in Class/form 1L; my memory may have failed me.
   If anyone recognises their signature, I'd love to hear from them - see my email below.
   I attended John Ruskin briefly in the autumn of 1956 and the spring of 1957 before emigrating to Canada. Memories of the school are a little threadbare, probably because I was only there for about seven months. I do remember the tuck shop, The Windmill and participating in the annual tulip bulb planting.


JRGS Scrapbook - 1956/7

JRGS Scrapbook - 1956/7

JRGS Scrapbook - 1956/7

JRGS Scrapbook - 1956/7

Click on any thumbnail to
view a full-size version.

JRGS Scrapbook - 1956/7

Mike Blamire, Belleville, Ontario, Canada, November 2009 Email


 Terence Morris (JRCS 1942-50) recalls the literary inclinations of Mr. McLeod...

Reading through the Christmas 1936 issue of the School Magazine that was recently put online, I noted a piece written by A. W. MacLeod, then headmaster who had succeeded Mr. Field. In it he talks at length about an early 19th Century explorer, Charles Waterton. In 1943 McLeod gave me a copy of Waterton’s Wanderings in South America, published in the Everyman edition. I still have it, with his name inscribed on the flyleaf in his inimitable handwriting. I suspect he could have been reading it around 1936! Before he arrived at Ruskin he taught at Ingram Road School in Thornton Heath and at Woodside School (do either still exist?). At Woodside he became a friend of a fellow teacher, D. H Lawrence of Lady Chatterley fame.
   McLeod was a superb teacher of English literature, and continually urged us to read books, to which end he frequently gave them away. Among those he gave to me were Charles Kingsley’s Heroes and a rare American work by William Sartell Prentice, entitled The Heritage of the Cathedral. All these are still in my possession. He had a habit of stopping you in a corridor and asking "And what book are you reading today?"
   When Ruskin was elevated from Central School to Grammar School status by the 1944 Education Act, I recall him announcing the fact in assembly, and maintaining that we had all along enjoyed "grammar school education on the cheap"! How right he was, for until 1945 we didn’t even have a School library, but had to rely on the Croydon Public Library and especially the Reference Library in Katharine Street.
   I had no idea that both Mr. "Wally" Cracknell and Charles Smith had taught at Ingram Road School. One of my uncles was taught by MacLeod at Ingram before he went on as a "Scholarship" boy to Selhurst Grammar. Nor can I recall any talk about plans for the school moving to Addiscombe. Perhaps Croydon Education Committee had plans for the site that eventually was used to build the post war Ashburton School – referred to at the time as "Ashburton" on account of what it cost to build. Its first Head was none other than the author of the Ruskin School Song.
   About Ingram School itself, I have often wondered how it came to be so close to Beulah School (where I began my education). Mr. Neave, who taught geography at JRGS around 1947-48 had been on the staff at Beulah in 1938-39. It was, clearly, quite a small world. I think Ingram had a Senior Department and got its name from that of the original landowner who would have no doubt been involved in the development of that part of Thornton Heath in the period 1890-10. For many years the Chief Education Officer was one Herbert Roberts and I wonder of there is anything in the Local History Archives that might shed light on (a) Ingram School and (b) plans to move Ruskin from Scarbrook Road to Addiscombe?
   All of this suggests that it is time someone wrote a proper history of John Ruskin School, a great place with some great teachers; now even its name about to be consigned to oblivion if what I have heard is true.

Terence Morris, Hampshire, November 2009 Email

Mel Lambert|Webmaster adds: Can anybody help out with some direction here? What would we like to see made available? While I'm willing to scan the website for chronological information and gather together data into rough shape, pressure of work prevents me from donating too much time to the project.
Nespaper cutting rm Mr. Lowe's School Record   Is there anybody that lives close to the Croydon Archives who could research some of the establishments mentioned here by Terence Morris, particularly the influence that Ingram School had on the teachers that  joined our school in the mid-Thirties? Did anybody else from our alumni attend these junior and/or senior schools?

Addiscombe Grammar School
And can anybody offer additional light onto the decision behind the planned relocation of the school from Tamworth Road in 1939, as mentioned in Mr. McLeod's headmaster editorial from the July 1938 school magazine?
   You may also recall a newspaper cutting we located in headmaster Mr. Lowe's School Record from the Croydon Archive, shown right, which refers also to "Addiscombe Grammar School." We are not entirely convinced that the planners would call the eventual Upper Shirley site, "Addiscombe." Are Addiscombe and Shirley close enough - geographically - to be confused with one another? Before WW2 there would have been plenty of building space in Addiscombe proper, and less of a demographic reason to have a school so far south on Upper Shirley Road. Maybe there was a real Addiscombe site penciled in, as Terence points out, and then after WW2 it was no longer available?
   Given that these moves occurred some 16 years apart - the planned 1939 and the eventual relocation to Shirley in 1955 - they would seem totally unconnected. Possibly, in the late-Thirties the planned Addiscombe move came into being when Croydon Council realized that the Tamworth Road site was unsuitable - no decent science facilities, a long distance away from a sports ground, and recent comments about the lack of a library - that plans were being formed to move, and it looked to leafy Addiscombe. (Recall that the school moved from Scarbrook Road to Tamworth Road in 1935.)
   And when the school achieved grammar school status in 1945 and a larger sixth form, there might have been a more pressing need for a better location. (And the Addiscombe site at Ashburton would have been taken by then.) Ruskin's family connection with Shirley may have made the authorities turn their attention to further south.
    As Peter Oxlade (JRCS 1940- 44) has also pointed out: "After some thought, I have ruled out a site earmarked post war to take part of Shirley Park Golf Course in Addiscombe Road, which in 1950 was eventually proposed as a girls school and rejected after public protests. In fact, Addiscombe at that time was not very well off for building space. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that perhaps Addiscombe was meant to include its smaller neighbour Ashburton, where Ashburton School was built. The land behind that Ashburton School - now an 'Oasis' learning establishment - was originally a horse racing track before it was converted into a golf course and then into the existing playing fields and country park. However, one part of that area was given to the private sector to build Shirley Oaks Hospital, which is no more than 300 yards from Addiscombe shops."
   Any additional thoughts from The Alumni?

Terence Morris replies: It is interesting that Peter Oxlade has come up with the same suggestion that I made in my earlier email, namely that Croydon Council had thoughts about using a site in Shirley that later became the Ashburton School (to be initially headed by our own Mr. Manning)?

Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) adds: Woodside School still exists. My one memory of visiting this school as a junior engineer was to arrange for the installation of trace heating to prevent icing of water pipes in the children's outside toilets. More recently, I visited Ingram School in about 1994 with a colleague from Croydon Council to look into electrical overloading problems. In 2001 Ingram school was sold to an Asian group and extensively refurbished. The refurbishment contract was managed by a firm of surveyors/quantity surveyors, The Potter Raper group, based in Beckenham. D. H. Lawrence also taught at Davidson school.
   JRGS pupils from the mid-Sixties era may remember Chris Beer, the 1965 Rotary prize winner who was originally at Ingram School prior to joining JRGS. Chris passed a degree in electrical engineering and eventually held a District Engineer's post with SEEB before he retired. I met up with him about three years ago but have recently lost touch.
   In 1963 Chris Beer joined JRGS in Lower-Sixth Science Alpha class, and progressed on to Upper-Sixth Science Alpha in September 1964 and eventually left in September 1965 to do a sandwich-course degree with SEEBoard. In 1965 we both went for interviews with the Central Electricity Generating Board at an address in Horseferry Road, London. We were both unsuccessful after spending the whole day at CEGB, a day in which we both had medicals and full lunches, etc., apart from interviews. I felt we were being scrutinised the whole time even during the lunch break. They concluded with me that as I had blotchy hands I suffered with poor circulation and would be unsuitable for climbing masts to overhead electricity lines. My hands are still blotchy but, thank god, I failed!.
   Chris did very well at SEEBoard and held a top district job. The last time I saw him was on the sad occasion of his brother David's funeral about 3-4 years ago. Some years ago David Beer used to manage the hairdressers shop "Fishers" in Park Street.

Tony Childs (1947-53) adds: Although it is unlikely that he would remember me, I well remember Terry Morris at school. One of his main claims to fame was that it was due to him that, unlike every other school in Croydon, we had to go into school when we were taking public exams (School Certificate and then A-Levels). Earlier, he had had the privilege of not going into school but was spotted delivering a political speech outside the Town Hall. I also remember Gerald Southgate - another political animal - who was our form prefect.
   On the subject of Addiscombe Grammar School, my wife taught at Ashburton under Miss Joyce (George Manning was the boys' Head) and says its address was definitely Addiscombe. It was built on a green field site.
   The December 1936 school magazine mentions the return of W. P. Davies to the Old Boys cricket team. He is, I think, remembered by the W. P. Davies Memorial Cup donated by his widow. The Davies were family friends and coincidentally (no fix) I was the first winner.
   It is a good idea to write a history of John Ruskin. I would be very happy to give you any information I have.


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) reports on the sad death of teacher Anthony Crowe...

Anthony Crowe - 1935-2009I saw the attached Death Notice in Friday’s Guardian for one our favourite teachers. He was aged 74.
   Click on the thumbnail to view  a larger version
   Anthony Crowe taught at John Ruskin Grammar School from January 1960 until July 1963, when he left for Homerton College, Cambridge, where he seems to have spent the rest of his career. Although Anthony was at JRGS for only three years, he is remembered and hugely respected by ex-teaching colleagues and pupils. He was my form teacher during 1960-61, and encouraged me in drama and many other things.
   As well as directing some memorable productions, Anthony set up a Junior School Library and a School Film Society at which many quite radical films were shown.
   We will all remember our teacher with respect and affection. He did not suffer fools or pompousness gladly, and gave by example an education of the best kind for the youngsters in his care.

Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, November 2009 Email

Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Anthony Crowe, JRGS Teacher, in 1960I think Anthony Crowe, pictured right from the 1960 school photograph, made a big impression on all of us. I remember when a boy called, I think, Sengupta - I might have that wrong - was going to join the class and we all made childish remarks about his name. Anthony suitably admonished us and we all felt a little ashamed of ourselves.
   Also do you remember "Le baton de Monsieur Crowe", which was in fact part of a chair leg with which he used to threaten us, but I'm sure never intended using?
   I also remember well the Junior Library which was at the back of 2C's classroom, and we all spent lot of time and lunch hours using it. I spent most of my time in the library reading The Great War, edited by Wilson & Hammerton. I now have a full edition in 14 volumes; it's fascinating because it's contemporaneous.
   On the drama side he encouraged me. I wrote and directed a sketch for the Christmas Party entitled This is your Strife, based on This is your Life, and he let us rehearse in the classroom on occasions and gave advice. I wonder if anyone remembers being in that?
   I have been involved in all sorts of amateur dramatics and theatre work for many years now, just as a hobby. Before moving to Norfolk I was involved for many years with the Chicken Shed Theatre Company in North London. I was on stage a lot and wrote and produced shows, played bass in the band.
   Here in Norfolk I have been Chair of the local Operatics for nine years, produced many shows and Pantomimes. I am semi-retired now, but I've just directed a Son et Lumiere of Fakenham's history as a community production with a lottery grant.
   Maybe Anthony Crowe's encouragement and support kick started the whole thing!

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Good to read Grant's recollections of Mr. Crowe; he was a fair and honest schoolteacher. He also taught us English literature and introduced us to the poems of DH Lawrence (perhaps the short stories as well), probably the first time many of us had had someone with the flair to convey grown-up enthusiasm for poetry.
   Like Grant and Paul I remember the Sengupta "lesson", not only for his polite correction but also the way he did it. And the junior school library at the back of 2C's classroom, what a treat that was when Croydon Public Library didn't let under 14's use their adult libraries. Sadly the one book I remember was a lurid account of the Boer War!
   Paul mentioned the Film Club, a marvelous treat for those of us who, for a variety of reasons, didn't go the cinema.
Paul Graham replies: What Grant says about Anthony Crowe chimes with my memory exactly. I can still remember feeling admonished over the Sengupta affair. Sengupta didn’t stay at JR long, but seemed to cope with our boorishness with dignity. I can remember This is Your Strife very well – I had forgotten that Grant devised it. I was in it, and hope you have forgiven my awful attempts at Eamonn Andrews’ accent.

   I have also received addition background information from John Ward, who runs a past pupils’ website for St. Joseph’s, Blackpool, which school Mr. Crowe attended before going up to St Catherine’s, Cambridge.

GCE A-Level results 1953

Cambridge University Tripos results 1956

GCE A-Level results 1953

Cambridge University Tripos results 1956

As can be seen from the document shown above left, Anthony J. Crowe took three A-Levels at St Joseph’s College, Blackpool. The second document, shown right, is a section from The Times dated June 18th 1956, which states that A. J. B. Crowe, of St Catherine’s College, formerly of St Joseph’s College, took a respectable 2/1 in the second part of the Cambridge English Tripos. Click on either thumbnail to view a full-sized version.
   I have also discovered that Anthony J. B. Crowe MA was born in March 1935 in Hampstead RD, London, son of William Robert Owen Crowe, born Acton, London, 1894, and Eveleen M. Waters; they married in 1934 in Brentford RD, London. Anthony has a sister, Moira A. B. Crowe, born September 1936 in Hampstead RD, London. He attended St Joseph’s (Roman Catholic) School, Blackpool, Lancashire, leaving in 1953 with A-Levels in English Literature, French and Latin. He attended St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, graduating in 1956 with a upper second class honors degree in English. He joined JRGS in January 1960, where he taught English and Drama and was involved with the Film Society, Junior Library, school choir and 15 Society. He left JRGS in July 1963 to go to Homerton Teachers Training College, Cambridge, where he taught until 1993. He married Judith M. Oxley, in September 1967, in Surrey. They are known to have at least one child - a daughter - and grandchildren. Anthony was also involved with The Cambridge Film Trust.
   His funeral Service was held on 12 November, 2009, at St Luke’s Church, Cambridge.
   Our thanks to John Ward of the St Joseph’s Old Boys Association for is invaluable assistance.
ML adds: Paul Graham, Grant Harrison, John Byford and I were in Anthony Crowe's 2C class from September 1960 until June 1961. The following year we were in Alan "Ego" Murray's 3M and thence to David "Rhino" Rees' 5U class of 1962-63, prior to the sixth form. All of these JRGS teachers - and the staff in general - had a profound and lasting effect on all of us, to a very positive extent, I consider.

Derek Charlwood (JRGS 1958-64) adds: I was taught English by Anthony Crowe for one year and his encouragement of use of descriptive narrative has stayed with me all my life. The comment above about the quality of staff, and how it stood so many in good stead set me thinking.
   I hated school with a passion, not just JRGS, but Gilbert Scott before it, and blossomed after school life. But when you look at John Cobley reaching the highest levels of academia, Martin Loveday reaching musical heights as Leader of one of our top orchestras, and Roy Hodgson managing at the top level in football - all roughly the same age - and I am sure that there are many other pupils that have achieved great things in their lives. What a success story for a South London Grammar School that had many pupils from what is now called "social housing". To get to the top in such disparate professions means that a solid grounding must have been there!

Paul Graham adds: Late last year, I wrote to Anthony Crowe's widow Judith to offer our condolences, and Anthony Crowerecalled fond memories of his teaching at the school from January 1960 until July 1963, when he left for Homerton College, Cambridge. I mentioned that he is remembered and hugely respected.
   I told Judith that he had been my form teacher during 1960-61, and encouraged me in drama and many other things. As well as directing some memorable productions, Anthony set up a Junior School Library and a School Film Society.

Judith Crowe replied as follows: "Dear Paul, many months ago you sent me a message after seeing the notice of Tony's death in The Guardian. I am very sorry that I have taken so long to get back to you. I couldn't do it at the time, but so appreciated hearing from you about what you remember of his teaching and his activities at John Ruskin.
   When I first met him - actually through a friend from his days at Tulse Hill who was my first head - Tony was already teaching at Homerton college, but over the years he often spoke of his days at your school and I know he was very happy there. You can imagine how pleased I was then, when sorting through some of the papers in the study, to find some of your old school magazines and even some photographs of the famous Shakespeare productions he had told me about so often!
   I was glad then that I hadn't been too hasty in replying. It sounds as though you have a very well organised Old Boy network, and hopefully archive, and have some copies of these. Although Tony spent the rest of his teaching career at Homerton he was continually involved with new initiatives and developments. His friend and colleague, Peter Raby, wrote a piece about Tony's work at Homerton which I would find difficult to improve on. I hope you won't mind if I send you this to include in any way you like, in whole or in part, for old students who may remember him. [Click here to view a full-size version of Peter's essay - ML.]
   The first draft had a better photograph of him sitting in his room in college with all his pictures on the wall, reflecting so many of his interests and our life together, which I took just before his retirement [pictured above left; click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.]


Archived News/Events Pages have been moved here.

The content of this web site is provided for informational purposes only, and is subject to change without notice. The JRGS Alumni Society makes no representation about the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of the content of this web site, nor the results to be obtained from using any part of such content.

Please send any messages and memorabilia to webmaster
©2021 JRGS Alumni Society. All Rights Reserved. Last revised: 01.01.21