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- Page 56 - Aug thru Sep 2009 -

JRGS Alumni Society


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) looks back on the recent Ruskin Reunion...

The September Reunion was a very successful event, and mentally extremely stimulating. The organization was very good thanks to both Richard "Tom" Thomas (JRGS 1957-64) and Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) and his family - an inspired idea. Luckily, The Surprise was significantly larger than I remember it from about 1965 when I had my first pint of bitter (Double Diamond, regrettably - but it didn't put me off) in the small front bar.
   Because I had travelled around the oddly but blessedly traffic jam-free M25 to get to Shirley and, it was a lovely sunny day, I thought I would stop and take a few photos at the present site of John Ruskin, now a sixth-form college on the old John Newnham site, plus the Oaks Farm sports field. Oaks Road had barely changed from the early 1960s.

   Since it was still before noon and very quiet at The Surprise, my next stop was The Mill to talk to ex-JR pupil and mill guide Tony Skrzypczyk (JRGS 1968-75) and take a few photos comparing the site now with some photos that Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62) had taken before the school's demolition in the early 1990s. By noon The Surprise was humming. One of the best things about the event was its inclusive nature. Pupils and staff from the 1940s to the 21st century plus their partners, of course, but also ancillary staff, Friends of Shirley Windmill and an ex-school governor. The memorabilia table was overflowing with interesting items.
   I was there for the whole six hours. As I had been on a Mill Tour with ex-alumnus Kent Sadler (JRGS 1969-76) as a guide a few years ago, I decided to concentrate on talking to as many JR colleagues from different years as possible. I lost my voice at one point and had to have a coffee and take a brief rest.
   A particular highlight was the presence of both ex-principals Bill Patterson and Anne Smith. Perhaps next year we can persuade the current principal Tim Eyton-Jones to attend?
   The prize for the most pupils from one form must go the 5U of 1961-62. I counted 11 out of a possible 33 - quite an achievement.
   My M25 trek from Buckinghamshire was put into shade by people from all corners of the globe - Australia, Canada, the United States and Malaysia for starters. Peter Wilson (JRGS 1956-63) had come from the Channel Islands and he told me that his sea crossing was not for the faint hearted.
   I was very pleased to be able to speak to Barrie Sturt-Penrose (JRGS 1958-61) who has had a distinguished career in art criticism and investigative journalism, to meet Peter Oxlade (JRCS 1940-44) who has been so instrumental in keeping Charles Smith in touch, to many of my ex-teachers including the tireless Martin Nunn, and to others too numerous to mention.
   Lastly, I would urge all those who attended who are not in regular touch via The Mill website to do so, and to explore what must be one of the most comprehensive and impressive collections of information about one local authority school in existence. Many thanks to Mel Lambert for his tireless work on the website and for publicizing this excellent reunion.

Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, September 2009 Email.

Colin Bateman (JRGS 1957-63) adds: It's more than 45 years since I was at Ruskin, but I have followed The Mill entries with interest. Great to see such an active involvement - I regret missing the Reunion.
   I noticed that [Sir] Bob Phillis (JRGS 1957-61) appears in Debretts - there's fame! Terry Rabbitts has also made a real mark. That whole period seems to have been very successful, what with Steve Kember, Bob Houghton, Robin (Lennie) Lawrence, Jamie Reid et alia.
   I note that Stuart Smith (JRGS 1957-63) was President of the LTA, but not sure that it is well known that Mike Soper (who came from John Newnham in the sixth form) is president of Surrey CCC, and was Deputy Chair of the ECC. I wonder if Mike Noakes (JRGS 1957-63) and Stuart Smith were the first from Ruskin to get Blues at Cambridge?
   One guy who I knew quite well at school, Peter Watson, became Sports Editor at The Sunday Express - might be that Ron Pigeon bumped into him? I don't think that Peter gets a mention anywhere on The Mill.

Mike Noakes (JRGS 1957-63) adds: I remember Colin Bateman very well from our days playing football and cricket together. He was an excellent goalkeeper - Croydon/Surrey, at least - and ditto for his wicket keeping. I remember our respective fathers coming to watch us in all weathers and locations and in mid week fixtures too.
   Colin's memory isn't bad either: Stuart Smith got a Blue in lacrosse from Cambridge and mine was for football from Oxford. Bob Phillis is, indeed, Sir Robert having laboured through the media jungle for many years, latterly at the BBC and the Guardian Media Group. Stuart has recently relinquished the Presidency of the LTA. One luminary missing from Colin's list is Roy Hodgson (JRGS 1958-65), the current manager of Fulham FC.
   Quite a group.

Paul Graham adds: Colin Bateman and Mike Noakes are shown together a school soccer photo together on page 30 of the July 1962 JRGS school magazine, with others like Peter Baron. The duo also feature heavily, with more photos, on page 32 and page 33 of the April 1961 school magazine, as shown below.


Mike Noakes - 1961

Below Cup XI - 1961

Mike Noakes, captain of
Croydon Schools XI

JRGS XI - winners of 1961 Surrey Schools Beloe Rose Bowl
Back row, from left: Colin Alexander, John Macdonald, Vic Reed, Colin Bateman, Rod Simmons, Keith "Monty" Masters and Peter Howard.
Front row: Jimmy Little, Mike Noakes, Peter Holmes,
Ian Paye and Stuart Smith.

Colin Bateman

Below Rose Bowl - 1962

Colin Bateman, regular goalkeeper
for Croydon XI and Surrey XI, and
the first pupil to be awarded an International Trial Badge

JRGS XI - winners of 1962 Surrey Schools Beloe Rose Bowl
Back: Powis, Reeves, Bateman, Fentiman, Tyler and Baron
Front: Askew, Rollings, Noakes (captain), Paye and Reid

Colin Bateman adds: It is good to see Mike Noakes' comments.
   For info, the photograph of the Beloe Cup winners of 1961 also features Stuart Smith, seen on the right-hand end of the front row.  I think the individual photo of me dates from about 1959!

Tony Skrzypczyk (JRGS 1968-75 & FOSW Secretary) adds: Seen below are further details of damage to The Mill sails and the culprits caught in the act after the Reunion.


 Tony Skrzypczyk (JRGS 1968-75 & FOSW  Secretary) is looking for school photos...

The Ruskin Reunion was a very enjoyable day; I look forward to meeting you all again sometime.
   Do any ex-pupils have photos of the school or, indeed, any photos relevant to the school or events trips etc. that they would like to donate to the Friends of Shirley Windmill (FOSW)?
   We want to exhibit more photos of the school on Mill Open Days; it would also be good if these were available at the Local Studies Library in Croydon for interested researchers.
   If anybody is happy to part with originals or hard copies for digital scanning and safe return, my address is 39 Addiscombe Road, Croydon CR0 6SA.

Tony Skrzypczyk, Croydon, Surrey September 2009 Email


 Graham Donaldson (JRGS 1962-69) recalls some favourite teacher sayings ...

I'm pleased to hear it went well for the recent Ruskin Reunion.
   I thought the following recollections might evoke some memories and/or cause some amusement!
   One thing's for sure: you COULDN'T make it up, with the best will in the world!

Mr. "Wally" Cracknell - Deputy Head

Mr. "Wally" Cracknell - Deputy Head

"Time we had a haircut!!"

It may have been the heyday of The Beatles and Rolling Stones – but woe betide any Ruskin student who tried to emulate their style!

Mr. Beebe - French

Mr. Beebe - French

"It’s a bit FREE!"

Reaction to a piece of translation which, whilst not wrong, wasn’t quite the ticket.

Mr. Cook - Physics

Mr. Cook - Physics

"Laziness is a DISEASE! And if you’ve got a disease, you have to have MEDICINE! The medicine is a WACK! With the ruler! You boy – do you want some medicine?"

What would today’s politically correct brigade make of this, I wonder?

Mr. "Fred" Field - English

Mr. "Fred" Field - English

"Pay Attention!"

Usually accompanied by a clout round the ear with the rolled sleeve of his gown.

Mr. "Captain" Maggs (Latin)

Mr. "Captain" Maggs (Latin)

“Let’s set PREP!"

Unlike other masters he didn’t set ‘Homework’ but ‘Prep!’ Did he come from a public-school background, I wonder?

Mr. "Spud" Murphy - French

Mr. "Spud" Murphy - French

"I’m having Injury Time!"

Time wasted in class by misdemeanors would be made up after school, as in a football match.

Mr. "Eggo" Murray - History

Mr. "Eggo" Murray - History

"I’m not going into that – you’ll have
to read it yourselves!!"

Response, looking very embarrassed, when asked to explain what happened to King Edward II at Berkeley Castle. Don’t ask – YOU’LL have to read it if you don’t know!

Mr. Pearman - Chemistry

Mr. Pearman - Chemistry

“How did that water vapour get there?"

He had explained, many times over, why water vapour would form on a cold flask when you put water in it. But I’m afraid some of our number would deliberately pull his leg by saying "Don’t know, sir!"

Mr. "Rhino" Rees - Latin

Mr. "Rhino" Rees - Latin

"Now LOOK my boy…!"

You knew you were 'For it' when he adopted this tone. A little man in stature he may have been, but Mr. Rees could be very intimidating!

Mr. "Smut" Smith - Maths

Mr. "Smut" Smith - Maths

"Blank, Stupid and Helpless!"

His reaction when a supposedly simple question drew no answers. Usually something to do with algebra, which I never have understood!

Incidentally, I attended JRGS from 1962 until 1969. I was in the "U" stream but, because I didn’t quite get the grades first time around, had to return in September 1968. More below.

Graham Donaldson, South Croydon, Surrey September 2009 Email

Peter Hurn (JRGS 1967-73) adds: I remember when I was in the first year, playing cricket in Mr. Smith's team. We were against the Croydon Schools Under-11 team and got them out for about 45. I went in with five or six wickets down and still 20-odd to win, Croydon had a "fast" bowler on who was skittling us out.
   I played him for an over or two. At the end of one over I got down the other end where CES was umpiring. He said: "That was beautifully played, Hurn". I was so enthused by that that I got nearly all the rest of the runs myself and we won by two wickets. I'll never forget that comment, but it balances out with another memory.

   About a year later we were in a Surrey semi-final and I was fielding in the deep. The ball went up in the air quite a long way, I ran in towards it and realised I'd have to dive and maybe get a finger under it. I decided to let it bounce and fielded it cleanly.
   CES was umpiring near to me. He glared and at the subsequent inquest referred to me as "lily-livered", which, I have to say, made more of an impression than the first one. Although I guess that criticisms of this type were rather more commonplace than praise of the first variety.

Chris Mann (JRGS 1967-73) adds: I still have nightmares about some of the inquests during my time as cricket captain. They mostly started with the command "Stand up, Mann" as CES entered the room to deliver his verdict on the mistakes made in the latest game.
   But there was one match - which I have tried to forget - where the batsman took his guard with his body square on to the bowler and the face of his bat pointing in the square leg direction. His hand/eye co-ordination was very good and, after he had hit a few boundaries either side of the square leg fielder, I moved an extra fielder to help out. The batsman went on to make 40 runs or so, and the subsequent inquest went like this:
   "Stand up, Mann".
   "The batsman hit the ball here, here and here." (Puts crosses on the blackboard around square leg.)
   "You had fielders here, here and here. (Add crosses on the blackboard around mid-off, cover point and extra cover.)
   "Can you explain why?"
   "No, Sir".
   With counselling I hope to make a full recovery!


 Anne Smith (JRGS/JRHS teacher & principal 1970-99) on fate of the school organ...

JRGS Organ - 1991I understand that when the college moved to Selsdon many alumni were disappointed that the organ - shown right just before the demolition of the Upper Shirley Road site in 1991 - was not moved as well, but apparently was just left to moulder, especially as it had been funded from school funds raised by the parents, not by the local authority. May I therefore set the record belatedly straight?
   Our first thought, naturally, was to take the organ with us. It had not been used much since Dr. James had left, subsequent music teachers not being keyboard specialists; however, it was ours and some pupils used it,
   We began to look into the logistics... and discovered:

   1. The organ was too high for the hall in Selsdon and would have to be lowered at great cost;

   2. An organ expert whom we employed to advise us on this matter told us that organs don't like to be moved, leave alone cut down in size, and that

   3. It was an old organ, having been secondhand when bought for the school, and not worth the money we should have to spend on the project, and indeed

   4. Even if we spent the money it was unlikely that the organ would function properly after being moved.

   So we passed on to Plan B: find the organ a good home. This did not work, possibly because all the places which want organs of this height have one, and possibly also because of 2, 3 and 4 above. So we were reluctantly driven to the conclusion that we would have to abandon the organ. Until...
   There was a break in and all the lead was stolen. So we called in an underwriter to assess the insurance value of the organ, and a local expert known to us (and indeed related to one of us) to negotiate for us. The upshot of which was that we received £16,000 insurance money for an organ which was, in fact, of little (no) value to us in the future. The money was spent on the provision of an IT-based music suite for the college at Selsdon, which was well used from day 1, as befitted a late C20 installment.
   That's the story, and I hope your readers will agree that we did not simply abandon the organ without caring about its background and history.

Anne Smith, Croydon, Surrey. September 2009 Email

Terry Procter (JRGS 1953-60) adds: Sorry to hear this, as I well remember the organ being built and the unfortunate parents being hounded for contributions. What a terrible waste, since it was a fine instrument. I am totally mystified as to why it was not salvaged.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds to his growing collection of books about Croydon...
Croydon - The Story of 100 Years - cover Croydon - The Story of 100 Years - page 16 Croydon - The Story of 100 Years - page 56 Croydon - The Story of 100 Years - back

Croydon - The Story of a Hundred Years ISBN: 0 9501310 6 7
Artwork design ©CNHSS. All rights reserved

My neighbor Wendy Williams, who attended Old Palace School in South Croydon, recently returned from a trip to England with an interesting book. Croydon - The Story of a Hundred Years is a 60-page publication that contains some fascinating images from the past century, along with recollections of local residents.
   Click on any of these thumbnails shown right to view a large version.
   The book is published by the Croydon Natural History & Scientific Society (CNHSS), 96a Brighton Road, South Croydon, CR2 6AD.

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA September 2009, Email


 Graham Donaldson (JRGS 1962-69) could not make Reunion but recalls school life...

I only recently discovered this site through my involvement with the Croydon Local Studies Forum. I would have liked to come on Saturday 5th to the Ruskin Reunion but as it happens I'm already committed to a family "do" on that day. In the 40 years that have elapsed I have managed to migrate no further than South Croydon, so attendance wouldn't have been difficult!
   It's good to hear that some of my former teachers are still around. I remember Mr. Peet (Nature Study lessons accompanied by Mr. Lowe) and Mr. Nunn, although I don't think he ever taught me. And, of course, who could possibly forget Mr. C E Smith!? I did see him a few years ago at Fairfield, although as I hardly excelled in any of the subjects he taught he would probably rather forget me! Ironically I hear occasional word of him through friends of a friend who now reside in Manchester.
   Just a couple of comments on recent posts. Mr. "Fred" Field definitely didn't leave in about 1962 as he was my form teacher (IIIu and IVu) from 1963 to 65. As I recall, he left that Summer to take up a higher post in the Midlands which, of course, was destined to be tragically short-lived.
   And I'm sure we referred to Mr. Murray as "Eggo" (two g's, as it was derived from "Egghead".) rather than "Egotistical". He was my form master in the Lower Sixth and I studied History and British Constitution to A-Level with him.
   My final form master was Mr. Peacock and it was sad that he lost his sight soon after my departure. I remember it was getting very poor by the late 'Sixties and he could only read maps with the aid of a powerful magnifying glass. He used to get me to mark the Register for him, as he could not see who was present and who wasn't! His enthusiasm for map work has stood me in good stead, however, as since 2001 I have been closely involved with the production of computerised bus map publicity for both Transport for London (TfL) and Southern Railway.
   Incidentally, my late father also attended the JR Tamworth Road site from 1935 to 39 when his tenure was cut short by wider World events. Mr. "Wally" Cracknell and Mr. Pearman actually taught both of us.
   I hope you have a good day on Saturday and will look out for any future events.
   Although I now live in South Croydon, when I was at Ruskin my parents' house was in Addiscombe, opposite Ashburton Park. This was actually not too convenient as there was no direct bus, so I walked most of the time. Even in the harsh winter of 1962/63 - no days off for snow back then; imagine what "Smut" would have said!!
Ironically, of course, since 2002 route 130 has provided a direct facility- most Addingtonites having switched to the Tram to and from Croydon. (Incidentally, there are no "suffixed" 130s - for example 130A - any more).

Life after JRGS
After my return from Reading University in 1972, finding a job proved difficult (nothing new there!) and I was "temping" at a shipping agency near London Bridge for a couple of years. However, in 1974 I was accepted into the Civil Service Executive Officer recruitment scheme and was allocated, surprise surprise, to what was then the Property Services Agency (PSA) in Croydon. As a result I was subsequently able to scrape up the deposit on a flat in Canning Road, Addiscombe, where I lived until I came here in 1988.
   I subsequently worked in offices in Croydon and Central London, but in the 1990s the PSA joined John Ruskin Grammar School in becoming a defunct organisation (privatisation in this case). Rather than face a department like the Home Office, which I knew would be a nightmare, I took voluntary redundancy. After a "career break" more temping followed, but then I got involved with TfL following Ken Livingstone's election as Mayor, and the much greater emphasis on public transport in London. However, since 2005 I have only worked as a consultant to one of their suppliers who, ironically, are based in Sweden. So it's all done by email with the occasional trip over there - which would have seemed like science fiction back in the Sixties.

Graham Donaldson, South Croydon, Surrey, September 2009 Email


 Geoff Forbath (JRGS 1952-57) recalls school discipline during the Fifties ...

"There will be no talking during lunch" - Mr. Rees' instruction not only silenced us boys for the whole of the meal, but it also had the curious effect of silencing the ladies serving lunch... and the staff sitting at their tables along the side of the dining hall (or was it a "refectory"?).
   The discipline at the school in the 1950s was generally very good, if occasionally inconsistent. At one end of the spectrum we had Mr. Richardson, our French teacher: "Ecoutez...! Look here...! Go and report to the...! Listen...! Bon!" At the other end of the spectrum, the stentorian voice of Mr. Smith: "Silence!" - which brought the corridor to total stillness.
   In retrospect, these polarities perhaps provided the checks and balances which created the general tone of the school, which, in my view at least, provided a good learning environment, and a place to which I was happy to go each morning.
   Having in mind the relatively small size of the school (about 24 staff in my day), the amount of extra-curricular activity was remarkable. There was a very active debating society (Mr. Murray and others), the cercle francais (Mr. Fisher), and lots of drama (Mr. Neale). Mr. Smith provided a great deal of competitive sport (not a strength of mine). Continental holidays were just beginning. I belonged to the Photographic Society (teacher?) and I played chess.
   Mainly, I was very much involved in music at the time and derived much pleasure from the activities (though I never reached much of a standard). Mr. Hancock ran an orchestra, in which I played the violin. I had private piano lessons and I had a half-hour slot for organ practice twice a week. In the Sixth Form I studied A-Level Music (with English and French). There was a choir in which I first sang treble then bass. The choir used to stand at the back of the hall during morning assemblies and 'lead' the singing. I have often wondered why our assemblies always finished with the anthem God be in my Head with its not-too-inspiring last line: "God be at mine end, And at my departing".
   I got on very well with Mr. Hancock, and much respected him as a man and as a versatile musician; in addition to his various instrumental skills he was also a published composer. Mr. Hancock left JRGS in the mid-Sixties and went back to his home area in Staffordshire. I visited him there in the late 1960s and was happy to re-establish relationships with him shortly before he died.
   I was also in the Army Cadet Force (Mr. Alexander); I am not entirely sure why, except that there was a view that if we passed two army certificate levels at school, we would have an easier time when called-up for national service.
   I did not particularly enjoy the normal weekly ACF parades but I did enjoy the 0.22 rifle range (at the end of the bicycle sheds, under the laboratories). And I did enjoy the two summer camps which I attended. We lived under canvas in an army camp (I don't remember where) and I was in charge of a bren gun when we went on our mock maneuvers. Can you imagine the reaction today? A crowd of 15-year-old boys with fully-operational 303 rifles and a bren-gun (albeit loaded only with blanks) roaming the hills and woods practising being soldiers?
  In the end, the ACF did not serve its purpose for me, because I managed to get deferred for so long that conscription had finished. I first went into teaching for some 24 years, finishing as a deputy head of a comprehensive school. I then worked as a project manager at a training and enterprise council for a few years, before moving to a teaching and research post in a university, from which I recently retired.
   Incidentally, in those days my brother Robert Forbath was rather higher profile than I at the school, being School Captain from 1956-57. Those of you who remember him may be interested to know he is alive and well and living in Wales.
   I look back on my school days at JRGS with pleasure; they were good days, and I was sorry when they finished.
   But I would have liked to talk during lunch.

Geoff Forbath, South Lincolnshire, September 2009 Email


 Ian Macdonald & Richard Thomas say there is still room for Reunion late-comers...

The MillThe Fire and Health & Safety requirements restrict us to a total of 120 people in the Reception Room. Currently, we have 101 people confirmed and another 8 awaiting confirmation - so there is still room for late comers!
   We will meet on Saturday 5th September at The Surprise pub's Reception Room, adjacent to the Upper Shirley Road site. The room will be opening at 12.00 noon with a finger-food buffet commencing at 12.30 pm. The price per Alumnus is £10.00, which covers the buffet and sundry items such as name badges and holders.
   If they haven't done so already, Alumni should send their payments to Richard Thomas without delay.

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


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