JRGS News Archive Page 55
JRGS Alumni Society

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- Page 55 - August 2009 -

JRGS Alumni Society


 Bob Wane (JRGS 1945-53) unearths a fascinating image from a Fifties school trip ...

JRGS school tripThe recent correspondence from Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) about the school trip to Aeschi, Switzerland, in 1953 prompted a recollection of an old photo that I had stored away in the album - show left; click on the thumbnail to view  a larger image.
   I think that the picture was possibly taken in 1953 since I have a distinctly Frank Sinatra pose! It clearly shows Mr. Richardson, the French teacher, and Mr. Charles Smith. The  location is unknown!
   I can be seen on the bottom row, second from right, leaning on the balustrade next to Wheeler, I think.
   All the best for the Ruskin Reunion which, unfortunately, I will be unable to attend.

Bob Wane, Bedford, Beds August 2009 Email

 John Byford (JRGS (1959-66) adds: The picture may well have been taken by the River Seine in Paris, between the Pont de la Tournelle and Notre Dame; these steps lead up to the Quai de la Tournelle.


 David Preston (JRGS 1968-75) recalls Seventies school life and the Mill Fairs...

Dave Preston - October 1970I appear in the 1970 School Photo at the left-hand end of the second row, just in front of the school caretaker, Percy Eagleton. I was in 3Mc (Mr. McAuliffe's class) at the time. Other staff in the photo: Miss O'Connor , who taught English; Mrs. Bloch, French; Mr. Rowlands, History; Mr. Rees, Latin; and Dr. James, Music and playing the school organ at assembly.
   In 1969 I went on the first school trip to St Valery en Caux, France, which was organized, I think, by Mr. Richards and Mr. Maggs. It was for first and second years only. Four mothers went along to provide catering, one of which was mine. (She also went the following year too.)
   I was in the 15 Society in the UVI. I also remember a folk music club in the sixth form; I only listened. I noticed that there is an article on the website from Keith Hunter. He was in the same year and many of my classes. I remember him playing guitar - Sandman by America comes to mind.
   I was in the school rugby union team for one year. We had very old black-and-red quartered jerseys. I was short and skinny and played on the wing. I am not sure if this was in the second or the third year. We had a new teacher who was Welsh; I don't remember his name, and he was shocked that JRGS did not have a rugby team so he started one.
   In the early Seventies the Parents Association organized a series of Mill Fairs at the school. I have provided copies of  the 1970 and 1971 programmes, which make interesting reading, particularly the names of the local shops and stores that supported the events. The programmes also include two recipes for a cake competition.
   I left school and trained as a computer programmer, a profession that I still follow. I emigrated to Australia in 1980 and now live in Brisbane with my wife and two adult sons.

David Preston, Brisbane, Australia. August 2009 Email


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) recalls the 1962 production of Julius Caesar...

I have unearthed two interesting images from the Senior School Dramatic Production of Julius Caesar that was staged in December. 1962. The producer was Mr. Crowe. Click on either thumbnails to view a larger version.

1962 school play - "Julius Caesar"

1962 school play - "Julius Caesar"

David Treleaven (right) as Brutus;
myself as Portia, Brutus’s wife.

John George (left) as Soothsayer;
David Orange as Lucius, Brutus’s servant.

A review of the production can be found in the April 1963 School Magazine on pages 12 and 13. At the time of its staging, I was in 3U, while David Treleaven was in U6 and the school vice-captain. David Orange was in Year 2. I had played opposite John George (as Portia and Shylock) earlier that year in April's Junior School Dramatic Production.
   Can you spot the anachronistic article of my clothing in the large images? I remember it being very cold hanging about backstage in December - it was the frigid 1962/63 winter - and I used to take my socks off before going on stage with what was a comparatively small role. When it came to these photos being taken, I forgot, and to my regret nobody pointed it out!

Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, August 2009 Email


 Richard Winborn (JRGS 1961-68) cannot make the Reunion but recalls school life...

I recently found out about the Ruskin Reunion and The Mill website from Lance Goodman, who was a year above me. Unfortunately, I cannot make the event, as I have another engagement on 5 September, but please pass on my best wishes to Martin Nunn, who taught me RI and whom I also knew through the Croydon Schools Camps.
   I was fascinated to look around The Mill website, which brought back many memories. I never knew Mr. Smith's first name in all the time I was there and I empathise with other remarks made about him on the website. I will always remember the spotless desks in Room 1, and I believe that it was because I was scared of him that I passed O-Level maths! Similarly, awe of Mr. "Rhino" Rees got me an "A" in A-Level Latin, to the detriment of my other subjects, which I had to re-take. But I have always been grateful for the knowledge of Latin.
   Alan Murray was also one of my form teachers, and very popular as the website says. But I always thought that "Eggo" was spelt with two "g"s!
   I am still in touch with several alumni, particularly since I was for many years closely involved with the [Christian Union Crusader] Camps, which were enthusiastically promoted by John Adkins, who succeeded in getting large numbers of both staff and pupils to attend.

Richard Winborn, London SE19, August 2009 Email


 Geoff van Beek/Downer (JRGS 1962-69) unearths some interesting postcards...

A couple of years ago I discovered that the sweetshop just up the road from the former JRGS site in Upper Shirley Road, next to The Sandrock pub, still has nostalgic monochrome postcards of the school. They are not on display - more of an "under-the-counter" thing now!

JRGS postcard JRGS postcard JRGS postcard

   Click on any thumbnail to view  a larger version. Click here for a medium or here for a large combined version.

Geoffrey C. van Beek, Rotterdam, Holland, August 2009 Email.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) spots a famous Croydon landmark: Ruskin House...

Ruskin House, Croydon

During a trip last Christmas to the UK, my partner and I were returning from the Croydon Crematorium in Mitcham Road, heading south to revisit the site of my family's former home on the New Addington housing estate, when we spotted this building in Coombe Road, just past the junction with London Road.
   Home to Croydon's Trade Union and Labour Movement, Ruskin House - formerly Coombe Hill House - functions as social club with an extensive garden and patio. According to the location's website, the building also hosts a variety of clubs and music nights that take place on a weekly basis, in addition to offering a pair of function rooms that have been recently refurbished. Click on the thumbnail left to view a larger image.

   John Ruskin was an influential British art critic and social commentator on the Victorian Age. His ideas are said to have inspired the Labour Movement. He attacked the worst aspects of industrialization, and actively promoted art education and museums for the working classes.
   The original Ruskin House was in Wellesley Road, Central Croydon. By the end of the 1914-18 Great War, the Trade Unions and Labour Party had outgrown its original premises in West Croydon and, with a £3,000 subscription, purchased and furnished a house in Wellesley Road. Located at the corner of Poplar Walk, Ruskin House survived until 1966, when re-development and road widening resulted in its demolition. As a result, the movement relocated once again to its current home in Coombe Road.

Mel Lambert, Burbank, California, August 2009 Email


 Geoff van Beek/Downer (JRGS 1962-69) fondly recalls a former schoolmaster...

The upcoming Ruskin Reunion in September has prompted me pass on my regards to a few of the people whose names I recognized on the list of participants. I would also like to write to former schoolmaster Charles Smith via The Mill site, which is all we have left of JRGS.
   This message may be a complete puzzle to CES, as I was insignificant in all sports and numerics. The O-level Mathematics penny dropped at the 11th hour and I got through to Bristol University by the skin of my teeth with a curious and unsuitable mixture of A-levels for dentistry (French, Art and Technical Drawing). I had to do A-level Biology, Physics and Chemistry all in the space of one year at Bristol.
   I am sure that CES won’t remember me as he must have taught literally thousands of pupils in the course of his own career. What is important however is that pupils who have made a success of their lives, sometimes take the time to look back at the various stepping stones offered to them by teachers who obviously took a pride in their work in order to achieve higher-than-average pass rates.
   I remember Charles Smith as being such a teacher. You were very strict in order not to waste any time keeping a class attentive, especially with such a difficult subject. You wanted the exercise books and the classroom to look neat and tidy even to the extent of writing the names on the outsides of the exercise books yourself.
   Before being allocated to your classes I had had maths lessons from others who made the subject vague and chaotic, and as far as thought processes go, messy. Your own special style of breaking the subject down to logical steps that had to be taken by seemingly laborious routes with no short cuts meant that no mistakes were possible when the subject had finally been grasped.
   I use the same extremely tidy and orderly system to this day, but I apply it to the oral surgery and dentistry I do on a daily basis. For example, I have six instruments which I use for routine dentistry and the assistants have to put them on the trays in the same order in both surgeries. I don’t insist on them being placed 1 7/8 inches from the edge of the tray, but it’s not far off! The practice is well-known for being meticulously efficient, tidy and clean.
   I am sure you instilled this way of thinking in me and my nurses still chuckle when I am refer to a certain instrument used by the majority of Dutch dentists, called a Flat Plastic, as a “mud stick”. It is useless compared with the superior equivalent, the Ward’s Carver. The “mud stick” reference originated in your classroom when referring to pupils who changed from blue to black ink in their fountain pens. Needless to say, the ink had to be changed with the speed of light. The same now applies to Flat Plastics.
   My sister, who went to Selhurst, has been a Primary School teacher all her life in Portland, Dorset. Her classroom has always been like yours, with furniture still looking brand new while all the other classrooms have had their worn-out desks and chairs replaced at least twice. She also has the highest 11-plus pass rate of any of the teachers in the whole of Dorset. You can hear a pin drop during her classes.
   Children cry their eyes out when they hear that they have been allocated to her class and they love her for her efforts when they leave to go to better schools as a result. She is now head teacher of Tophill Primary School on Portland.
   It is much the same from the memories we have of Charles Smith here on the website; one teacher always seems to stand out!
   I will therefore end this epistle by expressing my gratitude and admiration for all your efforts at JRGS.

Geoffrey C. van Beek, Rotterdam, Holland, August 2009 Email.


 Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) recalls a 1953 school trip to Switzerland...

Mr. Smith during 1953 school tripWe have created a Photo Gallery of some images I secured during a 1953 School trip to Aeschi near Lake Thun, Switzerland, with Mr. Smith (pictured left with schoolmate Hopker) and Mrs. Garwood.
   Some of the pictures have got a date stamp on the backs of October 1953. Whether this is the date of the trip, i.e. the Autumn Half Term and what we see is new snow, or whether it was a Spring Half Term trip, in which case it will be old winter snow, I know not now!
   The originals are contact prints on 6x9 cm, which I would have printed myself back then, before the days of enlargers; I also developed the negatives.
   You can see the juvenility of the photography. It was probably the most pictures I had ever taken on one occasion, and one of the first times I had been away from home without parents - maybe just a scout camp before then. I do not remember what the camera was but judging by the fact that they are contact prints, it must have been a 6x9 roll-film camera, before going on to 35mm at a later age.

Photographic origins in late-Forties
I started developing and printing my own films at the age of about 10 or so in 1948, when we went to a holiday camp on the Isle of Wight, not so very long after the war, and I bought a contact printing frame plus some chemicals. I have never looked back since, although now of course it is all done instantaneously on the computer. I had to give up using the enlarger when my eyes would no longer focus down to about 3 inches, which is as close as I would get to focus the image on the baseboard. I did try colour printing at one time but it was so fraught with problems that were difficult and expensive to overcome in those days that I did not pursue it further.
   Having to work in total darkness was one issue, since it was almost impossible to darken the kitchen/diner sufficiently for colour work and wastage was very high and expensive, and not just from light leaks. It was OK for black and white if you were careful and you could use a red safe-light. Commercial colour printing came down to a reasonable level in price, so I gave up doing my own and resorted to B & W again until I gave it all up.
   One thing I still hesitate about is opening a packet of printing paper for use on the computer printer, in full daylight! I only use the very best glossy premium photo papers - it pays off in terms of quality of the pictures, and this is what I strive for - but after so many years opening so very many packets of bromide in the dark, doing so in daylight goes against the grain.

Mike Marsh, Great Cornard, Sudbury, Suffolk, August 2009 Email

Bob Wane (1945-53) adds: I was on that same school trip to Aeschi in 1953. It would have been at Easter, if only for the reason that I left JRGS that summer.


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