JRGS News Archive Page 48
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 48 - Aug thru Oct 2008 -

JRGS Alumni Society


 Tony Almond (John Newnham 1957-61) adds more information about Mr. Myers...

Charles MyersEarlier in the year The Mill very kindly posted some information I supplied about Charles Myers, pictured left, who had been deputy headmaster and senior French master at John Ruskin school, and subsequently headmaster at John Newnham during my era. As a result of that mention I was contacted quite unexpectedly by his granddaughter, who gave me the following additional information, which may be of interest to alumni from his era.
   Charles' father, whose original name was Manchunsky, came to the United Kingdom in the 1890s as a Jewish resettler from Lithuania.
   Charles retired as Headmaster of John Newnham School in 1965, whereupon he moved with his wife to Goring-on-Sea, Sussex. After a very happy retirement, he died in 1982 - quite unexpectedly - after undergoing a relatively minor surgical procedure. His wife followed almost exactly four weeks later.
   His granddaughter told me that Charles Myers was a quiet, lovely gentleman, who remained smart to the very end. (Indeed, I remember him as a dapper, very smartly dressed man, who only ever wore a brown suit.) Also, he quite obviously retained his love of the French language because, she says, she learnt nursery rhymes from him in French, before she ever learnt English ones!
   Unfortunately, I always viewed Charles as a rather austere person, in fact definitely not the type to be interested in pop music. However we can all misjudge people, as I think the following story proves.
   One of Charles' pupils at JNS in the mid-50s was an aspiring pop singer, Richard Kneller (stage-name: Dickie Pride). On Kneller's last day at school, it was none other than Charles who was a fan of his, who proudly took him round to each of the classes and got him to sing an old Johnny Ray song. (Although I gleaned this information from a website dedicated to Dickie Pride, the story has been verified by my wife who was also a pupil at JNS before my time there.)
   I hope the foregoing will provide a postscript, albeit a rather sad one, to Charles Myers' career at both John Ruskin and John Newnham Schools.
   Very best regards and my continued thanks for a highly informative website that helps me to maintain a link with Croydon.

Tony Almond, Staines, Surrey (formerly, of course, in Middlesex) October 2008 Email.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) reviews the Aug and Sep issues of Your Croydon...

"Your Croydon" - August 2008

"Your Croydon" - August 2008 page 21

"Your Croydon" - September 2008 cover

"Your Croydon" - September 2008 page 21

 August 2008 | Issue 19

 September 2008 | Issue 20

Once again, the August and September 2008 editions of Croydon Council's Your Croydon magazine include photo essays from Frazer Ashford (JRGS 1962-69) as part of his continuing series entitled From Here to Modernity, which charts Croydon during the past 25 years.
  As in previous columns, Frazer looks at the dramatic changes that have taken place to local Croydon landmarks, but also the similarities between the town in the early Eighties and the same locations today.

   Specifically, in his August 2008 feature Frazer remembers his childhood in New Addington. Click on each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "The first address that I remember living at was a flat above Woolworths on Central Parade. I guess that this must have been around the mid-’50s and I would travel into Croydon to go to school on a daily basis. Lodge Lane was just that, a country lane, and the land in front of Central Parade, where the library and leisure centre now stand, was just waste ground where I would ride my bike.
   "At the far end of this ground, where Overbury Crescent met Central Parade, not far from where the trams now terminate, there was a large flat area that was a regular location for many a fair or circus. I would lean out of my bedroom window and watch the lights and hear the music on what, to me, were wondrous occasions.
   "The main change which occurred while we were living there was the 'joining up' of the two halves of Central Parade. There were about 20 shops at the north end of the parade and around the same number at the southern end. Slowly the gap became smaller until, one day, the gap was gone and the long parade that we know today was complete. I believe that the original plans showed that a mirror image of the parade was to be built opposite on the waste ground, but this never happened.
   "We moved to South Croydon around 1959 and, apart from returning to see old friends, I lost touch with the area.
   "The left-hand picture shows the Parade in 1979 and, if you can make out the Boots store, on the bend about five shops from the right hand side of the picture, this was where, for many years, the southern parade stopped – literally, the end of the line, and we would look across a massive divide to the northern parade in the distance."

New Addington - 1979

New Addington - Today

   For his September 2008 feature, Frazer raises a glass to a much-missed New Addington landmark. Click on each thumbnail below to view a larger version of Frazer's From Here to Modernity images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.
   As the article states: "The Cunningham public house was once the gateway to New Addington, especially before Fieldway was developed. In the early days of New Addington, Lodge Lane was but a narrow country lane and the first building encountered on the journey up from Kent Gate Way was The Cunningham, standing on the left at the junction of King Henry’s Drive and Parkway. The large, traditionally-designed pub stood guard over those entering the newly-built New Addington, but times and trade patterns changed, and the public house became too big for its own good.
   "As with many similar buildings, it slowly fell into disrepair, while still maintaining a bar service, but eventually the pub closed its doors for the last time. Since then, the building has been demolished and the land lies empty. Whatever is eventually built, the new owners of the site must acknowledge its unique gateway position.
   "While it is commonly accepted that a new pub is highly unlikely to be occupying the site, we should at least raise a glass to the lost icon that was The Cunningham."

For more examples of Frazer’s work, visit his website. Other editions of From Here to Modernity can be hound here.

The Cunningham - Seventies

The former Cunningham site - Today

Your Croydon ©2022 Croydon Council.

New Addington Central Parade - late-SixtiesAnd here is an image shown left taken by my father in the last-Sixties of The Central Parade from the opposite direction, adjacent to the swimming baths and the new library. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
   I recall The Cunningham being referred to as The Addington Hotel during my early childhood living on the New Addington housing estate in the Fifties. (Was it really an hotel?) Does anybody recall the shellfish stall that appeared in the car park during the weekend, selling winkles and whelks, plus steamed prawns? (A much anticipated treat after returning from Croydon to see relatives on a Saturday or Sunday evening.)
   I have also unearthed a Croydon Council Planning Guidance Note dated September 2005 that discusses regeneration of the Central Parade.
   According to the report, Central Parade and its surroundings cover an elliptical area of approximately 6.55 hectares, extending from the Tramlink terminus at Overbury Crescent in the northwest to Salcot Crescent and Arnheim Drive in the southeast. Central Parade, as a main street, provides a direct route into the centre’s core. It also divides the centre into two distinct sides: the civic complex to the south and west; and the shopping parade in the north and east. Surrounding the centre are substantial areas of private and social housing, public open space and a variety of community facilities including schools and churches.
   The civic complex area includes a collection of community buildings - local library, a swimming pool, a large community centre with several halls and rooms, a One Stop (Council) Service Office and several other community facilities serving a local resident population of approximately 10,351 distributed amongst 3,985 households (2001 figures).
   The main retail area on the north and east side comprises a single long parade of entirely ground floor street frontage shop units with two- and three-storey flats above. The shopping representation is a mixture of comparison and convenience shops, including two small supermarkets, a few national chains, several independent and local traders and a few voluntary/charity-type shops. There is also a significant representation of fast food outlets and other services and businesses.
   The retail presence is complimented by a popular twice-weekly street market that utilises much of the central car park and the small central square.
   Contemporary estimates placed the convenience goods turnover for the New Addington catchment area at around £7.56m and for comparison goods £5.05m.

New Addington Old Library

New Addington - 1961

New Addington Library Central Parade 1961

John Byford (JRGS 1959-68) adds: Fascinating to read Frazer's piece on New Addington and see his photos. (In one you can almost see the baker's shop where the large mirror enabled us to do Harry Worth impersonations.)
   I've attached a couple of photos; one of the southern end of Central Parade taken in 1961 (right), and the other of the first public library (left), which was located in one of the houses in Overbury Crescent until it moved to a couple of Army huts on Salcot Crescent. Click on either thumbnail to view a larger version.
   Some Ruskin old boys may remember when New Addington was still fields, and a few will remember when there was an airfield (Milne Park is the only part of it left). My father, living in Shirley in the 1920s, cycled as a boy up Lodge Lane when it was farmland.
   When World War Two broke out on September 1939, 1,000 houses had been built, of which over 600 were occupied; 23 shops had been completed (only eight occupied) of which four were destroyed in a 1940 air raid. Most of the completed shops were at the northern end of Central Parade where the 130 bus, introduced in 1939 to replace a local service from Addington, terminated at the junction with Salcot Crescent.
   Completion of the shops took a long time; I remember Unique the shop repairers and Easter (a general store), Gerrard's the greengrocer and, most of all the Co-op, where it was critical that you knew your mum's divi number to reel off as you made your purchase. The fish and chip shop was also at the northern end next door to Martin's the newsagent; when I started going to Wolf Cubs at Fisher's Farm a packet of chips cost four old pence (one penny for a pickled onion).
   The off-licence was isolated at the southern end, almost opposite the site of St Edward's Church, which was consecrated 50 years ago on 8 October 1958. (An event I can just about remember as I carried the flag of the 3rd New Addington Wolf Cubs.) Ironically, it replaced the temporary St George's Church, two ex-Army huts joined together in 1946, which stood opposite the Addington Hotel and was burnt down in March 1958.

Cliff Preddy (JRGS 1963-65) adds: We lived at three different council houses in New Addington during my childhood. The first (1952 to 1958) was at the far southern end of the estate, just before the country lanes disappeared into what soon became rural Kent. The second (1961 to 1963) was at the Lodge Lane northern end, and finally (1963 to 1966) we moved fairly close to the factory estate on the eastern edge. Mr. Lowe, the headmaster at JRGS at the time, wrote to Croydon Council to help us secure the last house, which had an extra bedroom so that it would be easier for me to work on lots of maths “examples” whilst doing A-Levels with Messrs Pearce, Chaundy and Cripps.
   My recollection is that The Cunningham was called the Addington Hotel at that time. My parents had a period of going there on Saturday nights when there was live music for them to dance to.
   Memories of the Central Parade shops are a little hazy, but I certainly remember the fish and chip shop (the only one serving a very large estate at the time) and the newsagents at the northern end, and the off-license at the southern end. There was a community centre opposite Central Parade that ran a youth club called Hilltoppers that I went to for a while in my teens, and which also ran a football team that I played for on Sundays. I believe the swimming pool and library came along later.
   I no longer live in the Croydon area, but a year or so ago I officiated at a swimming gala at the pool at New Addington. At the end of the gala there was an announcement to the effect that this was the last gala ever at the pool. I am not sure whether it was being closed, pending wider re-development of the area, or whether it was being refurbished as more of a leisure pool.

ML rejoins: While trading emails with John Byford and Cliff Preddy - plus other Alumni - memories have come flooding back of my childhood on the New Addington Estate, when my parents lived from 1951 until the death of my father in 1975. I also recall the Central Parade before it was completed, the fish shops and chemist at the northwestern end, closest to the library, and the Martin's newsagent and Woolworths at the other - close to where John used to live. I remember the opening of a new supermarket that was built at the "join," called - I recall - Coopers and, subsequently, Fine Fare.
   While at Rowdown Junior School, a teacher asked the class where we could see John Faraday's handwriting. The only one who knew the answer was a kid whose father managed the London Electricity showroom on the Parade - his family lived above the shop, I recall. The shop sign Electricity apparently was copied from Faraday's handwriting.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) uncovers Ruskin Square development for Croydon ...

It is encouraging that our school's name now lives on in a different guise. A large area to the south-west of East Croydon railway station, which soon will house retail stores and mixed houses, has been renamed Ruskin Square by its developers, Schroders and Stanhope. Currently being designed by Foster + Partners with FaulknerBrowns, Ruskin Square is described as bearing "all the hallmarks of 21st Century style and technology." But the ideas behind the new development are said to have been strongly influenced by John Ruskin, who "believed architecture and well-designed space is critical to the quality of our lives; that it 'proposes an effect on the human mind, not merely a service to the human frame'.” Click on the thumbnail below to view a larger plan view.
Ruskin Square, East Croydon   In early August, the government granted Schroders and Stanhope a green light to commence the Croydon Gateway development. Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, refused to confirm Croydon Council’s compulsory purchase order/CPO on the site, which is owned by Schroders and Stanhope, and refused consent for an alternate development scheme centreed on a 12,500-seat arena, proposed by Arrowcroft and Frogmore.
   In a joint statement, William Hill, Managing Director of Schroders Investment Managers, and David Camp, Chief Executive of Stanhope, commented: “We are delighted that the Secretary of State has declined to support the CPO. We argued at the planning inquiry that the arena scheme was not appropriate for this site and we are pleased to see that the Secretary of State agrees that it does not justify taking our land. We have already secured planning permission for our development and we now look forward to working constructively with Croydon Council to ensure the early redevelopment of this key site.”
  Ruskin Square will be built around a 4.5-acre public park; with health facilities, a 200-seat community theatre, cafes and restaurants the new development will feature a variety of social and public spaces. Also planned are 560 contemporary apartments and 900,000 square feet of Grade-A office space.
   The recent decision brings to an end many years of uncertainty and planning wrangles over land that has been derelict for 30 years. On 1 June 2006, Ruth Kelly, the then Secretary of State, granted planning permission for Schroders/Stanhope’s scheme, and all pre-commencement planning conditions were cleared by the council in May of this year.

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA. September 2008 Email

Geoff Lavender (JRGS 1962-69) adds: I happened to be in Croydon briefly a couple of weeks ago visiting my mother, who was then in Mayday Hospital. I took the bus each day between Shirley and the hospital, and was able to look down from the upper deck into and across this area.
   It's really hard to get any sense of what the Ruskin Square area will be like. The pictures look good! But I've got to say that it currently looks like a bomb site set in a railway yard.
   As to my time after JRGS, I attended the University of Lancaster (BA, Philosophy) from 1969 to 72, and then moved to Australia (Mackay, Queensland) in 1975. Since 1977 our family have lived in Melbourne, Victoria.
   I am now working in state health department where I am responsible for policy, clinical service development and program direction for hospitals and ambulance services. I also manage service and capital planning for metropolitan hospitals and health services.
   I am married (since 1974) with two adult children: a girl, 28 and a boy, 24).
   In a little bit of spare time I enjoy classical music and have lately resumed singing with weekly lessons. Other interests and activities include the Anglican church (of the liberal catholic variety), the Australian Labor Party, reading history and a good detective story, anything Italian.


 Dan Lambert (JRGS 1947-51) recalls post-war school teachers and The Windmill...

I have just stumbled upon The Mill website through FriendsUnited.com. I attended JRGS from 1947 to 1951, and was unaware of any other pupils named Lambert. In browsing the site it was interesting to peruse the list of past teachers. However, maybe my memory is slipping with the passing years, but I was sure during my time at JRGS there was a maths/science master by the name of Mr. Evans. He had ginger hair and moustache, and was a great teacher with a rather cynical sense of humour.
   The website sparked a lot of distant memories, especially of teachers that I liked and with whom I had some sort of rapport and of those who I seemed to be forever in conflict (best left un-named). I particularly remember with affection Mr. Gee, Mr. Hancock and Mr. Chinnock (even today when I cut a piece of wood or pick up a chisel I think of him and his advice!). Mr. Chinnock made a beautiful lectern out of walnut that J. C. Lowe used at assemblies. I wonder if it still survives?
   I was surprised to see that Mr. “Smudger' Smith had survived for so long. I definitely wasn't one of his favourite pupils. I was also amused to read one of the comments about Miss "Fanny" Hitchcock, regarding her insistence on being called Madam. I remember that well!
   As for the old Windmill, my brother, sister and our friends used to play in it as young children when we went on our walking excursions to Shirley Hills from Addiscombe, where we lived at the time during the war and thereafter. In fact, my sister still lives close by the old Windmill (near the bottom of Gravel Hill).
   My memories of JRGS are rather mixed and not entirely with affection, but I did get a reasonable education there.

The world after John Ruskin Grammar School
Following the early death of my father, which left the family in a difficult financial position, I applied to leave JRGS at age 15. Mr. Lowe was not too happy about this and at first tried to block it, because he felt my academic progress was promising. However, following a family discussion, he understood the precarious financial position in which my mother had been left. He therefore agreed to release me if I found suitably progressive employment and continued my education part time.
   Not having any particular career path in mind, I followed in the footsteps of my father and grandfather and became an apprentice scientific instrument maker with Muirhead & Co. Ltd., in Elmers End, near Beckenham. I enjoyed the work and completed a City & Guilds Certificate in Machine Shop Engineering. I then spent a period in the army (REME) and served mainly in Germany with the British Army of the Rhine. National Service was mandatory at the time, but I "signed on" as a regular in order to get the increased pay.
   Following demobilisation, I went back to my previous employment, but decided on higher ambitions. Consequently, I enrolled at Croydon Technical College and subsequently gained a Higher National Certificate in Electrical Engineering with a few endorsements. This qualification helped gain me a position as an electrical designer with Molins Machine Company in Deptford. This was fortuitous because it was at Molins that I met my wife-to-be, June, who at the time was personal secretary to the Chief Electrical Engineer; one thing leading to another we eventually married.
   June and I felt the urge to see more of the world before we settled down and decided to immigrate to Australia with the intention of staying for just a couple of years. However, during that time economic conditions in Britain deteriorated rather badly, so we decided to stay a bit longer. Our daughter was born soon after this decision, followed a couple of years later by our son. By this time we had sort of integrated into the Australian way of life.
   On arrival in Australia I commenced employment as an electrical designer at the Australian Aircraft Factory in Melbourne; designing test equipment for electrical cable forms used in fighter aircraft. The work didn't interest me too much so I moved on, gaining an appointment as Chief Draughtsman with Ericsson Australia. Further part-time study took me into the realm of Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing in which Ericsson was considered an industry leader. Eventually, I was appointed Computer Aided Design & Manufacturing Development Manager. This was really ground breaking and interesting work! I take credit for introducing the first fully integrated Computer Aided Design System in Australia. As a result I found myself on the lecture circuit and on the curriculum boards of several technical colleges for computer aided design and printed-board design.
   In 1989 Ericsson decided to outsource all their manufacturing and concentrate on product design and software engineering. As a result my existing role became redundant, but an associated Ericsson Company - Ericsson Data - offered me the role of IT Operations Manager. Later, Ericsson Data was absorbed into the larger company of Ericsson Australia and I was given the role of IT Operations Manager for the revised organisation. After 35 years with Ericsson it was in this role that I finished my career and retired in 2001. Over the years my career at Ericsson involved considerable travel throughout the world mainly Sweden, United States, UK and Asia, so I had the opportunity to maintain a close relationship with our relatives in England & Ireland.
   Today, as a "man of leisure," I spend a lot of time with my children and grandchildren. I occasionally play lawn bowls and I'm still an active operational member of the Australian Volunteer Coastguard. I'm an avid reader, dabble a little in water colour painting, and I'm a dedicated DIY nut. My wife is still working, so I have added culinary skills (maybe that's the wrong word!) to my list of activities, albeit rather simple stuff. My wife and I travel quite a lot, both within and outside of Australia. We manage to visit UK about every 12–18 months or so. Happily we both enjoy good health!
 Ray Saxby|1950  As a post note, my best friend at JRGS was Ray Saxby, pictured left. The earliest school photo on the website appears to be the one from 1950 and I notice that Ray appears in the second row down, seventh from the right - he is almost in the centre and is easily recognised by the fact that he's not in school uniform. But I couldn't locate myself. I assume therefore, that I wasn't at school on that particular day. Ray and I are still in touch (Christmas cards) and on rare occasions we catch up with each other when we are visiting the UK.
   I thought at first that I may be the oldest Alumni on your website, JRGS staff tennis teambut I notice that Bryan Burchett predates me by a few years. I also met a man in Australia by the name of Len Tripp, who was a pupil at John Ruskin when it was founded. Len became a close friend of mine and died some years ago at the ripe old age of 88.

Dan Lambert, Westmeadows, Victoria, Australia, September 2008 Email

Tony Childs (JRGS 1947-53) adds: I was in the parallel form to Dan - 4S and 5S - and there was indeed a Mr. Evans. He had ginger hair and sometimes a moustache. There is a photograph of him in the staff tennis team in the piece about Charles (C. E.) Smith, shown right; click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.

Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: Sharing, as we do, a common surname, I have been comparing ancestries with Dan Lambert. My father's parents, James and Lydia Lambert, lived in Dennett Road in Broad Green, West Croydon; my Dad attended the nearby Elmwood School.
   As coincidence would have it, although Dan and I do not appear to be directly related, he writes: "My grandfather’s name was Albert Lambert, but was always known as Dan; hence my name. My father’s name was John Edward Lambert. However, the real co-incidence is that my mother also lived in Dennett Road, just round the corner from the old Savoy Cinema. (I don’t know whether it’s still there or not.) I was the last to get married and leave home, and we then sold the house in Addiscombe. My mother then took a flat in Dennett Road, where she lived for a number of years. In her later years she moved to assisted accommodation in Chatsworth Road, Croydon." It's a small world.
Safari, Broad Green  - Sep 2006   And to address Dan's question about the old Savoy Cinema on London Road at the corner of Sumner Road, I recall it being renamed the ABC Cinema during the late-Sixties - wasn't it also used for Bingo for a while, after closing as a film theater?
   I then lost touch until a visit to the UK in September 2006, when I captured the image shown left. By then, it has been renamed Safari, and looked pretty derelict. Anybody have any further news of its fate? Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.


 Geoff van Beek/Downer (JRCS 1962-69) meets a fellow Ruskin Alumnus...

The standard quip is: “Nostalgia is okay, I suppose, but it ain’t what it used to be”. There are times though when it is even better!
   I know we are supposed to move on in life but it doesn’t hurt to look back and check your bearings once in a while, so after seeing Gary Day Ellison’s name on the 5G list of The Mill website I decided to write to him. Gary and I were not what you would call the best of chums at school although we saw each other nearly every day in the Art Room and were on LP- and chewing gum-lending terms. (See photograph of us both in the May 1970 school magazine, page 7).
   Our bizarre meeting after 40 years was in the South West of England where we dispensed with the usual niceties such as “You haven’t changed a bit” or jolly capers such as the production of a moth-eaten school cap to wear for the occasion.
   In many ways our lives had run parallel with each other. Music, for example: neither of us had developed Sixties stagnation and both of us appear to be P. J. Harvey fans.
   A few pints later meant that the two ex-sixth form JRGS art students could dabble at a bit of science for a change:
● The first experiment was to hold mirrors up for each other with the effect of inducing total internal reflection at times.
● The second experiment was to study life at JRGS down the retrospectroscope but now with the pink-coloured lens removed. The results are therefore not entirely suitable for publication on this web-site but, needless to say, the names of a few pathetic school bullies shimmered past the oculus.
   Notwithstanding, there were many smiles, few frowns and much laughter. Despite moments of trepidation beforehand on both sides, we left with rekindled feelings of friendship and respect for each other that were stronger than we had experienced at JRGS.
   And finally, I have unearthed several black-and-white images that I took of the interior of The Mill in 1969 as part of an art project by Mr. "Vic" Gee. Click on any thumbnail to view a larger version, and here for a PDF file.

The Mill The Mill The Mill The Mill The Mill

Geoffrey C. van Beek, Rotterdam, Holland, August 2008 Email.


 Bryan Burchett (JRCS 1941-46) recalls war-time teachers and contemporaries...

In a fit of nostalgia I thought I would seek any information circulating in connection with school life in Tamworth Road and was directed to The Mill - covering the activities of the Alumni of JRGS. At first I thought the name of the publication was chosen as an indication of the form of education endured by some at the central Croydon building; that would have been unjust. Seeing it linked to the title and word alumni caused me to think the Old Boys Association had moved into a rather "posey" sphere, and recalled the music of a Harvard mathematics graduate and prolific song-smith, Tom Lehrer, who dipped into soggy nostalgia to write hilarious musical items; one recalling "ivy-covered professors in ivy-covered walls". I am quite certain the classes of 1940-50 did not see themselves as potential Society members or "Alumni", but we are forced to accept that attitudes do change!
   A retrospect of the 40s indicated it was a great time to be a schoolboy in an establishment like JR. We benefited from some fantastic masters (a few "not so"), many of whom were approaching retirement age or even returning from that "happy valley" as part of the war effort. They were aided by a number of younger men who were not selected for war service.
   Obviously I have not had the opportunity to read all of the information published on the site, but there doesn't seem to be much written about those who "slogged" through those appalling years; bombings, evacuations, transport disruption, material shortages, etc. and provided a totally comprehensive education for those in their charge.

Arthur William MacLeod - second headmaster|1934-46
First and foremost was the great Mr. MacLeod, a giant of a man in every respect who, by his own example, personality and enthusiasm for his basic trade of teaching, carried staff and students along with him. His forte was honouring the English language; reading, writing and talking. Who can remember, or more so forget, his encouragement to read and enjoy a range of writers from Homer, W. W. Jacobs, Conrad, Conan Doyle, et al and his thumping presentation of "The King sits in Dunfermline Town drinking the blood red wine" whilst inviting the investigation of the mysteries of iambic pentameter.
   How many boys gave more thought to the niceties of their native tongue when MacLeod let them into the secrets of the Tamworth Road Policeman test for establishing the difference between a phrase and a sentence? "Go to that policeman at the crossing outside the school and present a phrase and then a sentence to him. If you address him with the phrase he will say: "I'm sorry ,sir, but I don't understand you." But if you present the sentence he will respond: "Of course, sir, I will do that immediately!" - easy?
   One of the wonders of Mr. MacLeod was that in a period when corporal punishment was the "norm" in most secondary schools - considered "good for the potentially wayward boy and an excellent means of creating a disciplined environment" - I do not recall it being imposed on any but the most infrequent occasion. Hard to believe, but the man had the ability to engineer respect from pupils who paid scant regard to authority, resulting in many who were apprehended when committing "crimes" tending to be self critical for letting him and the school down!
   Mind you, many of us were avid students of the Calculated Risk Principle. There are rules; there are punishments related to breaking those rules. The risk of being apprehended in breach of the rules must be assessed in relation to the sanctions to be applied, before proceeding with the enterprise. In short this meant: "Do not get caught!".
   Recently, I read the autobiography of Bernard Slade Newbound (a.k.a. Bernard... a.k.a "Sag" - due to drooping trousers), one of my contemporaries at JR, who returned to his native Canada circa 1947. Mr. MacLeod must have cast a suitable spell on him for he became and remains a renowned playwright and film script writer with in the region of 30 well known productions to his name, including Same Time Next Year, Fatal Attraction, The Partridge Family and The Flying Nun, amongst them. He was so impressed with received tuition that he devoted some 100 words to Mr. MacLeod in his book. Newbound also said a few words on David Prockter, one of two brothers attending the school, who was alleged to have introduced him to the thespian fleshpots of Croydon; heaven knows what chaos was caused by two pale-faced fifth formers.
   With education not receiving the best reviews at the moment - some might say justly - the London Borough of Croydon might take time to attempt educationally to emulate the long-lost County Borough of Croydon and all that went with it.
   How about an annual competition for teachers, not pupils, sponsored by one of the pillars of Croydon industry? The MacLeod Prize for inspirational teaching, possibly featuring the communication of the ability to accurately use and enjoy the English language - something even the BBC seems unable to do today. The portrait of MacLeod, presented when he retired, last seen by me gathering dust at the Selsdon school, could be hauled out and form the backdrop for the photograph of the smiling award winner!

Other memorable JR teachers
Mr. "Ali" Barber, a small kindly enthusiast for music teaching in the lower forms. The formidable task of persuading boys who did not know the difference between a musical note and their elbow did not phase him a jot. He filled the time filling lessons with information; how to read and write music (and have the results played on the piano), explanations of orchestras, quintets and trios; differences in sound from brass, string and woodwind instruments and how they were made. He may not have converted every boy to the pleasures of serious music, but he gave many a good start in that direction.
   Then there was Mr. "Joe" Biggs, an entry and geography master, the JR version of Will Hay (with a touch of Jimmy Edwards thrown in), who despite his somewhat manic teaching sessions rammed a fair amount of geography into our heads and made our work a relative pleasure. Next came Mr. "Stinker" Cresswell; much has been written of him, including his abilities as a teacher. He was also known as a devout churchman and I recall one of our form, poor Leach in particular, being instructed during the second afternoon period: "Leach , go to W. H. Smith's in the High Street and collect my Church Times."
   "Smoothie" (or was it with a "y"?) - even to those of us who would only be able to paint barn doors - taught us something, even if it was only to mix paint, but nobody will forget his ability as the art master to produce some excellent work from those with ability, as well as his puppet theatre. This was no half-baked venture; superb string puppets, fully articulated, in the region of 24 inches in height (perhaps more) - one that smoked on stage! - the stage being a magnificent structure. We were all taught how to construct the puppets and manipulate them for the end-of-term production.
   Mr. "Jake" Jervis gets a small mention as the master who provoked the "school dinner strike" of '44," when he told those who were displeased with the detention he awarded for misdemeanours at lunch whilst under his supervision when his next duty would occur, should we wish to avoid it; which we did lunching on repasts provided by the excellent pie shop on Pitlake Bridge. It caused a few problems - not to say panic - in the kitchen as food was prepared early in the day based on "sales projections". So, when firm figures were received by the cook it did it appear that hell really had been let loose.
   Mr. Chinnock, already mentioned elsewhere, was a marvellous woodwork teacher and godsend to those boys capable of cutting a piece in two or building real furniture, but those of us having trouble finishing a matchbox stand usually passed the time reading Men Only under the bench. However, even we could appreciate his demonstrations of the aerodynamics of a piece of 2" x 2" as it was propelled across the room. Later in life I pondered the fact that if he had been teaching in more modern times he might have done extremely well financially, as with his strongly held belief of the power of Ronuk as the means of producing the finest shine on a piece of furniture, he could have struck a reasonable TV advertising deal!
   Imagine him standing there on the screen, holding a shining wooden table lamp and uttering his immortal words: "There's your job!".
   Mr. Charles Smith/CES requires no mention from me other than to say that if we had been living in a politically correct world (and thank God we were not) his lessons might have been very dull.
   Any other teachers worthy of mention? Well, you can't really leave the subject without mentioning Miss Fit, the first Mistress and not of the ilk that had been experienced before! Have you ever seen 14-year-old boys swoon? She was, of course, neatly balanced by Miss Hickmott of the loop-framed bicycle, who acted as school proctor during lunch periods. And heaven help the boy who was caught eating ice cream or fish and chips in the street!

Contemporaries - In touch or seen in recent past
JRCS Second X1 1943-44JRCS Firs tX1 1943-44● Roy Seager was a "mini mogul" in the International Exhibition Business. Now living in Dorset.
● John Salkeld went off and surveyed Nigerian Railways, and became a Baron in property. He now lives in South London and is an artist - not pavement.
● Jack Worsfold was a filtration engineer/international salesman and is now a pebble counter in Pevensey Bay.
● Len Brown, featured in the JRCS First XI photo from 1943/44, shown left, scoured the city selling paper clips to pretty buyers (female); he passed away some eight years back.
Pictured right-hand rear in the same soccer photo is Bertie Parsons. (Note the style of hair covering the left eye. He didn't score many goals!)
   And in the photograph of the Second XI from 1943/44, shown right, I can identify: Front row, left-to-right: 3. McLuskey. 5. Warren. 6 Prockter R.
   And me? I ran away to sea as a cook, made use of my knowledge of specific gravity in the oil industry and moved into the retail sector for two major players. I then joined a commercial and industrial cleaning company, which ultimately offered me the position of pensioner.
   I promise not to use any more space unless requested so to do.

Bryan Burchett, Beckenham, Kent. August 2008 Email


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