JRGS News Archive Page 45
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- Page 45 - Mar thru May 2008 -

JRGS Alumni Society


 Ken Couchman (JRGS 1942-46) recalls two teachers from World  War II...

When I started at JR there was a marionette theatre in the hall on the first floor. This was run by the boys under the tutelage of the art teacher who, I believe was, Mr. Smoothey. It all disappeared shortly after, and the hall was used for assembly. The French teacher in 1942 was Mr. Lindsell.
   This is a great website and brings back many memories. A pity there were no photos before 1945, but I recognised some of my classmates in the 1943/44 football and cricket teams.

Ken Couchman, Auckland, New Zealand, May 2008 Email

Terence Morris JRGS (1942-50) adds: I remember Ken, and he might well remember me, since we came to Ruskin in the same year. Mr. Lindsell indeed taught French. Very keen on phonetics. Mr. Biggs taught geography, when he could keep order, that was, as he was a great joker and we always egged him on. Mr. Smoothie’s puppet theatre lasted until 1946 in the Upper Hall until the arrival of Mr. Lowe as the new Head and Mr. Gee as our new art master. Who could forget Mr. Smoothie’s socks! He introduced us to Renaissance painting via the works of Giotto and Fra Lippo Lippi. And no-one could forget "Smithy" who, apart from PT (his command, "Up on the wall bars, boy!") used to teach maths and religious studies. I think that Smithy is our last remaining link with the staff of those far-off days.
   Does he remember anyone else from our wartime and post-war era? Peter Funnell? Colin Hunt? John Clark? Ken Stewart? Dickie Dyer?

Ken Couchman replies: Terrance Morris was a close friend of mine, as we were both in the same scout JRCS FirstX1 - 1943-44group - I remember both of us in a pup tent camping at Woldingham. I did recognise some of the names he mentioned but would have difficulty putting faces to them.
   In the 1943/44 School Second XI image (shown left), next to Gibb is Dunbar, another friend of mine. Looking at the faces on that image, most of them must have been my age and in either one of the two forms: the Remove, which I was in, or the other - the 1942 entrants filled two classrooms. In the front row, second from the left is Packham, who you can seen in the 1945 Cricket Team. In that photo, next to Mr. Smith is, I believe, Higgs.
   I am pretty sure that the marionettes disappeared before 1946, more like 1943.
   I read the first part of the Inspectors Report for 1949 and they wrote that the school became a Grammar in 1946 but I am positive that it was a grammar when I started in 1942 under Mr. McLeod. The school motto, "Age Quod Agis," became part of my philosophy of life. It is a bit of a mystery about Grammar school status not being granted until 1946. I have an old school report somewhere that I will have to dig out.


 Frazer Ashford (JRGS 1962-69) reflects on his career in the current Croydon Life...

I thought that The Alumni might like to see a copy of a recent article from Croydon Life, which came out this month. It seems that, according to the cover page, I am officially a legend (!) - try telling that to my wife or bank manager!!
   Click on any thumbnail to view a larger version, or here to access the pages as a multipage PDF document.
   ©2022 Kayve Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

Croydon Life 0308 - page01 Croydon Life 0308 - page02 Croydon Life 0308 - page03 Croydon Life 0308 - page04 Croydon Life 0308 - page05

Please visit www.frazerashford.com for a further selection of my images.

Frazer Ashford, Coulsdon, Surrey, March 2008 Email


 Glenn Pacey (JRGS 1966-71) recalls Sixties school life and our teachers...

Oh how sad. In a quiet moment at work I Goggled the old school and, to my dismay, discovered that JRGS is no more.
   I have lived in New Zealand since 1984, where I work as an accountant, and have not been to England since 1990. I made a pilgrimage back to the school which, at that time, was still in existence. It had never occurred to me that it would be demolished and no longer be a school. I studied (very little) without distinction and left after sitting my GCSEs in Form 5 in 1971.
   What was also sad was the passing of Mr. "Wally" Cracknell. I was caned twice by him but he was nevertheless a marvellous fellow.
   I must say though that some of the commentaries on teachers such as Mr. "Smuts" Smith and Mr. "Rhino" Rees do not portray them as the rather unpleasant masters that they were. "Smuts" was at least an excellent sports master, but I could never find a nice thing to say about "Rhino". With his chain smoking, it is no wonder he died of heart problems.
   "Rhino" also had a liking for pulling boys’ hair. I recall the day he tried that on Chris Taylor. But Chris had his hair in a crew cut and "Rhino" looked very foolish as he vainly tried to grasp a lock. He was undaunted, however, and made Chris go to the front of the class and proceeded to embarrass him there.
   "Smuts" struck fear into all boys and his methods would not be tolerated now. However, he had a private humorous side and recognised effort on the sports field. I recall the day he praised me for a determined sprint to run down Trevor Adcock in the house cross country. "Smuts" was Beta (Blue) House Master, which was my house. As I crossed the finish line he muttered "Well run, boy" out of the side of his mouth.
   Mr. Kay did indeed have a part of a finger missing. From the knuckle of a middle finger if I recall correctly, but no idea which hand. Mr. Jay, the maths teacher. was my first form master. Mr. Kay had one class, and Mr. Ratcliffe the other. My classroom was the annex next to Dr. James’s classroom.
   Of boys from my year listed in the Alumni Directory, I only recall the two Trevors - Neckles and Buck, not the others. Trevor Neckles was unforgettable as he was a negro and the only one in the school. And Trevor Buck was a large boy and going prematurely grey. My best friends were Tony Whittaker, Ian Messiah, Paul Robinson, Keith Ridgeway, Richard Inwoodfield, Trevor Peckham, Nick Hanscombe and Simon Williams.
   Oh well, life goes on, I guess. I do often wonder what became of some old classmates.

Glenn J. Pacey, Auckland, New Zealand. March 2008 Email

Paul Johnson (JRGS 1966-73) adds: Paul Johnson - 1967It was really good to read Glen Pacey's comments on The Mill website. Glen and I were both in 1J in 1966. Although Glen doesn't remember me, I remember him! Our form master was Mr. Jay; some friends of mine from junior school were in 1K, form master Mr. Kay, and I still vividly remember being quite confused to find out that the man in charge of the other first form, 1R, was a Mr. Ratcliffe! Jay and Kay were obviously a happy coincidence!
   My photo, by the way, is included the 1967 School Picture - first section, second row up, and fourth from the left; as shown right.
   As Glen records, our form room was the Music Annex on the edge of the Mill Pitch, next door to Dr. James' classroom. It was no coincidence that music was to be a big part of my life at JRGS. Does anyone remember the first-form ritual of being asked by the good doctor to sing as a solo the first verse of "Once in Royal David's City"? At the end of this lesson, "Docco" would inform you whether or not you had passed the audition for the school choir. Some tried to decline the invitation, but this was really not recommended at all!
   Dr. James was a wonderful teacher, although a little unorthodox. I remember him turning up to a Christmas party in the gym once, seeming slightly the worse for the season's festivities. If anyone else recalls that, you'll understand why it's best to reveal no more about it! His implement of torture was a cello or double bass bow, minus the horsehair. He often wielded it as a threat, but I never saw him use it in anger. It was said that Dr. James regularly tendered his resignation to Mr. Lowe but, fortunately, it was never accepted in my time.
   Anyone remember the dinner bell that was kept on the organ platform in the assembly hall? When Mr. Lowe was waxing lyrical with some of his beloved poetry - on this occasion Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Ring out Wild Bells" - Dr. James was fooling around from the organ stall with the sixth formers at the back, pretending to ring the bell whenever the stanza "Ring out Wild Bells" came up - pretending, that is - until the bell did ring out and the whole assembly collapsed into hysteria. I often wondered if he tendered his resignation again that day.
   Ian Butterworth was such a good counter to "Docco." I arrived at the school, having only had the chance to play recorder at junior school, although I've always been able to sing, and was fairly good at music theory. I wasn't really a talented instrumentalist, but when I surprisingly came second in my form at the end of year exams, Mr. Butterworth asked me what I played, and promptly put together a piece for recorders and harpsichord at the next school concert, the programme of which is on this site. After that, lessons on first the oboe and later the clarinet were arranged, but I was no instrumentalist. I always sang in the school choirs, though, and went on to sing in a Cathedral choir for eight years in my Twenties, and then to direct a couple of Croydon choral societies.
   It is always the characters that you remember. I thought that Glen redressed a balance with the likes of Charles ("Smut") Smith, and David ("Rhino") Reece. They were both good teachers, Mr. Smith especially, but I'm sure that the way they were able to put pupils down with a lash of the tongue, were more devastating than the occasional wielding of a slipper that others used. I actually loved to watch cricket when I was younger, but was never able to play it well, although I did enjoy trying! At the end of one session, Mr. Smith summed up my talents with 'You boy! You can't bat, you can't bowl, you can't run, you can't catch, you can't throw... what can you do?' If you're reading this Mr. Smith, you were right and, at 53, I'm still wondering! I also remember that there are three ways of finding the area of a triangle, but despite being a double A-Level mathematician, can now only remember one of them.

Scripture Union and SU Committee
I was always involved with Scripture Union, and still keep in touch with Martin Nunn once a year at Christmas, although it's been a good while since last meeting up. I was on the SU Committee for a number of years, and was until recently in regular contact with Robert Hammond (a fellow committee member) and his family.
   There are many names I remember from school. It was good to get in touch with Doug Ford through this site recently. Doug reminded me of our French teacher, Mr. K. M. J. Tryon. I remember asking this genial man what all those initials stood for, and he told me that his full name was Karate Jehovah Marmaduke Tryon! Wonder why his nickname was Ken??
   One thing I did regularly was to follow my Dad's trade, and operate the 16 mm film projector equipment. This had many benefits in terms of getting off lessons in order to help project for other classes. I must have seen The Graduate about three times at school, as they were popular at Sixth Form leaving events, and on at least two of those occasions, I would have been seeing it illegally! The big prize, though, was being invited into Coloma School one afternoon to show a full-length movie for them. It was a three-reeler, and I took the school equipment over to Coloma, who had an identical rig. My Dad had taught me how to execute a perfect changeover from one reel to another using both projectors. I was so pleased when it worked our perfectly, that I failed to notice, until rewinding the first reel, that the second reel was spilling out over the floor, as I hadn't laced it up correctly. There was nothing for it but to stop the film, turn the lights on, break the film and re-lace. I had to spend most of my lunch break the next day repairing the film before it went back.
   Names from the past? So many. If anyone knows the whereabouts of Dennis Hardy, I'd love to know. John McGuire, Richard Mound, Simon Buckingham, Paul Haddlesey... all good mates, but I'm in touch with none of them. But it's good to still be in contact with Paul Jeffery, who joined the Sixth Form the same year as I joined the First. We've shared much musically, often with him at the organ, and me conducting, and it was a privilege to be a godparent to his daughter.
   I left JRGS after A-Levels to pursue a career with Lloyds Bank in the very early days of IT. IT was real fun in those days, and if you couldn't write a program in 64K, you wouldn't be in work! Now I live in Sussex with my wife and two teenagers doing... well, not a lot really!

Glenn Pacey replies: Glenn Pacey - 1967I think I'm pictured in Section 2 of the 1967 School Photograph  - front row, third from  last - from the left as you look at it - before the gap in front of Mr. Lowe; almost in front of "Smuts." My ears for sure, and the sort of haircut I’d be sent out with too, as shown right. But the 1970 School Photograph baffles me - I will have to look again. Maybe my wife or daughter will have more luck.
   Meanwhile, here’s the brief synopsis of G. J. Pacey since 1971. Suffice to say, it merely scratches the surface of what has been a fairly eventful life and one that I live to the full even now. 53 going on 23!
   I now live in Auckland and, as ML has discovered, also review restaurants [more]. It’s not related to my work, just something I did in a quiet moment. And I like writing.
   After not being allowed back to JRGS (unsurprisingly) to re-sit my failed O-Levels - I was offered a place at Lanfranc... huh! - I joined the Civil Service. After a couple of years, despite being offered a position with the Foreign Office, I joined Lloyds Bank International. This led to a career in Treasury and I was posted to Hong Kong and Tokyo before being seconded to Lloyds’ subsidiary, National Bank of New Zealand.
   Life here was heaven for a sportsman so I left Lloyds and joined as a local manager (huge pay cut). Career-wise, things changed and I ended up in Auckland and out of Banking. After a couple of mundane accounting jobs in other industries, I ended up with my current company, New Zealand Gourmet, in 1998. We sell some products (blueberries and stone fruit) to Sainsbury’s and M&S through wholesalers in the UK.

More Memories of JRGS
My memories of JRGS are somewhat mixed. I was and am a terrible student and did not learn well from the methods of "Smuts" or his ilk. Masters such as Mr. Woodard (English), and Mr. Robertson (history) were far more personable and relaxed and I responded to teaching in this manner. However, we are all unique and JRGS’ methods worked for the majority of its pupils. The problem was mine, but in those days the system was ill-equipped or disinterested in allocating resources for the occasional student who was unresponsive to traditional teaching methods.
   My fondest memories are of sports, the awesome playing fields at Oak Road, the demanding cross country runs, and inter-house competitions at which Beta always performed well.
   I was a member of the cadet force and greatly enjoyed that experience, particularly the night exercises.
   I don’t recall any particular anecdotes that merit sharing, and I don’t recall Paul Johnson’s anecdote of Dr. James and the bell, but I do recall Dr. James and his method of selection for the choir! To this day, I cannot hold a note and my non-selection for the choir would have been one of his easiest decisions ever. He was indeed a character and clearly suited to a career beyond the confines of teaching.
   I also recall Coloma and several of the girls from there. Again, school for me was not about study, but how to have the most excitement and fun out of life, either with the fairer sex or on the sports field. Something I continue to enjoy.
   I played football in New Zealand for a top club until I was in my Thirties, and cricket likewise. But cricket was canned when my daughter was born, and football when my hips gave out. I had to have both of those replaced (hips, not daughter) six years ago and I now referee football all year round. I golf at least once a week, sometimes twice. Golf, beside the Tasman Sea on a cloudless Sunday morning at 7:30 AM, in 20C, is raison d’ etre. And I get to do it all year round!

Anne Smith (Senior Mistress, Deputy Head & Principal, 1970 to 1999) adds: Terry James was indeed larger than life, both metaphorically and actually. He had come into teaching after a career writing film music as he had developed a heart condition and his doctor recommended a less stressful life. Some teachers might find this odd but I suspect his doctor wanted him to lead a more regular life and avoid hell-raising! Later he went back to the film world; he visited the school once after all the pupils who would have remembered him had left. He was wearing a fur coat and had gone quite white and hairy - like Father Christmas in mufti. Seeing John Rowlands in the corridor - John was the much respected Head of the Sixth Form by then - Dr. James embraced him fervently, to the fascination of the bystanders and the embarrassment of JR!
   Once, when he was still at the school, he answered the phone at lunchtime, when it was switched through to the staff room while the secretaries had lunch. "John Ruskin?" he said. "No, I am sorry; he is dead", and put the phone down. Mr. Lowe was extremely wary of him and his organ variations on television advertisement tunes or - as the summer term drew towards a conclusion - "I do like to be beside the seaside".
   Dai Rees took badly to the advent of girls, women teachers, and the less able. He once came across two lads fighting on the floor of the corridor, and was seen to step over them saying: "I am a teacher, not a social worker".


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

"Your Croydon" - Feb 2008

"Your Croydon" - Feb 2008 page 29

"Your Croydon" - Mar 2008 cover

"Your Croydon" - Mar 2008 page 18

 February 2008 edition

 March 2008 edition

Once again, the February and March 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 February 2008 feature Frazer compares photos taken in the High Street opposite Grant's department store, before and after the traffic flow was reduced. Click each thumbnail below to view  a larger version of Frazer's Then and Now images, or here to view the 32-page magazine in PDF format.

High Street - 1981

High Street - Today

   For the March 2008 feature, Frazer compares photos taken within the Whitgift Shopping centre, before and after the roof was added and The Forum pub demolished. Click each thumbnail below to view  a larger version of Frazer's Then and Now images, or here to view the 24-page magazine in PDF format.

Whitgift Shopping Center  - Then

Whitgift Shopping Center  - Today

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA. March 2008 Email.                                                                 Your Croydon ©2022 Croydon Council.


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