Oh how sad. In a quiet moment at work I
Goggled the old school and, to my dismay, discovered that JRGS is
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
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
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
Oh well, life goes on, I guess. I do often wonder what became of
some old classmates.
Glenn J. Pacey, Auckland, New Zealand.
Paul Johnson (JRGS 1966-73) adds:
It 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
My photo, by the way, is included the
1967 School Picture
- first section, second row up, and fourth from the left; as shown
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
("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
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:
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
I now live in Auckland and, as ML has discovered, also review
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
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
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
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