JRGS News Archive Page 41
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 41 - Jul thru Sep 2007 -

JRGS Alumni Society


 Brian Dunning (JRGS 1947-52) recalls Mr. Smith's  mathematical memory aid...

I know that my old maths master is happily still with us and am sure that he reads these communications.
   I was a problem pupil for him as I was hopeless at maths to the point that Mr. Smith composed a piece of verse for me that I remember to this day. Whilst thumping my chest he would recite:
   "Two two's are four, three two's are six, calculations for the kiddies, trigonometry for the tinies, the area of a circle is pi/r/squared."
   Upon leaving school I entered banking in the City of London, was conscripted into the infantry to serve my two years in Korea, and then joined the Police Service, working covertly as a Special Branch officer on anti -terrorism before retiring. I am now 70 years old.
   In all these years, I regret to inform "Old Smut" that I have never had the need to use the formula for the area of a circle. However, I have not forgotten him nor his verse.
   May he receive many telegrams from Her Majesty.

Brian Dunning, September 2007 Email


 Brian Thorogood (JRGS 1951-56) reminisces on gramophone records of the era...

My parents owned an old large wind-up, sprung gramophone with a small collection of 1930s shellac 78rpm records, which my sister and I would listen to on special occasions. My parents did not own a modern electric stereo record player until 1960, about the same time that I became interested in high-fidelity equipment. So it was a revelation in the first week at JRGS in 1951, in form 1H, when Mr. Hancock, our music teacher, played 78rpm classical recordings with a record player that was then state-of-the-art for the era.
   I remember he used wooden needles which he sharpened on a small device on every playing - no harsh steel needles. A constructed wooden box housed the turntable, amplifier and speaker. I do not know who made this splendid unit or where it was made.
   Mr. Hancock familiarised us boys by playing clarinet and oboe excerpts - which we had to differentiate between - for the end-of-term exam, plus short classical recordings appropriate for two sides of a 78rpm disc - about six minutes in length. Later, when we went to the new school in Shirley, Croydon Education Authority provided long-playing vinyl records of full symphonies! I do not think that these were ever loaned out to boys, but were carefully guarded and stored away under lock and key.
   Pop and jazz recordings were taboo with Mr. Hancock. One boy in our class was refused a playing of an early traditional jazz disc by Jelly Roll Morton. He was the only boy with such a specialist interest in the class.
   In the fifth form, during Mr. Gee’s art lesson, a boy from the other class for our year exchanged some of his precious Frankie Laine 78s for another boy’s collection of Glenn Miller 78s. Such were the limitations, as records would have been expensive for our pocket money then, unlike today’s pupils living in our materialistic society.
   I did not buy my first record, a 45rpm classical disc, until 1958, from the HMV store in Oxford Street, London, near to where I worked. Since I became interested in Hi-Fi, I have owned several quality systems, ranging from valve amplifier to a transistorised Samsung unit. But I am collecting records from the 1950s, which I could not afford then. Nostalgia plays a very important part in my life now, as a man aged 68 years. Today I put an advertisement in The Gramophone magazine’s Records Wanted section, and could well expect to pay up to £100 each for very rare LPs of the spoken word of Carl Jung and James Dean.

Brian (Bone) V Thorogood, Willowbank, Wick, Scotland KW1 4NZ, September 2007

Ian Butterworth (JRGS/JRHS Teacher 1963-80) adds: I was interested to read Brian Thorogood's reminiscences on Ruskin gramophone records. When I became Mr. Hancock's assistant in 1963 I still found many 78s in the record cupboard and, with the limited budget available, it took several years to replace them with LPs. I remember that the record player, which was in a light-oak cabinet, had to be brought out and put away each day in the locked cupboard at the back of the small stage in the old Music Room.
   We also had to remember to close the lid of the cabinet when we wrote on the board if we wanted to avoid a thin layer of chalk on the records! It was not until we moved to the new Music Room (a demountable building on the Mill Pitch) that the old record player was eventually replaced with more-up-to-date equipment that even included a radio and reel-to-reel tape recorder!
   However, Terry James and I still had to remember to close the lid when we used chalk on the board.
   Those were the days!

Roger Fuller (JRGS 1951-56) adds: I have another memory of Mr. Hancock's music room at the time it was also our form classroom. At one stage we had a relief teacher famed for his short sight and thick glasses. He was immediately and - probably by Vic Bivand - nicknamed "Squint". I recall three Squint stories.
   The first relates to the gramophone. We discovered that we could wind the machine up, place the handle on the deck and, during class at a pre-arranged signal, operate the on control, with the result that the turntable would turn, the handle would turn upon it and clunk against the inside of the cabinet. The resultant noise baffled Squint who could never trace its origin.
   Squint, like a number of his colleagues, wore a gown in class and some of the worst behaved class members, including Bivand and myself, would use chalk to play a game of noughts and crosses upon his gown as he moved around the room. Cruel sport but daring as we saw it.
   Squint, because of his inability to tell one face from another, had produced a class plan with a name against each desk place. He would use this to ask questions of individuals. He would point at an individual name them from the plan and ask the question. A good idea, in theory, but in practice spoilt by the habit some of us had of swapping places when his back was turned. This had the inevitable result of name and identity denial, more and more confusion heaped upon the unfortunate Squint, and alteration after alteration being made to the plan until it was discarded as unworkable.
   That was over 50 years ago, Wrong it may have been but happenings such as these were a part of what actually made schooldays the happiest of one's life.


 Colin Marsh (Selhurst Grammar 1959-66) fondly recalls some JRGS teachers ...

I am not an alumnus of John Ruskin School, but looked out of curiosity at your Website, having used the link from the Old Croydonians site. I was at Selhurst Grammar School from 1959 until 1966.
   Looking at the biographical details of some of the teachers at Ruskin, I saw a number of familiar faces. Terry James, for instance, was Music Master at Selhurst when I first went there. I remember him leaving Selhurst, but did not know he eventually went to JR - we were told that he had gone to freelance as a conductor. I remember seeing him on TV conducting the annual Festival of 1000 Welsh Male Voices. He was, as teachers go, very much a "one-off."
   Tony Davey and Martin Nunn I both know - Tony was one of the leaders of Norbury Crusader class, and his wife, Ann, is the elder sister of Arthur Rodd, who was School Captain of Selhurst Grammar School in (about) 1965/6.
   I last saw Martin Nunn about two years ago - he is organist at Hayes Free Church - and attended the retirement party of my cousin, Rev. Kenneth Marsh, who spent around 40 years in the URC Ministry, latterly at Radlett in Hertfordshire. Martin and my cousin Kenneth are old friends; Hayes URC was Ken's home Church when he first decided to train for the Ministry. In fact, Martin was also a guest at Kenneth's 40th Wedding Anniversary in 2004, which was when I renewed my acquaintance with him.
   Another JR teacher, John Adkins, together with his father, was also a Crusader Leader at Norbury Crusader Class. I think he taught physics, and went to teach at Soham Grammar School, Cambridgeshire, in the early Sixties. I think he and Tony Davey were contemporaries. I understand from Martin Nunn that John Adkins died, comparatively young, some years ago.
   On the 1964 School Photo, there is a reference to Mr. Adkins "probably being in school, but not in the photo." I cannot spot him in the 1962 School Photo but, given that I last saw him around 45 years ago, I probably wouldn't recognise him anyway. Martin Nunn told me that John Adkins married - comparatively late in life - and ended his career as owner/principal of - I think - a boys prep school. He was only 61 when he died; not a great age by today's standards (I am nearly that myself) and was always a very fit guy.
   John actually applied for a job as Head of Physics at Selhurst - this was after he had gone to Soham. There were a lot of us at Selhurst who knew him through Crusaders and the Christian camps that he used to run. (As he was being shown round the school, we had to pretend we didn't know him - very difficult.)
   John Adkins was very helpful to me at one stage of my teenage years when I threatened to go "off the rails." But, as I got older, I found his brand of Christianity and right-wing views on a number of issues rather too much.
   Of my year at primary school, Norbury Manor, those of us who passed the 11+ in 1959 tended to either go to Selhurst or John Ruskin. From then on, we tended to lose contact, largely because JR played soccer and Selhurst played rugger - our great "on-field " rivals were Trinity and Whitgift!
   The only names I remember of my primary-school contemporaries who went to JR in 1959 are Peter Baron, Richard Humphries and Colin Taylor. Anyone know what happened to them?
   Some years ago, I tracked down Richard through FriendsReunited.com and he was then living in Norfolk. if my memory serves me right, he became a journalist.
JRGS Cricket Aug 1963   Having located a image on the site taken in 1963 (pictured left), I recognised Peter Baron straight away - I remembered that he was a good cricketer at primary school. Colin Taylor was seriously into soccer, as I recall. It is interesting that the cricket team photo was taken at the Nat West Bank ground in Norbury. We lived almost opposite that ground, on Stanford Road. One of my sisters school friends was the daughter of the grounds man - they had a flat in the pavilion, and I used to deliver their papers!
   I have one last memory of JRGS. John Adkins and Tony Davey (together with Martin Nunn, I think) were active in The Crusaders and set up a Croydon Schools Camps organisation, to run Crusader-style camps for boys from various Croydon schools. One year, they organised a re-union and used Ruskin for the venue; JA was teaching at Soham by then, but Tony Davey was still at Ruskin.
   I slipped on the polished hall floor, and gashed my head just above my eye. Ann Rodd, Tony Davey's fiancé, hauled me off to the first-aid room to patch me up, and I spent the rest of the evening in casualty at Mayday Hospital. John Adkins, who had a somewhat "cruel" sense of humour, never let me forget that incident.

Colin Marsh, Leicester, September 2007 Email

JRGS Football XIML adds: John Adkins left JRGS in December 1964 to join Soham Grammar School, Cambridge. Born on 29 April, 1939, he died in July 2000 at Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire.
   In addition to mention of Peter Baron on the 1962 5U page - plus Peter and Colin Taylor being pictured in the early-Sixties image (shown right) - I have located mention of Richard Humphries on page 2 the 1964 Speech Day program. Since Richard secured three O-Levels while in form 5T, we can assume that he left JRGS the previous summer without entering the Sixth Form.

Anthony Davey (JRGS teacher 1960-66) adds: After JRGS, John Adkins spent several years as Deputy Head at Rokeby, a comprehensive school in the East End of London.
   The photos are interesting. As I remember it, Barry Tyler’s mum [Dorothy Tyler née Odam] represented GB as a hurdler in the 1948 Olympics, winning a silver medal . And, of course, Steve Kember was a great Crystal Palace player. One of my big disappointments was that, when I was teaching Steve - O-Level Maths, I believe, in the fifth year - he left JR at Easter, as he signed up as a professional for the Palace.
   Regarding my own teaching career, in 1966 I left Ruskin to join Malory School as Head of Physics. In 1969 I became Head of Physics at John Newham High School. Before John Newham changed back to John Ruskin [Sixth Form College] I moved on in 1976, to be Head of Science at Eltham Green School (ILEA 1,760 pupils) where I later became Deputy Head. (The head at Eltham Green was Peter Dawson, on whom the film Clockwise was modelled.) From 1992 until 2001, I finished my teaching career as a Physics and Maths Teacher at Trinity School in Croydon – it was like being back at Ruskin!
   I have maintained my Christian faith and am currently Church Secretary at West Wickham & Shirley Baptist Church.

John AdkinsJ H John Peet (JRGS teacher 1961-65) adds: I’m not sure the school that John Adkins (pictured left) took on during the latter half of his career is correctly called a prep school. He re-established a secondary school - and eventually a junior school - as a Christian foundation, but not as a “faith school” as we use the terminology today.
   And I am not sure that I would say John married “comparatively late in life” - it depends on definitions. Certainly it was several years after Tony [Davey] and I married – and I did wonder at one point whether he ever would. His wife, Heather, was a tremendous support to him in his school and camp and Crusader work.

Ian Castro (JRGS 1958-65) addsThe Alumni might recall that I contributed recollections of John Adkins some years ago . John taught me physics when I was in the JRGS Sixth. It was his first school and I later married John's younger sister, Lucy. to whom I'm still very happily married after 34 years (three sons, one grandson). Sadly, John died in 2000, having bought and very successfully run a private school, which is still going strong, in Berkhamstead, after a couple of state teaching posts.


 Victor Ross (JRGS 1961-68) discovers a Venice hotel with Ruskin connections ...

La Calcina, Venice

Victor Ross at sea

 The Hotel

At Sea

I thought Old Boys might be interested in a hotel recommendation.
   On a trip last month to Italy I sailed with my wife and some friends from Rome to Venice and stayed for a few days at a small hotel on the Giudecca Canal in Venice called La Calcina.
   It is a very comfortable pensione-style hotel with friendly staff, excellent views over the canal, and a delightful terrace actually built over the canal edge where excellent meals can be taken. It is not too expensive (for Venice) but is very popular so try to get bookings as far in advance as possible if you plan to stay there.
   But what’s the link with JRGS I hear you ask? Well, the hotel also tags itself "Ruskin’s House" as the man himself actually stayed there from February to May 1877 during his various visits to Venice. Whether I actually slept in the bedroom that he used I shall never know! Best regards to all Old Boys who recall me.
   Click on either thumbnail shown left to view a larger version.

Victor Ross, Little Staughton, North Bedfordshire July 2007 Email

Anne Smith, former JRGS/JRHS teacher and principal of the SFC, adds: I once had a postcard of a plaque in Venice commemorating Ruskin and his The Stones of Venice . But, as I don't speak Italian, that was all I could get from the plaque, except that the rest of it seemed fulsomely supportive!

ML adds: First published from 1851-53, The Stones of Venice is Ruskin's original three-volume book on Venetian art and architecture. It intended to prove how architecture in Venice exemplified the principles he discussed in his earlier work, The Seven Lamps of Architecture. Ruskin also examines Venice's Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance periods, and provides a general history of the city. Kessinger Publishing 476 pages; ISBN 1417924381


 Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) encounters a train named John Ruskin College...

John Ruskin CollegeOn my way to a recent meeting at Hackney, the train I was on passed another that had a rake of four carriages named "John Ruskin College".
   I caught up with the JRC train at Victoria to photograph it, but before my camera reacted it was off again - bugger!
  See fleeting image left; click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
Mike Etheridge, Sanderstead, Surrey. July 2007

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: I found mention of the Southern (formerly Connex) train on the RailwayCentre website. Apparently, the train was named by Anne Smith, then principal of John Ruskin College, to mark introduction of four trains per hour on Caterham-London Bridge route, and the partnership between Connex and the college.

Anne Smith, former JRGS/JRHS teacher and principal of the Sixth-Form College, recalls: When the college first started Travel and Tourism as a GNVQ course, the course leader made contact with Connex and it was arranged that the college should have the use of the buildings at Hever Station, which was unmanned.
JRC train nameplateDuring this time, the train was named for us and there was some publicity for the college; we also ran French courses for the rail employees - on at least one occasion a ticket clerk wished me "Bon Voyage"!

Mike Blamire (JRGS 1956-57) adds: Mike's failure sounds like a challenge to all Alumni train enthusiasts!
   I can't participate from over here in Canada, but maybe it'll trigger a little competition among UK-based Alumni.
PS. I hope this is a regularly scheduled train. I wouldn't want to have people chasing one that only runs once in a blue moon!

Stuart Frier (JRGS 1952-56) adds: Following on from Mike's encounter with a train named John Ruskin College, I often saw the four-car set at Three Bridges Station near Crawley, West Sussex, when I travelled up to East Croydon for work. It was run by Southern, and was sometimes used on the Brighton-Watford Service, so it had overhead equipment. Sometimes it was loaned to Thameslink for the Bedford Service.


 Alan Wilson (JRGS 1957-62) attends a reunion with former teacher Desmond May ...

JRGS Alumni Meeting July 2007

JRGS Alumni Meeting July 2007

 The Group

At Chequers

JRGS Alumni Meeting July 2007

JRGS Alumni Meeting July 2007

 Des and Mike

 "Wally" Walters

Under the guiding hand of Roger "Wally" Walters from Australia, a group of students met their form master in Hertfordshire on 3rd July. Click on any thumbnail image, shown left, to view a larger version.
   Des May, who was our form master for 2M, 3M, 4M and 5M, welcomed "Wally", Mike Beaumont, Jonathan Sindall and Alan Wilson to his home with a champagne reception, before repairing at high speed to The Chequers for lunch.
   All four students were especially pleased to meet up again with Des, whom they credit with having a formative effect on their lives post-JRGS. His unconventional methods of motivation certainly worked well with a number of the students under his watchful eye over the four years 1956-60. Des was grateful that the students felt his methods were not quite as unconventional as one of the masters of Welsh extraction!
   Several most enjoyable hours were spent relating events from those days. The day was completed with the presence of Derek Peasey, who taught Mathematics to the form for part of those four years, and who had started at Ruskin in his first appointment at a similar time to Des. The six reviewed a number of photos and mementoes of those days, and attempts were made to name all of 4M and to locate them on the 1958 school photograph on the JRGS website.
   The event was made even more memorable because of the heavy thunderstorms that accompanied the break up of the reunion as the former JRGS students - with the exception of Wally - departed for the West Country along the A41 and M4 in tropical downpours.
   We would like to thank Des and his wife Sybil for their kind hospitality, and hope that we can meet again before another 47 years elapse.

Alan Wilson, Box, Wiltshire, July 2007 Email


Archived News/Events Pages have been moved here.

The content of this web site is provided for informational purposes only, and is subject to change without notice. The JRGS Alumni Society makes no representation about the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of the content of this web site, nor the results to be obtained from using any part of such content.

Please send any messages and memorabilia to webmaster
©2021 JRGS Alumni Society. All Rights Reserved. Last revised: 01.01.21