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- Page 39 - May thru Jun 2007 -

JRGS Alumni Society


 Derek Peasey (JRGS teacher 1956-59) recalls a visit from Richard Baker...

Richard BakerFurther to the July 1957 JRGS School Magazine that Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) scanned for the website, mention of Richard Baker, BBC-TV newsreader, pictured left, jogged my memory.
   I recall his guest appearance at a Junior Prize Giving about 1957. Richard Baker said he had been a pupil at (I think) Kilburn Grammar school, and his music teacher there, who had inspired him to study music at (I think) Cambridge, was JRGS music teacher, Mr. John Norton Hancock. It was Mr. Hancock who had invited Richard.
   During RB's talk there was a storm and a great crack of thunder. "Must be the competition," Richard quipped - it was just after ITV had started. It got a big laugh.
   At the time Richard Baker was not associated with music but subsequently he presented a lot of music programmes on radio and TV, including introducing the BBC Proms for many years.

ML adds: Richard Baker presented the very first BBC-TV news bulletin on 5th July 1954, behind a filmed view of Nelson's Column. [more]

Derek Peasey, Stevenage, Herts, June 2007 Email


 Peter Wilson (JRGS 1956-63) recalls playing Second Witch in "The Scottish Play"...

Further to the JRGS Dramatic Society programmes for the 1960 production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth and the 1961 production of Nikolai Gogol's The Government Inspector that Paul Winter (JRGS 1959-62) scanned for the site, there I am - Second Witch in "The Scottish Play," a part I remember well. Great fun!
   Didn't we have a discussion some while ago regarding who had the nickname "Haggis"? I don't recall anyone being positively identified as that person. Could it have been Neil Camfield?
   I am still in Guernsey - but for the last three months I've been a 24/7 Carer, as my wife Mary suffered a nasty fractured leg and is still off work. She's making progress - but slowly - and is trying being back at work today, after 12 weeks off, taking it a day at a time and a step at a time.
   It is always a pleasure to read these posts on the website.

Peter Wilson, Guernsey, Chanel Islands, June 2007 Email

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Amongst the lights, properties and stage staff list on the dramatic society programmes for The Government Inspector and Macbeth is one "J Reid". This is none another than Jamie Reid, famous for his design of the sleeve for the Sex Pistols first album.
   More on Wikipedia, including some interesting links.


 Maurice Whitfield (JRGS 1959-66) recalls school life in the early-Sixties...

Gilbert Scott Infant School circa 1954Quite a few of us came to JRGS from Gilbert Scott Primary, where my strongest memory is of the day my baby-boomer size class of 44 was taken outside to watch an eclipse of the sun. I also recall watered-down ink in inkwells, morning milk and an egg-and-spoon race on a stifling day. The year, I believe, was 1954 (we were probably aged six or seven). In the photograph shown left, in addition to Andrew Robertson and Derek Charlewood, I have remembered another face of a fellow Alumni. Second row down, fourth from right is Peter Baynes. I am to be found second row up, second from left. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
   More of these faces went on to John Ruskin, but who I'm not sure, They hauntingly emerge from the old school photos. I remember many of my form group. I can still almost recite the register of surnames from memory.
Maurice Whitfield   By now it has all become quite blurred, but I do remember retrieving my cap from a toilet bowl on my first day at school, and constructing a wire and paper Stegosaurus for a sixth-form dance (named the Brontosaurus Stomp) towards one of the last.
   For O-Levels I was in 5R; I'm listed in the 1964 Speech Day program. I went on to achieve A-Level Art and English. That's me pictured left from The Croydon Advertiser in 1965.
   There are other things I recall. For example, the prickly heat on a summer afternoon's walk home across the Addington Hills. (I know who set fire to the dry gorse bushes there during that lunch break in the summer of '65.) And freezing hands and feet, at the same location in winter. Those were cold winters! Does anyone get chilblains anymore?

Who remembers:

  • The first Routemasters on the 130 route?

  • British Bulldog in the playground?

  • Bottles of Fling from the tuckshop.

  • The last to go into long trousers? (Me and Andrew Robertson of my year I recall.)

  • The walk to the sports ground?

  • The sand pit?

  • Changing in the windmill?

  • The Cycle Sheds, pluralised for some reason?

  • Seconds for semolina?

  • Briefcases piled up in the annex to the Art Room?

  • Fag cards (the worn, dirty ones flicked better)?

  • Barry Tyler's mum was Dorothy Tyler, an Olympic athlete?

  • I was an extra in The Merchant of Venice?

  • Percy the Caretaker was my second uncle?

  • John Ruskin was better than John Newnham; not so good as John Whitgift?


Memories of Mr. Des May, Mr. "Vic" Gee and Mr. "Fred" Field
Mr. MayDoes anybody remember a great teacher, Mr. Des May, pictured left? I would have paid to get into his lessons! He taught French and marked our test papers out of a million, or more! He pinned boys’ necks between desks with his feet and flicked chalk with deadly accuracy at your head. Thanks to Mr. May, I can still decline and conjugate a few Latin nouns and verbs to this day. He appears in a photo submitted recently by the terrifyingly indestructible Mr. Smith ("Smut").
Mr. Gee   Mr. Gee ("Vic") - pictured left - was my favourite teacher, and my mentor. Some of us visited his home once. His charming wife gave us tea and scones and we saw some of his paintings, which I remember were in the style of English Surrealism, but with some Max Ernst thrown in.
   I loved Art, and Vic’s Art Room was to me then an "alternative" place. It was from that Art Room window that I remember Julian Smalley, myself and obviously many others watched, in eager anticipation, the Coloma Convent Girls’ School being built on the opposite side of the road (about ’64?).
Mr. Field   And there were so many other great teachers, I remember Mr. Field ("Fred") - pictured left - was a world-class entertainer and very handy with his knotted cape. He would lift you out of your seat by your sideboard! He was one of the last to wear a mortar board and he inspired my interest in poetry.
   Who remembers a magnificent pupil named John George? I bumped into him on a tube at Earl’s Court, sometime in the early Eighties. What a fantastic character! Said he was editor of Art International, or similar. John was the one who inspired a craze for camp in the sixth form (Round the Horne was on the radio in those days), much to the annoyance and frustration of Mr. Lowe ("Joe").

   "Gentlemen, it has come to my attention that homosexuality, yes, homosexuality, has become rampant, I say RAMPANT, in the sixth form!" "Joe" pronounced in an assembly once, with John George camping it up like a demented Kenneth Williams at the massive school organ, which he played brilliantly. "Ooh, hark at her!" the sixth form responded as one! Any news of John from anybody?


Demolition of the school buildings in the early-Nineties

A week or two before demolition I was passing [the Upper Shirley Road site] so I sneaked a look inside a vacant John Ruskin School. I hadn’t been near for 20 years. Incredibly, it had remained pretty much unchanged despite its re-invention as a Comprehensive and, incredibly, there was that same old epidiascope and those torn black window blinds in the Geography Room.

   Waves of nostalgia flowed thick and fast. It was like time travel! The desks were the same! The rooms were the same. But everything was smaller than I remembered. There was the sixth-form corridor, and where Mr. Maggs with his hook held back the hungry dinner queue. The quadrangle and music room.

   I sensed someone’s heavy breathing behind me, in through the mouth, out through the nose. Oh no, it’s "Rhino," I thought.

   "What do you want, mate?" It wasn't "Rhino" ("I'll have you know, boy, I taught Dixie Dean to drive a jeep!"). It was a workman. I explained my presence, but was made unwelcome and escorted out. Health and Safety you see.

   As I left, I soaked in in all I could. [more]


Life after JRGS
Maurice Whitfield, bassist in Big RoadI went, with Mr. Gee's blessing, to Chelsea School of Art from 1966 to 1970. I found myself transposed from a small council house on Monks Hill Estate, Croydon, to King’s Road, Chelsea, at the very heart of the swinging Sixties. I managed myself poorly in those psychedelic days, but survived and emerged with an Honours Degree in Sculpture. I have taught Art for 33 years, and been a Head of Department for the last 20; I retire this month. I can also be seen performing with my band Big Road at our website - see image right. Other times, I can be found snoozing on my old boat in Rock Channel, Rye, East Sussex. I will continue to work after retirement as a visiting examination moderator for Edexcel, do more gigs and pick up the sculpting tools once again. I may move to Rye. [ML adds: Edexcel is a vocational education service - more]
   By the way, in the 1960 School Photograph, I can be seen second row up, 10th in from left. (Julian Smalley is beneath my chin.) In the 1962 School Photograph, I am directly above Messrs. Cripps and Gregory.

Maurice Whitfield, Woodside Green, London SE25, June 2007 email

Terry Weight (JRGS 1959-65) adds:  I loved Maurice's list of memories - so what happened to that lovely drink 'Fling'?
   In his "Who remembers" section, Maurice missed:

  • Football in the play ground - torn trousers and balls on roof.

  • Great adventures retrieving them.

  • Cycling at high speed down the hill from school on a wet day - extremely risky.

  • Desks with lids covered in writing.

  • Cross country runs on Shirley Hills.

  • Prefects - being insolent when told to be quiet or stop running, but only sufficient to avoid trouble.

  • School assembly.

Mike Blamire (JRGS 1956-57) adds:  I attended John Ruskin briefly in the autumn of 1956 and the spring of 1957 before emigrating to Peter  BaynesCanada. Like Maurice Whitfield, I also attended Gilbert Scott School, and immediately recognized Peter Baynes in the photograph he provided. I may be wrong, but I think that Peter is the fourth from the right in the second row from the top - pictured right.
   My memory of John Ruskin is a little threadbare, probably because I was only there for about seven months. I do remember the tuck shop, and have vague recollections of the corridors. My home-room teacher - sorry for the Canadian words and expressions - was also my Latin teacher.
   I spent a lot of my spare time with what I think was a Biology Club (??), and really liked the teacher. I remember going to the soccer pitches at the bottom of the hill near Gilbert Scott School.
   I was not great at athletics being quite tall and very skinny. (I added a little bulk in later life.)
   Last, but not least, I remember The Windmill, and participating in the annual tulip bulb planting.


 John Peet (JRGS teacher 1961-65) spots a news story about Timothy Workman...

I noted in The Times today [14 June] that the Senior District Judge, Timothy Workman, sitting on the trial of Sir Stephen Richards, is a former pupil of "Ruskin Grammar School, Croydon." It does not give his dates but no doubt some Alumni members will remember him. His first job was as a probation officer 1967-69, so he may have been around in my time!

John Peet, Guilford, Surrey, June 2007 Email

ML adds: According to an recent story on the TimeOnline website describing a case at Bow Street Magistrates’ Court , London, Timothy Workman began his career as a probation officer in inner London from 1967 to 1969 and then qualified as a solicitor, rising to partnership in a firm in Maidenhead, Berkshire, where he now lives.

   Incidentally, the website story covers the fate of pro-hunting campaigners who had invaded the House of Commons chamber, and were convicted of a public order offence. The eight men, including Bryan Ferry’s son Otis, were spared fines of up to £1,000 each and instead each given an 18-month conditional discharge. District Judge Timothy Workman ordered each of the accused to pay £350 towards prosecution costs. He made it clear he did not believe that they were likely to re-offend, but if they did they could be brought back to court for the original crime.

   And the case that John mentions above concerns a Court of Appeal judge from Wimbledon, Sir Stephen Richards, being cleared of twice flashing a commuter on a train from Wimbledon to Waterloo on 16 and 24 October. Lord Justice Richards was charged after a female commuter followed him from Waterloo station to the High Court, and took pictures of him on her mobile phone. [more]

   Does anybody recall Timothy Workman?

Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-68) adds: There is more about Timothy on the Wikipeda website.
  The thumbnail image shown below right is extracted from a larger photograph to be found here.
  His biography reads as follows:

Tim Workman was appointed a Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate in 1986 and a Crown Court Recorder in 1993. He was appointed as the Deputy Senior District Judge on the amalgamation of the Provincial and Metropolitan Stipendiary Benches in 2000 and was appointed Senior District Judge and Chief Magistrate in February 2003. He sits mainly at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court and is one of the Judges dealing with the special jurisdiction of Extradition and Terrorism Act cases.



 Alan Wilson (JRGS 1957-62) affectionately recalls former teacher Ronald Pearce...

Mr. Pearce

Mr. Pearce spent months with the sixth-form Maths group - a select band - patiently getting us to work through a series of equations. At the end he triumphantly informed us that we had worked out Kepler's Laws of Interplanetary Motion from first principles! Brilliant - what a confidence boost that was.
   He had an unrivalled dry wit too. As a small group we used a smaller teaching room near the library. One day there was a broken window in the room and we were there for a double period. "Puncher" felt the cold as well as we did.
   "Fentiman, go to the library and get eight boys to bring their books to study at the back of our lesson," he said. When Fentiman (I think it was he) looked puzzled, Puncher chuckled and uttered the immortal line: "Eight boys equals one kilowatt!"
   I have dined out on the tale during a career in the electricity-supply industry!
   A great teacher and positive influence, a human being with a happy disposition. [More]

Alan Wilson, Box, Wiltshire, May 2007 Email


 Derek Peasey, a JRGS master from 1956 to 1959, discovers The Mill website...

Derek Peasey



Just a brief note to congratulate all concerned on a superb web site. I had not seen it before and have enjoyed looking through its pages, to which I shall return. I particularly valued seeing the school photo from my short time at the school, 1956-59.
   I suspect the rather grim look on my own face in the 1958 school photo (shown far left) reflected the insecurity I was still feeling in my first appointment, from which I learned a great deal, thanks to my many helpful and supportive colleagues and a marvellous group of imaginative and lively boys, only a few years younger than myself.
   The other image was cropped from an informal picture that my young granddaughter snapped recently. (Click on the thumbnail to download a larger version.)
   Although the routine classroom experiences at JRGS were probably what really mattered, my chief recollections are those out of the ordinary events, small and large. I still recall the collection of "borrowed" road signs found in the loft above the Prefect's Room, after which we had to manage without prefects for the rest of the year. I should love to have heard the conversation when Mr. Lowe phoned the police to explain what the caretaker had found.
   Then there was the very convincing "sputnik" made by sixth formers, with the help of Pat Gee I understand, and left flashing on the common (Wimbledon?), to be found by the police; I seem to recall this one reached the national newspapers. And there was the effigy of the head boy (?) left hanging from the top sail of the, in those days, somewhat decaying windmill. And the huge and potentially lethal cave, carved out of the sandstone behind the bushes in the school field, by (I think) a group of second formers.
   At a personal level, I recall the embarrassment of being offered half fare by the conductress on the bus from Croydon station to the school, much to the amusement of the young pupils from my tutor group, travelling in adjoining seats. I had a lot more hair then.
   Perhaps it will encourage others to add their own recollections of that period. I am not 100% sure that all the events mentioned took place in the 1956-59 period; some may have happened earlier and been recounted to me. It was, after all, 50 years ago. If so, maybe someone will put the record right. It would be particularly interesting to hear from those actually involved. [
Derek left JRGS in December 1959 to join Willesden County School, London - ML.]

Derek Peasey, Stevenage, Herts, May 2007 Email

Harold Fish (JRGS 1951-56) adds: Thanks to all concerned for the Derek Peasey news.
   Memories can be dodgy but I do recall someone being on the same bus as Derek when the full/half-are incident occurred and telling us all about it.
   Another story about Derek Peasey circulating at the time was that during a cross country run over Shirley Hills in which Mr. Peasey was involved, someone found a Durex package, took it to Derek and "innocently" asked what it was.
   "Some kind of Aspirin" was the reported reply!
   We must have overlapped by a few months and the hanging of the effigy from the windmill sails may well have been my own class's farewell gesture in July 1956.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) reports on an Alumni Meeting in Kings Cross...

JRGS Alumni
Friday 11 May 2007 - John Byford | Mel Lambert | Paul Graham

In early-May, three Alumni members from the mid-Sixties gathered again at a hostelry in Central London to catch up with each others' lives and losses, and repair for a very acceptable meal at a local fish restaurant. Click on this thumbnail to view a larger image.

   Accompanying us that evening were Paul's wife, Julie, and Mel's "chum" - we are still searching for a alternative to the ambiguous "partner" - Merelyn Davis, who took this image.

   The pub was The Skinner's Arms on Judd Street, just south of the Euston Road, where the three of us had met up several years before. The Skinner's is one of John's local haunts - he works not far away at the British Library - and the journey from our rendezvous point, Russell Square tube station, was made all the more pleasant by the sight of some interesting architecture along the way.

   After suitable liquid refreshments we adjourned North Sea Fish Restaurantto the North Sea Fish Restaurant on nearby Leigh Street (pictured right), a journey undiminished by an accompanying rain squall. The fare was delicious - rock salmon, lemon sole and cod dinners with mushy peas and pickled cucumbers, a passable white wine, followed by several deserts - and the company sublime.

   As coincidence would have it, I recall wandering these same streets some 40+ years ago while attending the London School of Pharmacy on Hunter Street the year after I left JRGS as a lab technician. I journeyed from the family home in New Addington via a 130 bus to East Croydon, British Rail to London Bridge and thence underground to King's Cross, a trip that took me between 90 and 120 minutes, night and morning. It was a pleasant enough sojourn in the spring and summer but not, sad to relate, during the autumn and winter of 1966, my one year at LSP.

   My apologies to other London-based Alumni for failing to alert them of this last-minute gathering, but my planned visit to London after attending an Audio Engineering Society Convention in Vienna was only for four days. There is always next time. (And please excuse the possibly arcane style I seem to have adopted in this missive; I have just completed a marathon five-hour re-viewing of BBC Television's outstanding 1995 production of Pride & Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Jane Austen's literary prowess is obviously having a - hopefully temporary - effect on me!)

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA, May 2007 Email


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