JRGS News Archive Page 38
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 38 - Feb thru Apr 2007 -

JRGS Alumni Society


 Peter Eades (JRGS 1963-69) discovers The Mill website, and recalls Mr. Smith...

Peter Eades - 1964

I have only just found this wonderful website; I've read lots of the contents, but not all yet. It has filled me with nostalgia and all my school-day memories have flooded back. The school photographs are amazing - I can remember so many names when I see the faces.
   The image shown left is taken from the 1964 School Photograph. I am in Section 4, Row 4, standing behind Mr. Butterworth - I'm the one wearing a triangular cycling-proficiency badge.
   From left-to-right in that row are: 1 and 2 unknown; Phillip Alexander (deceased); David Fox; Joseph Rayner; myself; unknown; Alan Beckett; Barlow; Phil Green; Cromwell; Alan Frew; Kenneth Hunter; Ronald Dawes; John Stembridge; Pache; Irving; last six unknown.
   For some unknown reason I cannot find myself in the 1968 School Photograph.
   I retired when I was 43 and have lived in Thailand for the past 12 years. I bumped into JRGS colleague Nigel Williams just before I left UK and he was very interested to know that I occasionally saw Mr. C. E. Smith walking around Selsdon. Nigel asked me to deliver a message to "Smut," which I never managed to do, so maybe I can relay this to him via the website.
   Back in 1967 (could be a year out) Nigel was devoting a lot of his spare time to do the lighting for the school play. When a full rehearsal was held in school time he needed to be there.
   Nigel approached CES and asked: "Please Sir, Mr. Cracknell says may I be excused maths this afternoon as I am needed to do the lighting for the school play?"
   CES turned red, deep red. The class fell silent. CES turned it up to full volume.
   "WHAT? You want to be excused mathematics? Mathematics is your future, my boy. You won't get anywhere in life turning a few lights on and off."
   CES gave him the full treatment; in fact, one of the worst dressing downs I have ever heard.
   Well, Mr. Smith, your words did not improve Nigel's knowledge of mathematics, but it did make him determined to prove you wrong. He is now head of BBC Outside Broadcasting Lighting Unit.
   Yes, CES, you are charmed - even your failures are a success.
   l also recall Nick Goy (JRGS 1963-70), whose reports from the Croydon Archives appear elsewhere on the website; in lower sixth science I sat behind him. I can remember that Nick had his heart set on buying a yellow Lotus Elan. We used to have long conversations discussing the merits of every sports car. I lost contact with him after 1969 but I think he inherited some money - I wonder if he ever bought his dream car?
   I have just read the section from January 1964, and the sad death of Ian Molkenthin. I was just in front of him [when the car accident in front of the  school occurred]; another 10 seconds and it would have been me. I found the newspaper cuttings inaccurate. I remember the car overturning and coming down on top of Ian. I won't describe what I saw, I will just say it was quick.
   I have fond memories of schooldays and all our misdemeanors.
   One thing that has always impressed me is that over the years I have bumped into quite a few old Ruskinites and, without exception, they have all been a pleasure to "meet again."


Life After JRGS

After I left school, I got involved in motor racing - I worked in F1 with Brabhams in 1983 (yes, Nelson Piquet was champion that year). In the early days I used to devote all my spare time to helping another JRGS friend, Paul Jackson, who built racing cars in Warlingham.
   I thought that The Alumni might be interested that two Ruskinites have been involved with three world champions. However, having done a bit of research I see that Paul is still very active and successful in motor racing. He must have met loads of world champions by now; he currently works for iSport.
   I emailed Paul to see if he wants to rekindle an old friendship, and have had a reply telling me he is alive and well and living in Norfolk. It would be good to have him mentioned on the website because he has an exciting job and works with famous people.

Peter Eades, Thailand, April 2007 Email


 John William Sheppard (JRGS 1950-52) locates a sixth-form photograph...

JRGS Sixth Form - Easter 1951

Here is a sixth-form photograph from Easter 1951. I joined the school at the beginning of the sixth form. As The Alumni may know, in those days the sixth form were not included on the larger panoramic school photos. [More]
   I am located in the back row, fifth from left; Patrick Michael (Paddy) Bristow is fourth from left. Click on the thumbnail right to access a larger version.
   Can any of The Alumni identify others in this image from Tamworth Road?

John William Sheppard, March 2007 Email

Bob Wane (JRGS 1945-53) adds: I can help out with one or two identifications, regrettably surnames only:
Back Row: Bob Wane | ? | Rigden | ? | ? | ? | ? | ? | Cartwright | Childs
Front Row: ? | ? | Webster | ? | ? | ? | ? | ? | Warren | ? | ? |
   Hope that helps. [More]
   Quite why there was a special sixth-form photo, I do not know; there was a similar one for the Upper Fifth, which Wheeler referred to and of which there is a copy. But I do not have any copy of this one nor do I recollect any subsequent one being taken. Surely it should have been published in a school magazine at some time, but maybe not.
   I do know for a fact that it was the first time that chaps joined our sixth form from outside the school. Our science sixth had about 8-10 boys of whom at least two were incomers.
  As to the teacher in charge of the session, I guess it must have been Mr. Chaundy who was in charge of Sixth  Science (where I was ) and presumably whomsoever for Sixth Arts. As far as I can recollect it was always an outside company - the one that took the whole of school photo.
   Notwithstanding what has been said, I am clearly in the panoramic school photo taken in 1952!
   I do enjoy reading all the contributions that are published, and am grateful for The Alumni continuing with the task; well done.

Tony Childs (JRGS 1947-53) adds:: I can provide all but one name:

Back row: Bob Wane | unknown | Rigden | Patrick Michael (Paddy) Bristowe | John William Sheppard | Cook | Walker | Odd | Cartwright | Childs.

Front row: Cashman | Mort | Webster | Powell | Maggs | Sheppard | A. Patel | Benson | Sherman | R. Jones | Smithers.


 Charles Smith (JRGS teacher 1942-78) shares personal memories of school life...


Flying Officer Charles Smith

Hello! This is the voice of C.E.S! You know – “Smithy”... “Old Smut” – that mild little man you used to brush to one side as you raced down the School corridor.
   Very well then. That mixture of Attila the Hun, Genghis Kahn and the Ogre from the top of the beanstalk! Please yourselves!
   There is no cause for alarm, as those who saw me at the memorial service for Alan Murray on 21 March 2005 in Purley would realise. You just have to kick aside my walking stick and I’ll be at your mercy.
   However, I will now endeavour to clear up some misconceptions that still seem to persist.
   I was born on 16 Nov 1912 at Gosport, Hampshire; the son of a Royal Marine. As such I was able to start my early “learning curve” at a very good school where the headmaster and the deputy head were captains of Marines,

Charles E Smith - March 2005

Flying Officer RAFVR,
Charles E. Smith.

Charles Edward Smith,
March, 2005, aged 92

and the staff were sergeants and corporals. I believe that it was during this early schooling in the military education system that I caught onto the idea that ORDERS WERE TO BE OBEYED!!

Growing up in Portsmouth

Passing the “11 plus” enabled me to go to Gosport Grammar School. I soon learnt that Hampshire IS the county for cricket! As a schoolboy, I used to attend Fratton Park (the home of Portsmouth FC) on a Saturday afternoon to watch and cheer Pompey to many a victory. Some years later, this was reflected in the little sailor news cut-out that used to appear each Monday morning on my classroom notice board – indicating if Pompey had won, lost or drawn.
   Together with five of my colleagues from King Alfred’s College of Winchester (on advice from our Senior Tutor) we applied for teaching posts to the Croydon Education Committee. All of us were accepted and three of us remained with Croydon Education for the whole of our teaching careers.
   Was it lack of ambition or job satisfaction that we stayed for so long? For me the latter.
   It was in Croydon at my very first appointment during September 1934 to Ingram Road School, Thornton Heath, that I met Mr. William Cracknell. It was to become a professional and family association that lasted until his death in the year 2000.
   The outbreak of war in 1939 meant the evacuation of the Ingram Road School, to Brighton. At that time there was no schooling as such and our role as teachers was to keep contact with our pupils either in the local Park or on a beach! After the evacuation of military servicemen from Dunkirk, we were relocated to a school near West Byfleet. As well as my teaching duties I was also recruited as a Fire Watcher and Air Raid Warden during Air Raids.
   It will undoubtedly be a real surprise to all who have known me over the years, to learn that I failed my application for Active Service because of incipient leg trouble discovered when I was called up for military service with the RAF.

Joining JRCS at Tamworth Road

In 1941 I was instructed by my employers (Croydon Education Committee), to return to Croydon and to join the staff at John Ruskin Central School in Tamworth Road where, to my great pleasure, I rediscovered Mr. William Cracknell already a well-established member of staff.
   In a reference given to me by Mr. McLeod in 1948, he writes “... Mr. C. E. Smith joined my Staff primarily as an Instructor in Physical Training... But I found that I had also gained a class-master of the highest quality in Mathematics and Religious Knowledge."
   I have been everlastingly grateful for the wonderful good fortune that led me to the appointment at John Ruskin.
   The popular belief when I joined the school - and it appears to be prevalent since - was that I had been a Physical Training Instructor/PTI in the Royal Navy, a belief that was completely unfounded! At no time have I ever been in the Navy.
   However, unbeknown to anyone at John Ruskin, Tamworth Road, I had joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve with the rank of Pilot Officer and subsequently as a Flying Officer.
   During 1943-45 I served with three other officers at the 79th Squadron ATC based at St Joseph’s College, Upper Norwood, as a teacher of Basic Mathematics and Air Navigation and, with the aid of large scale maps of the Eastern Approaches, the art of Pathfinding by plotting Air Speed, Ground Speed and Wind Speed.
The Squadron had a regular Sunday morning Parade in the College grounds each week. Little did I know that many years later. in 1980. I would be on the teaching staff at St. Josephs College in Beulah Hill, Croydon.
   On August 6 1945 I was at an RAF base near Weston-Super-Mare when I heard a Tannoy announcement declaring that the Atom Bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima; an event in history that will forever be remembered. It did not just herald the ending of the war against Japan; it was the beginning of a dangerous new era for the world.
   When I joined the staff of John Ruskin Central School in September 1942 as P.E. and maths teacher it was traditionally a soccer playing school but with very few sports facilities. There was only a small, hard surfaced playground between the building and wall alongside the road outside. However, a short bus ride, or more often than not a walk, would take us to the foot of Duppas Hill where we had a football pitch and a small hutment with a single changing room. At one end was a storage section for the grounds man’s machinery and, at “our” end, a sink with a cold-water tap.
   Like most other things during the war, sporting equipment was nearly impossible to purchase and very hard to obtain even from the closest of contacts. A couple of soccer balls and a few unmatched team shirts were all that we had to our name. (See Peter Oxlade's 2nd X1 photo of 1943-44 below for a view of the team shirts, socks of various colours, and the heavy-toed football boots.)
   There was a strong soccer tradition at Ruskin and within the Schools’ Football League in the Borough of Croydon. I continued what had clearly been the norm prior to 1939. After the war, when John Ruskin became a Grammar school, it was felt by some that rugby should become the recognised sport and that soccer should be dropped. Many a debate took place on this subject and, in the end, it was Mr. Lowe who, after listening to all the arguments, decided that the school tradition of playing soccer should be maintained.
   I was very happy with the headmaster’s decision to continue the school’s football tradition since 1920. It was now a question of finding opponents available for inter-school matches.
   Our intake at Ruskin was from boys who had passed the 11-plus in Croydon Schools. Those who were less fortunate and did not pass were educated in various other Senior Schools in the Borough of Croydon, which meant that there was an immediate supply of football playing opponents locally. Gradually, as travelling became easier in that post war era, I was able to extend fixtures to neighbouring locations in Sutton, Cheam, Epsom, Woking, Guildford, Bromley and Upper Norwood.
   It took years of patient building and expansion to successfully produce the full cricket and football fixture lists that we had until my retirement.
   During my many years at John Ruskin, I served on the Croydon Schools Cricket and Football Committees and the Surrey Schools Committee. I travelled as an associate member of the English schools cricket teams to grounds such as Old Trafford, Edgbaston, St Helens, Swansea, the Oval and the home of Cricket – Lords; and enjoyed every minute of it.

The Windmill - Tamworth Road to Shirley Hills

In 1955 the school was moved from Tamworth Road to a new, purpose-built school with a “countryside” outlook in the Shirley Hills. This represented a marked transformation for students and staff. At last, we had space and a sensational outlook.
   The building had well appointed classrooms, science and art rooms, an assembly hall with a professional stage and a REAL gymnasium for ME to teach in.
   However, there was one criticism of the new site layout. The kitchens and dining hall were adjacent to the main entrance of the school and did nothing to enhance a positive first impression for visitors.
   I am sure that one of the things that pupils will remember is my insistence that full respect would be given to all the furniture and fittings in my care. When I left in 1978 the furniture was left by me in pristine condition.
   There was a generous playground on one side of the building and on the other, beyond a preserved ancient Windmill, there was a piece of ground available for sports opportunities. For the first time in the school’s history we had all of this, together with a playing field complete with a Pavilion located off Oaks Road (a few hundred yards walk from the rear exit of the school). This certainly represented a vast improvement on the facilities previously enjoyed at Duppas Hill when the school was in its Tamworth Road location.
   As sports master, there were inevitably times when I was called to the telephone (no extension lines or mobiles in those days) to consult with other schools regarding the arrangement of sports fixtures, etc. In view of this, it was agreed that I should be based in Room 1, the nearest to the school office and its telephone! One of the bonuses of being in Room 1 was that I had an excellent daily view of the Windmill – so I feel I can truly claim to be a very early “Friend of the J. R. Windmill!” Within the windmill itself the ground floor space provided an adequate area for the storage of cricket nets, practice hurdles and other equipment associated with the sports function.
   One other bonus for being in Shirley, as opposed to Tamworth Road, was that during games periods I was able to arrange for a small group of the Fifth and Sixth forms to use the tennis courts at the Shirley Sports Club, and other sporting facilities readily available in the local vicinity.
   The nearby Shirley Hills provided us with a ready made natural cross country jogging circuit. It did not take long to recognise not only how decidedly better it was at Shirley, but also to be aware of the miracles that both staff and students at Tamworth Road had worked to achieve such high standard in both work and sport in the conditions that existed there.
   When I look back over the many years that I spent at John Ruskin, I feel a warm glow of gladness and gratitude. To have worked with so many excellent professional people for such a long period was a great joy. I will remember the many of our students for the high standards that they achieved in both academic and sporting activities.

After 36 years at the school...

In 1977, I reached my retirement age with a mixture of fulfillment and sadness, tinged with disappointment that my leaving date would be before a group of our students took their examinations. Thus, it was with great delight that I received the news that the Education Committee had agreed that I should stay on until those exams had been completed.
   With sadness in my heart, I said my fond farewells to colleagues and students in the summer of 1978.
   I consider that it was a real privilege to have had the opportunity of teaching at John Ruskin, and I cherish my memories of that rewarding and happy time. I am very grateful to all those people who contributed towards it.
   Like many others who reach the time when the daily tasks of a lifetime suddenly disappear and the unfamiliar time on one’s hands takes over, I was pleased to be approached by other local educational establishments in the private sector to work for them in a teaching capacity on a short- term contract basis.
   I had the pleasure of working for St. Anne’s College, St. Joseph’s College and Croydon High School until I finally decided to exchange my chalk sticks for a walking stick and a quieter life. I joined a Bowling Club, a Walking Club and an Art Group, as well as becoming a Steward at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon.
   So that mixture of Attila the Hun, Ghengis Khan or the Ogre at the top of the beanstalk finally bowed out into full retirement in 1992.

Charles E. Smith, Croydon, February 2007.

ML adds: We have included here a collection of archive images kindly provided by Charles E. Smith, who served as PE and mathematics master at John Ruskin Central and Grammar School from 1942 until his retirement from the school staff in July 1978. Click on any thumbnail to view a larger image.
   Incidentally, The Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve/RAFVR was formed in July 1936 to supplement the Auxiliary Air Force/AAF, which had been formed in 1925 by the local Territorial Associations. Initially the RAFVR was composed of civilians recruited from the neighbourhoods of Reserve Flying Schools, which were run by civilian contractors who largely employed as instructors members of the Reserve of Air Force Officers/RAFO. Navigation instructors were mainly former master mariners without any air experience. Recruits were confined to men between 18 and 25 who had been accepted for part-time training as pilots, observers and wireless operators. The object was to provide a reserve of aircrew for use in the event of war. When war broke out in 1939 the Air Ministry employed RAFVR as the principle means for aircrew entry to serve with the RAF. The original RAFVR ceased to exist in 1954 when Reserve Flying Schools were disbanded. [More]
   Our sincere thanks to Peter Oxlade (JRCS 1940-44) for his invaluable assistance in gathering together these fascinating materials and for acting as our liaison with C.E.S.

JRCS First X1 - 1943-44

The 1943/44 School First XI

This image was taken in the Tamworth Road school playground.

Top row: Bill Petty, unknown, Stevens, unknown, Berty Parsons.
 Bottom row: D. Manbridge, Len Brown, unknown, Peter Oxlade and Tyler.

JRCS Second X1 - 1943-44

The 1943/44 School Second XI

This image was taken in the Tamworth Road school playground - note the size of those boots as the varied socks (Economy Britain!)

Top row: Gibb, Dunbar, unknown, unknown, unknown , unknown, unknown, Pilcher.
 Bottom row: unknown, Packham, McLuskey, Peter Oxlade, Warren and Prockter, R.

JRGS School Cricket - 1945

The 1945 School Cricket Team

This image was taken in the Tamworth Road school playground.

Top row: Charles Smith, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown.
Lower: Warren, Brown, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, McLusker, Packham.

JRGS Second X1 - 1949/50

The 1949/50 School Second XI

This image was taken in the Tamworth Road school playground.

Top row: R. Montague, John Amos, Funnell, Banks, Jenkins, Baldwin, Jackaman.

Bottom row: Bainbridge, Dean, Sherman, Burnley, Morris.

JRGS football team - 1950

The JRGS 1950 School Soccer Team

This image was taken at the Duppas Hill Sports Ground.

From left-to-right: Dean, R. Montague, Amos, Baldwin, Mackrell, Muggeridge, Burt, Sherman and Childs.

JRGS Cricket - 1950s

The JRGS 1950 School Cricket Team

This image was taken at the Duppas Hill Sports Ground.

Masters: Charles Smith (left) and Leonard Culcheth (right).

Top row: unknown, Bishop, Arnold, Duckworth, , unknown and Dubyn.

Bottom row: unknown, Martin, Alan Montague, Smith (?) and Stringer.

Football League & Cup Winners - 1951

The 1950/1951 League and Cup winners
Corinthian Shield – Croydon Schools Trophy

This image was taken at an unknown location.

Top row: D. Lamb, Fred Evans, Harold Bailey, Johnny Birch and Melvyn Williams.
Bottom: Fred Drain, Keith Baker, Ray Amos,  Laurie Montague, Alan Montague
and Bob Constable.

JRGS staff football team - date unknown

The JRGS Master's Football Team

This image was taken at the Oaks Road Sports Ground in 1959.

Top row: Alan Murray, Sid Bishop, Arthur Warne, Brian Cook and Anthony Hasler.

Bottom: J. N. Rhodes, Neville Graham, Charles Smith, Martin Nunn and Philip Robertshaw.

JRGS staff cricket team - date unknown

The JRGS Master's Cricket Team

The image was taken at the Oaks Road Sports Ground (date unknown).

Top row: Kenneth Tryon, Anthony  Hasler, Anthony Field, Philip Robertshaw, Martin Nunn, Dennis Dobson and Kenneth Cripps.

Bottom row: Desmond May, Brian Cooke, John Lowe (Headmaster), Ronald Woodard, Neville Graham and Charles Smith.

JRGS staff tennis team - date unknown

The JRGS Master's Tennis Team

This image was taken at Shirley Sports Club (date unknown).

Top row: G. M. Evans, Charles Smith, D. Griffiths.

Bottom row: William Cracknell, Leonard Chaundy, A. E. C. York.

JRGS staff tennis team - date unknown

The JRGS Master's Tennis Team

This image was taken at Shirley Sports Club (date unknown).

Top row: Leonard Chaundy, Charles Smith, George Manning.

Bottom row: G. M. Evans, William Cracknell, Alfred York.

Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62) adds: As chance would have it, while shopping in Oxted, Surrey, on Thursday 16th November last year, I met Charles Smith. Although he still lives in Selsdon with his wife, Elisabeth, he finds Oxted more accessible - no hills and a shorter walking distance from the car park to the shops.
   Although Charles finds walking more difficult these days, he looked very well and reminded me that he last saw me at Alan Murray’s Memorial Service! By the way, he was also keen to tell me: "It’s my birthday today, I am 94!

   He is still a keen water-colour painter and attends a group three times a week.

Peter Hurn (JRGS 1967-73) adds: This is superb.
   "Stand up, Mann," he'd say to our cricket captain - Chris Mann (JRGS 1967-73) - at the Monday lunchtime cricket meeting. Thirty-five years later, it still sends a shiver down the neck of Mr. Mann!
   "You haven't got the guts to get your hair cut," he'd say to one of our long-haired fraternity in the late Sixties.
   Mr. Smith described me as "Lily-livered" when I didn't dive full length for a catch. I'm still getting over it!
   Keep it up!

Terence Morris (JRGS 1942-50) adds: How good to see this piece by Charles Smith and his recollections of a long career.
   I was fascinated to know that both he and "Wally" Cracknell taught at Ingram School, just a stone’s throw from the Beulah, which was my primary school before going to Ruskin in 1942, the year he joined the JRCS staff.
   "Beulah," I discovered many years later, is the Hebrew for "Happy Land”. I loved my time under the Headship of Dan Holman, and my form master R M King who went on to become Head at Winterbourne, but my first day in the Infants Department at ‘The Beulah,’ as it was known, had been a bit like entering a prison. There, I was always it seemed, in trouble! Any other old "Beulah Boys" around in the JRGS Alumni, I wonder?
   I well very well remember "Smithy"’s command of “Up on the wall bars, boy!” in the old gym at Tamworth Road. Although I was absolute rubbish at both cricket and football - seeing, essentially, with only my left eye - he might be interested to learn that out of school I was a serious cyclist, doing a little grass-track racing but concentrating on long distance touring.
   This, he might be glad to know, I have kept up and although, at almost 76, I’m a bit slower than I was, I am still looking forward to the CTC Veterans 100 miles again this year. My time to beat from the last one is eight hours and 25 minutes. I did the Hampshire stage of the Tour de France in 1994, the day before the great race, which was organised by the Cyclists’ Touring Club as a randonee. It ran 113 miles and I "died" on South Harting Hill – which "Smithy" will know from his youth in Portsmouth. My time was so bad that I’m embarrassed to admit it in public, but I was by no means the ‘lanterne rouge’! Your enthusiasm for keeping us fit was a good investment, Charles. (For the uninitiated, a randonee is a mass run of individual riders; not a race as such but one in which each strives to complete the course in the best time he or she can. And lanterne rouge, like feu rouge, is literally the "red" or "tail" light - it is the unenviable title given to the last rider to finish. So now you know.)
Red Roberts   I have many good memories of Charles and his colleagues, especially "Wally" Cracknell. "Smithy" was a great teacher of RI and got me greatly interested in the Old Testament, which he managed to turn into a great adventure story for us to rivet our interest. I also remember one of his aphorisms, circa 1943: “A man without any kind of belief is like a ship without a rudder”. Not easily forgotten.
   He might also be interested to know, if their Alumni Association haven’t already told him, that his alma mater, King Alfred’s Training College, is vastly expanded and is now the new University of Winchester.
  Shown above right is Red Roberts, my favourite touring bike, built bespoke for me by Charles Roberts of Gloucester Road, Croydon; it is pictured here three years ago by beehive houses in the mountains of Puglia, in the heel of Italy. This bike has taken me to the Outer Hebrides, the Apennines, around Cuba and a few other places. They build 'em good in Croydon! Red Roberts is the name I give to the bike. I had it painted by Charles Roberts in one of my favourite colours – Ferrari Red, hence the name.

Harold Fish (JRGS 1951-56) adds: Many thanks for this contribution.
   Charles Smith was another of my teacher heroes. True, "Smuts" could be fierce, but I remember him as always fair and ever ready to help individuals, in my case with early advice on cricket in the nets at Tamworth Road and on another when I left my new watch at the Waddon sports grounds. I don't remember all the details but I know I collected it from his house somewhere on Norwood, if my memory it functioning properly.
   Another bit that struck a chord was the mention of "Wally" Cracknell and the new school. It was "Wally" who told us that the new furniture at the school was designed "for fairies" and not clumsy adolescents like ourselves!
   I had forgotten about the uses The Windmill was put to. Of course, "Smithy" was behind it all as he was no doubt behind the use of the large green area behind The Windmill for athletics training, the long-jump pit and, most vividly I remember, for javelin practice.
   "Smithy" might remember the last day of the school year 1955-56 when a group of us were able to hang a dummy in school uniform from one of the windmill sails. Amongst the staff there was a mixture of horror and curiosity as to how it got there... and how it was to be taken down!
   Anyone who happened to have a camera with them that day had the film removed and destroyed.

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Reading Mr. Smith's article on his career at John Ruskin and elsewhere was one of the most heartwarming things to have happened in the six-year history of this website. It was a privilege to read it, and also to have met him a year or so ago at Alan Murray's memorial service. I sincerely hope that I am living life to the full in 35 years time when I reach Mr. Smith's age, not to mention having such a wicked sense of humour.
   I am afraid that I don't even have Terence Morris's excuse for being so slack at physical activity at JR but, like him, I'm a committed cyclist, and can still thrash my grown-up children at table tennis thanks to hours spent at the tables on the Shirley site.
   A huge thank you to Peter Oxlade who, with the assistance of our splendid webmaster Mel Lambert, has spent many hours helping Charles Smith compile these memories.

CES during maths lessonMartin Burch (JRGS 1967-73) adds: I stumbled on The Mill website a couple of years back, and have thoroughly enjoyed it and all the memories it evokes. But the recent piece by CES is a true highlight.
   I cannot imagine that many teachers have had such a profound effect on so many students.
   On the odd occasion when I meet with friends from my years at Ruskin, "Smut" is invariably one of the first names to come up in our recollections. To see that he is still going strong at the age of 94 is wonderful.
   I'm sure his teaching style did not suit everyone. But it was effective with me, not only gaining me an unlikely O-Level but also instilling in me a numeracy that can put half the accountants I work with to shame.

Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-68) adds: A remarkable piece - thanks to all involved for making it possible.
   But would anyone else in the whole of JRS Alumni - 1941 thru 1978 - risk taking a photo of the great man at work during a CES class? See image upper right for proof; it shows Minter and Trowell in Mr. Smith's Maths Class.

Geoffrey C. van Beek - formerly Downer - (JRGS 1962-69) adds: I found Charles Smith’s recollections of JRGS extremely fascinating.
   I would have made no lasting impression on him whatsoever as I was useless at anything to do with the displacement of spherical, air-inflated leather objects such as foot or rugby balls from one patch of grass to another. Neither was I a natural talent in the numerics department, but I shall always be grateful for the Mr. Smith’s unique style of teaching which resulted in my gaining the essential O-Level Maths needed to study further at university.
   The "equals" of every calculation, to be written in blue ink (black ink was dismissed as the product of a mud stick) all had to be 1 7/8 inches from the right side of the page of our red maths, algebra, trigonometry and calculus exercise books.
   The compulsory addition of accompanying text seemed to bring a certain order to the whole thing, and give one time to think or for divine inspiration to descend.: “If, then, thus, therefore, whence, so that, because, whereupon, notwithstanding….” were typical Classroom One vocabulary.
   The desks were immaculate and I was always terrified of Mr. Smith, (please note that even now I cannot summon up the courage to refer to him as "Smudger") especially as I was so slow to grasp the subject matter, whereas the two genius mathematicians in our class seemed able to produce correct answers at a frightening rate.
   Every two minutes, there they stood at the front of the classroom, queuing up yet again with what I imagined to be a smirk on their faces to accept confirmation of their superhuman abilities. It is interesting to note in the 5G follow-ups that Willsher and McKenny have both become accountants!
   To provide wrong answers could invoke a wrath that was visible from quite a distance as, comparable with a giant squid on Discovery Channel, Mr. Smith could change colour from pink to vermillion in seconds, and go even further to a frightening deep scarlet, and end with a maximum-alert purple bump on the top of his head.
  Mr. Smith - should you read this - please accept my apologies for any offence taken. None were intended. To get a numerical idiot like me successfully through O-level Maths is a credit to your teaching abilities!

Paul Winter  (JRGS 1959-62) adds: Three memories of Mr. Smith. (I wouldn't dare call him anything else, just in case he reads this!)
   During my brief spell as a teacher at John Ruskin School, we were chatting in the  corridor one day and a queue of first-year pupils was threatening to become unruly outside a classroom. "Watch this," he said to me as he strode up to them. They started to get into line. "You, boy" The unruly one looked up  at him. "You - you're ears are twitching!" at which the unfortunate victim  burst into tears! Mr. Smith then came back to me and said: "That's a lesson for you, Winter. Make them remember you at an early age!" Even though I taught for 16 years, I never did master that!
   In my fifth year, I failed the Maths mock exam. I had never been very good at Maths and I had certainly not met Mr. Smith in a classroom teaching situation before. I was about to learn the error of my ways.
   After the results were announced, I went back to my normal Mathematics class only to find that I and about 20 other "failures" had been moved to a new class. There was much gossip in the "failure" class as to what was to happen to us. The consensus was that we would have some trainee teacher assigned to keep us busy but that our Maths would remain dire.
   How wrong we were! In strode Mr. Smith.
   "You are the Mathematics failures, aren't you?" We all agreed wholeheartedly. "Well you're not - you are all going to PASS."
   Most of us did not subscribe to this viewpoint - me included. We had, however, completely underestimated his sense of dedication and purpose!
   My attitude then was simple. "I can't be bothered with such trivia as Maths homework!" "Nobody tells me what to in my spare time".
   Unfortunately, Mr. Smith was not in agreement with me.
   "No homework, eh Winter?" "No, sir" "Well, we will be doing it in future!" "Yes, sir" (I always did my homework after that.)
   Why this change of heart? Well, having your hand up behind your back and your head banged into the desk did somewhat reinforce his message!
   Bless you Mr. Smith. By passing my Maths exam (most of the class did) I was able to qualify for University entrance, so I will not hear a word said against the effectiveness of a moderate level of a "positive approach" in education!
   My third memory of the effectiveness of his educational methods was being in a "gaggle" of youths being taught the finer points of cricket. One large and rather lanky lad made an unfortunate remark. Next moment he was rolling around the ground rather badly winded! "Oh, dear," said Mr. Smith, helping the lad to his feet, suggesting that he must have slipped.
   It is memories such as this I treasure. Although those days are long past, Mr. Smith inculcated in me (and probably you) in the absolute necessity for certain standards of conduct.

ML adds: Our sincere thanks to Tony Childs (JRGS 1947-53) for identifying several of the Alumni shown in the 1949-50 School Second XI, JRGS 1950 School Soccer Team and School Cricket Teams, plus the 1950/1951 Corinthian Shield images.


 Daughter of Richard Jones (JRCS 1920-21) locates a school swimming certificate...

Richard Jones' swimming certificateI attach a copy of my father's - Richard Henry Jones - swimming certificate from John Ruskin Central School, dated 1st July 1920. I thought this may be of interest to The Mill archives and members, as it would have been issued in the first year of the school's formation. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger image.
   I am particularly interested in obtaining any record of my father's admission or attendance at the school. He would have been about 14 or 15 years of age at the time. Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

ML replies: I advised Patricia of the Croydon Local Studies Library and Archives Service, which is housed within Croydon Town Hall, suggesting that she contact Chris Bennett to ask if he can take a look at the Admissions Register.

Patricia responded: Many thanks for your prompt reply to my email. I had already sent an email to Chris Bennett at Croydon and have received a reply from him which has assisted in me finding out that my father was on the list of the first pupils at the School in 1920. I have only just come into possession of some old photos and the certificate, and as my father passed away in 1973 have had to rely on the Internet for information. As you can imagine, it is always exciting when research brings forth results.

School experience and journey to Australia

Richard Henry Jones - 1918To the best of my knowledge, my father, Richard Henry Jones, attended John Ruskin Central School from 12th January, 1920, to 30th September, 1921. Shown right is my father aged 13, the image being taken in 1918. Click on the thumbnail to view a full-size version.
   Richard's father, Frederick Jones, had already passed away in 1915, aged 43. Apparently, Mr. Jones had owned a printing and bookbinding business based in Battersea Rise, London, with his brothers. (I'm not sure what happened to that business.) His mother passed away on 20th September, 1921, and 10 days later Richard left the school. In 1922 my father, aged 17, with his older brother, William Leslie Duncan Jones, aged 22, and his sister, Alice Lillian Jones, aged 20, emigrated from England, leaving behind a younger brother Frank, aged 8, and sailed for Sydney Australia, arriving in 1922.
   After arriving in Sydney Richard worked for Noyes Bros and Griffith Bros Teas and the AMP Society Insurance Co. He remained a very active man, involved with the surf life-saving movement, Rugby League and Gymnastics. He married Ivy Irene Priest in 1935. They had four children, Brian and myself before the war, and then Jennifer and Laurence (sadly now deceased) after war ended.
   In 1940, like many other men, my father joined the army, served with the 2/18th Battalion 8th Division, and became a prisoner of war of the Japanese in Singapore. On his return to Australia he remained in the army with the rank of Staff Sergeant, and retired in 1962. After moving to Queensland in January 1972, he passed away in October 1973.
   Can anybody supply more information in connection with my father's time at the school?

Patricia Mostyn, Sydney, Australia. February 2007 Email

ML adds: Recasting an eye over the JRCS Admission Register, I now see that Richard Henry Jones was listed as #12 in the first batch of pupils entering the school in 1920. (I also notice that this list is arranged in ascending date-of-birth order.) His late father was Frederick Jones, while Richard's date of birth is given as 16th October, 1905. The family address was 112 Crowther Road, South Norwood, off Portland Road, and Richard previously attended South Norwood Junior school. He did indeed leave JRCS on 30th September, 1921, aged just a month shy of 16, to enter the workforce - less than two weeks after his mother's untimely death.

Harold ColePat and Maurice Mostyn add: Going through father's photo album, we came across these additional images, shown left. The name rang a bell and we found on line 24 of the 1920 Admission List and the opposite page - Pat's father was number 12 - the name Harold Cole. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger image.
   Harold Cole must have been a very good friend of Richard Jones and his family since it appears that the pictures were taken in someone's backyard on Crowther Road during the 1920-21 period. (The Cole family lived at 75 Crowther Road.)
   Taking another good look at the two photos, we believe that both images are of Harold, but that the top one has been printed in reverse. If you study the background you will notice that the house, electrical wires, windows and tree are back-to-front - i.e. reversed. This makes us think that when the negative was originally printed it was done in reverse. Pat is more than sure that neither are of her father, but of Harold and his dog.


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