JRGS News Archive Page 37
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- Page 37 - Jan thru Feb 2007 -

JRGS Alumni Society


 Ernie Clarke (JRCS 1935-39) recalls more aspects of pre-War school life...

Ernie Clarke - 1938At last I'm getting round to it! Recollections of John Ruskin Selective Central School, Tamworth Road, Croydon - and that's me, shown left, in 1938.
   My home was in Geneva Road, Thornton Heath, and I was given a scholarship to John Ruskin commencing in September 1935. I can't honestly say that I remember my first day there, but I do remember being fitted out with my school cap and blazer. There were three ways of getting to school; by tram from the Fire Station in Thornton Heath; by bicycle; or by walking!
   I don't recollect any school dinners - I took a packed lunch, and often cycled home for lunch. Most vividly I remember my mother coming into Croydon on a Friday morning to do her shopping and she would meet me in Lyons next to Kennard's, where I made short work of bangers and mash. I recall the weekly trek to play soccer in the school playing field at Waddon but, apart from one memorable goal, I can't say that I ever regarded this as a highlight of the week.
   I do also have sketchy memories of work in the class room. Mr. McLeod, the headmaster, took us for English literature, which consisted almost entirely of memorable readings from such books as Treasure Island and Kidnapped, which he obviously loved doing. His study was full of books; and a boy sent to that study for whatever reason very often came away with a book!
   Big, burly Mr. Furmstone (spelling?) took us for French lessons, and I remember the occasion when a stranger suddenly appeared at the classroom door and began to address him in fluent French! I assume it was some sort of school inspector, but I'll never forgot our French master's normally ruddy complexion turning bright red in embarrassment as he held a French conversation with his unexpected visitor!
   Mr. Cresswell taught us history, beginning at 1066 and getting as far as King James 1st. I remember the wide blackboard, full of columns of his meticulous handwriting in chalk, which had to be copied word for word into our exercise books - I always lagged behind because I am left-handed! Other master's names escape me at the moment, except of course the unforgettable Mr. Chinnock in the woodwork room. I still possess the bedside table and fire screen that were carefully crafted and assiduously polished under his watchful eye.
   Although I can't recall much about them, there were obviously after-school activities where I was involved and which I have been reading about in the 1938 and 1939 School Mags on the website! I have fond memories of Philip Wadey, who was also in my Junior School and who always made a bee-line for me when Chess was on the go; and the names of other contemporaries still float around - Juniper, Robinson, Hill and Shailer (spelling?!).
Ernie and Andrew Clarke - 2006   The war was looming, and I remember trailing down for air-raid practice into the cold, damp cellars under the School. I was staying with relatives up in Leicestershire in the summer of 1939, and when war broke out my father insisted that my mother and I remain there, as London would be obliterated in days! We eventually returned home for Christmas, with many others. But by that time the School had been evacuated; I had missed a whole term, and I gave up all thought of sitting for the School Certificate in 1940. Instead, I had a year among the girls in Pitman's College on the London Road, where I excelled at shorthand, typing and what would today be called Business Studies.
    I received a cunningly-worded invitation to join His Majesty's Forces in 1942, and soon after my demob in 1947 I discovered that Mr. MacLeod, now retired, was living in Thornton Heath. I took the liberty of calling on him - and came away with a book!
   The image included right was taken last year in the US with my youngest son, Andrew.

Ernest Clarke, February 2007 Email


  Geoffrey Downer (JRGS 1962-69) reveals his illustrious career in Holland ...

Geoffrey C. van BeekMy name is now Geoffrey C. van Beek, but I am to be found on the 1967 Class 5G page as Geoffrey C. Downer. My new surname is that of my Dutch mother, and it was changed by deed poll when I emigrated to Holland in 1978.
   After leaving JRGS I went to Bristol University to study dentistry. I qualified in December 1976 as BDS and started my own practice in Rotterdam in 1978. In 1993 I was elected Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, and recently received a Dutch knighthood (OBE equivalent) in 2006 for services to dentistry and the community.
   I often wonder how many of my school chums are getting on, especially Paul Simmons, Gary Day Ellison and Martin Ashley, who all hung around in the art room. John Ratcliffe was a most memorable English Lit. and Latin teacher, and I am still grateful to him for his fencing lessons. I still fence here in Holland, mostly epee now.
   It is easy to take the education we had at JRGS for granted, but looking back at the devotion to teaching displayed by all the teachers, and the facilities we had, it was as if we had all had an expensive private education. I look back fondly to all the teachers and that wonderful JRGS.
   For more information and photographs, see my business website.
   Would it perhaps be possible to find a school with reasonable musical talent and facilities, and then to make a sung recording of the school song? The computer rendering is great, but doesn't quite hit the spot if we are to shed any tears. Adeste Fideles would be another possibility.
   I have several artistic monochrome photographs of the interior of the mill taken when I was a sixth former studying art. This was all part of Vic Gee's photographic club activities. More to follow.
   Thank you for the JRGS website, which is full of inspiring memories. This must be one of the biggest and most well-kept sites I have ever seen. Really excellent!

Geoffrey C. van Beek, Rotterdam, Holland, February 2007 Email.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) follows an Internet thread to Addington Golf Club...

It's sometimes odd how you can be trawling one area of the Internet and come across something remotely connected, but even more interesting.
Addington Golf Club   My journey started while listening to a recent With Great Pleasure via the BBC’s Radio 4 site. The programme's host was Lynne Truss, who was revisiting her early literary passions that shaped her as a writer. Intrigued, I used Google to learn more about Ms. Truss' career. I found her web site, and hence a review of P. G. Wodehouse’s collections of golf stories, The Clicking of Cuthbert and The Heart of a Goof, recently republished by Penguin. Reading through Lynne’s review, I came across several references to Addington Golf Club, a venue favored by Wodehouse, and located on Shirley Church Road close to the former JRGS site on Shirley Road. The club has its own web site to which I transferred looking for more information.
 Addington Golf Club  Laid out in 1914 by J. F. Abercromby - “the greatest of golf architects,” according to Henry Longhurst - Addington Golf Club was reported to be fashionable during the Fifties - a “smart” golf cub, apparently, on a par with Sunningdale. [Click on any thumbnail to view a larger version; all images
©The Addington Golf Club.]
   It has been verified that Wodehouse played at Addington. He was a good golfer with a top handicap of 14, and “took more pride in big hitting than in accuracy.” As Lynne points out, "Wodehouse once lost his ball during a friendly round, and thought no more about it. But when his caddie later announced he’d found the ball 300 yards from the tee (300 yards!), he celebrated as if he had won a medal."
Addington Golf Club - Hole 10   Golf, it turns out, is not an inexpensive hobby. Full membership of Addington Golf Club runs to £2,050 per year, with 18 holes during the week costing £50, rising to £70 on the weekend. Interestingly, members can avail themselves of a package deal - provided they gather together a dozen like-minded souls - and enjoy coffee and bacon roll on arrival, 18 holes of golf plus a three-course meal for £68.
Addington Golf Club - Hole 06   I remember passing the club on dozens of occasions during the Sixties, while astride my Honda motorcycle journeying to London from my home on the New Addington housing estate. I favored a route - probably because I learned it from my Father - that took in Spout Hill, Shirley Church Road, Shirley roundabout, Woodside, West Norwood Hill, Knights Hill, Tulse Hill, Camberwell and hence to Central London. (For obvious reasons, I tried to avoid a more central route through Croydon, Thornton Heath, Streatham and suburbs north – even in my day the traffic along London Road was overwhelming.)

Mel Lambert, February 2007 Email

Bob Dench (JRGS 1961-66) adds: The Alumni might be interested to know that P. G. Woodhouse had so much trouble with getting stuck in the sixth hole bunker - it's in a chasm in front of the green, shown above left - that his business cards stated: "PG Woodhouse, The bunker, Sixth Hole, The Addington Golf Club."


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) recalls former teacher Arthur Charles Warne...

Arthur Warne 1958 Arthur Warne 2004



Arthur Charles Warne died on 16th November, 2005, aged 77. He had lived in Stevenage for 42 years, and been a member of the Rotary Club of Stevenage for over 25 years. The following is based on a tribute to his life given by Ian Hamilton at his funeral service on 25th November, 2005, at St Nicholas Church Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
   Arthur was born on 31st January, 1928, at Erith in Kent and lived his early life in Barnehurst, attending Dartford Grammar School. After National Service he went to Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1948-52 to study languages and then to train as a teacher. In 1949 he married Elizabeth. [Click on the colour image right to view a larger version of Arthur with his wife Elizabeth, better known as Betty.]

  He taught at John Ruskin GS from before 1955, leaving in December 1959 to go to Malory School, SE London, before arriving in Stevenage in 1963 as the newly appointed head teacher of Chells Secondary School. He then moved to the Priory in Hitchin in a more administrative role, and then onto St. Audrey’s in Hatfield, before he retired after 40 years in education.
   At John Ruskin Arthur taught modern languages and games, and was involved in staff cricket, school trips abroad, whist drives and the school choir. He was a keen sportsman in his youth, playing cricket, rugby and basketball.
   Until his death, he was a member of the Hitchin Thespians, serving as Chairman, writing scripts and displaying his skills as a singer.
   Both he and Betty sang in the church choir. They were devoted to each other and to their family of two daughters, four grand children and five great grand children.
   As a Rotarian he was remembered as someone who carried the ideals of his teaching career, service to others through leadership and encouragement, into his support for the ideals of Rotary. His role as Sergeant at Arms typified his wit, charm and his skills as a raconteur.
   Thanks to ex-JRGS staff member Des May, who was a friend of Arthur Warne, and to Stevenage Rotary for the information.

Paul Graham, January 2007 Email

Brian (Bone) V. Thorogood (JRGS 1951-56) adds: It was at the start of our second year in September 1952 that a new, young, good-looking teacher arrived on the scene in Mr. Warne, who took junior classes for French and some Latin. He also occasionally took PT.
  I have a memory of him as a man of conscience. In fact, he was one of the first men in my life who I noticed suffering some remorse and pain, in this case over an unfortunate incident involving Woodhams in a judo fall during PT which went wrong. It was at PT that he came to the fore, being very sportily dressed in long white socks, expensive trainers, and an immaculate cream woolen V-necked pullover. He also took a basketball game at one session.
   He was indeed very human, once asking our class if any boy present had one, particular cigarette card, which he specifically wanted to make up a complete set in his own collection.
   In July 1953, and approaching the age of 14, I joined the adult section of Croydon Public Library and took out Great Expectations by Charles Dickens as a book of choice. I cheekily asked Mr Warne if he had read it. “Yes,” he replied, “when a student at University”.
   I was saddened to hear of his death on the John Ruskin School website. There cannot be many of the teachers of my generation still living – Mr Smith being the exception. It certainly brings home my own mortality. I shall have my 68th birthday during October 2007. Nostalgia now takes on a spiritual dimension – one of the pleasures of ageing, methinks.


 Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) discovers origins of Redwing aircraft factory...

I acquired an excellent book at Croydon airport the other week and thought that The Alumni might be interested in a couple of scanned pages. The book, entitled The Redwing Story, and written by John Lane, is published by Mrs. Philis Lane, 23 Avenue Court, The Avenue, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 5BG. Click on any thumbnail to view a full-size image. UK price is £12.50. Contents and layout design ©2006 John Lane.

Redwing01 Redwing02 Redwing03 Redwing03 Redwing04 Redwing04

Although I was aware for a number of years that there was an biplane aircraft built in the 1930s called The Redwing, I was never sure it had any association with the Redwing factory in Bensham Road/Lucerne Road, Thornton Heath (demolished 1985/6). I also did not know that the company used Gatwick airport (only an airstrip in the 1930s) prior to the expansion and commercialisation of the site.

   It a was a standing joke in the family that my Dad moved the family from the Waddon area to Lucerne Road - he worked in the Lab at Waddon Isolation hospital at the time - to avoid the bombing that had first occured on the Croydon airport site when the Germans hit  the Bourjois perfume factory. Not long after the family had moved Dad found out that the factory at the top of the road was producing aircraft parts and was obviously  a prime target! The Lucerne Road houses were eventually shattered by a V1 bomb that demolished two Victorian houses in Brigstock Road where Trumble Gardens was created.
   I have always had an interest in aircraft since I was very young and was influenced by my brother Ron who served an apprenticeship with the Hawker Aircraft company at Kingston in the 1950's after leaving Whitgift Middle school (Trinity). Perhaps he should have applied for a job at the top of our road for convenience sake, although Redwings never created anything like the Sea Fury, Seahawk or Hunter.

Mike Etheridge, January 2007 Email.

Ernie Clarke (JRGS 1935-39) adds: I was most intrigued by Mike's material on the Redwing Factory. I left Thornton Heath in 1949 (and was absent on war service from 1942-47), but I do have recollections of the factory as we lived in Geneva Road - a mere stone's throw. Memories can be a little hazy for an 82-year-old, but I think we all knew that they were producing aircraft parts. I also remember the first German raid on Croydon aerodrome. But that's about it! Many thanks.

Alan Durr (JRGS 1963-65) adds: Mike's recollections are absolutely fascinating! I knew nothing of this - Trumble Gardens, red wing planes, V1s aimed at The Etheridges. And as for the picture of the Redwing factory - so evocative of the time when walking past it on the way to school all those years ago.

Peter Oxlade (JRGS 1940-44) adds: I loved Mike's story about Redwings and remember that factory in Bensham Lane. I moved to 39 Lucerne Road in 1955 and am wondering if Mike or his family were there then.
   Mike has contributed greatly to the web site. I always enjoy his contributions.

Sunbeam AlpineMike Etheridge replies: We were at 25 Lucerne Road just seven doors away. I cannot understand why I did not know Peter! If you look at my earlier article on cars, my black Sunbeam Alpine KJB 178D is shown right, parked outside No. 25. (By the way, I might add that the Ford Corsair in front of my Alpine also belonged to me, but I did sell it to the neighbours at No. 23!)
   To be honest, the house just a few years after the war was always a nightmare needing a lot of repair and upgrading, and quite frankly we were pleased when Mum and Dad moved out in 1986. That said, it was a great community to live in during the early Fifties, as there were many of lads of the same school age to mix with. I did visit the road just a few weeks ago and could not believe the changes with speed ramps in the road and cars parked bumper to bumper.
   Peter may have known others in the road: Tony Disley ,Michael Swift, Ivor Lynch - at one time the tallest teenager in Britain - Peter and William Booth, Trevor Williams, Peter and Charles Moody.

Peter Oxlade replies: Sorry, but I was not into cars in those days. But you are quite right; it was a very good community to live in and a far cry from what it is today.
    I still visit Lucerne Road every fortnight to see an old friend of ours who lives at No. 37 - Doug and Dorothy Taylor although, sadly, Doug died some years ago.
    The only name on your list I do recognise is Ivor Lynch, who lived with his parents at No 35. I remember his wedding day when the star guest was, in fact Katie Boyle, who in those days was more famous for her advertisements for the new product "Cling Film". She was, of course, very attractive and the street turned out to view this star!
    The names I do remember are The Suffolks at No. 47 - their daughter was killed in an air crash one Bank Holiday whilst on a trip in a small private aircraft. The Williams lived at No. 45 and the husband was the local know-all. At No 41 was Dorothy Cooper: a fine elderly lady and perfect neighbour.
    My wife and I lived at No. 39 and we had an Old English Sheep dog that used to sit on the brick gatepost awaiting my return from work - you may well remember him?
    At No. 19 lived The Streeters. Bill "Arthur" Streeter was a fireman. His wife was Kath and they had two sons: Raymond, who became a quantity surveyor, and Gary, who maybe followed his father into the fire service. (Eventually, the family moved to Hamsey Green.)
    On the opposite side of the road, The Bournes lived at No. 42 and The Moores at No. 44.
    Getting back to our John Ruskin Central School days, I guess the one certain teacher that Ernie Clark and I had in common was Mr. Chinnock; a master craftsman if ever there was one. Would Mr. Myers and Mr. Cracknell have been there in your years?

Ernie Clarke replies: How could I forget Mr. Chinnock?  The first thing I see every morning is a small bedside table made of oak and assiduously polished under his watchful eye. And an oak fire screen is with one of my sons. And, of course, I remember Mr. Cracknell. (Plus one or two more who will appear when I get round to my "memoirs"!)

ML adds: Sadly, George Chinnock, who joined the school with the founding teachers in 1920, passed away in February 1955, aged 61. Mr. Myers served as Second Master/Deputy Head until 1951 when he moved, after 26 years on the JRGS staff, to take a headmaster position at the newly opened John Newnham Secondary School, Selsdon. William Cracknell was probably the longest serving JRGS master, retiring in 1976 after 40 years of continuous service with the school; sadly he passed away in May 2000, aged 88. (John Rowlands, who joined the JRGS staff in 1966, and who is still teaching at the Sixth Form College, looks set to break that record.)

Terence Morris (JRGS 1942-50) adds: Reading these entries about the Redwing aircraft factory in Bensham Lane (which I used to cycle past on my way to School from Thornton Heath) I noted an entry from Ernie Clarke about the air raid on Croydon aerodrome in August 1940. I recall waiting for the 194 bus in West Wickham, where I had spent the day with an aunt. As we stood at the bus stop it was possible to see a huge pall of smoke rising in the air, which we later learned was coming from the burning buildings all along Purley Way.
   Earlier that afternoon as we had been in the garden, a number of fighters from Biggin Hill had roared overhead - Hurricanes if I remember correctly, but at the time we had no idea that the attack was going to be on Croydon. There was an aircraft repair firm on the perimeter of the airfield – Rollasons I think was their name. A neighbour of ours who was working there was rescued from the rubble, having taken shelter under a steel topped bench.
   Before the war, as a small boy, it was a Sunday-evening treat in summer to go up on to the roof of the Aerodrome Hotel and watch the aircraft of Imperial Airways landing and taking off. I recall what seemed huge biplanes with corrugated aluminium fuselages made by Handley Page that had names like Heracles and Hannibal. Although it was always known as Croydon aerodrome, it was, I recall, located in the urban district of Wallington. Later in the war I remember twin-engined Airspeed Oxford trainer aircraft being based there. Judging by the Redwing statistics, an awful lot of the single-engined Miles Magister trainers got damaged. What of the Oxfords?
   Incidentally, driving up Purley Way last month I noted the sad fate of the once flourishing The Propeller pub by the junction with Stafford Road. For years its sported a real propeller as its sign, originally two-bladed and then after the war a three-bladed one. What happened to them, I wonder? There also used to be an Aero Café nearby, run by a family named Cullinane (I think).
   I went by the old Propeller yesterday. Alas, no longer a forlorn ruin. Just a bare site devoid of anything except a huge blue fence indicating that developers are going to put up something pretty big on the whole site!
   Sic transit gloria mundi! Thus passes the glory of the world or, more commonly, Fame is fleeting.

The Propellor PubMel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: I was a patron of The Propeller pub on a regular basis while working across the street at Decca Radar in 1967/68, the year before I attended Sussex University. It was an elegant building with several bars, I recall. Us "roughneck" lads favored the public bar but had to watch our behavior; the regulars were not going to have their lunchtime break upset by "oiks." (Not that we were badly dressed; I worked in the Spares Planning Department and needed to wear a shirt and tie - I think it was the crowd I drank with from Decca's Drawing Office that was responsible for most of the dubious behavior.)
Purley Way, Croydon   And a Google search reveals that on 7th of June, 2005, Croydon Council approved, in principle, the redevelopment of the adjacent Waylands site at 487 Purley Way, to provide various facilities within a mixed-use scheme on the site. In order to enable a comprehensive development, The Council is also seeking to acquire The Propeller site. [more]
   As the document states: "Adjacent to the site to the north is the Propeller Public House. This is currently vacant and in a poor state of repair. A disused car parking area for the PH is situated to the rear with the access adjacent to 73 Denning Avenue. On the corner of Denning Avenue and Purley Way is a parade of shops known as Central Parade. These are two storey buildings with further accommodation in the roof space. Some of these shop premises have residential accommodation above." [Croydon Guardian article1 and article2.]
   The image upper right was posted on The Aviation Forum last April by duxfordhawk.


 Ernie Clarke (JRGS 1935-39) recalls aspects of pre-War life at the school...

I didn't even take the School Certificate because, of course, it was the year war broke out and my father insisted on mother and I remaining in Leicestershire where we were holidaying during the summer. War was looming and, of course, London would be obliterated within days!
   When we finally got back home for Christmas, the School had been evacuated, and I had a pleasant letter from dear Mr. McLeod from Sussex-by-the-Sea - of all stupid places to have been evacuated! - wishing me well for the future. So I spent 12 months at Pitman's College on London Road, sitting among the young ladies and mastering shorthand and typing (among other things) which would prepare me for my intention of taking up editorial work in a national newspaper.
   After demob in 1947 I returned to Fleet Street, but The Lord had other ideas - He said "Not the news - the Good News" - and by 1950 I was training for the Methodist Ministry.
    I have much enjoyed scouring the School Magazines for 1938 and 1939. I only have the vaguest recollection of submitting the story "The Football" published on page 13 and page 14 of the 1938 edition; and even less of taking Juniper's place in the Scientific Society debate in 1939, as detailed on page 16. But I certainly remember Philip Wadey, who also joined the ranks of parsons (in the old Congregational Church), and the many chess games he lured me into - and he always won! I also remember Juniper, and the way in which he astonished our form in the early years with his knowledge of the geography of northern India (until we discovered that he had been born and brought up there!).
   And, among others, I remember the trio of Robinson, Hill and Shayler, who came from my neck of the woods in Thornton Heath. But I'd better stop rambling, in the hope that this may have sparked off some memories..

Ernest Clarke, January 2007 Email.

ML adds: We warmly welcome Ernie to The Alumni Society. With Norman High (JRGS 1928-33), he is our second most senior correspondent, followed by Peter Otway (JRGS 1938-42) and Peter Oxlade (JRGS 1940-44).
   Have I omitted anybody?


 David Anderson (JRGS 1964-71) uncovers some interesting maps & aerial photos...

I thought the JRGS Alumni might want to take a look at http://www.local.live.com. There is no big software download, it's free, and you can search for your old haunts by place Name then Map, then Aerial photo and then, best of all, the Oblique shots.
   Take a look at Croydon, the old School site, clear up those questions about what the tramlink looks like, what the houses around the windmill are like, etc.
  It's a very good site, have fun.

David Anderson, January 2007 Email.

ML adds: If you access the site from outside the UK, I think your ISP automatically informs the host that you are accessing from whatever country you live in, and then focuses on searching that territory.
   From the United States, for example, I could not access any UK locations until I changed the URL to www.local.live.co.uk, which took me to http://local.live.com/?mkt=en-gb. Now the entire UK is accessible.
   The fix should work for other locations. Good luck... and A Happy New Year to JRGS Alumni.


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