JRGS News Archive Page 35
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- Page 35 - Sep thru Nov 2006 -

JRGS Alumni Society


 Brian Thorogood (JRGS 1951-56) shares more school memories...

BT 2006

Brian - 2006

Further to my John Ruskin acceptance document, signed by my father, all new pupils were also sent a letter from Mr. Lowe on correct school uniform dress. In it the headmaster suggested that two uniforms be purchased by parents, one being for best wear occasions. Because this cost was beyond the means of my father, and probably most other families, it was hardly adhered to, considering that we had to be kitted out with PT and games attire - football boots, cricket shirt and slacks, etc.
   We were also told that the school cap must be worn at all times, during walks into Croydon town, during dinner break, and to and from school, mornings and evenings. Older boys generally hated wearing the cap, and it was often pocketed beyond the school gates!
   New pupils also had an introductory evening visit to the Tamworth Road school, during August, prior to the September first term. Accompanied by my mother and father, I was introduced to a few of the masters, and I remember plans and architectural paintings were on show in the upstairs hall, on this evening, showing the fascias of the brand new school to be built at Shirley, which Mr. Lowe proudly presided over.
   At the end of each year, a Parent's Evening took place, and masters would discuss with them the merits and any failures of my studies over that year.
   I was so pleased to read of the distinguished career of Harold Fish, a pupil from my year. His photograph of 1952 seems vaguely familiar to me, despite all the years. The three teachers he mentioned also taught me. Mr. Pearce, our first Mathematics master, commended a no-nonsense respect from pupils, and I progressed under his auspices, especially in the new subject of algebra. He also posed homework for us to construct - geometric models - in the first year.
   Mr. Neale took us for English in the 3rd Year and above, and directed the school plays. Once we had to purchase for discussion a quality newspaper like The Times, The Observer, Daily Telegraph, and the then-called Manchester Guardian. He encouraged us to read the Queen's English, and not trivialize by reading tabloids.
   Mr. Fisher took French "streaming" classes in the 4th and 5th Years, but French was my poorest subject and I failed my O-Level miserably. He also took care of certain social outlets, such as the end-of-term dances. I remember he had a pretty wife, and had a soft spot for the ladies.
   I attach above a recent photograph in my original school scarf, and suitably adapted other school uniform. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.

Brian ("Bone") V. Thorogood, Willowbank, Wick, Scotland KW1 4NZ, November 2006.


 Harold Fish (JRGS 1951-56) reflects on his schoolboy days...

I was at JRGS from 1951 until 1956. Most of the time my form teacher was Mr. "Rhino" Rees though we did have Mr. "Dad" Peacock for one year. A far as I can remember, the classes I was in were 1951/2 1R, 1952/3 2R, 1953/4 ??, 1954/5 4P, 1955/6 VR. My family left Croydon to live in Lewisham and I had to change schools. I did A-Level French, Spanish and History and went, somewhat late, to Bristol University. Below is a full CV. I am still living in Bonn, Germany.
   I have been meaning to email The Alumni with my details and am doing so now:
   1. Because of a discussion with a German friend last night; and
   2. Because  I was touched by your "Top Ten Favourite Teachers" section.
   I was a total admirer of Alan Murray and without him would never have taken History seriously. But there are three other teachers to whom I will always be grateful:

 ● Mr. "Knacker" Neale for organising regular coach trips to the Old Vic in London, which kindled in me a love for the theatre and indirectly lead to my being one of the three judges for The Irish Times Theatre Awards in 1999.

 ● Mr. "Rhino" Rees put the fear of God into us all and, at the same time, gave many of us the feeling that we were really worth something.

 ● The same thing can be said of Mr. "Puncher" Pierce. For three years I had problems with Maths and all the time he just said "relax." When I did, O-Level was a real doddle.

I taught Spanish for three years at the Bristol Cathedral School and developed a variation on Puncher's '"treatment". It was very effective in helping to keep discipline! And as I finished up studying French and Spanish a big "Thank you" to [JRGS French teacher] Mr. Bernard Fisher. I did catch up with him in Liverpool at one point. He was delighted to see someone from JRGS and had no problem remembering my name, surprise, surprise!

Harold Fish OBE, MA
1940 Born Douglas Isle of Man, United Kingdom.
1990 Awarded OBE
2000-2004 Board Member of the Institute for British-Irish Studies, University College Dublin, Ireland.

1962-65 University of Bristol, BA (Honours) Spanish with French.
1966-67 University of Bristol, Post Graduate Certificate in Education (Modern Languages, Spanish and French)
1971.1972 University of Lancaster, MA in Linguistics for English Language Teaching.

Professional Experience
1960-61 Teacher of English as a Foreign Language Academia Britannica, Cadiz, Spain
1961-62 Primary School Supply Teaching Deptford, South London.
1966.1968 Lecturer in Spanish (part time), Bristol College of Commerce.
1966-68 Teacher, Head of Spanish, Bristol Cathedral School, Bristol.
1968-2000 Overseas Career Officer with The British Council.
1968-71 Director, Anglo-Peruvian Cultural Institute, Lima, Peru
1971-72 University of Lancaster (see above).
1973-78 English language Officer, Milan, North Italy.
1978-80 English Language Officer, Israel.
1980-84 Secondment to University of Birmingham as Lecturer in the English Department; Coordinator of Sandwich MA programme in Applied English Language
1984-90 English Language Officer, Germany. (Referent für Sprachwissenschaft, Sprachunterricht und Literatur).
1990-94 Director of The British Council in Argentina.
1994-2000 Director of The British Council in the Republic of Ireland
2000, December, Retirement to Bonn Germany.
2001 Part-time Lecturer at University of Mainz

Harold Fish, Meßdorfer Strasse 208, 53123 Bonn, Germany +49 (0) 228.966-9036, October 2006 Email

Brian Thorogood (JRGS 1951-56) adds: I was intrigued by Harold's article, which was posted to me by Paul Graham [JRGS 1959-66]. I didn't know Harold, who was in the other class in the same year group, but a photo might help. Could Harold maybe identify himself out on the 1952 school photo on the website? I should also point out that Mr. "Rhino" Rees only joined the school in January 1952, so Harold wouldn't have had him as form teacher for at least the first term.
   It is interesting to note the very large proportion of 1945-60 alumni who seem to have done well in life. It occurs to me that it is probably because that age group is more likely to be computer-literate only if they had a professional career, unlike pupils in, say, the early 1970s, almost all of who would have grown up owning PCs.
   Despite the "Silver Surfer" phenomenon, there must be a lot of 60-80 year olds out there who wouldn't know about The Mill website because they don't own a computer. I fall into that category, and only manage to retain contact because Paul is kind enough to post articles to me here in Scotland.
   Are any other ex-JRGS pupils from Harold's form out there or whom he knows about?

Harold Fish replies: I'm grateful for Brian's comments. Memory alone is a most dangerous thing to rely upon! I think what happened was that I had Mr. "Rhino" Rees for three of the four years of Latin and was confusing this with "Rhino" as class teacher. I have no memory of who my very first class teacher would have been. The year we had Mr. Lawes for Latin was really memorable in that he and I and a few others in the class were real "Goon Show" fans and the first minutes of the Friday lesson were always spent evaluating the previous night's show.: One day I arrived late for class, was about to apologise and explain my lateness when (celedipus pedibus) Lawes said "Ah Fish, take off that gas stove and sit down."
   I think Brian's thoughts on the 1945-60 group are interesting. I recall a large number of my contemporaries coming like myself from council estates and for whom the idea of school beyond 16 was, for whatever reason, not on. I remember a real bust up with my Dad when I told him I wanted to be a teacher and that would mean staying on at school. Once he settled down he became supportive morally if not materially, I had to work in what used to be The Criterion Restaurant Thursday Friday and Saturday nights to pay my way through sixth form (sadly, not at JRGS).
   But it was JRGS that gave me the self-confidence and trust in myself to go for teaching. I had done so many casual jobs that I did not want to spend a lifetime "clocking in" in the same work place. I was one of only three of all my cousins (my Mum had 11 brothers and sisters so there was/is quite a few of them around) to go to grammar school, and the only one to go on to University.
   But computers did not come into my life until the early 1980s when I was on secondment to Birmingham University. There were two aspects: the first was that for the first time programmes were being developed that could store process and analyse language in large quantities. Embryonic scanners were around that would eventually remove the need for someone to type in a whole novel or the contents of a newspaper. In terms of language research it was really cutting-edge stuff. My involvement with the computer was really only as a very fancy typewriter and then only minimally. In the 15 years between 1985 and 2000 that PC remained mostly just that - a fancy typewriter. But by the late 1990s, with email and a grasp of the web, it took on a completely new dimension. Upon retirement in 2000 I was determined to see just how far it could be meaningfully exploited, in part to make sense of my own life and in part as a useful tool in my present life.

   When I started teaching at Mainz University things started to explode. I teach contemporary Irish Studies and to be able to have immediate read access to the daily Irish newspapers and their archives opened up a whole new dimension.

Harold Fish 52 Harold Fish 54
1952 1954

On top of that comes the ability to distribute within seconds to the 40-50 students documentation that was considered appropriate.

This brought about the need for a new skill: How to determine which bits of all the relevant data were really useful. There was a serious danger of overload for the students.

   Enough! It is interesting to note the lack of 1945-60 students who have made contact with the site. Only Brian from my exact period has touched base formally, and we were in the parallel classes!
   I am, however, very grateful that you have taken the time to make these links possible and do not hesitate to let me know if you think there is anything I might be interested in a) Following up; or b) Doing on behalf of the "Site".
   In closing, I attach two images - shown above - from the 1952 and 1954 school photographs. Every best wish.

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: There are a number of ex-pupils in Brian's form who have contacted The Mill, including John Costello, Roger Fuller and Les Peagam. Maybe Harold recalls some of them?
   Regarding families and university, in mine, going back generations, no one except one Aunt who went to Brixton GS stayed at school past the age of 14. However, of my nine cousins, all except one went on to further education; six of them went to university.
   I also think there may have been major change in scene between 1956 and 1966, when I left JRGS. By the time lads from our generation departed, I imagine it was relatively rare for parents to react like Harold's to the news that they wanted to continue with higher education.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) visits the John Ruskin Sixth Form College...

While on a flying visit to England in mid-September, following a broadcasting convention in Amsterdam, I took the opportunity to investigate the fate of a mural that graced the wall at the Upper Shirley Road site, and which was rumoured to have been transferred to the new JR Sixth Form College in Selsdon.

   I met  with Louis Strover, a member of the college staff, and explained what I was looking for. It seems that the mural did not survive the transfer from Shirley into the former John Newnham Secondary School building, but there is a wall within the administration corridor that contains a number of portraits of former head teachers. These are reproduced below, along with other illustrations. Click on any thumbnail to view a larger image.

JRGS image JRGS image JRGS image JRGS image

Previous head teachers.
Left-to-right: John Lowe, William Patterson, Arthur  McLeod and William Field

William Field, head
teacher 1920 to 1938.

Arthur McLeod, head
teacher  1938-46.

John Christopher Lowe,
head teacher 1946 to 1973.

JRGS image JRGS image JRGS image JRGS image

William Patterson, head teacher 1973 to 1990.

Anne Smith, head
teacher 1990 to 1999.

Contemporary image
of John Ruskin.

Contemporary image
of John Ruskin.

JRGS image JRGS image JRGS image JRGS image

A sketch of the Upper
Shirley Road layout from
the mid-Fifties.

A photograph taken in 1992 to celebrate completion of the new John Ruskin Sixth-Form College school building.

A plaque unveiled on 21 July 1992 by Sir James Hamilton KBE, MBE, to celebrate a formal opening of the new school building.

An unaccredited painting of the Upper Shirley Road site with
the famous windmill.

Sixth Form College

I recall visiting the current Selsdon Road site in the mid-Sixties while my sister attended the school. (Lesley is two years younger than me and didn't secure sufficient marks in her 11-Plus exam to attend a grammar school.) The current school population is studying a variety of sixth-form courses, and is of mixed race - something that would have been unusual 40-odd years ago.
   I understand that today as many as 50% of school children stay on for sixth-form studies, a much larger percentage than during my era at JRGS. [More]

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA, September 2006 Email


JRGS map

And finally, I have developed this illustration from Earth.Google.com images, showing the former and current sites of John Ruskin schools.
  ©2022 The GeoInformation Group.

Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.


 Brian Thorogood (JRGS 1951-56) has unearthed his parents' Letter of Acceptance...

Half a century ago my proud parents received the attached letter from Croydon County Education Committee notifying them that I had been granted a place at JRGS. Click on any thumbnail to view a larger image, and here to view a three-page PDF version.

Acceptance Letter Acceptance Rules - p1 Acceptance Rules - p2

My father was asked to complete the attached two-page form - it had to be signed by my father, and not my mother, aside from extenuating circumstances. (But this was 1951, after all, before the modern era of sexual equality!) I should point out that these documents were sent to me recently by my sister in Canada, who found them amongst other papers left by our now-deceased parents. However, neither of us can explain the non-returned form.

Brian ("Bone") V. Thorogood, Willowbank, Wick, Scotland KW1 4NZ, September 2006.


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