JRGS News Archive Page 26
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 26 - Jun thru Oct 2005 -

JRGS Alumni Society


Lack of space prevents our including the following items on the main News Page, but here are some interesting
events/comments from the past several months.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) shares a postcard from the Shirley Windmill...

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) recently attended the JRGS Mill Heritage Day, held at the Shirley Windmill, 12 noon to 5pm on Sunday, 18 September. As a souvenir, Paul sent me a postcard, the front and rear of which I share with you here; click on either image to access a larger version.
   The front side of the postcard, shown left, contains images of various internal and external elements of The Mill. ©Peter Barry. All rights reserved. [more]
  In a recent email Paul reports having "an interesting afternoon, despite the three-hour round journey to Croydon and back. It was also 'London Open House' weekend - which has been running for several years now - when a wide variety of historic and modern buildings open their doors to the public, many of which are never normally open. Of course, the JR Mill is open to the public once a month in summer anyway - they have just tagged along with the rest.
   "I had an interesting tour of The Mill, but met nobody I knew except for Kent Sadler, who was one of the guides. I exchanged a few words with Kent and asked him to pass our regards to Martin Nunn. I did ask Kent about ex-staff and ex-pupils, but I must have just struck unlucky during my visit. I also got some photos, including some of Kent, and some of other bits of Upper Shirley. I hope to get them developed the middle of next week; I'm going away next weekend and will finish the film.

   "The ladies in the tea room - try their flapjack when you go - knew Martin Nunn very well. Apparently he helps in the tea room most months and tells everybody about him teaching there for years.
   "You can get an excellent view (but though a narrow aperture) from the top of the Mill: both TV towers, City of London, Greenwich Millennium Dome, etc. I came away with some literature that I will pass on in due course.
   "Kent seemed interested in the Friends of Shirley Windmill focusing a little more of the history of the school - memories of The Mill from ex-staff and ex-pupils, etc - as mentioned below."

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA, October 2005 email


 Kent Sadler (JRGS 1969-76) is looking for anecdotes about the school...

The MillAs many JRGS Alumni will know, the Windmill stood for many years in the grounds of John Ruskin Grammar (later Comprehensive) school and visitors have often been former pupils or teachers who never had the chance to explore The Mill when at the school.
   To generate some more interest in The Mill and hopefully encourage people to join the Friends of Shirley Windmill (FOSW), myself (Hon Treasurer) and Tony Skrzypczyk (Hon Secretary) are trying to set up some story boards, not of The Mill, but of the school. To do this, we need to secure anecdotes, stories and pictures and feel the best way of doing this is by getting these people to come along to our open days, meet us and have a chat.
   Our last open day of the year, before we shut up shop for the winter, is on Sunday 2 October, 1pm to 5pm. We would be really grateful if you could mention this on the website.
   I would add that I met my future wife at the school back in 1974 and we are now celebrating 25 years of marriage!

Kent Sadler September 2005 email


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) has been researching the fate of two masters...

Because the school magazines sadly ceased being published after 1971 we are a little short of later information about some of the staff at the school who were still teaching around that time. So, after a little research I can reveal the following.

Mr. Leonard Walter "Sam" Chaundy MA MSc, deputy head, Physics teacher, head of Sixth Form and timetabler, was at the school from 1945 until he retired in 1969.
Mr. Chaundy was born on 22 Apr 1904 in Lambeth, South London, and died not long after retirement on 1 Feb 1972, at Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex.

He was featured on page 13 and page 14 of the December 1963 magazine in the "Know Your Staff" article as Mr. A. He was also a life-long Crystal Palace supporter.

Mr. Vincent Joseph Patrick Gee ARCA, Head of Art, known variously as "Pat" or "Vic", also joined the school in 1945 and was still teaching there in 1971.

Mr. Gee was born 6 Mar 1912 and died 27 Aug 1981, at Banstead, Surrey. Presumably he had retired before this.

Mr. Gee was also remembered recently by Brian Thorogood.

Does anybody have information about when Mr. Gee left, or indeed about any of the other long-serving members of staff, most of whom were still there in 1971, such as Mr. Woodard, Mr. Tryon, Mr. Cripps, Mr. Maggs and Mr. Pearman?

Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, September 2005 email

Dudley Wolf (JRGS 1943-48) adds: I was interested to read Brian Thorogood's recollections of Vincent Gee.
I knew him earlier but the character was just the same.
   My memory of Mr. Gee is very positive. He was a generous hearted person - always ready to encourage in a very constructive way. He was definitely pivotal to my career path as he encouraged me to leave Ruskin and go to the Croydon Art College and facilitated the change.
   The only other snippet of memory about Mr. Gee was his love of cricket. He recommended it as a way of training one's (artist's) 'eye' - for accuracy, speed and alignment. He may have had some involvement with cricket activities but that wasn't one of my interests so I can't be sure. For me, cycle racing was all-consuming!

Kathryn Vincent (JRHS 1982-89) adds: Regarding information on teachers from JRGS post-71, Kenneth Maggs (pictured left) was still at John Ruskin High School, as Deputy Head, when I was there between 1985 and 1987. However, if memory serves me correctly, I don't recall his being there when Ruskin became a Sixth Form College from September 1987 - which leads me to presume he must have retired at the end of the 1987 school year.

Martin Preuveneers (JRGS 1958-65) adds: My parents, who lived in Shirley, knew Kenneth Maggs and his family. Sadly, I recall that he passed away in the mid-Nineties. [Reportedly, Mr. Maggs died on 28 July 1994 - ML.]

Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) adds: Mr. Maggs originally taught Latin at JRGS. As this subject became less popular - there were four of us sitting at A-Level in 1965, one only in 1966 - he showed his versatility and switched to Religious Instruction and Italian at O-Level.
   He was also Captain of the school's ACF contingent and attended summer camps.
   Upon retirement - I know not when - he was more able to pursue his continuing interest in archaeology, particularly that of Rome and Ancient Greece.
   I once met his diminutive wife, whom Mr. Maggs met when she nursed him in hospital after he lost his right arm in the Operation Market Garden landing at Arnhem during World War Two. She told me that Mr. Maggs had been admitted to Shirley Oaks hospital - built on the site of former Lambeth Childrens' Homes - for some minor matter and had suddenly died there. I am dreadful on dating events, but it was around 5-8 years ago that she told me this.
   By then she had sold their bungalow just off Orchard Way and moved to a smaller home in Beckenham. They had a son, who lived with his wife and two kids in a very hard to heat, stone-walled cottage in the Lake District. Their daughter, who married a German, lived in Germany and was a preacher.
   Mr. "Rhino" Rees, the other Latin teacher, had left Ruskin earlier. Rumour has it that his departure was linked to his flinging a chair at a recalcitrant pupil. Mr. Rees went to teach at St Dunstan's in Catford, one of the few establishments that taught Latin.
   The other Latin teacher was Mr. Ratcliffe - so boyishly handsome that his nickname was PBR ("Pretty Boy Ratcliffe"), He, too, was an ACF officer and his wife, whom he met at University, also taught Latin.


 Stuart Frier (JRGS 1952-56) remembers an Easter Field Trip to Wales...

I recall attending a School Field Trip to North Wales during Easter 1955 with Mr. Peacock and Mr. Smith. Click on any image to view a larger version.

JRGS Easter 1955 Field Trip

JRGS Easter 1955 Field Trip

JRGS Easter 1955 Field Trip

From left-to-right, pictured near Capel Curig:
unknown, unknown, Mr. Peacock, unknown, Sydney Mark, Mr. Smith, Jim Blackwell, Peter Lane, unknown and Stuart Frier.

Roger Matthews and Sydney Mark resting on the summit of Moel Siabod. 872 m asl.

From left-to-right: unknown, Jim Blackwell, unknown, Chris Goring (behind the big lad who is at number 3 from left, Sydney Mark (almost lost in shadow), Stuart Frier (the tall one at the back), unknown, Dr. Laban, unknown, Mr. Smith, unknown, Peter Lane and Mr. Peacock.


The Itinerary 14th to 21st April 1955:

Thursday 14th

Depart by train from East Croydon at 7.00 a.m.
Arrive at Bangor at 2.30 p.m.
Visit Bangor and Menai Straits
Walk to Llanllochid
Accommodation at Bryn Hall, Llanllochid, Bangor Caernarvonshire.

Friday 15th

Visit Penrhyn Slate Quarries, Bethesda.
Ridge walk via Bwlch Y Brecan, Foel Goch and Y Garn.
Accommodation at Llwyn Colyn, Llanberis, Caernarvonshire.

Saturday 16th

Climb the Snowdon Range via Moel Eilio, return by Llanberis Pass.
Accommodation at Llanberis.

Sunday 17th

N.B. If a service is available, opportunity will be given for any members of the party who wish to attend, to go to early morning Service at Llanberis (Church of Wales).

Walk over the Glyders to Nant Ffrancon Pass.
Accommodation at Idwal Cottage, Ogwen, Bangor, Caernarvonshire.

Monday 17th

Ridge walk along the Carnedd Range via Llyn Ogwen and Pen-Yr-Helgi-Du. Return to Llugwy Valley.
Accommodation at Idwal Cottage.

Tuesday 18th

Llugwy Valley to Capel Curig.
Moel Siabod to Dolwyddolan (Lledr Valley).
Accommodation at Lledr House, Pent Y Pant, Dolwyddolan, Caernarvonshire.

Wednesday 19th

Lledr Valley to Penmachno, Betws-Y-Coed (Waterfalls and Fairy Glen).
Betws Woods and Conway Valley.
Accommodation at Oaklands, Llanwrst, Denbighshire.

Thursday 20th

Bus Llanwrst to Conway.
Train from Conway, arrive East Croydon during the evening.


A Story to Remember... Climbing from the A5 Llyn Ogwen up to Carnedd Dafydd (1044m asl) - Mr. Peacock decides to do a head-count. "All Stop." Count, re-count, re-count again. One missing. "Who is it?" Could be Syd Mark. "Is he behind us?" He's always last! No - nowhere to be seen. Time to report a Missing Person. "Right, Frier, Goring and two others - walk back to Idwal Cottage YHA and report to the warden."

   So off we went and on our way we heard shouting. We looked left and upwards to people on a shelf halfway up Tryfan (917m). "Come up and help us, we have a climber with a broken leg." I think our reply was quite polite, but we did say we would report it.
   This we did and a Rescue Helicopter arrived from Anglesey to help them.
   As for Sydney, he had decided to climb the mountain on the other side of the dyke wall and met everyone at the top.
   A great day - a great week. There is also a report of our trip by Roger Matthews on pages 12 and 13 of February 1956 School Magazine Does anybody recall Dr. Laban?
   After 50 years, I spoke with Charles Smith in June for just for a couple of minutes. He sounded very well, enjoying life. We spoke of the school journey to Wales in 1955, which he still remembered.

   He was pleased to hear that I was involved in County League Football - Secretary and Treasurer of our local club here in Sussex, Crawley Down F C. He receives most of his news of JR Old Boys from Ron Montague.

Stuart Frier, September 2005 email


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) provides scans of the March 1958 school magazine...

This edition of JRGS School Magazine results from a visit in August 2003 by myself and Nick Goy (JRGS 1963-70) to the Local Studies Library and Croydon Archives. Each of the images are offered as individual JPEG files.
   Highlights of the March 1958 edition are page 1 and page 3 - Mr. Lowe reveals details of how the school got its "John Ruskin" name, with quotations from Stewart Robinson, Chief Inspector of Schools for Croydon, plus other information about the early life of the school; page 4 and page 27 - Mr. Lowe and others waxing lyrical about bulbs and shrubs; page 5 - School trips to Germany, Davos in Switzerland (skiing) and Yorkshire (Geography field trip); page 6 - The unusual fate of a poisoned fox. (Would a school nowadays take such interest?); page 6 - The arrival at JRGS of staff members N. Graham, K. G. Maggs, M. W. Nunn, R. F. V. Woodard and L. R. Howden; page 9 - July 1957 GCE O and A level results; page 15 - A visit to Brantwood in the Lake District, home of John Ruskin; page 18 to page 28 - The usual club and society news; page 25 and page 26 - A contribution from the late Mr. Alan Murray on the school Debating Society; page 31 - The move of the sports grounds from Waddon to Oaks Road; and page 35 - News of a new publication from ex-alumni and distinguished sociologist Dr Terence Morris.

Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, August 2005 email


 Robert Sageman (JRGS 1950-55) finds himself in various school photos...

Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) writes: "I have been in contact with Robert Sageman (JRGS 1950-55; I don't know about sixth form at the moment) who was a year below me but caught up when I did the second fifth year. Below are some extracts from his emails to me, which he says can be added to the website; he threatens to write some more!
   "Robert has completely blown my theory about who George Saunders was. Apparently, the chap I thought was he in the photos, isn't him at all, so I am now trying to piece together just who it was I went on that cycling trip with. I thought I remembered both Saunders and Sageman, but according to what Bob has told me I was quite wrong on both scores. (This is becoming a habit!) Also, the picture he sent me of himself with Saunders, he did not say who was who! So I await that info too. I do not remember any of those he mentions - Burrows, Willshire or Young."

I attended the school from 1950 to 1955, in Forms 1C, etc. to 5A. Form 3G became 3N (with Mr. Neale) because Mr. Griffiths became ill or left the school. In the 1952 School Photograph, I am in the front row, to the teachers left, next to George Saunders. In the 1954 School Photograph I am in section 2, back row, seventh from the left, between Burrows and Willshire.

1952 School Photo - George Saunders 1952 School Photo - Robert Sageman 1954 School Photo - Robert Sageman

   On leaving school I worked for CU Assurance Group and moved to South Devon in 1965. I had a complete change of direction in 1976, working in the bus and coach industry. I worked part time for two years before retiring fully in 2003 and moving to Drumnadrochit by Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Because there were no transferability of pension rights when I left the CU, I had to forego 20 years of pension, and had to wait until I was 65 to fully retire. That's part of life, I'm afraid; just one of the knockdowns you learn to deal with.
   I am also in touch with Ray ("Sprout") Young (JRGS 1950-55), who's visiting the Highlands this month and, hopefully, is due to visit us whilst here. We haven't seen each other for over 40 years!

1955 Schoolboys   The image that Mike Marsh supplied recently (shown left), and which he refers to as 1955 VA leaving year, is in fact of 1955 VF leaving year. George Saunders can be see in the middle row, second from right, showing the "V" sign.

   Like Mike Marsh, I did my National Service in the RAF from May 1957 to 1959, within the Equipment Section. Being promoted to corporal after 12 months I had a relatively easy passage during my second year. I recall square bashing at West Kirby where Roger Hebb (Ruskin pupil from 1956) arrived about a month later. Trade training was at Credenhill, Hereford, and my first posting to Church Fenton, Yorkshire; final posting to 71 MU, Bicester, Oxfordshire.

   In the 1952 photograph we are to the teachers' left i.e. on the right looking at photograph. My facial expression is of complete boredom. I remember Mike from 5A. I suppose my best mate then was Tony Coker, who is living in Northern Ireland and I have been in contact with him by mail and telephone having discovered his whereabouts after 30 years.
   I will be 67 on 07.08.2005 and, because my birthday was after the end of the educational school year, had to stay at junior school for an extra year. In fact, I passed my 11-Plus twice but was not allowed my place in 1949. Having been all set to go to JRGS that September, Croydon Education Committee contacted my parents and cancelled my place. In 1950, I had a repeat Interview with Mr. John Lowe, so I was already 12 years old when I started at JRGS. My interests were more about sport than academic subjects and played for all the football X1's from first year to First X1. I then joined the Old Boys FC and, apart from playing, took over the secretaryship for a couple of years. I even arranged a trip for the side to visit and play two games in Belgium and Holland in 1960 or 1961.

Robert Sageman, Drumnadrochit, Scotland, June 2005 email


 Peter Wilson (JRGS 1956-63) recalls meeting Donald Campbell and his Bluebirds...

When I was about 15 or 16, I found myself sitting next to Donald Campbell in the Victoria Palace Theatre in London, where the Crazy Gang (no, not Wimbledon FC!) had a show on. (The Crazy Gang held shows there continuously from 1947 to 1962.) I talked with Mr. Campbell during the whole interval. What an incredible man.
   Some time (years?) later his Bluebird Car - whether it was the one that crashed or the one he used set a World Land Speed record, I can't be sure - was sited for some days outside Gravel Hill Garage, which is still there as a BP service station. (I think the car on show was the original car that crashed and in which Mr. Campbell was badly injured; the replacement car had a tall vertical fin at the back to help with stability. Incidentally, the Corgi model was of the earlier car.)

   I believe the owner of the garage was a friend of Donald Campbell, who was also there at various times; I recall talking to him again. Even later the Bluebird Boat (the K7 one) was sited on a trailer outside that same Gravel Hill Garage. This time both Donald Campbell and Leo Villa were there. (Leo was Chief Mechanic to Sir Malcolm Campbell and then to Donald Campbell when Sir Malcolm died.)

   I remember my late father having a very long chat with Leo Villa - maybe because Dad was a professional engineer who, in his early days, had worked for both Triumph and then Riley, where he designed the Riley Nine's steering-gear and worked on some of the "Racing Rileys" too. So maybe Dad had a few thoughts to share on how to get the most power out of an engine?

   I talked both to Donald Campbell and to Leo Villa. When Donald wasn't around Leo allowed me to sit in the boat - the very same one in which Donald died on 4th January, 1967, on Coniston Water. I remember thinking how small the cockpit was and the poor visibility - just straight ahead really.

   Some years ago the BBC ran a '"docudrama, "Across the Lake, which told the story of Donald's last weeks at Coniston. (Anthony Hopkins played the part of Donald Campbell.) In the film, a girl journalist tries to get a child to sit in the boat. Campbell erupts, telling her that no one but him sits in that boat. I remember jumping up when I saw this on TV, saying: "That isn't right, because I sat in that boat!" Maybe I am one of very few people ever to have sat in that boat?

   At the time Leo Villa told me that the cars and boats - as they were with Sir Malcolm - were Leo's until he told Donald or Sir Malcolm that they were ready for them to get into and drive.


Visit to Coniston and Ruskin Museum
Why do I bring this up now? Simple. I was at Coniston three weeks ago and paid my respects to Donald Campbell, the most amazing and intense person I ever met. Garry Kasparov is a pale shadow by comparison.

   When I visited Donald's grave in the churchyard at Coniston, there is an outline of a bluebird - coloured blue - engraved on the headstone and bunches of fresh flowers all over the grave. (As I suspect there are every single day of the year.) Someone described it to me as "The man died... and the legend began".
   I'm sure that neither I nor my late father nor took any photos when the car or the boat were at Gravel Hill Garage. Does anyone else remember either of them being there? And the possible dates? Did anyone take a photo? I wonder if The Croydon Advertiser took any or ran a feature on either the boat or the car?
   Donald's daughter, Gina, is trying to raise funds to have the boat fully restored. Now that the boat has been raised from the bed of the lake, it is under cover somewhere in Newcastle, After Donald's remains were discovered close to the wreckage of the boat (in 150 feet of water) he was finally laid to rest in September (12th?) 2001 in Coniston Churchyard. It is close to the Ruskin Museum, and the organizers plan to extend the Museum to provide room to display the boat. (When or if this ever happens remains to be seen, since it will take hundreds of thousands of pounds to restore the boat and little has been raised to date).

   Gina does not want Bluebird displayed as a wreck; she says it looks like a motorway crash, and that would be too upsetting for people to see - especially children.
   We didn't find the Ruskin Memorial during this recent visit, since it was just a day trip from Lancashire, where [Peter's partner] Mary has family. I'll have longer next time I go to The Lakes; we are planning to spend a few days there, probably next year.

Peter Wilson, Guernsey, June 2005 email

Ian Castro (JRGS 1958-65) adds: Interesting to see Peter's piece on Donald Campbell. He might be interested to know that my first paid employment was as the "Donald Campbell Research Fellow" in the Aeronautics Department at Imperial College. (This led to my PhD and I was very fortunate to be paid a salary to do it - I could afford to get married!).
   Campbell's financial backers had donated the necessary funds to Imperial after his death on Coniston Water - one of the Department's senior academics had been associated with the aerodynamic testing of his cars. There was one more Fellow after my three years and then the money ran out.
   Tonia Bern, Campbell's wife, wrote me a kind letter when I took up the appointment and I recall meeting her on the occasion, a few years later, of the opening of a refurbished wind tunnel at Imperial. She pulled the cord, revealing the plaque which announced that this was the "Donald Campbell Wind Tunnel". It's still there, and very busy. [Currently, Ian Castro is Professor of Fluid Dynamics and Deputy Head School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton - ML.]


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