JRGS News Archive Page 20
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 20 - February thru March 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.

 Dudley Wolf (JRGS 1943-48) recalls a school game - "British Bulldog"...

A flash of school memory came to me in recent days: 'British Bulldog'. I have images of a 'rough and tumble' sort of Rugby game without a ball.
   The only rules, as I recall, were that your team won if one of your members reached the other end of the playground! The skill was to stop the opposition no holds barred - without fighting of course.
   Am I imagining this? I have very positive vibes that we all enjoyed this bit of steam-letting despite the bruises.
   Any similar recollections would help to confirm that my memory isn't suffering from inventive delusions!

Dudley Wolf, March 2005 email

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-65) replies: Yes, we played a lot in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Particularly when I was about 12 and in the St John's Ambulance Brigade. Schools tended to frown on it because it could get rough. I wasn't a particularly physical youngster, but enjoyed the game a lot.
   One version was to play between two facing walls in a playground. Two people got chosen randomly to be the "catchers". The rest started from one of the walls (treated as "home"), and ran to the other. If the "catchers" managed to stop any of them before they got "home" and managed to lift them bodily off the ground, that person joined the "catchers", and so the game went on until just one person (usually the biggest and most brutal) was left running. My recollection of the enjoyment is similar to Dudley's.
   And I can report that after quizzing my son (Neil, 17), the Scouts still play British Bulldog - and that Neil still enjoys it.


 Brian Thorogood (JRGS 1951-56) recalls school religious instruction...

During my time at JRGS we did not have a permanent teacher of divinity or comparative religion; and I cannot remember hearing of any boy taking O- or A-Level GCE in such a subject. In the 1950s, R.I. was taught as an adjunct by other masters on an ad hoc basis. Mr. Culcheth took us once a week for a single period in the second form. He taught by archaeological explanation, and linking the great flood to findings of an “ark” in the Mediterranean basin. I sensed that most boys were skeptical of biblical tradition. On one occasion Mr. Culcheth was talking on David’s demise, in the Royal household, with the King’s wife. I put up my hand and asked him what “being familiar” with a woman meant – quite innocently of course! Roy Scott sitting behind me tried to whisper to me, much to Mr. Culcheth’s embarrassment.
   In the fifth form, Mr. Lowe, our headmaster, took us weekly, religious ethics being the format. It was here that, in answer to one of his questions, I first used the psychodynamic term “Ego”. I was so proud to have a tentative understanding of this, the conscious component of the psyche, as distinct from the unconscious; doubting whether any other pupil in the class could comprehend.
   There was a Scripture Union Society which met once a month, after the school day, to which clergy and priests of the Catholic faith were invited. An older boy tried desperately to get boys in our class to come, with no success. On reflection, JRGS at that time, so soon after the Second World War, was anything but religious, possibly perhaps to some people’s disadvantage. It is quite remarkable that here in Scotland, living today in an ever more secular society, the ministers from local churches pay frequent visits to our schools, something that never happened then.
   Nevertheless, I had a natural spiritual bent, spending long hours in the Croydon Library, reading metaphysics and cosmology from the then shelved, pre-war books, in the humanities section. Later undergoing firstly a Freudian, followed by a Jungian analysis, thus correct in its historical context, I would slowly understand the relevance of the “archetypal”, deep within the psyche of mankind.
   School assemblies often had readings from the Bible. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress – Paradise Lost and Found was read daily one year. I am told that daily assembly is now a thing of the past in most state schools, political correctness being much in fashion.

Brian (Bone) V Thorogood, Willowbank, Wick, Scotland KW1 4NZ, March 2005


 Kathryn Vincent (JRHS 1982-89) recalls pupil/teacher/writer Allan Cubitt...

I was interested to read Roger Adcock's article on the website, including a clipping from Radio Times about Allan Cubitt's version of "Sherlock Holmes". It is of particular interest to me as I was taught English Language and Literature by Allan during my time as a pupil at John Ruskin, during the late 1980s, and am now the Personal Assistant to the Publishing Director of the Radio Times magazine here at BBC Worldwide!
   I find the website fascinating - keep up the good work.

Kathryn Vincent, March 2005 email

ML adds: Kathryn has also promised a short item about her days at John Ruskin. "It was quite an interesting time," she relates. "I was in the last year to 'graduate' from Shirley High up to John Ruskin - we would attend Shirley for the first three years and then move over to Ruskin for the final two (and beyond) - which subsequently meant it was the beginning of John Ruskin Sixth-Form College and the move up to the old John Newnham site."


 Peter Oxlade (JRCS 1940-44) recalls the genesis of the Sixth-Form College...

The photograph shown left was taken on 21 July, 1992, to celebrate the completion of the new John Ruskin Sixth-Form College school building in Selsdon Park Road. The gentleman in the centre is Sir James Hamilton KBE, MBE, a Whitehall mandarin of some sort, I believe. The others are members of the Governing Body and Staff.

   As I mentioned in a previous item, JRHS headmaster William Patterson asked me in 1987 to become a governor at the new site in Shirley. I was also a founder member of the Governing Body of John Ruskin College, when in 1991 it became a Corporation. At that time Mrs. Anne Smith, who had joined the school from Selhurst Grammar School for Girls in 1971, and was a long time English Teacher at JRGS, became Principal, having taken over at Shirley from William Patterson in 1990. Anne Smith left in 1999; in 2010 current holder of the post of Principal was Tim Eyton-Jones. [more]

Peter Oxlade, February 2005 email.

Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-68) adds: You can see John Rowlands - our old JRGS Master - standing at the rear (second from left). And I think he is still there! Could be an interesting contact for information abut the school.
   This photo reminds me, as previously noted, that I was Group MD of Mansell, the Croydon builders that constructed the Sixth-Form College - a nice link?


 Ian Castro (JRGS 1958-65) recalls 1961's 5U and physics in the sixth form ...

I've been fascinated to read the recent clippings and also to see the Vintage 1962 5U photos and details. This must have been 1962/3? If anyone comes across the equivalent for 1961/2, I'd be even more fascinated that must have been my year in 5U. We had Mr. "Rhino" Rees as form master both that year AND the previous - it was reckoned a difficult form, but I don't recall who the bad boys were!
   I left in summer 1965, having spent 3 years in the sixth before going to Cambridge, as did John Wheal. He did medicine (at Peterhouse, I think, whereas I was at Sidney Sussex) but I lost track of him after Cambridge. The three-year Sixth, allowing Oxbridge exams to be taken after A-levels, was partly the reason for establishing a four-year 'fast' O-Level stream, I think.
   In the final two years I recall playing a great deal of badminton with guys called Graham Fentiman (who I believe went to do medicine at Westminster Medical School, as it was then) and John Davies - who was Head Boy for a while, if I remember correctly. What happened to them, I wonder?
   Mr. Tony Hasler was the badminton inspiration. Mr. John Adkins (and the incomparable Mr. "Sam" Chaundy, of course) taught me physics when I was in the sixth. It was John's first school and I later married his younger sister, to whom I'm still very happily married after 34 years (three sons, one grandson). John died in 2000, having bought and very successfully run a private school, which is still going strong, in Berkhamstead, after a couple of state teaching posts subsequent to his time at Ruskin. He left Ruskin in 1965 I think, although I'm afraid my memory is very much worse than those of many of the JRGS web site contributors!

ML adds: Ian Castro is now Professor of Fluid Dynamics and Deputy Head School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Ian Castro, Southampton, March 2005 email.

Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) adds: I was sad to read about John Adkins' death as recorded by Ian Castro on the website. I thought that John was a really nice chap, and I was always amused by his classroom wit.
   I remember John in the 1950s running a church youth club which, I think, was called "Crusaders". He may well have been involved with another group (Sunshine Corner) who would often appear in our local recreation park at Thornton Heath to try and encourage youngsters into the church movement.

Martin Preuveneers (JRGS 1958-65) adds: I remember Ian Castro – in fact I was in the same class as him for a number of years. I also remember John Adkins as quite a young physics master in the 60s - that is probably because it was 40 years ago! But was unaware that Ian had married into his family. Ian was a really bright guy, and also a talented piano player of classical music.

Ian Castro responds: John Adkins was indeed a committed Christian (as am I and my wife, his sister). He ran an interdenominational Bible class in Norbury, one of many Crusader Classes around the country, for many years. While still at school (Trinity Whitgift) he started to run summer camps for (largely) unchurched boys; this eventually became Croydon Camps, to which quite a few Ruskin lads went. That's where I first met his younger sister - she was a cook in John Peet's quartermaster' team! Both John Peet, Tony Davey and Martin Nunn were all involved in Croydon Camps for many years - also Tony Hasler for a few years. At its peak, some 600 boys (and girls by that stage) went to summer camps in North Devon and/or North Wales, from Ruskin, Selhurst, both Whigifts and other schools, including eventually one from Wolverhampton, where John Peet moved to teach after leaving Ruskin (he now lives in Guildford). The organisation continues to this day, although under a different name and at a somewhat lower key.
   John was always committed to presenting the Christian faith as not only true, but therefore very relevant to the lives of old and young alike. I remain in touch with a number of old "Croydon Campers", including one or two Ruskin ones, who would say that John's example of the Christian life was inspirational and that their experience of conversion to Christ at camp was and remains life-changing.

Mike Etheridge continues: Having read this latest information from Ian I now have recollections of posters around Ruskin school advertising a summer camp, I think, at Croyde Bay. The posters had illustrations of a sand yacht, which I presume someone at Ruskin school had built, and at the time were going to test on the beach as part of the holiday fun. Can anyone confirm this? I think the yacht builder may have been Tony Davey, who I can still envisage racing around Shirley in his Triumph Herald car with a huge grin on his face!
   I was surprised to find out last week that my wife Linda had been a member of Crusaders whilst at St Michael's boarding school in Limpsfield. She did not attend any of the summer camps as she always returned home to York during the school summer holidays. About 10 years ago she did organise a drama and art workshop for a Crusaders group.
   Linda now works as a primary school teacher and did attend the training college at Homerton in Cambridge, as I understand Nick Goy's wife [Hilary] did. Could they have known each other? Linda's maiden name was Slater, and she attended the college from 1971 to 1974.

Ian Castro replies: Yes indeed. We ran up to four or five sand yachts simultaneously on Saunton Sands throughout the summer, as one of the numerous Croydon Camps activities when at Croyde - each camp lasted eight days and at the peak there were five of them each summer (with, eventually, a girls camp as the central one). Keeping all the yachts serviceable was a nightmare - they were "stored" in the dunes over the summer and many overnight servicing trips were needed, often involving Messrs Adkins or Davey (and/or others) driving down the beach at dead of night to reach the store, and working by tilly lamp for what seemed like hours.
   Tony Davey and John Adkins were both involved in building the first yachts, partly at Ruskin. My wife (John's sister) remembers travelling to Croyde in Tony Davey's Triumph one summer, as did I on another occasion. We are still in contact with Tony & Ann Davey and some will know that Ann Davey was herself eventually a teacher at Ruskin for many years after it had moved to Selsdon - long after Tony had left. Tony still has a large grin, but not the Triumph Herald. Ann remains a magnificent cook.

Hilary Goy adds: I've been around here such a long time, the chances are like ancient monuments I've been passed by! For what it's worth, I was at Girton [College, Cambridge], reading Classics from 1968-71; I then did a PGCE [Postgraduate Certificate In Education] from 1971-2. After that I taught at a comprehensive in Bury St Edmunds, and then at St Mary's in Cambridge. My name was Corke, then Gull.
   I'm rotten at names so don't recall a Linda Etheridge/Sater - but [maybe] our paths have crossed!

CroydePaul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: I have found a picture of sand-yacht racing at Croyde: page 26 of the July 1965 school mag. On page 27 is the Christian Union report. On page 26 of the next issue (July 1966), is another CU report, again mentioning Croyde as well as Mr. Davey and Mr. Peet.

Derek Charlwood (JRGS 1958-64) adds: Without wishing to bore too many people about the summer camps at Croyde Bay, I attended one camp, in the early 60s, and I am sure I remember that some of the senior boys manhandled one of the teacher's cars - a Mini, I think - across the pit that held all the food waste, so that the front wheels were one side and the rear wheels the other. We were also woken late at night and did some form of chase game in the dark across the dunes, returning for a midnight feast.
   I did not really get involved with the Christian Union at school, but was a member of George Street Congregational Church, right in the middle of town, which moved out to Addiscombe Grove, just past East Croydon Station in 1961/2, and got to know Mr. Nunn who was also a Congregationalist. It became the United Reformed Church in the mid-Sixties. When I was first married in 1969 I lived in the caretakers flat above the church for a couple of years.
   PS. I do enjoy the reminiscences from past pupils. Some of the names I recognise, but the reminiscences are better than the actual experience, which I did not enjoy at all. [more]


 Terence Morris (JRCS 1942-50) recalls a letter to Mr. Lowe sent 50 years ago...

ML writes: Recently, while reviewing several images secured during a visit 15 month ago to The Croydon Archives, I recalled a letter dated August 1955 from Terence Morris to Mr. Lowe (seen left), informing the headmaster of his recent success in securing a PhD degree from the University of London. [more] Curious to know more, I searched google.co.uk for the subsequent career of the newly qualified Dr. Morris, and also to let him know about The Mill website. Professor Morris picks up the story...

I was quite fascinated to get your email, not least to see a letter that I had written nearly 50 years ago! Very embarrassing - I am just astounded that Mr. Lowe thought to keep it. John Christopher Lowe was a complex man. He did his MA thesis on Wordsworth at Birmingham, and came to us from being Senior English master at Wallasey Grammar School. His daughter became a Probation Officer, as I recall.
   I also read with great interest some of the recollections of those who were my contemporaries from 1942 to 1950 when I left John Ruskin. I remember [school captain] John Clark well. He had a ravishing beautiful girlfriend with long red hair (Coloma, of course) named Janet West, who went on to become a professional violinist. I have a feeling he didn’t marry her, though.
   More recently, I never thought the name of John Ruskin School would ever be linked – however tenuously – with the American prison at Guantanamo Bay. [One of the four recently freed detainees, Feroz Abbasi, attended Edenham High School, Shirley, and secured A-levels at John Ruskin College - ML.]
   John Clark was, as I recall, the first person ever to get a State Scholarship. Mr. Lowe was eager to establish his "new" grammar school to do as well as Selhurst, the "old" LEA grammar school. As I recall, of those who left in 1950 and went on to university, there were at least three Firsts. John must be now (like me) rising 75 or even 76; after taking his degree at Imperial College London he went to work for Rolls Royce in Derby. (I think this was in the aero-engine division.)
   Another 1950 leaver was Carl Smith, who went on to work in the research side of the aircraft industry at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough in Hampshire. He had quite a lot to do with designing fireproof seats for aircraft. We both travelled down to the Farnborough air show in 1952 on his motorbike, and witnessed the terrible crash of the De Havilland 110 - which broke up in the air and killed both crew and many spectators when the wreckage hit the ground. When we went back to where the bike was parked we saw the huge crater where one of the engines had landed.
    Peter Oxlade and others remind me of some of the staff whom one can never forget: Arthur William MacLeod; Mr. "Stinker" Cresswell (so named because he was said sometimes to use what is nowadays known as a "men's fragrance"). A devout Anglican and Reader at the Parish Church, he was a superb teacher of history in the sixth form. Mr. "Smithy" Smith’s demanding gym routine: Mr. "Wally" Cracknell’s English teaching – all splendid stuff. I have several books given to me by Mr. "Mac" MacLeod, who was a close friend of D. H. Lawrence (they taught together at Davidson Road School before the First World War). My very old copy of the Oxford Companion to Music was once owned by Mr. Chaundy; another good teacher.
   I recall the day in 1944 when "Mac" announced that under the 1944 Education Act we were to become a Grammar School. "For years boys at this school have had a grammar school education on the cheap!" And he was right. By the early 1950s the sixth form of the late 1940s was beginning to produce a stream of graduates across the board.
   I come back to Croydon from Hampshire from time to time to tend family graves – one side of my family was in Addington and Shirley in the 1700s and my great-great grandfather was born in Badger’s Hole (just up the road from the windmill) in 1840. The only old John Ruskin boy with whom I am still in close contact is my friend Anthony Nye. John Lowe was very proud of the fact that Tony Nye published a children’s book, The Witch’s Cat, while still in the sixth form. Is there mention of this in the Lowe Archive? After doing English at University College London he joined the Jesuits and is now a very revered and distinguished member of the English Congregation of the Order. I have a 1950s photograph of the sixth which I will go through with him when he comes next to stay and we will try to identify later careers. Three academics and two clergy at least.
   Gerald Southgate, with whom I exchange Christmas cards, had a career in politics and was for some years Leader of the Islington Council. Gerald was at the school until 1948, when he was called up into the Royal Engineers. I have recently heard from him. I have an address, although he is not on email as far as I know.
   At the moment I am rather up to my ears having just finished a book with a friend and colleague now (also) retired. We are now at work on an article for a learned journal. The sort of thing that keeps septuagenarian pensioners off the streets! But I should be honoured to put something on the website.
   The book that emerged from my PhD thesis was The Criminal Area, published by Routledge; amazingly, it is still in print! You might also link it to Hart Publishing of Oxford. My most recent book with Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC, With Malice Aforethought: A Study of the Crime and Punishment for Homicide, contains a discussion of the case of Angela Cannings, which was so movingly presented recently on BBC1.
   Regrettably, your email made me curious to explore some of the old magazines, and I had forgotten what a serious generation we were and how much the School was such a central feature of our lives. I dallied for over an hour instead of getting on with my work. "Stinker" Cresswell would not have approved!


Possible origin of the John Ruskin school name

Regarding the name chosen for our school in 1920, John Ruskin was not the original. It had been Coleridge- Taylor, the distinguished musician born in Croydon and who had lived in a large house in Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath. His name had been rejected by the Education Committee because of his racial and social origins. His father was a doctor from Sierra Leone, but who went back to Africa, leaving his mother to bring him up with his stepfather. There was, therefore, both the suspicion of his being illegitimate as well the fact of his being part African, notwithstanding his enormous success as a talented composer – he put Longfellow’s Hiawatha to music – but also his contributions to African folk music. Instead, they chose John Ruskin. (As a boy Ruskin, apparently, used to visit an aunt in Middle Street (off Surrey Street) but otherwise the nearest he lived to Croydon was Herne Hill!)
   Although I cannot remember exactly how I came by this information about the school name, or precisely how accurate it is, perhaps it could be researched in the Croydon Archives that relate to the Education Committee? For many years the Chief Education Officer was Herbert Roberts. (I have the letter from him dated 1942 telling my mother that I had been offered a place at Ruskin.) He could well have been in post in 1920 or very soon after. Also Berwick Sayers, the Chief Librarian, published a history of Croydon that might just contain some clues. How about a project for some bright student at John Ruskin College this coming summer vacation?
  Mr. Cresswell and Mr. V. J. Gee are described in connection with the School photo for 1950, in which neither I nor several other members of the Upper Sixth appear - but I do have a full size picture of the entire sixth. Mr. Cresswell never taught English – certainly not between 1942 and 1950 - but was an historian. Like Mr. McLeod, he was a graduate of King’s College, London. In 1942-3, he was probably press-ganged into teaching maths; he never seemed happy with that assignment.
  Mr. V. J. Gee was also known as "Pat" to his wife Joan, as well as quite a number of us in the Upper School. He organised a mind-blowing trip to the V&A museum to see the post-war exhibition of works by Picasso and Matisse. We could not believe our eyes. He was a great draughtsman and calligrapher. In 1950 he painted – by hand – the number plates on my newly acquired motor bike! I will dig out and scan some of my early photos of people around the school.

Terence Morris, Hampshire, February 2005 email.

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: The Alumni might also like to review the following items that appear elsewhere on the website:

>> An article by Terence Morris on page 21 of the June 1945 school magazine, describing a vivid VE night.

>> An interview with Terence Morris on page 31 of the May 1969 school magazine.

Although racism could easily have played a part in the decision to name the new school in 1920 after John Ruskin, rather than Samuel Coleridge Taylor, Ruskin had at least as good a claim as the musician, because his mother's family did come from Croydon, close to where the school started off, and he visited it a lot. Plus his parents are buried at Shirley. In fact, John Ruskin lived at Denmark Hill (just south of Camberwell where ex-JRGS alumnus John Byford currently lives), not Herne Hill.
   Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-12) was born in Holborn, Central London, but moved to Croydon at a young age and lived and died there. The sources I have read say that he lived at Dagnall Park, Selhurst (although I suppose he may have lived at Brigstock Road at other times). Of course, that is close to John Ruskin School's arch-rival, Selhurst School, so maybe that was a factor. There is now a Samuel Coleridge Taylor Youth Centre, located next to South Norwood Library, pictured right.
   By the way, we should make it clear that this Samuel Coleridge Taylor was a different person entirely to the famous poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) of Ancient Mariner fame. Identical names, but with the second and third elements transposed. I am sure that Samuel Coleridge Taylor would have been named with the poet in mind.

Dudley Wolf (JRGS 1943-47) adds: At last here is a contemporary who can remind me of some of the names I have long forgotten! There is a chance that Terence Morris will remember me although he was, I believe, a year or so ahead of me. I left Ruskin in1948 at the recommendation of Mr. Gee to go on to the Croydon Art School to become the next Leonardo - at least, maybe, an architect as my maths/physics were also quite strong. Neither happened.

   My stint at Art College was cut short by my parents' insistence that I did my National Service ("To make a man of me"). During that two-year period, my horizons changed and, with marriage then in prospect, an income was the first priority upon leaving the Navy. Successive jobs in publishing, designing ads, etc. led to greater interest in things advertising and PR. This led to a five-year period resident in Switzerland, working first for Nestlé, then for Caterpillar. Since 1965 we have been living in Wolverhampton, where I got a job with Alusuisse for nine years, and then started my own business. I am only now beginning to wind down.
   It is certainly a small world! You mention Louis Blom-Cooper. My wife, Patricia, and I became quite well acquainted with Louis during the time that his son, Jeremy, was resident at the same residential community for those with learning difficulties as my daughter, Vanessa - first at Enchmarsh, Shropshire, and then at Ironbridge. Unfortunately, we lost touch with the Blom-Coopers when Jeremy moved to a different community a few years ago. A lovely family. Please pass our regards and best wishes to Louis and Jeremy if you get the chance.
   I look forward with interest to seeing your pictures and other materials on the JRGS site.
   Incidentally, I differ on the teaching skills of Mr. "Stinker" Cresswell! I had dropped History before the sixth form, but one of my clearer memories of JRGS is his history lessons - tediously copying volumes of notes as "Stinker" wrote them on the blackboard. I believe that he was a bit vain about his (very good) handwriting, but he managed to turn me off history - a subject which I can't get enough of now.
   Congratulations on your brilliant career and published works!

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Professor Morris and Paul Graham are both correct. John Ruskin moved to 28 Herne Hill (it's the name of a road as well as a locality) when he was four years old in 1823.
   Apparently, even when he was an old man he regarded this as his home and retained a lease of one sort or another there throughout his life; some of his art collection was also stored there. His old nursery became his study-bedroom in the latter years of his life.
   A blue plaque was put up in 1909 on the house now demolished. I understand that the plaque, dated 1925, is in the front garden of the house there now (though one source has the house number as 26). I'll have to walk up there one day - or take the bus - to check out the information.
   His parents moved to 163 Denmark Hill in 1842, when Ruskin was at Oxford. He lived there with his mother until she died. That house was demolished some time ago.

John Byford checks out the house, as promised: The plaque is in the front garden of number 26 (one of a pair of houses). I walked past the house earlier this afternoon; the plaque is quite near the road but you'd miss it if you didn't know it was there. It is an old version of the plaque, i.e. it's not blue.


 An Obituary: Arthur Reed (JRCS 1939-44), who passed away in January...

Regular readers of The Times of London will be familiar with the name Arthur Reed, who for many years served as the newspaper's air correspondent. He covered the start of the jet age, which led to mass air travel, and the introduction of the supersonic Concorde, shown right, into service.

   According to an obituary published in the paper's 27 January issue, Arthur Laurence Reed was born in Norwood, South London, on 17 February, 1928, and was educated at John Ruskin School. "He was 17," the obituary continues, "and the war was not quite ended, when he applied for a job on the Surrey Times at Guildford. When he replied 'Yes' to the question 'Can you ride a bike?' his career as a journalist began. It was interrupted by two years’ National Service in the RAF as a radio operator. After spells on the Portsmouth Evening News and two years with the Press Association reporting from the House of Commons, he joined The Times as a reporter in 1961."

   "Reed was appointed air correspondent in 1967 at a time of intense rivalry and development in aviation, accompanied by much Government hostility. The goodwill of the British air correspondents was eagerly sought by the world’s airlines and plane makers, for they were a long-lived group, whereas aviation ministers averaged less than three years.

   "What the senior correspondents such as Reed wrote about civil aviation prospects and the qualities of rival British, American and French civil and military aircraft had much influence on government decisions. Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge, until recently the chairman of British Airways, said of him: 'Any report or commentary appearing under Arthur’s name, most notably in The Times, was compelling and instructive reading for all of us in the industry. He has earned an honoured place in the history of modern aviation.'

   "Reed was not impressed by the anti-Concorde attitude of some of his rival air correspondents. He believed it was aviation’s logical task to seek to provide ever faster travel. His enthusiastic description of Concorde’s first passenger flight to Bahrain on 21 January, 1976, was the lead story. He enjoyed recording that Pan American and TWA, who had shortly before led the stampede of 14 airlines to cancel their 70 Concorde orders, had their subsonic jumbo jets’ takeoffs delayed by Concorde’s ceremonial departure.

   "Five months later he was among the 75 passengers on Concorde’s first transatlantic passenger flight, which travelled faster than a bullet, and reduced the journey from London to Washington to less than four hours, or half the time it took then - and now - for subsonic jumbo jets to make the crossing.
   "When on the first of December, 1978, publication of The Times was suspended for 11 months by the management, he took a temporary job on Flight International so that his coverage of the subject was unbroken. By 1981, however, air correspondents were going out of fashion in the newspaper world. Reed took voluntary redundancy so that he could combine freelance contributions to The Times with becoming European Editor of the American magazine Air Transport World.
   "During his freelance period he published some 20 books on the subject. They included Airline: The Inside Story of British Airways, which became a BBC TV series.

   "Arthur Reed also found time to indulge his sense of humour for many years by writing and appearing in the annual pantomime for his local dramatic society at Merrow, near Guildford. He is survived by his wife Muriel, and by a son and daughter."

All quoted text ©2005 Times Newspapers Ltd.

Our thanks to Chris Bennett, archivist at The Croydon Archives, for bringing this item to our attention.

Does any member of The Alumni recall Arthur Reed? Please feel free to contact the webmaster.

Mel Lambert Burbank, February 2005 email.


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