JRGS News Archive Page 18
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 18 - November thru December 2004 -

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.


 John Brigden (JRGS 1959-64) has spotted a story about Routemaster buses...

Routemaster bussesI found the following item on the BBC website today, and thought it was worthy of passing on.
   As the article by Tom Housden states: "As much an icon of London as Big Ben or Buckingham Palace, the curvaceous old Routemaster double-decker is due to be retired next year. But there's no shortage of admirers waiting in the wings to snap up a slice of transport history.

   "After many years of faithful service, London's remaining 200 Routemaster buses are approaching the end of the line.
   "A familiar sight on the capital's streets for more than 50 years, the buses are gradually being replaced by a newer species, more accessible to people with disabilities, parents with buggies and elderly people."
   How many Ruskin students’ days started and ended on the 130 bus? It didn’t matter if you lived in Croydon or New Addington the 130 was the primary route for a large percentage. I can certainly remember doing some just in time homework on the upper deck as we bounced over the East Croydon railway bridge. Hopefully I would be finished before the driver made the leaning turn at the Shirley Park roundabout.

John Brigden, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, December 2004 email

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: A nice coincidence: I'd been reading the BBC web site today and then the Alumni email arrived.

   I am very sorry to disappoint everyone but Routemasters were not introduced on the 130 route until 1 September 1964. Anyway, the spirit of John's message is about traveling on the 130, not which type of bus it was. And so I pen these few lines as a pedant par excellence.
RM130 RT130

Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: Synchronicity!
   As coincidence would have it, I was also looking at some images of vintage 130 buses I had downloaded a while ago from a website. (Apologies if I have trampled on anybody's copyright!)
   Show left are a Routemaster with 130B destination boards, and an earlier AEC Regent RT (Regency Transport?) with 130 boards, seen here at Homestead Way, its New Addington terminus.
   Click on either image to access a larger version.

Roger Hall (JRGS 1959-66) adds: And I can remember getting just 2% in my Latin mock O-Level; I got my name right but the date wrong. But I got no marks at all for the 130 bus timetable that I compiled instead of translating some passage!

Mike Etheridge ( (JRGS 1963-65) adds: I read John Brigden's article on the demise Thumperof the Routemaster buses with interest and, of course, a touch of sadness.

   I have attached a photograph, shown right, of the diesel multiple unit that was supposedly making its last run on the main line recently (Saturday, 27th November 2004). During the time I was at Ruskin School, at weekends I used these trains to travel on fishing trips to the river Medway at Ashurst in Kent. Alumni possibly will remember the noise that these trains made - hence the name "Thumper" - nothing to do with rabbits!

   I did in fact agree to go on this special last trip with an old Norbury Manor school friend and my eldest son, Christopher, who used to spot these trains at South Croydon station from his junior school playground. (Elmhurst School). The journey covered all the places where the Thumper trains would normally visit, including Brighton station, as in the photograph. Click on the image to access a larger version.

   A couple of BBC reporters boarded the train at Eastboune station and, to my amazement, interviewed Christopher and myself about the trip! Our interviews were featured on the local news at about 6.00PM in Kent and West Sussex which, of course, we did not see.
   By the way, all the remaining Thumpers are due for private preservation.

ML adds: According to S. G. J. Huddy's excellent website, these trains are known as Thumpers, because "the guard... found out why after listening to the engine the other side of a thin partition." Apparently, these diesel-powered locomotives were not quiet! The site also contains a number of evocative photos and articles about steam and diesel trains, buses of the Fifties and Sixties, various ferries and traction engines.


 Les Peagam (JRGS 1951-56) is well on the road to recovery after recent surgery...

ML writes: You may recall Les writing from Australia to tell us that last year he had life-saving lung transplant surgery. "It is surprising what becomes important when your life is hanging in the balance," he confided. "But now things seem to be going along fine and I am able to enjoy life again."
   Here, he supplies more details of his recovery...

It's 12 months since I had my lung transplant and life is great. Minor problems with skin cancers - the anti-rejection and immunosuppressant medication reduce your immune system and one of the more frequent side effects (at least in Oz, with the power of the sun) is that you are prone to these cancers. Most are easily dealt with by freezing but two, on the scalp, needed plastic surgery with a skin graft from my leg. (I hope the hair grows on my head as quickly as it has on my legs - another side effect.)
   The only other problem is that, stupidly, just as the ribs and intercostal muscles were about healed, I've either cracked the rib again or torn a muscle. The doc says that I must not do anything too heavy - like picking up a tea towel or duster (but using the chain saw is OK!) - for at least 12 months. At least that's what I told [my wife] Anne the doc said - wonder why she did not believe me.
   However, these are only minor problems in the overall scheme of things - I AM ALIVE and enjoying life, especially in the warmth of the summer now upon us. Where we live, close to the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in Central Victoria, we do actually have a winter and autumn can also be quite chilly and damp - great log fires etc. I'm looking forward to the hotter weather - guess my Pommy blood has got used to the heat after 19 years over here.

Les Peagam, Heathcote, Victoria, Australia, December 2004 email


 Brian Thorogood (JRGS 1951-56) remembers Mr. “Spike” Hancock, music master ...

Mr Hancock in 1950 Mr Hancock in 1964
Joseph Norton Hancock in 1950 ... and in 1964

Mr. Hancock was a man of small stature, with a young family. I felt that he was rather nervous of the tougher boys. He drove to school in an open-top 1930s Ford car - his viola and case on the back seat.
   He was a classicist through and through, compared to where I now live in Scotland where teachers encourage any interest in musical abilities, whether it be the traditional fiddle or playing bass electric guitar in a rock band. This was exemplified by a fellow fifth former who brought in a 78 rpm shellac disc - a 1920s Jelly Roll Morton record - asking me if I thought Mr. Hancock would let him play it on the school equipment during the dinner hour. The equipment in 1951 was a precursor to the Hi-Fi of the 1960s. Playing 78 rpm records, with a wooden needle which Mr. Hancock sharpened on a small device for every playing.
   The composer Ralph Vaughan Williams was a favourite of whom he talked constantly. Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, also Michael Tippett, were never ever mentioned, despite being prominent composers of that era. Perhaps this was for the obvious reasons methinks, for the Wolfenden Report would not become law until 1965, and boys might have asked embarrassing questions.
   Class singing was prominent, with items such as Stanford's "Songs of the Sea" and Schubert's "Trout Quintet" put to song. Mr. Hancock would send a boy over to the Tuck Shop to buy throat pastilles for himself - not sweets of course! - but necessary for his vocal chord functioning.
   I played the descant recorder, but did not progress onto the alto instrument. Music throughout the school year centred on the Annual Concert, Founder's Day Service, and Prize Giving at the Civic Halls. How I remember singing "God be in my head, and in my understanding" at end of term.
   Older pupils included Maggs, who made a brilliant career in music and was Mr. Hancock's favourite, and Nye, who played clarinet and was subsequently to write the children's book "The Witch's Hat".
   At the Tamworth Road school, the play King Henry IV Part II was accompanied by William Walton's incidental music, by now on a long-playing record, with a simple pine box player made up by a senior boy.
   In our class Les Peagam had a flair for composition, a natural talent, whilst Sawyer played the cornet, a task he performed well on Friday evenings on the parade ground prior to army cadets.
   Miss Hickmott allowed us to listen to a senior boy playing African drums during September 1951. Perhaps he may have had connections to that continent.
   Mr. Hancock employed a blind gentleman to tune the downstairs upright piano and the "grand" in the upstairs Hall. When we moved to the new school at Shirley, the new Hall was resplendent with organ which one or two talented boys also played.
   At the 1955 school concert, a violin item was played by Pike, accompanied by a sixth former on classical guitar. I noticed they copied it onto a tape machine, a luxury item in those days, although my choir master at St. Michael's church in West Croydon did have a very early tape recorder in 1951. Quite remarkable, as they cost a fortune then.
   The other subject Mr. Hancock taught junior boys was English, and I owe to him the concepts of "metaphor" and "onomatopoeia", which today figure so prominently in my ongoing Jungian analysis. He also lived near Richmal Crompton in Bromley, Kent, who was author of the "Just William" books.
   On reflection, Mr. Hancock instilled in me a love of music, which continues to give me considerable pleasure in retirement. I do however have a more catholic taste, responding to classical, jazz, folk, popular, and even some heavy metal and punk "a la John Peel".
   It was good of Roger Fuller to remember my crush on Brigette Bardot. Les Peagam did give me his prized collection of BB pin-ups (all very proper for the day, needless to say) only to see them systematically torn to shreds by an irate Mr. Smith.
   The other actress I liked was Julie Harris, who played the lead opposite James Dean in "East of Eden", still my favourite movie to this day. She was absolutely delightful attired in her Edwardian dress. I was to remain an incurable dreamer and romantic.

Brian (Bone) V Thorogood, Willowbank, Wick, Scotland KW1 4NZ. November 2004.

Les Peagam (JRGS 1951-56) adds: Reading Brian's recollection of Mr. "Spike" Hancock, school music master, brought to mind my own experiences with him, especially as I had just heard my young granddaughters complain that they had to walk to school with their Mum, and not be taken that day by car.
   I had only been at the school for a couple of days when "Spike" discovered that I then played in a Salvation Army Band and he set out to recruit me for the school orchestra, which included David (?) Sawyer, a slightly older pupil who also played for another S.A. band.
   Coming from a very small S.A. Corps, where the band mainly consisted of members of the Peagam family from my Grandfather down to younger cousins (and the younger ones amongst us were not really very good), I mainly played the Flugel Horn or the Euphonium, dependent on which had not been pinched by my younger brother who was a much better musician than I.
   Unfortunately, there was not much written in the works performed by the school orchestra for either instrument, and with both being tuned to B flat I could not even use David Sawyer's music as his instrument, a Tenor Horn, was tuned to E flat.
   "Spike" suggested that I played from the Clarinet score as this was also B flat (I think - my memory is less sharp than it was in those days - but the way I played it would not have mattered too much!) but this had too many "fiddly bits" so he had to re-score this to suit my level of ability. Wonderful was the day when we came to play the Trumpet Voluntary when I could use "proper music" but even then I could not always hit the high notes without wavering. Still "Spike" persevered with me although, in the music classes, he could not fully grasp the fact that, being a brass player, I could only read one line at a time, unlike pianists and most good classicists who can read the complete score so, consequently, chord structures always baffled me. Still, it must have eventually sunk in as, between us, I did manage to get an O-Level in music - just.
   The relationship to this and my grandchildren is that, when the school was at Tamworth Road, I was able to get to school by using the 654 trolley bus and then "shanks pony" but when we moved to Shirley Hills, the journey involved three buses whose timetables never did seem to tie up. My parents decided that I should have a bike - an old fashioned three-speed, straight handlebar Raleigh Roadster. On days when I had orchestra practice, if I had access to the Flugel Horn, I had to carry this in its case in my right hand, which was also trying to control the bike - not a very safe situation
   But on days when I had to take the Euphonium, this did not have a case so my father made up a strap for me to carry this across my back. You try cycling up Shirley Hills as a 13-year old with what seemed a ton on your back. Try persuading any of today's generation of schoolchildren to go through what we all had to do in those days and see what response you now get!.
   Seriously, I really enjoyed the challenge of getting to and playing in the school orchestra (although I cannot say that my efforts were always appreciated by the rest of the orchestra) and have regretted giving up playing although I still love going to brass, and military band concerts. Nowadays, with only one lung - and that a "donated" one, playing again can only be a dream.

Joseph Norton Hancock BA LRAM joined JRGS in April 1947 and left for Maryhill Comprehensive School, Stoke-on-Trent, in July 1965. Sadly, he died on 7th February 1971. "He came to a school with little musical tradition and few amenities; and with great courage and strength of personality he created what he did not find," wrote Mr. Lowe. An appreciation of Mr. Hancock appeared on page 5 of the July 1965 school magazine; he is remembered on page 4 of the May 1971 edition- ML.


 Les Peagam (JRGS 1951-56) wonders if this "home computer" will ever catch on...

RAND home comuter

The picture shown above is taken from a 1954 edition of Popular Mechanics magazine.

   The editors had no idea as to what the outcome could yield. Be sure to read the photo caption.

Les Peagam, Heathcote, Victoria, Australia, November 2004 email


 Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) has uncovered a website on Croydon trams...

Croydon TramI was trolling through some web pages the other day when I came across a site about Croydon's new Tram system. I expect most people knew about this, but I had no idea that such even existed. It did, however, start another trip down Nostalgia Lane since I found that the tramway extended as far as Elmers End Station which is, or used to be, in Kent, as far as I remember.

   When I lived in Shirley it was quite a way from Shirley Village as such, being near Monks Orchard School down in The Glade, which I attended from 1943 to 1949, before going to John Ruskin.

   Every morning after leaving John Ruskin I would walk to Elmers End Station to catch a train up to London where I worked at a Quantity Surveyor's office in the West End, and the reverse at the end of the day of course. This carried on until I eventually left to join the RAF in 1957.

   It was interesting for me to look through the web site, in particular at the photographs of the tramway through Croydon's streets as well as those of Elmers End Station.

   Although I was later to live in Addiscombe for a few years after getting married and before moving up here to Suffolk, I rarely went anywhere from Addiscombe Station, nor Blackhouse Lane or Woodside all of which are near where we lived then, through which the trams also pass today.

Mike Marsh, Great Cornard, Sudbury, Suffolk, November 2004; email.

ML adds: Shown above-right is an image taken through the driver's window of a tram that is about to cross the junction of Wellesley Road and George Street in Central Croydon. Photo ©2000 S. J. Parascandolo.

H. A. "Peter" Otway (JRGS 1938-42) adds: Yes, Elmers End Station is still in Kent.

David Anderson (JRGS 1964-71) adds: This "unofficial" Croydon Tramlink website, which has a virtual tour, is definitely a good way of seeing how the old place has changed. The trams themselves are very swift and go up Gravel Hill like it wasn't there. If you remember how buses (especially the old RT-type) used to struggle up Upper Shirley Road - and the long queues of cars along the Upper Addiscombe Road trying to get into Croydon in the morning rush hour - it must be an improvement.

   It looks very odd to look down into the railway cutting at Sandilands and see trams where trains (hardly ever) used to run. Do a search on Google for all the websites. [Including Transport for London - ML.]
   There has been a lot of change. For instance, Addiscombe station has gone and trams now cross the road at ground level at Bingham Road where there was once a station and overbridge.
   Another source of memory lane material is the Francis Frith old-photograph archive that can be accessed on the Internet. This allows you to see and purchase photos of most of the UK during the last century, and there are some good ones of the Croydon area, including Shirley. Well worth a look.
   I hope this is of interest to old JRGS boys.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) visits the City by the Bay .. and Martin Preuveneers...

San Francisco  Martin Preuveneers & Mel Lambert

While in San Francisco for a recent Audio Engineering Society Convention, I managed to squeeze in an all-too-brief visit to Martin Preuveneers (JRGS 1958-65) and his American wife, Maxine. My traveling companion, Merelyn Davis - who took these images - and I enjoyed a very pleasant Sunday afternoon at Martin and Maxine's Alameda home, east of the city across the Bay Bridge, tucking into sandwiches and cake... and a very welcome cuppa.

   It turns out that both Martin and Maxine are accomplished musicians; Maxine's talent on the accordion is truly remarkable, and Martin treated us to a short piano medley. (An impromptu - and highly illicit - lunchtime performance of several bars from "Moanin'" on the JRGS school organ remains one of my favourite memories from 40+ years ago.)

   Unfortunately, Merelyn and I had to return to the city during the early evening in preparation for our six-hour drive south back to Burbank the following morning.

   The image above shows Martin (left) and this writer at sunset on Sunday October 31. Click on either image to access a full-size version.

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, November 2004; email.


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