JRGS News Archive Page 15
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 15 - Mar thru May 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.


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-65) has also been looking through his bookshelf...

Prompted by some comments by Mel Lambert, John Cobley and John Byford, I started to remember some of the text books we used whilst at John Ruskin. There are some large gaps. History and Geography for a start - did the school dispense with text books in these subjects, apart from a Geography atlas, and just get us to take notes?

   Even though Maths was my subject after leaving school, I can remember nothing up to A-Level except the famous Godfrey & Siddons four-figure log tables beloved by Mr. "Puncher" Pearce. There is an image of these elsewhere on the website.

   As somebody else has remarked, nobody was allowed to desecrate Puncher's room with anything else except the Authorised Version. Even at A level, the only text book I can remember is the Applied Maths "Mechanics" by Quadling and Ramsay in Ken Cripps's lessons. I even used it myself when I started teaching A level in 1977 and have retained a copy and have scanned the cover (shown left).

   The whole of Science is a void at the moment except for "Nelkon and Parker" ringing a bell for Physics A-Level.

    Brodie03Brodie02Brodie01Latin was memorable because Mr.  "Rhino" Rees made it so in his fashion. Again, I cannot recall the earlier texts, but at O-Level we had Caesar's Gallic War Book V. We were advised to buy an English translation by Brodie which I still have (shown right), and I imagine that the opening sentence "Lucius Domitius and Appius Claudius being Consuls..." will bring back memories for many of "Rhino's" ex-pupils.
Click on any image to access a full-size version.

   He spent a whole lesson on the intricacies of that one phrase - something to do with the tense. Later on I recall Ovid, Horace and even love poems of Catullus. Now, why would I recall Latin more than anything else? With "Rhino" around, remembering things was self-preservation.

   French is a blank, except for a novel we read in class with Mr. "Spud" Murphy about a British agent in France assisting the resistance movement and being tortured by the Gestapo. Fairly racy and James Bondish compared to the usual modern languages fare. Does anybody remember the name of this book?

   Apart from a great deal of Shakespeare in English, I can recall being impressed with modern drama like John Arden's Sergeant Musgrave's Dance which we studied with Ron Woodard. Also one of Sean O'Casey's plays, Juno and the Paycock, I believe. I think we read Harold Pinter's The Caretaker too. Maybe others can correct me.

   To me, much of this seemed quite cutting edge for the early Sixties, and probably more adventurous than my own children's English texts in the last few years. I was always keener on drama, and can remember virtually nothing about novels or poetry.

Paul Graham Iver, Bucks, UK, May 2004 email

Physics1 Physics2Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: Interestingly, our A-Level Physics set book during the mid-Sixties is still being used a number of universities and high schools around the world.

   "Advanced Level Physics" by Michael Nelkon and Philip Parker was first published by William Heinemann in 1961. Image far-left is cover page of the first edition.

   The seventh edition (shown near-left) was published by Heinemann Educational, Oxford in 1995; ISBN 043592303x. It is fascinating to note that a post-JRGS invention - the Compact Disc, jointly developed by Sony Corporation and Philips BV - is featured prominently in the front cover of this edition.

   Click on any image to access a full-size version.

Steve Lillyston from Malory School adds: Until reading this message, I hadn't thought of Messrs Nelkon and Parker for years; now the nightmares begin again!

   For the chap who wondered about literature texts, back in '64, we studied The Merchant of Venice, Keats' poetry, and Jane Austen's Persuasion. I remember our class being taken into London at the tender age of 16 to see a professional production of The Merchant of Venice, and I remember all of us sitting there with our texts on our knees reading along as the actors acted their little hearts out on stage. It was beyond me how Keats could get so excited about a Grecian Urn ("What's a Grecian Urn? About two quid a day!"). And Jane Austen (and her supposed humour) was beyond this snotty-nosed 16 year-old Philistine!
   The rest of our texts are pretty much a blur to me. Probably because they didn’t make an impression on me.

Andrew Simmons (JRGS 1965-71) adds: I still have my school copy of Advanced Level Vectors by A P Armit. Oddly, I was reminded of Quadling and Ramsay a couple of days ago, for the first time in years, at an open day for a school in Auckland that my son is likely to attend next year - the text for the IGCSE Mechanics Course is by one Douglas A. Quadling. I imagine this is the same Quadling who was half of Quadling and Ramsay over 30 years ago.

Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-68) adds: As we are on books I wonder if this might be of interest.Story1

 Story2  In my bookcase here at home in Oxted I have a book The Story of Croydon – An Introductory History by W C Berwick Sayers (image left), who was Chief Librarian of the Croydon Public Libraries when published in 1925. TStamphe point of this is that it is stamped inside (see near- and far-right) Croydon Education Committee “John Ruskin School” Scarbrook Road, Croydon.

   This book was my father's at school 1933 to 1937. He always told us this was a schoolbook of his and only the recent contributions on schoolbooks reminded me of this book and prompted me to offer this contribution.

   If you would like to see it & read it (actually quite interesting view of Croydon in 1925 for school kids) then I will post it over to you but it is in poor condition with the spine broken but all the pages are there!

   The other boys name inside the cover is “R Leadley” - does anybody know of this name?

   Chapter XV (for you Latin scholars) Great Men of Croydon - reads:
   “Ruskin as a child used to visit his maiden aunt, who was the daughter of the landlady of the Old King’s Head in Market Street.” There are no other references to Ruskin in the tome. Market (Surrey?) Street, of course, is off the top of Scarbrook Road, but where the pub stood is unknown to me.

Click on any image to access a full-size version.

TV1TV2Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) adds: I have attached scans of the front (pictured left) and back (right) pages of one of the two TV maths books we were all issued with for the 'A-level' BBC programs during 1964 and 1965. Each book had over 50 pages and was priced at one shilling.

   As I remember, Mr. "Puncher" Pierce used the TV programs to support the  normal A-Level Maths lessons. We were all obliged during the lessons to sit round the massive TV sets of the day, which I suppose were  quite "high-tech", though no doubt full of thermionic valves rather than transistors.

   From my point of view I seem to remember that the delivery of the lessons was sometimes even faster than "Puncher's" and there was no going back on any of the issues.

   Nevertheless "Puncher" would sit in the background and highlight verbally anything he felt was worth noting, often exclaiming ''Very important... get it down!''

   Does anyone remember Mr. "Joe" Lowe's deliveries of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in the school hall? These lessons "Joe" gave were meant to supplement the learning of mathematics and science students, although I must confess practically all of it went straight over my head, and I and many others dreaded being asked a question by "Joe" on the verses.

   "Awake! for morning in the bowl of Night/Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight'... Eh?

Rubaiyat1Rubaiyat2Paul Graham responds: Yes, I remember The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam - see the cover (left) and page 1 (right) shown here.

   I don't recall Mr. "Joe" Lowe reading The Rubaiyat in assembly, but he certainly introduced it to me and my contemporaries in about 1964 when doing General Studies as a non-exam part of our sixth form course. This was organized in the form of short courses on a wide ranging set of topics. Another was "Joe" Lowe again on Ruskin. That linked with one on painting, concentrating on Turner and Constable, I recall, which may have been taken by "Vic" Gee, but could equally have been by JCL himself. Then there was Alan Murray on Chinese Civilization, "Rhino" Rees waxing breathily lyrical on Greek philosophy, and I'm sure that "Sam" Chaundy specialized in something on the Science/Art divide - or lack of it.

   To me, doing straight science A Levels, they made a welcome change from the normal routine, despite the dollops of pomposity. I also think it gave a valuable insight into the characters of the senior staff who taught us, transmitting many of their personal enthusiasms.

Bob Lisney (JRGS 1958-65) adds: Books I seem to remember from the period were Ivanhoe, Huckleberry Finn, Lord of The Flies, and one of Jane Austen's - probably Pride and Prejudice.

   I do recall Mr. Woodard not being impressed in my first year when the only books I seemed to read were Biggles. At that time I was unaware they were racist, sexist, homophobic... anything but a good adventure and better than The Famous Five!

   Mind you, years later Mr. Cracknell was not impressed when I was reading Dracula instead of Antony and Cleopatra - still I did achieve the Eng Lit prize!

 MedasMike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) adds: Following the thread about resurfaced school books, The Alumni already has an image of my log tables on the site.

   The only other book of mine that has survived the journey through life is this little tome shown left - "Le Petit Vocabulaire". It is a small volume, definitely pocket-sized, being 7.5x12 cm, which contains lists of 2,000 French words and verbs, pronouns, adverbs and adjectives, all set out in topics and which all had to be learnt.

   I would not be at all surprised if the ownership had been encouraged by Miss Hickmott in Year One or Two (1949/50)

   Click on the image to access a full-size version.


 John Cobley (JRGS 1958-65) has been exercising his little grey cells, book-wise...

Book1Do Alumni members remember the name of the book we used during Latin in the mid-Sixties? Mine was called An Approach to Latin, and I actually managed to get a copy from the right period through www.Abebooks.com. It's spooky to read it; I remember my fear of Mr. "Rhino" Rees grabbing hold of my hair and jerking my head about. Shown left is the cover and right, the cover page plus pages showing the First Conjunction of the verb Amo, and the Second Declension of the noun Bellum, a war. Click on any image to access a full-size version.

   I also managed to get period copies of Rhyme and Reason (our poetry anthology for use with Ron Woodard), Pattern of Islands by George Grimble and Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan (these latter two also with Ron Woodard). I have even managed to locate a for-sale copy of the Anatomical Atlas by Maude Jepson that we used to guide our zoology dissections (although this item has not yet been delivered to me). Does anybody remember "Jepson"? It was a large but thin book (about 30 pages) and a thin, floppy red cover.

   Does anyone else have memories of books assigned in English classes? What books were required for English Lit. O Levels? It would be interesting to speculate on the reasoning that went into process of choosing these books, and how they might have influenced us. Or, for that matter, anything on any JRGS books. I'd love to know the name of the French book we used.

John Cobley, San Francisco, USA, May 2004; email


Peter Wilson (JRGS 1956-63) adds Didn't we have a book called The Shorter Latin Primer... which could be changed, with a bit of effort, into "The Shortbread Eating Primer"?

 Re: French books, I think I bought my own copy of one we used for O-Level. I think it had a green cover (which should narrow it down) (Reminds me of the character on TV in Porridge, who said "I had a book once - green it were"!)

   By the way, I stood again in Guernsey's General Election on 21st April. I didn't get in but, compared to my 2000 result, greatly improved both my share of the votes and my position. This time I finished ahead of some good people, including a sitting Deputy, who lost his seat (here they are called "People's Deputies" - equivalent to MP) and also well above someone who was well above me four years ago, so I'm still moving in the right direction.

   Everyone I've spoken to since the Election is telling that I will go for it again and will get in next time - maybe - but by then I'll be 64.

   Details of my various chess-exploits next time chaps.


Brian Thorogood (JRGS 1951-56) reminiscences on Ruskin boys and clothing...

Burns Night

Brian at Burns Supper 2004.

Click to access full-size version

It was Mr. Lowe who, speaking at one morning assembly, commented on first and second formers' rather untidy wearing of their school uniform. In those days, I doubt that he would have put down to surging testosterone that, by the third year, pupils usually smartened up their appearance!

   Some boys were more old-fashioned in their apparel. I, for one, was the only boy in the school (by now in the fifth form) wearing separate shirt collars. One other 5th form boy sported "long johns" in the winter months. Trouser braces were common.

   Boys began to talk of "cut-away" collars, Windsor tie knots and gabardine draped raincoats with patch pockets. The duffle coat so beloved by students would not make its arrival as a fashion statement until 1958. "Teddy Boy" clothing was never permissible. "Off-duty" boys liked to be seen in smart three piece suits, with three button fastening.

   Cowlem was spotted one Saturday having changed his garb three times, from sports jacket, to suiting, to casual summer wear whilst riding his bicycle along Croydon High Street. Lane wore trendy baseball trainers in the gym, and a couple of pupils had slimmer, smaller, knots in their ties. Another fifth form boy got away with a double breasted blazer - without the school crested

   Hair was another item of importance to Mr. Lowe. He stopped Fuller in the corridor, telling him that his James Dean style could not be grown into a D.A. at the back. Bivand had a crew cut, and shaved his sideburns with his father's razor. Carter came in one dinner hour with crimped, heat-waxed, blond tinting.

   I have always been interested in clothing. My first made to measure suit from Alexander's in Croydon High Street cost me 16 guineas, earned from delivering Christmas post in 1955. There were many gentlemen's outfitters in Croydon - Burton's, Dunn's, John Collier, Horne Bros., etc. - all bedecked with tailor's dummies in their windows.

   I wonder if any "old boys" could help my studies of the bespoke tailoring trade proper. Small one-man businesses making suitings in the 1950s in Croydon included a Hungarian tailor who came just after the 1956 uprising and opened a service opposite the Savoy cinema. Just further along was a shop specializing in second hand quality menswear. There were no charity shops in those days for those on a small budget.

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

Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) adds: Brian's comments about clothing styles at school reminded me of one embarrassing incident when we had changed for PE and I danced out into the gym still sporting sock suspenders that I had forgotten to remove. I quickly dashed back to the changing room (the cloakroom, I seem to remember it was) to remedy the situation!

   I used to wear separate shirt collars in 1955 when I started work in London, as appearances were then of paramount importance above comfort! I suspect this did not often happen whilst at school and of course the initial uniform issued in the RAF consisted of shirts with separate collars, a situation we were most anxious to change as soon as we had completed basic training and were allowed to buy our own collar-attached uniform shirts.

Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: I recall that many of the older staff sported hard or attached collars, Mr. Pearman, Senior Chemistry Master, in particular. During my year as Laboratory Technician, I often caught a glimpse of him resting within his favorite rocking chair in the corner of the Chemistry Lab, or securing a gentle 40 winks on warm summer afternoon - having first loosened the front color stud for added comfort.


Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) adds to our cricketing memories...

Staying with the cricketing theme, my twin brother Pete Etheridge could only find this cricket report that linked Steve Kember with Streatham Cricket Club first team. As you can see, the newspaper report (left) focuses on Pete rather than Steve. I can confirm, however, that Steve was a regular member of the team, and that the team from the past still meets once a year for a re-union, which Steve has attended. Steve and his two sons are now linked with Old Mid Whitgiftians Cricket Club, Lime Meadow Avenue, Sanderstead.

   For my own part, somehow the sporting genes were not shared out evenly by my parents who produced two sets of twins.

   I suspected all along I would never be able to emulate my twin brother's sporting ability, and have remained pretty average at most sports I have tried. I've had to admire both Pete's and also my older brother Ron's cricketing abilities in the past (both coached at cricket at Whitgift Middle/Trinity school). Ron also played regularly and far longer for Streatham firsts (with Steve Kember) and also Surrey Colts with the likes of Roy Swetman who, I think, attended Davidson school.

   Just for the record, I did play one game for Streatham Firsts on the County Ground at Tonbridge (Neville Sports Ground). I was asked at the last minute to fill in for the team's fast bowler, a West Indian who let them down on the day. I did take a good catch in the deep when Streatham were fielding. When it was my turn to bat at number 7, I faced nine balls from an ex-England schoolboy fast bowler in bad light. I managed to hit one ball, which was unfortunately fielded and I did not score any runs. In the next five deliveries I was hit five times in almost exactly the same spot on my left foot by the ball which seemed unplayable on each occasion. I remember thinking: How can he be so accurate? The last ball I received I just did not see and it flattened the stumps.

   I was later to discover the bowler was Bob Woolmer, who now coaches South Africa. When he bowled for England it seemed he had reduced his bowling pace somewhat. (The match was drawn, by the way.)

   The other twins in my family were both girls, Jean and Joan, who are 70 this year. Both were good at sport. Jean was Tennis and Netball Captain at Croydon High School in about 1952. Joan still plays competition table tennis in Southampton.

   The other photograph (above right) has nothing to do with JRGS, but it does show that there was another well known Crystal Palace footballer - apart from Steve Kember - who played cricket for Streatham Cricket club. Johnny Byrne, the professional footballer shown here, also played football for England, West Ham and it seems Fulham.

I understand that both newspaper articles were published in the Croydon Advertiser some time between 1966 and 1969. Click on any image to download a larger version.

Mike Etheridge, March 2004; email.


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