JRGS News Archive Page 07
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 07 - May 2003 -

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.


 Colin Peretti (JRGS 1955-60) recalls a nickname for a favorite JRGS teacher...

Sorry I cannot assist with the school magazines, but I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy and appreciate the web site.
   I was at Ruskin from 1955-60. We had Mr. Laws, Mr. Warne, Mr. Rees and Mr. Peacock as form masters through that period. I noticed that there were some comments regarding the nickname for Mr. Peacock: "Dad" or "Pad."

   The original nickname was "Dad," and later amended slightly by his affectionate students in 4P and 5P to the more upbeat "Pad." He was a great character, and an enjoyable teacher.
   It's a pity that many of us didn't appreciate the masters quite as much while we were at Ruskin as we should have.
   I noticed the Master's List contained a good picture of Mr. Catchpole. During our stay he was known as "Ernie" for reasons unknown. (Perhaps he made a killing in premium bonds?) I believe he was named by the students who started around 1953 that were involved in the cadets; the names Woodcock (Bill), Austin (Ray) and Drain (Bert) and maybe a Forbath or two come to mind.
   Mr. Catchpole was a standout educator who mostly taught History & Geography. He taught us for at least two years, and was extremely popular even with our bunch of heathens.
   I notice that a J. Dearing wrote about his first day at school - I am sure he would have fond memories of "Ernie."
   I also noticed that there was no mention in the list of a Mr. Culcheth, who taught Geography from the room below Mr. "Pad" Peacock's. He joined prior to 1955 and left maybe two or three years later. His nickname was "Chicko," because he had a slight Canadian or American accent and, I believe, after a brand of liquid coffee that was made or chicory essence and available during and shortly after the war. How cosmopolitan we were. Perhaps J. Dearing could add some additional comments here.
   Keep up the great work.

Colin Peretti, South East Queensland, Australia, May 2003 email


 Andy Barber (JRHS 1985-87) recalls the fate of the Shirley school organ...

I was at JRGS for two years, to take my A Levels, and went to Edenham High School before that. Ruskin was undergoing great change whilst I was there, transitioning from a 14-18 High School to a College. The buildings were in poor shape and full to bursting.

   It was also a time of great change in staffing - with many of the old school teachers retiring and many new college staff starting. There were many teachers strikes at the time (as part of the national action) and I'm sure morale amongst staff wasn't high. For example, I had five different teachers for geography in the two years I was there, and a similar number for history.
   Upon reflection, my time at JRGS was a bit disappointing, as I had come from Edenham, which was still virtually new (having opened in 1977) and was exciting/buzzing.
   I'm afraid I have a poor memory for names and cannot remember any teachers names, etc. - I'll ask my parents for any old reports, etc. (I think the music teacher was called Paul Kelly.)
  I have done some research for the site about J. Bishop & Sons, who built the school organ; their address is 58 Beethoven Street, London W10. I found a reference to the Ruskin school organ on the British Institute of Organists website. The listing includes specifications of the organ - the list of the stops, etc.

   I have emailed them to update their register, sadly pointing out the organ was scrapped, and pointing out the photos of the organ on the Alumni website.

Andy Barber, May 2003 email


 Steve Kember (JRGS 1959-63) named Crystal Palace's First Team Manager...

Steve KemberCrystal Palace Football Club announced last week that former JRGS student Steve Kember has been appointed as first team manager. Steve took temporary charge of the side for the final four games of last season following Trevor Francis’ departure in April. He will be supported by Terry Bullivant as first team coach.

   As chairman Simon Jordan told the club's official website: "The focus and determination to bring the required success to this club is at its strongest since my purchase of the club three years ago. We have, after considerable investment, a squad with huge potential and it is now Steve’s job to deliver up on the investment and opportunity.”

   "I am relishing the opportunity to take the role full time," Kember says. "I firmly believe that the squad of players we have here will certainly be capable of achieving promotion next season. The chairman has already made his ambitions public and mine mirror his."

   Born in Croydon in December 1948, Steve Kember joined The Eagles as an apprentice in 1963, and has enjoyed an illustrious career with Crystal Palace Football Club, playing for the club from 1965 until 1971. After positions with Chelsea (1971-75), Leicester City (1975-78) and Vancouver Whitecaps, he returned to Selhurst Park in 1978. Following a sojourn with Vancouver Whitecaps from 1979 until 1981, Steve has held management positions at Crystal Palace in 1981, 2001 and 2003. >> Vintage JRGS image


 Peter Wilson (JRGS 1956-63) recalls his form's nickname for Mr. Dobson...

It was actually the politically incorrect nickname of "wog," which was why he didn't like it. I don't know how Mr. Dobson got that nickname - certainly not from anyone in my form. (We had him as a Biology Master for the two-year O-level biology course, which must have been while I was in 4S and 5S - September 1957 to July 1958 and Sep 1958 to Jul 1959.) He was at great pains to explain what the acronym stood for - he was of somewhat swarthy appearance - but that was all. I think I mentioned that he actually asked us to give him a different nickname, suggesting "Dobbo," but the original one stuck.
   I was known to some as "Windows Wilson" (because I wore glasses) also given to me by C. E. Smith. As when he wanted me to open/close the windows next to my desk he would call out "Windows - Wilson." In later life I was known as "Buzz" but that's another story - and not connected with JRGS.
   So - who is the "Haggis" in the photo. I still can't recall his name. [I had suggested that it might be Ian Macdonald, who also carried that nickname, but Ian offers that it was another "Haggis" - ML]
I knew two Ian Macdonalds: one at Ruskin and a chess-playing one at Trinity. What happened to Ian Ure? (I think the name was right.) As I recall he was a keen debating society member, along with John Rivers (whose sad death is mentioned on the JRGS site). John did an excellent Willy Rushton impression and Ian did an equally good Lance Percival, as I recall.
   What happened to someone called Bloodworth? I can't recall the first name; he had a rather nice sister at Coloma called Ann(e).
   What happened to Patterson? (Again, I can't recall his first name.) I think he went on to study Eastern and Slavonic Languages - wasn't a grandparent of his Russian? He went out at one time with a nice girl who lived in Edenbridge, called Ann(e) McGinty, or something like that. And who had an equally nice sister called Sheila - or did he go out with Sheila instead? Both girls were at Coloma as far as I recall.
   Does anyone know what happened to John ("Dick") Payne? He was a cross-country runner. I recall him running in the English Schools' Cross-Country Championships at Coventry one year - I think I got him to meet up with my second cousin Judith Donovan who lived in Coventry. I know "Dick" went out with Maureen Flint (who was at Coloma) for a time. I carried a torch for Maureen for many years; I believe she's now Headmistress of Coloma with the married name of Mrs. Maureen Martin. I last saw her in December 1966 at John and Jill Deverall's 21st birthday party. John was at Ruskin - a couple of years younger than myself. (He played chess for Ruskin and had one leg in a caliper, having lost the use of it as a result of childhood Polio.) He was a really nice chap with two equally nice sisters, Jill and Judy. Judy was older by two years and Jill was his twin. His parents were great too. Jill was at Coloma when I first met her. She was Maureen M. Flint's best friend at school and for a long time afterwards.
   By the way, I recently mentioned Ken Tryon (French Master in my time while I was in 4S and 5S), who had a daughter, Valerie, who became a classical concert pianist. On my latest trip to Croydon I discovered that Valerie Tryon now lives in Canada but that soon she will be giving a one-night concert at The Fairfield Halls, Croydon.

Peter Wilson, May 2003 email

For those of us who recall Peter from the early-Sixties - and in particular his prowess on the chess board - the following news story from ChessBrain might be of interest. (The picture below - showing Peter's Guernsey Flag bow-tie - was taken at the Commonwealth Chess Championships held in India during spring 1999 - ML)

ChessBrain announces that esteemed chess organizer, Peter Wilson, has joined the project

Peter WilsonThe ChessBrain project, Newbury Park, California, May 13, 2003 – The ChessBrain project announced today that chess organizer Peter Wilson has joined the project.
   Mr. Wilson served as Chairman of the World Chess Federation's (FIDE) Computer Chess Committee from 1998 to 2002, and has been a member since 1994.
   He was FIDE's official representative on the Expert Committee overseeing Kasparov's match against Deep Junior in New York this year. He has served in FIDE's Organizers' Committee since 1996 and was President of The Commonwealth Chess Association from 1998 to 2002. He is an International Arbiter and, having represented the British Isle of Guernsey in six Olympiads, an active player as well.
   "Peter Wilson brings a wealth of experience. We're delighted that the project continues to attract high caliber international players and organizers", said project founder, Carlos Justiniano.
   Peter will help to organize the project's world record attempt and to promote the project world wide through media outlets.
   "I'm delighted to join the ChessBrain team and I'm honored to be involved in the World Record attempt which I find both absorbing and exciting.", commented Peter from his base in Guernsey.

About ChessBrain: ChessBrain has become the first distributed computer to play online chess. The ChessBrain project is a non-profit Internet experiment founded in January 2002. The project is supported by hundreds of individuals who contribute their time and resources.

Elsewhere in the ChessBrain website is a short biography of Peter Wilson:
"Peter's grandfather taught him to play chess at the age of four. Peter's career as a computer professional started in 1966 with the two interests converging in recent years. He has been the Chairman of FIDE's Computer Chess Committee between 1998 and 2002 and a member since 1994. He was FIDE's Official Representative on the Expert Committee overseeing Kasparov's match against Deep Junior in New York. He also served on FIDE's Organizers' Committee since 1996 and a 4-year term (1998-2002) as President of The Commonwealth Chess Association. Having represented Guernsey in six Olympiads he's an active player, and an International Arbiter. His partner, Mary (herself an International Arbiter and chess administrator), supports him 100% in this as well as in his other chess activities."


 Phil Barber (JRHS 1990-92) recalls the Shirley site being demolished...

I was interesting to see the pictures of the Shirley site as John Ruskin Grammar School was being built. I have some similar ones of it being knocked down, as shown left. Click on any image to download a larger version, and here to see all images on a single page. (WARNING: Because these image files are large, the page takes several minutes to download - ML. Annotated images are here.)

   All of these pictures - except for The Windmill on the housing estate - were taken on the same day. (It was some time after we had moved to the old John Newnham site - and I was very definitely not supposed to be there at the time.)
   I am pretty sure that the School Organ was scrapped. During the time I was as Ruskin the Dining Room was in the original main entrance; the doors are on the right of the picture.
   I attended JRGS from September 1990 to July 1992. The majority of this time we were at the Shirley site; I think we only moved to the old John Newnham site in Spring 1992, or possibly Autumn 1991.
   I think that the old John Newnham site in Selsdon may have also been used in the mid/late Eighties as a temporary split site arrangement - I'll ask my brother, Andy, who is five years older than me, and attended at around that time.

Andy Barber comments: Yes, you're right. I started at Ruskin in September 1985. In the Lower-Sixth I think everyone was at Ruskin - including the fifth years (and maybe fourth years). They still wore a grey uniform and had assemblies, etc. And the Head wore his gown to assembly.
   It was very overcrowded and there were many temporary huts at the back [I think all the huts stayed in use until the demolition - Phil Barber]. We had to use The Hall as a temporary extension to the Sixth Form Common Room and Private study area.
   Exam tables lined the sides of the hall. Easy chairs were set out at the back (around the organ). The rest of the hall was laid out with rows of seating for assembly.

   When I was in the Upper Sixth the school was a split site. I think all of the Lower Sixth  were at John Newnham (and possibly the remaining fifth years). I remember having a concert at the John Newnham site. We performed Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms." (The trombone part was fiendish!) We had to carry a piano into the hall from the old music room. Hope this is helpful.

Phil Barber, May 2003 email and Andy Barber email

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: My general comments are that this is sad but, having spent half a life in teaching - and seen many rebuilding programmes - I cannot get truly upset. I can well imagine that the 1950s buildings were in a poor state by 1990. Some of the post-WW2 design and workmanship wasn't that great - I know because I've taught in places like it. Plus the rooms were too small.
   We need to know more about what happened to some of the important artifacts, organ, library, school log book, etc. But I can't cry over the buildings now.
   This website is a better memorial to the education and lives of generations of Alumni. Let's build on that.
[Paul also supplied captions to the individual images shown above left. Any additional comments? - ML]

Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62) adds: Sadly, I think the organ was just scrapped. I tried to persuade the Council to save it and put it in the Braithwaite Hall in Croydon (the old Reference Library) but to no avail. I explained that the organ was really the property of the parents and pupils who paid for it, but the argument fell on stony ground, not surprisingly.
   Unless anyone knows differently, I think that was its fate. What I do know is that it was in desperate need of renovation when we went to the "Demolition Re-union," and Martin Nunn tried to coax a few notes out of it!.

Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-68) adds: The War Memorial was on the left-hand wall of the Hall (to the left of the school organ) - you can see where it has been removed in the image above. I bet London Borough or Croydon has it in store somewhere.

Cliff Cummins adds: I telephoned John Ruskin College [Selsdon] and discovered that the War Memorial is safely installed and on display in the Foyer at the College. Good News.

Derek Charlwood (JRGS 1958-64) adds: The photo top-right that Paul Graham wonders where the wall belongs, it looks to me as if the photo was taken from the basement area of the cycle sheds, which was below ground level. (Anybody else remember it also being the ACF rifle range?)
   However, the other basement photo [row 3 left] certainly looks like the cycle sheds. As I remember there were two sections to it, and you went through one set of doors to get to the far end. Who else remembers doing homework using the outside window ledge of the cycle sheds, because at one end it was out of sight of the playground doors?
   The other photo that Paul cannot remember is the Dining Hall [row 3 right], which also served as the main foyer. The serving hatch doors can clearly be seen, as can the main doors to the school on the right side. To the left would have been the inner doors, behind which we had to queue along the corridor waiting for each lunch sitting. There were some stairs leading to the first floor corridor, classrooms, Art Room and Mr. "Joe" Lowe's office.
   It is funny how the memory banks get jogged back into life.


 Peter Wilson (JRGS 1956-63) poses an interesting challenge...

Following the recent success in naming a whole class, can we try to name (and then hopefully find) the following classes I was in:
     3S September 1956 - July 1957

     4S September 1957 - July 1958
     5S September 1958 - July 1959
Our form master for all three of those years was Mr. C. E. Smith (who else?).
   I think there were 36 of us in all. Apart from myself I recall: Granville "Jim" Hawkins; Ray Collins, "Spud' Tate (I think also known as "Sid," as in Sid James from "Hancock's Half Hour"); Bruce Anthony St. Julien-Bown (he was French); Tony Porter; Bob Youldon; Brian Coe; Geoff Howard; Ian McAdam; Terry "Taffy" Thomas; Tony Biddle; Tony Hills (I think he was in our class); "Terry" (?) Scott; Chris Morgan; Peter Tilling (joined the Fire Brigade); Tony Wilkins; Anthony Ansell; John Poupard; "Del" Johnson; Dave Martin (Army Cadet Corps. and  sharpshooter); ??? Fisher; Bruce Haithwaite (was he in our class?)... and that's where I get stuck at the moment.
   Worth trying to see how many we can first name everybody and then find them.

   If you are on line, or can help locate our fellow schoolmates, please email.

   And have been thinking about some of our schoolmasters. Is Biology Master Mr. Dobson still around? (Yes, I can recall his nickname too - he wanted us to call him "Dobbo"  - but that wasn't the one we gave him!) French Master Ken Tryon used to live in the same road as my parents, Falconwood Road off Featherbed Lane, Addington. He had a red-haired daughter named (I think) Jacqueline, and a famous other daughter who was older than Jacqueline. Valerie Tryon was a famous concert pianist; one of very few lady concert pianists.
   Ken had served in the RAF during the war - I think he ended up in Italy. When he came out of the service he couldn't find a job at first and went to Hollywood. He told me his brother was Max Factor's Chief Make-up Artiste in Hollywood; Max Factor did a lot of film make-up, he said. His brother gave Ken a job and trained him as a make-up artiste, a job he did for a few years before returning to teach in the UK. Ken used to do make-up for Ruskin Plays, and taught me how to do stage make-up. He later moved to the houses built just below Ruskin - Tanglewood Close, I think the estate road is called - but I don't know what became of him after that. He was a really nice chap.

Peter Wilson, May 2003 email


More Archived News/Events have been moved here...

Please send any messages and memorabilia to webmaster
©2022 JRGS Alumni Society. All Rights Reserved. Last revised: 02.01.21