JRGS News Archive Page 04
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 04 - Jan thru Mar 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.

 

 Derek Benson (JRGS 1962-67) came across an interesting item on eBay...

Title of item: RP The Windmill Mill Shirley Croydon Surrey
Seller: suncoll
Starts: 10-Mar-03 21:14:13 GMT
Ends: 17-Mar-03 21:14:13 GMT
Price: Started at £18.00
The auction is now completed.

Item Description:
ORIGINAL: Vintage sepia real photographic picture postcard, captioned, ‘The Windmill, Shirley’. Unused.
CONDITION: Minor surface marks, otherwise good condition, see scan.

Derek Benson, March 2003 email

 

 Bob Wane (JRGS 1945-53) has been rummaging through the photo album...

Great to see more recollections, etc. coming through. Soon we will be able to publish an official history of the school from its earliest days.

   Rummaging around in a old photo album, I came across these three snaps for the collection.

   Click on each image to download a larger version.

   The top one was taken on a school trip to Switzerland circa 1950/1 - you may be able to magnify it a bit for identification purposes; the lower one was taken at the school playing field at a cricket match where (reading from right-to-left) myself, "Nunc" Webster and "X" were doing the teas, again circa 1950/1. The old tin shed - sorry changing rooms - is clearly visible behind us.

   And below right is shot of your truly taken in 1952.

Bob Wane, March 2003 email

 

 Kevin O' Brien (JRGS 1962-68) delves deeper into his memories...

1967

2003

Here are a few more snippets that have surfaced from the muddy depths of my memory since I commenced my immersion in the JRGS Alumni site.
   The trouser episode is not my only memory of that first year. I also recall forging friendships through adversity. In my class was a lad called John Pester. Now he was a bit of a hard nut and quickly became quite feared. Within a very short space of time he had gathered an entourage of aspiring hard nuts and, inspired by the mock political elections the school was running, formed a Retsep Party (Pester backwards). This party's electioneering policy was more akin to Moseley's Brown shirts than Macmillan's "You've never had it so good"-type of persuasion.

   Consequently an anti-Retsep reactionary party rose up called BIP (British Independent Party) fronted by myself, Les Elvin and Duncan Phillips. Come to think of it, we were the only members for some time although our success in campaigning in opposition to Retsep, and getting away with it, eventually persuaded one or two others to risk being associated with us.

   Retsep's campaigning mainly comprised of a hard smash on the head with a text book if you were not a Retsep supporter and even sometimes if you were, just as a reminder. BIP's policy was to retaliate in like manner, like guerrilla warfare, creeping up on one of Retsep's hard-core supporters and belting them over the head before beating a hasty - often very hasty - retreat. I had the temerity to catch Pester himself once, well I happened to go into the toilet on the way to a history lesson with textbook in hand, and who should be there, pointing percy at the porcelain but Retsep himself? I couldn't resist it: I slammed the book down on his cranium and legged it. He caught me at break time but strangely only threatened dire penalties and never actually did anything. He treated me with a grudging respect from then on, and the episode did wonders for the BIP recruiting.

   Other theatres of operations of this Retsep-versus-BIP war were the classrooms themselves. Each set of protagonists would arm themselves with handfuls of chalk. One side would sit at the back of the class and the other at the front. Whenever the teacher turned his back on us to write on the board, a hail of chalk missiles would fly in either direction.

   Duncan Phillips remained a good friend right through my Ruskin years, even joining me in doing the fifth year a second time, both of us having dismally failed to excel with our O Levels the first time round. As is usually the case, on leaving Ruskin our lives went along separate roads.
   Another aspect of school life I remember well was the football games in the playground. We used to play football with hard plastic balls not much bigger than a tennis ball. The action would be fast and furious. I wasn't much good - in fact I was pretty useless - but I was quite tall and very adept at climbing up onto the science block roof to retrieve the ball when someone had hoofed it up there. So, when the respective captains had taken their pick of the talented ones, I would get onto a side for that reason if for no other. Of course this involved an element of risk as, if caught, a whacking with a slipper was the usual punishment.
   Talking of whackings, there was a strip of woodland behind the science block and a golf course the other side of that. One day a couple of mates and I slipped through the woods and made our way across the fairways and greens to escape to town for the afternoon. Unfortunately, we were seen by a golfing teacher (it may have been Mr. "Joe" Lowe himself; my memory fails me on that point) but from such a distance that he only recognised me because of my height. He couldn't be sure who the others were, although he suspected they could be selected from a trio comprising Chris Reid, Jeff Spiller or Duncan Phillips.

   The next morning I was summoned to the headmaster's office to be questioned as to the identities of the other two. On refusing to snitch I was given a double dose of caning. I needn't have suffered so much, since the cunning so-and-so had already had the other three up and two of them had confessed in order to save the innocent one from getting it too.

Memories of Mr. Cook as form master
   Another whacking tale concerns Mr. Cook, he of the splintered yardsticks and blackboard rubbers used as missiles. My first crack at a fifth year was in 5C and, yes, he was our form master. The form room was the TD Room, I recall, and he also used to take us for Maths and Physics. It so happened that the roster of lessons some days resulted in "Cooky" having us for the last lesson. When that was the case, shortly before the home bell went his gaze would be likely to alight on yours truly and his voice would ring out, "O'Brien! Have I whacked you today?"

   At this point I'd be counting my options: if he had and I said "Yes," he would ask me what it was for and how many whacks he'd given me? Then, if he thought the punishment sufficient, I would be excused but he would be just as likely to decide that another couple would be in order, If he hadn't and I said "Yes," and recited the incident and punishment from another recent occasion, I might get away with it, and then again I might not and a whacking would ensue. If I said "No," he hadn't, I might escape but he might give me some anyway on the basis that I would have been bound to have done something that day that would have warranted it had I been caught.

   Strangely, I can honestly say that I was never really hurt. It was always reasonably good-humoured and it did me no harm whatsoever. In fact, I gained much in respect from my fellow pupils for taking the punishments without whinging. What it all taught me was that rules were there for good reasons and one knew the penalties for breaking them. Accepting the penalty with good grace was a logical next step. Moreover, I did not go home and bleat to my parents. I would only have got punished again - parents in those days supported the school.
   During the summer term of one of my fifth-year sojourns -  I cannot recall which; maybe someone can enlighten me - we were allowed a choice of sports that included tennis. An arrangement with a private club up a turning off Upper Addiscombe Road (Sandilands?) allowed us access to their facilities. So, once a week bus tickets would be issued and the Master concerned, whose identity eludes me (probably just as well), would lead us off to this club. Once there he would ensure that we were all changed and on court belting balls at each other. After 10 minutes or so he would disappear. At first he would reappear 15 minutes or so before lunchtime and escort us back to school but, after a couple of weeks, he would instruct us to responsibly make our way back on our own. He would appear back at school that afternoon.

   Much speculation occurred as to where he went, with the favourite theory being that he was conducting an affair with a bird in town. Regardless, as the pattern emerged some of us chose to take advantage of this unexpected freedom. As soon as he had gone we would change back into our trousers and shirts and avail ourselves of some of the other facilities the club offered, such as the snooker table. The club caretaker soon put a stop to that though, so we took to visiting the Cricketers pub, which was a fairly short walk away and where we would have fun pretending to be older than we were, drinking brown and light ales, smoking cigarettes and playing darts for an hour or so before returning, in a responsible manner of course, to school for afternoon lessons.

  The landlord was amenable - he must have known we were underage - but he had very little other trade and, as we behaved in a manner that brought no discredit on ourselves, the school or the pub, he tolerated our presence, even greeting us cheerily as our visits became a regular occurrence. It couldn't last however. One lunchtime a Master was also in the pub's saloon bar, and caught a glimpse of us in the public bar when he ordered his ploughman's. So round he came. "And just what do you boys think you're doing!" he demanded. "Err, playing darts, Sir," was the reply. "Don't be insolent boy, get back to school this instant!" Oddly, I cannot recall any additional repercussions but we curtailed our visits to the pub regardless. Still, it was fun while it lasted.
   As you will probably have guessed, academic achievement eluded me; my reports always included the immortal phrase "Could do better." Though it was not me of whom J. Lowe famously wrote, "If ignorance is bliss your son is assured of contentment in life." I recall the actual recipient of those words being highly amused, though he never relayed his parents' reaction. I recently read the 1965 magazine on the website. It quotes John Ruskin as observing that education is not solely about academic achievement. Thus it was for me, that although leaving Ruskin with a very meagre haul of O Levels, the school had succeeded in helping to formulate the values and principles by which I have attempted to conduct my life with integrity ever since. For that I offer my heartfelt thanks to all those Staff and fellow pupils who shared those times with me. As I said earlier, it was fun while it lasted.

John Byford comments: Fascinating. You may be interested to know that John Pester is alive and well and living in Broome, Western Australia. Like me, John is a big Crystal Palace supporter and posts regularly on the supporters BBS. He and I have shared a few exchanges (mostly about Mr. "Smut" Smith) in respect of John Ruskin.

Kevin O'Brien, March 2003 email

 

 Kevin O' Brien (JRGS 1962-68) recalls his humble origins...

Kevin O' Brien in school uniformI tried loads of jobs in the first four years after leaving Ruskin, without finding my niche. I moved to Ashford in 1972 to run my parent's shop while they were recovering from injuries sustained in a car crash. I never returned to Croydon, because the house I lived in there was compulsorily purchased by the Council in my absence. So I remained in Ashford and then went to college to do some A Levels.

   Whilst waiting for the results in the Summer of 1974 I answered an ad for a clerk at a railway works. Similar sort of place to that at Selhurst. Well, I got the job and, 25 years later, having worked my way through various departments and up through the grades, I was made redundant. Since then I have worked on a consultancy basis, still within the railway industry so far.

   On a personal basis, I am on my second marriage, have a son of 13 years and four grown up step-children who have provided the sum of five grandchildren, with another on the way. I still live in Ashford and still support Crystal Palace. Surprisingly, there is a fairly large contingent of Palace fans down here.
   So there you are. It is great to see all the old names cropping up; please keep it up.
   As an afterthought, I attach a picture of yours truly age 11 taken the day before my first day at Ruskin in September 1962. Click on the image left to download a larger version.
   My parents had my long trousers made-to-measure at some expense because I was so skinny at the waist and so long in the leg; off-the-shelf ones would not fit. Unfortunately, I only had them for the first day because I got ambushed by some second years at first break, and tore a hole in the knee. My parents were extremely cross, and I had to go back into shorts as punishment for not taking care of them.
   A couple of years ago I visited John Ruskin's house near Coniston Water in the Lake District. In one of the upstairs rooms there was a picture of a house in Norwood where he was supposed to have lived and a reference to the school. When I drew my wife's attention to this the only other person in the room asked me if I knew the school, to which I replied in the positive of course. It turned out that he had been a teacher at the school, commencing September 1968 missing me by three months since I left in June 1968. Regardless, there were still many characters familiar to both of us, so we had a short but amusing half-hour conversation.

Kevin O'Brien, February 2003 email

 

  Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-68) recalls a family connection...

ProPatria 1946My Dad (Brian) also attended the school about 1932-37 [then at Scarbrook Road, and a Central School; Grammar School status was granted in 1945 when it moved to Tamworth Road - ML.] A number of times he took me, together with my brother Trevor (JRGS 1966-72) into the Main Hall of Upper Shirley Road to look at the War Memorial up on the wall on the left side looking at the organ. He said that the names there were some of his class mates. I recall there were about a dozen names. I wonder what happened to it on demolition, and who were those names?
   But this War Memorial was not relocated at the "new" John Ruskin College in Selsdon. I was the MD of the contractor (Mansell of Croydon) that converted the old John Newnham School to JR Sixth Form College back in about 1988 - I remember the project, but there was no organ nor war memorial relocated.

   However I do remember going inside the Upper Shirley Road School several times as it was being demolished. One day... pouring with rain... demolition strip out everywhere, and water running down the stairs because some of the roof was missing. And I remember the pile of debris in the main hall.

   Sadly, at the time that I did not record the event - I think I just thought so detached from the place. Only in recent years has the pull of the old place ever felt worth recalling - strange indeed. (Courtney Cornish - JRGS left 1966 - loved the place so much he bought one of the new houses and, as far as I know, is still there. I notice he is four away from me on 1964 photo.)

Roger Adcock, February 2003 email.

Mel Lambert adds: See the 1947 School Magazine for a double-page spread - "Pro Patria" - that lists the names of nearly 70 JRGS pupils who made the supreme sacrifice in World War Two.

 

 Jim Hawkins (JRGS 1954-61) recalls a school production of "Macbeth"...

December 1960 school playIt's been fascinating looking at the photographs and school magazines on the JRGS web site. I left in 1961 to go to be one of the first students at Sussex University. Particularly amusing was the school mag with a photograph of me as probably the shortest Macbeth in the history of drama. [See image left and the April 1961 School Magazine, pages 20, 21 and 35.]

   Barrie Sturt-Penrose did his best to kill me in a sword fight because he wanted the part. Barrie can be seen about five along from the lady with fair hair in the lower right of the school photo of 1960. I'm the surly-looking guy two to his right with the prefect's badge sitting to the right of Ivor Aylesbury, also wearing a prefects' badge.

   I've only just discovered that Ivor was in a band called The Silkies that reached the Top 30 in 1965. I can never hear the folk song "Freight Train" without thinking of Ivor and the two of us busking in Paris. It's a shame more of us can't be in touch.

   Some of my favourite stories from the late Fifties and early Sixties are:

Putting the tuck shop shed on the roof.

A CND sit down demonstration in the playground when the Army recruitment people came to the school. (Followed not much later by Barry Penrose, me, and several others being arrested outside the MOD - a bit of classic Penrose before this when he flagged down a taxi with his umbrella - the rest of us would have walked!)
Tony Crowe (wonderful teacher) playing "I Do Love To Be Beside The Seaside" on the organ, and a furious Mr. "Spike" Hancock storming to stop this unexpected virtuoso display of frivolity.
The Cadet squad were widely loathed by a lot of us, and it eventually became a battle between the boys in khaki and the revolutionary cadres. Six-inch nails make a bit of a joke of a rifle if you hammer them down the spout. One glorious sunny lunchtime on Shirley Hills the cadets were on exercise. We ambushed six of them, tied them up, and simulated their radio traffic for a long time. For all I know, they're still there.
Flooding the below-ground level bike sheds, but I assume that happened too often to be memorable.
Oh, and of course the pub at lunchtime, where the unwritten rules were that staff went into the lounge bar and boys of an appropriate age (cough) went into the public bar at the back.

Jim Hawkins, February 2003 email.

Mel Lambert adds: Also check out the July 1960 JRGS school magazine, pages 10 and 11, for an article by Jim about the Youth Theatre - now the National Youth Theatre - tour of Holland with "Hamlet" during Easter of that year, and Paris in late-May.

 

 Bob Wane (JRGS 1945-53) offers more memories from the early Fifties...

Being an all-boys school, there were very few females: the school secretary, a Miss Fitt who taught French and only lasted about a year, and a Miss Hickmott. The masters were on the whole a good bunch and some of whom had certain characteristics that we boys quickly latched onto. Some of them stand out in my mind even to this day.
   For example, the headmaster after Mr. McCloud was Mr. J C Lowe, who had a favourite phrase, which was: "I really do feel...."  - he used it frequently.
   Mr. Alexander, who taught Maths, was known as "Brassa**e" from the way he walked and sat around.
   Mr. Pearson, who taught Chemistry, brought a whole new meaning to the nature of molecules and atoms by the rapid throwing of small pieces of coloured chalk at any pupil who was not paying attention. However, we got our own back by blowing down the bunsen burner attachment tubes, the air pocket eventually reaching the teacher's work bench and extinguishing the burner flame - impossible to tell who did it!
   Mr. Whellock, who taught Biology and bred mice in the lab, was fond of doing aptitude tests; what would be called today psychometric tests. What he did with the results I do not know.
   Mr. Chaundy, who taught Physics, used his fountain pen to explain the mysteries of electro-magnetism, Maxwell's law etc.
   Croydon after the war was still a very agreeable town - notwithstanding the bomb sites which littered the area. It still retained some very fine shops and departmental stores (Kennards, Grants and Alders) but the one shop that was an absolutely cracking place was Wilson's tearooms next to Kennards. It was a mock Tudor mansion in appearance and inside on three floors were many small, cozy eating areas all in lovely dark wood; perfect for assignations with ladies from Old Palace after school. The cream cakes were scrumptious. But the best bit was the bakery in a small alley off Drummond Road, where you could buy 3d and 6d bags of the off cuts from the making of the cream cakes that were sold in the shop. They were wicked! That shop was priceless and, to Croydon's shame, it was demolished to make way for the development of the concrete jungle that now exists;
   Kennards had a walkway through the store from Frith Street to the main road that housed their pet shop and garden items: always a treat to wander through there. The lower school, however, were forbidden to enter the three main departmental stores of the time - that was the privilege of prefects, who had to ensure that none of the lower school actually were within.
   In Crown Hill were the halls where our speech days used to be held and wherein the school choir had to sing. I remember well the rendition of "Nunc Nobis Domine" that was given one year.
   Whilst we were nor forbidden to go out at lunchtime, most of us eventually made our way to Surrey Street market, which was a feast of sights and smells so soon after the war. The overriding aroma was from the brewery, however, situated behind Grants, when the smell of hops and other materials was very pungent. One stall that sold only cauliflowers was manned by a Mark White, a well known pugilist in his day.
   Culturally, the school organised visits to the cinema to see "Henry V" when it was on the curriculum, social dancing with the girls at Old Palace for the upper school, and trips to Switzerland. The two that I was fortunate to go on were firstly to Montreux and then to Aeschi - good value at £20 for a week all in.
   Those were the days!

Bob Wane, February 2002 email.

Dudley Wolf (JRGS 1943-47) responds: I take issue with Bob Wane about Miss Fitt. She turned up, I believe, around 1946/7 when I was in the sixth form. She was very young and attractive - and not in any way prepared to control a class full of hormone-driven adolescents. The result was chaos in class - and the rapid disappearance of Miss Fitt. My recollection is that she lasted about two weeks, at least with us! And she taught us Latin, not French. (Maybe, because of her inability to control us, she was moved to get a grip on the younger boys?) Being a sensitive chap, I felt desperately sorry for this obviously newly qualified teacher.

Bob Wane replies: Yes, Miss Fitt did not last very long; she was young and attractive to testosterone-filled young boys! My recollection is that she was to teach us French and that she lasted a little longer than two weeks. Otherwise, I agree she was not able to control a class of boys!
   So we basically agree in principle, but 50 years is a long time.

Mike Marsh adds: If we're talking about females at school, then there may not be too much to add since the Miss Fitt (misfit?) had left well before I started in 1949. As far as I remember, there were two ladies in school then. One was Mrs. Garwood, the secretary and general matron; it was she who came on the school trip to Switzerland in about 1953 or so. (There are other reports of Mrs. Garwood on this site.) The other female already mentioned by whom I was taught was Miss. Hickmott. The only memorable thing about her was that she tended to sit on the front desk whilst teaching her lesson
which gave a view, to those sitting in the middle row at least, of a pair of natty red drawers!! I believe Miss. Hickmott went on from Ruskin to Ashburton School.

1949 schoool trip
1949 schoool trip

I attach a couple of pictures taken the school trip to Switzerland. One shows Mrs. Garwood - honestly - and the other is Mr. "Smut" Smith and a guy called Hopker. (If there was a third member of staff with us on the trip, I forget who it was.)

   Click on the image left-upper or -lower to download a larger version.

   This, you understand, was before I became a "school photographer!" I don't think any prizes would be awarded for these two pictures, so how I came eventually to take that position I will never know, certainly not on the merits of these examples!

   I can now see that out of the 32 pictures I still have of this school trip, apart from a couple of shots of some girls from another school, none of them have anybody in at all. Just scenes.

 

 Roger Hall (JRGS 1959-64) recalls school in the Sixties and his career with BT...

Roger Hall 2002Like many Alumni, I lived far away from JRGS and had little social contact with the people living in Shirley. After Ruskin I went to UWIST in Cardiff, reading Industrial Maths. But I didn't do much work (too much drink and playing Bridge) and failed all my exams after 2.5 years. So, having got zero in my computing exam, I then joined BT and spent the next 32 years in the IT department. I took early retirement last March [2001] and am enjoying every moment of my freedom. I was briefly married in the Seventies and am now living in South Wales near Caerphilly with Di, my partner for 16 years. I'm now landscaping my garden, travelling, walking and drinking red wine.

   After UWIST I came back to London and shared a semi-derelict house in Islington with Grant Harrison and Jean, who became his wife. I lost contact with them when I moved to Wales but, through a chance conversation with a colleague at a workshop, re-established contact after 27 years.

   Grant lives in a super house in Norfolk with a couple of acres. I went to his 50th birthday bash, and it was as if (apart from waist and hairlines and appearance), we had never been apart.

   Martin, my brother-in-law, was briefly on the teaching staff at JRGS when we were in the Fifth/Sixth form. So I got an interesting insight into the vagaries of our teachers. He had little respect for many of them, regarding people like [name withheld] as psychotic. It seemed that Mr. "Wally" Cracknell ran the school. Mr. "Joe" Lowe was as "icy"' with them as with us. Like many Alumni, I thought that Mr. Murray was excellent - one of this planet's nice people.
   I have lived in South Wales for nearly 30 years and so I would now have more empathy with "Miserreece" - very much a product of his background. By the way, Mr. Maggs lost his arm in the attempt to reach Arnhem (XX Corps?). He wasn't a parachutist in Arnhem itself, but was injured by a shell blast.
   Does anybody remember Ford the lab assistant limiting Mr. Cook to just three meter rulers per lesson? So, after he had broken two, we knew we were safe!
   Unless I am away on holiday, I plan to attend the next re-union. Hope to see you there.

Roger Hall, Caerphilly, February 2003 email

 

 David Wheeler (JRGS 1945-53) has unearthed a 1950 class photograph...

JRGS 1950 Class VSSince I have now acquired a scanner, I have been successful in e-mailing a class photograph of Form VS, taken in 1950 at the Tamworth Road site, to a couple of old classmates that I have been in contact with.
   Unfortunately, between the three of us we have been unable to identify several of the classmates.
   Can anybody help with the final identification? Click on the image left to download a larger version.
David Wheeler, February 2003 email

 

 Bob Wane (JRGS 1945-53) recalls his first day at Tamworth Road...

I arrived at John Ruskin in September 1945 from Norbury Manor Junior School by way of a 16/18 tram to West Croydon (fare 1d). The walk down Tamworth Road, past the sweets warehouse of Barlowe & Parker (later to have an infamous connection in respect of the murder of P.C. Miles) revealed a somewhat sombre building with a high brick wall surrounding the playground with lavatories on the far side. On the opposite corner in Tamworth Road was the tuck shop. Just inside from the entrance gate were the steps from which the whistle was blown at 08:50 and 13:50 to announce start of school. We had to line up by form and then march to our classroom.
   The school had about 330 pupils, with an intake of about 60 each year. We were allocated to one of four houses: Alpha (red), Beta (blue), Gamma (yellow) and Delta (green) and given the appropriate sash to wear at sports events.

   We were divided into forms 1A and 1B on intake and progressed through forms 2 and 3 until the fourth form, where we had to choose whether we were going into the Arts i.e. 4A or the Sciences i.e. 4S. And then onto 5A and 5S and maybe Lower and Upper 6. Each form had a form master who was responsible for marking the register, giving out the timetable and so on.
   The school timetable revolved around four by 40-minute sessions in the morning with a 10-minute break at 10:50 and ending at 12:20 and resuming at 13:50 for another three sessions of 40-minutes, ending at 16:00 with a 10-minute break at 15:10.
   School lunch was taken in the gym (price 2d) and after lunch we raided the tuck shop across the road. Sweets, which were on ration (and were still on ration until 1950) could be bought, as well as a coloured flavoured drink, penny plain or two-pence fizzy; made by way of a cylinder of carbon dioxide which was used to give the bubbles!
   After the marking of the register, we all went to the Hall on the first floor for morning assembly, which was a simple daily service and notices. Classes commenced at 09:30.
   For most of the lessons, teachers came to our form room, on arrival of which we all had to stand up. There, we each had a desk (with inkwells and ink!), in which we could keep everything we needed: textbooks, writing books, etc,, only taking home what was needed for that day's homework in our satchels.

   Classes mSchool capoved round only for woodwork, art, gym, chemistry, physics and biology. Physics lessons were taken up on the top floor, whilst Chemistry and Biology were taken in the prefabricated Biology and Chemistry labs in the back playground, which also houses the bike sheds. [See ground-floor graphic for more details.]
   Sports activities were football in the winter, cricket and athletics in the summer. These took place at Duppas Hill sports ground across the road from Waddon Station. We walked there in file, to and from the school, along with all-out kit. The sports ground had a small changing room on the field with had a corrugated tin roof - pretty primitive, no showers or that sort of thing. We went home dirty! However, we did produce an athletics champion or two in the Inter Schools events - a John Crumplin comes to mind in the running events. Shown left is my old prefect's cap.

Bob Wane, February 2003 email

Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55), a contemporary of Bob Wane, writes: Thanks for the pictures of the old school, possibly looking a little less sombre than in the fifties! The school cap would have been that of a prefect from his later years. Caps were plain black for ordinary mortals; the red with gold braid was for Prefects, I'm sure. Bob and I would have been at school together for four of his eight years, as I joined in 1949, and presumably was four years younger than he. Bob has a good memory of detail too, I'm quite sure I couldn't remember things like the cost of school dinners of times of lessons all that time ago.

 

 Derek Charlwood (JRGS 1958-64) recognises a face from 1961 school play photo...

School PlayCongratulations on the website. I have been looking at the 1960 and 1962 school photos, and finding myself, and also amazingly finding so many names coming flooding back. I even found my name in a speech day programme, with my one O-Level against my name. It was funny how I had to leave school before I started studying!

   With reference to the photo of the school play in 1961, I think the "chauffeur" in the uniform is a boy called Streeter, nickname "Fred," real first name not remembered.

   My memory tells me that the play was directed by Mr. "Fred" Field, and it involved a car. The wheels had to go round, and it had to breakdown. It was my job, as a very small lad for my age, to hide behind the car and operate the wheels by a pulley system, and squirt coloured water through a pump, to simulate the breakdown. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the play.

   I used to get involved with the backstage work on the plays, because it was a good way out of lessons. Several of us use to walk around on the bars above the stage changing lights and hanging cloths etc. I remember once being given a lesson by Mr. Peacock on the correct way to sweep a stage: "You push it boy, not pull it!" Some of my fondest memories of Ruskin involve the stage (in fact, anything that wasn't work!)
   I joined JRGS in 1958, from Gilbert Scott, entering in 1H with Mr. "Spike" Hancock in the Music Room. I can't remember what class I was in the second year, but it was then 3M, with Mr. "Spud" Murphy, 4S with Mr. "Smut" Smith. I was kept down a year - something done fairly frequently if it was thought that you would disgrace the school with poor O-Level results, then 4T and 5T with Mr. Thomas in the technical drawing room.

Derek Charlwood; January 2003.

Mel Lambert comments: Looking through the December 1961 school magazine, I came across on page 20 a report on the Junior Dramatic Society's March performance of "Dr. Knock," by Jules Romains. There is no mention of Streeter, but the other cast included David Tidd, Robert Hoffman, Richard Hayward, David Pearce, John Walker, John Cobley, Richard Phillips, John Turner, Geoffrey Nicholson and John George.

 

 Neil Henderson (JRGS 1964-71) realizes that it is indeed a very small world...

Many thanks for putting the JRGS Alumni website together. I only came upon it recently following a phone call from a friend's father who had looked on Google.com to see if there was anything about the school. I am not a great user of the WWW but was very pleased with what I found on the site.
   I particularly enjoyed the photographs; the 1964 and 1967 copies, being enlarged, were so much easier to see on the computer than on the original pictures. I also have the 1970 photo if you're interested.
   Something else that you may like to include on the site are my newspaper cuttings from The Times on 1st April, 1971 when a group of us in the Upper Sixth chipped in to place a couple of ads, one in the property columns to advertise the windmill for sale with staff and a grounds man (i.e. "Perce," the caretaker), giving the school's phone number, and a second ad in the personal columns wishing all the staff a happy April Fools Day. With those clippings is the one from the Croydon Advertiser a few days later padding out the story.
   The friend's father who pointed me in the right direction - Bernard W. Mound - attended the school from September 1937 to July 1942. He remembers Mr. Cracknell being a teacher then. His son was at the school from September 1966 to June 1973, while I was there from September 1964 to June 1971, thus getting school photos taken in my first, fourth and seventh year. We both also had Mr. Cracknell as a teacher and, of course by then, a deputy headmaster.
   As well as the evacuation to Shoreham, Bernard remembers another to Exmouth though, perhaps, only by a small group. Apparently, during the air raids the school was split into groups to be accommodated in various of the rear garden shelters of the houses backing on to the site, presumably in Waddon New Road. Subsequently, Bernard was also evacuated to Taunton but that was just a family thing, not arranged through the school. He started work before taking his school-leaving certificate but bumped into his old headmaster, Mr. McLeod, one day who expressed surprise at his being taken out of school so soon and invited him to return to the school to sit the final exam. Bernard, therefore, had to catch up on the syllabus outside his work hours and went on to pass his finals with good results.
   Bernard's older son, a friend who I see on a regular basis, is Richard L. Mound. We've known each other since about the age of seven or eight as near neighbours and we both went to Gilbert Scott Primary School. Although only 14 months different in age we are, of course, two school years apart. Speaking to him on the 'phone earlier, we both remember Trevor Neckles, in my case probably because, as Trevor said himself on the website, he was always getting into trouble. Richard, however, was in the same school year and intends now to e-mail Trevor sometime.
   Looking at the '64 and '67 photos I was able to remember quite a lot of names; in some cases only surnames but in others the first name too. Some first names were a little hazy in the memory. I spotted Dave Anderson and only subsequently found his piece on the website about the windmill sale. I can confirm that it was 1971; I have not only the Croydon Advertiser column but The Times entries as well. At the time I mounted all the cuttings on to a background foolscap (appropriately!!) sheet and covered it in clear sticky-back plastic (perhaps inspired by watching too many Blue Peter programmes!). Consequently they have remained in good condition, although where I have drawn boxes around the relevant bits with a fine felt tip pen the colour has bled a little.
   As Richard has a scanner he should be able to do the necessary with the newspaper clippings regarding the April Fools joke and the 1970 school photograph. He thinks he may find some old magazine copies for the site.
   I've also seen Norman High's piece on the website and realised when I got to the bottom of the article that he was the uncle of Deryck and Martyn High. Deryck and I were in the same class and friends during our school years but have lost touch since. I see Norman has an e-mail address so intend to try making contact through him.
   I'm interested too in Mike Etheridge's old drawings. I'll look forward to seeing some more in due course. I only got to know him at Taberner House; I was in the Architects' Department while he was an electrical engineer. I went to work there after A-levels (I wasn't keen to go to university) as a trainee architectural technician and worked my way up to senior architectural technician but after 22½ years our section was privatised. Then 19 months further on I was one of four to be made redundant. That was seven years ago when I was 42 and I haven't worked since! My last day of work was 24 years to the day from when I started.
   Recently, I was talking to older neighbours and remembered, as I was discussing the Ruskin website, that Lou Soester himself was a Ruskin pupil from 1938 to 1943. He, like Richard's father, remembers the evacuation to Shoreham for the first few months of the war. He also mentioned two other ex-Ruskinites of that era, a Fred Draper and Derek Bond (both still alive). No doubt I can get some further snippets of information from Lou, but he is not into computing himself.
   I was glad to see that Andrew Simmons had been in contact from New Zealand. That may well have come about from me telling his older brother, Paul (in the UK), also ex-Ruskin, of the website and asking him to let Andrew know too. Now I have Andrew's e-mail address I must get in touch. My mother sees their mother who, unfortunately, since a stroke about four years ago, has lost her power of speech. She did, however, show my mum a brochure about Paul's business; from that I got in touch with him at work.

Neil Henderson, January 2003 email


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