- Page 04 - Jan thru Mar 2003 -
- Page 04 - Jan thru Mar 2003 -
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
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...|
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.
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.
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
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
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
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...|
I 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.
Kevin O'Brien, February 2003 email
|Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-68) recalls a family connection...|
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?
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.
|Jim Hawkins (JRGS 1954-61) recalls a school production of "Macbeth"...|
It'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!)
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.
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!
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
|Roger Hall (JRGS 1959-64) recalls school in the Sixties and his career with BT...|
Like 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  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
Roger Hall, Caerphilly, February 2003 email
|David Wheeler (JRGS 1945-53) has unearthed a 1950 class photograph...|
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.
|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.
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.
Classes moved 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
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...|
Congratulations 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!)
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.
Neil Henderson, January 2003 email
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