JRGS News Archive Page 03
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 03 - Aug thru Dec 2002 -

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.

 

 Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62) has been raiding his photo album again...

Firstly, my apologies for not being at the London reunion in late November. Unfortunately, my mother has been unwell and I have been in Herefordshire for some time.
   I have been doing some clearing up at home and have come across some more  photos that may be of interest. Click on any thumbnail to download a larger version.

CSA

Woodard&Powis

School Play

Demolition re-union

Shirley corridor

A photo about 1960 of myself, John Carter and another boy during Sports Day at Croydon Arena.

Photo of Mr. Woodard scrutinising long jump at same venue. The jumper
is Derek Powis.

A 1961 picture of a School Play cast.
I recognise a few faces: Bob
Hoffman, Richard Hayward
... John Cobley (?)

A photo of me, John Carter and David Short at the demolition re-union held during the early-Nineties

A photo of one of the Shirley Road corridors showing those lockers.

 

 Andrew Simmons (JRGS 1965-71) recalls his school days with affection...

I've been browsing the Ruskin site with interest. I was there from 1965, starting in 1N, and went on to study physics at Cambridge, ending up with a PhD. I'm now living in Auckland, New Zealand, and earn a living in the IT industry.
   I remember many of the teachers mentioned on the site. I was taught physics by Messrs Cook and Preddy - I believe it was Mr. Cook who used to administer the rank of lance-corporal, corporal, or sergeant to wrong-doers using a chalked cane. Mr. Smith taught maths up to O-Level, and Messrs Pearce and later Wilkinson after that.
   I still have a badly drawn and libelous comic strip I did about a character called "Smutman". It also features a chain-smoking hunchback called "Rhino", and characters called "Wal" and "Yoz". The latter is based on J. C. Lowe MA, and prevails over the enemy by boring them into submission with interminable stories.
   I should probably point out in fairness to Mr. "Smuts" Smith that I remember him with considerable respect, and regard him as one of the better teachers I had. Although, as other people have pointed out, he was initially frightening, once he had established dominance over the class he relaxed and would even crack the odd joke. I'm also impressed that Mr. Smith managed to maintain complete control without ever once that I saw striking anyone - his favoured punishment was to make one write a list of ten-letter words. And I still occasionally find it useful to know that "O" is the 15th letter of the alphabet, a fact that he would invariably point out if one used it to name the number zero.
   On the topic of well-known, if not famous, old boys, wasn't the actor Mick Ford at Ruskin? I seem to remember him in school performances of "Waiting for Godot" and "The Good Woman of Szechuan", and he pops up on the TV every few years - I last saw him in something starring Ardal O' Hanlon.
   Regarding other memorabilia, I'll see what I can dig out. My parents kept a few things, including the comic and my school reports, and I retrieved them after my father died a couple of years ago. [Several of the items will appear here in the near future - ML.]
   I'm a bit hazy on dates at JRGS, but I know that I started in Cambridge in 1972. I vaguely recall doing one term of the Third-year Sixth, which must have been in late 1971, probably so that I could study for the Cambridge scholarship exam, and then worked as a lab assistant at Fairchildes School in New Addington for the early part of 1972 - something of a culture shock for a sheltered young lad after Ruskin, but very enjoyable. (I recall finding it particularly disconcerting that a 14-year old girl would greet a teacher with: "Hello Sir, do you still love me?")
   Our family actually lived in Farnborough Avenue, off Selsdon Park Road, and backing on to what was John Newnham school, and is now John Ruskin Sixth Form college. I'm not sure how the job at Fairchildes came about. The caretaker there was the father of another Ruskin contemporary, Alan Kimber, who I recall as the most sarcastic person in the world - if you're familiar with "Father Ted", he was probably even worse than Father Jessop, the most sarcastic priest in Ireland.
   I did 9 O-Levels and four A-Levels (Physics, Chemistry, Pure Maths and Applied Maths) plus one S-Level in Pure Maths. There were actually four of us who went to Cambridge that year - myself, Richard Lacey, who was the head boy, and ended up in the air force, Dave Nettleton, who ended up working for the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, and Phil Tidd, who I completely lost track of.
   Of the people on your site, I can remember Trevor Neckles, who was legendary for getting into trouble, and was almost certainly, as he says, one of the most-caned pupils.
   As I was such a goody, goody swot, I don't have many recollections of the prefects of my time. The only one I can remember by name was called Keach, and I really only remember him because his younger sister Alison was a friend of my contemporary Dave Nettleton. I was once made to write an essay on ballet dancing by one prefect whose name I forget - the offence was listed in the book as "Frolicking in the quad". I recall a rumour that a favourite punishment was to make the offender stand on a table in the prefects' room, and force him to  dance by striking at his feet with a coke bottle. Perhaps other Alumni can confirm or deny.

Andrew Simmons, December 2002 email

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) comments: When you joined JRGS in 1965, I would have been a prefect in the Upper Sixth. We can still remember certain prefects from our own time of joining the school. At the time they seemed terribly important, almost minor deities! But then, it was the late 1950s, and I expect times changed. Interesting that you don't recall any prefects if your first year. That chimes with my own feeling that the nature of the prefects, and in a way the whole hierarchical structure of the school, subtly relaxed between 1959 when we joined and the mid-60s when we left. In 1959 the Head Boy seemed a terribly important person. (And I had a reasonably successful academic career and kept my nose out of trouble too.) As Head Boy myself during Sept to Dec 196, I feel faintly relived that you DON'T remember me! Roger Searle was Head Boy after me until July 1966.
   The name Keach rings a bell, but I'm sure he was in the year below Mel and I.
   As for prefect punishments, I recall the stories (like the one you mentioned), but I can honestly say that I don't remember that sort of activity. Maybe I've blanked it out and need recall therapy!

ML add: I also recall Mr. Smith with mixed emotions. He was stern, without a doubt, but could be kind and considerate, as Andrew stresses.
   I did run foul of him in, I think, the Spring of 1963, just before a mock O-Level. I had just thrown a snowball at a pal in the back quadrangle, close to the Mill, when I was routed to the spot by a stentorian: "You boys. Stand exactly where you are!" About half a dozen of us were then paraded up to the 5S classroom, lectured on the dangers of throwing snowballs and ordered to write out 1,000 10-letter words by the next morning. I got around 800 words finished (using a dictionary) before my parents packed me off to bed. (That I had a French mock the next morning, and hadn't revised very much, also had me mildly panicked.) Mr. Smith just looked at the pile of pages containing my handiwork and dismissed me without counting them. But I never threw another snowball on the school grounds.

 

 JRGS Alumni Meeting in Victoria, London

JRGS Alumni 1102

Six ex-JRGS pupils met on Saturday, November 23, 2002, at Pizza Express Restaurant, Victoria, London.

Left to right: Paul Graham, Julie Graham, Mel Lambert, Jim Thomas, Mike Marsh, Ian Macdonald, John Byford and Merelyn Davis.

Click on the image to download a larger version.

 

 Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-67) recalls Mr. Lowe's School Rules...
New Boy RulesMr SmithMr Graham







Woodwork Class

I have put other photos on www.friendsreunited.com site but you might like these too for the excellent and growing Alumni web pages. Cliff Cummins lives near me in Oxted, Surrey, and has a super restored vintage car he drives around the town on high days and holidays.

   The image left is the School Rules that my Dad was sent to sign before Mr. "Joe" Lowe allowed anyone to start.

   The image centre is a photo taken in Easter 1967 of Form 5G with Mr. Smith preparing the board for pre-O-Level lessons. The heads of Minter (left) & Ashley (right) can also be seen.
   The image right is a photo of Mr. Graham marking the 5G register during Easter 1967 in his first-floor classroom. (Certainly Trevor Orchard seems to be preparing for a whacking!)

   The image lower left - probably of less interest - is a photo taken inside the Woodwork Class workshop. >>more images

Roger Adcock November 2002 email

 

 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) recalls a famous Alumnus...

Ralph McTell p16In the week of the sad death of Lonnie Donegan, what better way to celebrate the music of our generation than to publicize JRGS' own great musician: Ralph May, better known as Ralph McTell? I have just finished Streets of London - The Official Biography of Ralph McTell, by Chris Hockenhull, published by Northdown Publishing, UK. I would recommend it but, better still, go and see him live if you get the chance.
   There is not much on Ralph's JRGS schooldays, but I have scanned one page that I think you will find very interesting and amusing. "Robshaw" must be "Robertshaw", of course. [Click on the image shown left to view a larger version of page 16 from the biography - ML.]
   After December, Ralph finishes a busy touring schedule and takes a rest, so over Christmas I will write and see if he is willing to contribute an article.
   More information can be found on www.mctell.co.uk or email him.

   Since Ralph May was born in December 1944, he would normally have attended JRGS 1956-1961 (years 1-5). However, he arrived in the second year (1957) because his family moved home. He then left at the end of the 4th year in 1960 (pre-ROSLA!) to go into the army.
Paul Graham. November 2002
email

ML adds: Ralph McTell's autobiography Angel Laughter is the first volume in of his early life as Ralph May, spanning the years from infancy in the late 1940s to his time in the Infantry Junior Leaders Battalion of the army at the age of 15. As the blurb says: "For Britain, the period immediately after the Second World War was a time of reconstruction both of buildings and families, the bleakness and austerity of life being tempered by relief that the conflict was finally over.
   "Croydon, just south of London, was hit hard during the war, and Angel Laughter opens with McTell's childhood memories of growing up in this environment, where bomb craters, rationing and the struggle to make ends meet were daily facts of life for Ralph, his brother Bruce and his mother (and Tyler the dog).
   "The author's extraordinary recall involves the reader not only in the trials of growing up assuming adult responsibilities, but in the joys of childhood self-discovery. Themes such as religion, sex and haircuts are explored in depth, with soft touches, Sunday School and uncertain fumblings being described with honesty and vigour.
   "The continuing urge for independence sees the adolescent Ralph taking work in a variety of environments Mitcham Fair, Streatham Ice Rink, Wembley Stadium car park - where the characters he meets and the relationships that develop help to shape his post-school life."
 Angel Laughter is published under the Amber Waves imprint, ISBN 1-902684-02-8, available from Tickety-boo Ltd.

 

 Norman High (JRGS 1928-33) has unearthed some fascinating cuttings...

Croydon Times 1932Thank you for your message re: John Ruskin. As suggested, I have checked out [the JRGS Alumni] web site, and this confirms the impression I have that it is extremely unlikely that I am going to link up with old friends at the school. Indeed, the gentleman who opined that he might be the oldest member is way out. I actually joined the school in 1928 and left in February 1933 (I did, in fact, leave before I should have done due to the untimely death of my father and my desire to earn a living).
ICroydon Times 1932 do, indeed, remember Mr. Field and, in fact, I have recently acquired my mother's scrapbook. I found therein a report cut from the "Croydon Times" of 2nd July 1932 [on] the history and work of the school, [and] which has a picture of Mr. Field and also of the Croydon Central Polytechnic building which we used. [Click on either of these images shown left to view a larger version - ML.] They are also reports of the 12th Annual Sports Meeting which would have been, I think, in 1932. There is a list of the masters who officiated as judges and results of all the events. You will notice that my mother has underlined the two events that my friend, Peter Walden, and myself won: The under-14 three-legged race and wheelbarrow race. [Click on the image shown right to view a larger version - ML.]
   Perhaps it is not very polite of me to mention that Mr. Field was known to us lads, amongst ourselves, as "Beery Bill" from his well known habit over over-imbibing during the lunch hour and during the afternoon rolling around the classes, picking on some poor chap and getting him to say "Great white plate". He would then insist that the lad was saying "Grite woite plite".
Croydon Times 1932One of my most pleasant memories, I suppose, is the fact that the Polytechnic building was next to the Public Baths and we had special permission to use them before going into school for, I believe, four days of the week !
   I did, in fact, pay a later visit to the school when, after five years as a POW and demobilisation in 1946, I needed some sort of document to say that I had reached School Certificate (having left before actually taking that). By then [the school] had, of course, moved to Tamworth Road and Mr. Lowe was the Headmaster. Whilst with him I met up again with Mr. Chinnock (Woodwork master) and Mr. Myers who, if my memory is right, taught languages.
   Up until fairly recently I did still posses the School Magazines covering the period that I was there but, unfortunately, I think I must have finally got rid of them as I cannot now find them. If you want more information let me know and I'll see what I can come up with.
   Incidentally, Two of my nephews also went to JRGS and are members of Friends Reunited: Martyn High and Deryck High.
[Our thanks to Paul Graham for scanning these memorable pages from 70 years ago - ML]
Norman High, October 2002 email

 

 Peter Wilson (JRGS 1956-63) updates his future chess commitments...

Living here in Guernsey means that trips to the UK [for possible Alumni Reunions] have to be planned well in advance if one is to avoid paying almost £400 return for a couple of 30 min flights! By choosing the right time of day and going on mid-week days and booking well in advance I can get prices down to c£70 return.
   I shall be playing chess for Guernsey in the World Chess Olympiad in Bled from Oct 24th to Nov 11th - and even before then I shall be representing the World Chess Federation in Jerusalem (as Kasparov plays the World Champion Chess Computer) from 29th Sept to 16th Oct (with a day or so in the UK either side of that too).
   In late November I plan to be in the UK - I am hoping that a singing star will be touring the UK briefly during that period (I'll reveal more when I can - if it is confirmed I will be one of the first to know). Two possible concert dates (in various parts of the UK, at apposite ends of the Country) are 19th Nov. and 24th Nov. Ideally I'd like to be at both - as I have been offered a personal meeting. I would really love to be at the reunion... so any advance idea of the date will help me a lot (even if it subsequently changes).
   For the Kasparov v "Junior" computer match (of six games) I am on the Expert Committee. [I am the official representative of The World Chess Federation on that Committee.] Having set the rules and regulations for play we have to ensure that anything else arising is solved to everyone's satisfaction. There is also a "Match Arbiter" but he will refer any problems to us during play. We get to see the analysis after each game showing what moves the computer was considering (and why it rejected some) and how it judged the game to stand at each stage.
   Kasparov will add his input as to why he played, or did not play, certain moves... and his analysis of why he thought the computer was playing the way it was and the moves it was (or wasn't playing). It sounds as if I shall be getting some super hands-on coaching by the strongest player in the World and the strongest computer chess program in the World.
   The record of Olympiad appearances by anyone representing Guernsey is eight Olympiads, but they were not in consecutive Olympiads. I hold the record for consecutive appearances representing Guernsey (at six) so this will make seven successive ones). My results in the 2000 Olympiad (they are every two years) got me on the World Rating List. Each squad consists of six players - four of them play in any one round and they mush stay in the same order as were originally nominated. There are 14 rounds. Although we are one of a very small (less than a handful) number of teams with no financial support, no professional coach(es) and no professional player(s) we have not YET finished bottom. Last time I think we won four and lost 10 of the matches... but the four we beat were pretty good games.
   In 1990 I made a comment which has been taken up as the standard Olympiad Quotation: "There are no easy games in Olympiads." Obvious? But true!
   Our team does play some good players, but I pride myself that I can still - at 59 - give (almost) anyone a decent game and at least make them think and make them work on their moves.
   Did I tell you that I was standing for the old-established Guernsey position of Douzenier for St. Peter Port. Well, I not only stood... I was elected [on Wednesday, September 18]. All the more pleasant as the other candidate was one of the "I was born and educated in Guernsey" brigade. Hopefully this shows that I'm really accepted (after 17 years living here). I now have to be Sworn-in at Guernsey's Royal Court, and then take my place alongside the other Members of The St. Peter Port Douzaine (all also Elected Douzeniers). This is not just a Parish Council, as they have much wider and stronger powers, and also elect one representative from among the Douzeniers who then sits as a Full Member of
Guernsey's Parliament - "The States of Deliberation".
   I am being tipped for election to the Douzaine Representative position when the present chap stands down - he has indicated that he will not stand again. That would bar me from BBC work, but until then (if it happens), I'm also still doing freelance work for BBC Radio Guernsey.
PS: The Kasparov v Chess Computer Program Junior Match has been postponed until 1st December in Jerusalem. (Mind you, I think that postponed may well mean cancelled.)
Peter J. B. Wilson, Guernsey, September 2002.

 

 John Dearing (JRGS 1955-60) vividly recalls his first day of school...

I came to JRGS in 1955, from West Thornton Primary School, Croydon. My mother thought it was a "posh" school, and made me take elocution lessons prior to attending. (I took one and spent the following weeks dodging them, spending the cash elsewhere.)
   I vividly remember that first knee-knocking day, the 4d bus ride to Shirley, dressed up in stiff new blazer, cap, grey shorts, long socks, black "sensible" shoes, and new satchel over shoulder. The day was a blur of fear, and it must have taken several weeks to really settle in. I knew two other boys only. We huddled in the playground, drinking that disgusting milk that had sat in the sun all morning.
   I remember Mr. "Joe" Lowe, the headmaster, who caned my backside more often than I can recall. I remember Mr. "Rhino" Rees, Latin Master, who beat us mercilessly (although I was good at Latin, and got off lightly). Most of all, I remember Mr. "Smuts" Smith, who put the fear into me so badly that I cheated at maths forever after, just to be sure of getting it right, and consequently failed the GCE miserably.
   Mr. "Punchy" Taylor, who also taught maths, in addition taught me Russian and Polish in his spare time, in the library. He was notorious for dishing out the "treatment," a pinch of the cheek flesh which he often forgot to relinquish as he made some mathematical point in the class. ("I think this boy needs DOUBLE TREATMENT," he said one day, and both my cheeks got a bruising!)
   I survived the canings, several suspensions, one of which was for dyeing my hair blond with peroxide in the lab. "Joe" Lowe saw my trundling up the hill next day, and stopped me at the gate. "Go home, until your normal hair grows back," he said. It took six days and a crew cut before I was re-admitted.
   Career options were a great grey area: insurance, banking, and quantity surveying, which was the preferred option in my class, although nobody knew what that was. On the last day [of school] in 1960, we burned our caps ceremoniously in the playground.
   I enrolled at the Merchant Navy Sea Training School, and went to sea for the next three years. I came to New Zealand, joined the Army, then the New Zealand Police, where I retired in 1989 as a Detective Sergeant. I also took time out of the Police to manage a Travel Company in Western Samoa for a year. I now manage the Security systems at a group of hospitals and health facilities in Auckland. I became a Justice of the Peace in 1993 ("Joe" Lowe turns in his grave!), and also a Marriage Celebrant. I also teach Irish Gaelic at evening classes.
   What did John Ruskin do for me? It's hard to say. I was a rebel throughout, hardened by the brutality of Rees and Smith, and the prevailing attitude that I was a snotty little oink from the wrong part of town. I was bright enough for development, but either I didn't knuckle down to the opportunities that were there or, at least, I felt I was never encouraged in any way.
   New Zealand was a breath of fresh air; a classless society, where all things were possible, and I never felt the need to return to England - although I did, briefly, in 1979. I visited John Ruskin then, but felt no nostalgia.
   I have a good life in NZ, and have lately taken to writing my memoirs - hence my search for this site. I have a school photo taken in 1958, I don't appear to be in the 1960 one, perhaps I was suspended yet again at that time!
John Dearing JP, Auckland, New Zealand, September 2002.

 

 Trevor Neckles (JRGS 1966-72) recalls dramatic changes...

I’ll try and give you a quick synopsis of the last 30 years, although deteriorating brain cells (age- and vodka-induced) may work against me.
    Regarding the transition from an all-boys to a mixed comprehensive school in 1971, since I left JRGS in 1972, I was only there for the first year of integration. I think the first girls came from Ashburton School into the Fifth year. There was very little impact for the few months I was there with them, but I understand that things went quickly downhill academically from then on.
   I noted some references to Mr. "Wally" Cracknell in other communications, and believe I may hold the distinction of being one of the most caned pupils from 1966 to 1972. But I digress.
   I went to North Staffs Poly, in Stoke on Trent, emerging in 1975 with a Diploma in Business Studies. I worked for a year in Selsdon with a chap called Nick Mattey. His brother, Peter, also went to Ruskin, I think, from age 13/14 until asked to leave a couple of years later. Nick ran a little company buying and selling job-lots of electronic equipment. I did the books and also a bit of selling.
   I joined Old Croydonians Rugby Club (ex-Selhurst old boys, mainly), and through a chap there ended up getting a job in the City as a trainee commodities broker. I took to that like a duck to water, and then went through every facet of commodities trading from 1977 to the end of ’79 with this first firm.
   I have had various positions in three companies since then, plus one ex-wife, one new wife, and two kids (with first). I now find myself happily ensconced in the Cayman Islands, via short stints in Germany and Bahrain.
   Unfortunately, nowhere near retired, I run the offshore operation for a UK-based “boutique” metals-trading company. We have control of an alumina refinery in West Africa, and conduct the non-production activities from here.
PS: Does anybody have school-day or sports-day programmes from 1966 thru 72?
Trevor Neckles, Cayman Islands. August 2002.

 

 Peter Wilson (JRGS 1956-63) discovers www.friendsreunited.co.uk...

Peter Wilson sent the following interesting email to Paul Graham, which we reproduce here with their mutual permission.

Paul: I found your interesting page by accident - on the famous Internet - while looking up Barrie Sturt-Penrose (who had a recent TV programme on Jeremy Thorpe and Norman Smith).
   Didn't you play chess for John Ruskin Grammar School in the Junior team... I had an idea you were in the same year as Richard Paynter (I almost took his sister Jill or Gill - she was at Coloma at the time - to a John Ruskin School dance but she was ill on the day so it never happened). Did you have a sister who was married to one of the JRGS Masters (he had badly injured his liver in a car-crash), or am I confusing you with someone else?
   I left JRGS in Summer 1963... I was Chess Captain for several years.
   Wasn't Alan Murray the one called "Eggo" - I recall two teachers called "Murray". "Eggo" taught history I think and was a really nice chap.
   I remember Mr. "Rhino" Rees too - I'm told his wife ruled the roost at home and he was as quiet as a mouse!
   C. E. Smith ("Smut") was my form-master for 2S, 3S and 4S. (We had Mr. "Spike" Hancock for 1H.) He eventually married - late in life - and he and his wife (also a teacher) had two children. I don't think he can still be alive?
   In the sixth form both Mr. "Sam" ('cough', 'cough') Chaundy - an ardent Crystal Palace fan - was my form master... as was Mr. "Perce" Pearman.
   I heard that Mr. "Puncher" Pierce - who taught me sixth form Maths - had died but I was told it was from cancer?
   Sorry to hear that John Rivers had died... I recall that he did a great impression of Willie Rushton and someone else (Ian Ure? - I can picture him but can't recall the name) did a great one of Lance Percival.
   Mr. Maggs did lose his arm at Arnhem... "Ken" Maggs:" didn't he teach Latin?
   Remember Mr. "Pad" Peacock - Geography??? Ken Tryon - French... his elder daughter was Valerie Tryon the Concert Pianist. Ken was a super make-up artist - when he came out of the RAF at the end of the war he could not find a job so went to Hollywood where his brother was Max factor's Chief Make-up Artist at one of the Hollywood Studios!! Did you know that? Ken taught me how to do stage make-up - a skill which I am sure will be of use one day!
   Who else... I'll have a think!
  James "Jim" Swainson was a pupil a bit younger than me - he played Viola and went on to play in the BBC Symphony Orchestra for many years. His Dad ran a driving school and taught me to drive in 1972!
   I'm a few years older than you... but I'm sure we will remember some of the same people - pupils and teachers! Drop me an email, please!
   Of course, our old school has gone now - nothing but a housing estate... with PostMill Close leading to the Mill... a misnomer as it is a "Cap-Mill" as only the top (cap) of the Mill rotated... not the entire mill as for a "Post-Mill." (Nutley Mill in the Ashdown Forest is a post mill and still works.)
   I now live in Guernsey, C.I. (for last 17 years) - have given up chess several times and taken up again just as many over the years. I'm President of The Commonwealth Chess Association (Worldwide) at the moment and have also played for Guernsey in the last 6 World Chess Olympiads.
   I recently discovered that the current headmistress of Coloma Convent Grammar School is a girl I used to know - just over 40 years ago I took her to the JRGS Christmas School dance!
   I get to Croydon regularly for the time being - my Mother still lives there - she is now 96!
   Do you remember me?
Peter J. B. Wilson, Guernsey, July/August 2002.


Paul Graham replies -

Peter:
Yes, I am that Paul Graham of the JRGS junior chess team, and I remember both you and Graham Beales very well indeed. In fact I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that you two were the gurus for a generation of young chess players. I loved the game and still do, and even though I gave up regular chess after about 1963 and rarely play now, the principles (not just the rules) that you and Graham taught so many of us remain every time I pick up the pieces. Somewhere I have a load of chess stuff from school days, and may well have some interesting mementoes of those times. Will look them out. Do you know where Graham got to, after studying law at London Uni I recall?
   I expect you have spotted my potted biography on the website and so know what I have been up to since 1965. The site has been going about a year ever since Mel Lambert and I contacted each other via friendsreunited. I suppose you could say that Mel and I keep it going, especially Mel who is webmaster.
   I don't recall Richard Paynter, but I have looked him up, and he was in the year below me (he joined JRGS 1960) and was in the same cohort as the Hammond twins, Graham Priest, Maurice West etc. Richard Gerlach was in the same year group as me if that helps.
  As for my sister, sorry that wasn't me! Just one younger brother, at Archbishop Tennyson GS, and I can't remember a member of staff being injured in a car crash either.
  Also, I don't remember a Jim Swainson in our year group. We did have a Martin Loveday who went on to study music at college (violin) and is now a profession musician in London. He was in the same form as Mel and I, and we are hoping he will join our group too.
   You're right about Alan Murray teaching history, being nicknamed Eggo, and being a great bloke. He was my (and Mel's) form teacher in 3M. Glad to say he is still alive, with marbles, though frail, in a nursing home in Purley. We are in touch with him. Mr. Murray also ran the 15 Society which you may remember, John Rivers and Barrie Sturt-Penrose being leading lights of. I guess you must have a contemporary of B S-P, who went into investigative journalism. If you ever get in touch with him, point him to our website and ask him to get in touch; we'd love to hear from him.
   All the other stories about the staff ("Rhino," "Maggs," Peacock, Chaundy, Peacock, "Puncher" Pearce, "Percy" Pearman, Ken Tryon (I didn't know why he was so good at make up) and so on, accord exactly with what we remember. Wasn't it "Pad" rather than "Dad" Peacock, or maybe we are wrong?
   As for "Smut" (Mr. Charles E. Smith), yes, the latest news we have is that he was still living about five years ago and enjoying life in the Croydon area, although we haven't made contact with him yet.
   One teacher you haven't mentioned is of course Mr. Howden who was i/c the Chess Club, though I remember the day-to-day running was done by senior pupils like you, Graham Beales, and later (I think) Richard Lynn and the elder Hammond. Didn't Mr. "Spud" Murphy take over after Mr. Howden left?
   Any idea what happened to Mr. "Joe" Lowe after he retired?
   Anyway, great to hear from you. Take a look around the website, and consider offering a mini-essay on your experiences at JRGS, or of some aspect of it (chess?), or life afterwards. Mel would love to receive it and post it on the website.
   If you are around on the mainland when we have a reunion, why not try and make it? The first was last Christmas in Shirley.
 Paul


Round #2: August 2, 2002


Hello once again Paul
:
I have my old school chess magazines and probably the prize-day leaflets somewhere... I never seem to throw anything away... but I would not know where they are!
   If you have access to either could you look up when I won the Weedon Cup for Chess (held for one year only) presented on Speech Day (or was it called Prize-giving?) and what I really wanted to know was who presented it to me?
   I can recall Richard Baker (newsreader on TV) and his wife being there one year... and Tom Margerison (then Editor of The New Scientist) and his wife being there another year. One of them - or the wife of one of them - presented me with the chess prize one year. It would have been in either 1961, 1962 or 1963.
   Just that Richard Baker is coming to Guernsey later this year - acting in the part of Victor Hugo in a production (Victor Hugo's bi-centenary is this year and he lived here in exile for some years writing some of his major works while here). I hope to interview him.... and will pull in the chess anecdote if I did get the prize the year he was there!! I have a sneaking suspicion that it was Tom Margerison that year! I have a photo of the presentation - I think by his wife - but cannot find it nor can I remember which 'celebrity" was there that year! I can't remember everything - but I do try!
   No mad rush - but if you could find it out some time for me that would be helpful.
Peter

PS I was one of the founders of a chess club called "Mushrooms" in Jan. 1961... they still exist and are still in Division One of The London Chess League.
PPS Do you remember the annual bulb-planting days which "Joe" (Lowe) always loved!!


Peter:
The best place to look up the old Speech Day programmes is in the school magazines. We are getting close to having a long continuous run of them. If you find any before 1959, let me know as Mel and I might be interested.
   As for the Weedon Cup (why Weedon by the way?), you won it at the end of the 1960/61 school year and was presented with it at Speech Day in November 1961 by Tom Margerison (your memory is pretty good!). The Dec 1961 school magazine (pages 4 through 8) on our website gives a report on this. Graham Beales won it the year before, and Rob Lynn the year after.
   You mention Dr. Tom Margerison. I remember The New Scientist as being pretty big at John Ruskin. When I was secretary of the Scientific Society, I remember being i/c of the subscriptions and distribution of them to a lot of pupils.
   As for the Chess Club, there is an interesting series of Chess Club reports in the school mags on the website:
 Dec 1958 p.26, Oct 1959 p.28, Jul 1960 pp.24-25, Apr 1961 pp.25-26, Dec 1961 pp.20-21, Jul 1962 pp.24-25, Apr 1963 pp.19-20 and Jul 1964 p.28.
   Really, we ought to have an index on the website for these magazines, and will mention the idea to Mel, though at present I haven't the time to start another project like that!
   You mentioned the bulb-planting days, and yes, most of us remember them clearly. They seemed to appeal to parents too.
   Peter, your other e-mail with all the memories and comments was wonderful. It brought back lots of memories.
   Thinking about chess again, I remember two other boys from my year group involved were Roger Hall (who did well at that tournament at Kingston you must have organized a visit to) and Alan Boyes, who became secretary when he was in the sixth.
   Many of us have rather mixed feelings about Mr. "Joe" Lowe. I always found him rather cold, even when I went back in about 1970 after university to pay my respects.
   Read your life history with interest. You have quite a variety of jobs to keep you busy. Your work with the media is not dissimilar to the kind of stuff that Mel Lambert does now (in Los Angeles). Mel was just the same form as me (2C, 3M, 5U), and oddly we can barely remember each other at school. In the last year we have made up for lost time! He has an elderly mother in Croydon too, and visits her when over here from LA. I see you are in the UK from 7 to 13 August, but I will be either busy at work (until 9th) or off on holiday with the family during that time. Will certainly keep you in touch with any reunion. It may be in the midlands this time (at Christmas), but if not, possibly in Croydon again.
Regards, Paul


Paul:
My memory is not too bad - at BBC Radio Guernsey and BBC Radio Jersey I'm known as "Infoman!"
   We were never sure where the "Weedon" cup name came from - I recall doing some sort of research on it at some time. I think it was donated by a former pupil called "Weedon" who had played chess while at school (and after ?) but the name of "Weedon" was never a "big" name in UK chess as far as I can determine. That's all a faint recollection of mine - so may not be accurate. I'll ask Graham Beales what he recalls... and I'll get his address to you soon - I'm sure he'd love to hear from you.
   Anything else I can do - just let me know!
   I am mobile when in the UK - as Mum inherited Dad's car. (He drove until he was over 90 and then kept the car for me to use!). I stuck some Insurance on it so I could use it when visiting Mum. The more difficult bit is leaving Mum for too long when I'm over - after all I have gone over specifically to see her! She does, however, appreciate that it is also important for me to get "out and about" a bit when I'm over - and to see some of my friends.
   Getting to a reunion in The Midlands isn't impossible - given decent notice - I was born in Stafford... my parents were both born in Coventry.
   Enjoy your holiday!
   Talk again soon.
Peter

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

Please send any messages and memorabilia to webmaster
©2014 JRGS Alumni Society. All Rights Reserved. Last revised: 17.12.14