JRGS News Archive Page 01
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 01 - Dec 2001 thru Mar 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.

Derek Smith (JRGS 1959-66) recalls an aspect of Latin lessons in the Sixties...

He writes: I have a book of 314 sayings - or rather yellings - I copied down during the three years that Mr. "Beaky" Cornwell tried to teach me (us) some Latin. Just as a relevant sample, there are:

#142: "5U... huh, the 'U' stands for Useless."

#136: "You're going to have the lowest set of marks on record. It's not funny, Byford; it's absolutely calamitous."

#304: "I am having to talk above too many ill-mannered louts like Lambert."

#253: "My patience is fully exhausted in you, Smith. I make full allowance for the fact that you are a stupid idiot."

#260: "I'll not have that revolting exhibition of bad manners from you."

#232: "As usual, we had the customary string of idiotic errors."

#118: "Byford, I'm getting sick and tired of your lack of manners."

#219: "I hear that our group is to be joined by three more buffoons of your sort, Smith."

#157: "I don't see why those who are trying to work should be penalized by ill-mannered louts - yes, that's what you are: ill-mannered louts."

#163: "Here we have another utter idiot."

#63: "And some hapless examiner will have to mark your trash."

#279: "Idiotic grinning... there are no words to describe you, Byford."

And I notice that at the front of the book I've written: "Acknowledgments to G. Harrison and P. Graham for their help." Indeed, I seem to remember that one of Paul's favourites was:

"This is quite pathetic, 3M; quite pathetic."

As Derek concludes: I still laugh a lot when I read them, but I can usually manage only about 50 or so at a time."
We understand that Derek has many more of these; check back later!

Derek adds: Do you remember the occasional Friday afternoon lesson in some upstairs annex somewhere when members of 5T used to come through our lesson to get to theirs in the room beyond? Thing was, they did it one at a time to cause maximum disruption. I can still picture Mr. "Beaky" Cornwall on one occasion throwing his Latin poetry book down onto the desk in disgust. Ah, good times.

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Thanks again for sharing these. Just great you kept that book. Don't remember the 5T episode though. Was it when we were in 3M? I'm sure we reverted to Mr. "Rhino" Rees in 5U (Gallic Wars, Poetry etc).

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Remembrance of Latin lessons is a blur: at one extreme the rowdy Mr. "Beaky" Cornwall lessons and at the other the sheer terror of Mr. "Rhino" Rees. I think Paul is correct about Rhino in 5U, Caesar having left Gaul and old Labienus hanging around for the odd skirmish with Asterix and co.
   I suspect we must have been in 3M when the boys of 5T pulled their party trick; but I do remember "Beaky" throwing books about when he was particularly p*ssed off with something. Thinking about it again didn't he leave Ruskin after two years, cutting his teeth stuff? Many years later I met someone who had been taught Latin by "Beaky" at his next school - apparently he was as tough as anyone at the school, clearly having learnt his lesson at Ruskin.

Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: I recall the episodes well. I think that our Latin class in 3M/5U was divided into two groups; those with Mr. "Rhino" Rees that had a shot at O-Level, and the "duffers" (myself included) that showed some interest in the dead language - it could be pretty stimulating - but who could not/would not pass the exam.
   The classroom we used was one of the two newly constructed areas built above the science corridor that ran alongside the quadrangle, with Mr. "Harry" Green's Biology Room and greenhouse at the far end. For some odd reason, access to the second half of the room - it was divided, I recall, into a couple of more compact areas - was through the main door. "Beaky" went pink whenever his lesson was interrupted - the 5T Lads were pretty large, and could have taken him out with both hands tied being their backs - so it was an difficult situation. (I recall Prince Charles described in the media as being "incandescent with rage" when he discovered that his brother was making a documentary about the young prince at a Scottish university. Nice phase that, and one that I think applies to poor Mr. Cornwall. Ah, memories.) The second area served as a Chemistry Lab.


  Norman Day (JRGS 1960-66) finds a membership card for a Secret Society...

Natiional Chad Society He writes: You may remember me mentioning this before, but I started a secret society in the first year. (Perhaps so we Brats could stick together - but it was always fun being secret.) I was not a very sophisticated 11-year old apparently. It sort of fizzled out when Mr. Ricks, the youthful sneering French master, produced a membership card from his wallet.
   Anyway, my Mum found a membership card the other day - so I scanned it. I don't think that there were many members, so I don't expect anyone on the JRGS Alumni mailing list will remember the National Chad Society. But who knows?
Norman DayAnd from an email exchange last year: Apparently Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) and I went to the same primary school. I keep thinking I ought to remember him more clearly than I do.
   By the way, does anybody remember a chap called Graham Priest? We joined Ruskin at the same time and our mothers even bought our uniforms at Hewitt's down Surrey Street on the same day. I remember discussing 'bratting' with the bloke measuring us up.
   We did not think we would have much trouble (and we were right). Both of us had put down Dulwich College as our first choice of secondary school, but were still pleased to be sent to Ruskin. Graham lived in one of the roads off Enmore Road. We lost touch when I stayed down a year, I believe. I think my mother told me that he became a doctor.
   Talking of primary/secondary schools, can anyone remember if the playground activities carried on at Ruskin; you know fag cards (we were unwittingly destroying a fortune!), marbles, conkers (surely conkers?) all strictly delineated into seasons?. I am hazy about it. I seem to remember 'British Bulldog' being played.
   I am sorry if I am more interested in the social/cultural aspects of school life than the academic ones!
PS:. Does anyone remember a single lesson about John Ruskin, The Man? I know we had a complete untouched and moldering edition in the library. Although I was not without interest in culture we mainly went to the library to read the hilarious and scatological Slang Dictionary.


 Terry Haselden (JRGS 1959-64) reports on a JRGS Alumni Meeting in Croydon...

JRGS Alumni 0202

Three ex-JRGS pupils met during February, 2002.

Left to right: John Holden, Colin Taylor and Terry Haselden.

Click on the image left to download a larger version.

Terry Haselden writes: I am not sure if anyone will recognise us after 37 years. It was 34 years since the three of us last met - we all went on holiday together to the Norfolk Broads.
   We met at Post House on Purley Way. Colin was just over for two weeks from New Zealand, where he now lives.
   A great evening was had by all, with lots of laughs and memories.
   Colin Taylor and I were at Ruskin from 1959 to 1964; John Holden stayed on until 1966.
   The JRGS site is great. I am glad it is bringing us all together.


 Clipping from Croydon Advertiser, scanned by Dave Anderson (JRGS 1964-71)...

April Fool clipping - color   April Fool clipping - black&whiite
Click on either image to
view a full-size version.

This press cutting dates from April 1st 1970 or 1971, and relates to an incident when some wags placed a 'For Sale' ad in 'The Times.' The school was described as a country house with extensive grounds and grounds man (Percy Eagleton!). I don't have the actual ad - I bet someone does - but here is a scanned version of 'The Croydon Advertiser' story.
   I also plan to get hold of the ad in The Daily Express for the new houses that went on the school site. I remember cutting it out but never thought that the Internet would become such a great platform for these items of memorabilia! If I can't find it I guess an appeal on the site could turn one up. Or maybe a trawl through the 'Express' archives could do it. It was in the property pages of the time, but when exactly was that? The mid-Nineties? Maybe the developers kept a copy?
   Keep up the good work with the site. I was so keen to leave the school but now, 30-odd years on, the memories are just magic!

Just in case the scanned image is too hard to read, here is the text:

Windmill 'sale' was a tilt at school

Several people in pursuit of a windmill at John Ruskin Grammar School had the wind taken out of their sails when they found it was all hoax by sixth-formers.
   The windmill at the Shirley school, built in 1854, went up for sale on Thursday of last week in the columns of "The Times" newspaper.

   During the day, the headmaster, Mr. J. C. Lowe, received four telephone calls.
   He believes that two were genuine, and two were from sixth formers making sure that he had seen a copy of the newspaper.
   "We have an exceedingly nice group of young men in our sixth form this year, and I thought this was a very clever and very tasteful Aril Fool," he said.
   "If schoolboy pranks were always as harmless and in such good taste as this, every headmaster would be delighted."
    The boys placed another advertisement in the personal columns of "The Times" wishing the school staff a happy April Fool's Day.
   Mr. Lowe has cut out the two advertisements and they will be preserved in the school archives.
   Although built in the mid-th century, a beam in the windmill dates back to [illegible]. It was erected on the site of a previous windmill.


Cliff Preddy (JRGS 1963-65) recalls the school's 15 Society and Mr. Murray...

At the time of my university graduation in 1968, I had two ties. One was made of wool, and was for wearing with a leather or corduroy jacket. The other was blue, with the Greek letter Psi sewn into it - a JRGS 15 Society tie. As the better choice for a formal occasion, the Society tie lives on in the official graduation photograph. The tie itself disappeared some time ago.
    The 15 Society's staff sponsor and founding father was Mr. Alan Murray, the school's much liked and admired Head of History. As a maths and physics A-Level student, only at the school for the final two years, I was never in one of Mr. Murray's classes. However, as a Society member, I recall an open, friendly and accessible teacher who treated us like young adults, in a way that was quite different from most of the other staff.
    The 15 Society felt like a cross between a US fraternity house, without a house, and a discussion group with particular interests in subjects such as politics, philosophy, economics and scientific method. At one and the same time it seemed to provide an important and enjoyable part of our social life, and some fairly serious cultural development. Topics that would come up at Society meetings included Rhodesia, CND, Vietnam, contraception, moral re-armament and abortion law reform.
    The Society undoubtedly had elitist and "Pseuds Corner" tendencies, a decidedly left-of-centre flavour and just a whiff of subversion. The Society's relationship with the school was bumpy at times; I remember the Headmaster, Mr. Lowe, calling the Society a "self-perpetuating clique", but sadly can't recall the context. He didn't seem at all comfortable with it.
    How did you become a member? I have vague memories of a growing awareness of the activities, followed by a touch of envy at not being involved and finding out more from existing members. Finally, if you were lucky an invitation to join would come along, presumably when an existing member left school because, as the name implies, membership was fixed at 15.
    There was definitely an element of "cool" about the 15 Society. A larger-than-life character called John Rivers was secretary of the Society when I arrived at JRGS in September 1963. It was from his lips that I first heard the name "Bob Dylan". His successor as secretary, Bob "Huckleberry" Hawkins was very early into long(ish) hair, played Blues harmonica and had a large collection of rare Blues records. He introduced me to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.
    I seem to recall at least two of the Society meetings whilst I was a member being held at Mr. Murray's home. This always struck me as "above and beyond the call of duty" in a serious way and amazing hospitality. My fuzzy memory of these occasions includes some musical interludes, with Mr. Murray playing harpsichord and a daughter of one of the other members of staff playing classical piano. Have I got this right? 
    Like Martin Peters of West Ham United and England, Mr. Murray was "years ahead of his time". He seemed to acknowledge that by the age of 17/18 some of us might have hormones and girlfriends. Some of the meetings were open to guests, and girls were free to come along. I had a major row at and after one of the meetings with a girlfriend because she was anti-abortion and I was pro-abortion - or was it the other way round? The beauty of the 15 Society was that it probably didn't matter either way because it was the discussion that was important.
Cliff Preddy; JRGS, September 1963 to July 1965.


And the school ties, they keep a coming...


Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) has been clearing out a few drawers, and came across this old favorite.

As he writes: On the label it proudly says "pure Terylene." Takes you back doesn't it?


Maurice Whitfield (JRGS 1959-66) has found an image from infants school...

Gilbert Scott Infant School circa 1954

Taken at Gilbert Scott Infants School, Monks Hill Estate, Selsdon, around 1954.
Maurice writes: There are a few of our era in this photo: me (second up; second left), Andrew Robertson and Derek Charlewood - to name a few.
   It was very much a feeder school for John Ruskin and other local grammar and secondary schools.


 JRGS Staff Cricket XI, 1958, from the school magazine of that year...

JRGS Staff Cricket Team 1958

Elsewhere on this site you can view the entire December 1958 School Magazine, but this image from page 5 caught our eye.
Back row: Mr. Warne, Mr. Tryon, Mr. Nunn, Mr. May, Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Sharrock and Mr. Dobson.
Front row: Mr. Wright, Mr. Woodard, Mr. Lowe, Mr. Graham and Mr. Smith.

One can assume that Mr. Wright and Mr. Smith were padded up to open for the Staff XI, and that Mr. Tryon (in the white coat) served as an impartial umpire

Martin Preuveneers (JRGS 1958-65) adds: This photo of the staff cricket team brings back a memory. One summer evening, probably in 1959, I recall watching the staff team who played the school first team. Mr. May went into bat and after a few balls took a massive swipe at the ball. In doing so the bat, which was one of Mr. Smith's prize first-team bats, hit the ground and the handle broke off. Mr. May returned to the changing rooms to pick up another bat. On the way he passed by Mr. Smith who sat silent, motionless, and red faced in his deck chair.


 JRGS Door Name Badges, scanned by Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62)...

JRGS name plates

Cliff writes: These door name badges were acquired at the "Demolition Re-union" which took place during the early Nineties.


Programme for "Toad of Toad Hall," scanned by Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62)...
Toad cover Toad inside Scholl badge
Performed on April 1 and 2, 1960, by Junior Dramatic Society.
A first-hand account of the production, written by John Rivers (who played Badger), appeared on page 9 of the July 1960 School magazine.
Sadly, John died in 1989; click here to view a copy of The Guardian obituary.
... and Cliff has located a school badge from 1960.


Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) has unearthed an school image from 1949...

Chem Lab 1949

Mike writes: Here is a picture of the "new" chemistry lab which, I believe, was first opened to students in January 1949, the year I first went to JRGS. The teacher in charge at the time was Mr. Pearman.

Taken at the original Tamworth Road building.


Your webmaster reports on JRGS Alumni Meeting in Alameda...

JRGS Alumni 0202

     Tie2    Tie1

Three ex-JRGS pupils met on Friday night, February 8, 2002.
Left to right: Mel Lambert, Martin Preuveneers and John Cobley
Photo: Maxine Preuveneers

John Cobley brought along his Prefect's Tie (left) and his 15 Society Tie
to Martin's house in Alameda, Northern California, close to San Francisco.


Your webmaster reports on Alumni Meeting at The Sandrock, Shirley...

The Sandrock pub, shirley JRGS Alumni 1201
Five ex-JRGS pupils met on Friday night, December 28, 2001, at The Sandrock pub, Upper Shirley Road, just south of the former school site. Left to right: John Byford, Stephen Lander, Paul Graham, Mel Lambert and Jim Thomas.
And, yes, John brought along his original JRGS scarf   Photos: Merelyn Davis


A full list of archived News/Events Pages can be found here.

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