Mike (now a respectable Michael) Collett (1944-50)...........................Editor's Note...........Mike has provided team photographs of the Football 2nd X1 and Cricket 1st X1 both from 1950 and these are in the Photo Gallery....... Dick Congdon is included in the photographs and inspires the following from Mike.
"In my last year at School playing for Hood House I took 6 wickets for 2 runs against Fife, 5 for 15 against York and a measly 2 for 15 against Temple. Not bad...13 wickets for an average of 2.77. Hood duly won the cricket and I got hold of the School Magazine the following year, by which time I had left school, itching to see my name in print only to find that Dick Congdon's recall was that Hood had won the cricket due mainly to some fine bowling by David Head. Of Mike Collett..nary a mention....! 53 years on and I still remember being slighted. Ah, well.................pride comes before a fall...
The ever-present Arthur Terry in the photographs reminds me of once having a History homework returned by him with zero out of twenty and the single word CASTELFIDARDO scribed across the pages. I didn't know what it meant then and still don't. Can anyone enlighten me, please....? Editor's Note........Mike has been advised from this Office that this is a town in Ancona, Italy on the Adriatic and was the site of the defeat of the Papal army in about 1860 thus a significant area during the risorgimento under King Victor Emmanuel 2nd. He has subsequently come up with the little known fact that it is also well known for it's connection to the accordion.......!!!!!!!!. An additional Editor's Note......................I thought everybody knew about CASTELFIDARDO........!!!!!
The other master of blessed memory was Mr. Mac. We have now lived in France for eight years and were it not for Mac's hard work our life here would not have been half as enjoyable. He inspired confidence whereas Les Barfield, on the eve of the 1950 Matriculation Maths exam undertook to eat his hat if I passed.........I did pass.....but he never did eat his hat......!!
Dennis Keene was the youngest pupil at Shene on our arrival (both from King's School, Kew) in 1944 and I was the second youngest. What a claim to fame......!!"
Ralph Stone (1942-49).................................Since leaving school I have lived for most of my life in Africa, to begin with in what used to be Rhodesia now Zimbabwe and for the last forty-two years, in Cape Town, South Africa. I am married and have a son and daughter.
I cannot remember exactly when I became a pupil at the School but I do remember that I started off in Form 2C and, after a term, was promoted to 3A. I stayed in the A stream throughout but, due to ill-health, did very badly in 4A and, at the request of my mother (she went to see Mr. Shephard) repeated the class. After that I did quite well and matriculated in 1948. I left to emigrate to this part of the world after having had about six months in the 6th Form
In your list of Masters I noticed that 'Mr. Gardner' is listed as an English teacher. Actually he was Dr. WH Gardner (D.Litt) and an expert on the Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. If you look up WHG on the Internet you will find him linked with GMH and similarly GMH is linked to WHG. WHG and his family emigrated to South Africa circa 1947 and he became a lecturer at the Natal University College. Later he was appointed to the Chair of English at the University of the Orange Free State. I mention all this because as 'Mr Gardner' he sounds like a nobody whereas he was in fact a fairly prominent academic. (Editor's Note: Dick Strevens has also mentioned WGH's connection to GMH and the entry is now amended).
Another name that I noticed was Major JW Kirby. I think that 'Kirby' should actually read 'Kirkby'. (Editor's note: Now amended) His main subject may have been English but when I was at the School he taught me German. The poor man had great difficulty keeping order in his class, possibly partly due to the fact that the German language was a source of great amusement to many boys. I can remember him chasing a boy around the desks whilst the rest of the class was making such a racket that eventually Mr Shephard made an appearance in the doorway. That quietened things down immediately, of course. Mr. Kirkby's nickname was 'Vulch' short for vulture and on the occasion of a Mock Election at the school a poster appeared at the window of our classroom (pasted onto the outside of the glass but facing inwards) exhorting the boys to 'Vote for Vulch'. There was great hilarity when he had to send a boy to take the poster down.
I spotted one or two names of ex-pupils who had attended the 2002 Reunion that rang a bell but, as we used only surnames in those far-off days, I cannot be sure that they are the same people. PD Smith for example. Is he the Smith who used to play the piano on alternate weeks to myself for the hymns at Assembly..? If so I would love to hear from him. Is John Ellis the same Ellis who used to come top of my class time after time.....? The only definite contact I have is with Edward Steers. We communicate by e-mail now and again and, of course, I visit him if I am in London but I haven't been there for some time.
Surnames of boys who were my colleagues at the time include Johnson, Martin, Llewellyn, Stuckey, Storkey, Raymond, Gunddrie, German, Chambers, Metaxides and Ralph. I should like to track down any of these.
Editor's Note...........see also Ralph's Piano story later on this page
Raymond Argent (1941-46).......................For County Scholarship entry from Richmond primary schools preliminary examinations were held during the Winter term. Successful candidates were then sent for the Final examination held at the County School on a Saturday in late March 1941. This examination covering various subjects lasted until late afternoon under the supervision of the Headmaster Mr Shephard.
I discovered that I had been successful in an an announcement during morning assembly at Darrell Road School. and following the school joining instructions I was kitted out with the uniform at Faith Bros. the school outfitters in East Sheen despite wartime clothes rationing. The School emblem was a Tudor rose with the letters R & ES mounted above which was worn on the blazer.
In 1941 there was a two form entry sytem.....one for the scholarship boys and the other for fee payers. In that first year there were about 18 boys in my form. I noted that morning assembly took longer than that at primary school. When the school had assembled the Headmaster made his entrance and was joined in the procession to the stage by five senior masters. In addition to the hymn and prayers the lesson would be read by a prefect. Once a fortnight details were given of marks gained for work, form by form, a commendation given for obtaining 140-159 marks out of 200 and a high commendation for 160+ marks. Commendation earned 1 point for one's school house whilst highly commended earned 2 points. A caution for bad work would lead to the loss of a point. The School was divided into four houses...Temple, Hood, York and Fife and meetings under the guidance of the Housemaster were a regular feature.
Various organisations and societies existed. The Army Cadet company of which I was a member, met on Fridays after school as did the air scouts. I think the land scouts met mid-week. Masters were the officers in the Cadet company and I recall that Mr. Kirby was a Major and Dr. Gardner a Lieutenant. Mr Shackell was the Group Scoutmaster in the air scouts and Mr Maclaren a scoutmaster in the land scouts. I was also a member of the Geographical Society who met weekly under the guidance of Mr Goodbourn.
Punishment was, in the main, by detention after school but more serious offences meant Saturday morning attendances. School lunches were provided in a dining hall situated in a building on the far side of the Hertford Avenue sports fields. The building was occupied by Mortlake Girls Secondary School their play area also doubling as the parade ground for the Army Cadets. I remember the lunches being of good quality and quantity considering the wartime restrictions on food. My favourite dish was cheese and potato pie of which there was always a second helping. The dining hall layout consisted of rows of trestle type tables each seating 25-30 boys with a master sitting at the head of each table....the food being served on to plates at that end and passed down the table. Grace was always said by a master before lunch. The cost............5d per day...........about 2p now........!!
During the War years school life went on as near normal as possible. Savings Stamps were on sale on one day a week and special efforts were made during National Savings weeks i.e. War Weapons Week, Wings for Victory etc. Speech Days were held as usual when masters wore their graduation gowns instead of the plain gowns normally worn during school hours. There were occasional interruptions caused by air raids and particularly during the summer of 1944 at the height of the V1 offensive... a time when boys were expected to prepare all the text and exercise books required for the day's morning and afternoon session so that in the event of an alert a quick move to the shelter was possible. If night air raids continued over a certain number of hours, school opening time was delayed until 10am. Each class had an allocated underground shelter in the school grounds.
Boys were encouraged to manage their own allotments in the school grounds.
Discipline and good manners were always maintained and you would be expected to raise your cap when meeting a master in or out of the school grounds.
Traton (Arthur) Brown (1943-48)........................in a letter to David Richardson..........The teachers that I can recall might still have been struggling to impart knowledge to numbskulls like me, when you were there. They included the Headmaster, Mr. Shephard and Messrs. Bacon,Hyde, Kirkby, Woods (Timber Willy), Bryant, Burridge and MacLaren. Mr Green took Chemistry, and Mr. Mercer who also ran the Chess Club of which I was a member. We used to play matches, home and away, against Twickenham Grammar and Chiswick Grammar.
I can also remember the following form mates: John Ellis, John Felix, Joe Caira, Des Stuckey, John Reekie, my cousin Terence Brown, Roy Chambers, Brian McDermott and Dudley Tibble. R.E.A. Brown known as Dickie was also there. We were colleagues in the Chess team and used to work it so that, when playing other schools and the captains had tossed for choice of colour (black or white) Dickie, who preferred to play a defensive game, played black whilst I always played white being more more attack-minded. He was unfortunately killed in a flying accident in the Fleet Air Arm. Dickie's brother was also at Shene and was known as 'Carrots' because of his mop of ginger hair. I was to learn later that Roy Chambers was wounded in action against the Mau Mau in Kenya.
These were the days of National Service and I elected to serve 5 years. I was to meet Peter Goundrell, another form mate at RAF Yatesbury during training. I have for a long time been known to my acquaintances and family as Percy.
A sixth former at the time was Jack Parker, AAA Champion 110 yards hurdles. He was a boyhood hero of mine along with Denis Compton and Bill Edrich.
Mike Bettles.........Congratulations on website. It looks very good. Can`t say the same about John in his "before" photograph! Thank God no-one has got one of me at that age although I believe there is a panoramic photo of the whole school that I appear on. Luckily my Mother seems to have disposed of that at some time. Look forward to catching up with lots of other things and memories that are probably best forgotten!
Norman How..........Congratulations on this new super website, Taffy and John. I was really amused to find a photo with a very scruffy, smaller me on it...!! Marie (my wife) reckoned I hadn't changed much......!! In the History I was intrigued to learn that HHS and Mr. Terry had been around from 1927. Mr. Hyde was the wonderful guy who spent around two hours of his evening time trying to persuade my parents that I wasn't a dead loss and would make it at University. I reckon I owe him a lot. (Did he know it's possible to be a dead loss and still make it at University...?). Hope I might make the 2004 Reunion.
The following photograph will be reinstated in the new Photo Gallery in due course
Here is an old school photo sent to John Olrog by Dudley Maynard. (see him at Familiar Faces in the Photo Gallery). The cameras in those days were pretty basic.
Back Row: Barry Bannister, John Neale, Peter Cheney, Alan Rogers, Jack McEnery, Mike Webb, Selwyn Thomas, Mike Bettles, Alan Hillman, Dudley Maynard, 'George' Stephens, Timothy Goldring, Derek Corless
Front Row: John Hasselgren, Tony Nicholas, John Olrog
Tom Smith (1946-52)............I write in appreciation of the efforts of David Richardson and John Olrog in organising the gathering at the Golf club. What a good evening..! I seemed to meet so many fellows I was with at Shene, partly because I had been involved with two class years. I reached Upper Five A on the occasion of the very first instance of GCE O level when I was 15 but at that initial set-up of GCE there was a ruling that candidates had to be 16 years old. I never established whether this was a County Council Education Committee directive or a demand of the Examination Board. This was to affect some half dozen of us.....Michael Mockridge, Gerry Wall, Trevor Griffiths and the late 'Tich' Skinner all chose to go into the Sixth Form straight on to A level but I was less confident of my academic ability and chose to step back a year to ensure that I took O levels. Thus I had another set of classmates......and this was how I dropped into John Olrog's form, sitting next to him in fact, during that last year I had at School.
It was interesting to see how some ex pupils didn't look a day different although others were not immediately recognisable. No mistaking John (except that he has gained height since leaving School....!) nor Gerry Forse, Michael Battley, and Gerry Wall. I failed to identify Dick Strevens (great change of height, here) and also Lionel Parker. It amazed me how well some matters were remembered. Michael Battley immediately enquired "Did you get around to racing motor cycles...?" (I bought my first motor cycle when I was 15 and had obviously talked of hopes of racing them). My answer was "Yes, for 9 years."
There are a few school memories that have stuck in my mind (don't ask me why), the first of which involved John....I didn't get the chance to remind him at the Reunion. This took place in the Geography room where John and I sat next to each other, second row back, in line with the door. I can't recall what John had originally done to upset Mr. Goodbourn but he was told to remove himself from the room....."You are being silly, Olrog....get out...!" John complied with the request slamming the door behind him. Gore, who was standing at the side farthest from the door and beyond the dais on which stood his desk, reacted with great speed and bounded across the dais in a couple of huge leaps like a 'triple jump' competitor and opened the door while John's hand was still in mid-air after having released the handle. John was grabbed by the scruff of the neck and hoisted back into the room. "Why did you slam the door, Olrog..?" was answered with astonished temerity by "It slipped out of my hand, sir"..........The final scene....."Well get out again and, this time, make sure that it doesn't slip out of your hand.......!!!!!!". I wonder whether John recalls the incident.....??
Mr. Bryant, the English master also has his place.....At the end of each chapter in our text books there was a list of words from which sentences had to be constructed to illustrate their meaning. Doing this orally, Mr. Bryant called upon Peter England to answer for the word 'avenue'. His solution was immediate....."when did you last avenue hat..?" A verbal trip through Gray's Elegy had arrived at the line 'some village Hampden born to blush unseen' and Mr. Bryant enquired of the significance of Hampden. Ian Cave was to offer 'the Hampden roar'..............For those who do not follow Association Football, in those days Hampden Park was the Scottish equivalent to Wembley Stadium and home to the Scotland national team and the sound generated by 130,000 fans was considerable.. Mr. Bryant was to sigh in despair that his pupils were more mindful of soccer than our great literary ancestors. Nevertheless, I am sure that Cave's contribution is what has made me remember Gray's Elegy almost in it's entirety.........!
Mr. Bryant had no better fortune with his recitation of Goldsmith's Deserted Village when he came to: 'the bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love, the matron's glance which would those looks reprove' ....and had to listen to Peter Chaney who advised all and sundry that his girlfriend was also a bashful virgin who was always bashing him with her handbag.....!!!
Other correspondents have mentioned the teaching of Latin.......! Reg. Brigden's teaching aid was his belt, doubtless remembered. But it made him, in my opinion, the best teacher at Shene and I only mastered English through Latin. I well remember Brigden entering he room at the first lesson of the two year run-in to O levels....."There is a homework timetable on the wall but take no notice of it becase I will give you homework EVERY night. Each day I will list 6 irregular verbs whose principal endings you must commit to memory. You will be tested on them the following day. Anyone who fails will get 3 strokes of my belt...." I saw to it that I never received such additional 'turoring'.
I went into engineering on leaving School and went to evening classes to do A level Latin when I was awaiting National Service call-up. The call-up came before the exam.....but the teacher was nowhere near Briggy - didn't have the same methods. I can still readily translate any Latin Motto. I was to meet Briggy again a few years after leaving school. My brother and I obtained Saturday employment to earn pocket money in a bicycle shop in Shene from which Reg. bought a moped. We kept in touch for many years with the shop owner and one night in late 1956 he asked us to go to Briggy's home in Jubilee Avenue, Twickenham to repair a puncture. This was the time of petrol rationing which arose from the Suez crisis. The Brig was doing well on his ration from the very high MPG of his moped thus paid us in much valued petrol coupons. I believe that he ultimately got a post at Twickenham Tech (almost on his doorstep) when it became a 6th Form College.........
I am looking forward to your 2004 omnimum gatherum
Ron Edwin-Scott (matriculated in 1950)..............I had 12 and a half years in the RAF flying Canberras as a navigator and followed this with 25 years as an (Australian) Air Traffic Controller in Australia and Papua New Guinea. I took early retirement on my 56th birthday in December, 1989.
I celebrated 44 years of marriage in February, 2003 and have 6 grandchildren the eldest of whom was 12 on Christmas Day. I am a Rotarian, Freemason, Lay Assistant in the Anglican Church and an enthusiastic lawn bowler
Rev. Dick Strevens (1946-53) .................I'd like to pay a personal tribute to HH Shephard as the founder Headmaster of the School...............Aided by mature and settled staff he was to set the tone of the School...hard academic work......good behaviour and courtesy. In my view, looking back well over 50 years, he had a spiritual, and I use the word in it's widest possible sense, influence upon the School as he gave us an appreciation of the deeper things of life. I owe him a debt of gratitude that I can never fully repay and I treasure the letter he wrote to me for my Ordination to the Priesthood on 29th September, 1963.
Albert John (Taffy) Richardson (1945-48)...................................A Welsh born off-spring of a Welsh mother and English father I had spent the war years on my Uncle's farm at Trelewis, Glamorgan and was to return to Sandycombe Road, Kew Gardens with a pronounced Welsh accent. I had been at Grammar School at the John Lewis School, Pengam and was to encounter Eddie Roberts at the bus stop on my first day. He thought I spoke in a peculiar manner and the feeling was shared........ I thought he sounded a bit strange too. I was dubbed Taffy very quickly as was my brother David (Text Editor of this Site) who naturally became Taffy Junior when he arrived at the School in 1948. I was the smallest boy in the School and recall being spoken to by Alan Bloxham who offered me his services as a minder if I ever needed them. I never did. I was to ask Arthur Terry what the word 'facetious' meant and managed to evade the piece of chalk that came hurtling my way. On a non-academic note, I was to fall off my bike at the bus stop in Upper Richmond Road near Cliffords Bridge being busy ogling a bird in the bus queue at the time. There was no lasting damage to either bike or rider.
Michael Barnes (? - ?)..................................who now lives in Ontario, Canada.................."For the interest of anyone who attended the School between 1948 and 1952 during the period when HHS was the Head, the only person I have been able to maintain contact with has been Michael Battley, now resident in Leigh-o.n-Sea.
I became a Head Teacher, designated a Principal here and when I retired I was serving in a French Immersion Public School. I started writing in the 60's and am now author of over 40 books, mostly on Northern Canada but some on Police work. Since 1995 I have been a Member of the Order of Canada for literature. For a chap who saw his first published work in the Richmond and Twickenham Times in 1946..and that just a letter to the Editor...it has been a considerable step-up.
Right now we have had several weeks of severe cold and, in the words of the old Hudson's Bay Company salute, I extend to all Old Boys...................May You Winter Well"
Derek Cleveland (1946-51)............After spending two terms at Gainsborough Road School I took the 11 plus again and this time was granted an interview which I passed. I was offered a place at Sheen and started in September.
Teachers that spring to mind are: Mr. Shephard (Headmaster and affectionately known as Creep), Mr. Bacon (History), Mr. Terry (History and Sports), Mr. Chisman (Chemistry, Mr. Ryder (Biology), Mr. Brigden (Latin and English, Mr. Goodbourn (Geography), Mr Hyde (French), Mr Maclaren (French), Mr. Shackell (Woodwork), Mr. Fairhurst (Art) and Mr. Smith (Music).
The School was divided into four houses: Fife (Yellow), Hood (Red), York (Blue) and Temple (Green). Competition was fierce for the cups to be won for studies, football, cricket, swimming, athletics and chess. Each year consisted of two forms, A and B and rivalry between these was also intense.
Our first year was spent in two classrooms at the Hertford Avenue Girls School which also housed the Biology laboratory. The problems with this arrangement were minimised due to the fact that the masters taking the next class could be seen approaching from the main school.
When space became available in the main school we were shipped back there. We still had to run a gauntlet to the canteen in the girls' school at lunchtime It was worse when the snow was on the ground and we were pelted and not allowed to fight back against snowballs (some of which contained stones)
Since this was a period shortly after the War we were encouraged to have a small allotment behind the main school.
I joined the 1st East Sheen, School Scout Group, ably run by Mr. Shackell and Mr. Maclaren. We met on Friday evenings after school using the Woodwork Room as our Headquarters. The highlight was the two weeks summer camp, preparations for which started in early July. These included getting equipment packed and ready for the railway to collect and transport. At Easter we also had camps mainly in schools and Youth Hostels in Wales or the Lake District. Our scouting activities around the Richmond district were what we considered the best. We won the Camping and Scoutcraft Competitions on many occasions.
Times were changing by the time that we came to take final examinations. Matriculation had ceased and been replaced by the School Certificate with grades which changed regularly.
Roger Paveley (1947-52).....................David, Many thanks for your recent circular regarding the Reunion lunch in October, and my apologies for a rather long delay in replying. As you will note from the above address, the letter almost took a round the world trip to reach me. Although we still have an apartment in South Africa and use that address for local mail we are now spending most of the year in Germany. I would suggest that you use the address in Germany for any future communications.
At this stage I do not think that I shall be able to make it to the Reunion 2005 gathering. I know that this will mean missing out on a rare opportunity to revive old friendships, long since gone dead as the years and distance separated our divergent lives. Last year, when my brother, Tony, told me about the idea and gave me a copy of the contact list as it then existed, I was amazed at how many of the names I had completely forgotten. Additionally I had difficulty putting faces to many of the ones that I did remember. Presumably the ravages of time and stress will have blurred the features of most of those to the extent that recognition amongst first-time Reunion participants is a bit of a hit and miss affair.
After a lifetime spent in shipping and marine engineering, I retired fully last year. The initial intention was to return to our roots, and settle in UK. Maureen, my wife, is originally from Glasgow, so it seemed natural to try Scotland first. We have enjoyed many holidays over the years meandering around all parts north of the border, and decided to look thoroughly in the areas around Perth and the Borders. Eventually we came to realise that far too many from other more southerly parts of UK had already been ahead of us, driving up house prices to the point where value for money was disappearing rapidly. It was at this point when friends in this sleepy little backwater of N.W Germany told us about a property in the village where we had spent 4 years while I worked for consultants at the Emden shipyard of Nordseewerke GmbH. After a couple of trips to sort things out, we ended up buying, and moved here at the end of February. Hopefully for many years to come we will join the swallows, flying south to CapeTown for a few months to avoid the northern winters, and return each Spring.
I wish you and the rest of the “old boys” a successful Reunion, and hope you will be encouraged to repeat the idea in future years, when I would certainly make the effort to coincide a trip to visit family with the date of a Reunion.
SCIENTIFIC SOCIETY VISIT TO BRITISH THERMOSTAT CO. AT SUNBURY - 20TH JULY, 1954
Anon, Mr. Chisman, David Henderson, Ron Summersby, Barry Bannister,Alan Rogers, Ted Bicknell, John Neale, Dennis Sharp, Brian Cooksley, George Reicher, Hywel Madoc-Jones, Friend, 'Bev' Baker, Alan Treherne, Michael Blenkinsopp, Trevor Griffiths, Morgan Edwards, Brian Charlesworth, Peter Gardner, David Cushen, Anon
UPPER AND LOWER SIXTH FORMS 1956 (taken by Tom Reid, bottom right via time-delay)
Top row: R. Towers, Sanderson, Truscott, Polson, Cuthbert, Allen, Holdaway, Susman, Hindson, Leach, Potts, Grayson, Stotland
Second Top Row: Fisher, Marlow, Worral, Coleman, Gregory, Telling, Double, West, Cushen, Bayes, Sturt, Dale, Bowen, Noble
Second Bottom Row: Shaw, Hartland, Gardner, Floyd, Madoc-Jones, Woods, Thomas, Blenkinsopp, Friend, P. Penney, Levesconte, A. Wicks, Mather, A. Ward, Moody, Merrall
Bottom Row: Findlay, Partridge, Ruffell, S. Baker, Lawler, Rush, D. Ward, A. Bond, Saar, Cottrell, Clark, D. Pearson, J. Bond, Theodoulou, T. Reid
1957 SENIOR PREFECTS
Back Row: Theodoulou, Fisher, Hindson, Cottrell, Rush, BowenFront Row: Shaw, Sturt, Madoc-Jones, Reid, Susman
Ron Pearman (1948-53)....................... I had a very chance encounter a few weeks ago. My wife and myself were house-hunting along the A303 to get closer to our grandchildren.
We had a viewing at Wincanton, Somerset and the owner had lived in Richmond as a boy, went to the Richmond school until it closed where he was head boy, then moved to East Sheen and was continued on as head boy. He is now 82 years old and looks very well.
As he is not on the internet or email I printed off the school histories and posted them to him. I have since had a letter saying how delighted he was to have his memories revived. He remembers many of the staff.
I hope this helps you track down one more inmate from the old school.
You may be interested in what I got up to after leaving school. I remember you saying I was difficult to track down as I'd moved around allot.
I left school at 16, not staying for the 6th form. After working in London as a trainee accountant for about 18 months I realised that was not for me.
At school I was always playing about with model aircraft and going to Heathrow to watch the aircraft so aviation was an obvious choice and joined the RAF. I was lucky to be accepted as aircrew and flew (now I will really age myself !!) Lancasters (Coastal Command), Sunderland Flying Boats, Beverley Transports and for the last six years on Comet 2's and Comet 4's.
After the RAF, aviation still beckoned so I went into Air Traffic Control, initially overseas in Malta, Libya, Antigua and Kano, Nigeria then I joined the Ministry of Aviation (Civil Aviation Authority) and worked at Birmingham and Gatwick airports with a six year interlude up in the highlands of Scotland doing relief managerial work at most of the highlands and islands airfields.
I finally lost my job a little early as I failed the hearing part of the annual medical. The RAF had conspired to give me noise induced hearing loss, from flying noisy aircraft, that gradually worsened over the years.
Now I am retired to Cornwall with my wife Molly but looking to make one final move to be closer to the grandchildren.
Regret I am not able to give any decision about Reunion 2007 as yet as things are in a state of change at the moment.
Mike Smith (1941-?).................
Many thanks for organising yet another very successful reunion. I left for our pad in France the day after and have only just returned to find another superb write-up of the event on the web site. I was particularly taken with the visit to the school, with the added interest of meeting the bursar and the newly-appointed head mistress. We also met the present caretaker - a somewhat more affable person than the one I remember in the forties - who was sure he had the original handbell that was used to mark the beginning and end of lessons. He duly produced a battered looking bell which looked very much like the one I remember - from a cupboard in the Head's office.
Although I didn't recognise much of how things used to be, at least I now know what it is like for a great nephew, who is taking his GCSEs this year, and a niece who was there in the early eighties. I also have a brother-in-law who uses the facilities of the "technology" department regularly, which I think must have taken the place of "woodwork".
I was also particularly pleased to meet up with Wally Stone again. He has been able to give me an address for Alan Little which I think he acquired from you and I, hopefully, await a reply. Alan Little was a great friend in my batchelor days and was my best man at my wedding but, as often happens if one friend remains a bachelor for a few more years, we lost touch. Once again, many thanks for taking all the trouble to organise these events, which we all appreciate very much.
Someone else has contributed some info on Dr Gardiner, who left to take a post at the University in Pietermaritzburg in 1946. My memory is that he was Mr Gardiner when I arrived in 1941, but he wrote his thesis on Gerald Manley Hopkins at home (with a family - he had two boys at the school, and a war on!) and was awarded his LLD round about 1944. I thought he was a brilliant teacher and well remember taking part in some of the plays he produced for Speech Day. I hated English lessons until he taught me.
Ralph Stone (1942-49).......................I was very sorry to hear that Derek Smith (who used to play the hymns for Assembly on alternate weeks from me) had passed away. However, I suppose that when one reaches my age, one must expect to hear such news. As I have mentioned before, when we were at school we generally used surnames so I could not recall his first name until reminded by Roger Smith's e-mail although we knew each other quite well. I seem to remember, however, that his initials were D.M.
An embarrassing incident occurred shortly after I began to play the hymns. I had not been learning the piano for long and felt very nervous on the first few occasions, although I became quite blase about it all later on. The hymn that I had to play on that awful morning had repeat marks at the end of the first line, which were shaped like hollow diamonds. Normally a repeat would be signified by pairs of solid circular black dots. Unfortunately, I did not realise that the first line of music had to be repeated so when the boys were all singing the second line of words (to the tune of the first line) I was playing the accompaniment for the third line of words and when they got to the third line of words I was playing the accompaniment to the fourth. When they reached the fourth line of words in the verse I had run out of music and did not play at all ! This fiasco continued for several verses whilst I thumped louder and louder because I thought that the boys were not following me. Afterwards, of course, I realised what had happened and Mr Hyde said that I had better go and apologise to Mr Shephard, the headmaster. Fortunately, he was very understanding and probably saw the funny side of it, although I think that he was rather upset during the time that he was on the platform, conducting the Assembly and trying desperately to suppress the mirth of his three hundred charges, to say nothing of that of their teachers.
As far as I can remember, Derek did not have any problems like that !
Editor's Note: Roger Smith (Derek's brother) added to this in July, 2007..............
.......................'I have read the recent communication from Ralph Stone on the web-site and this is just a short message to say that he was correct in remembering that Derek's initials were DMS. My recollection is that our father painted them on the outside of the case that Derek used to carry books etc. to and from school. He did the same also for my brother Graham and myself. In the case of Graham this caused quite a few comments among masters such as Messrs. White, McLaren and Hyde as his initials GBS were among the most well-known of the era. George Bernard Shaw had died in 1950 at the age of 94 and his books were extensively read and studied at the time'.
Peter Gardner (1949-56).......................................................(see also photographs in the Photo Gallery)
FIFTY YEARS ON...........................................
My wife and I had a week in London in May 2002, looking up old places and generally discovering what was new since we lived there 40 years ago. We spent a day at Sheen and there was naturally one rather special place on the Agenda. A heavy shower came on as we approached the school from Park Avenue and we ran for a door marked 'All Visitors Report Here' just inside the gates, in what was once the cloakroom and changing room. Here was an Office and, somewhat out of breath, I explained at the Enquiries window that we were just here to see my old school and take a few photos.
First shock: absolutely no photography allowed!....... "Alright - is it OK if we just wander through the grounds?" Second shock: no unauthorised persons allowed!....... We argued politely to and fro and learned that these precautions were to guard against hostage-taking/shooting and against paedophiles and the like. It didn't look as though they would budge, so I put on a final desperate show with "scholarship from this school in 1956", "we've come all the way from Denmark" etc……………. Suddenly the negative atmosphere relaxed and after a short wait a kind lady (administrator or teacher?) appeared saying the Deputy Head had given his permission and that she would show us round. So we signed the book, stuck on our Visitor badges and off we went - for me it was down Memory Lane.
It appeared that the school as I knew was now mainly a Science block. There were several new buildings, including a large and impressive 'Art' block, and the Hertford Avenue School (Girls Secondary Modern that was) is part of the complex. The corridors and class-rooms were still more or less as I remembered them. We looked in on a couple of classes and there were polite smiles when the teacher was informed that here was an old boy from the 50s - but nothing more……no real interest or questions. Understandable since the school has 'changed hands' not once but several times since I left. The caretakers, still occupying the room to the right of the hall, were an exception though, and there was professional interest when I told of the coke heap (out of bounds) at the side of the hall. On passing the back stairs I remarked that in Physics we measured the horse-power of a boy by weighing him and getting him to charge up the staircase, timed by stopwatch. "Yes, we still do that" was the comment ………….and I wondered if our guide had understood!
Our tour took an hour and, on leaving, we were given a brochure which presented Shene School, it’s different courses and activities, and summarised the academic achievements. Positively impressed, we were by then quite prepared to agree with the security arrangements. There had been little or no noise, teachers and pupils looked pleased to be there and there was the feeling of a well-run workplace. Two big differences from my day were girls and coloured pupils. Also the 'Shene Fitness Centre' had plonked itself down in the front playground - I wonder where they play hand-tennis nowadays?
Peter Sealby (1941-46)....................................in a letter to David Richardson dated 14th July, 2008
When I tell you that I cannot see at all well and my legs do not want me to stand on them for very long and that, in a crowded room full of conversations, I cannot hear much.. you will not be surprised when I tell you that I cannot come to the SOGs get-together in October. I would love to meet up with old class-mates. Just 65 years ago we were all naive and quite nice lads......!
I wanted to tell you a school story but the only one I have is incomplete and needs research.
Sometime in the very late 40s or early 50s SOGs were invited to tour the Parliament buildings by an Old Boy who was a Member of Parliament but prior to the trip the MP was arrested for importuning in an Earls Court lavatory. Sir George Harvie-Watt, the local MP came to our rescue and sponsored our trip thus about a dozen of us went but who the errant Old Boy MP was or what happened to him I cannot say. The only thing I remember well is that The Earls Court Incident gave rise to the slogan 'Backs To The Wall In Case Labour Gets In'
With best wishes to you all and I hope that the October meet is a great success.
Alan (once F.K.) Deutsch (1941-46)................... in an e-mail to David Richardson on 17th January, 2010
Thank you for sending me your comprehensive analysis. Around 1948 I added 'Alan' as my main forename. I would make 3 points:
(a) The school was obviously called 'Richmond & East Sheen County Grammar School' during my attendance from 1941 to 1946 and I was in the Temple house.
(b) 2 unusual annual sporting events were 'throwing the cricket ball' and 'kicking the football'.
(c) Probably through my shortcoming in computer literacy, I am unable to trace the surnames of the listed ex pupils. I or 2, such as 'Alan Bloxham' are recognisable through their listed email addresses.
The following masters spring to mind: Mr. H.H.Shepherd, Mr. 'Sark' or 'Vulch' Kirby, Dr. Gardener, Mr. 'Sammy' Shackell, Mr. 'Gore' Goodbourne, Mr. 'Mac' McClaren, Mr. 'Baldy' Stone, Mr. 'Teg' Green, Mr. Blackledge, Mr. 'Reg' Terry, plus two young trainee female teachers who were there owing to the absence of some teachers on war duty.
I remember the following ex pupils (most were my contemporaries): Alan Bloxham, Chris Wicks (I note now deceased), Morgan Reynolds, Derek Tidy, Geoff Dennison, Dickie Poynter, Peter Jeffs, 'Stinker' Stevens, Ray Argent, ? Hilliard, Jack Parker, the Foote brothers, John Veglio. Also Mickey Ayres - who I have met on 2 occasions in the last two years.
Finally, soon after I joined in 1941, the head announced the sad death of 'Paddy Finucane', one of the first RAF war casualties.
Thanks, again, I hope I have not gone on too long. I note the next reunion is on Wednesday, 7th. April 2010 –
I will do my utmost to attend.
David Martin (1940- )..................Jack Wymer's recollection of a stuka plane dropping a bomb by the Bank of England is identical with my own. We must have been together at the time. I remember very clearly standing by the hall near the library and someone shouting 'Lie flat' and several of us trying to run we knew not where in a panic.
An extract from David Martin’s autobiography………….
CHAPTER THREE: EAST SHEEN GRAMMAR SCHOOL
I arrived at East Sheen Grammar School in September 1940 and, as a scholarship boy, I found myself in the A form. Given my mother left school at twelve and my father at eleven to enter into ‘service this meant I was in an unknown region so far as they were concerned. Though I had access to books, like Newnes Pictorial Knowledge, my new schoolmates also had chemistry sets. The years that followed my arrival at Sheen were broken by air raids and filing out to the long brick shelters built above ground, though in some lessons, especially maths. I was only too glad to have them interrupted. Before the war we had practised filing into trenches, and putting on our gas masks. The barrage balloons going up over London made an astonishingly beautiful sight.
Perhaps I should first say something about the bombing, because it pock-marked several of the five years up to School Certificate and educated me in the varieties of high explosive and their varied effects. Most mornings during the blitz I would cycle around the area collecting shrapnel and documenting where the bombs, incendiaries, Molotov cocktails, or land mines had destroyed houses in a blue book, in which I also recorded the number of raids, or at any rate, alerts, each day. Sometimes there were five sirens a day, and always an air raid alert overnight, at least up to late 1941, and then it all started up again in 1944and early 1945 with the unmanned flying bombs that came down when their engines cut out, and the rockets, the first of which landed less than two miles away. One night in the first phase of bombing I noted forty five explosions from nearby bombs. Our house was never hit even by incendiaries, and I felt so bereft of stories to tell at school in the morning that I asked the dear God to let us suffer some minor, though non-fatal, incident, so I would at least have something to say on meeting my class-mates. Sometimes I would go to school as the shrapnel came rattling down over the roofs, and I would walk with my school case held over my head.
Apart from being in Swindon with my uncle and aunt when the first bomb fell on the county cricket ground, I think my first raid was on a summer day in 1940. My mother and I stood in the garden fascinated by formations in the sky above us like beautiful silver fish, until the whistle of descending high explosives told us these were not ours, and my mother dragged me into the kitchen her body arched over me next to the gas stove. Later I remember my mother doing just that, throwing her body over my sister in the upstairs bed as a flying bomb cut out. For a short while in 1940 we used the concrete shelter in the garden, with some substance between our teeth to stop us seriously biting ourselves in the blast. But the shelter was dank, the beds were uncomfortable and we felt safer under the stairs. One particular night my mother, my sister and I were under the stairs with my father under the kitchen table, and as a stick of bombs came ever closer I remember him calling out ‘Jesus, help us!’ I am sure he hoped destruction would fall on the devil’s establishment at Watney’s Brewery about a quarter of a mile away.. My aunt Alice, who lived in Ewell, also called on divine help, and quoted ‘A thousand shall fall at thy right hand, and ten thousand at thy left hand, yet it shall not come nigh thee’ which even at the time struck me as hard on my other rather slatternly aunt Rose, who smoked, drank and even swore, and lived just down the road.
Most shocking to me was a landmine that destroyed virtually two streets by Barnes Methodist church and made the church unusable. For the first time I felt real fear. Nevertheless my sister and I were still sent regularly to the Sunday School. My most stupid escapade was with Colin Slaughter, who lived in the house opposite. An air raid warden had left the door of a hut ajar in the nearby playground of the Mortlake Primary School. Colin and I stole in and took six incendiaries back to Ripley Gardens, unscrewing the tops and building up little piles of dark materials from inside. We then became aware of startled parents at their gates, like figures in a Stanley Spencer Resurrection, gesturing in an alarmed manner and shouting at us to stop. As for the Grammar School, the chemistry laboratory was bombed and one day I and a few others, like Jack Wymer, were in the playground by the hall when a Stuka swooped down out of the mist, dropped a bomb in the field across the road by the Bank of England building, and we all spread-eagled on the ground in a serious fright.
I did a lot of cycling during these five school years, round Richmond Park most mornings before breakfast and school, sometimes up to Piccadilly or out to Guildford. Once I climbed to the outer dome of St. Paul’s cathedral and saw nothing but destruction and bombed out churches all around. I also spent far too much time with Jean Langridge on her sofa or, just once, on Wimbledon Common which became an initiation into a new range of emotions. I fell out of love with Jean by reading Shaw’s Preface to St. Joan en route along Cleveland Rd., to her house in Cambridge Rd., one summer evening. It was the sentence about Joan being one of the queerest fish in the Middle Ages that did it. I had never before known saints written about in that offhand anti-Romantic way. My romantic universe collapsed and Jean Langridge lay with Jeanne D’Arc in the ruins. When I arrived at her back alley for the usual kiss and cuddle my disenchantment was difficult to explain. Her house was later bombed though no-one was hurt. Her father had just decorated it and he showed me the damage. It was the first time I saw a man cry.
The subjects I liked at school, and did well in, history in particular, were given fewer marks than the science subjects, with the result that I limped along without a single ‘commendation’ over the whole five years up to Schools Certificate. No wonder I was delighted when the Germans bombed the chemistry laboratory. As I often gained no marks at all in science, some teachers wanted me demoted to the B or even the C stream, but were countered by others who thought better of me. I flourished briefly when we were taught Economics for a couple of terms by a lively and interested young man, who related Economics to public affairs, but then he disappeared, perhaps to the war, and Economics disappeared with him. I really enjoyed arguing the toss about the virtues of free trade but it never entered my head that part of the University of London gave degrees in the subject. Or perhaps my head was too full of poetry and literature to imagine a subject able to draw on my Liberal political interests.
One teacher in particular, MacLaren, a French master, encouraged me, even though I was not good at his subject, and I was deeply attached to him. One day he told me I could do anything a boy named Peter Powrie could do, and as Powrie became a well-known geographer and did very well at school, my morale was bolstered enough to avoid collapse. He was the master whom I subsequently most wanted to know his intervention had borne at least some later fruit. ‘Mac’ sensed I would be distressed more than other pupils if he, of all people, were to ‘slipper’ me. Once when I committed some minor misdemeanour he came up just behind me and murmured ‘You are not immune’. I glowed with gratitude for his understanding of how I felt. Another time he asked for English words with French roots and I suggested ‘jaundice’. He said I had a good vocabulary and I glowed again. On one occasion a tall and sexually precocious boy named Marshall (who had told us what it was like to sleep with a girl, an eighteen year old) threatened a supply teacher with violence. Some of us were faintly admiring and Mac spoke to the whole class about the incident, telling us we should think about what we had done during the Lord’s Prayer at Morning Assembly. I crawled inwardly with shame. Sometimes I would run into him on the way to school and I remember proudly and shyly showing him an eighteenth century edition of the Lettres de Madame de Sevigné I had bought for sixpence in a Richmond second hand shop.
Apart from getting more and more behind in subjects where you could not make up for lost time, even if I had the intelligence for it, I was confused by divided aims. My parents could not guide me because their only model was one where you left school before your teens and started to earn money. My father’s idea of the Grammar School was that it would enable me to earn more than twice what he did by working in a bank for £7 a week. My idea, in response to a questionnaire given us by Mr. Hyde, one of the French masters, was that I would like to be organist of King’s College Chapel, but this was the purest fantasy. Mr.Hyde told us not to put ‘teacher’ unless we were high flyers.
To say I had divided aims is perhaps not quite right given my total lack of direction. It would be truer to say my time was divided between music, church and school. Most evenings I played the piano at church or attended the church youth club, or went to choir practice, or sat on Jean Langridge’s sofa, or did preparation to teach in Sunday School. The reading I did was as much off the syllabus as on it, the complete novels of Hardy for example, which had the additional attraction of reminding me of Dorset. Dorset was continually in my thoughts and I imagined myself not really from Mortlake or Surrey at all. I came from where my mother came from. My self-presentation at school, partly designed to make me distinctive, given I had acquired no worthwhile scholastic profile, was of a Dorset lad. I wrote my first essay in the critical first person on Hardy when invited to comment on an author I liked. The teacher responded to my enthusiasm and I realised that I was entitled to my opinion. This sense of entitlement came from the fact that Hardy was not on the syllabus, and so he was a personally chosen possession, and made my very own by the link to family and not to school.
It was bad enough being bottom in science and maths but for an aspirant poet or writer it was much worse being nearly bottom in English. Maybe this was because one of the English masters, Mr.Harries, had perfected his own method of ‘clausal analysis’, which required sustained attention from me rather than cultivating my sensibility and endlessly describing circles in ink round my inkwell. My one relief came when we had poetry lessons. I had to keep my hand down for much of the time, in spite of wanting to respond to questions, in case I might be identified as liking poetry as well as music. If you added being exercised by religious questions as well, my fellow pupils might think I was no better than a girl in trousers. John Chalker was an exception, because he had both political and literary interests. Night after night we walked between the eyrie in his house where he kept his books and the Lower Mortlake Road, reviewing books and the human condition.
My background, especially saturation in the English Bible, gave me instinctive access to some kinds of poetry and prose. Ruskin felt entirely familiar because the writing was so resonant, morally serious and Biblical. The grave sentiments of Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard also felt familiar, and Milton’s Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity and Wordsworth’s Ode on Intimations of Immortality were my meat and drink. Apparently the classical tropes of Milton’s poem did not bother me in the slightest. The rediscovery of the metaphysical poets, especially Donne, was in full flood at the time, and my introduction to Donne revealed a distinctive kind of religious and erotic complexity I could revel in. The moment I read the line in ‘The Relique’ ‘A bracelet of bright hair about the bone’ I was hooked. If my home had given me any advantage it was an entry into the seventeenth as well as the nineteenth century. I hunted in the hymn book for hymns that were also seventeenth century poems, like Samuel Crossman’s My Song is Love Unknown and Vaughan’s My soul there is a country and John Mason’s How shall I sing that Majesty’. There, at least, faith and literature fused, as faith and music fused in Bach and Handel. While John and Leslie played tennis one day I read Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici, and apart from luxuriating in his world, I felt a special affinity with those passages fusing faith and music. Browne said that even ‘vulgar tavern music’ had ‘something of divinity in it’. About this time, or perhaps it was a little later, I discovered Traherne’s Centuriesof Meditation, and John gave me Izaak Walton’s Lives, introducing me to a kind of quiet Anglican piety I found deeply attractive. It was odd, and perhaps a sign of cotinuity, that my daughter should one day write her doctoral thesis at Cambridge on Walton and on the problem of veracity in early biography, making problematic what I had found so attractive.
Then one day our English master, Dr. Gardner, told us there was a third great ode alongside Milton and Wordsworth: G.M.Hopkins’s The Wreck of the Deutschland. Dr. Gardner had grown tired tramping through analysis of the characters of Falstaff and Hamlet year after year, but he was the editor of the first complete publication of the poems of Hopkins, and that really enthused him. After recovering from our surprise about this third great ode, a few of us also became enthused and this enthusiasm carried over when he taught us in the Arts sixth form. In the sixth we were asked to give our views on certain critical cruces, like the last line of ‘The Nature that is Heraclitean Fire’, and Leslie even checked the proofs of Gardner’s edition. Gardner also taught us Chaucer in the sixth form, just a few lines of the Prologue each lesson because he insisted on going into the Anglo-Saxon roots: not for us Coghill’s modernisation of the text. This was education well beyond the requirements of the Higher Schools Certificate, and when another master, Beresford, took over, we buzzed along a hundred lines at a time.
The headmaster, H.H Shephard, had virtually founded, or intellectually refounded, the school with hand-picked teachers and he was a mathematician with literary, religious and musical interests. Occasionally he took over our class when a teacher was away. Once he read us the whole of Wordsworth’s Michael and asked us to react to the last line ‘And never lifted up a single stone’. We made nothing of it. I suspect Michael was outside the range of our sensibility, and we compared it very unfavourably with the rich diction of Keats. Occasionally he took over religious instruction, as it was then called. One period was given over to St.John of the Cross, and he asked us to raise our hands if we understood anything of the Dark Night of the Soul. This was more dangerous personal exposure even than responding to poetry, but I raised my hand all the same, and maybe John Chalker did too. Several periods were given over to Albert Schweitzer and his biblical criticism, and maybe this provided a prelude to the severe shock I sustained a few years later in 1950 on reading Schweitzer’s The Quest of the Historical Jesus.
For senior boys the headmaster ran the Music Circle, a solemn conclave of the serious minded held in the library. He supplied the records, which were changed every five minutes by Hodges, the librarian, a bespectacled character, who sometimes invited me to his home to watch him conduct the Emperor Concerto or the Ninth Symphony. I was the next librarian and it was during my watch that the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the generous gift (I believe) of the headmaster, disappeared. I was suspected of purloining it for my private use, which was a very natural supposition, but untrue. I hope the headmaster believed my protestations. It was in the library that he surprised us by telling us we made up an intellectual elite. He also surprised me personally by asking me to read out an essay on the renaissance of English music. The essay ended with references to Edward Elgar and the sentence ‘We now await the master’. I could not imagine why this which was greeted with smothered laughter.
The head arranged for me to play Brahms D minor Ballade for the parents’ opening day and promised he would see to it that they kept quiet. When we were about to leave school he devised a special prize for me, since there was no specific achievement for which I deserved a prize. It was Albert Einstein’s Mozart. Perhaps it was partly in acknowledgement of my role as pianist for morning assembly, where I enjoyed using the piano to coax reluctant male masses into singing. I also (untypically) enjoyed reading the lessons, especially my favourite from Ecclesiastes, about the silver cord being loosed, the golden bowl broken and all the daughters of music brought low. It felt like a precursor of the symbolist poetry I was starting to write. Maybe it was about this time that Dr. Gardner took John Chalker, Leslie Smith and me to the Cafe Royale, and to Marlowe’s Edward the Second . He also gave each of us a book. In my case it was a life of Rimsky-Korsakov, Gardner having first ascertained that I did not think much of Ernest Walker’s History of Music in England. He wanted to make sure he had the choice right.
To read English at London University you had to have some Latin, and our Latin master had been away in the army, so Latin lessons only began in 1945 in the sixth form. Initially they were taken by Mrs Seligsohn, a German refugee. Frau Seligsohn once asked me to read Virgil out aloud and expressed pleasure at the ‘beautiful’ way I did it. Another sixth former, Peter Jones, a footballer preparing to be a civil servant, interjected ‘It is just such a pity he doesn’t understand it’. Mrs Seligsohn soon proposed rectifying this by inviting me to her apartment near Richmond Hill and giving me free private tuition, just like my piano teacher. The problem was that I simply looked forward to the occasion, and did not get down to Caesar’s Gallic Wars, Virgil’s Georgics, or Cicero’s Pro Sexto Roscio. Cicero’s legal rhetoric interested me, not his grammatical constructions. I deluded myself that I really wanted to work in response to her kindness, and even took the Georgics with me on a cycle ride deep into the Surrey countryside. But I fell asleep in the warm air over the ‘Georgics, ‘drowsed with the fume of poppies’, and the Georgics slipped into the long grass. One evening Mrs. Seligsohn shook her head reprovingly and said that all I wanted to do was to come and talk to her about Plato. It was all too true.
A little earlier, in the upper fifth, Miss Kathleen Holroyd, a blonde teacher in her very early twenties, had aroused less intellectual interests. She was the first female teacher in an all male school, brought in to teach maths because of wartime shortages, to the unalloyed pleasure of the upper fifth. Eric Emery and I got into the habit of walking her home, and we three became David, Eric and Kate. We saw ourselves as her intimates and tried to persuade her to come to the Music Circle with us, but she declined, saying the solemnity of the head’s presence was just too oppressive. One day she accidentally used Emery’s Christian name in class (‘Oh, Eric!’), provoking a murmurous buzz of speculation half-way between derision and envy. I was infuriated to think the class did not realise she used my Christian name too.
In 1945 I stood as Liberal candidate in the school’s mock election to accompany the national election, and made speeches with a certain amount of brio, having got the idea of persuasive public speech from hearing a thousand fiery sermons. Public speaking intoxicated me, as it did my father in Hyde Park, and I had a good grasp of liberal moral rhetoric, maybe gleaned from Morley’s Life of Gladstone or the speeches of John Bright. Or was that a little later? In a second-hand bookshop I bought a book of conservative propaganda about land reform directed against the Liberal government of 1906, and was so incensed I covered it in vituperative comment. I papered it over before showing the disgusting document to Mr. Bacon, the history master and to my embarrassment he wanted to know what the hidden comment was. In the general election I distributed leaflets for David Ennals, the local Liberal candidate.
I also became school librarian, editor of the school magazine and an habitué of the Senior Literary and Debating Society. The library became a hide-out for those not interested in going on wearisome country runs through Richmond Park or bawling raucous support for local heroes on sports days. I remember that a small second former started to come in to the library and regularly staggered out with a pile of books almost heavier than he was. I have since wondered whether this was John Carey, who later became Professor of English at Oxford. The Lit. and Deb. provided me with yet more opportunities for making speeches and devising phrases, though occasionally I was rebuked for being over-forceful, for example deploying the phrase ‘a hoary-headed complex of conservative opinion’ in a debate on women’s rights. I defended the motion, derived from Shaw, that ‘When Socialism has delivered the leisure then will be time for Liberalism’. Editing the school magazine gave me the first thrilling sight of proofs and print, including print of my own poems. One was about seeing lovers one night embracing on Gray’s Bridge, Dorchester, another tried to evoke Debussy’s La Cathédrale Engloutie and another was entitled On Hearing the St. Matthew Passion from the Dome of St. Paul’s. Not so long after that I destroyed all the poems I had ever written. Les said this was an unnecessarily wholesale sacrifice merely to prove I had taste. ( John was bemused or amused by the phrase ‘phallic fronds’ which I suspect I lifted without quite understanding what it meant, from The Well of Loneliness, a lesbian novel I found discreetly placed above the top shelf of the library.)
Trevor Leggett (1942-49)………………………………………….Hi, young Taffy, having meandered through the website I would like to add a few notes to the 1942 to 49 ancients, if that's O.K.
Joined 2a as the second youngest, beaten only by David Powrie. A few G.C.S.E.s, then H.C.S.E.s or whatever saw me through to London (Chelsea Poly. no less, followed by Johnnie Ellis in 1950). A career in reinsurance, with a F.C.I.I. along the way and a bit of foreign travel: Latin America (necessitating fluent Spanish) and Africa, even managing to get expenses for a meal or two with David Wright, insurance in Johannesburg.
However, the main reason for this drivel is in memory of my two best mates - Brian Bullock and Don Read. The former died in 1986 of an obscure liver complaint. The latter, suffering from medical depression, "fell" under a train in Egham station in, I think, 1983. I hope someone remembers them - I still do. Otherwise I am still in irregular contact with John Hopkins, and with Syd Reynolds - in Seattle for about fifty years or more. Other names appear at the Reunions - doesn't young Taffy do well? - Ed. Steers, Alan Bloxham, Morgan Reynolds et al; but whatever became of Trevor Coel, Bruce Thomas, Len Johnson, Gordon Edwards, Noel Weston and twenty or so others from such a high class intake?
Perhaps they'll all be at the next meeting.
Jack Merrell (1949- ?)...................................
From: Jean Merrall [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 07 September 2012 12:01
To: David Richardson
Subject: Re: ADDITIONS TO THE SHENE OLD BOYS PHOTO GALLERY
Many thanks for the e-mail and the link to some more fascinating photos.
I was particularly interested because of a rather strange and unforgettable incident from my boyhood. I don't want to bore you with reminiscences - you probably get far too many of those! - but I must just tell you why your e-mail provoked, for me, a lovely memory.
It was 1953, when I was not quite 15. I was camping alone at St Gabriel’s Farm in Morecombelake, Dorset. I stayed there the whole summer in my little tent, helping the farmer, Mr Ched. One day, I realised that a Scout Troop had arrived and was camping two fields away. A couple of days later, to my amazement, a boy in my form at school walked through my field, saw me cooking up outside my tent and immediately came over to talk to me. So, it was the School Troop camping there! - I’d innocently thought Morecombelake was only known to very few people. The boy who saw me was David Doubble and he went back and told Mr McLaren, who was the Group Scoutmaster. He sent for me and asked me if I’d like to camp with them. He was very impressed that I was camping alone and genuinely wanted me to join them, which made me feel very honoured. So I did and had a really great time.
Keep up the good work Taffy,
JACK PARKER - CIVIL ENGINEER AND HURDLER
Photographs can be seen in the Photo Gallery at Part 9 of SPORTSMEN AT SHENE
Jack has been a civil engineer and was also a world class 110yds (110m) high hurdler during the 1950s. At school he was always a fast sprinter but his first hurdles race was at the Shene County annual sports day atPark Avenue in summer 1945, winning this race together with the 100yds and the 220yds. Mr. Terry, who organised the day, must have been very committed to stage this event.
At Liverpool University Jack won the high hurdles and the flat 220yds in 1948, his final year. That year he placed third in the hurdles in the annual Christie match between Liverpool,Manchesterand Leeds Universities. On returning to London his club, South London Harriers, entered him in the 120yds hurdles at the 1949 Surrey County Championships which, surprisingly, he won in 16.2s. In 1951 he won all three County hurdles events, over 120yds, 220yds and 440yds in a single afternoon. In 1949 the national standard of hurdling was low and Jack was fortunate to be offered coaching by John Le Masurier, under an Amateur Athletics Association (AAA) scheme.
In 1950 he reached the final of the AAA's Championships placing 4th. At the Glasgow Rangers Sports in the Ibrox Stadium that year he became the first Briton to beat Don Finlay over 12 years. Jack has mixed memories about this as Don was such a fine man and terrific hurdler; his best times were pre-war and, without the war, he would probably have won an Olympic title. The Ibrox race was on a sodden grass track which unfairly favoured Jack as he was the heavier man.
The following year he won the AAA's Championships for the first time, in 14.8s. This was followed by international selection placing third in international matches against France,Greece and Turkey but winning in the Yugoslavian match in Belgrade. McDonald Bailey equalled the world 100m record at that meeting.
Early in summer 1952, representing the AAA's against Oxford University, Jack set a new ground record of 14.6s at Iffley Road. Then at the Helsinki Olympic Games in July, after qualifying in Heat 4, he was placed 6th in the semi-final won by the American, Davis. There was just one international match that year, against France, in the old Colombes stadium, where he came first, also in 14.6s. The following year he was knocked sideways mid-race by the French decathlete, Heinrich, in the French match at WhiteCity but did win both the German and Swedish matches in Berlin and Stockholm.
1954 is famous for Bannister breaking the 4-minute mile barrier. He went on to win both the major championships that year i.e. the Commonwealth Games in Vancouver and the European Championship in Bern, Switzerland. After winning the AAA's, Jack competed at both events, running a poor race for England in Vancouver, finishing 4th in 15.0s but making amends by gaining the silver medal in Bern in 14.6s, behind the Russian, Bulanchik, having survived both heat and semi-final.
1955 was Jack's best year. After winning the AAA's for a third time, he broke the then English Native Record and equalled the British Allcomers Record with a time of 14.3s in the GB v Germany match at White City. He then won all the remaining four international matches against Hungary, France, Russia and Czechoslovakia The Russians nominated him man of the match in the Moscow event. These performances led to him being ranked No.8 in the world by Track and Field news, a high hurdler ranking not matched until Hemery was also ranked 8 in 1969. During 3 weeks in September he competed in Bordeaux, Moscow and Pragueand married on 24th September.
Shirley and he then proceeded to Malawi (then Nyasaland), sent out by his employers to design a series of low cost road bridges. This took about 6 months during which he did no hurdling or even training runs. They stopped in Nairobi en route for home to give hurdling coaching under a British Kenya aid scheme being run by Archie Evans. So Jack lost some sharpness for the 1956 track season. Nevertheless he placed 3rd in the AAA's Championships and 2nd in both internationals against Czechoslovakia and Hungary.
He was posted abroad again for an extended period to work in Hong Kong on the new airport in Kowloon Bay. Thus Jack retired from active athletics immediately after the November Melbourne Olympics where he was eliminated in Heat 2 with a time of 14.8s. The severe late Summer troubles of Suez and Hungary meant that these Games started in very difficult circumstances with circuitous journeys for many teams but the organisers overcame the problems and the Games were a great success in difficult times. Jack's last active athletics memory is from the closing ceremony in the vast Melbourne Cricket Ground, leaving the arena with thousands singing Waltzing Matilda.
His professional career continued in transportation consultancy and included a further overseas posting to Abu Dhabi in 1962-64. The UK projects on which he was engaged were mostly highway schemes, and also included the first stage of the Docklands Light Railway.
He became President of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation and concluded his career as Chief Highway Engineer in the Department of Transport before he retired.
John Ellis (1943-50).................... My achievements were academic and cricketing. My GSC results (at age 16) were 7 Distinctions and 2 Credits; these were the best to date until beaten by John Carey a couple of years later; then 2 more Distinctions a year later. At HSC (age18) 2 Distinctions and 2 Credits. On the cricket field, I suppose I put down a marker in the Second Form by producing an innings that stretched over 3 weekly games afternoons. Then I had three years in the 1st XI, the second as Vice-Captain, the third as Captain. After schooldays things drifted!
Keep up your wonderful work of recording Shene days and people.
Correspondence between John and David Richardson, February, 2015
Thank you for reminders of forgotten nicknames. Yes Creep, Popeye, Arthur, Rubberneck and Ballsy do ring bells. By all means publish my note on the website. I think that Bernard Storkey and Des Stuckey will be particularly amused. Do we have any contact on Dickie Bond and Dudley Tibble ?
Dicky Bond.....deceased December, 2006...........
Dudley Tibble................all I have is what you supplied originally but he was not on the electronic Electoral Roll published in 2005...................
Good morning, John.
I hadn’t actually replied to your interesting notes and apologise for the delay. I’ve had my house re-decorated from top to bottom during the last 10 days and I’ve been under siege.............
I’ve popped in detail, where necessary and yes, it’s interesting how many of these nicknames are still significant after all this time.................!
I am most intrigued by teachers' nicknames. Why did some not get any? Where did established ones originate? Why were some changed? I know why Mr. Mercer changed from Sark to Joe and that happened in my year. Baff and Bert came when they returned from wartime service. Katie was obvious. Vulch and Gore were established from earlier times and extremely inspired. Mr. Mac was A sign of great respect. Others like Brigden (Reg. or Rubberneck) and Bryant (Ballsy because of his habit of playing with the coins in his trouser pockets) and Ryder (not sure about him) came too late in my school life to be granted nicknames. But all most amusing
Mr. Terry :- I can't think of anything unless it was "spiv" or "jack-the-lad", but I love him because he got me a Distinction in History and made me Captain of Cricket.
Idle thoughts on what I can remember on nicknames of teachers when I was at school.
Mr Sheppard should have been Happy Harry but I don't think that did happen. (Always known as Creep to us. He used to pad silently around the corridors and was usually there when you were up to no good.............!)
Mr Bacon (Sammy) and Mr. Hyde (Popeye. Look at any group photo. He was always side-on due to an eye defect) don't ring any bells - probably too respected or feared. Mr. MacLaren was Mr.Mac and dearly loved. Mr. Shackell was Sammy, for no good reason that I can think of. Mr. Goodbourne was Gore - his son was in my class. Mr. Fairhurst was Jack. Mr. Mercer was Sark but became Joe in my year ( the famous England football captain ). Mr. Green was TEG from his initials. Mr. Burridge was Bert. Mr. Barfield was Baff. Miss Holroyd was Katie. Mr. Kirkby was Vulch - short for Vulture - a most appropriate nomination from years before mine. Dr. Gardner was Doc - his son was also in my class. Mr. Brigden was - I can't remember but he must have had a nickname....(see above). Other later arrivals escape my awareness but this might arouse some interest.