SCGS – pre 8/2011

 Surbiton County Grammar School – archived comments pre 8/2011, from Davis blog. See under ‘About’ for details. 

1,874 Responses to original Davis blog query …

it is now Esher College – in Thames Ditton.

It was Surbiton (boys) Grammar til about 1973 then briefly Esher Grammar before the 11 plus was dropped in Surrey LEA.
When Surrey went comprehensive it became the co-ed 6th form college around 77.
It was attended by boys from north Surrey as well as Surbiton.
Old Surbitonians had a sports ground in Cobham but it is now just known as Cobham Sports Assoc/ Rugby club.

Eric Claton was once a pupil at Surbiton Grammar School, I once had a teacher who had taught him and told us that whenever Clapton would go missing, which was often, he would be found asleep in the Stables……….

Eric Clapton was once a pupil at Surbiton Grammar School, I once had a teacher who had taught him and told us that whenever Clapton would go missing, which was often, he would be found asleep in the Stables……….

I went to Surbiton Grammar. It was initially at St Marks Hill in Surbiton, but moved to Thames Ditton in the mids 60′s. it was well known for a lot things sadly illegal these days.

My father was transferred to the UK for a year in 1956 and we lived in Surbiton. When he went to enrol me at the local school (presumably, the one you are asking about), he was not impressed and enrolled me, instead, at St Helen’s at Thames Ditton. Anybody know what happened to St Helen’s – it had only three classes to teach children from ages 5 to 18?

Having said that, no self respecting Old Surbitonian would describe it as Surbiton Grammar

Never heard it described as less than Surbiton County Grammar

Either an imposter or sloppy. Surbitonians didn’t do sloppy.

I was a pupil at Surbiton Grammar from aged 11 till 18 years 1955 to 1962. The school was at the top of Surbiton Hill, headmaster Doig, deputy Baker. When I first went there the school was comprised of three buildings and their grounds and outbuildings. The physical houses were Braemar, Aysgarth and Shool house. Shortly after I went to the school Aysgarth was demolished and Braemar sometime later and replaced by ” modern ” purpose built units. School house is still there and forms part of what is now Hollyfield school. The stables block is still there and was my 6th form classroom. The school houses were Coutts (red), Lovelace (purple), Villiers (pale blue) and Egmont (pale green). I was in Egmont. I had a wonderful time at this school and look back with fond memories.

Chris Stickland

April 6, 2008 at 2:50 pm

Roger, I have fond memories of the old school. I might have been in your class. I was in Egmont. I remember several of the old teachers, including Lonsdale “when the day dawns and the shadows flee away!!” Tony Arbour was a fellow pupil – saw him on TV last year – he was a Richmond councillor who ended up on the GLA as transport spokesman. Do you remember the Gilbert & Sullivan productions? There are a few messages on FriendsReunited. Chris Stickland


May 4, 2008 at 9:42 am

aaagh! stickland and- taylor names to make a man grab for his cross and garlic!!!!!
yes it was fun- what a pity education is wasted on the young. sad to think that so many of those we knew are now in the great detention room in the sky. perhaps those who aren’t would sign in? dave littleproud-lovelace 1956-1964


May 4, 2008 at 3:17 pm

1956 TO 1964 SCGS headmaster was A.J. Doig. Deputy was A.J. Forward fondly known as “Bert”.

Well, just shows what turns up when you idly google! I was at Surbiton County Grammar School from1945 to 1950.
The headmaster was AGF Willis. Though he was physically small I remember him as a very imposing presence in public but very courteous, kind and gentle in private.
Roger Taylor’s comment above reminded me of the names of the houses and their colours and I have been trying to remember the name of some of the masters.
I remember Mr Hayward an English teacher who was also involved with the amateur dramatic society at the school which I also took part in, always in female roles.
There was also another English teacher whose nickname was ‘Keats’ though I cannot remember his proper name.
I would be interested if there is anyone else of my vintage who can flesh out a few more details.
I left when I turned 16.
John Walters
I now live in Australia.


June 30, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Dear John Walters

I was at Surbiton County Grammar School from 1956 until 1964(don’t ask!!)- sometime after you . Ido remember the headmaster before my A.J.Doig was a A ?? Willis.
Teachers- here goes!!!
Aj Doig HM
A J Forwood deputy hm-history and lR.I.
H.D.L. Dyer (Dan) Maths
Aj Hayward English and RI
J Lonsdale (Jock) french
A W Rigden (Slug) history latin
A Bolt (Nutty) English
Eddie Watkins maths and woodwork
Dr Turner (Scum) Chemistry and R I
?? Turner Chemistry-Young guy
J Turner (Holy Joe) Art
J Skene (Jack) geography
J Bath (Jim) Geography–I remember him telling us that but for Eisenhower he could have driven his tank all the way to Berlin!!!
K Bidmead (Ken) Latin
?? Cox (Pip) Biology
J Cocks (Keats) english- music
A J HilIler (Gus) maths
S C Capper (Sid) French
?? Davis (Taffy) Biology
??Morris (Mo) biology
W Busby (Buzzer -Uncle Bill) art-a lovely man
Mrs Gamble secretary
?? Fry P E
J Harvey art
J Heymans (Slash) history
J Fernyhough (Fred) french
??Stubbings English
??? Rose science
G Harris-Ide (Geoff) english latin
??Smith Science
Most if not all also taught games

Dave Littleproud

Amelia Johnston

July 29, 2008 at 10:39 pm

Here is some history which proves what I know to be true as my husband was there from 1945 to 1953.

Hope this helps.

My father was transferred to London in 1964 and both myself and my older brother went to Surbiton County Grammar until our return to Australia in 1968. We were there when the school moved from the top of the hill at Surbiton to Thames Ditton. I well remember the teachers we had like Mr Capper (Sid), Mr Hillier and for forget our remarkable R.I. teacher Scum (Mr Turner I think although he seemed proud of his nick name because, as he often said, he was a very good scummer. Some of my fellow classmates were Colin Talmadge, Lee Richardson, John Wiseman And Phillip Swan.

A great pity Surbiton Grammar School was closed down and the old buldings destroyed. I recently passed the new buildings which have been constructed; the windows were all covered by thick metal mesh, the buildings had the appearance of a prison. I was at the school from 1956 and left with 2 “O” levels. My best recollection from those days was the cross country race. The grounds behind School house were magnificent. The Gilbert & Sullivan productions were very professional. Pity those days are long passed. Robin Hendy – lovelace 1956- 1962

no idea why but just googled Surbiton County Gramar school, and up popped this blog. Was there from ’52-59. A few memories still remain, and thanks to John Walters now again the teachers names. Mo Morris walking round the biology class and thumping us on the head with a rubber bunsen burner hose; Davis and his love or rugby-the trip to the south west of France and northern Spain to play school teams there , smoking Gauloise on the night train from Paris, and never smoking ever again, playing in the Pirates of Penzance; someone dumping sodium metal in the toilets, in what I imagine were the old stables, and eruptions of water blowing out of the bowls onto unsuspecting sitters; Jock Lonsdale taking us to Switzerland, and instead of by train, a first flight for most of us from Blackbush in a Vickers Viking; baths at the sports field (no showers) and if you were the last in just a muddy lukewarm affair. Had a good time there, even though they worked us hard. Finished and went to King’s College Durham in Newcastle ( what a great town), stayed 7 years for a Ph. D. (beat working) and then emigrated to the US.

A Coutts boy-seem to remember we often won the top house cup!!!

I arrived in September 1964, was allocated to Villiers House and a form room in the “new” science block. We all decamped to Long Ditton in September 1965 and a new and progressive Head to go with the wonderful new buildings.
Dave Littleproud’s list of staff brought back some memories…to add a few more…

Hackett (Chopper) Chemistry
Bas (Ek) Hunt, Latin
Colin “Tree” Attree, ? Biology
Jo Turner, Art – from the Stables
“Herr Pfifer” – German and the subject of a nasty bit of racist abuse in the summer of 65 when one day all the dinner money (collected at the table every day) was offered in pennies and halfpennies, just because he was Jewish.

Well, I left in 1970 with reasonable A Levels, went up to Uni and managed a vaguely respectable degree. Still in contact with a hand-full of my year.

Colin Brightwell

November 16, 2008 at 9:03 pm

My goodness … stumbled on this blog from Cyprus one balmy evening in November. So many names, so many memories, not many that good unfortunately. No good at rugby or opera so that left me a bit of an outsider. Fortunately could run fast so managed to avoid the ‘holly bush’ initiation!
Now just about retired but hanging in there to keep my brain ticking over. Still in touch with Tony ‘Tufty’ Hall after all these years. Any ‘Old Surbs’ in Cyprus?

Let us hope others discover this blog and keep it going; and apologies to David Littleproud in not correctly crediting him for the teachers names. How did you remember so long ago? amazing, I can’t remember what day of the week it is!

Further reminices: A school dance, can’t think we had that many. Since no girls toilet, Doig donated his private one. On Monday morning when he went to use it, found a condom in there-perhaps that was the last dance we had. What would now be called a pipe bomb, place in a crevice in the playground wall, loud noise but not much damage. At least someone was paying attention in the chemistry class. As Robin Hendy said the grounds were truly magnificent-probably wasted on us neanderthals. The older boys and therefore bigger ones were placed together in the same stream-probably when in the L5, they loved to line up and clear the grounds of all us smaller fry-prefects just watched.
Seem to remember that Turner got his nickname because when we wound him up in RI, which was as often as we could, he would bounce around the class calling us a “bunch of filthy scum”
What memories-keep it going.

Only in contact with one friend from those days-and that was because the blog got me to do some detective work. Keith Piggott, a year behind me, but a friend before Surbiton. Went to Camborne School of mines, and of course had to leave the UK when he was finished at college. Years in Zambia (think still Northern Rhodesia when he went there), then OZ, up in Cairns gold mining. Now a successful gold mining executive in Mexico, with interests in other countries as well. We hope to meet up in Tucson, Az in the near future. We can the reminisce about our favorite pub, The Swan in Thames Ditton, now a shadow of its former self. Then a free house (rare), with 2 full sized snooker tables, a parrot and wonderful sausages. The good times!!

Colin Munday

Chris Rippingale

November 19, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Attended 1962 – 69

remember many of the teachers named plus

‘Zoro’ Zetter – History
‘Bomber’ Lancaster – french; what imagination!
we called Gus Hillier ‘Ted’ corporal punishment specialist; deputy head in my day.
remember motor bikes in assembly; sadistic prefects; great Xmas lunches, a lot of freedom in the 6th and overall a great time

Chris ex Coutt

The name Hillier brings back memories of him walking around in the math class and randomly and for no reason swatting us on the back of the head with a wooden ruler-I’m sure it was all legal in those days. He was a certified sadist, but must admit he taught me a lot of math.

Is there ever a gathering of Old Surbitonians, or are alumni events purely a U.S. invention and regular occurrence?

Colin Munday

I was at Surbiton County Grammar 1951-1955.
One master I remember, not mentioned thus far, was Mr Boskovitch ( Bosky). He took Latin I think, or Maths, or possibly both.He was unfortunately cross eyed which made it difficult to tell when he was berating you or someone else. I was in Coutts and being a below average scholar I left at 16 from form 5G. ( I was told that the 5th form was usually 5A (Arts) or 5S (Science) but that year there were so many dismal scholars they established 5G (General). I played cricket for the Old Surbs at Cobham for a while. I seem vaguely to remember that Mr Bidmead later became Mayor of Surbiton. I still live near the school and it is a pale shadow of the grandeur that we all knew.

My memories think that it was Sid Capper who was called bosky because of his cross eye. He taught french and had a very high rate of saliva production. Unfortunately in our youth we used to make fun of him; his class control was very weak. But as we sought of matured we then called him Sid. He was a nice man.

Can anyone confirm my memory or is it failing as I suspect.

Colin Munday, located in South Eastern Pennsylvania.

Dear Colin,
I was at Surbiton County Grammar from 1952 – 57.
I have no idea why I looked up Surbiton County Grammar but delighted to find that others had too. I believe that we may have well been in the same class for a while, because your name is familar. Well done to Dave Littleproud for remembering all those names, my memory is limited to A J Doig, Bert Foreman, Alan Bolt, Sid Capper, Scum, Keats and Fry – oh! and Hillier with his ruler!
Paul Range (Coutts) Now in Witterings, Sussex

Colin Brightwell

November 28, 2008 at 9:56 am

Martin, there is nothing wrong with your memory. ‘Sid’ was as you described. As you say a nice man, but probably in the wrong job. Ironically, French turned out to be my best subject but this was down to ‘Jock’ Lonsdale. He ruled by gaining respect but if that didn’t work, sheer terror! A brilliant master, for me anyway.
No-one has yet mentioned Eddie(?) Morgan, who used to ‘coach’ Rugby. No idea if he taught anything else. From my recollection he spent most of each afternoon prostrate on a wooden bench!

Colin Brightwell, Villiers, Woking & Neo Chorio

As I mentioned in a previous post; Jock Lonsdale once took us to Switzerland (only the French area of course!!); maybe I think also on a school trip to Paris, as I do remember Versailles, Fontainbleu, etc. He was a great teacher, but took no guff from any of us. He used to say that if we failed “O” level french and then came to him for help, he would say “get behind me Satan” Well I did fail, but thanks to his help I finally passed. Fond memories of a really good teacher and man.

Colin Munday

Your memories are better than mine. Hi, Paul Breeze here from Coutts. Left in ’64 with Doig telling me that, “I had a lot to repay the school.” Hmmm. I got along with Ted Hillier OK – could have been related to the army cadets. We now live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Paul Breeze

Now this is really weird-at least to my way of thinking. Latin class with Harris-ide. He gives us a test. Translate this.
Marcus adsum iam forte
Quintus aderat

Struggled for a long time, couldn’t do it. But a couple of brighter (at least in latin) class members could. Was a Harris-ide joke:-

Marcus had some jam for tea
Quintus had a rat.

Now I was either 12 or 13 at the time . Why this still sticks in my mind after all these years is completely beyond my understanding. But I did give up latin as soon as I was allowed!

Colin Munday

I empathized with Colin Brightwell about being an outsider. On further consideration I believe the problem was that we all lived so far apart. I had to catch a train and bus from Worcester Park. I remember visiting Roger Rimmer’s house in Oxshott and Maslin ( I think they owned Transatlantic Plastics) His family lived in St George’s Hill Weybridge. I only ever visited their houses once. It wasn’t conducive to making friends ; the distances were too great. They were the only two fellow pupils’ houses I ever visited. I remember visiting Stonehenge with the school. We went by train, I have a recollection of somebody bringing a stone back on the train with us. ( a bit bigger than a rugby ball).

I think you are spot on Robin about lack of closeness. I also lived in Worcester Park, geographically more Old Malden. Walked 10 minutes to Malden Manor station, caught train one stop to Tolworth, and then the 406 0r 415 country bus to St. Marks Hill. And what a pain getting home from the playing field. But think I actually enjoyed it. About 15 started to bicycle to school, which took half the time. But the only grammar school options then were Tiffin, Kingston grammar or Epsom-all required bus or train travel.
Cycling was the way we managed to see each other outside of school. No car at home, so up to onself to have an outside social life.

Dave Littleproud

December 20, 2008 at 1:32 am

Well wot alotta memories!!
trouble is Littleprods ‘s memories do not pay the rent!
Anyway I guess I’m just one of thse people who remembers useless in formation. No that’s not fair: Iam lucky enough to remember a lot about what was a significant part of my (our) lives. I have spoken to old surbs through friends reunited and I am suprised that they have forgotten such a lot. To show how sad I am I still have some exescise books and some text books -o level maths books which i am trying to get my 16 11/12 son to try. I also have the school magazines published during my time at the school.
I domt’ remember Colin Munday. perhaps he might mention some of his peers particularly the prefects.
I remember- Colin Brightwell, Roger Rimmer,Robin Hendy, Bob Maslen( yes Robin you are right Bob’s parents owned alovely house on the St Georges Hill Estate in Weybridge and Transatlantic Plastics in teddington by the river and itv studios-me, ‘arry Arbour and Mick Hammond worked in the summer of 1961-I learnt a lot there-but not about plastics- although I did nearly lose a finger!) I remember the trip to Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral ( Tony(Ernie) Moss caught a mouse in the cloisters) and to Old Sarum.
Paul Breeze was at Kingston Poly a year ahead of me. I had forgotten “Zorro” Zetter,anice man as in deed most of them were. I will agree -Ted Hillier was some form of sadist-one story was that he hhad been prisoner of the Japs and the experience had affected him. “Eddie” Watkins taught woodwork and maths, rode a sit up and beg bike and had apenchant for hitting you with the edge of a steel ruler if you had the temerity to ask questions -things got so bad that a group of us 12 yr old almost compained to the headmaster-we didn’t. “Eddie” also escorted us to Kingston swimming pool-on one occasion Tony Moss was given a galvanised bucket and ordered to swim to the midleof the pool to retrieve some snot that was floating there-every time Tony catches the snot the bucket fills and Tony gets dragged to the bottom of the pool-loses the snot and has to start again – bit like that marvellous story by Victor Borgia.Alan “Nutty” bolt had been a prisoner of the Germans and had run an orchestra in whichever stalag- a nice man.
Be good to hear from you guys
Merry Christmas

Dave Littleproud

Looks like I was 4 years ahead of you David, so no wonder you can’t remember me-also think I was pretty forgettable!.

The few names I can recollect are Barry Harris-he was head boy in my last year. “Fanny Price” hooker on the rugby team-he dad was a great supporter; Leonard Eggleston and Clifford Potter. I am sure that over time I will remember some more-but who knows.

A Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all you Old Surbitonians out there in the electronic ether. We are a dying breed, both literally and figuratively!

Keep the thoughts coming

Colin Munday, freezing in Chester County Pennsylvania.

I hit the mother load of names. My mother kept nearly everything associated with school, and I inherited them, including notices from Doig about me failing various subjects.

So here goes, my peers in the 6th form-at least those who made it to the prize and award programme in March 1960.

Eric Clement
Peter Davey
Anthony Davis
Leonard Eggleston
A H Green
Barry Harris
Michael Herbert
Peter Hogbin
William Ison
Ian Juniper
John Laing
Anthony Marsh
Frank Nowell
Clifford Potter
David Rickard
Christopher Rumsey
Roy Sage
Peter Saunders
Andrew Thompson
Derek Yalden
Nevile Cruttenden
Colin Herridge
Terence Price
Michael Whalley

Remember a few more faces. Roy Sage a gifted musician. A H Green got into Wadham Oxford-no christian names just intials-perhaps too good for the rest of us hoi polloi. Unfortunately none of the contributors names showed up in progress prizes, Pirates of Penzance programme, etc.

I also have a lot of report cards. Especially liked the comment from my parochial school (Malden) head teacher in 1951. “He is too easily satisfied with his own work”!! Nothing changed over the years!!

Colin Munday, now 12 fahrenheit outside.

Iwas looking at myself in the mirror yesterday morning.I saw that I was wearing Grey trousers white shirt,and my deceased father”s Hook and Southborough Bowls club tie,which is identical to my Egmont tie.Not much changed from 46 years ago,so with the thought of SCGS in my head,I found myself reading ablog by Gaffer Munday,freezing in Pennsylvania,while I am in sunny South Carolina.How many of our generation left England? I have great memories of SCGS,Iremember going to a great party at keith Piggots house when in the 6 th form,also remember Phil Lucas making a total fool of himself at the same party.

Just chanced upon this reference to my name. How amazing that there are people out there who still remember me from those distant days in the biology lab. The list of other teaching staff brought back memories too.
(Colin Attree: staff 1965 – 69

Dave Littleproud

December 30, 2008 at 5:04 pm

Go Surbs Go!!
This site is getting interesting–yeah yeah I know it’s christmas -haven’t we bunch of saddoes better things to do? probably yes, but christmas is atime to think of friends and get gooey. Any way today 30 Dec I had coffee with an old Surb, whose daughter is friends with my daughter -they both go to the same school.
In reply to Colin Munday I remember most of the names on his list-all big boys to me. Keith Masters was headboy during my first year 1956-1957. What happened to John Oborn? a very nice fellow who ran the Christian Union. some time aftwer I left SCGS I bumped into Brian Cresswell in Kingston-by then I was ahead taller!
Anyway Colin you should ask Dave Ashwell if theres any room in Malibu-must be warmer than Pennsylvania.
This year I have had dinner and a pub session with Roger Taylor, first meeting in 40+ plus years, however Rog and I go back before SCGS to primary school(Latchmere). I’v also spoken to Stefan Dreja, Hugh Williams and John Beck.
For Richard Day–was Keith Piggott a chunky rugby player, dark hair that stoodup in a semicrewcut, heavy beard- also worked part time delivering groceries by van for a shop in Berrylands?
A pleasure to know that a former member of staff is around. I wonder what happened to those guys?
It’s true Ihave other things to do!!
Happy New Year to you all and I hope more join in!

All the best


Incredible Surbiton (Villiers) 53 to 60 great place.
Proud to have gone there.
Also greatest rubgy team around, remember Ecclessone and Harris in the centre doing the scissors. Davies the coach, chem master. I played on wing as I was fast on track, 220 and 440 yds, got relegated to seconds after doing a big up and under, under our posts.
I am still in contact with Steve Triggs. lives in Phoenix Arizona, Bob White unfortunately died last year in USA. also was very friendly with Ray Cawthorne and the Aussie Burhop. The “brag” club. Colin Munday and I have recently re established contact.
My mother is still alive and living in the famous party house, 2 weeks I seem to remember, glad you all had fun. I remember mother remarking on her return how clean the house looked. Took two days with lots of mucking in by all to clean the place. The next door neighbours never spilt the beans.
As Colin says I now live in Mexico, still mining, after being in Zambia 10 yrs and Cairns, Oz 20.
I remember Doig and his glasses, Sid Capper and his fag and Fernyhouse, french masters. Also Bidmead, who said that with 12.5% in Latin in the lower fifth, that Latin was not my subject. Wish I had studied it a bit better as would have made it easier in S America. Capt Hillier and Major Lefevre Maths
I was in the G & S operas!!
Happy New Year to All Old Surbs Urbs

Keith Piggott

I was there during the transition from Surbiton to Thames Ditton (62-69) Remember the G&S operettas well, I was in Patience (chorus), The Mikado (Peep Bo),and Yeoman of the Guard (Kate). We’d put on three performances to full houses each Christmas. The operettas died when the school moved to Thames Ditton and Doig retired.

David Littleproud created much of the scenery for The Mikado, good job Dave…:-)

Chris Rippingale was in my year though I’m not sure we were ever classmates but I have some recollection of him.

To add to the teacher’s list were:

David (Bernie) Shaw math – about the only normal member of the staff

?? Curtis french

R D Major geography and music – assisted “Nutty” Bolt with the G&S operettas

Other things I remember – Ken Bidmead was a Hull City supporter, Bernie Shaw was Brighton and Hove Albion Fan, he commuted from Brighton!

Didn’t play in the rugby team- I was a football fan/player and didn’t like rugby much also had other obligations on weekends (competitive sailing), but I did run in the cross country and athletics teams and was in the school choir.

My first (2B) form teacher was “Sid” Capper. he was just like Mr Magoo, what a riot, the next year it was “Keats” Cocks, he wasn’t any less senile and just as deaf.

In 1962 I would get to school early that I could train spot outside the School entrance above “Surbiton Cutting”. The line there was the last line using steam trains on mainline passenger services in England.

The school changed drastically in character when it moved, it lost it’s sense of tradition.

Dave Littleproud

January 1, 2009 at 4:11 pm

apologies to Keith Piggott for my description of him! I’m quite stunned that “himself” appeared on cue!
I had a felling i had got it wrong and Keith’s email confirmed it. However I am now of the opinion that I was thinking of Harold Picton,who left probably 1959-60?? regarding physical descriptions Bas Hewson was of the opinion that I had a green beard -ah the warped eye of the cartoonist!!
Kind of Will Hartje to give me the credit for the Mikado set -however Imust say that although I was heavily involved the credit for the best part of the set design and painting must go to Howard (Nelly) Neldrett, who was also an accomplished musician being a guitarist with a group called”TheGremlins”.and wowing the audience at a competition with his saxophone playing. Wow that was one sentence.
The other SCGS group was “The Electrons” starring Nick Graham and Dale Wrightson and tall kid with fair hair and glasses.

Happy New Year

Dave Littleproud

Colin Munday’s recollection of Jock Lonsdale reminds me of his famous phrase used to excoriate a pupil that mis-pronounced a word – “Forty million Frenchman can’t be wrong” he would bellow as he then gave the correct pronunciation version of the word.

I also recall, after the move to TD, John Junor, a fussy little man with a whiny voice that taught math. I remember one occasion when Steve Spooner turned up late to his class. He was returning to school after a few days absence because his home in West Molesey had been flooded and he had not been able to get to school.

Junor snapped at Spooner “where are your books, boy?” to which Spooner responded with a totally deadpan delivery.. “They’ve been condemned, sir”.

We all cracked up, it was hilarious. Junor had no answer to that one. Spooner’s books had been contaminated by the flood waters and the health authorities declared them unusable…LOL

It was the most original excuse I ever heard during my school years.

Dave Littleproud

January 4, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Some poor kiddy came in with a similar exscuse when hi s mum’s washing machine flooded the kitchen and he stopped to help clear up the flood. “Jack” Skene (geography-in that big room in Braemar)had ajob to keep a straight face!

So many memories being stirred up.Masters- Eddie Watkins pretended o teach us Maths in the 2 nd form,ithink he got a free pass because he played for Cardiff when they beat thAll Blacks in 1938.Harris-Ide lived on ahouse boat at Hampton Court.Fred Parrot agreat teacher(english).Alan Cadogan taught biology,and A level botany,also ran Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme,he told me that I would never make it at University,well ,asI tell my children,Inow have more degrees than a thermometer.Mo Morris taught biology,andzoology,and ran the 2nd xv.Which reminds me I played for the Old Surbs 3rd xv in the early 70′s with no less than 5 Courtneys,also Roger and Conrad King,and Alan Dowsett.Still get a kick out of listening toG&S,remember going to the Railway Tavern after aperformance dressed as a pirate or some such.How strange(queer?)that Doig could pull off an opera at an all boys school.Alan robinson ran the lighting as I recall.He and I were at Edinburgh together,we wre the first to head so far north,although we were joined b y the Kanis brothers and Paul Latham,and my brother in law’s brother David Baldwin ended up further north in Aberdeen. The isolation which was brought about by having such a large cachement area for the school I think was aproblem for all of us , those that lived in my area were Terry Loftus,Ian Scott,Rich Goddard,and David Ashwell.I have lost contact with all but Dave Ashwell,he as already mentioned lives in Malibu,where he paints ,extremely well(who can forget his famous portrait of Edith Bidwell).

Dave Littleproud

January 5, 2009 at 12:26 am

It’s late so I’ll be quick. Richard Day said what alot of memories stirred. We all spent 5 to 7 years on the top of St Marks Hill- in my case one in nine years of my life. Should we not put all of these memories down -it seems sad that all those years should go-the history of SCGS??

Dave Littleproud

January 5, 2009 at 2:49 pm

For Richard Day in particular– for the rest of us in bemusement!! Was this the guy with the steel ruler who tried to teach us maths and woodwork??
He couldn’t have been 40 in 1956??!!

Eddie Watkins
Personal information
Full name Edward Watkins
Date of birth March 2, 1916 (1916-03-02) (age 92)
Place of birth Caerphilly, Wales
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Lock
Bedwas RFC
Cardiff RFC
National team(s) Caps (points)
1935-1939 Flag of Wales Wales[1] 8 (48)

Watkins began his club rugby days with Bedwas before moving to first class side Cardiff. In 1935, Watkins was chosen by Cardiff to face the touring New Zealand team. Cardiff were hoping that a strong pack containing Watkins, Les Spence and Gwyn Williams would give the club an advantage against the All Blacks, but were soundly beaten in an exciting game.[2]

Watkins gained his was first cap for Wales in 1935 again against New Zealand. In a memorable game, Wales turned around a losing scoreline in the last ten minutes to beat the All Balcks 13-12. Watkins was not selected for Wales throughout 1936, but was back for the final two games of the 1937 Home Nations Championship. It was a poor campaign for Wales and Watkins, with Wales losing all matches during the 1937 campaign. Watkins was reselected for the 1938 Championship, playing all three games. The opening game was against England at the Cardiff Arms Park, and under the captaincy of Cardiff team-mate Cliff Jones, Watkins was involved in his first Home Nations victory. In 1939 Watkins took part in his last Home Nations campaign, and although missing the game against Ireland, he was still a member of a Wales Championship winning team as Wilf Wooller’s team lifted the trophey with wins over Ireland and Scotland.

[edit] International games played


England 1938, 1939
* Ireland 1937, 1938
* New Zealand 1935
* Scotland 1937, 1938, 1939

That is the same Eddie Watkins,he left the school in around 1958 to teach at aschool near Esher.He and Fred Parrot were also in charge of boxing.I last saw Eddie playing squash at Surbiton Squash Club with an equally large genleman,quite asight.Correction as to Dave Ashwells portrait .Itwas of Edith Bidmead.By the way ,it is 85 degrees and sunny inCharleston,S.C.

Happy New Year. I am impressed by your memories. I remember Edward Pearce who wanted to become a missionary. A few years later I spoke to him on a chance meeting at Waterloo station. Edward was working for the GLC. I went into the City and came across Keith Swan who was working for Paine Webber’s US arbitrage. Richard Day mentions the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I remember the school arranged a sports afternoon to see who would be eligible to enrol in the scheme. I got the Gold Award and received the medal from Prince Philip. I helped with the D of E scheme over the years and when I recount my competitive selection in the fifties, in this all- inclusive world my story is greeted with horror. From memory only, about 10 pupils were selected to enrol in the Award at Bronze level. In those days there was not a D of E scheme for girls.

Dave Littleproud

January 5, 2009 at 10:55 pm

I’m pleased that Robin Hendy made it to the city -I remember him talking about bulls and bears in 3(b??)- he also had a Simplex gear on his bike while the rest of us had Benelux and we all aspired to Campagnolos. Happily shaking Robin’s memories of competitive selection for Dof E I am pleased to say that my daughter is working towards the Gold Award. She also attends a grammar school as did my son, both of them being duly selected at 11+ in 2003 and 2004.
I remember being upset that only sporting types were selected for D of E-still I suppose in the late fifties they were still looking for empire conquering types.I do remember Eddie Pearce-he was related to one of the maths teachers. I also remember Keith Swan. What i do find eerie is tha according to wikipedia Eddie Watkins is still around!! good luck to him -he must have done something right-wish I knew what it was!!

Happy New year to all.

I also remember like Richard Day going for a drink in the Railway tavern after a G&S production-but dressed as a policeman. In those great days as long as you had money they would serve you, of course none of us had cars then. Think I was a lager and lime boy in those days. It took me living in Newcas’le before I began to enjoy more worthwile brews, especially Newcastle Brown Ale, or “journey into space” as the geordies called it. That was in March 59, but Richard wasn’t in the program ( I told you my mum kept everything) so Doig must have put that production on again-when was yours Richard?

David Littleproud is spot on in suggesting that all these memories be kept alive. What we need is a SCGS web site, before this great school is just a footnote in the history of Surbiton. These means someone with the necessary skills and time to get it going. I’m sure Kevin Davis would allow us to transfer the comments to a dedicated web site, these and future contributions, along with class and teacher lists ( Surrey Education Authority, or whatever it is called now must surely have piles of info gathering dust somewhere). photographs, etc;etc. could provide a fitting tribute to our days on St. Marks Hill. There must be amongst us a web designer, computer expert who could start it up. Any suggestions?

Also get your friends who were there, to start contributing. I e-mailed Keith Piggott about the site-and we got an immediate contribution.

And to Richard Day, can’t remember you, sorry-but thanks for remembering me. You must have been in the class behind me since keith invited to you “the party” . It’s normally sunny here in the winter, but always colder than SC. But I will take our winters over your summers any time!

I also remember like Richard Day going for a drink in the Railway tavern after a G&S production-but dressed as a policeman. In those great days as long as you had money they would serve you, of course none of us had cars then. Think I was a lager and lime boy in those days. It took me living in Newcas’le before I began to enjoy more worthwile brews, especially Newcastle Brown Ale, or “journey into space” as the geordies called it. That was in March 59, but Richard wasn’t in the program ( I told you my mum kept everything) so Doig must have put that production on again-when was yours Richard?

David Littleproud is spot on in suggesting that all these memories be kept alive. What we need is a SCGS web site, before this great school is just a footnote in the history of Surbiton. These means someone with the necessary skills and time to get it going. I’m sure Kevin Davis would allow us to transfer the comments to a dedicated web site, these and future contributions, along with class and teacher lists ( Surrey Education Authority, or whatever it is called now must surely have piles of info gathering dust somewhere). photographs, etc;etc. could provide a fitting tribute to our days on St. Marks Hill. There must be amongst us a web designer, computer expert who could start it up. Any suggestions?

Also get your friends who were there, to start contributing. I e-mailed Keith Piggott about the site-and we got an immediate contribution.

And to Richard Day, can’t remember you, sorry-but thanks for remembering me. You must have been in the class behind me since keith invited to you “the party” . It’s normally sunny here in the winter, but always colder than SC. But I will take our winters over your summers any time!

I also remember like Richard Day going for a drink in the Railway tavern after a Pirates of Penzance G&S production-but dressed as a policeman. In those great days as long as you had money they would serve you, of course none of us had cars then. Think I was a lager and lime boy in those days. It took me living in Newcas’le before I began to enjoy more worthwile brews, especially Newcastle Brown Ale, or “journey into space” as the geordies called it. That was in March 59, but Richard wasn’t in the program ( I told you my mum kept everything) so Doig must have put that production on again-when was yours Richard?

David Littleproud is spot on in suggesting that all these memories be kept alive. What we need is a SCGS web site, before this great school is just a footnote in the history of Surbiton. These means someone with the necessary skills and time to get it going. I’m sure Kevin Davis would allow us to transfer the comments to a dedicated web site, these and future contributions, along with class and teacher lists ( Surrey Education Authority, or whatever it is called now must surely have piles of info gathering dust somewhere). photographs, etc;etc. could provide a fitting tribute to our days on St. Marks Hill. There must be amongst us a web designer, computer expert who could start it up. Any suggestions?

Also get your friends who were there, to start contributing. I e-mailed Keith Piggott about the site-and we got an immediate contribution.

And to Richard Day, can’t remember you, sorry-but thanks for remembering me. You must have been in the class behind me since keith invited to you “the party” . It’s normally sunny here in the winter, but always colder than SC. But I will take our winters over your summers any time!

sorry for the triple post. never got confirmation that the first effort had gone through. So I hit the submit button again. You can see I,m not the man for a web site!

Dave Littleproud

January 12, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Look on the bright side Colin-you could have ordered 111 packets of rice krispies from Tesco’s

Ivor (Fritz) Davies

January 13, 2009 at 11:54 am

1942-1946 Wartime memories – air-raid shelters- picking-up shell fragments en-route to school- the Dig for Victory garden organised by geography teacher, Neil Holdaway – buzz-bombs and the evacuation to Atherton, Lancashire.
I recommend the book ‘The First 21 Years of Surbiton County Grammar School’ by A. J. F. (Bert) Forward.
My photocopy from Kingston Museum and Heritage Service.

Dave, Incredible memory you have after all this time. I believe we were both in the same class for about a term I was vying with Anthony Arbour for the dubious position of being bottom of the class. Do I remember correctly that you took a couple of weeks off school and came back as a prodigy in modern languages? I remember there was a compulsory boxing competition when I first got to the school. I was paired to fight Cox who was some sort of school boy champion. I remember getting into the ring amid all the shouting. Before he had even a chance to lay the first punch, one of the masters threw the towel into the ring and stopped the fight. I suppose I’ll never know whether I could have won!!

Dave Littleproud

January 14, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Dear Robin

I remember you very well.
I thought we were in the same class for longer than a term.
However I think the original Sep 1956 groups were split halfway through th spring term. I don’t know about your academic prowess but I do remember ‘arry Arbour used to get p****ed of with me if I beat him in English or History–remember we joined SCGS in 1956 at the time of the Suez Crisis–we used to call ‘arry Nasser!! I haven’t seen him since 1968.
You mention my memory-I’m still pals with a great big ginger chap called Alan Kemp and he can’t remember a thing!! However my memory has never paid the bills!!
I was no language expert I had a struggle to get “o” level French- Iwas one of those too thick to do Latin- well fancy having 36 different ways of spelling “big”–iwas sent off to do technical drawing-a variation of which I did all my working life.
The only language expert I can remember was a guy in our year called Peter Ward, a big tall lad with slicked back dark hair-one weekend in the first year Peter finished the whole Latin text and from thereon seemed to do nothing but languages at a much higher level than the rest of us -I don’t know what happened to him. There was a guy in the year above us , a Dutch kid called Hans Mock who was red hot at languages but he stayed with his year group.Yeah I remember John “boxing” Cox.

Sometime I will try and make a list of those in our year-there were 90 of us!!

Gaffer iam crushed that you do not remember me.I was 2 yrs behind you,we went on a school trip together ,to Paris.We also went to S. of France on a rugby tour in1959.David,Hans Mock was Swiss,he was in th e same group as me doing botany and zoology A levels.He was one of those smart fellows who accelerated.

Boxers:Ken Player,Oscar Wright,Gordon Jackson,Alan Ridley,John Cox.

Dear Dave , You are right I’m sure we were in the “b” stream probably throughout my school career. I also had to give up Latin after the first term. My father complained to Doig as I wanted to be a doctor.However Doig said that even though my Latin marks were quite high, my French was so bad that I had to drop Latin and concentrate on French. I also did technical drawing. I remember that my smudged efforts always incurred the wrath of the master, (Harvey?) On one occasion we had to plane a piece of wood to make it square, however mine ended up as a wedge shape so he hit me on the head with the wood. This was a fairly common teaching method in those days. It certainly didn’t do me any harm as the modern educationlists contend. There was one brilliant student in that class, Wood ? I do remember Alan Kemp with his ginger hair, thanks for putting the name to the genius in languages, Peter Ward. Harry Arbour decided to read and learn the Encyclopedia Britannica. He started with Aardvark and just kept going, sometimes to the annoyance of the masters when he used words with which they were not familar. His writing was almost unreadable despite the elevated content.

At SCGS 53-60, Egmont.
My thanks to Keith Piggot for guiding me to this.
One of the few names I recognise is Colin Munday who seems to be a prolific blogger if you’ll pardon the phrase! I think we started together in 2e. Colin I last saw at the end of our hitch trip round Europe with Keith & Ian Burhop.
Blog encouraged me to search out my copy of the school mag from 1960. Photos include Taf Davies & Rugby XV, Doig & Bert Forward with prefects (not me), The Gondoliers (R.Rimmer as the duchess, D.Brown as Casilda), Gold Award winners (not me), & a last look at Braemar before demolition. By the way I think there is a Braemar Club in existence.
The school was a disgrace. Some great teachers, and some sadists like the wretched Hillier. Anybody know what happened to him? It can’t be nasty enough, as far as I am concerned.

Some people have no sense of humour.Found an old photo,taken in Paris on arugby trip inI think 1960,Barry Powell,Mike Courtney,Chris Brand,Jim Lofting,Rich Goddard,Ginger Gill,Phil Lucas,Quentin Finch.Lots of fun.

Dave Littleproud

February 1, 2009 at 10:22 pm

re Richards last -Although I’m from the class of ’56 I remember some of the names. Was Jim Lofting a tall fair haired guy?

O.K.,now where was I.(have been busy saving lives and stamping out disease.)Dave- Yes Jim Lofting was tall and fair haired.He subsequently captained Old Surbs 1 st XV.Also famous for bringing chocolate sandwiches for lunch.

I am the daughter of Frank (Francis) Bowry who attended SCGS from 45-51/2, then went to Kingston Art Sch taking a degree in Architecture. He used to bike up from Worcester Park and I am trying to piece together bits of his life from that era, as he sadly died 2 yrs ago. I wonder if anyone has any recall of him? He was always drawing and a very gpod artist till the day he died!
Lovely to read all the blogs. I have a school panoram. photo of him at SCGS, so is there anywhere I can scan and post it?

Oh no! Not Roger (Zip) Rimmer!!! Roughly 1955ish to about 1962?
Before saying anything whatsoever, I wish to tender to everyone who had the misfortune of being in the same class as I, my profound, sincere and unreserved apologies for my behaviour during my entire school career. No excuses, I was just a horrible disruptive little urchin who had missed a turning following my mum dying the year I went to Surbiton, so whereas I do not pretend or try to advance the notion that her passing was the cause, it certainly didn’t help in settling me into any learning curve, with or without attitude. I remember many fellow pupils and am really pleased to have discovered this site. Whilst a memory defect which resulted in having virtually no recall (and this is no phoney wheeze to explain away alcoholic amnesia) although being careless enough to mislay a half-gallon or two somewhere down my gullet in the pub over the road during the Pirates (I tried to sing Ruth, the piratical maid of all work) a touch of AA might have been contributory to what was described in the pertinent school magazine as ‘Why, even Ruth found a favourite verse in her song which she insisted on singing over and over every night’ when really, it was little or no recall. Never mind.
I remember Dave Littleproud of course and in addition, Colin Brightwell, David Cooper (trumpet) David Morgan (soprano) Nils Polden (sopranoish contralto) Ken Webb (Lovelace, ginger hair) Woody who lived at Cobham, John (Dowos) Woods, Wimbledon, John Horrocks, Mick ‘Ammond, Tony Harryman, Robin Hendy and Keef Swan both of whom I met in the city at various times when I was doing law, Richard Mills who was same year/different form, and I seem to recall as being an absolute flyer and extremely intelligent, didn’t he become a barrister? – David Gillman, Eddie Hughes who joined the school later than most and on account of whose massive build and strength, the ceiling plaster in the assembly hall was in a state of constant modification due to his propensity for hurling full size medicine balls vertically at it either after or immediately before gym – he had a tobacconists in Esher? – John Keutaneous and John Cox both pretty ace boxers in the team at the time of Leonard Dable who won the Langham Statuette for being the most scientific young boxer and who can ever forget the ever smiling, violin playing, punch any adversaries lights out within four ropes – Oscar Wright! I could go on and on since whereas I have had very little or no recall, my memory of distant past was recently described as ‘nothing short of phenominal’ and were I able to make a contribution to any Surbitonians website, it would be my pleasure so to do. I remember masses of relative information and if jogged, would no doubt recall more and more.
Briefly, I left Surbiton in 1962, was structurally re-arranged in a RTA outside Chessington Zoo almost immediately, did six and a half years in law, got so bored that I left, went to work for Associated Newspapers, got even more bored and split the scene for Canada having bumped into Tony ‘Arold Arbor who had already been and who explained that I would be even more bored with California and armed with this utterly vital information from our budding politician, I set sail from Princes Port, Glasgow for Canada on the 28th May 1968. I followed the usual pattern of mining, building skyscrapers, logging camps, playing in groups, oil rigs and a whole host of other kicks to earn the pennies to enable me to move about this jumpin’ green sphere before trying and succeeding in settling down but this didn’t work either.
Consequently, I am still tearing the arse out of it and sincerely trust that there are some more of you old Surbitonians who are of similar vintage and without one leg in the box as well?
I don’t want to say too much over the www. but would be more than willing to meet up with any old fellow pupils although I well realise that this might not be reciprocal. C’mon guys, let your hair down and jump out of your Conservative pants and say ‘hello’. I just know there will be rakes of blokes out there who will have some outrageous tales to relate?

It’s Zip again! I didn’t click the appropriate box at the bottom so – Yes, notify me of any follow-up comments via email. If they get too ‘heavy’ though, I’ll do a runner!

Dave Littleproud

March 2, 2009 at 12:06 am

Another delusion shattered ! I always thought I enjoyed Zip’s classroom entertainments – still if he feels the need to apologise who am I to argue with an old gentleman? Great to hear from you Roger – you seem to have had a lively interesting time (cue for ” waiter !! three more brandy and sodas” anyone remember that?)
‘Why, even Ruth found a favourite verse in her song which she insisted on singing over and over every night’-I have the very quote in front of me-even more damning I have a picture of someone dressed as an Italian Duchess!!
I obviously moved in the wrong circles- I do not think I have met any random Old Surbs since I left
perhaps they hide when they see me coming!!!??
I remember all the names you mention- I’ve been trying to compile a list of the class of ’56. you have helped with 4 names leaving 6 to go- assuming we started with 90. For what its worth I have “The Surbitonian”–1957, ,1959, 1960,1961,1962, ,1964.
Why do I do this at ungodly hours-far too late it’s tomorrow!!
Keepin touch Roger -great to hear from you!!

Roger A. Rimmer

March 2, 2009 at 8:59 am

Old Gentleman? OK, like most in our year, I join the ranks of OAPs this time which is just amazing. To quote Eubie Blake – ‘If I thought I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.’ But ‘Gentleman’ – that’s maybe laying in on a bit thick like Gus did. I have had and am continuing to enjoy a lively and interesting time as I hinted above. I saw a carved wooden plaque on the wall of a cricket pavillion in a village up the valley from where I live which read ‘And when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game’ and have drawn much inspiration from this expression.
Referring as I did to David Morgan and Niels Polden as being in the soprano/contralto range was incorrect. I should have described them as alto/soprano which would have been nearer the mark. Whatever, both had superb voices.
Masters that impressed were Alan Bolt (Nutty) mentioned above and a saintly man by the name of Mr.Walmsley (Wormo)who would appear immaculately dressed, usually in his gown with the upright stature of a guardsman and all the quiet demeanour of the gentleman I feel sure he was. Disciplining unruly, spirited boys must be a thankless task and we were a pretty unruly bunch, but I have found throughout my life in the outside world, that the men who have impressed me most, have been those who have employed their brains to guide their fellow men and boys, rather than those with sticks.
Head boy was Keith Masters, notorious for his exocet type crash tackle on the rugby field and a contemporary of Brian Cresswell, Jim Harding, Michael Pay and ‘Modern Music’ – a bloke called Morley? – but they were seniors at the time I was engaging in co-ordination of rolling dustbin lids across the playground at break and contact was only made through the operettas. They were my only flirtation with cross-dressing and I never quite understood Doig’s preoccupation with getting young boys to dress up as females and go on display. I can’t help but feel that King’s College exploits the beauty of the unbroken male voice in a rather more appropriate manner each Christmas but maybe that’s a stuffy attitude?

Colin Brightwell

March 4, 2009 at 8:07 am

Dave, you are looking for 6 names. I don’t think I’ve seen Richard Graham referred to above. He was one of those guys who was annoyingly good at everything. Sporting wise he was an excellent bowler in the ‘Brian Statham’ mould. He went on to be a pilot with British Airways and as far as I am aware, now lives in Cyprus.

Dave Littleproud

March 5, 2009 at 10:50 pm

Colin -thank you -still need 6 names since I had Roy Reynolds down twice ! Stupidity -not a Freudian slip!! Was there a Ray Swann as well as a Keith Swann?? Re “Zip” Rimmers thoughts on A.J . Doig’s penchant for boys dressing up as girls I think the 50s were a more innocent, gentler, kinder age – I know my parents worried less about me than I worry about my kids now. I heartily concur with the comments about Mr Walmsley -he taught me maths in LVB in that room opposite the main door – it later became the secretary’s office. I don’t ever remember Mr Walmsley ever raising his voice-and we had Hughes ,Harriman and Hammond in that class and me – I still have the geometry set I bought from Eddy Hughes – Joe Turner was the form teacher- head boy was a guy called Hind.

Colin Brightwell

March 6, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Dave, yes. Ray was Keith’s cousin if my memory serves me correctly.

Dave Littleproud

March 15, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Thank you Colin!
Can any one in the class of 56 remember ? Was there a kiddie called David Brohn or something similar – a small chap with glasses?

Dear Dave, Yes I remember him. I think he played a musical instrument. Not certain about the name, David Brown? When I lived in Avondale Avenue, Worcester Park (circa 1959), David had three maiden aunts who lived next door to me. They were very reclusive and I don’t think I ever saw them. Good to hear that Roger wrote in. My family lived in Oxshott for many years. The local history books had much to say about the illustrious Rimmer family.

Roger A. Rimmer

March 16, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Dave, Jim Lofting, I believe was in the year above us and was indeed tall and fair haired. I spoke with him in 1993 when he was visiting a neighbour at Oxshott. Jim was a contemporary, I believe, of Buster Faulkes, Tony Maybey? Nigel Husband and his younger brother Roger, although these latter two were of course in different years. I literally bumped into Roger H. on either West Georgia, Howe or Burrard Street in Vancouver in 1967ish.
Robin, thank you for your comment about the family which is most kind. I am not sure about the surname ‘Brown’ either. My recollection is that Casilda was sung by David Morgan to whom I referred earlier but this may be erroneous. I think that the last time you and I met was in the city in 1967 and the last time I spoke with Anthony Arbour in 1968. I remember Eddie Pearce as well. Very quiet pleasant lad. What about Hughie Laing? He had an elder brother in the school and he used to go hop picking near Ticehurst in Kent during the summer holidays. He was mates with a lad called Ford who was a year above us and notorious for having successfully earthed a megavolt electricity cable to see what would happen which resulted in the lad’s partial deafness? Others will know about this – perhaps Hughie himself may make a contribution. The point made earlier about the catchment area for pupils is in my view, a most pertinent one, since other than via the classroom, few knew each other prior to induction. I recall feeling pretty intimidated by the apparent impersonality of such a large gathering of pupils after primary school, which was only reinforced by this means. Anybody remember David Burton (Lovelace, like us Dave)? He was in Ruddigore along with Norman Lucking (Coutts) and Nellie Neldrett referred to above whom I heard playing bass with Malcolm Penn on drums with various personnel from a group called The Sidewinders that backed Little Stevie Wonder during his visit to these shores.
I tend to forget negatives that occur in life and move on. Thus, all my memories of the old school are mainly happy ones, although clearly it was not always too pleasant there. Consequently, I find it rather a shame to hear the comment from David Cooper (Villiers, I reckon) above, even though some aspects of school life probably were a touch basic. Life is what you make it. I do hope that those still taking oxygen who have not so far contributed make the effort for we all must have more time behind than in front.
I reckon that the hey-day of the school must have been a year or two before ours since the rugby players mentioned above that gave the school such a formidable reputation on the field were older pupils who had either just left or were sixth form when we joined? I find it great to read this blog which hopefully is only just in bottom gear. Come on lads, let us all hear from you.

On a philosophical note,what was so wrong the Grammar School System,that they have all but disappeared? I have been blessed with the very best of educational opportunities at 4 major Universities,but the foundation was the 8 years I spent at SCGS ,for which I am profoundy grateful. Talking of opportunities,David Morgan,he of the fabulous voice.went to Cambridge on a choral scholarship,studied medicine,and became a Dorset,of course he had amajor talent ,but singing in the G&s operas honed that voice.

Dave Littleproud

March 19, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Thank you guys I now have a listof 87 names for the class of ’56. I’m only assuming there were 90. I don’t think I’ve added people from other years but it was all a long time ago.
David morgan played /sang Rose Maybud the 1956 production of Ruddigore and in the 1960 “Surbitonian” there is a photo of David in the role of Casilda and Roger Rimmer as the Duchess. A David Burton sang in Ruddigore. I remember Hughie Laing turning Holy Joe green with a graphic description of Hughie falling onto spiked fence and having stitches in both sides of his arm -Hughie was always falling out of things and breaking bits of himself.
In answer to Richard’s comments about the demise of grammar schools I think it is the politics of envy–if I can’t be an artist in Malibu like Dave Ashwell why should anyone else ? -my own belief is that we should all be able to be artists in Malibu -but Dave knows i can’t paint.
Living out in the backwoods we have been lucky we still have grammar schools-we moved here before we had kids. Both my son and daughter had a choice of 4 grammar schools within arange of 15 miles-the standard varies -the most popular , most successful,school is always 8 times oversubscribed–people are voting with their feet. I don’t know the perfect school system but it ain’t wot we got now-one size doesn’t fit all. If Ididn’t enjoy my time at Surbiton it was probably my own fault -education is wasted on the young !! there were many opportunities that I didn’t grasp and also lots of the academic stuff.

On the philosophy of education. Like Dave I didn’t realise the opportunities which were being offered. I wasn’t aware that the school had an operatic society until I watched the brilliant performance. I found at the beginning that some pupils had already studied French at their prep schools. Therefore the initial lessons went so fast while I was trying to ascertain the logic of a female table, the others had moved way ahead. My children were educated in the private sector. When I put my son down at birth for Eton, my wife and I were interviewed by his future house master (to be appointed in 13 years’ time). I quote “when a boy comes to Eton we make it a priority to find out where his talents lie, it might be brick laying”) To illustrate the point the only subject my son got an A in at Eton was jewellery- making. Long-term planning and giving children lots of different opportunities in small numerical classes. If the state sector followed these simple rules I could have saved myself a fortune in school fees and in my opinion, children would be more fulfilled and better educated. However after school, what one does with one’s life is down to oneself. Grammar schools have served generations of children very well. The argument that they only selected the top 10% is easily remedied . Grammar Schools are a fanastic brand name, the demand is 8 times (D.L) the supply. If Tesco were running the education system instead of the inept politicians, Tesco would open more Grammar schools, they would also use the Millfield model giving places to sporting children. This supposes that all the school sports fields are not closed down first. The model is endless, with schools for musicans etc. These measures are about catering for children, not some mythical all inclusive politically-correct education system which has now failed so many children. I am currently reading the “History of the Hoare Banking Dynasty”and came across the following : “Henry Hoare had completed his Cambridge Education by the age of nineteen, graduating with a double first from St John’s ” This was in 1822, the opportunies are endless. It is a pity dogma impedes our childrens’ progress.

Hi everyone … stumbled across this quite by accident. What a blast!!! I was there 1955-1962, Egmont House. Was in the express (-X) stream for O levels so were only 11 or so in our class. Dave … that teacher list of yours brought back memories, so did some of the other names. Used to live next door to the Swanns in Tolworth; was the drummer in the Electrons with Bas Hewston and Nick Graham and later merged with Gremlins with Len Neldrett on Guitar. Still keep in touch with Len, currently in Madrid. Chris Preston was also in my class plus Dick Gamage (yerar below?). So many memories … it was an incredible experience !!!

Dave Littleproud

March 25, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Thank you Malcolm. Are you the tall fair haired one with glasses or is the alzheimers kicking in-me not anyone else! Thanks for the mention of Barry Hewson- I now have 2 names to find to complete a list of 90 for the class of ’56- I’m still assuming there were 90. Please send my regards to Len Neldrett-Madrid sounds good. I remember Robin telling me about “Bulls and Bears” -sinc he has been such a succesful matador I regret not paying attention at the time. I very much like Robin’s comment about letting Tesco’s run the schools. However grammar schools cream off the best leaving the independent schools and the comprehensives to take what they are given-our local independent and comprehensive schools have similar results. In any soap operaa or drama school is always portrayed as a place for chaos and mayhem not a place for learning. During inclement our locla radio station present a school closure as something good -not something to be regretted. Education needs the same pr that any other product on which we spend loadsa money gets-back to Tesco’s -perhaps we should have Saatchi and Saatchi promoting the virtues of education- media directed at children should always show education as something to be enjoyed not something for nerds and swots -the Bash Street Kids should not be heroes. I’ll put my soap box away!

Dave Littleproud

March 25, 2009 at 10:46 pm

ps too much philosophy -let’s stick to memories -or not? or as well?

Colin Brightwell

March 26, 2009 at 10:34 am

Hi all, change of theme. I’d be interested to know where life has taken everyone. I left Surbiton with just 6 ‘o’ levels after struggling for a year with ‘A’ levels. Bert Forward (what a nice man) advised that I would be better to go into business and undertake specific training in insurance or banking. Thankfully avoided the latter and entered articles to train as a Chartered Accountant in the City. Boy was it hard! Qualified in the end but only after an almighty struggle! Rose to the dizzy heights of Finance Director in a couple of Vehicle Leasing and Management subsidiaries of major banks. Am now mostly retired but still do work for an Executive Search firm that once headhunted me! Married Lesley in 1970 and moved to Cranleigh in Surrey. Subsequently moved via Jacobs Well and Mayford to Horsell where we now reside for approx 7 months of the year with the other 5 months being spent in Cyprus. Have two children Natalie (36) and Matthew (34).

Only in touch with one Old Surb, Tony Hall who was my best man at our wedding. He married Pam in 1968 and ran a property management company up to about 3 years ago in West Byfleet. Now manager of Guildford Hockey Club 1st eleven, he splits his time between Woking and France where he and Pam have a cottage. His son Danny played for the GB Hockey team in three Olympics and although retired from International hockey, now plays for East Grinstead in the Premier League.

Thinking about sport, Dave, another name for you, Stephen Pedder. Not sure when he was at Surbiton but was certainly my age as he played goalkeeper in a football team that I started when I was at Surbiton (boy did I get in trouble for that). Think he must have come to the school later than the rest of us. He was a nutter as most goalkeepers are. The last I heard of Stephen was that he was working as a groundsman. I also heard that at a time when he was unemployed he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly and when the magistrate wanted to know why he wasn’t working Stephen replied that he was a shepherd and was finding it difficult getting a job … in Kingston! Sorry, I’m going on a bit but another name has sprung to mind, John Horrocks. Talk about association of ideas! I tried to fix John up with a blind date with Pam, yes the very same young lady mentioned above. He couldn’t make it so when I bumped into Tony Hall in Bank underground station on the way to work (he was a trainee Chartered Surveyor at that time) he agreed to go on the date. The rest, as they say, is history! I have a feeling that John also wasn’t at Surbiton very long but can’t be sure.

Look forward to hearing other potted histories that I’m sure will be an awful lot more interesting than mine!

Must have been about 1956 to 1960.
Yes, I was at school there but actually got my education later in Canada.
If anyone remembers me (doubtful as to quote one teacher, Wilf? – ‘he seems to reject every social and academic aspect of the school’), if you do it’s probably the painful altercation I had with dear Dr.Turner in the playground, from which I learned
‘It’s not British’ and ‘An Englishman never tells a lie’. For some reason I had handed him a water pistol and told him it didn’t shoot backwards…
Have rarely run into old Surbitonians, an exception being Roger Rimmer, you omit to mention Roger that in 1970 your E Type Jag was confiscated by an over zealous official and we bought it back for a mitigated fine of $50. (I’ll send you the photos).
Am in third career (blame SCGS, obviously cant hold down a job)… 25 years as an architect, presently running a video production company, specialising in school events… strange….

Would be interested to hear of anyone else living in the Vancouver area.

It just occurred to me. Vancouver is one of the beautiful areas in the world. Between here and the capital, Victoria, on Vancouver Island, and also in Howe Sound are the Gulf Islands. I once found anchorage for the night at one of the nicest and least developed. Problem was its name – Keats Island…

Dave Littleproud

March 29, 2009 at 12:10 am

Come on Roger! He wasn’t that bad – I think he had a kind heart -in my case I think they had some pretty unresponsive clay to mould. My wife worked in Vancouver in the ’70s – she said it was a beautiful place.

Roger A. Rimmer

March 29, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Good job us ‘Rogers’ have a mischievous sense of humour. I sort of wondered if that would be dredged up. As I recall, I was endeavouring to negotiate with the arresting officer and you were dancing around with your camera requesting the officer to ‘move in a little closer’ and ‘can I have one with the two of you………etc.’ which wasn’t the essence of tact at a time when I had temporarily lost my motor. Any copies of photographs would be most welcome but without revealing my email address to everybody on the internet, I do not know any other means by which I can tell you where I am these days Roger. I certainly don’t mind any of us chaps (ie, Old Surbs) knowing one bit, but the whole world – no thanks – the spam would be worse than Monty’s, not to mention a foot in the door on potential identity theft. Maybe Dave Littleproud can help? Delighted to hear of all the other names mentioned, particularly Steven Pedder, Bas Hewison and John Horrocks.
With regard to ‘other potted histories’ referred to by Colin (you seem to have had a most interesting life and continue to do so – well done Colin), it is quite an idea. Trouble is, the most extreme, and thus likely the most interesting will likely have been lived by many who don’t spend much time on or have access to – the internet, for whatever reasons? I missed out on the marriage scene by design as a result of reading Bacon’s Essays on the way over to Canada and found his expression of ‘hostages to fortune’ to be rather intimidating at a time when I was just starting to accumulate. Also, I believe that even if all other intoxicants are made to keep quarter in the life of man (no more jokes Rog please) the one which I have found the hardest to resist is freedom to which I have adhered throughout. But there again, the single life doesn’t suit most. I have said enough, but sincerely hope that other fellows pick up on this blog as it is a bit of a blast – I reckon. However, now Roger H. has fired up, I could be in all sorts of trouble and propose to keep a low profile – lols.

Hi to you all…

Just when I was beinning to think I was a bit weird, searching web sites for nostalgia, I found myself here, and have been reading the blogs, totally entralled.

Unlikely anyone out there actually remembers me (1953 – 1961, Egmont), because, apart from a couple of brief appearances in G&S productions, and getting famously beaten up in a House Boxing tornament by Keith Beeks, I spent most of my time keeping a low profile.

I can add a few obsure names to the list of teachers, not yet mentioned:

Monsieur Michaud – French Teaching Assistant
Major Lefevre, a Captain Mannering lookalike
Rupert Rose – senior physics
Masters – a quiet dignified teacher of carpentry
“Scrog” Haywood
“Barry” Bucknell – assistan art teacher

Contemporary pupils, with apologies to those I have forgotten):
The Courtney twins
Hedley Stovold
Colin Bridges
Richard Venables
Robin Millet
Viv Gunton ( a now retired former Concorde pilot)
Niels Polden
Michael Hind
Graham Hatherley
Brian Boyce
Humphrey Weedon
Roy Wernham
John Edwards
Bob Langstaff
Tregurtha, Trigg, Coates-Smith, Honeysett, Stunnell,

Left SGS in 1961 with the requisite A levels but was lured into industry rather than further academia. Spent to first 20 years in various major food companies in marketing, then, in 1983 recklessly moved to Saudi Arabia, where I spent the next 25 years doing basically the same but getting paid more.

Unofficially retired 2 years ago, and moved to Dubai, opening up my own modest trading company, and am able to spend more time with my daughter and the 3 grandchildren.

Would love to hear from anyone out there who remembers me.

Dave Littleproud

March 31, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Got you Mr Pocock! Neatly sandwiched between Bob Liebermann and’on a chair, Ron Ladd!!-I don’t think Major Lefrevre would be impressed as being likened to a Captain Mainwaring lookalike. My perception of him is as a pukka officer type -I have to admit my experience of the officer class was rather limited when I was eleven – Major Lefevre left for pastures new in Rhodesia in 1957.
Roger R – in order to retain your anonymity you could get Roger H to post the damning evidence to a “poste restante” in a distant town. or go through Friends Reunited. There are ways of not getting spam -my home grown computer guru might know.

Roger A. Rimmer

March 31, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Thank you Dave – good suggestion. Hopefully Roger H. will be monitoring the blog from time to time and will pick up on it.

Dave Littleproud

March 31, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Hi! Roger R! What are you doing on the internet in the middle of the afternoon? have a practice run -send something to me –
c/0 Newent Post Office
29 Church St
GL18 1AA.
Any way Roger H sent 3 emails pretty quickly.

Roger A. Rimmer

March 31, 2009 at 4:42 pm

That’s excellent Dave. Hopefully Roger H. will see it and respond. I’ll send you mine tomorrow as the post will have gone already. Thanks for this. We go back a long way – copper pipe pyrotechnics, a scooter accident and chasing the same birds – you know – all the usual stuff.

Dave are you implying that Ron Ladd was short? Iremember hat he had a large collection of Ruby Austens in various states of disrepair in his mothers back garden in Epsom,he was constantly working on the.I remember that he Chris Brand and I drove to Notting Hill to buy yet another one,the seller was a large West Idian gentleman ,who introduced us to the pleasures of weed. I was in the class of 1954, and I do remember You Peter P.You have jogged my memory re some of your classmates.Hedley Stovold was part of the Group that caught the 65 bus at Surbiton Station,he lived some way past the Zoo.Bob Langstaff was also part of that group,he ended up at Sandhurst.Humph Weedon I last saw in Toronto in 1975 at Quentin Finch’s house.My potted history- like alot of others found my way to Canada wher e afer a creer in research wnt to Medical School.Got tired of the cold weather and trained in Obstetrics and gynaecology in Charleston S.C where I have resided for 30 yrs.Keep up with Dave Ashwell,he and I are vying for the record of most marriages for Old surbitonians.However now happily married (as is Dave) for anumber years,with one son Chris,36,and 3 step children.

Dave Littleproud

March 31, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Dear Richard, Yep!! I remember Ron as one of the few prefects that up to age 13/14 I didn’t have to look up to. You could also ask Peter Pocock who was standing on his right in the prefect’s photo. Ron was also a head shorter than Roy( ?) Gill. I rest my case my lord! Any way I remember Ron as a very nice fella and I hope he has enjoyed the past 40+ years as much as most of us seem to have done. Lot’s of you seem to have gone via Canada to success. My sister in law has enjoyed Nova Scotia for over 20 years and my wife enjoyed working in Vancouver. I remember all the names you mention although you and they were older than me. I did ” o” level art with Hedley Stovold’s little brother.

Roger Husband

April 1, 2009 at 3:43 am

Does anyone have the official school photos of 1957/8/9 or 1960? Also the Rome Olympics trip (1960). I have some slides taken on a school trip to Paris, probably 1959, Martin (Mac) Macara “holding up” the Eiffel Tower and a small group at Versailles, Osborne House on the Isle of White, and another unidentified trip. If anyone is interested my son assures me there are non revealing options for sending by internet.

Thanks Guys for your replies.

Having lost all school photos over the years sorry that I can’t help in identifying anyone that way.

For the record, poor old Stovold actually lived way beyond Leatherhead and had arguably the longest commute of any SCGS pupil in history.

Ron Ladd had I believe a rather serious wasting disease, and during the time I knew him, and for a few years after leaving school, he was literally getting shorter year by year.

Apropos nothing at all, didn’t Jock Lonsdale have a son at the school?

Who was the ‘science’ teacher with blond curly hair who rode to school on a drop handlebar racing bike?

Surprised, in references to Ken Bidmead, no-one recalls his terrifying command of the stationery cupboard in Braemar, where he would literally examine each page of an exercise book before agreeing to issue a new one.

Loved the detail about Eddie Watkins. My main memory of him was his P.E. classes in the Hall. He got us lined up by house, then marching and countermarching up and down for 35 minutes. Regularly, at some point he would ask for a volunteer with a bike, to go out and buy him some cigarettes.

Anyone remember that pointless exercise around Form 5, when you had to spend the day outside Doig’s office on “Bell Duty” , ringing the bell to end each period, running errands for the Secretary and avoiding Doig’s stare.

Sorry – rambling.

Peter-I think the science master that you are thinking about was Mr.Stubbings,but he taught maths.He also started us playing squash,at which Hans Mockand David Morgan were stars.He also tried starting a rowing club,but left the school before it could take off.I remember afew pleasant sunday mornings rowing on the Thames,with boats borrowed from Kingston Rowing Club (then based at the old Turks boat house.Other rowers were Dave Ashwell,Ginger Gill,Lincoln Waller.I am pretty sure that Jock Lonsdale had 2 daughters but no sons.However Nick Napper dated one of the daughters.They lived i Thames Ditton,just down the road from Th e Swan.Segue to Keith Swann-did he meet his demise as aresult of amotor -cycle accident.Malcolm wre you a neighbour of Phil Lucas on Red Lon Rd?

David Goodyear

April 2, 2009 at 1:08 am

I’ve just discovered this great website. I was at SCGS 1954-1961. Trumpet player in the school orchestras and in the G&S productions. Now in Taunton, as is Brian Cresswell who still runs the Somerset Rural Music School.I remember Jock Lonsdale introducing himself to Egmont as our new Housemaster “Boys, I want you to know that I weigh thurrrteen stone – and if you are sent to me with three Entries,I shall cane you. And every ooonce of that thurrrrten stone will be behind each strock of the cane”.Names I remember of guys in my year include David Morgan , Andy Pay , Philip Jago , Michael Shields , Michael Warburton….. I lived in Claygate. I went into Science teaching and did well. Then went into the Baptist ministry. Am now retired but tutor Science 1:1 , play in the Mid Somerset Orchestra and teach Trumpet. I also still preach once or twice a month. Do you remember Wilfred Sing (“Wilf”)?. I think he taught French but was also musical.

David Goodyear

Dave Littleproud

April 2, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Roger R ! Safe delivery! My bright idea works – not a common occurence out in the wilds but I’ll let it run til the p.o. complains.
Moaning about spending the day outside the H.M.’s office? Lordy Peter! A day at Mrs Gambling’s beck and call-Wow!! They only let me do it once -I suspect it was because I disrupted every class by demanding that the dinner numbers tallied!
Yes I remember the trauma of prising a new book out of Ken Bidmead-I also remember him wandering the corridor of an express train returning from a schooltrip with a confiscated waterpistol in each hand! My cry of “Biddy the Kid” remained unpunished.

Hi Richard,

I remain totally convinced that there was a young Lonsdale around at the time – something of a ‘tearaway’. Help me out someone. In any event, even if it is proven that Jock had no sons, at least I remember at one point he had a bicycle equipped with a “magic motor” built into the wheel.

The Swan who died in a motor bike accident was, I think, Victor Swan.

David – I remember you well boarding the old 42 train at Claygate with your trumpet case. You must have known Humphrey Weedon – a fellow trumpeter.

Dave Littleproud

April 3, 2009 at 9:21 am

Here is my “class of 56″ -Iapologise for any christian names my failing memory has missed-but I can put faces to names. Thank you Roger Rimmer for providing the missing piece -Nigel Froumin-last but not least!!

MICK REED ariel leader

—– MILLER—ginger hair
——? WHITE dark hair

???? FRY

Dave Littleproud

April 3, 2009 at 9:30 am

Peter -I have a vague memory of Jock with some form of moped -must have been the French influence – I have some school magazines -when I get a working scanner!!!
Roger H-see my 31/03/09 -happy to do same for you! It worked and I had a most enjoyable telecon with Roger R.
Apologies for any anomalies/omissions on the list.

I reckon Rowley’s christian name is Richard and Neldrett, I feel sure is Leonard? No mention of Eddie Hughes or Tony Harriman whereas Colin Brightwell appears twice. Well done for all your efforts Dave. Speak to you soon.

Dave Littleproud

April 3, 2009 at 9:53 am

Eddie and Tony weren’t in the original classof ’56 Tony joined in 3B and Eddie in LVB-so ho! who have I missed? -Colin appearing twice does not entitle him to a bonus!!

Hi Richard (and others) … sorry for the delay replying. I lived at 58 Bond Road, Tolworth, the Swanns lived next door at 56. I remember Victor’s bike accident well … it really broke his Mum. I guess he was only just 16 or so. I was in the Class of 1955, left in 1962. Don’t remember Phil Lucas from Red Lion Road. Moved from Tolworth to Sevenoaks Kent in 1972 for work reasons and stayed here ever since. Visit the old school site and the area recently … Kingston’s been destroyed, almost unrecognisable … The Red Lion Pub and Railway Tavern are no more, although The Swan In Thames Ditton still is. Most of the Tolworth area is unchanged except for 20mph speed limits and traffic bumps and other calming measures. My old gaff still looks much as it was when I grew up there. Dug out an LP made of the school choir and orchestra conducted by Alan Bolt made during 1960-62 at St Marks Hill Church and the school hall. Quite an epic. Will get it converted to mp3 when I get the chance. Got a book of cartoons drawn by by Bas Hewson somewhere “The lazy Monkey’s Handbook” about Mr Rose, the mad physics teacher. Not much else survived … except the experience!

First:congratulations to D.Littleproud on gathering his list of class mates.I am up to about 20 for my group so far.Finally I have someone in my cohort who does not have anything better to do than cruise this web sitethank David Goodyear.David we were in the same class all the way to the 6 th form,but I seem to remember that you left after completing the lower 6 th.I remember well Mike Shields,When we dissected the dogfish in A level zoology,his dissections were a beauty to behold.As to Wilf Sing,he was our 3 rd form master,he also taught us french and latin.I absolutely agree re Kingston,a charming riverside town totally destroyed.

I am going to be in Phoenix ,Arizona on April 17 th for a long weekend,if you are out there Steve Triggs give me a call-843-723-0373

My experience lasted from 1963 to1966.Mr.Fry took us for rugger ,with Peewee Hunt,a fine practioner with the size 11 plimsoll during Latin.Scored two tries against Tiffins,my highlight.I can only remember Kelsall,who sadly died at Surbiton station,Corbett,Williams,I can’t seem to see anyone else from this era.Is any body out there.How about Simon Lever,hair was so long they would’nt let him in the 1965 panoramic photo,and the guy who managed to be photographed twice in the same snap.Merry memories.

I attended from 1961 to 1965, at which time we moved to Canada. I remember Hunt, but I had Bidmead (handy with the ruler) for Latin. Fond memories of the long bus rides to rugger. Masters I recall having are Coutts (Keats) for English, Sid Capper for French, Cox for Physics, Busby for Arts, Jack Skene for Geography. Good memories of the Gilbert & Sullivan performances, not so much the cafeteria food!

Egmont 1953 – 1958

YES!! Best Blog ever- linked here from a random Wikipedia surf. SCGC Site? Yes please. Quick first (maybe last!) look at me – another fast track GCE student who ended up in 5G!! 5 GCEs took me into RN for the next 27 years, then Shipbuilding followed by Nuclear, where at 66 I still am. Sod the Labour Party.
Some names – Cubin, to whom I aplogise for beating up during House boxing (I’m sure I thumped Pocock at some time as well!) Chris Brand who did the same to me. Not new, but the Courtney twins, Michael and I being the scourge of the Chemistry lab , Mike (Spinks?) who did a sub 65 minute TT (cycling always my main sport). Trev Birmingham who was reputed to run a market stall in Kingston; Meyhew, the only sod to eventually beat me (soundly) at both 880 and mile; Radford? who did the same at 100 and 220; Derek Rosam; Samuel, who had a bespoke Carpenter Fixi; Johnson, who I think I spotted on Friends Rsome years ago; Richardson, who got caned by Doig in Assembly, Geoff. Wood from my town (Walton) and a great pal. That’ll do for now, but here’s some memory triggers – Surbiton Lido, Hinchley Wood Girls Grammar, train commutes to Surbiton via Waterloo, Harrison Marks magazines in the shop opposite the Station, Nonsuch Park, Sack Jack campaign and a rally Sunbeam Talbot Alpine parked on Surbiton Hill.. Finally, wasn’t the main school building Alsbury House or some such?
Never been to Canada.
Fabulous days, isn’t youth wasted on the young!

Amazing after all these years that most names have come up on this blog, but allow me to fill in some gaps :: On the 5th Year split I ended up in 5S2 & was buddies mainly with the Andrews brothers , Timothy & Robin who lived opposite me in Guildford Avenue just around the corner from the School — the reason why we are not so well remembered by the ‘Littleproud ‘ congregation is because we specialised in the ‘Art of Festering ‘ ! This consisted of strolling round to the school to sign on then slopping back to Rob Andrews for morning coffees & avid discussions on all things pubescent as well as listening to the latest Modern Jazz. Joining us in this almost daily torpid state were Graham ‘Chas ‘ Hill , Robin Wayne , Howard Sheppard , Barry ‘ Baz ‘ Hewson, Mick Warren , who also lived around the corner , & guest appearances from Tony ‘ Harry ‘ Arbour , Colin Stanley ,Terry Connolly ,Mick Chandler , Gerry Mercer , Stefan Dreja , Nigel Froumin , John Gosling , Mick Hoad & several of those mentioned by other in previous ‘ Blogs ‘. Seeing Roger Husband’s Notes above reminded me that I sat next to him in Latin classes given in Aysgarth , ground floor by the then new ‘squeeky voiced ‘ Pee Wee Hunt. John Gosling in our class at that time was a bit of a school hardman & Roger Husband as I recall was rather slightly built & somewhat timid. A row betwen these two erupted to the extent that Roger overcame his fears & laid into JG & to much cheering coming out on top with Mr Hunt only an onlooker . Matters then subsided but , starting with the back row the class gradually dissapeared out of the classroom windows leaving the ‘squeeking ‘Mr Hunt with a severely depleted class. Seeing Dave Ashwell’s name reminds me of the cross country runs with also Malcom Cross — Cross & Ashwell lived close to the playing fields from whence these runs started & the course went past one of their houses unbeknown to the sports staff so , pop in on the outward leg , have tea & join in fthe pack for the homeward sprint full of running! I think it was Dave Ashwell’s house that featured in the Surrey Comet one day for ‘ having an Elephant in the Garden ‘ as one had escaped & trundled across from Chessington Zoo.

Chas Hill , Howard Sheppard & I , sometimes Rob Wayne & Tony Arbour & when in the country , Baz Hewson meet up most Fridays in the WychElm , Elm Street ,Kingston upon Thames if anyone wants to turn up on spec & say ‘ Hello ‘ .

Hi Clive – welcome to the site.

Wouldn’t be surprised if you did thump me – people have been doing that to me for years!.

A few more names you may recall from that era – Upwood, Jim Dodson, Tony Lebras, Spittle, Tom Corn, Pendleton, Trog Norton, assorted Ashtons, Venables, Millett, Boyce, Morrell, Pope, Dillow, Brian Mullins, Nigel Peake, Niels Polden, Richard Gill, Ian Burhop, Bob Lieberman, Lewis Levin

Trevor Birmingham – yes, the only boy in 2C with a real moustache, and staggeringly ‘well-hung’.

By the way, briefly made contact with Mick Courtney last year. He is a pillar of the community in Claygate, serving both as a local councellor and a senior officer in his Church.

One final memory – does anyone recall the day the ancient and disgusting Sports Pavillion mysteriuosly burned down at the Playing Fields at Hook?

OK Peter, got you now. Maybe “thump” goes further than I actually managed!
Found Mick C on Claygates Website, might get in touch – never sure after so long, what do you think?; Officer of the Church? he must have reformed – or not! Thanks for names – Nigel Peake, lived in Esher beside the railway. Had a physical peculiarity rumoured to be similar to Hitler’s……. teach him to stamp on my carrot patch (remember the allotments?). Levin – invented the Full Brazil – the Hook pavilion baths allowing no secrets! Probably why they were burned down. Another name, Peter White, who I think had a younger brother at SCGS.
As for G&S I was in two productions (chorus! with Polden as lead) before my voice broke, then found myself as a second violin in the main orchestra.
Many more memories flooding back – more blog later if anyone cares!

I feel sure Mick Courtney would like to hear from you. I might be interesting to learn what happened to John & David Courtney.

I remember the allotments only by name. Personally never ever ventured around behind that huge brick wall. I do remember Colin Bridge
( now an accomplished Clarinet player in a major
Orchestra), being an ardent gardener able to do stunning things with a rake and trowel! Never saw any actual vegetables grown there.

Must have been in the same two G&S productions (Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance). At least with my girth and appearance, I only ever had to sing in the mens’ chorus.

A few more names that you might remember:
Roy Wernham (a former Ombudsman, and now also heavily involved with his local Church – what is it about SCGS training?)
Brian Harding
Steve Triggs
Hughie something
Mike (Angus) Hind
Lincoln Waller ( spoke better French than Jock Lonsdale)
Graham Hatherley
Graham Pirnie
Tony Maybey

By the way, where are you living these days?

Dave Littleproud

April 28, 2009 at 9:43 pm

The www has been buzzing ! Trawling through the 1957 “Surbitonian” for mention of Clive Nunn—sorry mate!—I find one more name for my class of ’57 in the House Boxing results-Absolom-Idon’t remember him unless he was a small 2nd year. I also found Brand in the third year boxing –Courtney M duffed Courtney J, Turner did for Mick Hoad ( who, last I heard from Stef Dreja ,wasn’t very well) –Gerry Mercer beat Smith B
Mick Chandler beat Hans Mock. Looking at the names of the prefects and the sixth formers I am reminded of how large they seemed to me and I was not a small 11year old- to some of my smaller peers they must have seemed like giants.
Surbiton Lagoon -now a housing estate- the main school was Albery House I think. Yes youth (and Education !!) is wasted on the young –oh for my 18 yr old body with the scars and laughs that I accumulated over the following 40 plus!!
In reply to David Hall I must say how bemused and amused I am at “Littleproud “and “congregation “ being used in the same breath-however we are a broad church and prepared to forgive and welcome all lost sinners who have found the true path!!-I shall rely on Messrs Courtney and Wernham to resolve any theological issues that may arise. I recognise most of the names you mention in your “festering “ group-Graham Hill was at primary school with me as was Howard Sheppard who joined SCGS in the sixth form from Hollyfield Road. I am afraid that I do not remember yourself and Messrs Stanley, Connolly and Gosling. Not appreciating Modern Jazz I would have been a bit hoi polloi for your group- I think I was more into motor bikes !! I did have coffee at both Rob Waynes and Rob Andrews-most congenial hosts they were. Do you remember Stefan Dreja organising “JaZz at the Oak” in Maple Road? I heard from Hugh Williams, who joined SCGS in the sixth form,told me that Mick Warren had died and that Rob Wayne had lost his brother. To continue being maudlin Tim Pines and Mick Puggard-Moller were killed in car crashes –Quentin Finch was killed trying to land a helicopter on an oil rig.
Lighter vein –Myself ,Dreja and Wayne plus one other used to sit in the back row of one of those rooms just off the entrance hall of Albery house. When “Cyril” Parsons was trying to teach us maths we would play air guitar a les Shadows–one summers day with the French windows open Stefan’s chair got tossed into the grounds –he goes to get it –we lock the door on him! 5 minutes Stef is trying to explain to Cyril heicoming back in the classroom carrying a chair. Poor Mr Parsons — we were so unkind to him-I bollock my own son for such behaviour! –as we said youth and education…….
Once worked for the same company as Mick Courtney about 20 years ago –me in Bristol, him in London.
David please convey my best wishes to the Friday night conclave –if ever I’m in Kingston on a Friday night I will turn up, but why the Wych Elm?
Pity about the Hook Pavilion- surely a gem of it’s type- all the nails sticking out of the floor like reverse studs! It should have been listed—wonder who done it ?
Re Peter Pocock’s last, I remember most of the names-I even have photos (when I get a scanner!!) even though they were my seniors and can put faces to them-except for Steve Triggs and Tony Maybey (this name seems very familiar -but not a face)

Its question time folks….

Having yesterday celebrated being born in 1942, I got to thinking just how many utterly unimportant facts about SCGS I could remember. As you can see, I have definitelty gone a bit crazy, but here goes:

What make and colour was the car Doig dr0ve?

What was the name of the poor old Groundsman at the ill-fated Pavillion at Hook?

Which short-lived English Teacher went to live in Mauritius where he got the job of “mystery voice” on Mauritius Radio version of 20 Questions?

Who coined the phrase ” “who’s feminine – my Aunt Kate’s Canary ?”

What was the Cadet Corps’ secret training weapon, kept locked in a garage at the side of Aysgarth?

Where was the “Pound Annual Sale” held and by whom?

Why does no-one seem to remember the Libary with its cozy little club of Nerds who spent all breaktimes, classifying utterly boring books. Who was the “Librarian”

What was a “Yik Man”, and can you still draw one ( tricky question)

How many “entries” were given for not wearing the dreaded School cap?

There was an apology for a tuck shop set up, lasting only a few months. Where was it located?

What was the most popular lunch (?) served in the Dining Hall and as a follow-up, where did the Sandwich Boys sit?

What brand of cigarettes was the most popular at SCGS?

Sorry – “er Indoors” just looked over my shoulder and commented that I had totally flipped. As usual, right of course.

Answers on a postcard please.
Dave – please get a scanner – can’t wait to see some old faces

All right Istill have a library book in my posession.Tuck shop at the end of the physics lab.Sandwich boys ina downstairs classroom in Braemer.

Two correct so far Richard. Can’t think of any titles there that were worth keeping, and certainly not for 40 odd years.

Dave Littleproud

April 30, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Ok Peter
A J Doig’s car–pass
Groundsman –Mr Jolly-used to sell soft drinks
Cader corps secret weapon –25 pounder field gun
Library –for a man with a grammar school education you’re a bit scathing about books -I well remember the rush to get to the library to read the latest “Eagle”-”Paris Match” was not commonly found in my end of Kingston and I was a devoted fan of “Punch” almost on arrival at SCGS-I’m grateful to the library and those nerds who made the books easy to find-but then again I have always been a bookworm-my book collection is grounds for divorce in our house-oh the answer to your question—D.W. Adams, R. Barnes, Tony Cator, W Perfect, R Stuart, G C Smith, P Dawson, R Venables, P White, A French, J Edward, A Robinson and R White all under the watchful of Mr Parrot- who, I think, went to live in Mauritius!! Do I get “Nerd of the Year 2009″ ??

One entry for not wearing a cap.

The tuck shop was at the end of the physics lab -I think it closed down because it was robbed.

most popular lunch was probably “yesterday’s” potatoes served up fried-I was well enamoured of the butterscotch tart-for institutional food I think the cooks did quite well.

I only get away with this because “er indoors “is out working keeping me in the manner to which I have become accustomed-she thinks I’m a bit flipped too!

Printer is a bit dodgy-kids need it for school work –Yep I still got one of each GCSE and AS levels looming next month so scanner could come with new printer -must see what home grown computer guru says.

Richard -write out twenty times in your general book Braemar-Braemar etc

Dave Littleproud

April 30, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Hey Peter- I’ve still got my “O” level maths book and some of my exercise books Mauritius!! Do I get “Nerd of the Year 2009″ and Bar or at least with Oak Leaf Cluster -Croix de Something ??

Dave Littleproud

April 30, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Hey Peter- I’ve still got my “O” level maths book and some of my exercise books. Do I get “Nerd of the Year 2009″ and Bar or at least with Oak Leaf Cluster -Croix de Something ??

Peter Pocock

May 1, 2009 at 6:14 am

Not bad Dave! You passed on only one. As I recall, Doig had cute little pale blue Austin A40, more suited to a Midwife’s runaround than a Headmaster’s vehicle.

Would have awarded you the title of Mastermind 2009, but for the heinous crime of nicking school property.

Glad to see that the “Yik Man” has not yet been identified.

For the record, where did you find the full list of Library staff. Adams, I recall was a genial Prefect in his 3rd year in 6th form, mercilessly taunted by everyone. Library was probably his only safe haven.

Just unearthed a complete set of original ‘O’ level exam papers for 1958, and ‘A’ level for 1960. Looking back at the subject material, with the possible exceptions of French and German, it is hard to see any relevance to life over the next 40 years. (Probably more my fault than SCGS).

Dave Littleproud

May 1, 2009 at 9:43 am

Peter my memory seems to be quite good but not perfect-I could remember that one of the librarians was a ginger fellow but not his name – the list comes from the 1957 edition of “The Surbitonian” which confirms that the afore mentioned gentleman was Tony Cator-a nice chap.
During the demolition of Braemar about 1960 Alan Kemp and I were cycling past when we noticed that the remains were on fire. We parked ourselves on a window cill to watch it burn. When the police and fire brigade arrived they were not impressed with our having not informed them. As we emphatically told them ” you don’t get a chance to watch your school burn down every day”-it was replaced with a gym and a design and technology block –pity.
On the surface those “O” levels told the world that Peter had a brain-underneath they were a window to show what a great interesting world is out there -trouble is that education is wasted on….Perhaps the staff/sysyem were unable to use it in that way? Why was I happy to see my school burn down –why did I find it all such a drag—not all my fault –but not all theirs either.
Shut up David! -too philosophical this early in the morning.

Peter Pocock

May 4, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Never to early in the day for a little philosopy Dave.

I know all that stuff about education broadening the mind and creating a questioning mind, and of course that’s true. My beef is that so much of what we were expected to learn/remember was irrelevant but was treated as being the most essential knowledge, to be absorbed and stored away for future use. ( The saddest day was when Masters, the quiet dignified teacher of carpentry sadly died. That was the end of my possibly useful training in how to cut and plane a tent-peg.)

Where’s the learning in being able to conjugate Latin verbs? Who amongst us routinely identifies and proves congruency in triangles? (OK – I bet someone out there does it for a living). What use was the ability to recall the names of the first 10 Vice Presidents in USA? Who but Fred Fenyhough ever saw the relevance of debating whether or not Corneille was more “unvraisemblable” than Molliere?

When it came to such esoteric topics as Fletcher’s Trolley, Boyle’s Law, Log Tables, Hydra and Amoeba, my case rests. ( I lie – I once got a Trivil Pursuit question on Boyle and his law).

Perhaps all I am saying is that probably education in general in the 50′sand 60′s was treated as an end in itself, not just in SCGS, and probably because we never needed to worry about finding good jobs after leaving School/University, there was little attention paid to career advice – if you exclude Bert Forward’ often puzzling guidance.

Having got that off my chest – I consider myself truly fortunate to have been at the school, and am eternally grateful to the assorted staff who for the most part, did a good job. With or without the data bank of knowledge they gave me, I have had a full and satisfying life and career, and perhaps most telling of all, have the self assurance to put my thoughts down on a public forum – which would have been unthinkable as an 11 year old fresh out of primary school!

Roger Rimmer

May 4, 2009 at 3:39 pm

I agree with Peter. “Trivial Pursuit” just about sums it up. I commenced gathering all relevant and pertinent information upon leaving school. Upon being asked recently, ‘how’s life?’ I replied ‘absolutely marvellous thank you – particularly when you consider the alternative’.
But there again, I am fortunate to be probably one of the happiest people alive – that is, as far as I am aware.
It is with regret however, that I have to say if I am scrupulously honest, that I cannot put hand on heart and say that this wonderful status quo is really and truly anything whatsoever attributable to my time spent at SCGS apart that is, from having had the privilege of being taught on sadly only rare occasions by the saintly Mr. Walmsley to whom I have referred herein above and who left such an impression upon me as a man of real stature so as to leave me effortlessly capable of invoking sobriety, respect and honourable behaviour plus a veritable plethora of other considered virtuous modes of conduct when the occasion demands [even during a continuing vigourous lifetime spent in pursuance of all those things money cannot buy – without a television by choice, with alternate intervals listening to music, reading, some travel or work at home with seasonably appropriate interludes for dedicated dissipation.]
It is regrettable that I was unable to witness these exemplary characteristics in few if any of the other members of staff to any comparable degree. I was lucky in life to have been handed at a young age, the ability to perceive men of calibre even at a distance and to be sensitive enough so as to understand what it is to be able to ‘feel’ an one enter a crowded room. Such a man, in my opinion, was old Wormo.

Peter Pocock

May 5, 2009 at 6:31 am

On a more mundane level, Roger, what subject(s) did Walmsley teach. I can see him clearly roaming the pathways, in, I agree, a fairly dignified manner, but I never actually met him in the classroom.

By the way, I believe his son, Martin was a 6th former, around the mid-late 50′s – also tall, dignified and extremely charming.

Surely though, there were a few other candidates for ‘sainthood’. Alan Bolt and Geof Harris-Ide were at times eccentric, but normally courteous and professional. Jock Lonsdale epitomised fairness, and was at the same time, a good and entertaining teacher, who made no concessions to suburban Surrey prejudice against his accent. In his somewhat surly way, Slug Rigden had a special presence, and was arguably the best prepared teacher in terms of organising his materials and establishing learning objectives. Given half a chance, and a better set of dentures, even Sid Capper had a few good points!

Yes, there were sadists, bores, and frankly, staff who were simply not suited to the profession. Maybe that was the point. Maybe that was the preparation for life outside SCGS – the world is full of saints, sinners, sadists, bores, mediocrities and relatively normal people!

By the way Roger, I too lived in Oxshott ( Sheath Lane). Did you ever know the Balkwills or the Thompsons?

Colin Brightwell

May 5, 2009 at 7:14 am

Peter, Mr Walmsley taught maths.

Roger Rimmer

May 5, 2009 at 8:38 am

Once again I agree with you Peter although I was not taught by either Jock or Slug so am not in any position to comment. Alan Bolt was an excellent man whom I knew indirectly through the sister of a friend in East Horsley with whom he used to go riding. No, I didn’t know the families you mention although I can remember you being in Sheath Lane.
Mr. Walmsley taught Mathematics and caught me red handed making a disruptive device in class. The first thing I knew was a heavy hand placed firmly on my shoulder accompanied by the quiet question ‘Now Rimmer, what seems to be the problem?’ (pointing to my work with his other hand) He proceeded to run through my recent progress commenting that ‘this was right, that’s correct’ etc., etc., and then lightly thumped me on the shoulder with a clenched fist saying ‘come on – get on with it’ and making no reference to the gadget which he didn’t even confiscate! That was the very moment, I learned respect from this master and was the model student. I responded completely to positive correction. Any man who took a stick to my butt thereby confessed to me that not only had he failed completely as a teacher to inspire me, but had also failed utterly as a man in that he was effectively bullying a teenage boy. I was frankly, frightened by Lefty but disgusted by Gus who in the words of a neighbour at Oxshott, ‘just liked hitting people’ – a view I find hard with which to disagree.
I was well behaved during English Literature with Nutty Bolt also, since he responded to any wise cracks by commenting as to whether they were sensible or not. He was partly responsible for my lifelong love of Shakespeare although I have to thank mother initially for singing sonnets to me in my cot whilst playing unaccompanied Bach on her violin. This was also my introduction to spontaneous improvisation which led on to a lifelong love of bebop and some successive forms of contemporary jazz.
So ‘yes, of course’ there must have been other good teachers there and I suppose my opinion was teinted by the fact that old man Rimmer was General Secretary of the N.A.H.T. in Claremont Road, Surbiton for a while which Doig must have known about since they were in touch with each other about ‘the boy’. By this means however, I had direct information about salaries and what was said back stage.
As long as I can remember, teachers have grizzled about the Burnham Scales (as it used to be) and their low pay whereas when you looked into it, they had a comparatively cushy deal really. A friend of mine with whom I used to imbibe all too frequently told me straight that he went into teaching for the wrong reasons – the high rate of pay and the long paid holidays which gave him time to enjoy his hobbies. Yet there are still teachers moaning about their lot!!! I put it down to the limitations of academic goggles. A year in the outside world of commerce might perhaps prove beneficial to any complainant?

Well, this Blog was fun, and getting better – a crowd of sexagnarian schoolboys reminiscing over old times.
Then along comes Mr. Rimmer.
I read the first submission right from the (incorrect) Maurice Chevalier quote, with growing disbelief eventually tempered by pity whenI got to the self delusional claptrap at the end. Response? Ignore it, as I usually ignore the psuedo-intellectual ramblings of Steven Fry, who at least has the excuse of a bi-polar personality disorder.

Well, this Blog was fun, and getting better – a crowd of sexagnarian schoolboys reminiscing over old times.
Then along comes Mr. Rimmer.
I read the first submission, from the (incorrect) Maurice Chevalier quote, with growing disbelief eventually tempered by pity when I got to the self delusional claptrap at the end. Response? Ignore it, as I usually ignore the psuedo-intellectual ramblings of Steven Fry, who at least has the excuse of a bi-polar personality disorder. Then came Submission 2.
NOW I have to take exception. Rimmer you are NOT happy! All that underlying vitriol and hatred coupled with so much rambling verbal candy indicates that you may have a deep seated problem – you should perhaps seek help.
One of your ill thought out and offensive comments however needs a specific response.
My daughter, one of the many fruits of my 46 year marriage, is Assistant Head (that is a type of Teacher) at a 1000+ student Secondary school in a seriously deprived inner city area. Other, more knowledgable, readers will know just what that entails.
That’s more than enough for now – can we get back to basics? or is this the inevitable end to a good idea…….
Anyone else have an Ian Allan trainspotters book?
And somebody else must remember Hinchley Wood Girls School……….

Roger Rimmer

May 5, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Peter, I missed answering your last question. The family names you mention both ring a distant bell but I cannot say I remember either really. I knew most of the people in that part of the village by house names since that was where one of my rounds was. I would have delivered your papers if you used Weedons? June obviously wrote the house names on the papers in preference to the recipient’s surnames so I never came to know who was who.

Colin Brightwell

May 6, 2009 at 5:29 am

Clive, with only 6 ‘o’ levels it is probably not suprising that the more oblique references in your post have gone over my head. However, your rudeness hasn’t. Everyone has the right to express their views and everyone has the right to respond, but not in the rude and obnoxious way that you did. If you are unable to present your views in a respectful way then I suggest you keep them to yourself.

Peter Pocock

May 6, 2009 at 5:50 am

OK Clive – down to earth…..

Vaguely remember the “Anarak and Tizer” group at the end of the platform at Surbiton station. Probably wrong but the names Coates-Smith, Tregurtha, Pendleton, Kitcher and Bridge stand out as regulars.

For the more sophisticated amongst us, there was an Ian Allen Bus spotter book too – how about that for a pointless exercise.

Do you remember a particularly tough kid called Shepherd. Used to ride a snazzy racing bike when not causing mayhem.Very intimidating but I eventually managed to avoid being attacked by him by discovering that we had a shared admiration for Fats Domino.

Just had another ‘flash-back’. In our first year, Geography was taught by the venerable Neville Holdaway. He had the conviction that geography was by far the most important subject taught in the school, and was obsessed with how we looked after our weighty geog. ring binders.We all had to buy boxes of file hole re-enforcers, and Bambi staplers to maintain the pages in pristine condition. There were daily inspections, and hours spent instructing us on how to use coloured pencils to achieve an even finish ( you had to rub the colouring with blotting paper). Sadly he died later in 1953 I think, handing over to a much more tolerant Jack Skene.

Anyone remember Noble – a music teacher with an amazing baritone voice. Also just had a vision of a sad faced, evil hearted prefect called Maud.

I always thought Hinchley Wood was a co-ed school, Clive. Rough bunch as I recall – the boys actually played soccer.

Hope that’s brought the site back to your expectations Clive.

Colin – ‘only 6 ‘O’ levels’ ? I’d have said that was pretty good considering, if I remember correctly, you needed just five to enter articles in law provided that three of the five were Mathematics, English and English Literature. I imagine, but don’t know since I didn’t enquire, that the other major professions would have had similar requirements?
Maybe you should have been in a higher class?

Colin Brightwell

May 7, 2009 at 5:05 am

Hi Roger, accountancy required either 5 passes at 6 or above in one sitting or 6 in two. I got the latter. Got 4 in the first sitting and two in the second, including art which I took as I knew I wouldn’t have to revise for it! Didn’t expect to pass it though and when the miracle happened, noone was more suprised than me!

As to being in a higher class, I think my struggles at A level showed that I was where I should have been!

Dave Littleproud

May 7, 2009 at 9:11 am

Gently boys, gently!! We have all made a long journey since we stepped off of Surbiton Hill Road for the first time. Our years there gave each of us different perceptions and the ensuing nearly 50 years have emphasised,changed rejected or “whatever” those perceptions. On this website we have all returned to a mutual collective root–obviously from different directions. We have all had different kicks and cuddles which have made us who we are. If we read between the lines more than was intended to be said then let’s try and be kind.
Ok sermon over -lets get back to this fun website –all welcome –as I said we are a broad church.

peter pocock

May 7, 2009 at 9:38 am

Well said, Dave.

Dave Littleproud

May 7, 2009 at 9:40 am

Colin is correct. Mr Walmsley did indeed teach maths very well -I never heard him raise his voice and I sat next to Tony Harriman -not good for either of us– one day I brought in the “crying bit” from one of my little sister’s dolls -you know you tip it and it goes “waaaaahhhh!!” Any teacher would have killed us!!
A lovely man -we didn’t deserve him but he was what many teachers should have been. Iwas told very early in my time at SCGS that “Gus” enjoyed hitting people for no reason and that one should steer very clear of him.
“Slug” Rigden was on the surface quite dour-as i progressed through the school Ifound him to be a kind , amusing man. In the sixth form he became a sort of tutor to me seeing me through a few traumas.
At the end of term when he retired the whole school spontaneously burst in to “For He’s a jolly good fellow” and repeated it 3 times. The only time in my memory that a retiring master got that appreciation.
I don’t think it was ” trivial pursuit ” (in fairness one of my favourite games ) at SCGS -it was to open windows -funnily enough some of the things that Peter Pocock mentions I have had to use-the survey of India was carried out a series of triangles-maybe even a congruent one -something “Holy Joe taught me in about 1958 I used “in action” in about 1992. I did have to google “Fletcher’s Trolley”-which was probably quite handy if one was designing road surfaces or tyre tread patterns and how did one do big sums before calculators?
Life is an educational journey – SCGS was one of the first faltering steps -give Colin’s teacher daughter credit for what she is trying to do-I know I couldn’t do it. Like our teachers she probably has some pretty dodgy clay to mould.

Dave Littleproud

May 7, 2009 at 9:43 am

Sorry I mean’t Clive Nunn’s daughter.

“Life is an educational journey – SCGS was one of the first faltering steps -give Colin’s teacher daughter credit for what she is trying to do-I know I couldn’t do it. Like our teachers she probably has some pretty dodgy clay to mould.”

Silly David !!

Sound comment Dave.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

May 7, 2009 at 11:52 am

Hello boys I hope you don’t mind me butting in on your sureal little world , my mind is still a teenager but my body is now a pensioner ! I wonder if any of you remember the school cleaners? My great aunt Ivy Collins was one, you might remember her from her hair which she plaited and then wrapped around her head, she was a bit of a prangster herself with a wicked sense of humour so she loved all the antics that you got up to! Is anyone prepared to own up to the lobster down the toilet after all these years? Does anyone remember Keith [Spud] Bird he left in 1961, I was his girlfriend at the time and I remember going to a dance at the scool after first having a drink in the Railway Tavern? I went to Hollyfield, I passed my 13 + and went into the art group which attracted students from all over surrey , including Eric Clapton from your school. We used to hang out at 35 Ewell road and at break times Eric ,Chris Dreja and Tony Topham used to play their guitars and so the “Yardbirds “were born.

I just knew someone out there would have found a use for congruent triangles. Hopefully Google Earth has finally put them to bed.

Roger – re your stint as a paperboy, I think the Balkwills lived in “Small Lodge” (or was it “Red Lodge”). He was a very senior executive in BBC, and as such had probably the first TV set in Oxshott so maybe he didn’t need a daily visit from the whistling Paperboy.

Back to nostalgia ( or retournons a nos moutons) as Jock used to say). I notice on re-reading the blogs that apart from the occasional mention of Scum Turner’s rantings, no-one seems to recall how truly terrifying they could be. He literally changed his personality, during a Scum Fit, and became violent, dangerous and unpredictable. On one famous occasion help arrived in the form of Fernyhough I think, who was passing the door and felt obliged to come in to see what was happening.
After a few whispered words, Scum calmed down.

The sad thing is that he probably had multiple Scum Fits in the course of an average day. Wonder what he was like at home.

Delighted to hear that Slug Rigden got an ovation on his last day, Dave. Great teacher, whose appearance belied a very good sense of humour, and seemingly, compassion.

Did anyone out there ever have the curious experience of having Doig teaching them. He used to make unexpected guest appearances, ostensibly to teach Maths, but quickly changed the topic to a series of weird ramblings, obcure quizzes, and general Doig thoughts on very little. ( on one such quiz, he asked who were Alan Silitoe and John Osborn. One bright spark infuriated him by saying that they both played for Chelsea)

Colin Brightwell

May 8, 2009 at 8:49 am

Hi Ros, don’t remember Spud that well, but do remember playing football with him for Giltec with Tony Hall amongst others. Small world!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

May 8, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Hello Colin I am so glad somebody remembers him, after scgs he went to Manchester Uni to study civil engineering,we kept in touch until 1967 when I married, I have recently made contact with one of his cousins through Genes Reunited,who told me he is now in New Zealand. Yes he did love his football! I think he may have worked on the building of the Channel Tunnel but that has not been confirmed yet, you are a great bunch of lads and I love this website, keep it up, Ros

Ros -Spud was in my class from 2b onwards.Jock Lonsdale always called him Monsieur Oiseau. I last saw him in the Fish and Chip shop on Ewell Rd opposite the old Police Station,in about 1968. He was one of the good guys.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

May 10, 2009 at 9:56 am

Thank you for that Richard, yes I hope he still is one of the good guys! His parents had a newsagents in Surbiton Hill Park and he spent a lot of his time delivering papers. I think I remember Tony Hall, was he a goalkeeper?keith belonged to Kingston Boys Club so I might be getting mixed up with his friends from there. If I ever get in touch with him I will definitely tell him about this blog.

Colin Brightwell

May 11, 2009 at 4:10 am

Hi Ros, no, Tony was a ‘not so dynamic’ midfield player…lacked a bit of pace! In fact he is still as quick as he was then! By the way, Tony’s nickname was ‘Tufty’. Might jog a memory or two. He lives in Woking now.

Dave Littleproud

May 11, 2009 at 8:18 am

I was lucky enough to have escaped the sight of a full scale “Scum Fit”-I know that me and my peers had been warned about him on day one at SCGS. I was howevr ver lucky -He once me accused of cheating in one of his exams ( I wasn’t)-Idenied it and waited for the “fit ” -perhaps the gravity of the occasion calmed him -all he did was to say that he would punish me by docking 50% of the marks I had already got. And that was the end of it -pheeewww!
But why on earth did we put up with him? He was a grenade with the pin out. His whole personality was on a perpetual short fuse. Did none of us say anything to our parents? How did he behave with his sixth form pupils? Why was there no inter group monitoring among the teachers?
I think I spent more time in abject terror of “Gus” in GCE year than I did learning maths. Brrrrr!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

May 11, 2009 at 9:50 am

Hello Colin, my apologies to Tony,I must have lost quite a lot of brain cells in the last 47 years, the only Tufty I remember is the Tufty Club!I could never keep up with the pace ,but I can be pretty dynamic, or do I mean manic, when it comes to researching family history.”Oh to be in Kingston Record Office now that Spring is here”, I am exiled in Suffolk where my husbands roots are, but my family have been in Surrey at least since the 1600s. Sorry I am getting boring now, have a good day boys.

Dave: Entertainment value? Surely everyone who witnessed a full scale fit wondered whether he was going to actually flip right out permanently? It was a first for me.

I joined in 1954 and left in 1960. I can recall many of the names in the previous posts. Keith Piggott and I flew to Paris in an old Dakota one weekend for a p***up when we should have been revising for the exams. One of my many favourite recollections were the saturday night jazz balls held in the school hall.
I was the unlucky guy handed the test tube containing the residue of the highly explosive mix of Nitrogen Triodide scattered across the stage when Doig slung his bible down on the lectern on the last day of term. I was pushed out of the rear door by a senior prefect and told to scat as chaos ensued behind me.

Mention of the Yardbirds by Ros started a whole new trip down memory lane. One day in 1961 or 1962 the music scene switched from Trad Jazz to Rock and Roll.One Saturdy night we were at Eel Pie Island dancing to Acker Bilk,next week it was the Rolling stones..When the Stones got big then there were the Yardbirds.I remember being at the Anchor in Kingston listening to the AnimalsI am sure that every body has ther own experience of th e shift in the Zeitgist.,which of course did not involve just the music,it was clothes ,the food ,the pill.What a great time to be growing up..

Dave Littleproud

May 24, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Well fellas, particularly Peter Pocock, try this link and let me know what happens

pc advisor may have to advise a bit more!!

Dave Littleproud

May 24, 2009 at 12:22 pm

hmmmmm seems to work!!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

May 24, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Well Richard now you have done it! I went with some school friends in about 1962 to Eel Pie Island to see the Yardbirds, and the Stones were playing there as well,, when neither of them were very well known, perhaps I was biased but I didn’t think much of them, and my opinion hasn’t changed much over the years, although I do like Rock music, and will dance to anything. I still have all my vinyl records and a Dansette to play them on, it’s a real mixture of music styles from the fifties onwards, and my children added to the collection in their teenage years. I remember going to a trad jazz dance at Kingston Baths , and I still have my copy of Acker Bilk’s ,Stranger on The Shore that Keith bought me, we were so lucky to have so much to choose from, even my husband says that the sixties were a very special time,and he only really liked Folk and Classical! I think we were all very lucky to have been teenagers then, I just hope I will still be around to see what my grandchildren will be into in about 10 years time, I hope they have as much fun as we did!

Dave, given my lack of IT skills I opened it with some trepidation – wow. That bought back a few memories. (I had forgotten how much I hated wearing glasses and used to take them off at any opportunity even if it meant I couldn’t see a thing). Many thanks.

Dave Littleproud

May 25, 2009 at 11:21 am

Peter, it worked for me but it only had to go a few inches -you ,I believe, are a bit further away!! It was not as easy as I had hoped -although I can copy text to this site I haven’t solved it for images -I tried to send an image to Dave Ashwell by email to no avail so i had to send an attachment -so far it ahsn’t been rejected -but Dave hasn’t replied yet. howeve I shall send more pictures.

Just a thought Dave – if computers had been around in the late 50′s, I wonder which of our intrepid staff would have been most suited to teaching IT.

It would have needed someone with a logical, analytical mind, interested in modern technologies and able to deliver a clear message – mmm…..

My nomination would be someone like Sid Capper, or possibly Eddy Watkins.

Dave Littleproud

May 26, 2009 at 11:18 am

Peter- there is a poem -the theme of which is that had the young Helen of Troy had been laughed at while dancing there would have been no “Iliad” and no “Odyssey”-just think what Eddie watkins and his tent peg could have done to a young Bill Gates!!
Dear old Sid-I think he would have liked IT- might have helped us appreciate French more.
Now imagine Scum with a recalcitrant (wheeee! first time since Feb 1945 that I have typed “recalcitrant”) computer or calculator-I expect he would have burnt them at Eddie Watkins tent peg- I’ve just got it -he was a combined reincarnation (wheee!!etc) of Ximines and Torquemada-can’t you just see him in 16c Spain in one of those pointy hats ??
Will get down to posting more pictures.

Wouldn’t mind a picture of Ximines – who was he? Even Google doesn’t seem to have heard of him

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 10:50 am

Peter-obviously-# Francisco Ximénez de Cisneros, archbishop of Toledo 1507 – 1517–I thought everbody knew that-he’s well referenced in the Monty Python sketch !
Seriously -sorry my spelling and Spanish pronunciation had slipped -the next wikip ref calls him Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros-but I read about the Spanish Inquisition peripharally around my A level history.
If you google this ref “Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros” there is a picture.
Still imagine Scum in a pointy hat -armed with a rack and red hot pincers!!

Got him now. Looks a bit like Scum trying to be calm, and the ‘group shot’ on the wiki page could well be an SCGS Staff meeting.

Fortunately, my A level history was all about US history from Independence to the Civil War, as interpreted by Bert Forward – much more entertaining.

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Yes I had the luck to do that bit of history with Bert- (too much John Wayne and a bit of reading meant that I knew more about the Alamo than he did )-but I also did European 1660-1914 with Zorro and English 1660-1914 with Slug. I wish I had appreciated it all more then.

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 1:56 pm


Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 1:58 pm

ha ha it works -nothing scurrilous but apologies to Keith Masters!!

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 2:24 pm


Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 2:24 pm

so why won’t it pickup the link??

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 2:26 pm


Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 2:34 pm


Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Dave Littleproud

May 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Dave I am lost for words. Apart from the fact that every pic. was either upside down or at best sideways on, a truly amazing collection. (OK, I bet somewhere there’s a little button that enables you to rotate, but I had to resort to twisting the laptop around)

Speech Day in the open air in the grounds? Whatever happened to the Coronation Hall at Kingston Baths?

Prefects in 1963 with no Doig or Bert in the photo?

Fernyhough looking much older than I ever remember him.

I believe Michael Basman went on to become a Chess Grand Master.

Those wonderful Surrey Comet photos of the G&S productions ( Is there still a Surrey Comet).

Terrific stuff.

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 7:18 am

Peter-I was so chuffed that I had managed to get them on
this site that and that I had a rhythm going that Imissed that little point -still done it now. Could do with titles too-I’m creased up with a vision of your audience wondering why you are juggling with your laptop!
Perhaps I’ll redo them.
Any way glad you enjoyed them.
Does anyone out there have the magazines 1957-58 and 1962-63 and a scanner? -and indeed any other “Surbitonians”

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 7:26 am

The Braemar Club
The Braemar Club was established some twenty years ago by two rugby/cricket stalwarts of ‘yesteryear’, Pete Newland and Dick Blackman.
Within the ranks of our membership are many former players of The Old Surbitonians rugby and cricket clubs and other non-players who are also former pupils of Surbiton County Grammar School.
We are not an Old Boys organisation but do provide contact for old friends with similar interests and are the guardians of the Memorial Board on which are printed the names of former schoolboys of Surbiton personally known to some of our older members. The ground is dedicated to these Surbitonians who lost their lives in the service of their country (1939-45).

Braemar is not an exclusive club but is open to any former players of Old Surbs/CSA who are recommended for membership. Present membership is about 100. Any former player who would like further information please contact either Pete ( 01296-730516 ) or Stuart (014834-769150).
Stuart R. Davies & Pete Newland

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 4:59 pm


1-Albury house-1959

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 5:00 pm

BINGO!!-watch this space

I was at Surbiton County Grammar School from 1949 – 1955 (yes I was another one who stayed on for an extra year to get enough ‘O’ levels. Have just spent an enjoyable couple of hours reading through all the above (what else is there to do when you are approaching 71??). I remember all of the teachers mentioned and was the recipient of a Gus Hillier bash on the back of the head just because “I am in a bad mood”. Remember many of the famous rants of Dr Turner but also the great teaching and dedication of most of the others.
Any one out there remember the Majic Lantern art shows put on by Mr Busby. I wonder for how long this venerable machine continued.
Having looked through the names of the pupils there are a few I recognise having played for the 1st
XVI as hooker in the 1954-55 season (I was the short fat one with fair hair).
I seem to remember a few more from that season,
Dave Hughes, Eric Russell, Dennis Cottrell, Ray do Jardine etc.
Also remember the King brothers mentioned above, who if I remember correctly were great water polo players.
I was glad to see mention of the tuck shop in the Physics lab, because I actually helped ther in 1955.
My only other cclaim to fame is that in 1958 whilst doing my National Service in Schleswig (North Germany) we played against the Navy at Keil. We beat them something like 36-34 and a guy on their team scored all 34 points. He was the late, great Carwyn James, a Welsh Rugby int ernational

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Open Link then click on image which you can copy as you wish

1-Albury house-1959

2-1957 Seven-a-Side

3-Cresswell- 1957

4-Polden 1957

5-House Boxing 1957

6-Prefects 1958-59


8-Sports Day 1—1959

9-Sports Day 2—1959

10-String Trio-1959


12-Aysgarth -1959

13-U14 1958-59


15-1st-XV 1959-60

16-Prefects- 1959-60

17-Braemar –G&S-1959-60

18-Colts XV 1959-60

19-Braemar-how sad- 1960

20-D of E 1960

21-Prefects 1960-61


23-1960-61-2nd XV-G+S

24-Prefects 1961-62

25-Squash-Colts 1962

26-Chess-Speech Day 1962

27-G + S 1961-62

28-Prefects 1963-64

29-ThomasMore-Mikado 1964

30-1st XV 1964

31-Rugby- Devonia 1964

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Lordy!! Ialways wanted to be moderated!!

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Open Link then click on image which you can copy as you wish

1-Albury house-1959

2-1957 Seven-a-Side

3-Cresswell- 1957

4-Polden 1957

5-House Boxing 1957

6-Prefects 1958-59


8-Sports Day 1—1959

9-Sports Day 2—1959

10-String Trio-1959

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Open Link then click on image which you can copy as you wish

1-Albury house-1959

2-1957 Seven-a-Side

3-Cresswell- 1957

4-Polden 1957

5-House Boxing 1957

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Looks like site won’t let me post links to piccys
2-1957 Seven-a-Side

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 9:34 pm

one at atime works it seems -ok patience is a virtue
3-Cresswell- 1957

4-Polden 1957

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 9:35 pm

3-Cresswell- 1957

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 9:57 pm

4-Polden 1957

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 9:58 pm

5-House Boxing 1957

Dave Littleproud

May 28, 2009 at 9:58 pm

6-Prefects 1958-59

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 2:24 pm


Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 2:25 pm

8-Sports Day 1—1959

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 2:25 pm

9-Sports Day 2—1959

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 2:25 pm

10-String Trio-1959

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 2:26 pm


Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 2:26 pm

12-Aysgarth -1959

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:16 pm

13-U14 1958-59

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:16 pm


Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:17 pm

15-1st-XV 1959-60

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:17 pm

16-Prefects- 1959-60

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:18 pm

17-Braemar –G&S-1959-60

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:18 pm

18-Colts XV 1959-60

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:19 pm

19-Braemar-how sad- 1960

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:19 pm

20-D of E 1960

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:20 pm

21-Prefects 1960-61

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:20 pm


Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:20 pm

23-1960-61-2nd XV-G+S

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:20 pm

24-Prefects 1961-62

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:21 pm

25-Squash-Colts 1962

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:21 pm

26-Chess-Speech Day 1962

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm

27-G + S 1961-62

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm

28-Prefects 1963-64

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:23 pm

29-ThomasMore-Mikado 1964

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:23 pm

30-1st XV 1964

Dave Littleproud

May 29, 2009 at 3:25 pm

31-Rugby- Devonia 1964

That’s it-there must be a better way-it all adds up to a 3MB attachment-still I tried

Dave Littleproud

May 31, 2009 at 10:36 am


Dave Littleproud

May 31, 2009 at 10:37 am


Dave Littleproud

May 31, 2009 at 10:37 am


Dave Littleproud

May 31, 2009 at 10:38 am


Dave Littleproud

May 31, 2009 at 10:38 am


Dave Littleproud

June 3, 2009 at 1:06 pm

quiet out there !!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 3, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Hello Dave,how about this , if you look at Hollyfield Road School photos on friends reunited you will see that they carried on the Gilbert and Sullivan tradition when they moved, I remember going to see the headmsters wife in the Merry Widow and the Mikado so that’s probably why.
I noticed Alan Duff in one of your pics, he was in my class at Bonnerhill juniors, and I think he may have been the school cricket captain that I bowled out one day! Anyone know what happened to him? I also think David Cossell went to your school? I left Bonnerhill in 1958.

Dave Littleproud

June 3, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Hi Ros! You a welcome sight -I thought my plethora of pictures might have blown the site in view of the earlier threats of being “moderated” -seems all is well!

Dave Littleproud

June 3, 2009 at 4:13 pm

I have been talking to a chap called Stewart Davies who helps run the ” Braemar Club”. He tells me that Alan Bolt, now 90 years old, visited the Cobham Rugby club recently.

Dave Littleproud

June 3, 2009 at 4:27 pm

this does not seem to work -try again

2-1957 Seven-a-Side

Dave Littleproud

June 3, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Advise me if any more don’t work

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 7, 2009 at 10:08 am

hello Dave, it looks as if everyone has left the country, will you turn the lights out or shall I?

Dave Littleproud

June 7, 2009 at 1:07 pm

It must be the shock of those photos-I’m glad you’re there Ros -I was beginning to think that I had blown the site up or something-you confirm I didn’t

Hi Dave – sorry for the silence but have been surprisingly busy lately. By the way, what happens when you are ‘moderated’?

Actually saw our famous SCGS Lib Dem parliamentarian, Andrew Stunnell on Sky the other day. Seemed totally dwarfed by a rather aggressive Labour MP, and had little to say at all – just as I remember him at school. (sorry Andrew if you ever read this blog. On a lighter note do you remember those famous cross country runs at Hook, in freezing weather, when we used to always come in last, usually with Colin Bridge and Hedley Stovold?).

Cliff Harrison

June 8, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Dave, thanks for all those pictures, they certainly brought back a raft of memories after almost 50 years. Braemar and Aysgarth were lovely buildings to be taught in, pretty draughty and cramped, but soooooo interesting. Remember the narrow back stairs in Aysgarth? The old servants’ staircase I presume. I certainly remember the old G&S operettas, I appeared in one every year I was at SCGS, save for the year I missed the Mikado (’55 I think). Never progressed beyond a very mediocre chorus presence. I remember that during rehearsals one year Barton was playing the piano, but then Doig suddenly appeared and decided he wanted to take over, sitting himself at the second piano in the school hall: however Barton was not one to be intimidated by a mere head, and continued to play without interruption. The duet, in very poor unison, continued for some considerable time, to everyone else’s amusement or embarrassment (depending on viewpoint!). Does anyone remember the House dramas, very late fifties as I recall. Villiers production was Two Gentlemen of Soho, I was landed with the part of Inspector, it was so long that nobody else was keen. Very happy memories of Bert Forward, Jock Lonsdale and poor tormented Sid Capper (who taught Russian at Epsom evening classes). Gus I never found as masochistic as some others have recalled, a very troubled man as a result of several years in a Jap POW camp I think. A message for David Goodyear, if you are still watching: I seem to recall you worked in the secretary’s office before you went off to uni, I spent a couple of months on front door duty around the same time after I had completed my January resits for some A level exams, since I could not actually leave the school until the end of that term. I think the powers that be felt I would be less disruptive there than remaining in class. Cliff Harrison

Cliff Harrison

June 8, 2009 at 8:57 pm

One further event has just come to mind – did anyone else go on the trip to Rochefort in around 1956, it was an educational exchange with “eleves” (sorry, no accents on my keyboard) from the Lycee Pierre Loti, with whom a number of Lower IV year pupils had been corresponding. I remember the trip out to the (?) Ile d’Oleron to sample oysters, and to a local USAAF airfield to watch engine tests on piston and jet engines.

Hi Cliff , yes I was on that trip to Rochefort-sur-mer in april 1956. I think Henson, Neville Unwin, and Johnson were on that trip also and we all had our photo taken with Fred Fernihough under the Eiffel tower. I stayed with the assistant Head master Ms Dauriac et famille not far from the famous transbordeur bridge. I recall that a reception was held at the town hall where I accepted a glass of celebratory champagne and suddenly the world started spinning as I was introduced to the wonders of alcohol. I also remember the trip to the oyster beds and regurgitating a raw oyster, disgusting. The airfield was probably French as I remember them proudly showing us the first French jet fighter the ‘Ouragan’. Other highlights for me were a trip down to Bordeaux with all the family in their beat up old 2CV when the engine expired and they simply bolted in a ‘recon’ within a few hours, the overnight train to Paris crammed with USAAF servicemen and seeing for my first time a colour television demonstration in the window of a Paris dept store. Cant recall if it did my French any good but highly enjoyable. Also recall we went to Oxford by train that ¥ear, any one recall?

Forgot to mention that if anyone on that trip wants to relive that visit the old french film ‘Les jeunes filles de Rochefort’ is occasionally served up on TV showing the town and surrounding areas and crumpet in 1956!

Woops sorry, for 1956 read 1967. Just found the trailer on Youtube.

Hi Pete,

I remember a trip by train to Oxford and even had some photos to prove it, but don’t remember you. How was it organised – by year or by some other complicated formula. also remember a staggeringly boring steam train (?) trip to Salisbury, Old Sarum and Stonehenge. Curious thing is, I don’t recall any masters accompanying us, though I am sure they were there aplenty.

Anyone out there remember the ACF summer camps with Hillier and Lefevre, in exotic hotspots like Gosport, and the Army Drill Hall in Farnham
(last minute venue change because of the Suez War).

Finally a somewhat isoteric memory – some time in the Lower 6th ( 1959?) we had an exchange teacher from Winchester College for a term, at the end of which, we went for a day in Winchester College – wow – so much for history and priviledge. Probably an experiment never repeated by Surrey County Council.

Cliff Harrison

June 10, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Peter. Yes, I remember the guy from Winchester, I seem to recall he was a very agreeable disposition, and wore ankle-high leather boots (rather than shoes) which was certainly a novelty in those days. Cliff

I was always told to look up to a public school teacher so probably never saw his stylish boots!

The name J.E.Mollison springs to mind – was that the guy?

Dave Littleproud

June 11, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Peter/Cliff -I rember the name Mollison -tall guy fairish hair-sports jacket -or am I wandering?
Peter -as an unsophisticated 12 ywar old I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Stonehenge .Salisbury and Old Sarum.
In those days you could walk all round the stones,touch them , sit on them. In about 1965 on a camping trip with a mate-big Mick Smith from Hollyfield Road, we cooked our supper in the /stonehenge car park and when everyone had gone about 7..30 -STEPPED!! over the fence and wandered around a totally empty Stonehenge -can’t do that now. On the same trip we went to Old Sarum and as it was closed assaulted it from the ditches and wandered round it . I remember being well impressed with Old Sarum even as a 12 yr old.
While in Salsbury Cathedral Tony Moss caught a mouse in the Cloisters. Somewhere along the way we bought water pistols which after soaking people on railway stations were rapidly confiscated 1 Ken bidmead appeared in our compartment with a pistol in each hand – my cry of “Biddy the Kid ” went unpunished.
Up until that time I had only been to Hayling island -day trips -Tower of London and Hampton Court. Foreign travel and foreigners were beyond my ken -I remember we used to joke that wogs began north of the Thames and South of the bypass and in deed my world was bounded b those visible borders-ain’t times changed.
There was also a trip to Stratford upon Avon-memory flash -Bert used to collect themoney in weekly instalments in that classroom just inside the backdoor of Albery house-Main school-wash rooms were just across the corridor- next classroom along the corridor was junior science lab- then up the stairs to Holy Joes drawing office -the staffroom was up there somwhere.

Did someone mention a connection beween SCGS and Public schools? It was probably not well known but in 1955/6 several third formers were selected to sit the open scholarship exam for entrance to Charterhouse School. I was one of the third-formers selected and everything went OK until I was eliminated at the penultimate stage. The third-former who won the scholarship was Colin Wilcox. His other claim to fame was that he was the ” Bisto Kid”. He was contracted by his parents to a city advertising agency and his face appeared in magazines and on hoardings everywhere. His whiter than white image even appeared on a 20 foot high PERSIL advertisement hoarding on the railway embankment just outside of Surbiton Station, (the shirt didn’t stay white for long). I recently watched an Antiques Roadshow on TV when a member of the public entered carrying a 1950s Hornby-Dublo train set in a box. The Roadshow specialist explained that maximum value lay in the state of the packaging and held up the box. There on the lid was a picture of our Colin , frozen in time, holding a model engine, an advertising icon in his own lifetime. So come on Colin if you are out there tell us what a public school education did for you.

Keith Watling

June 19, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Is there anybody out there who is reading these pages who went to SCGS in the late 60s? I was a pupil there from 1965-1972 and made the move from St. Marks Hill to Thames Ditton during my first term. My arrival at the school also coincided with the arrival of a new Headmaster named Mr. Eric Waller who was to eventually oversee the transformation of the school to a sixth form college named Esher Collge. I have only good memories of my time at SCGS where I studied a wide curriculum and gained 11 ‘O’ levels and 3 ‘A’ levels before gaining a place at Southampton Univesity where I read Physiology and Biochemistry and eventually a PhD in Neuropharmacology. I was also an avid sports player throughout my seven years, and eventually a regular member of the 1st cricket eleven and rugby fifteen. I am happy to compare notes if anyone wishes to correspond. I now live and work just outside of Boston in the United States where I moved in 1994.

Roger Husband

June 20, 2009 at 2:41 am

Thanks to whomever got this website up and running, what memories.

Having dug through my old photos, the ones I was looking for (mainly slides) remain elusive. The seven I did locate are not great – mainly from contact sheets! However they have had some work and are on my website ( SCGS. A password would have been a good idea – we couldn’t have anyone from Tiffin’s or Kingston Grammar getting access -but it didn’t work. This is PC based and I have mainly Macs where things do usually work but even then not first time. Anyway Doig’s facial expression assured me so long ago that my horizon’s were limited if I couldn’t even ring a bell on time…

Does anyone remember when that exchange teacher from Winchester College passed an art book around the class, I think it was in Asgarth?
When he got it back there were a number of additions to the drawings, mustaches etc. He told us what a despicable bunch we were (guess he was right)

Yes, I remember D.E.M. Hall. You went out on a limb for me once Dave. I was sick one day (not unusual), shouldn’t have come to school. Only declared my condition during a French test (that I had probably not revised for) and you testified to Fernehough that I had been ailing earlier.

Then there was Hall D.J. We mercilessly tormented poor Mr.Hunt. Whenever he turned to write on the board we started stamping feet, then stopped when he turned round. One time a single shoe contact continued and he frantically ran around the classroom to see who the culprit was.
David’s feet were conspicuously up in the air and he was banging his football boots behind him. Funny the things you remember.

Enough of my rambling, I must get back to my task, I was instructed to remodel the kitchen and the ceiling is presently supported on temporary jacks.

Anyone coming to the Winter Olympics here in Vancouver next year?

Dave Littleproud

June 20, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Great Roger! I thought I was doing well to have put photos on to scanner and then on to web -you would have made a better job.
Iimmediately recognised Mick Chandler in the first photo -Burns reminded me of Ricky Mills in my year -the unknown was Derek Jones 1957-62? I think Derek went to Australia-as did Mick.
Yes funny things-one poor new teacher during his first chemistry lesson (he also taught maths and was Eddy Pearces brother in law or cousin in law) finiished up enlarging his writing on the board to about nine inches high. We also had great fun mispronouncing our surnames- Idon’t think he spoke to us again! Poor Mr Mollison’s artbook you bunch of barbarians!!
Keith ! Any idea what happend to any of the teachers of your era -mine was 1956-64

Dear Old Surbs of the 50s & early 60s !
Just discovered the reunion-initiative and delighted. I would be glad to hear from old mates on Now retired and living healthy and happy in Austria next to the last alp in the Alps.
Baz Hewson
PS: Animo et fide pergite (Lion of St. Mark)

In an effort to see if anyone is awake out there, here’s another memory. So far, Geography teacher Jim Bath gets one fleeting mention by Dave, early on.

Surely someone remembers the large wide Board Ruler he used to flourish, and which he called
“Clicky-Bar”. Always found him a somewhat menacing character – all smiles on the outside, but a tank commander’s mentality lurking just below the surface.

Dave Littleproud

June 25, 2009 at 12:42 pm

yes I’m awake -not easy to sleep with hay fever -it’s that time of year again.
Jim Bath never taught me so I never saw him in panzer hunting mode -funnily enough I had an architecture lecturer called Jim Bath at Brixton School of Building.
I’ve just been talking to Peter Newlands of the Braemar Club 01296-730516-he has alist of club members -70 or so -might be of interest to some of you-Ian Calori is amember-Len Eggesston, Roly Herbert, Dave Hughe, Courtney brothers.

Cliff Harrison

June 25, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Peter. Just for the record, my memory of Mr Bath was as my form teacher in the sixth form, and also as Economics teacher. As you say, not to be totally trusted, but I got on fairly well. Has anyone any memories of the ancient groundsman at Hook, Farr seems to be the name that comes to mind. And Pete, my everlasting memory of the Rochefort trip was of Fred Fernihough sleeping full length on one railway carriage seat, and all us kids having to make the best we could of what room was left. The train heating was on full, and it really was the most uncomfortable night I had ever spent. The train kept stopping in the middle of various shunting yards all the way down from Paris. Does anyone still keep in touch with anyone from Rochefort, I’ve tried to trace my old penfriend but without success.

Dave Littleproud

June 25, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Cliff I thought the groundsman at Hook was Mr Jolly.
The school gardner was a fellow called Chris–he was a pal of John Woods-1956-1961/2.

Now this is getting serious. Way back in April, I smugly asked the question about the name of the groundsman at Hook, completely sure that he was called Farr.

Dave came back like a shot with “Jolly’. I didn’t challenge you at the time Dave, but now Cliff also recalls a Farr. Strangely both names are familiar but can anyone provide the definite answer

Dave Littleproud

June 26, 2009 at 9:37 am

There may be a mention of the groundsman in the “surbitonian”- and we three can’t be the only ones with an opinion-open to the floor!!!!
now tipping with rain -silver lining is it will relieve my hayfever!

Peter, can’t say for definite but as I remember it the guys name was Jollie. Cliff, just found an old diary which records that the exchange French teacher who accompanied us as far as Paris was monsieur Pouvre. My diary records that on visiting the local Rochefort art gallery our guide waved towards their most prized masterpiece, a wrestling mass of ‘naked ladeez’, whereupon Hendriksen detached himself from our group, wandered up to the painting and proceeded to examine the quality of the brushwork from a distance of 6 inches through his thick glasses. TEE HEE!. As far as locating my old pen friend Claude, I tried to contact him on behalf of our 13 year old next door neighbour Moira who had developed a crush on him and wanted to contact him urgently but he never replied. He did however leave me his copy of ‘Light and Shade’ a photographic study by Harrison Marks purloined from the shop at the bottom of St Marks Hill!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 26, 2009 at 2:59 pm

A while ago somebody wondered where the SCGS records might be, so I got in touch with the Local History Room in Kingston and they only havea photocopy of the book “The First Twenty-One Years,Surbito County Grammar School”. After phoning the Esher College and Surrey County Council, I got back to the History Room and spoke to Jill Lamb the Archivist who said that theschools are not giving the log books etc. to them which is very upsetting,so perhaps you had better bequethe anything you have to them in your wills! I told her about this blog and she said she will look at it and let us know if anything else turns up. I just wondered if Kevin Davis would be interested in joining the search? I wonder if there is anything in an attic at Hollyfield, or if Mr Doig had them!

Dave Littleproud

June 26, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Well done Ros ! What does Jill Lamb mean about log books? -yes I got the “First twenty one Years “-Igot my copy from Surrey Archives but no further joy!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 26, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Hello Dave , the school log books that I have looked at in Suffolk are mostly Victorian and they contained information about attendance, misdemeanours and punishments and a diary of the school year, they also state when a child started school and their address and sometimes when they leave it says who they went on to work for etc. I don’t know if they carried this on into the 20th century?

Dave Littleproud

June 26, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Ros -What reaction did you get from Esher College?
When did school logs start?

Definitely Mr.Jolly.

Dave Littleproud

June 26, 2009 at 11:18 pm

ok Richard 3-2 to us !!-which were your years -a little ahead of me I think- i was ayear below Dave Ashwell -I sometimes email him

I bow to the majority – Jolly it is.

Still have this strong image of a Mr. Farr mowing pitches. Could he perhaps have been groundsman at the Old Surbs ground in Cobham?

B the way Dave – anything of interest in Bert Forward’s memoirs?

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 27, 2009 at 8:44 am

Good morning Dave,the logbooks probably started around 1870 when the national system of education came in which was prompted by Forsters education act, although there are records before that from church schools charity schools and dame schools etc. I do,nt think Esher College were very interested they just said that they don’t keep any records after seven years, but it might be worth finding out if they have a history department to try and get them interested. I wonder if the rugby club at Cobham could help as they seem to be interested in the school history?

Dave I was at SCGS 1954-1962.3 yrs in 6 th form,I was a late developer.Finally was awarded a a book onprize day 1962 (held in the grounds in the summer,unusually)I still have no ides why I acheived this honour,but Dave Ashwell told me that he overheard some masters sying that I had been at the school for so long that I deserved something.Ros when you mentioned Bonner Hill my 66 year old heart started racing,the girls at that school always seemed so good looking,and a little racy.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2009 at 6:07 pm

well Richard I think you will have to ask Keith(Spud) the answer to that one!

Cliff Harrison

June 29, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Peter. Don’t throw in the towel just yet, I think you were the year ahead of me. I started in 1954, and finally left in 1962 after an extra half year in the sixth form, just to get a few qualifications! I think Farr was groundsman at Hook until perhaps 1956 or perhaps a little later, he was pretty ancient by then, a short guy who I’m sure had a bad limp or some other peculiarity when walking. (Incidentally I hadn’t noticed his name mentioned in the earlier posting, so it did come fresh to my mind). Perhaps Jollie was the next one in line. And Pete, thanks for the extra Rochefort memories, I was standing next to Hendrikson at the reception at the town hall, and he was far keener on eating and drinking all the way through the French national anthem. Was there something called the Gladys Dare School of Dancing nearby, just at the top of the road that led to the back footpath to Surbiton Station? I recall the few weeks at the height of the summer each year when we would be allowed to use the gardens and grounds behind the main building over lunchtime, in the scorching heat the grass was so much nicer than the tarmac and concrete of the playground areas.

Thanks for the life-line Cliff. I’d hate to have been wrong. Your explanation makes sense – the names Farr and Jolly are inexpicably linked in my mind, with Hook.

It really makes us seem old, when we fondly remember long hot summers.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 30, 2009 at 10:24 am

Yes Cliff the Gladys Dare School of Dancing was in Ewell Road, it was a bit posh for us, we went to Kay Stevens in Kingston and later in Hook community centre when I was 16,we wore black leotards with little frilly skirts then(that one is for you Richard)! The path to Surbiton Station is called South Terrace,I can remember pushing my son down there in 1971 ish.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 30, 2009 at 11:43 am

If anyone is interested you can download Google earth street view free and take a virtual drive around all your old haunts in Surbiton etc, although it should come with a government health warning when you see what they have done to some places! Ewell Road hasn’t changed much though. Once you have street view go to Google Maps and the world is your oyster as they say.My great grandparents used to live in Surbiton Terrace,which was down the side of the Waggon and Horses pub opposite the Assembly Rooms in Surbiton Hill Road, but that has gone completely, does anyone know if the pub is still there?

Dave Littleproud

June 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Ros -you took the words out of my mouth- however and paricularly for Cliff -google the old school grounds with trepidation –I nearly wept!!
Ros remember that chip shop in a narrow sideroad between Ewell Road and Alpha Road-run I think by an Irish lady called Mrs Mulvighill?

I have a feeling that the afore mentioned Colin Wilcox went to Gladys Dare.Hence his career as th Bisto Boy.Ros I grew up in Hook ah the memories.I have been watching tennis all week,from Wimbledon,I get horrbly home sick for our little corner of North East Surrey at this time of the year.When growing up the weather always seemed so good at the end of June,the evenings were long,you could here the siren song of Surbiton Lagoon,or the Upper Deck ,just by Hampton Court Lock.The only problem was –end of year exams,O levels,A levels.Who could care about studying?

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 30, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Sorry Dave I don’t remember the fish and chip shop although Keith might,I am sorry to tell you that Alpha road is no more although I do remember a shop down there that was run by a couple of, sorry this is not politically correct,midgets,they used to stand on a wooden box to serve you. I think they pulled it down because it had a bad reputation and it was a blot on the landscape! It is now called Howard Road and they filled it with social housing and sheltered flats for the elderly, and my poor old Mum ended her days there after the council took away three bedroom houses from people who were living on their own in the late seventies.I am sorry Richard but I am not a tennis fan but my husband loves it but I will walk down memory lane with you if you like, I will be 16 after GCEs, how old will you be ?As we are in the middle of a heatwave shall we go to the Lagoon?

Dave Littleproud

July 1, 2009 at 8:26 am

Alpha road ran from Berrylands parallel to Ewell road. there thrre cul de sacs Smith Howard and Britannia roads coming of Alpha road to toward King Charles road. There were a number of narrow roads leading to Ewell road from Alpha road-the chip shop was in one of these. I remember the little sweet shop run by the midgets -they had runways about 2ft 6 inches above the floor to pu t them at our height. About 1959 one of the locals won £1200 on a quiz show -alot of money in those days and in that area which was a bit rough.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 1, 2009 at 10:18 am

According to my 1960 map of Kingston and District the three roads leading from Alpha to Ewell roads were Shalston Villas, Richmond Grove and South Place, and then there was Browns Road that went right through to King Charles Road. You must have lived close by to know the area so well,or were you slumming? Did you go to the Fishponds, my mum loved it there, and we also used to go to Claremont gardens and paddle in the pool. I was the youngest, after dad came home from the war, so mum had more time to do things with me while the others were at school.

Dave Littleproud

July 1, 2009 at 11:19 am

Yes Ros-bang on -Smith and Howard roads were parallel to Browns road. My friend Alan Kemp lived in 37 Berry lands – so I spent a lot of time round there. and school was close by. I remember going to Claremont paddling pol when i was very little -on the 602 or 603- which were the buses I later used to get to school. Never went to fish ponds- Oakhill woods yes!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 1, 2009 at 6:56 pm

I don’t know Oakhill woods Dave where is it?Were the 602 and 603 trolley buses? Did you ever discover The Sanctuary it was opposite Shalston Villas in Ewell Road I think it is still signposted it is absolutely beautiful there we used to go when I was in the art group at number 35 Ewell road it was a great place to sketch and generally get away from it all,like an oasis of calm. By the way 35 is still there looking very smart now perhaps it should have a blue plaque as Eric Clapton went there!The fishponds is next to Hollyfield Road by the way.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 1, 2009 at 6:56 pm

I don’t know Oakhill woods Dave where is it?Were the 602 and 603 trolley buses? Did you ever discover The Sanctuary it was opposite Shalston Villas in Ewell Road I think it is still signposted it is absolutely beautiful there we used to go when I was in the art group at number 35 Ewell road it was a great place to sketch and generally get away from it all,like an oasis of calm. By the way 35 is still there looking very smart now perhaps it should have a blue plaque as Eric Clapton went there!The fishponds is next to Hollyfield Road by the way.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 1, 2009 at 6:58 pm

whoops! I don’t know how that happened.

Dave Littleproud

July 2, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Ros- 602 and 603 were indeed trolley buses.
Oakhill woods -google Oakhill Grove Surbiton Surrey.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 2, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Well fancy that Dave, I will just remember it as it was then I won’t be disappointed!Both my Grans lived in Tolworth so we used to go to Surbiton on the 65 and then get on the trolley opposite the Odeon and get off at the Red Lion..

Dave Littleproud

July 4, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Bernard Kanis
-Surbiton County Grammar School —- 1957-1964?

KANIS Bernard (Edinburgh / Tranent) Peacefully, in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, on January 30, 2009, Bernard, aged 63, loving father of Ivan, Stefan, Sonja, Django and Margot and their families. Funeral service to be held in Warriston Crematorium Cloister Chapel, on Monday, February 16, at 11.30 am, to which all family and friends are welcome.

Bernie -a very nice guy – I am sure that all “Old Surbs” will join in expressing their sympathy to Bernie’s family-He will sadly missed by all who knew him.

As we all contemplate our mortality,and this is the third death recorded inthis blog.How many others are there from the ranks of our contemporaries?Two thoughts.1)as team doctor may iremind you all to keep exercising,check your cholesterol levels ,and gentlemen have your PSA level checked,ladies have annual mammograms and cervical smears.2) Bernie Kanis and I overlapped at Edinburgh,he was a dental student.We would bump into each other fairly frequently,he always had asmile on his face and thoroughly enjoyed his life.His brother John,attended Medical school at Ednburgh,subsequently became Professor of Medicine at Oxford.There are alot of Old Surbs out there who have quietly done well in their chosen professions.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 9, 2009 at 8:39 pm

I second that Richard, and I would like to add don’t smoke! My husband had a heart attack at the age of 58,he gave up smoking immediately but the following year had a mental breakdown and I am now his carer, so if you can’t do it for yourself do it for your loved ones.

Dave Littleproud

July 9, 2009 at 10:07 pm

yours truly is trying to hold back the ravages of time -I haven’t eaten anything I like for three weeks -still I hope to be able to get into my suit eventually!-
Yeah Richard and Ros you are both right

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 10, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Eating healthily is not about punishing yourself and eating tasteless food Dave,there is so much lovely fruit and veg about this time of year, stir fries are brilliant, just think of your 10″ plate as a clock face,1to 6 is veg7 to 9 is meat, fish etc ,10 to 12 rice pasta couscous etc. Here is my recipe for healthy fish and chips,any white fish, dip it in beaten egg and fresh breadcrumbs,5or6 big fat oven chips or homemade wedges,and any type of peas you like including mushy ones! Bake the fish and chips in the oven together until golden brown, go easy on the ketchup! At least be glad that you’re a man because you’re allowed more calories than a woman!

Dave Littleproud

July 11, 2009 at 11:15 am

Thanks Ros-not among my favourite tipples! -the great thing about Surbiton County was school dinners which to me meant no one breathing down my neck making me eat those disgusting 1950s vegetables. in the fifth year we could go in to Surbiton in the lunch hour -which meant steak pie chips (and beans for the pluted bloatocrats who could afford the extra 6d) + tea for 1/9d in a cafe called( I think) George Henrys situated in St James road Round the back of Surbiton Odeon( now a Waitrose I think). One of the main attractions apart from the freedom and the juke box was the excitment of wondering what you would find in your steak pie -stone , rusty nail , paper clip ,unidentified bone ,fubaprite(geological term), rubber band etc. On one occasion Bert Forward caused panic by arriving on an emergency mission to roust out some kid.
No Ros it’s not that bad -I would still kill for a kitkat chunky or 6-but Iam being careful and sensible-I have eaten fairly my diet has not been all abuse.
Richard!- can you get a Full English Breakfast out there in the backwoods?

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 11, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Due to having frequent migraine’s from the age of 12,and the constant quest for a few pain free days I haven’t eaten chocolate apart from the odd white Belgian one, since i was a teenager,and over the years i have given up so many things that caused problems,but I have recently given up all sweeteners and sugar,and now I find that if I do taste anything sweet it is so sickly, perhaps this might work for you? You can really taste the natural sugars in things as well, it makes eating a whole new experience, almost s…!

Well done Dave! I hope you derive as much, if not more benefit from the system as I have. I agree with Ros regarding really tasting natural sugars again. White sugar burns out your taste buds – equivalent to putting the old 5 star in a lawn mower! Stick with it bud.

Ah the full English! That is atreat I defer to my visits to the U.K.But there is a real food culture in the Southern U.S.Shrimp and grits for breakfast is very hard to beat,especially shrimp you have caught yourself with a cast net the same morning.My wife ,however is adicted to Dave Ashwell’s famous “Green Drink”.Surbiton Odeon is indeed aWaitrose now,and thereare actually 3 or 4 decent restaurants in Surbiton.Constantly amazed by the variety and quality of food available now compared to those 1950′s vegetables.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 11, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Shrimps for breakfast sounds nice Richard,but what exactly are grits? Glad to see the old Odeon has gone up in the world I think it was B &Q in the late 70s.I used to go to saturday morning pictures there and in the late 50s The Star ran a competition for each Odeon to have a childrens choir, which I joined and guess what Surbiton won!,We went for a meal in London,It might have been at the Dorchester,we were each presented with a certificate by J Arthur Rank and later that day appeared on the Wilfred Pickles Television Show!We used to rehearse in the Frank and Peggy Spencer Dance Studio in Victoria Road.

Richard Cripps

July 17, 2009 at 9:08 pm

I attended SCGS 1958 to 1965 (Villiers), surviving the experience without academic distinction but I subsequently prospered and am now retired in Alexandria, Virginia, USA.
Most of the existing contributors seem to have attended a little before or after me, and I have seen very few names of pupils that I recognize. The teachers are a different matter, though, and the memories came flooding back! I’d like to share some of my own impressions.
First, some more names:
Campbell – chemistry.
Carpenter – PE, not sure what else.
“Buddy” Holly – economics.
Sentence – english (honestly!)
“Bunny” Warren – physics.
There was also a bearded individual who had the nickname “Ahab”, but for the life of me I can’t remember his actual name.
I thoroughly concur with the opinions previously expressed concerning Dr Turner & Ted Hillier. Oddly enough there existed for some years a website dedicated to the former, posted by one of his friends, describing what a wonderful person he was. It now seems to have faded away. As for Hillier, my main concern was that he didn’t seem to be totally competent in his subject – I remember more than one occasion when the class was having trouble with a problem and he was unable to solve it himself. He would also sometimes light up a cigarette in class. Another of his quirks was that he had memorized the entire 4-figure log table!
Ken Bidmead was also notorious for his volcanic temperament in the classroom, but on one weekend I was persuaded to help him with some charity work and he couldn’t have been more pleasant throughout.
Another one we dreaded was “Polly” Parrot. He seemed to spend most of his class time screaming at us. Fortunately I had to endure him for only a couple of terms before he emigrated to Mauritius.
My memory of “Bernie” Shaw was that he was brilliant at his subject but totally incapable of controlling his classes. On one occasion there was so much uproar that Ted Hillier walked in and restored order by caning a number of the boys on the spot.
But enough of the negative. Many of the teaching staff were true gentlemen and while others had their eccentricities I’m sure that all were doing their best to educate and inspire their frequently recalcitrant charges. By the early sixties a significant number were nearing the end of their careers – there was copy of the first year’s school photograph (1927) hanging in the main building and Cocks and Capper were in it – and that led to the school being seriously understaffed by 1964
particularly in science subjects. There was only one physics teacher where previously there had been three.
You couldn’t ask for a finer teacher than Jack Skene, but he had an odd way of pursing his lips while he talked so that every time he pronounced an S he generated a whistling sound which many of the lads thought was hilarious, particularly when he used terms such as Stevenson’s screen!
Jock Lonsdale’s principal catch phrase as I remember it would be attached to the end of any warning he had issued; “….and that would be MOST UNFORTUNATE. For YOU!” He lived, as I did, in East Molesey and rode to school on an NSU moped that would frequently buzz past me as I cycled along Summer Road in the morning.
There has been discussion of Jolly the groundsman. He definitely was in place by 1958, and as has been mentioned he made some loose change on the side by selling us post-game fizzy drinks which he kept in a refrigerator in the pavilion. He was never seen after the fire so presumably he was held responsible for it.
It is worth remembering that the school performed much of its own printing work. There was a large printing press at the back of the Art Room and its operation was performed by the printing club under the stewardship of Mr Busby who instructed us in the mysteries of gallys, fonts, typesetting and other aspects of the craft that have now been rendered irrelevant by the computer.
Was anyone else aware of the school model railway? Another activity supervised by the multifunctional Mr Busby, it would be set up over three or four weekends per year when the art room tables would be rearranged and a vast amount of Hornby-Dublo 00 scale 3-rail equipment would appear from the depths of one of “Uncle Bill’s” cupboards and be assembled thereupon. When complete it completely filled the art room and featured three stations, a marshalling yard, a locomotive depot and around a dozen locomotives with appropriate rolling stock. He kept this as a semi-clandestine operation for around a dozen older boys as it was all his own personal property and he wanted it handled only by those that were sufficiently responsible.
As for news of former pupils, I have little to offer. At first I tried to stay in touch with a few friends but we all went off in different directions. I remember Tony Arbour spouting in school debates, and he subsequently served as a liberal studies lecturer at Kingston Polytechnic before his political career took off.
In 1965 I was accepted as a technical apprentice at the Hawker-Siddeley factory at Ham. There on the same program I encountered two ex-Surbitonians, Dave King and Barry Lewendon, neither of whom I’d really had much contact with at the school. Dave was appointed Apprentice of the Year in 1970 and much to my amazement I succeeded him in 1971. Dave stayed with Hawkers, Barry eventually went to the Machine Tool Research Institute in Derbyshire and I embarked on a rambling engineering career encompassing paint spraying plants, automatic valve control systems, electrical equipment for use in flammable atmospheres and finally domestic appliances.
That’s probably enough for now. If anyone out there recognizes my name, I’d be pleased to hear from them.

Welcome to our humble site Richard.

You were probably a lowly second former as I was entering 6th form, so fairly unlikely our paths crossed directly. However – some great memories.

Gus Hillier was as I recall, one of the last people to smoke using a cigarette holder, which served only to make him more threatening.

Its an interesting observation about the ageing teaching staff. It never really occurred to me that teachers actually got old and retired, like real people. Even more curious, apart from Ken Bidmead’s minor celebrity of a wife, and the fact that Jock Lonsdale produced a son who was also at SCGS, I guess I assumed that the staff were all confirmed batchelors ( Sorry, just remembered Slash Heymans showing us photos of his wife and himself astride a giant motorbike on a trip around Europe).

Didn’t Sentence have a curious way of walking ? I have a vision of him, in full gown, mincing along on tip-toe?

Richard Cripps

July 18, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Thanks for the welcome, Peter! I don’t recall Mr Sentence having any obvious peculiarities at all, otherwise the lads would certainly have picked up on them; he never even acquired a nickname. I remember him as one of the gentlemen who spoke to us as normal people, kept us interested, never needed to apply any discipline and consequently obtained excellent results.
I’m not even sure that you would have encountered him – he joined the school around 1961/2 to replace A. J. Hayward (another gentleman) on his retirement.
Another teacher name just dropped out of my memory banks – Staples (is anyone writing these down?) He also joined during the early sixties but I don’t remember much about him.

David Goodyear

July 19, 2009 at 1:07 am

Was the guy with the cigarette holder Gus Hillier or his fellow uniformed Captain(?) Lefevre. I think they both taught maths and ran the army cadets.

Richard Cripps

July 19, 2009 at 4:48 pm

I do recall Hillier using a cigarette holder. Lefevre must have been before my time.
Now that I’ve got rolling on this, I keep thinking of other teachers. Fairly late in my time, I think maybe 1963/4, the school acquired a lady biology teacher by the name of Mrs. Russell. For the authorities to have assigned a lady to teach biology to a school full of sex-obsessed adolescent males was a reflection of the teacher supply situation at the time!

Dave Littleproud

July 20, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Hmmmm! We have one Richard in Georgia and one in Virginia and we still don’t know what “grits” are!
Carpenter taught sports and biology ( his lecture on vd to me and my 14 year old mates still makes cringe –he probably thought he was still a young subaltern trying to keep his troops on the straight and narrow –still at least he spared us the pictures -we all swore undying perpetual abstinence!!!) –he also helped Gus with the cadets.
Iremember “Bunny” Warren berating us for being so useles and telling us that we would never survive in the world outside.
I thought we knew the contents of “Uncle Bill’s” cupboards-I never knew a thing about the train set.
The name Barry Lewendon is familiar-couldn’t put a face tho!
I met “Slash” Heymans ( how did he get that nickname -Idon’t remember him raising his voice !!) in 1966 in Venice where he was living.
Staples taught art -I don’t think he enjoyed it very much-His replacement was a bearded case straight out of art school -such enthusiam – a truly inspiring teacher -can’t remember his name -anyone doing art from sep 1963 should remember him -he had the sixth form calling him by his christian name.
I think both Hillier and Lefevre affected a cigarette holder.
I remember Mrs Russel-ithink she’s on the photo I posted -she rapidly became pregnant.

Dave Littleproud

July 20, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Richard Cripps -in the summer of 1966 Iwas doing the washing up at Hawkers

Richard Cripps

July 20, 2009 at 6:29 pm

“Grits” is a kind of porridge made from corn meal. Better than it sounds.

David Goodyear

July 20, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Does anyone remember the name of the teacher who was enraged by the pong of calcium carbide and ink? If you added calcium carbide powder to the ink in the inkwells (Braemar memory this) it produced a foaming mixture of acetylene gas and goodness knows what else. One of our number used to do this before a lesson started. On arrival this particular manic member of staff went up and down the rows of desks inhaling at each inkwell trying to find the culprit.It was wonderful entertainment and nobody ever seemed to get caught.Who was the acetylene inhaler? Did it happen in your class or was this unique to our group. Richard, you were in the same class as me . Do you remember? Was it Wilf Sing or Keats or……?

Dave Littleproud

July 20, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Thanks Richard I’ll look forward to a tasting- I think I have moved the other Richard to another state-not Georgia I think it’s South Carolina.
Anyway other Richard what is Dave Ashwell’s famous “Green Drink” ?
Ros -Frank and Peggy Spencer-I remember the names -brown notice board??

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 20, 2009 at 9:48 pm

How is the healthy eating going Dave?I did get fed up with waiting so I Googled Grits and yes I would like to know what the Green Drink is too, I expect Richard Day is busy healing the sick or out shrimping! Peggy Spencer now lives in Suffolk or Norfolk she is well known for training the Penge formation dancing team of Come Dancing fame. By the way my husband grows sweetcorn and if you cook it in fast boiling water for 5 minutes straight after you pick it, it is fantastic and very healthy if you don’t smother it in butter.I have been enjoying the input from the new recruits, almost makes me wish I was a boy!

Dave, I think Shlash (or Shlasher) got his knickname from the fact that his attempts to beat recalcitrant pupils were simply very mild taps on the head – always something of a surprise because he was a big beefy guy, who looked capable of decapitating you with a single blow.

He was also amazingly easy to be diverted from his subject. A simple question, usually about his traveling experiences was enough to get him to abandon the lesson entirely, in favour of something that really interested him.

Didn’t sport a very racy goatee beard at one stage?

Digging into the long past, by surprise I come across this Surbiton County Grammar School memory box. In fact, I was seeking information via Google about the “venerable” Neville Holdaway (as one old boy remembers him), who taught me during my attendance at the school between 1942 and 1947.

Indeed, our silver-haired geography teacher was a brilliant communicator: I was fascinated to learn from him about such places as the lush Riverina district of Australia, a country that would otherwise have left me unexcited (but later I fortunately discovered its rewarding wines). I somehow learnt many years ago that Mr Holdaway had another life, never displayed before us in school. He was, in fact, a writer of detective stories, doubling up as a respected Marxist historian! See the attached evidence that I have just now at last garnered and would like to share:


N. A. Temple-Ellis (1894-??), pseudonym of N(eville) A(ldridge) Holdaway, was an English author, Marxist theorist and schoolmaster. “One of the ablest Marxist writers we possess” says George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier. In 1935 he was co-writer of the book Marxism together with, among others, GDH Cole.

In 1929 for The Inconsistent Villain the author was awarded first prize in Methuen’s Detective Story Competition, the judges being Bailey, HC, Knox, Ronald and Milne, AA. His series detectives are Montrose Arbuthnot and Inspector Wren.

The Inconsistent Villains (1929)
The Cauldron Bubbles (1930
The Man Who Was There (1930)
Quest (1931)
Six Lines (1932)
The Case in Hand (1933)
The Hollow Land (1934
Three Went In (1934)
Dead in No Time (1935)
Murder in the Ruins (1936)
Death of a Decent Fellow (1941)


Another discreet Marxist among our Surbiton teachers was art teacher Bill Busby, a sensitive and discreet man who seems to have been appreciated by all who sat at his feet. He never brought his politics into school, but when I discovered them I offered myself as an adolescent helper in the Kingston council elections of October or November 1945, in which he stood as Communist candidate. He got several hundred votes, but wasn’t elected. Nowadays, I campaign in Brighton for Green candidates who do in fact get elected. So, some progress there.

For the record, those of us who were at school during the Second World War must remember the assemblies that were from time to time preceded by a tribute by the headmaster to a former pupil killed at the front. Such occasions have not ended in our schools.

I remember, too, that we sixth-formers had in turn to give a reading, each morning for a week, from the Bible: I got permission to select my own texts, which were of anti-establishment flavour and taken from the New Testament. In journalism, I have delved into biblical texts from time to time ever since.

My close school friend of those years, Peter Pulzer, will no doubt have similar recall. Now Professor Emeritus of Government at the University of Oxford and an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, he is probably the most illustrious of those of us who went to the school at the top of St Mark’s Hill sixty-five years ago. Apart from his respected tomes on German-Jewish history, he deserves recognition for having led the successful opposition to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher being granted an honorary degree of the university in 1985. The opposition, he said, was to express “our very great worry about the way in which educational policy and educational funding are going in this country”.

So our modest Surbiton school, ostensibly no revolutionary academy, was in one way or another a seedbed for enlightened thought in the later years of the twentieth century. Glad to have been a little part of the story, and greetings to anyone out there who was around at the same time.

Dave Littleproud

July 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm

For the record, those of us who were at school during the Second World War must remember the assemblies that were from time to time preceded by a tribute by the headmaster to a former pupil killed at the front. Such occasions have not ended in our schools.
Re PeterAvis’s comment about acknowledging fallen pupils –I once suggested to my children’s primary school headmaster that the yearly school commemerationof Remembrance Day might be made more personal and relevant for the kids if they could wear any family service medals-fathers, grandfathers etc- I was told in no uncertain terms that such suggestion was not acceptable because it would be unfair on those whose fathers, grandfathers did not have medals. PC was more important than heroes and family history!!
My kids were at primary school 1997-2004-I have tried to explain to them and shown them Granddad’s medals and they have heard Grandma’s tales of the blitz.
While I am in soapbox mood- putting aside the rights and wrongs of the current war in Afghanistan (my paternal uncle was bombing them in 1927-I think he had a go at the Iraquis as well) I think it would be approrpriate if our media should give a greater profile than mere numbers to those soldiers of our allies who are being killed in the same war.

Yeah Slash had a very cavalier beard.

Hi Dave.

I agree completely with your sentiments. Perhaps you should have explained to them that not all medals were awarded for Galantry, and that all WW2 servicemen were entitled to
( and most probably claimed) medals which simply acknowledged their presence in certain theatres of war, and as such are just as significant.

Whilst I am not a great approver of all things American, I do admire the way they treat adolecent performance at least. My eldest grandson is at the American School of Dubai. Whenever they have competitive sports or athlethic activities, they all get a medal, simply for having entered, and completing the event. No-one is singled out as being the winner. That’s my kind of reward system. Boy – I would have collected a shirt full of medals on that basis.

For Peter Avis – thanks for the insight into Neville Holdaway’s extra curricular activities – it explains a lot about his obsession with detail and perfection. In his final years, he was actually quite a bad tempered guy, and whilst not known for corporal punishment, had a nasty temper- not helped by the fact that in 3C, our Form Room was the Geography Room in Braemar, and he demanded incredible standards of tidyness !

Couple of names for you Peter, which may be after your time: Peter Ransom ( major Rugby player), Peter Marsh, both from my humble village of Oxshott, and Ian Irvine, who looked as if he might have been the role model for the hero in “The Fifth Form at St. Dominics”. All probably there towards the end of your time at SCGS.

Rumour also had it that Fernyhough was a pupil, and subsequently a teacher – was he around in your time?

By the way – given that winter 1947 was one of the
coldest on record, what was it like

Hi Dave.

I agree completely with your sentiments. Perhaps you should have explained to them that not all medals were awarded for Galantry, and that all WW2 servicemen were entitled to (and most probably claimed) medals which simply acknowledged their presence in certain theatres of war, and as such are just as significant.

Whilst I am not a great approver of all things American, I do admire the way they treat adolecent performance at least. My eldest grandson is at the American School of Dubai. Whenever they have competitive sports or athlethic activities, they all get a medal, simply for having entered, and completing the event. No-one is singled out as being the winner. That’s my kind of reward system. Boy – I would have collected a shirt full of medals on that basis.

For Peter Avis – thanks for the insight into Neville Holdaway’s extra curricular activities – it explains a lot about his obsession with detail and perfection. In his final years, he was actually quite a bad tempered guy, and whilst not known for corporal punishment, had a nasty temper- not helped by the fact that in 3C, our Form Room was the Geography Room in Braemar, and he demanded incredible standards of tidyness !

Couple of names for you Peter, which may be after your time: Peter Ransom ( major Rugby player), Peter Marsh, both from my humble village of Oxshott, and Ian Irvine, who looked as if he might have been the role model for the hero in “The Fifth Form at St. Dominics”. All probably there towards the end of your time at SCGS.

Rumour also had it that Fernyhough was a pupil, and subsequently a teacher – was he around in your time?

By the way – given that winter 1947 was one of the
coldest on record, what was it likE

Hi Dave,

Completely agree. Maybe you hould have told them than perfectly ordinary soldiers, never commended for gallantry were entitled to
campaign medals simply acknowledging that they were in a certain place at a certain time.

Personally I quite like the US system that refuses to acknowledge outright winners, and instead rewards everybody who takes part. My eldest grandson is at the American School of Dubai, and collects pockets-full of medals just for taking part in athletic and sporting events. Boy – I could have filled my shirt with such awards.

For Peter Avis: Thanks for the insight into Neville Holdaway’s extra curricular activities. It explains a lot about his obsession with detail. For the record, towards the end of his life, he became very bad-tempered, and unpredictable, not helped by the fact that as 3C, the Geography Room was our Form Room, and he took a fanatical pride in its tidyness.

Peter, a couple of names that may just be in your era:

Peter Ransom – Rugby star
Peter Marsh – not sure what he was at school, but later Unilever star
Ian Irvine – finally School Captain, but a possible role model for the hero of ” Fifth Form at St. Dominics”.

BTW Peter, given that 1947 was one of the UK’s coldest winters, what was life ike at the top of St. Mark’s Hill that winter?

Dave Littleproud

July 22, 2009 at 9:57 pm

My father’s own war was less “exciting” than many-for some reason he got the Africa Star-closest he got to Africa was St Nazaire, western France from where he scuttled in June 1940 after dodging the advancing Hun-he escaped on June 17th, nearly three weeks after Dunkirk, –he was one of those who watched the “Lancastria” sink with the loss of 5000 lives. Still you don’t get medals for retreats and things which have “D” notices slapped on them. Manston Aerodrome during the Battle of Britain was apparently a bit hairy.
After that however I think that my mother living 200 yards from, and working in, the Hawker Aircraft factory in Canbury road Kingston (behind the Regal cinema) was in far greater danger for far longer-and war workers seem to get no recognition-just remember how long it was before war widows were allowed to march in the remembrance day parade.
Adolf even fired V2s at little baby me!! My kids being 16 and 17 I can look round at a school function and realise that I am the only one present who has been bombed by the Luftwaffe.
How many of us carefully wrote down our parents experiences of those six years? –I know I didn’t.
Peter if I find the photo of me in the winter of ’47 i will show what it was like -did you ever have whale meat and powered egg?

Tried to post a comment before – was denied – at SCGS 1960 to 1967 – I can debunk the urban myth that Eric Clapton is an Old Surb ! Should I continue?

Go Ken, go! You could have a look at: – ?

Whale meat – yes, but in a pricy bar in Tokyo in the 70′s. Powdered Egg – yes, and those endless omelettes that were about all it was fit for.

Other wartime (and post war) treats included Virol, Ministry of Health thick Orange Juice concentrate, Cod Liver Oil, liquorice Imps, dried bananas, Spam, tapioca, condensed milk, home made dripping, tinned Jam from Australia or S.Africa, and Little Miss Muffit Junket. Probably all a lot more healthy than much of today’s fare.

Looked at all the old photos on this site and it brought back great memories – Arriving at the school that September day in 1960, aged 11, was awesome – coming from primary school as top dog and then being at the bottom of the heap with all these grown men! that’s what it seemed like anyway.

But to start with I feel compelled to debunk Eric Clapton before we Old Surbs are accused of plagiarism. In EC’s autobiography (2007) he went from local school to Hollyfield school (surbiton) at age 13 which was about 1957 or 1958. He says he passed the 13+ exam to get to Hollyfield but I am sure Hollyfield was a secondary modern school – certainly SCGS took in 13+ exam successful candidates when I was there – I was 13 in 1962 and remember a handful of boys joining my year. I cannot see why Hollyfield should have been a 13+ exam destination in that case. EC continues that he passed A level art at age 16 (1960 or 1961) at Hollyfield which also housed the junior (feeder) dept of Kingston College of Art. He then joined KC of A central and dropped out shortly after to concetrate on music.

The myth about EC and SCGS arose in 70s when there was no internet to quash it in it’s infancy – it has continued (apart from EC autobiograph) and is now firmly planted in the internet (Wikipaedia and stars biogs)

The facts of the matter are :-

In the summer of 1966 SCGS moved to Thames Ditton (over the Summer holidays) In september 1966 or maybe a year later, Hollyfield School moved from Hollyfield Road (at bottom of hill in Ewell road near the King Charle’s Rd intersection) up to the vacated SCGS at St Marks’ hill.

Certainly, by 1966, Clapton was well on the way with his music but his old school had simply moved location after summer 1966. I recall in the 70s or 80s that Japanese coach tours were stopping at St Marks school to see EC’s old school but I dont know why SCGS was substituted as his alma mater – perhaps it suits EC not to debunk the myth himself but it is surprising that no Hollyfield school old boys/girls have reclaimed him.

So the early blog about EC sleeping in the stable block is not quite right. Hollyfield school was built in those post war prefabricated single story buildings like the govt buildings around the area (Hinchley Wood etc) But St Mark’s hill grounds had a stable block – as your face Allbury House front entrance (assembly hall to the left) the stable block was to the right side of Allbury separated by a small courtyard. I think the stable block was a form of sixth form common room – when the removal men came in Summer term of 1966 the stable block attic was cleared – an enormous pile of empty fag packets accumulated over 35 years!

So, I can’t see EC ever having set foot on St Mark’s hill site as a pupil – he may have visited his old school since it moved to St Mark’s Hill but that, I am afraid, is the extent of his connection with SCGS!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Hello Ken, I was a Hollyfield pupil who passed her 13 plus and went into the art group! I have stated earlier that Eric was in the year above me and we spent most of our time in the studios at 35 Ewell road, next to the fire station,perhaps you might find my earlier musings of interest, although Hollyfield was a secondary modern school it was quite progressive where the arts were concerned and I was very lucky to be a part of that, not being particularly academic, but even with our reduced curriculum as we had 21 periods of art per week ,I did manage to leave at the age of 16 with3 o’levels, and then went on to college in London for 2 years.

Dear Ros,

having discovered this website it took a while to go through all the threads but I have revisited your 9th May message where you mention EC – but you also seem to think EC came from SCGS to Hollyfield for the Art curriculum in that message which I regard as wrong. I did not mean to be disparaging about Hollyfield and the 13+ exam – It is now clear that Hollyfield had special status with its Art specialism. As I said in my previous long message, SCGS took in 13+ exam passers, in my year that would have been 1962. I passed my 11+ in 1960 at primary school in Kensington – my parents then moved to Kingston in June 1960 – my last few weeks at primary school involved bussing it to Hammersmith and then to High St Ken. Being from a different Education Area when I did my 11+ it meant that Kingston allocated me to SCGS – my mother had been gee-ed up to think I should have gone to Tiffin Boys but there was no argument – I would not have changed going to SCGS – I really enjoyed it and it fitted in with my poor original East End roots. Tiffin would have been too posh for me – the Old Tiffs website has an Oxbridge section. This demonstrates that they were regarded as the premier state grammar school in the area – Kingston grammar school, being independent and fee paying, would be top of the tree but limited access. SCGS was regarded as the true working class grammar school for the area – certainly by the time of my intake – In fact my intake year of 1960 included a sizeable number of 11+ near misses who got in after an interview with A J Doig and the pupils’ parents. At SCGS I was never beaten by Tiffins at Rugby – from Under 12′s to 1stXV – this was always a source of pride by the rugby masters who took my age group all the way through the seven years from 1960 – Fry was under 12′s – Harris Ide was 13′s – under 14′s was led by an Australian whose name I cant remember – Colts was Baz Hunt – 4thXV was Rupert Rose – 3rd Xv was another physics master Tudor his name was I think, 2nd XV was Mo Morris and Taff Davies was first XV. I believe immediate intakes below me carried on this success to a great extent and the Old Boys also had the upper hand over Old Tiffs – they have now discontinued fixtures – OTs languish in the lower leagues of Surrey while Cobham are at the giddy heights of London 1 – the last boxing day fixture between Old Surbs/Cobham and Old Tiffs was about 3 years ago – mismatch and dwindling player numbers at Old Tiffs put paid that fixture by mutual agreement.

Having looked through all the threads again I can add some background to the Braemar Club. About 20 years ago Old Surbs were going through the doldrums as regards membership – Esher sixth form college was coed and rugby and cricket had almost disappeared (golf and soccer came into prominence) such that no new members joined the old Boys. Old Surbs had had a reprieve when Old Hinchleians folded and their 20 strong membership transferred to Old Surbs, we all knew them socially so they fitted in well – some of their better players had already joined to get better rugby. This was a bit of a false dawn so by 1980 the Old Boys decided to change to open format Cobham RFC – the cricket section continued for a few years under Old Surbs banner but they went the same way and have now folded (remnants have joined Effingham and leatherhead) In 1980 the rugby section started mini rugby in a very small way but now is oversubscribed – the Youth section is very successful (that would be the age group 11 to 18 which would be the same as the school in the old days) and the senior section is also riding high (London 1 on the margins of semi professional) The new clubhouse (replacing the 1963 clubhouse) is enormous and sumptuous and the car park on Sunday mornings (mini rugby) looks like Guy Salmon’s forecourt !! When I visit, once a year from Ireland, I have slight misgivings about the set up – a rich playground that I would not be able to access as a young person these days because of my schooling and background – So I regard my education at SCGS as invaluable – the 11+ and rugby took me in a better direction than I could have possibly hoped for. I have friends at Cobham who pay six grand a term (plus add ons)per child (Typically at Danes Court in Oxshott) just to get the same level of education I got at SCGS – believe me I have supervised their homework on visits. Anyway, back to Braemar club, As the old Boys were declining and morphing into an open club the older members drifted away and it took the suicide of Fanny Price to prompt some of the older members to set up the Braemar club to look out for and make welcome the true school Old Boys and stalwart non school members by invitation. Fanny price was found in his smoke filled car in his garage where he had a final look through his school and Old Boys memorabilia before slipping away. All very poignant.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 23, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Well Ken I only said that Eric came from SCGS because that was what the old surbs were saying,I did not actually know because most of the people in the Art Group came from schools all over Surrey,there were very few who were already at Hollyfield.I also went out with a few boys from Tiffins and SCGS boys were much better!

In ECs autobiography he says that the 11+ was traumatic – he and his fellow pupils were bussed to some big hall from his Ripley primary school and made to sit test papers all day. Born in 1945 that would have been 1956 I guess. So, he went on to St Bede’s secondary modern school in nearby Send village and took 13+ (in 1958) and went to Hollyfield. As you say, Hollyfield’s Art excellence attracted people from all over Surrey and so, I would surmise, EC must have passed 13+ to leave St Bede’s to go to Hollyfield; a choice influenced by a demonstrable aptitude and passion for Art.

It is ironic that by 1960 (my year of intake) SCGS were filling places with near miss 11+ ers; was that demographics? surely not in the baby boom era – perhaps primary education standards were going down by then ! EC does not mention SCGS at all! As I say, it’s all a blurring of Hollyfield’s move to St mark’s hill premises.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 23, 2009 at 6:11 pm

I don’t know if it was true but I seem to remember something about the fact that more girls than boys were passing the 11 plus and when I took it the first half of the test was fine, but the second part was as far as I can remember, logic problems the like of which I had never seen in my life before. Now whether this was a ploy to weed out the girls or not I don’t know but I was 3rd in my class at the time and my eldest sister was at Tiffin Girls! That was in 1958.

Dear Ros,

I think it came out recently when state papers were released under 30 year rule that boys had a lower pass mark for 11+ otherwise mostly girls would be eligible if you equated supply of places with demand. The educationlists’ thinking was that girls were more mature than boys at age 11. Modern day education jargon now demands that “failure” is not in the vocabulary now – it’s “delayed success”

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 23, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Well I never !As I was only 10 when I took it, does that make me extra mature! Ha Ha!And there I was thinking I was a failure!My sides are splitting now!!

Richard Cripps

July 23, 2009 at 7:54 pm

I don’t have a copy of Eric Clapton’s autobiography, but I did read some snatches from it in a bookshop. I saw a reference to “…walking to the arts annex on Surbiton Hill Road.” I don’t recall any other educational facility on that road. Did Hollyfield students use the SCGS art room for some of their classes? I never heard of that happening, but it would explain Eric’s presence in the building (or stables!)

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 23, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Richard I can honestly say that in the three years that I was in the art group we never went near your school in the daytime, but as I was going out with an old surb I did go there on the odd weekend, but that was nothing to do with art!Perhaps whoever wrote that didn’t realise that at the top of the hill it became Ewell Road but I can verify that we were constantly walking between the annexe and the Hollyfield Road site.

Well – since my recent intervention on this blog I seem to have upset two of its main proponents – Dear Ros – your reaction to the 11+ when I was a boy the first day at infant school was the worst – no mammy but after a couple of days it was where I wanted to be. Then you went to be bottom of the heap in primay school, but you got through it only to become bottom of the pile in secondary school! third level education was a bit more liberal though , certainly in the 60s, although I think women had the better deal – they had access to all years whereas us male freshers were struggling to make an impression ( I went to Kent @ Canterbury) Anyway – the point I am trying to make is that nowadays it seems that all young people are being conned – ie leave Hatfield “University” with a media studies degree and 20k student debt and the poor student is completely unprepared – in fact it turns the current educational thinking on its head – “delayed failure” !!

Dear Ros, I realsie I lost the thread in my last message – I think you must have had the best of the 60s – Eel Pie island etc – I was too young to experience the scene first hand but I now realise I was at one of the epicentres but did not appreciate things – SCGS was still locked into the 50s and War years

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 23, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Don’t worry about it Ken you didn’t upset me,. after all we extra mature people have got to stick together.I am off to bed now good night.

Dave Littleproud

July 24, 2009 at 1:04 am

I’m sure that there was a Hollyfield annex along the Ewell Road-Chris Dreja of the Yardbirds was an arty fellow from Hollyfield Road.
Try this link

EC’s autobiography confirms what Ros says – The annexe along the Ewell Rd was Hollyfield’s facility not SCGS –

reference previous threads :-

Jock Lonsdale’s son went to SCGS – Gordon Lonsdale was in my intake year – 1960. I also heard that Fernyhough was pupil and teacher – I believe he played for the Old Surbs, as a proper old boy when the club was “closed” membership which would confirm his ex-pupil status.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 24, 2009 at 10:19 am

Okay Dave ,how about this, Chris Dreja was on the electoral roll for Suffolk 2002 to 2006, in 1995 on April 8th the Yardbirds played at Colchester Leisure Centre including originals Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty. My best friend Dot who was in the art group too sent me the cutting, she also told me that Chris was making a good living photographing food for advertising and cookery books and magazines, quite interesting as his family ran a delicatessen in Victoria Road Surbiton.I will give her a ring later and see if she has an update.

Wartime memories, cold days, Mr Holdaway and other matters….

Yes, that was a rude winter in the early months of 1947. The school was closd for several weeks, as the heating system didn’t work. It impeded our preparation for the summer exams. There had been other impediments in the years before the end of the war : evacuating classes and continuing lessons in the air raid shelters when the alarm sounded for approaching doodle bugs (as long as you heard their croaky engines, you knew you were OK; when the engine cut out you waited for a bang in less than a minute).

And yes, we had whale meat, and powdered eggs, and digging for victory, and holidays at home (there was a gorgeous summer or two in the forties) and constant tuning-in to radio reports from the war fronts throughout the world.

Now, for the enigma of our teacher Mr Holdaway, who becomes more intriguing the more one researches into his life and career. Neville Aldridge Holdaway, who was writing detective stories from 1929 and Marxist philosophy in the 1930s – before diligently teaching geography at Surbiton in the 1940s and 1950s – must surely be the same Neville Aldridge Holdaway who was mentioned in despatches at the age of 26 in 1918. See this extract from the supplement to the London Gazette, 16 September, 1918:

Lt. Neville Aldridge Holdaway, Manch. R.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion
to duty. When this officer observed that
the officer in charge of an important ad-
vanced post had become a casualty, he im-
mediately went up through a heavy barrage
and took command. He organised and con-
trolled the fire of the garrison with such
effect that the enemy began to waver, so
he promptly advanced, inflicting severe
casualties; but, finding them too numerous,
he withdrew, after ascertaining their dis-
positions. His courage and coolness
throughout the whole operations were very

When I met Neville Holdaway 25 years later, he was a silver-haired quietly-spoken gentleman wearing, I think, a “Ronnie Barker” brown cotton coat like a shopkeeper in a hardware store. He pinned up daily copies of “Soviet War News” on a board in the corridor. Nothing controversial about that at the time: “Uncle Joe” Stalin was our ally in the war against Hitler and his monstrous malefactions against his own people were unknown, hidden or forgiven…

Oh, and the Eric Clapton mystery: has anybody thought of asking the chap himself where exactly he went to school?

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 24, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Peter just mentioned Doodle Bugs,family legend has it that one fell on the sewage works in Marsh Lane Surbiton and my aunty was “powdering her nose” at the time and her rear end took the brunt of it!

EC’s autobiography – early years section – he was dreading going to a grammar school either in Guildford or Woking so when he sat the 11 + he was not motivated. But a master at St Bede’s secondary school recognised his art talent and EC says he tried hard at 13+ and was successful, going on to Hollyfield.

I suppose that there is the outside possibility that EC initially went to SCGS for a very short while – thus giving credence to the stable block anecdote – and then was allowed to leave for Hollyfield where his art talents were appreciated, this all being done on the quiet which would have been the modus operandi at that time (no public expulsions) Certainly he admits to a lot of bunking off at Hollyfield as well (going to pubs and Bentalls to listen to records) and, in his book, is ashamed that he was thrown out of Kingston School of Art after 1 year (lack of portfolio) – His pride in getting A level Art at 16 seems to be the only celebration of his academic life. So, it is quite feasible to me that he would skip over anything to do with SCGS; much like anyone would do in their CV, where the time gap is easily covered. I don’t think EC would be inclined to amend his record now, though; A reliable eyewitness is needed!

On a similar vein I heard the story that the Kinks drummer, Mick Avory, went to SCGS – his wikipaedia entry shows him born Feb 1944 in East |Molesey which was certainly in SCGS catchment area or it was in my time (1960 intake)

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 25, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Well Ken all I can say is,as we had no luck in finding the SCGS records, perhaps they have the Hollyfield Road records in the Local History Room in Kingston, and they might say if E.C.started there in the Autumn term 1957 when he would have been 13 and a half,apart from that I cannot help,all I know is that he must have been in the art group in 61/62 beacause he became friends with Chris Dreja and Tony Topham who were in my class and were founder members of the Yardbirds.

A few years back Peter Marsh (Old Surbs stalwart) gave me the membership archives which went from 1930 through to late 70s – The school would give him a list of names and addresses of leavers from the school so that Old Boys could be encouraged to join. I handed over the records when I moved to Ireland. I did look through them quite carefully out of curiosity and I am sure I would have noticed anything like EC of Ripley. When I next visit Cobham (probably October) I’ll try to get access to the records again.

Dave Littleproud

July 25, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Ken re your last -Ishall ask the guys running the Braemar club about your very interesting point.

Hi Ros … re the doodle bugs, I was a mere babe in a pram at the time but my Mum recalls one cutting out and heading straight for our house in Bond Road Tolworth one afternoon only to veer off at the vewry last minute and land 100 yards away at the corner of Douglas Road and Tolworth Park Road demolishing two houses. I was covered in glass from the blast but slept through the whole thing and thereby lived to hearby tell the tail!

Ken … this would have been my intake year at SCGS and I’m pretty sure that Mick was not in it.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 26, 2009 at 10:19 am

Hello Malcolm, how very interesting, my dad’s mum lived in Tolworth Park Road ,Ellerton Road end at the time, and my other gran lived in Hamilton Avenue. I have a large photo of a party in Hamilton Avenue on V.E.night. At Christmas time all the family would gather and sing all the wartime songs into the wee small hours and all the memories would come flooding out,I would sit quietly in the corner and soak it all up like a sponge,happy days,there is just my brother and me left now.

Dave Littleproud

July 26, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Malcolm -my protection against V2s was piece of hardboard over my cot! Seems to work!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 26, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Barry Bucknel would have been very proud if he had thought of that one Dave,better than sitting under the dining table like my family!

Saw a reference to the entry system at SCGS – I vaguely recall that if you got 3 entries then some form of awful punishment was meted out. After that did the slate get wiped clean or was it 3 entries per term? It was quite terrifying so I managed to keep below the radar. I suppose it was like yellow card then orange card then red one. I remember Rickard causing a constitutional crisis when he got two double entries in one day to go with his already 2 entry total. The danger was that he had single handedly devalued the whole system. Poor old Taff Davies (Coutts housemaster) had to cane Rickard publicly at House meeting; Taff was a nice man and not a sadist!

Richard Cripps

July 27, 2009 at 3:51 am

Rickard? That name rings a bell. Did he have red hair and glasses? If it was the boy I’m thinking about, he probably deserved it.
The system that I never understood was that by which the houses were graded annually. Once every year there was an announcement in assembly that such-and-such house was top house with so many hundred points. The only visible effect of this was that the order in which the houses were arranged for assembly was shuffled around. What the points were awarded for and who was counting them remained a mystery to me I would have been pleased to score some points for villiers if I had known how.
Now there follows a story which may be apocryphal. It was recounted to me shortly before I left. I can’t believe that it could have occurred while I was at the school as there would have been the most violent repercussions for all, involved or not. But like all the best stories, the teller insisted that it was gospel.
Bill Busby drove a Volkswagen Beetle which he habitually parked backed up to the front door of the school – the one through which no pupil was allowed to pass. One day a couple of prefects tied a rope to the back bumper and secured the other end to one of the pillars of the portico. What was supposed to happen was he would start to drive away and be brought to an unexpected stop. In practice, the bumper was yanked off. Presumably they weren’t studying engineering.
One of my classmates named Colin Wyver once claimed to have ridden his motorcycle around inside the assembly hall, but that was on a Saturday morning when he should have been putting up stage lighting and there was no authority figure within earshot. Apparently tyre marks were left to be remarked upon on Monday morning. Colin joined the RAF on leaving the school and subsequently made Squadron Leader.
The nastiest bit of vandalism I heard about was when someone peed into Jack Skene’s rain gauge, which seemed a rotten trick to play on such an admirable man. It wasn’t surprising that some teachers became rather testy with time.

Hi Ros … we were in No 58 one house down from the corner of Bond Road and Tolworth Park Road (opposite Thorogoods the builders yard); the Swans were next door in No 56. The rocket hit the semis on the corner of Douglas Road and Ravenscar Road opposite the Douglas Road Hall where we used to walk up the road fto rom Tolworth Infants/Junior school for lunch. The bombed site was derelick for several years, well into the 1950s and was a great source for pram wheels etc for building the obligatory carts etc, but you had to be quick off the mark to get the best pickings! Sadly just me and my sister left now too but my mum made it to 93 … hope I’ve got her genes!!

Dave Littleproud

July 27, 2009 at 7:21 am

Why if Bill Busby was a closet leftie did he drive the biggest car -a very large black thing called a Railton, which was the one I seem to remember was attached to the portico not his Beetle -anyway it was a very unkind thing to do to a to one of the best people on the staff. I can think of other people who were far more deserving of such a fate.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 27, 2009 at 10:39 am

good morning Malcolm ,either you get up early,or like most of the old Surbs you have gone abroad. I have come to the conclusion that is probably why we are in such a mess,come back”your country needs you”! My Gran, Mrs Dobson at that time lived at no. 16 Tolworth Park Road,next to Thorogoods ,who she rented the house from.She was a real character,and one of her talents was for brewing home made wines,and my dad said the rhubarb one could blow your head off! It was a good thing dad didnt drive,because he always came home from there in a very merry state!

Up early I’m afraid, comes with having remarried (3rd time) with two young kids ages 8 and 5 … I was one of the ones who resisted the temptation to emigrate, although some days I feel I ought to have cut and run the way our country’s currently being run into the ground.

Do you remember the corner grocer shop opposite Thorogoods and your gran’s on the corner of Tolworth Park Road and Bond Road just where the pillar box was? There was a cobblers and green grocers on the opposite corner and another grocer and news agents at the Ellerton Road end of this parade of shops? There was also a co-op store round the corner in Ellerton Road so three grocers in the matter of a 100 yards was quite amazing.

The shop was taken over by a very colourful elderly lady in the mid-1950′s; tough as old boots and swore like a trooper. Originally a fish-monger’s wife, she once told me the story of how her husband had inconveniently dropped down dead one busy morning in their fishmonger’s shop so she propped him up in the corner and carried on selling until things quietened down! With all the local competition and than the first dawn of the early supermarkets she had a tough time making ends meet and would think nothing of hurling a can of beans at a sales rep if he upset her when she was stressed out. I worked there for several years delivering groceries on a classic grocer’s bike and serving in the shop … along with SCGS, another of my life-changing learning experiences !!!

I seem to remember Rhubarb wine was a favourite home brew back in these days … seems it was easy and cheap to make and would blow your head just by sniffing the cork!

Going back to your first comment, what is quite cool, looking back through this site, is how well at lot of the pupils from SCGS at that time have done with their lives, and across a wifdw variety of fields. It really was a truly unique character-building experience, something that the Tiffins or KGS kids would simply never have been exposed to. Not sure whether it was the hotchpotch of buildings, the Railway Tavern across the road, the rear gardens and the escape route down the bank into town or the wildly diverse eccentricity of the teaching staff and for that matter many of the pupils. What ever it was they must have been doing something right!

I remember Neil Holdaway’s attention to detail for he suggested we count the errors in a ‘Dig for Victory’ poster near the Ewell Road bridge.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 27, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Glad to hear you stayed Malcolm,perhaps the others went abroad because the public scool boys got preferencial treatment over here? I do remember there were shops opposite grans house,but as i only really saw her on Sundays ,I never went into them,I was only 10 when she died in 1957,but my brother was 5 years older and he spent a lot of time with her,he would go fishing in the Thames and caught eels,and she would cook and jelly them!” I know what you mean about young children depriving you of sleep,we look after our 3 year old grandson 3 days a week,but he is on holiday at the moment and it is heaven! I agree with you about how well the old surbs have done,as my mum always said”the cream will always come to the top”.

Cliff Harrison

July 27, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Does anyone remember the name of the school caretaker who lived in the cottage alongside the main gate? I seem to remember that he was a bit of a miserable s*d when he was on duty, but then who wouldn’t be with a crowd of kids like us around.

Dave Littleproud

July 27, 2009 at 6:39 pm

bald guy with glasses -always wore a brown overall-don’t think I ever heard him speak!

Dear Richard – yes that was Rickard!

The house points system must have become a little more transparent (or less opaque) in my day because it was based on a variety of competitions such as house rugby, cricket and other sports (tennis, table tennis, I think) There was also an inter house Art competition; I submitted the same picture for a couple of years – on the third year Busby (the judge) disqualified it – he became suspicious the previous year that it was not a new piece and had secretly marked it on the reverse – I did not notice but he did! I lost Coutts a couple of house marks for that!

I also recall the rigmarole of the school uniform – lumpen felt type blazers from Bryants in Tolworth or Chessington that used to lose their shape after a week, especially elbows that grew huge bulges. Then there was the ritual of the gold braid around the blazer when becoming prefect – I am trying to work out whether it went all round the collar as well. The prefects with the gold braid looked like holiday camp reps – black coats in our case. But then the coolness of making senior prefect. No gold braid and you could get a proper man’s blazer of superior material. Could senior prefects remove the school badge as well? They seemed to look more like men or masters than pupils, just the school tie as a discreet sign of who they were. There were two styles of senior prefect in my day – grey flannels with turn-ups and black brogues or straight flannels with chelsea boots>

Senior Prefects in Sports Jackets and Flannels? No wonder they had to move the school from St. Mark’s Hill! They probably looked very ‘grown up’ in civies and a leather satchel, or were they also allowed to carry their books in an Eddie Watkins style Khaki haverstack.

Yes, the famous gold braid did run completely around the collar & lapels.

Dave Littleproud

July 28, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Malcolm- what do you mean ? “our country”?
Re V2s-my uncle was too lazy to get out of bed to go to the shelter -eventually decides discretion is the better part of valour and dives under the bed whereupon the ceiling comes down- and ceilings in those days were heavy.
Re Eric Clapton-an old Surb friend who went out with one of EC’s exes tells me that EC did not go to SCGS.
My theory– could the building in Ewell Road used as Hollyfield’s art annex have been the fire station’s stable block in a previous life-if one looks at google maps and points the little yellow man in the right direction the said building is right next to the relatively more recent fire station-my grandfather used to drive the horse drawn fire engine in Kingston at the turn of turn of the 18/19 century.
My pal also tells me that Ec and young lady mutually deciduing that relationship is not going anywhere moreor lees simultaneously send each other “Dear John” letters EC does with his whatever R&R stars doe with such things –girlfriend keeps hers and forty years on sells it on ebay for four figures.
I recently read the relevant page in EC’s autobiography and he doesn’t say he went to SCGS.
I had found the book in a charity shop and regrettably did not buy it.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 28, 2009 at 6:28 pm

I don’t know if 35 was originaly a stable block Dave, but my mum told me that she used to go there for domestic science lessons,and she said she hated black leading the grate,that would have been in the mid 1920s,she went to the school down the Tolworth end of Ewell Road.

Keith Watling

July 28, 2009 at 9:17 pm


I have submitted a number of messages to this site in recent week, but am concerned that they are getting through?? I have submitted both some comments and some questions – let me try again. Confirmation that you have at least seen my email would be appreciated.

First my comments:

I attended SCGS from 1965-1972 and as such was part of the last first year intake that attended the school at St. Mark’s Hill. I started in Sept 1965 and can remember catching the bus from my home in Chessington to Surbiton and getting off at the stop outside what was then Surbiton Odeon (now a Waitrose). I then had my daily walk up St. Mark’s Hill to the school. I also recall that the school’s playing fields at that time were located off Somerset Avenue in Hook necessitating a bus ride which, fortunately for me, took me almost home. As an aside, I still remember my first ‘Games’ lesson when I was introduced to the sport of rugby – a milestone in my life given that I was to spend the next 20 years playing the game to county level and on both sides of the Atlantic. We had split into groups based on houses (I was in Lovelace), with everyone wearing the appropriately coloured jersey, and were being shown the rudiments of the game by one of our teachers. Having mastered the art of passing we moved on to tackling at which point our teacher (young guy who taught Maths – can’t remember his name?) demonstrated said skill by tackling (needless to say) one of the smaller boys in his group. Unfortunately, he went someone overboard in his demonstration and succeeded in breaking the arm of the young lad whom he had selected – a boy by the name of John Stagg. I’ve never forgotten it! However, returning to my point, I can only remember spending one term at St. Mark’s Hill before we moved to Thames Ditton which is at odds with Ken’s recollection that the move took place in the summer of 1966.

Also – a comment on the stable block, which I recall was being used at the Prefects’ Common Room during the term I was at the old school which probably explains the profusion of cigarette packets Ken refers to.

I was always under the impression that EC had attended Hollyfield and that his only connection with SCGS was as a result of Hollyfied taking over the St. Mark’s Hill site when SCGS moved to Thames Ditton.

I recall the gold braid on the Prefects’ blazers when I started SCGS in 1965, but it had gone by the time I became a Prefect in 1971. Likewise when I became a Senior Prefect in 1972, the plain blazer had bitten the dust.

What about the wearing of caps? I remember failure to do so when travelling to and from school was an offence commonly picked up by Prefects and one for which ‘lines’ (usually due the next day) were a common punishment. I do, however, recall that in my very first assembly in the big old white house at St. Mark’s Hill in Sept 1965, the new Headmaster – Mr. Eric Waller – restricted the wearing of caps to just the first and second forms. Up until then I think the caps were compulsory up until the fifth form?? I can still remember some boys burning their caps on their last day as second formers. Any one have any comments/similar recollections?

Now my question:
Does anyone know the origins of the names of the four SCGS houses? I seem to remember there were some streets in the Surbiton area named Lovelace Gardens, Villiers Avenue and Egmont Avenue, but I can’t recall a Coutts ???, but where did these names come from? Where they former mayors, politicians…………? Anyone know the answer?


Dave Littleproud

July 28, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Mrs Burkin was obviously not tweeny maid material-my Aunt used to polish the front steps with red cardinal polish to such a pitch that they were lethal.
Coutts was after the banking firm-Villiers was after the royalist family a scion of whom was killed on Villiers road during the civil war. the Dukes of Buckingham were members of the Villiers family- hence the pub.

Richard Cripps

July 29, 2009 at 6:15 am

I too recall making the annual trek to be equipped with the next year’s regulation school garb, although I was dragged down to Esher and I thought that the shop name was Bardwells. In practice the fit of a blazer was rather academic at a time when we were all going through a period of rapid growth, and cuffs that covered the knuckles in September might be halfway to the elbows by the following July. Growth might not always be uniform, either – at 16 I was 6 feet 2 inches tall with a 29 inch waist and 33 inch inside leg, which offered a challenge in purchasing trousers.
One shortcut that my mother discovered was that it was possible to purchase the school badge on a small square of cloth as a separate item which could be stitched onto an independently- purchased plain blazer, thereby overcoming to some extent the earlier-mentioned cost/quality issue with the regulation garment. Now I need help here, because there was also a period when the house colour was displayed as a stripe on the edge of the top pocket, but I really can’t remember whether that started or finished during my residency. In my case it was dealt with by sewing on an appropriately coloured ribbon which I think was also provided by the authorised outfitter. I don’t recall it applying during the sixth form, but I may be wrong.
As for the cap, yes, Mr. Doig required it to be worn up to and including the fifth form. There was a beneficial design change after the 58/59 year when a large blue ring on the top was eliminated. It was probably still better than being at Tiffins, whose boys were obliged to wear straw boaters in the summer term.
For the first couple of years I commuted by train from Hampton Court which was a prefect-free route so after boarding the train at Surbiton the cap could be safely rolled up and stuffed into a blazer pocket. An additional reason for this practice was that on one occasion I failed to do so, stuck my head out of the window (remember when trains had windows that opened?) and said cap sailed off and was never seen again.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 29, 2009 at 10:23 am

No Dave ,my mum did not go into service,she was too busy looking after the children that my grandparents were fostering, and working at the laundry,which was behind Tolworth broadway. Our school uniform was also supposed to be purchased from Bryants, most people bought the ties and badges from there, but the colour burgundy,was a bit of a challenge, you have never seen so many variations on it in your life at school assemblies! The Duke of Buckingham was our Local pub, many a time I waited outside for dad to bring me a packet of crisps with a blue salt bag in it or one of those hard “dog” biscuits(arrowroot I think).
when they were digging in Villiers Road, I think in the 1960s, they found skeletons and helmets from the civil war battle, it is probably in the local museum now. Our school houses were Elgar (blue),Faraday(yellow),Tennyson(green),and Raeburn(red),and for house points we got credits and debits.

I was sure the move to Thames Ditton was in 66 but I now accept 1965 as the move; it’s funny how passage of time can play tricks on the mind. I took my driving test (by the assembly rooms) in July 1966 and I thought I had returned victorious to the old school grounds rather than Thames Ditton. Also I remember looking at the adverts for the world cup finals at the old school – seven quid for standing tickets to 3 group games then the knockout games. I only took the England group games package for 2 quid I think- what a regret now! I also recall the house colours as a flash above the breast pocket school badge and also I concur with the sentiment about having blazers imposed on me which I would grow into plus the reusable badge.

I think the EC business can be put to rest by this site now – a blurring of Hollyfield and SCGS by virtue of the common grounds of St Mark’s Hill. But it is surprising how many websites give EC potted history with this version of his schooling.

Keith Watling

July 29, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Glad to learn that my recent email was received!

A quick comment on the coloured house flash above the breast pocket of the school blazer. I have a photograph of the Colts rubgy XV for the 1968-1969 season in which I note we were all sporting blazers with house flashes. I recall the ties were also different depending on your house, and likewise your wrap and your rubgy jersey. Also in the photograph is a very hair-challenged ‘Baz’ Hunt who I recall taught Latin and was apt to ‘slipper’ boys in the class using a very tatty, old-fashioned plimsole that he carried around in his briefcase. He was also renowned for his use of the expression ‘Trouble at home, boy?’ seemingly being of the opinion that an inability to memorize Latin verb endings was a function of an unfavourable family dynamic rather than sheer idleness. While on the subject of rugby, I have very fond memories of my 7 years at SCGS during which time I hardly missed a game. I can recall the masters who looked after the teams as follows; Under 12 XV – Mr. Fry (Biology), Under 13 XV – Mr. Harris-Ide (English and Latin), Under 14 XV – Mr. ‘Nobby’ Hall (Gym), Colts XV – Mr. Hunt (Latin), 2nd XV – Mr. Mo Morris (I think? – Biology), 1st XV – Mr. Hodgeson (French) who took over from Mr. ‘Taffy’ Davis (Chemistry and Coutts House Master) who had run the 1st XV for many years (so I gather), but was prepared (reluctantly) to let Mr Hodgeson have a go. Does anyone recall these masters and have their own stories/recollections?

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 29, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Does that mean that I can claim a victory for Hollyfield in the E.C. affair,and as he and all the rest of us in the art group had passed our 13plus,does that put us on the same level as your school?

Dear Ros – I think you can bask in the glory of Hollyfield school and it’s enduring and improving academic status as well as the EC matter!

In a previous message I said that, in my year of intake 1960, near miss 11+ pupils were taken in after interview with Doig. In the early 80s I bumped into Harris-Ide and baz Hunt in the Waggon and Horses; H-I had retired but Baz was at the new reincarnation of SCGS – the sixth form Esher College. I think it was Baz who told me that in the 1960s the writing was on the wall for SCGS in it’s then current format as a boys grammar school. The labour Govt were pushing for comprehensive schools and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames did a deal with Surrey County Council to hive off SCGS out of the borough – This had a two fold purpose – RBK then had just sufficient grammar schools to accommodate the local 11+ pass rate (Kingston grammar school and Surbiton High School for girls being independent) with just Tiffin Boys and Tiffin girls as state grammar schools in the borough and RBK has managed to keep these in place. Meanwhile SCGS at Thames Ditton would eventually morph into A sixth form co – ed college when boys were stopped being taken in – what late 70s? This meant Elmbridge then had it’s own type of selective education school; for A levels only but now with some GCSE courses. This then left the St Mark’s Hill grounds vacant, which had only just been modernised, with the demolition of Aysgarth and Braemar and new blocks so Hollyfield was catapulted up the hill with the brief to become RBKs flagship comprehensive to satisfy central govt! I now see that Hollyfield is well regarded in the area with places oversubscribed. The state grammar schools (the Tiffins) thrive as well especdially as a House of lords ruling that RBK cannot confine places to local people and that outsiders to the Borough are eligible to compete for places. Meanwhile Esher college enjoys a similar reputation of excellence by being oversubscribed. So, poor old SCGS was caught in the middle – not the best boys grammar school in the area and not co-ed to cope with modern education thinking! But I would not have wanted to go anywhere else though!

Keith! I had forgotten that the tie was House coloured and I also forgot about the scarf which had house colours running through it. I think that’s why senior prefects looked so cool – plain black blazer – no badge and a simple tie of repeated Lion of St Mark logos with no House colouring.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 29, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Thank you Ken, not bad for a girl who was born in a council house, and I got O level English,and my husband who went to Glyn Grammar did not. I knew there was a reason why I went out with grammar school boys!

Dear Ros,

I remember Glyn Grammar school from playing them at rugby but I cannot remember where they are – is it over Croydon way perhaps?

SCGS could be described as the working class grammar school – I would anyway when I went there – a big proportion of my intake were from council estates and thus SCGS was truly in the spirit of ability rather than background – my Dad was in the met police and we lived in police accommodation until 1960 when they phased out “tied housing” and gave them generous cash allowances to go and buy their own places!

A couple of years ago I got on the top deck of a no 87 bus from Kingston Hill into Kingston, passing Tiffin Boys – the playground was full and I observed that the vast majority were Asian, including Sikhs, and Chinese (probably from the South Korean population in New Malden). Earlier in that week I had been in my Mum’s local newsagent in Tudor Drive, Ham, where the owners, Mr and Mrs Patel, were very excited about getting their daughter into Tiffin Girls. I think this entirely reflects different cultural attitudes to education these days – such differences not really in place in my day when education was highly regarded right across the social spectrum.
Reinforcing this view, in my opinion, is that Kingston is currently regarded as the premier Chav town in the UK (do a google on chav+town+kingston) with its emphasis on cheap retail consumerism, fast food outlets and violent night life! David Cameron talks about “Broken Britain” – I certainly think it has fragmented along easily identifiable fault lines, though.

Keith Watling

July 29, 2009 at 6:12 pm


Glyn Grammar was over near Epsom and Ewell. I can recall playing both rugby and cricket against them


Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 29, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Yes that’s right Keith,sadly it has now come down in the world,a comprehensive now i think. The only sport my husband liked to play was tennis, and as for football, as he is 6 feet 4 inches he was always stuck in goal!I am afraid Ken that lots of Suffolk towns are going the same way as Kingston, it takes all the character out of them.I do’nt agree about being being working class at a grammar school,when my sister was at Tiffins,she wanted to do languages,but was told that you had to be in the Aor Bstream to do it, and her parents would never be able to afford to send her to university any way! I think the rest of us were much better off at Hollyfield.

Dear Ros,

Re your sister – she went to the only state girls’ grammar school in the area (Tiffin girls) – Surbiton High School for girls being the independent one – in the case of the boys’ sector there was Kingston Grammar school ( I think they wore the straw boaters in the summer because of their rowing tradition) then Tiffin boys who had a strong Oxbridge connection then SCGS. So, by the time of the 60s, SCGS, third in line in the Borough as a pure boys school versus Hollyfield (co-ed with a grammar stream) then Hollyfield was much better placed to survive and blossom than SCGS in that time!

On a lighter note – I think SCGS should be credited with a major contribution to modern language! In my day the bright ones got put into the X stream (X for express) This long preceded the current RAP/gangsta speak vis a vis Xhibit as da main man in “pimp ma ride” on MTV! I think the world should be told!

In previous messages I have relayed what my (younger) Esher based friends are having to do to keep up with education of their children – 6 grand a term plus add-ons to get the same education as I did at SCGS! it seems to all boil down to discipline – the parents at this school sign up to a non-violent but draconian discipline system with the parents incentivised cos they are paying through the nose!

Anyway, this particular school will accept those who have the right and modern credentials – Graham Le Saux (ex Chelsea FC) being a point in question – he was vilified (Robbie Fowler of Liverpool FC) for going on a boys’ weekend as being “queer”. Now John Terry is sniffing around the same school for his children – and now he is staying with Chelsea he probably will be welcomed with open arms! So it goes to show that money these days, rather than pure ability, carries more weight – JT’s relatives (mother or mother in-law and sister or sister in-law) were recently, allegedly, arrested/cautioned for shoplifting in nearby Weybridge shopping centre! This school is a main feeder for Cobham RFC (formerly Old Surbs RFC) – how times have changed!!

Keith Watling

July 30, 2009 at 8:01 pm


I was interested in your comment that ‘SCGS could be described as the working class grammar school’ and wondering if you were aware what criteria would have been used for determining which grammar school a boy went to having sucessfully passed the 11 plus. I attended St. Mary’s C/E Primary School, a small school (pulled down years ago) located about 200 yds from the entrance to Chessington zoo and attended by no more than 100 pupils. I, together with 2 other pupils, had the good fortune to be selected by our class teacher for ‘extra tuition’ such that we were prepped for the exam (something I think teachers would never get away with today). Two of us passed, but whereas I obtained a place at SCGS, my fellow passer was given a place at Tiffin boys from whence he went up to Oxford and became a successful playwright. Any idea how we ended up at different schools? Did Tiffin get the boys with better pass marks or did SCGS get the brighter sparks? Or was it the luck of the draw? I’d be interested in your (and anyone else’s) thoughts.


Dave Littleproud

July 30, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Keith-if you look at my post of April 3 2009 in which I give a list of the class of ’56 you will see that 9 boys went to SCGS from Latchmere Primary-I don’t remember anyone from that primary going to Tiffins-Iwould have presumed that we didn’t get high enough marks in the 11 plus-I myself only got in on a resit. Maybe it was where you came from and who your parents were- that was my father’s theory.
Sadly I didn’t appreciate what I had at SCGS-as I have said “education is wasted…….”
Never mind we seem to have survived.

I cannot give any hard facts about SCGS intake – only anecdote and snippets :-

As mentioned before, Old Tiffs have a subsection for their Oxbridge alumni which, to my mind, shows that they had sufficient successful candidates over the years. I don’t think SCGS had more than an occasssional Oxbridge entrant. I thought that Head Boy was chosen on the basis of Oxbridge potential – certainly in my time (60 -67) the only sporting type head Boy I can remember (and I stand to be corrected) was Bob Brittle; thereafter they seemed to be the best academic ones who made Head Boy.

In my year of intake there were several near miss 11+ pupils (after interview of parents with Doig) so Kingston was oversupplied with grammar school places for boys _ I doubt if Tiffin Boys took anyone other than 11+ passers. I moved to Kingston immediately after 11+ and was allocated to SCGS no argument. perhaps Tiffin boys had their own feeder schools – ie those schools that prepped the boys in the 11+ better than others such schools being semi exclusive I would imagine. Certainly to get into Tiffin Boys now is highly competitive with access from outside the borough to be accommodated.

Are you all implying that selection to our lcal Grammar schools was based on class .In england,in the 50′s and 60′s,what an idea.I grew up in Hook.Went to Moore Lane Primary Junior Mixed.{I still love that name).Most of those who passed the 11 + went to SCGS,afew went to Glynn,and a few others went to Dorking.Of the girls ,most went to Roseberry in Epsom,although my sister went to Tiffins,I later had friends who went to Tiffins ,but none lived in our Predominently working class area.I do remember that when we took the 11 +,parents had to fill a form which they could list their choices of school in order from 1-3.I always thought that in order of preference SCGS would be No 4,after Wimbledon College.Tiffins and Kingston Grammar.A question for Keith Watling.Are you related to Snowy Watling? He was a great friend growing up .We worked at the Zoo together on Saturdays,earned enough money for a night out at Eel Pie Island.He was the first person I saw with a pair of Winkle Picker shoes,hand made from Stans in Battersea.

Dear Dave,

I moved to latchmere catchment area (Tudor Drive) just after 11+ and just before SCGS. So I got to know some of the Latchmere alumni (mainly the Thorogate brothers). I heard about the Kongston and District primary schhols soccer competition which always seem to end up with latchmere and tolworth in the final. How did Latchmere get on over the years; the tolworth boys at SCGS seemed to crow a bit. I remember being told that the final was played at the old Richmond Rd ground of Kingstonian FC – A big pitch for under 11s!

Back to SCGS – I recall that we all started off doing Latin but only those who went into the Xpress stream carried on to O-level. I think this was to try and get a couple of Oxbridge candidates by A levels. But most Tiffin boys did latin to O level. By the time of the mid 60s when the explosion of new universities came about, then latin was not necessary for entrance, apart from Oxbridge still.

I did not know you could put down 1-3 for boys grammar schools from being out od the area. I suppose you had to be a brave family from working class background to put yourself up to Kingston grammar and the straw boater in the summer!

Dave Littleproud

July 31, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Funny -Apart from my cousin who is 12 years older I
never knew a Tiffins boy. Looking back I think “hoi polloi” level declined with entry into the sixth form-not that I noticed at the time.
Richard -what is Dave Ashwell’s “green drink” and how is he? I fear the piccy I sent him may have been too much. I’m pleased to see his exhibition is still on the net.
I took on board your comments re health -exercise not quite up to speed -trying to work up courage to brave embarassment and go to gym.
Diet failure today-friend Helen finally seduced me with her chocolate cake-which should be on the list of banned substances!
Yeah -whoever chained Uncle Bill’s Railton to the portico ripped off the back bumper.
Anyone know what happened to “Holy Joe” Turner, the Art teacher and how did he get that nickname? One of the majority good guys.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

July 31, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Hello Richard, nice to have you back again. You are not going to believe this but I also worked at the zoo, it was probably 1963/64, my friend Dot and I ran the refreshment kiosk nearest the entrance, we had great fun, but I remember bank holidays were exhausting, we lived on ice cream and hot dogs, because we didn’t like the staff canteen! Did you go to the Christmas parties in the big house?I also want the recipe for the green drink!

Green Drink;apple,ginger.carrot.parsley,kale or cabbage.celery.Put in a centrifuge type juicer to extract the pulp,drink the juice.You will live for ever! Ros were you part of he group that sat on the wall next to the church yard by the Kenya coffe house? I was never invited to the xma party at the zoo,but you must have worked there with Dave Acomb,his first real job following SCGS was there.

Before I forget.Fred Fernyhough was not an old surb.He did play rugby for the Old Boys.The Old Boys would extend an invitation for any teacher so inclined toplay for them.Allan Bolt was another ,in fact he ended up refeering for the Old Boys lower teams for many years.

Dave Littleproud

July 31, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Apropos friend Helen’s chocolate cake -her family called it “cardiac cake”-sort of “weapon of mass infarction” !!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

August 1, 2009 at 9:05 am

We often used to meet in Bentalls silver cafe for a milk shake or ice cream soda,or for a coffee in a cafe by Kingston railway bridge Richard. The green drink sounds as if it would make a nice stir fry, or a soup, and it would give you the added bonus of all that roughage! We only really saw the lads who delivered our supplies at the kiosk,and we never seemed to bother with surnames,I remember one chap called Rod and he drove a red sports car! Yes I know and he was!!


I am not related to Snowy Watling and have never heard of that nickname within the family. My father was Harry ‘Jim’ Watling who lived in Chessington for most of his 82 years and had a lifetime association with Chessington Cricket Club whose playing fields are still located just past the Zoo on the Leatherhead Road towards Hook.

Regarding Ken’s comment about doing Latin at SCGS, I can confirm that the subject was compulsory when I started at the school in 1965. I recall being taught by Kenneth Bidmead – a former major of somewhere I believe? I also recall that at the end of the first year, boys who were struggling with Latin were forced to drop it and required to take Technical Drawing in the second year as a replacement (can’t recall the name of the master who took the TD classes?). Accordingly, there was something of a stigma associated with doing TD because it meant that you weren’t bright enough to do Latin. I’m not sure if this situation prevailed at other grammar schools, but I wondered if it had anything to do with the fact (so I’ve been told) that the UK did not produce a good crop of engineers in the 80s and 90s. I’d be interested to hear comments from others – especially any engineers amongst us.


Dave Littleproud

August 1, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Keith-poor old “Slug” Rigden (before your time -he retired in 1963-lovely man) had to suffer my inane attempts to appreciate latin- I date my surrender to the moment I realised there were 36 different ways of spelling big!! As you off I went to learn the intricacies of technical drawing at the knee (if you remember he was well over 6ft) of “Holy Joe” Turner. I did eventually became a structural engineering draughtsman-funnily enough in about 1995 I had to use for the first time ever something “Holy Joe” had taught me in 1958 to show the autocad operator how to do it!!
I know of Old Surbs who became engineers but whether they skipped latin??.
AndyStewart, a latin scholar, clad in motorcycle gear once metaphorically tweaked the nose of a rather snotty “lunchbox” and his family by giving a near perfect translation of a latin inscription in a church we were visitng.
Other than interest value I personally have never found latin to be of any use
I believe that in the last 5 years a”Times ” correspondent, a latin scholar, in an obscure part of central asia found that the only local with whom he could converse was the schoolmaster also a latin scholar.
With hindsight I regard learning latin as part of my fairly well rounded education which I still try to keep going.

Dave Littleproud

August 1, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Richard-green drink looks interesting -how about the proportions??

I actually requested in my parent-teacher interview at the end of the third form year that I be allowed to study technical drawing, and I well remember my house master, “Zorro” Zetter, firmly telling my parents that I was in the A stream and therefore it was more important that I continue with Latin.
The eventual result was, once I commenced a technical education as part of my Hawkers apprenticeship, I had to spend two terms of evening classes at KCFE to gain an ONC in drawing so that I would qualify for the OND in engineering classes in which I was enrolled for the rest of the week!
I finally dumped Latin in the fifth form when Economics was offered as an alternative following the arrival of “Buddy” Holly, a most enthusiastic and stimulating young teacher who encouraged the noisiest forms of active participation in his classes.
As for the Latin knowledge I did acquire, well, I never did meet an ancient Roman on an oil rig.

Dave Littleproud

August 2, 2009 at 9:41 am

Richard C-wrong industry mate -you should have gone into olive oil about 2000 years ago!
Even tho I had GCE Technical Drawing I still had to repeat it for ONC and then again as part of my Civils degree-don’t ask. Any way drawing is how I earned my crust.
I did C&G Autocad at the beginning of my 2nd half century.
Seriously -I regard any random bit of information as the cigarette you put behind your ear for later -might come in handy-even 37 years later!

“Nihile est – in vita priore ego imperator romanus fui……….”

Useful little phrase that confuses the hell out of the Emiratis, and I use it often ( Thanks to Google not Ken Bidmead).

Another perhaps more memorable one, out here in Dubai might be ” puella in longa herba est”, but reporting it would probably result in the poor girl getting arrested, then deported for immorality

Dave Littleproud

August 2, 2009 at 5:33 pm

“puer magnum in puella est” would get her into even more trouble -ok for one year 1956-57?
Is there really “longa herba” in Dubai-don’t get confused with “longa vipera”!
An Italian engineer with whom I worked was always a bit suspicious about “illegitimis non carborundum”.
You weren’t the one doing naughty things with his horse were you ?- now that could get you into trouble with the “Horse Rangers of the Common wealth”.

Richard Cripps

August 2, 2009 at 9:57 pm

I too subscribe to the view that there is no such thing as useless information – but was it worth spending four periods a week for twelve terms to acquire it? Another fringe subject that was fed to us in the sixth form that I have had much more use out of was Scientific German, and I wish that had been started much earlier.
Incidentally, during one year on entering the form room on Monday mornings we would find Greek on the blackboard. Who was teaching Greek, and to whom?
I regret to admit that I formed the uncharitable opinion that Latin was persisted with because the school had a number of masters who would have been out of a job had everyone who wanted to quit Latin been allowed to do so. Did Bidmead or “Pee Wee” Hunt ever teach anything else?

Dave Littleproud

August 2, 2009 at 10:21 pm

“Slug” Rigden taught history as well as latin -he and I had much greater rapport with the former than the latter-I’m glad that I showed him I wasn’t a complete waste of his time. We once asked him what he did in the holidays and he told us that he visited many of the historical sites that occured in what he taught us. I now find myself doing the same thing.
“Geoff” Harris-Ide taught English as well as latin.
Maybe in their youth you had to have latin to go to uni to read any degree.
“Wilf” Sing taught other languages I think.


I was interested to learn that ‘Zorro’ Zetter (taught History, right?) had been a House Master. I think that during my era (1965-1972), ‘Taffy’ Davies (Chemistry) looked after Coutts, ‘Bunny’ Warren (Physics) had Egmont, Warmsley (Maths) started off looking after Lovelace, but after he retired was succeeded by Mr. Doig – aka ‘Ginger’ (History) while ‘Baz’ Hunt had Villiers. Can you or others confirm? House assemblies were also held on Thursday mornings I seem to recall.


A slip of the mouse, Keith. I meant form master, the one who took the register in the morning.

I attended SCGS from 1945-53. I am amazed at the lack of recall by all the contributors above. I do know a lot of detail about the School in those first years after it became a State School. I knew most of the masters mentioned & a few others too. I was House Captain of Egmont 1952/53 and Bert Forward was the Housemaster at that time. I experienced the transition from AGF Willis to Doig who came from Rokeby and was generally regarded as a disaster by us seniors at the time. I have just mentioned a few things and will try and find time to put the rest on paper. If Alison Burn should read this, I knew both her father, Frank, and her mother, Myrna, well. I went to school on the train from New Malden to Surbiton for at least 7 years and went on and studied Architecture with him at Kingston. If Alison wishes to contact me through my e-mail address, I shall be happy to have a chat about her father, whom I last saw in 1997. I now live in Cornworthy, Devon, after spending all my working life outside the country.


Yep – that’s more like it – couldn’t imagine ‘Zorro’ being a House Master. Funny little man, I recall, who had summarized everything you needed to know to pass O’level History in an extensive handout. However, he didn’t expect you to learn everything, but rather sought your input as to which parts you were interested in. He then advised if learning your ‘preferred section’ was sufficient to get you through the exam.

By far the better History teacher was a master named Mr. Doig (not related to the former headmaster) who had a limited head of ginger hair – hence his nickname Ginger. Great guy and a great teacher who always taught wearing a gown – ran the Under 13 cricket XI during my time (65-72) and became House Master of Lovelace sometime during that period.


Dave Littleproud

August 4, 2009 at 10:08 pm

What do you mean Mr Church?-lack of recall indeed!
“I have only just begun to recall” -I think I know who I’m plagiarising -anyone care to confirm?
Keith-I vaguely remember ” Ginger” Doig -must have been in my last year. “Zorro” was more my era- A nice man – he put up with a lot. The more I look at this site the more I think what a great bunch of people (most) teachers were.
To spend 3 years reading a subject you adore followed by 40 years trying to enthuse a bunch of generally unappreciative oiks to see what you mean-they must have had patience in spades.


Couldn’t agree more with your comment that we had a great bunch of teachers at SGCS. Although my era (65-72) was after yours (I think?), you may recall some of the teachers whom I remember as being especially caring and likeable: ‘Taffy’ Davies who taught Chemistry and was House Master of Coutts – he was a graduate of Bristol University and had run the 1st rugby XV for many years although he stepped down during my era to make way for a new, younger guy named John Hodgeson who taught French. I think Taffy never really got to grips with the changes the school went through in the 60′s as it moved from its formal, public school practices (ie caps, prefects, house system, masters wearing gowns, public canings) to the more relaxed system under Eric Waller that saw it gradually morph into a Sixth Form College in the 70′s. Another one was ‘Bomber’ Lancaster (French) with whom I had a lot of contact on a account of our shared passion for cricket. He ran the school 1st X1 of which I was captain for my last two years. He was simply a wonderful man – not sure what he was like at teaching French as I was never in his class, but either while either practising with us in the nets or umpiring our matches he was a delight. Last, but not least, was ‘Jock’ Lonsdale (also French) a Scot with a true passion for teaching and an ability to exert a class presence that ensured attention without fear – unlike ‘Gus’ Hillier (Deputy Head and Maths) whose teaching style was intimidating to the point of being inhibitory to learning. Someone else in these pages has mentioned the rumour that the Japs had done something to him during WW II – a story that was around during my era. Anyone else have any recollections of these guys?


Dave Littleproud

August 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Keith – I was SCGS 1956-1964. Idon’t remember Lancaster being called “Bomber” can’t think why not-seems blindingly obvious – He taught me English-very scathing when I got 2/10 in the English
half-term tests -very quiet when I got 10/10 for History- he always seemed very quiet to me.
It’s beyond me why a protest group wasn’t foprmed to have “Gus and “Scum” sacked-they were psychos in 1956- any comments on them Murray?
Not being a scientist I didn’t know “Taffy” well-always seemed a nice bloke and seemed well liked.

Richard Cripps

August 5, 2009 at 3:11 pm

“Intimidating to the point of being inhibitory to learning.” Yes, that sums up Gus to a T. Although I do remember one or two boys occasionally coming up with some outrageous cheekiness, to which his reaction was simply guarded amusement; and on one occasion I was directed to perform some extra-curricular tasks under his guidance and he really wasn’t a problem – sarcastic as always, but helpful and encouraging. The story about him having been a Japanese POW was circulating during the sixties, but I don’t know if anyone ever had the courage to ask.
Scum was also a useless teacher, and his temper was legendary. His technique in Chemistry was to dictate the notes which we were expected to write down verbatim. We would then hand in our exercise books and he would mark them on handwriting and spelling. This led us to refer to Chemistry as “handwriting class”.
He could be better in RI if you showed an interest. He once consumed half a period when I asked him a question about Joanna Southcott’s Box. He was a strict Creationist – according to him the Bible was to be taken literally, and any evidence to the contrary, particularly the theory of evolution, had been planted (either by God or the Devil, not sure which) to test our faith. Once we cottoned on to that we could keep him occupied for hours without the risk of being slapped around the head.

Dave Littleproud

August 5, 2009 at 5:55 pm

“Gus” a prisoner of the Japanese was certainly current in September 1956-perhaps Murray Church can throw some light on it?
Perhaps “Scum” and “Gus ” were planted to test our faith?

Cliff Harrison

August 5, 2009 at 7:23 pm

As I recall, it was Fred Ferneyhough who explained to our class (about 1954 or 5) about Gus’s background in a POW camp, commenting in guarded terms about how brutal it had been (not surprising, considering what other people had recorded about the experience). I think he was my very first form teacher, 2C in ’54, but I found I got on reasonably well with him. A lot of his shouting and temper seemed to be a front, but I never saw any evidence of real sadism etc that others have implied. There were some very good teachers at SCGS, Forward who saw me through my sixth form days, Jock Lonsdale who certainly honed my French, Williams (a Welshman as I recall) whose determination saw me eventually catch onto German, a young guy called Smith who taught Physics or Biology around ’58, plus Fred of course. In fact most of them were pretty human on a one-to-one basis, away from the pressures of the class. I don’t remember anyone having a good word for Doig, so self-important and seemingly far removed from pupils and staff alike, his approaching bulk clearing a path ahead of him wherever he went. Does anyone remember when Bert got married to a young nurse (?) in about ’60 or ’61?

Scummy Turner joined us half-way through my time at SCGS, from Hollyfield Rd. School, which was still in Hollyfield Rd. at that time. We knew in advance that he was coming and how pleased they were to get rid of him. He was renowned for his sarcasm and calling inept people “scum”. When I was in the 3rd Year 6th, he used to join us in the Attic of Aysgarth and talk to us about Plymouth Brethren and other, in his view, serious matters. What he did not know was that he parked his bicycle at the Surbiton Hill Rd. entrance of Aysgarth, the saddle of which was the target for certain vulgar practices, i.e. the art of accurate spitting. Mike Manson was the most accurate. Gus Hillier was certainly as described and very sarcastic and sadistic, although I do not remember anything worse than facing it out with the occasional troublemaker – it never came to fisticuffs. I also remember him for the mercy killing of an injured bird which had flown into the window of the 6th Science room in the Stables, by carefully placing it in his hand, facing in the right direction and throwing it with considerable force against the wall. Somebody mentioned Sidney Capper – Bosky, who was indeed a very nice man and took the teaching of French very seriously. He used to take Advanced Level French with 3 members of the 3rd Year 6th Form – Sam Seager, Denis Cooper and Noel…? – the rest absconded to the loft where they poured water from milk bottles through a hole in the ceiling on to Sam Seager, who took it in good part. Although this was a fairly frequent occurrence, Bosky only once asked what was happening, to which Sam replied graciously that he had been sweating profusely.
Bosky was also known for his singing prowess and was a member of New Malden Cooperative Operatic Society. His performance in The Arcadians was particularly notable. He also had an ongoing affair with Mrs. Clark, a rather nice, mature lady, who ran the School canteen from a temporary building located between Aysgarth and the school playground. They cut fine figures at school dances and always enjoyed friendly support from the boys.
When I first joined Class 2C in 1945 in Braemar, there was a shortage of male teachers and my first class teacher was Maggie Parnham who taught us English and Maths and was otherwise renowned for marrying “Jack” Skene, the Geography teacher. Jack Skene had a magnificent Geography room in Braemar, which either before or afterwards was the Music Room, managed by Mr. Cocks, alias Keats. Keats’ tenure was ended abruptly when one of the pupils, who was later expelled for the act, set fire to his piano causing considerable damage to his part of Braemar. When I have more time, I will set down other memories for those who may have been my contemporaries, who do not seem to have discovered this website yet. I myself would still be ignorant of it and I am grateful to my brother, SCGS 1952-58, who drew it to my attention and who seems to have more time to read blogs than I do.

Dave Littleproud

August 5, 2009 at 8:48 pm

During my time in Braemar (1956-1958) “Jack” Skene had the large front to back ground floor room and “Keats” Cocks had the room immediately above.
Never was in Aysgarth- all three of those houses must have been impressive in their heyday -that lovely staircase in Albery house-did anyone ever slide down the bannister?

A note to share my lasting memory of Mr. ‘Keats’ Cocks who I recall taught me English during my one and only term at St. Mark’s Hill (Autumn 1965) prior to the School moving to Thames Ditton (not sure if he made the move as I can’t picture him in the new School?) In any event, his ‘signature’ method of corporal punishment involved using one of his hands to hold a boy’s head close to his (Keats’s) chest while using the other to manipulate that most feared instrument of school boy torture – the chalkboard rubber! He would then use one of the rubber’s wooden corners to ‘tap’ a spot on his victim’s skull – a seemingly innocuous act until his ‘tap count’ reached 50 and above at which point it started to bloody hurt! Given that, as a rule, his class had yet to suffer the ravages of male patent baldness, any superficial bruising, swelling and serious scalp wounds were hidden by the unfortunate pupil’s hair thereby minimizing potential visits from outraged parents, the Police or the NSPCC – a cunning ploy indeed! Does anyone else recall – indeed, bear the scars – associated with this devious form of school boy scolding?

Yours, with painful memories and tears in my eyes,


Dave Littleproud

August 6, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Out raged parents, the police or the NSPCC?? -Fat chance!-my father’s reaction would have been that I had got what I deserved-after all his 1920′s teacher used to knock him across the room “wonderful man” he would say. There was no point in me complaining about “Gus” and “Scum”.
Therefore I have always made a point of standing up for my own kids.

I thought Lancaster’s nickname was “Noddy” because he kept putting a finger inside his shirt collar and tugged while nodding his head against the tugging; as though his collar was too tight for comfort

Can’t recall ‘Bomber’ Lancaster ever being referred to as ‘Noddy’ during my time.

I’ve also just found a copy of the 1966 ‘Surbitonian’ magazine. Not sure if anyone is interested, but alongside the expected reports from the school Rugby, Cricket and Cross-Country Clubs are summaries of the activities of the Golf, Swimming, Table Tennis and Sailing clubs. There is also a review of the school play ‘Macbeth’ by ‘Nutty’ Bolt and reviews of the school’s Musical Activites attributed to “VOISH” and the School Film “A Boy” written by J. Coxall. There is also a Librarians Report and short summaries from the Railway, Scientific, Aeronautical, Junior Debating and Debating Societies as well as the Christian Union, the Chess Club and the Bridge Club, plus a variety of poems and short essays written by pupils. If anyone is interested in more detail, let me know.


Dear Keith,

I was first year sixth form in 1966 so would be interested in more detail of 66 Surbitonian, especially rugby section. Ken

I was at SCGS 1966 – 73, I certainly remeber all the names mentioned by Keith Watling ( a name I remember but not the face ).
I had the pleasure of the company of some of the older staff members Ginger Doig, Zetter,Sid Capper, Chopper Hackett, Malcolm Davies, KG (Glyn) Fry (my dad used to go to London Welsh with Davies and Fry)
My brother was there too 1960 – 68 and I can confirm that Gus Hillier wore the same grey suit and brown brogues from the day he started to the day I left. I never found Gus too bad, perhaps he mellowed with age. We had a new physics teacher who made him seem positively benevolent – Dave (Lurch) Chambers, a real nasty piece of work who regularly emptied pupils briefcases over the floor. I’ll try and think of anything that might be remotely interesting and come back here later.


I certainly remember Lurch – tall ‘bean pole’ of a guy who wore dark-rimmed glasses and had a very short wife. He was very keen on rugby and I recall he ran an under 16 XV during my time at SCGS (specifically the 1969-1970 season). Previously, following a season in the Colts under 15 XV (under Baz Hunt), players in the 5th form were lumped in with those in the lower and upper 6th to provide the pool of players for the School 1st, 2nd and 3rd XVs. Not sure why, but we were kept together for this additional year and were looked after by Lurch. Because I played rugby, I was in his good books and was never subjected to his frequent class bullying antics which, as you say, would have made Gus blush. He fancied himself as a bit of a winger and may have turned out for Old Surbs a few times?? I do recall how, when he joined in our after school practise games, we all tried to flatten him.


How would you suggest I provide you with more detail of the 1966 Surbitonian, especially the rugby section?


Dave Littleproud

August 23, 2009 at 1:32 am

Bloody hell! Someone more benevolent than Gus! I can’t believe it.
I’m on hols in Nova Scotia-now I know why all you guys emigrated-Canada -great country -nice people -about to experience hurricane bill!!

Dave,do not get me started on the shear physical physical beauty of the North american Continent.You could spend a lifetime exploring the East coast alone,from Nefoundland to the Florida Keys,then there are the Appalatian mountains,the Rockies,the high desert.I could go on ,but youy get the picture.

Couldn’t agree more.

Welcome back Roger – was beginning to think something was amiss.

Whilst I would readily agree that the US does indeed have some spectacular scenery, as I recall, the dear old British Isles, on a much smaller scale, has its fair share of natural beauty, which I miss greatly.

What can compare with vaste green acres of Berrylands severage farm, the slush covered slope of St. Mark’s Hill, or the babbling brook surrounding the playing fields at Hook…


My recollections are certainly more relevant to you as our paths largely overlapped but some of the more senior ex-surbs may still be interested.
I hope I can answer a few of your questions.
I think that the maths teacher who broke Staggs arm could be Ken Jones, a mate of Lurch although nothing like him, I had him for maths and he was a really nice bloke. He was also a really good player, represented Middlesex.
I have mixed memories of Nobby Hall, a big fit guy who taught PE and RE. Everyone found him a decent guy but during a games period of rugby I had a serious accident, broken collar bone, severe neck damage and concussion. When I came round, Nobby decided it was dislocated and tried to put it back! When I passed out for the second time, Glyn Fry told him that perhaps it was not the best idea to try again. Everyone knows what casualty is like – 5 hours lying on a trolly still covered in mud when in comes Dave Ayers, the guy who had tackled me (Rob’s kid brother – his nickname was omf) I thought ‘that’s nice he’s come to see me’. No he had been knocked off his bike on the way home.
Technical Drawing (and metalwork) was Spike King who also taught Maths, don’t remeber much about him other than you could not leave the room until all the desks were perfectly in line.
More soon?

I have been tussling with a big decision this week,and Irealised that when facing any decision of importance I use what I call Bidmeads Axiom.He must have said this a100 times during our Latin classes.Specifically:the word “iam” can mean now or already.Bidmead always stated to look really hard at the context of the word in the sentence,do this at least half adozen times,choose your translation,make sure that you are sure this is the meaning that you want,then and only then will you kno w that you should use the alternative translation.I promise you allthat this decision making process works in real life.

I also remember him saying frequently, “Be free with your translation.” Then he would get annoyed if you didn’t come out with exactly the result he expected.

Ken ‘Biddy’ Bidmead taught me Latin in my first year at SCGS (1965-66). My favourire memory of him was his response to any poor boy who, when translating from English to Latin, mistakenly used the ending ‘…as’ (pronounced ‘arse’ as in puellas) which (as I’m sure you all recall!) is the accusative third person plural ending for first declension nouns – hope I’m correct at this point as I’m sure one of you will correct me if I’m not! In any event, Biddy’s response was either ‘You silly arse, boy!’ or ‘You are an arse, boy!’. Anyone have simmilar recollections. Also, hadn’t he been a mayor somewhere at some time?


Ken Bidmead was an Alderman on Surbiton Council,his wife Edith was Mayor of Surbiton.

I think he also had a block of council flats named after him.

Dave Littleproud

September 1, 2009 at 7:29 am

Dave Roberts!
You mention that Technical drawing was taught by Spike King. In my time it was taught by “Holy Joe” Turner who also taught art. Any idea what happened to him?-For me he was one of the good guys.

Dave Littleproud

September 1, 2009 at 7:40 am

Richard Day and you expats!
I’m back from Nova Scotia-absolutely beautiful- saw Kentville – Shelburne-Lunenburg-Chester-Annapolis Royal-sailed in Chester Bay-and many little places in between -plus a wet afternoon in Halifax! My next PHD is on the churches of NS! The difference between a Lunenburg dory and a Shelburne dory is …..Very sensible you ex pats!

Dave Littleproud

September 1, 2009 at 7:44 am

Coming from the back end of Kingston it always amused that a nice middle class area like Berrylands had such a good “nose” in the summer 1

I had Joe Turner for art and whilst he seemed a bit aloof, he was pleasant enough. The day we ‘accidently’ trashed his art room, I don’t know anybody who would have take it so calmly, I think he was in a deep state of shock. A quick recount of events:-
Joe left us for a few minutes and a few bits of clay were flicked about, now as everybody knows, things escalate and within a few minutes, a full blown clay fight was going on, bigger and bigger bits being hurled at each other with great gusto. Then comes the call ‘He’s coming’ and we all sat there like little angels, he walked in and just stood with his mouth open, that’s when we all started to take in the scene – an explosion in a clay factory, it was everywhere. Huge ‘splats’ on the walls and floor and skid marks on the ceiling. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worst when he made himself a cup of coffee, my friend Clive had put brown paint powder in the coffee jar and white in the powdered milk, you can guess the result – ‘coffee’ spat out and total hysteria, how we weren’t all systematically loaded into the kiln and roasted alive I will never know. It only took a week of detention to get the room washed and repainted. Fair play to the bloke though, he didn’t seem to bear a grudge, never got a christmas card though.
Happy days!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

September 4, 2009 at 6:45 pm

It sounds as if you had a good holiday Dave,is it back to the healthy eating now? We were invaded by our children and grandchildren for the last few days of the school holidays,I find it absolutely exhausting these days!I lived on the opposite side of the track to Berrylands but I can assure you we still got the whiff! Marsh Lane divided us,and I can remember when I was a child in the fifties feeding horses in the field down there, when they extended and modernised the sewage works they used to have coaches full of health workers visiting it.The field by the cemetary was our playground,we used to build dens and have great fun,on summer evenings before everybody had TV’s,we would play cricket with the parents joining inand in the holidays would entertain them with shows, I am sure children today have too much provided for them, they don’t have a chance to use their imaginations.

‘I am sure children today have too much provided for them, they don’t have a chance to use their imaginations.’ I couldn’t agree more with you Ros. I am one of the lucky ones that grew up with no telly and have never had one – ever. Listening to the views of people with televisions, one could be forgiven for thinking that they sometimes curse the things for the quality of the broadcast content?


As a contemporary of Ken Percival’s (60-67) I experienced many of the highs and lows of the teaching staff in that time. I always had a great respect for Bert Forward (even if he was convinced that my name was O’Reilly – must have been the red hair and vaguely Irish surname, I guess) and recall being marched from the premises by him on the last day of one summer term for turning up in a Paisley shirt with a stand up collar. I tried to protest that I was wearing a regulation school tie so what was the problem?
Fondest memories are of friends made during those years who appear from the woodwork from time to time – Mike ‘George’ Packwood (d.2002), Pete Sergeant and Nigel Dancer who I ran into for the first time in many years just after Christmas.
Most bizarre memory is of the 1966 house music competition. I was in the Lovelace band with Howard Amor on drums, Pat Neal and myself on guitars and Terry Scrivens (or similar) on vocals. We were so bad (with the possible exception of Howard) that we were asked to do it again one lunchtime and duly obliged. It must have been the comedy spot….. Went on to improve (thank God) and spent 20+ years in a band with Mike Packwood (with occasional assistance from both Messrs Dancer and Sergeant). I seem to remember Ken Percival turning up at an audition as a drummer in Teddington around 1981.
John Rodd, Mike Aust, Mike Anscombe , John Sammes, Colin Parratt and I will be attempting to make some vaguely musical noises at the Surbiton Assembly Rooms on the afternoon of the 12th September followed by a larger gathering at the Victoria in Victoria Road from about 7:30. Baz Hunt has said he will attend with ‘a number will want to be there if they can (about 8pm). You know of Mike Fifer;
also hoping are Brian Lancaster (French and some English etc), Joe Turner (Art) if he can, Stefan Junor (Maths etc and some cricket and ? from 1965), David Shaw (Maths and Tennis etc – from about 1960); they will try to contact one or two others who might be interested ..if they can. Ted Warren from 1958 ,like me, but 9 years older, Physics, rugby ,scouts ,athletics) is not likely to be there as he lives a few miles away and is not confident after dark.’ Be good to see any of you who still have the ambulatory capacity!

Keep smiling….

Chris Leaney

Dave Littleproud

September 7, 2009 at 8:12 am

Chris !
re the get together on Sep 12 when you say Joe Turner do you mean the art teacher from my era 1956 -64? if so do you have a contact number for him that you can give me or otherwise advise him of my interest.

Hi David,

I believe he is indeed the man of whom you speak. The only contact I have is through Baz Hunt (via Mick Aust). Mick Aust’s email address – I’m sure as unofficial convener of ‘Old-lags P**s-up inc’ he’d be delighted to hear from you.


Dave Littleproud

September 8, 2009 at 9:46 am

Thank you for that quick response.
Using m y genealogical talents and other bits and the names in you post I contacted Stefan Junor, with whom I had a very entertaining chat.
Stefan confirmed it was in deed the right Joe Turner and gave me his no. Had a great chat with him.
I will contact Mick Aust re “Old Lags P***up Inc”
Once again thanks for your post.


Dave Littleproud

September 8, 2009 at 9:54 am

Yeah-back on the healthy eating -no more 1/2 lb hamburgers -no more dribbling over Tim horton sticky buns -no more giant milkshakes -no more Subway mega sandwiches -no more panckes soaked in maple syrup with the bacon and eggs (They actually come with a fresh fruit salad)-avoid the grandchildren -go to Nova Scotia!

ps why did I come back?

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

September 8, 2009 at 10:22 am

Dave,never mind,we all fall off the waggon sometimes, it was definitely in a good cause. At the moment my son and his family are thinking of emigrating to New Zealand, and as I do’nt know if I can fly with Menieres Disease,that could solve the other problem!Hope you enjoythe p*** up,Keith(Spud) would. The reason why you came back is because home is where the heart is, and we all have to have to have something to dream about.

Hi Ros, my wife and I spend 6 months of every year in NZ and the remainder in the South of England with our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren (1.75 so far!). I too have Menieres Disease and have found that long haul flights have only had a beneficial effect – for several weeks after flying the tinnitus disappears and the world returns to it’s former self. Don’t be put off!

This is the day I started at SCGS 55 years ago on 8 September 1954. I was not thrown into the hollybush! Was anybody , or was the hollybush a myth?

No David, it certainly wasn’t although I suspect that the fear of being ‘bushed’ was greater than the actual process. Holly is holly and is not that hard to endure, even as a new bug.
To Chris Leaney: Thank you for that snippet Chris. I hadn’t realised that long haul flights can lessen the effects of Tinnitus. I shall have to go on more holidays elsewhere.

Dave Littleproud

September 8, 2009 at 4:19 pm

I remember on 09/09/56 (first day) standing outside SCGS with Pete Ward (who I had never seen before) both in in absolute terror of being bushed -but both of us being quite big we escaped on that first day and I avoided it myself completely-can’t speak for Pete.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

September 8, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Chris,thank you for that,does it also cure Migraine?It sounds as if you have the best of both worlds. Our son goes to N Z at least once a year for his work, and he really likes the area around Christchurch,but he has old friends who live in Wellington.
David Goodyear,you must have started on the same day as Keith (spud) Bird,do you remember him,he has been in N.Z. since the early 1970′s?

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

September 8, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Does anybody else have problems trying to submit comments to this blog? It drives me absolutely crazy!!!

I’m struggling to remember Keith. Maybe he was in another form to me . SCGS had 3 form entry and the first years were all in Year 2 , since Year 1 did not exist (who invented such a system?). I was in 2A , though this says nothing about me as the forms were not streamed at entry as I remember. Quite possibly Keith was in one of the other two forms. Now Ros, if you had been in my year I am sure I would have remembered you……..

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

September 9, 2009 at 10:14 am

David I was nearly 14 in 1961 when I met Keith, so in 1954 I would have been 7with ringlets and a bow in my hair! What is it with you boys, you can’t still be frustrated after all these years?

Ros, maybe it’s the memory of 7 years in the monastery on St. Mark’s Hill? However I’ve been married to the love of my life for nearly 43 years and she went to an all girls’ school , so maybe not too much harm was done! Hollyfield was co-ed wasn’t it?

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

September 9, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Yes David,Hollyfield was co-ed thank goodness,but in the art group for some unknown reason we were not allowed to do biology! I have also been married for 42 years,to another Keith.

Thank God we have rapidly got back to the peace and quiet of the marriage bed-I was afraid of the horses being frightened by an outburstof Nabakovian fantasy-after all this is a family website!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

September 10, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Okay Dave do you want to talk about 1960,s films now, what about Tom Jones or Breakfast at Tiffanys,just two of my favourites.

Been a bit quiet! All that Nabakovian fantasy
Ros -I think my favourite film of the 60s was The Magnificent Seven maybe Zulu but then I’m a fella. I always found it better to see the film then read the book-in the case of Mr Nabakov I read the book without seeing the film -thankfully! Moby dick is another story where my rule falls flat. Tom Jones was my set book for A level English -Hugh Williams and I skipped off games to see the film-great movie -but the book was better albeit a bit long for modern tastes.
Currently I still enjoy a good action war movie -just been watching Memphis Belle-but Bridges of Madison County is also a favourite -great book -as is the sequel-funnily enough anything with Hugh Grant. Film is the greatest art form.

I have made telephone contact with Joe Turner-he’s in good form. I hope to have a longer chat with him and learn more about old friends.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

September 22, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Sorry it has been a bit quiet Dave, my grandson has been sharing his germs with us again! I enjoyed both of your favourite films,especially Zulu, as my husband reputedly had a relative who was killed in the Zulu Wars,and my grandfather was in the Welsh Borderers in the Boer War,it is probably a bit girlie,but I really love musicals,right back to the 1930′s, but I think my favourite, for the music,is West side Story. I read a lot more now,I did get Tom Jones out of the library when I was a teenager, but didn’t get very far with it,perhaps I should try again, I have read most of the Thomas Hardy ‘s and his poetry,but usually in the Summer, because they are too depressing in the Winter. As you can see ther is a bit of a theme here, anything to do with history and especially social history.

A while back I submitted a list of SCGS teachers, which included one for whom I could remember only the nickname, “Ahab”. I still can’t bring his actual name to mind. In the mid-60′s he was in his thirties, average height, slim build and with a neat naval style beard. He taught French. Ring any bells with anyone?

Dave Littleproud

October 1, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Ros -yes West Side Story is great -from the first moment of the titles using the sky sripprapers – I saw it in London with one of those “racy” Bonner Hill girls.Actually she wasn’t, just very nice-we were actually at primary school together.
Richard -if you look at the photos I posted (the right way up ones) there is a fellow who fits your description. So if you would confirm or deny I could ask Joe Turner, who has the same photo.
Richard do you have a sibling/relly who went to SCGS?

David I am in 2 nd xv 60-61,prefects 60-61 61-62.No siblings at scgs ,but John Tullet is a cousin.He was a year behind me.

To Dave Littleproud: Thanks for the suggestion! My eyes are watering after ploughing through the pictures you posted, but I think that I have found the guy. On 34-panamora-3-1963 (May 31), fourth in from the right. I ought to be in that picture somewhere as well, but I couldn’t find myself! Also, if I’m the Richard you meant, I had no siblings.

Dave Littleproud

October 4, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Dear Richard- re your 03.52 04/10/09-don’t you sleep? Sorry about the eyes.
Only guy with a beard is :-
31 May
-on 35 -three to “Jack” Skene’s left
-on 35- two to “Scum” Turner’s right
almost in the middle
-on 36 -third in from the left
-on 36 -two to “Scum” Turners right
I will ask Joe Turner when next he has his photo handy.
Joe is two to “Jack” Skene’s right on 35
According to Joe French teachers were- Sid Capper- John Fernyhough -”Bomber” Lancaster-John Williams- “Jock Lonsdale and your unknown -when I mentioned “Ahab” he latched onto “Moby Dick” but couldn’t think of a connection. Joe knew of a Malcolm Cripps.

Dave Littleproud

October 4, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Richard C -I am in the fifth row directly behind “Jack” Skene.
Richard D-got you -with Clive Ffoulkes -Quent Finch-Dave Ashwell. How is Dave?
John Keutenius and Dave Eastland were from my year -I was in the Colts 1959-1960 with them.

I’m in the US, remember! It was remarkable how nicknames would appear spontaneously upon a new master’s arrival, and immediately be adopted by all. In this case I think it came from his slightly middle-eastern appearance, hence “Ahab the Arab”. Anyway, thanks for doing the research.
I vaguely recall there being another Cripps floating around the lower school, but he was nothing to do with me. It’s not an uncommon name in the area.

Dave Littleproud

October 5, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Richard C-bit more of a sensible time -19.08 here-was that the guy you meant?

Actually, now that I’ve looked again, it isn’t. “Ahab” is smack in the middle of section 4 of the picture, third to the right of Jack Skene and fourth to the left from Mrs Russell. Which leaves me confused as to who the other guy might be…don’t remember him at all.

On a quiet Tuesday lunchtime in a sleepy South Coast town….

My wife and I, having partaken of a genteel constitutional along the Worthing
promenade, settled into the comfort of the Denton Tearooms on the pier for a spot of luncheon when who should walk in but the estimable Bas Hunt. He seemed to be on the same good form as displayed recently at the Victoria in Surbiton where a small gathering had taken place and told us that he had decided to drive himself down to the coast to catch the last of the early autumn sunshine. He had spent his post-operative recuperative period in
the Worthing area following cardiac surgery 5 years ago and had a certain fondness for the place.

He described himself as the ‘former dreaded Mr Hunt’ and went on to explain that in his first year of teaching at SCGS he had been given a really hard time by the 4th and Lower 5th. As a result of this brutal initiation he resolved to develop a reputation as a ‘hard man’ to avoid any repetition. Do we know of any 1954-56 intake who are prepared to stand up and be counted on this one?

It would appear that he has had contact from one or two former in-mates who were unable to make the previous meeting and has arranged to make time for them. The whole reunion thing seems to have given him a new lease of life – humbling


I fess up.Baz Hunt taught me Latin when I was in the 5 th form.WE gave him a hell of a time.The unfortunate consequence was that I failed O level Latin,which I regret.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

October 16, 2009 at 6:00 pm

What a naughty boy Richard! Does that mean Keith(spud) was guilty as well if he was in the same class as you?

Had fun reading all the comments. Would like to get in touch with Len Neldrett. Can anyone help please?

Hi Dale … sure can, send me an email to


Malcolm Penn

Ros-Spud was not in my Latin class in the 5 th form.Latin was an elective class at O levelMost of my contemporaries chose not to do it.

Dave Littleproud

October 24, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Hi guys and gal!
I phoned Joe Turner the other day and found him a bit off his milk -I will phone him again in a few days and post an up date.
Ain’t it great to have a decent pc-my previous was a bit rough.

I remember a prefect called “Eyebrow” Bately (?), who used to tick off first formers for not wearing their caps on the bus home. He let us off with a warning and didn’t take the matter any further.

Mr. “Lurch” Chambers taught English. He had a large plimsoll as a threat of corporal punishment, but I never saw him wield it in anger. I was never taught by Keats, but everyone knew how to draw him: bald head, big nose, and a little bit of sticking plaster where he’d cut himself shaving. It had to be a left-facing profile for some arcane reason.

Some of my contemporaries were: Roger Arthurs, David Ayers, John Budden and “The Doh” Docherty.

John Curtis (Villiers ’67-8)

Hi John (Curtis),

I have to disagree with your recollection of ‘Lurch’ Chambers. Although he may have taught English ‘on the side’, the ‘Lurch’ I remember (a tall bean pole of a guy – hence his nickname) taught Physics. As I have mentioned previously, he was also very keen on rugby and ran the Under 16 team that I was part of in my 5th year.

Keith Watling (Lovelace ’65-’72)

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

October 28, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Hello Richard,what a pity,Iwas hoping to find a crack in his halo,still I don’t think latin would be much use in his line of work,did he do technical drawing instead? Sorry it has taken a few days to reply we have been to our son’s helping him repair his roof, he lives near the lake district where it seems to rain every day,and there was quite a gale blowing at the weekend!! Back home now for a bit of peace before they all arrive for Christmas!

Hi Keith Watling,

D. A. Chambers was my Form Master and he despaired of my science ability. My physics teacher was definitely a Welshman called Davies, or Davis. He despaired of my physics so much that his comments on my report card ran over into the chemistry section. I learned the law of gravity the hard way, as fly-half in a very junior XV. Rugby and PE seem to have been led by a biology teacher whose initials were KGF. I don’t know if they were for biology lessons, or school dinners, but I have a vague recollection of rabbits in hutches between the tennis courts and the science building.
John Curtis

Hi John Curtis,

I stick by my recollection that Dave ‘Lurch’ Chambers taught Physics as his major subject. As for a Welshman called Davies, that would have been ‘Taffy’ Davies who was in charge of the Chemsitry Dept and also House Master of Coutts. He may have taught Physics ‘on the side’, but his main subject was chemistry. He was a very nice guy – went to Bristol University and also ran the 1st XV rugby team for many years. The head of the Physics department was ‘Bunny’ Warren who was also in charge of Egmont House. As for ‘KGF’, they were the initials of Mr. Fry, another Welshman who taught Biology and PE, and ran the Under 12 rugby XV. He was my first year form teacher – I recall he smoked a pipe that he would insert into a permanent hole in the side of his mouth that seemed to have been put there for that express purpose! As for the rabbit hutches, are we talking about St. Mark’s Hill or Thames Ditton?


John Curtis / Keith Watling
Malcolm (Taff) Davies and Keith Glyn Fry used to go to London Welsh on Saturdays with my dad so I knew them reasonably well. KGF used to known as Glyn as he thought it sounded more welsh. I well remember the permanent hole where the pipe went, I understand the muscles had contracted due to 40 years of having a foreign object stuck there. Bunny Warrens side kick was a Welsh wingebag (pains me to say it being Welsh myself) named Dai Jones who seemed to spend the majority of his time telling us about his latest ailment or the length of his most recent migrain. Lurch was definitely physics first, coming from Yorkshire he sounded a bit like Geoff Boycott, pronouncing the subject ‘Physeeks’. He was a bully of the highest order until you got into the 5th and 6th forms when he became really quite affable, he took great glee at bullying a poor deformed kid called Simon Lydbury which everyon thought was totally out of order but at least it meant you were out of his target.

remember your name but can’t put a face to it. I was in Coutts from 66-71. I was in the same class as Roger Arthurs, went motorbiking with John ‘Bear’ Budden and Dave Ayers (mini Omf, later BogBag) put me in hospital with a well timed tap tackle. My main contemporaries over the years were:- Clive Denney, Ray Kent, Russ Procter, (Buster) Pete Cox, Steve Edwards, Neil Butterfield Chris Pritchard, Paul Lavender, Adrian Barnes, Tony Jenkins, Jeff Thomas, Dave Gillam, Taff Davies, Dave Leverington, Gary Shepherd, Paul Stanley, Graham Shorthouse, Richard Tilley, Neil Campion and Adrian Thomas . I’m sure there were lots more but the old brain ain’t what it used to be.
The prefect you remember was Bob ‘eyebrow’ Batley, he used to play bridge with my brother, he was a really nice guy who commmanded respect by just being human, unlike some. unfortunately he confiscated my ‘NUFF’ card. Remeber those?
The dear lady in the canteen used to pile massive amounts of food on your plate and just say ‘NUFF?’ at which point you held up your card or asked for more. Most prefects were satisfied with putting you in detention but not a guy called Paul Mangan who loved public humiliation, manys the time I stood in full public view with arms outstretched rotating them slowly for what seemed hours (about 5 minutes) but I suppose it was better than spending an hour writing out psalm 119 most of which I learned off by heart.

Keith, through the vast variety of sports the school used to run, there are a few names that I used to compete with/against from your era that may ring a few bells. Gordon Pearce, Colin Duncton, Dave Nott, Quentin (Alf) Tupper, Ian (Ears) Ellis, Phil and Mike Fox and Gerald Blackmore.

Dave Roberts/Keith Watling

I was only at Surbiton for one year, and bow to Keith’s memory about Lurch. My English teacher was probably J. S. Clements. Since my last post I have found a page of 50 autographs that I collected before emigrating to Canada. (I hope it can be posted on this site.) One of the signatories was David Roberts (Rob). Another was Simon Lydbury, whom I remember as intelligent and thoughtful–and never complained about his disability. I was at primary school with Roger Arthurs and David Ayers. Roger’s ambition was to join the Navy. I used to imagine Ayers joining the Paras and being the Peter Cook of the officers’ mess. There were two Barnes (not related), Nicholas and Adrian. It may have been Adrian who came from Slough and had cracking pace as a half-back. I was in Fry’s under 12′s and School X-Country Team. The rabbits would have been at Thames Ditton. I think it was either K. E. Doheny or Paul (Quackers) Clarke who refused to accept that pink socks were not part of the school uniform. When the currency was devalued/decimalised(?), I remember that several teachers all thought that they were the first to tell Michael Shilling that he was officially pronounced useless.

John Curtis has recently sent me a photo of a piece of SCGS memorabilia dating from 1968.

You are welcome to have this and can download it here.

Adrian Barnes was a superb rugby player, as was Chris Pritchard – saw them both play for Richmond (although not regularly) and once saw them on Rugby Special on BBC2. I had a beer with Paul Taylor many years ago in Chessington and he was a good freind of Simon Lydbury, after all he had been through, Simon tripped over in the street, banged his head and sadly died of a severe brain injury in his mid 20′s. The last I heard of Dave Ayers was that he had followed his father and brother Robert (omf) into the police. I didn’t know Nick Barnes real first name for years as everyone called him peanut. I remember Mike Shilling, he had a ‘famliy’ middle name of Westrup which resulted in the nickname ‘Jockstrap’.

Ayers Of The Yard: there’s a tv series in there somewhere, especially if he had a sidekick called Grace. Ayersy once spent a week telling everyone he was Jewish. He admitted later that he’d done it to deflect attention from the fact that his father was a policeman. As a copper’s grandson I understood the pressure to conform that made you want to find quiet ways of rebelling. I’ve got a group photo were Dave’s the only one who refused to smile. He managed to look three years older than the rest of us, staring at the camera as if he were trying to drill the lens out with his eyes.

John Curtis

I remember Dave Ayers ‘jewish period’ saying that with a nose like his, he had to be, it was a fair old hooter. He really was a witty guy and could draw fantastic cartoons and caricatures. I had a look at your autorgraph page, a few more names I remember but that is the first time I have seen Eric Wallers signature without the words ‘must try harder’ in front of it.

Dave Roberts

“Must Try Harder” could almost have been the school motto. It’s hard to believe that masters had a licence to push, bully and generally humiliate anyone who didn’t like school work. When I moved to Canada, British kids had two choices: (1) be classified by date of birth and repeat things that they’d already covered; (2) be classified by what they knew, and end up being 1 or 2 years younger than their classmates. Some of the younger teachers were weekend hippies who brought their guitars to school and sang to us. I met some relatives of R. J. Mole (Latin), while I was there, and they fell about laughing when I told them what school was like. We were saved by a trio of Aussies who taught in the British way, but were laid-back enough not to be seen as stuck-up Poms.

Reg Mole, what a legend! When he arrived on day one, I think we all thought that he would sink without trace. Anyone who arrives on an old bike with his briefcase held on by a bungee strap, bald head, glasses and wearing a battered tweed jacket with leather patch elbows would be the target of relentless mickey taking. We all underestimated what a thoroughly decent guy he was, treated us with a bit of respect and graced with a good sense of humour, actually made Latin bearable. Someone asked him somewhat jocularly if he would be playing in the masters versus 6th form rugby match, he replied in the affirmative that he would quite enjoy a run out. Played inside centre and the first time he got the ball, carved his way through to score – it appeared that he played for his university, even more respect earned.

On Nov. 5th, BBC Radio played an archive tape of a man who said he’d like to “tear down every ******* grammar school in the country.” I think g. schools can be justified all time they give employment to people like Reg Mole. Besides, you need a classical education to comprehend the polysyllabic obfuscations that emanate from the seat of governance.

Dave Littleproud

November 6, 2009 at 6:15 pm

I began my stay at SCGS in 1956. By the time we arrived in the sixth form there was an element that saw grammar schools as “bad” because the superior education was unfair on those who weren’t at grammar schools. In my 16 year old naivety I couldn’t see why, if the grammar school education was superior, we couldn’t all go to a grammar school why didn’t the system only have grammar schools? furthermore we had all had the same chance by having sat the 11+. reactions to this made me believe that jealousy was a contributing factor of the anti grammar school lobby.
50 years on with 2 children at grammar schools (yup out here in the back woods we still have them) I have seen no reason to change my mind. One factor of importance to the anti brigade is that the school is nearby -the educational standard does not seem to be an overriding consideration. There are buses and lift shares. I still believe losing grammar schools is a backward step -our education does need as hake up -what the answer is I don’t know -but something ain’t right-why can’t kids read ? Get off your soapbox Dave!

Dave Littleproud

November 7, 2009 at 11:39 am

random time check –ignore–pc problem

Dave Littleproud

November 7, 2009 at 11:43 am

solved -pc was set for canadian time -not gloucestershire mean time

Just caught up on comments having missed a few months.

Does anybody remember the Lab assistant; a quiet old man we called “Plum” because of his red face which was reputedly down to experiments blowing up. Somebody came up with the notion that he had been involved in the Russian revolution but I’m not sure if I remember that right. Simon Lydbury died the day after returning from the Old Surbs rugby tour to Georgia and South Carolina in 1980 – having partyed for 2 weeks. Did Dave Ayres have a younger brother Bob? If so then Bob joined the City of London Police and did his sergeants and inspectors exams in quick succession and was regarded as a high flyer. KG Fry organised the inter house boxing which was compulsory in my year of intake (1960) I remember one bout where KGF told the 11 year old protagonists to come out, touch gloves and start boxing on his command. Lerverdier had a red mist, came out and immediately head butted, groined and kicked his opponent and the bout was abandoned. Next year the boxing was voluntary. I also remember a yorkshire man who, I think, was called Clegg who took cricket. His stock phrase was something along the lines of “there are three ways to do something – the right way, the wrong way and my way – you’re going to do it my way”

Dave Littleproud

November 16, 2009 at 1:12 am

I was unlucky enough not to have been taught by Mr Clegg.
Pals of mine who were told me that the first lesson went on the lines of “My names Clegg- C-L-E-G-G– three are ways to do things – the right way, the wrong way and my way – you’re going to do it my way” All in broad Yorkshire. Apparently these opening lines were the most pleasant things he said. My sidelined observation was that he was quite unpleasant. Luckily there were plenty of good guys to redeem teachings’s reputation.

Yes, I remember Mr Clegg – a really broad Yorkshire accent; though I don’t remember anything bad about him, I recall him as being quite an entertaining teacher. It’s interesting how our individual memories can differ. My recollections of his sayings are, “My name’s Clegg, C-L-E-G-G. There’s three ways to spell my name, the right way, the wrong way, and MY way!” More enigmatic was, “There’s three kinds of anti-aircraft, theirs, ours and mine.” Never did figure that one out.

Yes, I remember the lab assistant, we knew him as Jasper as well as Plum, his name was Mr Aston, he used to shuffle around muttering to himself and if anyone put their bag in the aisle he would kick it out of the way. One bright spark threaded a board ruler through his bag and jammed it so it wouldn’t move, Plum came along, kicked the bag and fell flat on his face. I heard the rumour about the Russian revolution but I think it was just passed down through the years and I also heard that he was quite an eminent scientist in his younger days. On another occasion Chopper Hacket conducted an experiment which resulted in a vast amount of noxious gas being produced so he put the beaker in the fume cupboard and carried on with the lesson, unfortunately, the other door of the fume cupboard was open Plum was overcome by the fumes and was found unconscious on the floor. I know he suffered a heart attack and Eric Waller announced solemnly in assembly that it was unlikely he would return to work, 3 weeks later he’s back, right as ninepence.

Dave Ayers had an older brother Bob whose nickname was Omf – don’t know the significance –Dave was know as mini Omf for a bit, highly original, I know Dave was looking to follow his father and Bob into the police.

Richard (George) Burns

November 19, 2009 at 12:04 am

Don’t know how I stumbled on this site but it took me back down memory lane. I was at SCGS from 1954-61 and have nothing but fond memories of the place and the people.
The violence of some of the teachers made life tense to say the least! I remember Keats taking me into the cloakroom for a smacking around the head with a ruler and plenty of ‘slipperings’ – with double the punishment if you moved your hand at the last moment. Others I remember with affection: Nutty Bolt with a round smiling face; a bi0logy teacher named Caduggan; a sports master Fry who would make a fool of you in the nets with his off-spin; an art teacher who drove a vintage car; and many more.
When I was in 4A (my ‘pals were Terry Connolly, Dick Battenbury and Dave Ashwell) there was something called the ‘battle of the boot’ which involved an old rugby boot being fought for and hidden. It dominated a term until the headmaster got wind of it and the associated destruction and the challenge was banned.
I remember Turner the Chem and RI teacher and the small blue books in which we got to keep notes of who begat whom. Biddy Bidmead used to hurl marked Latin note books (orange I think) across the class to the pupils. Gus Hillier taught maths and terrified everyone (I can picture a very pale thin face).
In the sixth form I was a Chem/Bot/Zoo person and had a great time with some good friends: Paul Darby, Barry Keywood, Roland (Rolly) Herbert ( hooker for the 1st XV), Pat Morris, Malcolm Welstood-Easton, Adrian (Adey) Powell and Tony Bright. We seemed to pay 3-card brag for most of the day! I kept up with Tony B for many years and Paul and Barry followed me to University at Aberystwth and started a hugely successful folk/blues club.
Other memories will start flooding back soon…

I have just spent a fascinating hour reading though all of the messages and memories here – having just stumbled upon this site. I joined the staff at Surbiton for my first job in 1957. I remember my four years there with great pleasure. I was appointed to teach Biology and was surprised on arrival to have an A-level group and also to be timetabled to teach A-level Chemistry to the biologists. I suppose that my links with the Taffia – Malcolm Davies and Ken Fry – made it inevitable that I should have been roped in to run a rugby team – the Under-14s (and some great young players suffered from my training and refereeing – quite a number of them already mentioned in earlier messages here!). Mr Doig, who realised that I was willing to try out anything, dragged me into helping with the G & S (roping me into training the senior chorus – made up mainly of Sixth form rugby teams) and asked me to run the Duke of Edinburgh’s scheme – which resulted in taking a group of boys (again some already named here!) to Buckingham Palace for the first and second ever Gold Award presentions.
It was fun to read through former pupil’s assessments of their teachers and I found myself agreeing with most of you. There were lots of really devoted teachers who shaped my career development and I recall with great pleasure Malcolm and Ken as well as Frank Walmsley (whose son had been at the school as Head Boy, captain of cricket and rugby and leader of the school orchestra. He later was an international athlete in the UK team, made major discoveries in antibiotics and joined his Dad and myself on the school trip to the 1960 Rome Olympics.), Alan Bolt (who I met again last year – now over 90 and still conducting an orchestra and leading a Hunt in the Lakes), Geoff Harris-Ide, John Fernyhough and Bas Hunt who started at the same time as me and with whom I am still in touch. The school produced some good science students and I am proud of the subsequent careers of several biologists that I taught (e.g. Derek Yalden, Pat Morris, David Morgan, Paul Harding and others).
I left after four memorable years to teach in the Midlands then came to Bristol (where I still live) as Head of Science at a large state school and moved on to lecture for 12 years in Bristol University (and for one year at Durham University). I packed up my working life last year when I retired from the Open University (aged 74 – if you’re interested!). So I’m amused to learn that some that I taught are now themselves retired. Giving me time recently to make Safaris and visits to Antarctica and the Galapagos.
Thanks to you and your comments that have brought back so many good memories – I’m surprised that my senile mind recalls so many of the names featured.

Welcome to the blog ,Alan! I well remember your enthusiastic Biology teaching during the 5th and Lower 6th years (1958-1960), not least a memorable Field Studies week at Slapton.I met you briefly about 20 years later at a SUJB meeting in Bristol during my years as Head of Science at a Comprehensive School in Taunton .I also remember your musical interests as I played trumpet in the school orchestras and G&S productions. Now retired I still play in a local orchestra , and tutor Trumpet , the Sciences ,Maths and English on a one to one basis and live in Taunton.Great to hear from you! The Welsh are well represented in teaching.

I was directed to the site by someone claiming that Eric Clapton was a former pupil. To set the record straight, he was not. I assume the confusion has arisen due to the fact that Hollyfield School (which EC did attend) moved to the former SCGS site in 1965 when we all de-camped to Thames Ditton but this was after Clapton had left.

I was in the last intake at the St. Marks Hill site before the relocation and have enjoyed reading all the recollections.

Whilst my artistic talents are limited I can still knock up a cartoon in about five seconds that is instantly recognisable as Sid Capper by any former pupil.

I am involved with the Thames Ditton and Weston Green Residents Association and we are about to publish an article with some reminisences of the School at Thames Ditton. The website is:

A few facts –

The skull bashing administered by Keats was know as ‘clumping’ and, yes, he was at Thames Ditton with his room opposite Spikey King’s metalwork shop (which is still there, now part of the College).

Sadly, The Olde Harrow is no more – it awaits the bulldozer when developers manage to get a planning application approved for houses or flats – what is the matter with the younger generation, don’t the current students at the college drink enough to keep a pub going?

A question.

Why did Villers always win every sporting competition?

Alan. It was so interesting to read your reminiscences, you mentioned John Fernyhough to whom I personally owe much during my years at SCGS – as a particularly inept pupil, I might add. I clearly remember the trip to Rochefort that he chaperoned in 1956, visiting our pen-friends at the Lycee Pierre Loti, it being my first trip abroad, (I spent much of my visit to Paris in the gutters collecting the strikingly colourful matchboxes that had been discarded). I also managed to knock over a large jug of water in the cafe at which we stopped for supper, before taking the overnight train southwards.Is he still contactable? I would dearly like to assure him that my school years were not totally wasted, though I’m not sure he or I would have agreed at the time. He did much to encourage my French, which was about the only subject that came naturally to me. Cliff Harrison

Dave Littleproud

December 1, 2009 at 1:55 pm

I have just been talking to Joe Turner. Joe is going into hospital for “abrading” on his heart with a view to an eventual pacemaker. I know we all have our fingers crossed for him. Joe has sent me some panoramas of you lot which I will scan and post. He has also promised some photos sent to him by Bas Hunt which I will also scan and post.( I promise to try and get them the right way round!!)
Joe also tells me that while watching “Flogit” one afternoon he saw Alan Bolt with his wife who was being interviewed.
I see there that there was a brief message from Kevin Davies. On behalf of us all I would like to thank Kevin for allowing us to gazump his web site -much appreciated Kevin!!
I agree with Cliff Harrison -I too would not have passed french without the encouragement of John Fernyhough-french was certainly not natural to me.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

December 21, 2009 at 10:45 pm

To everyone who visits this blog, I would just like to wish you all a very merry Christmas,and a peaceful, happy and healthy new year. Take care, and we will all meet up again in 2010.

I was moved from remotest Belfast into the 5th form at SCGS in September 1959. It was all a completely different world and I found it difficult breaking into a community of already long established friends. Just in case you can’t place me, I was the weedy specimen with specs, a stammer, a pre-Beatles haircut and a dinghy at Hart’s Boatyard.
By the lower 6th life was better for me and the comparative independence of our form room in the stables meant that a good group developed, mainly Biology/Chem/Geog. Somebody mentioned 3-card Brag being a popular activity, but what about toast making on the gas fire (or in Mart Offor’s case toasted cheese)?
Several familiar names have been mentioned from this group: Adey Powell, Paul Darby, Tony (Bertie) Bright, Rowley Herbert, George Burns and Pat Morris. Was Roger Taylor the same Taylor who was commanded to make Mo’s tea in every Zoo “lesson”? Richard Warwick was also in the group but, like Pat Morris, he was a bit studious. We did have one wild party at Richard’s house, but I think he regretted it afterwards. I found a faded photo of one of Alan Cadogan’s field trips recently, with Alan and 8 of us, including most of the above. I have a lot to thank Alan for – he got me interested in natural history again, especially on the Flatford trip, and I made that my career.
I made a total hash of A levels in 1962, but a good reference from Alan got me a job with the Nature Conservancy in remotest Huntingdonshire. I kept up with some of the SCGS gang for a couple of years, and I remember a cabin-cruiser trip on the Thames with several of them. Subsequently I have totally lost touch with everyone, except that I have bumped into Pat Morris and Richard Warwick a few times when our professional paths crossed, and years ago I startled Alan at the end of my lecture to an IoB meeting in Gloucester.
For Alan’s information I retired 6 years ago, after 22 years as the head of the national Biological Records Centre. I still have an hon. fellowship with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, am involved with various biodiversity projects, and live near Cambridge.
There must be a better way of communicating between ourselves than through blog comments on some aspiring MP’s website. Wish I knew how!

I hope everybody had a good Christmas where ever you are and in whatever time zone!!!
I wish you all a safe, prosperous and Happy New Year!!

Paul Harding if you were a prefect you should be on one of the piccies -if so we can identify you and send the boys round!!
Seriously I do not know the answer to swapping emails without maybe generating loadsa junkmail.
a convoluted method I used was to advise one subscriber the location of a post office I used as a poste restante.
It worked a treat. So if anyone wishes to contact me –send a letter to the p.o. named in my post of 31/3/09 mention you have done it on here and I will pick up the letter from the p.o. A bit long winded but in the absence of any better suggestion??? As I say -it works!!
Maybe we worry overmuch about publishing emails-I know some people have -have they had any problems and wish they hadn’t done it??
Interestingly I note that on here we are all more open than on friends reunited. I did try and publicise this site on f/r but there were no takers.
Any how bright ideas gratefully received.

Dave – Thanks for your various suggestions.
I was far too imperfect to be a prefect – an academic failure, no interest in sports, too much time spent idling on the river, in pubs, etc!
I agree, we seem to be commendably open with our comments. Let’s see if others think it is worth asking you to take on extra work.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

December 30, 2009 at 3:02 pm

To Dave and Paul, if you want to find other ways of communicating, try Friends Reunited, where you could exchange addresses etc, or if you are both in the UK, try for the electoral roll.
Hope this helps,Ros.

Clever girl-ok try it!

Came across this site while looking for info on a Doodlebug raid on Chessington Zoo where I worked as a lad. The explosion killed one man & scorched the polar bear black. Ilived in Cheshire Gardens Hook. You Surbitonians cant half talk!Iwent to St Mary,s Primary on Leatherhead Rd. then to Kingston Grammar, if that is allowedto be mentioned on this site. Loved rowing from Thames Ditton to Hampton Court & back in 1947.I suppose Surbiton Grammar would have been alright. Regards.

Dave Littleproud

January 11, 2010 at 1:53 pm

must have been cold! 47 was a rough winter-in 62/63 mates of mine walked from kingston to hampton court along the middle of the thames-

well it’s great to see that a lot of my old school pals are still going strong, but i was quite sad to see that nobody remembers me!!!!!!!!!!!!
i thought i had left quite a mark at surbiton if only for my participation in destroying the old green houses!!!!!!!!!
i still remember being the only “twit” who owned up to it, and getting “6 of the best” for my honesty.
Happy new year to you all from Rome.
All the best,
Mick “Brillo” or “Brillcream” BRILL

Colin Brightwell

January 13, 2010 at 11:14 am

Hi Mick, I certainly remember you. A good goalkeeper if I remember rightly! I assume I won’t get into the same trouble on this blog for mentioning the round ball game as I did at school for starting a football team (Ditton Athletic)! I’m still in touch with Tony Hall who you no doubt remember.

Do you live in Rome permanently? I spent an excellent weekend there last February. Spend my time in the UK and Cyprus now. Best wishes from a very snowy Woking!

hi colin,
I’ve been living in Rome for more than 40 years now working as a musician and other related activities!!!!!!!
Let mr know if you come over again.
my e-mail is: michaelbrill@libero.
Don’t think i’d be much good in goal these days!!!!!
I too remember the creation of ditton athletic didn’t go down very well!! if i’m not mistaken they threatened to expel us if we didn’t stop it. am i right in saying we used to play at the Milk Marketing Board ground?
all the best,Mick Brill

ooops left out a bit of e-mail address.
should be:-

Colin Brightwell

January 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Hi Mick, yes there were threats made to those who both represented the school at rugby and played for Ditton Athletic, as when matches clashed, everyone, as far as I can remember, chose to play footy! We did indeed play at the MMB in Thames Ditton. My dad worked there and arranged for us to use it as our home ground (fabulous pitch if I remember rightly) as the MMB no longer had a football team. I’ll give you a call if I get back to Rome again. What’s the name of your band or are you more of a ‘sessions’ man? Any CD’s/DVD’s?

Dave Littleproud

January 13, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Mick! i remembered you cos I got your name on that list of the class of ’56-you were easy to remember!
Rome sounds good -not been there since 1966 when on tour of architectural gems -I even managed to get blessed by the Pope -by mistake I was in St Peter’s with the Rome branch of the whole international diplomatic corps -one hopes it couldn’t happen today.
Colin why are you in snowy Woking when you could be
in sunny Cyprus?

Good to hear from you Dave,
maybe it’s time for anther visit to Rome!!!!!!!! and get blessed again by a different Pope!!!!!!!!!!!
I don’t say the sun is shining at the moment, but i think it’s only snowed 4 or 5 times since i came here in 1966.

Really great information! I am glad I found this post on Google. I will be back to check your site more often.

The product is as advertised on the internet�highly satisfactory as to its ability to warm the bathroom for a comfortable shower. Installation was reasonably simple, and performance as expedted.

Hi Mick – any relation to Ken Brill, the scourge of 2C, in 1953?

Dave Littleproud

January 14, 2010 at 11:11 am

Peter!!! Hi —thought you had……??? Glad you are back on
I know the answer but I’ll leave it to Mick.
Anyway Happy New Year!!

Hi Peter,
Yes I am Ken’s “little” brother!!!!!
I still remember the day i started at Surbiton County. People coming to look at me as if i was some kind of “freak”!!!!!!!!!
By the way, if you have any idea of the whereabouts of my brother, please let me know as i haven’t seen or heard of him in years.
all the best mick.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

January 14, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Hello Mick, I think I have found your brother Ken, still living in Surrey, would you like me to email the address and phone number to you?

Hello Ros,
I most certainly would!!!!!!!!!
You obviously have a better source of information than anything I have managed to find from here in Italy!!!!
Thanx very much,
All the best, Mick.

Hi Dave,

Sorry but still very much in the land of the living. Just off-line for a while, with a very sick PC, and problem only now resolved thanks to Santa Claus.

Would be very interested to hear from Ken Brill, if you do trace him Mick. As I said, in 2nd and 3rd form, he, along with such characters as Keith Beeks, Jim Dodson,
Trevor Birmingham, Dave Spittle, Gerry Long, Mick Gregory and Dave Shepherd, were a force to be reckoned with.

Colin Brightwell

January 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Hi Dave, normally would be but had to go into hospital for an unexpected operation so had to cancel our trip. Have another 0p at the end of the month so won’t be there now until our next scheduled trip in March. Normally spend +/- 5 months a year there. Works well.

Dave Littleproud

January 17, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Colin -sorry to hear that -look after yourself for the end of the month.
Take care and I look forward to hearing all is well.

Dave Littleproud

January 22, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Well Ros, I’m in -tho i don’t know what happened to the “Eric wos here” beginning that we used to have -all seems to be here on this site.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

January 22, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Yes Dave I seem to have got in okay this time too,let’s hope we don’t have any more trouble!

Sorry guys that was my fault. There was a 24 hour down time for some site updates.

Kevin Davis

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

January 24, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Thank you very much for letting us know Kevin.

I hope nobody minds if an OT posts on this site – I have an excuse as I’m the other boy my old friend Keith Watling (Hi, Keith!) referred to way back in June or July last year when he was wondering about the intake criteria for Tiffins and Surbiton Grammar. Interestingly, I was from the Garrison Lane council estate, while Keith lived on the slightly more posh Leatherhead Road, but I found myself in a different world at Tiffins, which styled itself as a minor public school and tended to squeeze out the more unruly (ie working class) types by the end of the fourth year. I survived the cull, just, thanks to some enlightened English teachers who a) taught me in an inspiring manner, and b) taught me the invaluable lesson that much of school life is just a game – so much so that I, a semi-detached pupil at the best of times, ended up as deputy head boy! Then I fluked a place at Oxford and did indeed become a playwright, which I still am.

Having read the entire thread here (a hugely entertaining read, even for an OT) there are so many coincidences I’d like to comment on, and I hope nobody minds if I address a couple of them. Regarding the date of the move to Thames Ditton, I have a very vivid memory of playing SG at rugby there in what I’ve always thought must have been autumn term ’65. It was our first ever game, and I was captain. We lost 44 points to nil. Scarred me for life…..does anybody remember that game?

The Hollyfield conundrum – in ’70 or ’71, when I was working weekends and holidays at Chessington Zoo, the manageress of the Grill, where I was inexplicably the chef, was a Hollyfield (as she always called it) old girl, who’d known Eric Clapton there. She was rather blase about this and could never understand why some of us were so awe-struck by her erstwhile proximity to the great ‘Slowhand’….

Many of the place and pub names mentioned are familiar to me, but the two I frequented the most, The Three Fishes in Kingston, and The Toby Jug at Tolworth, are sadly no more. Both were a joy for anyone mad about music, as I was. My eldest brother, Alan, played in groups throughout the ’60s all around the Surrey area – first in The Crusaders, then The Cosmic Sounds – anybody remember them? It was while searching the net for anything relating to their Rock’n’Rhythm Competition victory at the Surbiton Assembly Rooms in ’62 (I think) that I came across this site. Their win was clinched, I like to think, by my appearance on stage, at the age of 8 with a young girl of the same age, twisting to their version of ‘Put On Your Dancing Shoes’, although my brother puts it down to their note-perfect version of FBI. Anyway, the celebrity judge was film starlet Sylvia Sims, with whom we all had our photo taken, and which was duly published in the Surrey Comet – my mum still has the clipping. The point of this is that the week after next, I’m recording a new radio play with, amongst others, Sylvia Sims. I can’t wait to show her the clipping…

So many memories have been stirred by this site that if I don’t stop now, I’ll still be typing away tomorrow! I hope nobody minds my slightly off-topic ramblings – I’ll just wish everybody the best and shed a silent tear over that 44-0 drubbing….


Dave Littleproud

February 6, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Hi Doug-as I once said -we are a broad church. Rugby against Tiffins – I played 23 games for the SCGS Colts 1959-1960. We won 22 games very convincingly -the exception was when in a euphoric fit of over confidence we managed to hold Tiffins to a 3-3 draw-toughest game I ever played.

Thanks, Dave.

Tiffins was an excellent rugby school – with the exception of the 1965 intake! We were a pushover, mainly because we were more interested in playing football in the Sunday league, so our Saturday rugby became an exercise in not getting too badly injured. The headmaster always looked like he was sucking a lemon when reading out our results in Monday’s assembly! We were a huge disappointment….

Hi Doug,

Email me at (not .com!). Look forward to hearing from you.



Fascinating, I concord with your issue.

Dave Littleproud

February 17, 2010 at 9:12 am

More clues Evelyn?

Dave Littleproud

February 17, 2010 at 9:13 am

Colin B -how’s things -well I hope

Hi Dave,

I’m good thanks. Good of you to ask!

Two operations have come and gone and I’m here to tell the tale. Gall bladder is well rid of and without drama. In and out in 24 hours! Thank the Lord for keyhole surgery. Hand operation also went well although it will be 6 months before it is working properly. Wife is driving me everywhere at the moment including up the wall! Have to allow 30% extra time to get anywhere!

It’s a bugger getting old! On that front I’m an official Old Age Pensioner. Was 65 on 5th February! Am having my pension paid into my Cyprus bank account. What a struggle it was getting them to do that. You would have thought I was asking them to send it to the moon.

Waiting for next month to arrive for our first trip of the year out to Cyprus, can’t wait to get some sun on my back. Also booked a holiday in Mauritius to celebrate our Ruby wedding anniversary. That’s in July. 40 years. Can’t believe it.

Off to Farnham now to let the plumber in to my daughter’s flat. Will I ever get a day when I can put my feet up?

Best wishes,


Colin -good to hear that you are ok.
According to wikipedia it is a non vital organ and you are ion company with several mammals and birds and lampreys( a surfeit of which King John died) in not having one.
The hand sounds a bit more dodgy-you had better be nice to “her indoors”
As to getting old -all I’m missing is my tonsils(last seen in 1950) and 5 teeth. Still got my hair. A young friend of mine >50 is not keen on the idea of “old” -so we have a mutual “assisted suicide” pact -sharing a taxi to the Severn Bridge!
Seriously though my life ain’t bad-it turned out pretty well for me-I wouldn’t change it.
Take care Colin –enjoy Cyprus
All the best

By far the most concise and up to date information I found on this topic. Sure glad that I navigated to your page by accident. I’ll be subscribing to your feed so that I can get the latest updates. Appreciate all the information here

Dave Littleproud

March 11, 2010 at 11:35 am


Dave Littleproud, I have found your Surbiton County Grammar School blog and read it with interest as I am writing the history of Hollyfield school having recently retired from there as Deputy Head. Part of the history includes a section on Albury House and its previous occupants including your old school. Would it be possible for me to use some of the photos of the old buildings Aysgarth, Braemar and the new Villiers etc which you have posted on this site? This will help to keep the “history” alive. Dave Forward (

Graham Follett

March 26, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Just found this lot whilst whiling away yet another awful night both on telly and R4.
I managed to waste 6 years at SCGS from Sept 57 to July 63, managing a meagre 4 O’s, but, in those heady days of the early 60′s jobs were two a penny, so secured a job in a bank that served me pretty well for 30 years or so.
I was in Coutts, and the head was Doig, Deputy Bert Forward.
Other teachers than figure in my memory:
Sid Capper – brillian linguist, hopeless teacher
Whistling Jack Skene – loved his lessons, he brought geog to life and ensured a lifelong love of the subject. Could take a joke, too – like stink bombs under his desk.
John Cocks – Keats – English amd Music, who spat all over the place and said ‘err a hell of a lot – when bored we would count them.
Sammy Sentence – English – a really decent bloke
Mr Bidmead – a horror of a teacher, Latin and History I believe. Went on to become Mayor of Surbiton. To be feared.
Joe Turner – Art – proud to bear the name of his idol. A good teacher who opened doors on art to me – though sadly I failed Art ‘O’
?? Harvey – another art teacher who coped with any shortcomings of pupils by shouting at them
Gus Hillier – Maths and, I think, Physics. Kept control by throwing board rubbers – the wooden sort – at the ne’erdowells.
??Busby – Art – delighted in small boys – used to have a lunch time ‘club’ that become known as Busby’s Bum Boys.
?? Boult – Music – a weedy little man who stormed into the hall one lunchtime, when some prefects and quite a few Lower VIth and VIth were listening to records of such as Chuck Berry. he went off his trolley, and I think he confiscated the records – and I doubt that he secretly played them at home. More likely he burnt them. Don’t recall what happened to the prefects in charge of us.
Chips Carpenter – Chemistry, I think, – set up a Madrigal Society that became quite successful.

I left having made just one mark on the school, as my sport was as a highboard and springboard diver and I and a lad from Tolworth Secondary were the two top divers in the county atthe time – we both went to the famous Highgate Diving Club. So KG Fry, the senile PE teacher delighted in having me as a pupil – I transferred easily to gymnastics when the new gym was built in my last year.

The classes I was in, show my paucity of academic achievement:
2C, 3C, 4C, LVG, VG, then second year VG, as I only got 2 O’s at the first attempt.

Class mates, friends –
Arnold Pinder – School and county boxing champion
John Seaton, Peter Garton, Ken Ives.

Oh dear, I do have to take exception to your reference to Bill Busby and his unfortunate reputation. Throughout my seven years at SCGS scurrilous rumours circulated endlessly about his supposed proclivities and activities in his cupboards; but I never heard of an actual case of a pupil having been subjected to any improper behavior. Certainly his avuncular style could be open to malicious misinterpretation, but I recall him only as a gentleman who took considerable pains to organize a wide variety of valuable extra-curricular activities. I for one was grateful to have the opportunity to escape at lunchtime from the playground and the thugs who roamed therein.

As for the “Nutty” Bolt incident, my class had a completely different experience with John Cocks. He actually invited us to bring examples of currently-popular records to one of the music classes and play them to him on the record player, and he was duly regaled with examples of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly. I don’t think that he enjoyed the experience particularly, but he was trying to understand the attraction of such music to the youth of the day. So he wasn’t quite such a crazy old coot as he appeared!

Dave Littleproud

March 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I’ll go along with most of Graham Follett’s comments- I don’t remember Gus teaching physics -my memory is of “maths with fears”. Alan Bolt was a talented musician -I’ll bet that the confiscated records were being played at max volume-as teenagers do.
Bob Whitely was delighted to spend one music lesson playing his Elvis Presley collection to Keats.
Now I must stand with Richard Cripps-to my knowledge “Uncle Bill’s little boys” was an affectionate joke about a very kind man -I never heard of anything untoward-and I was at SCGS for eight years -Just remember this was not an Irish Roman Catholic boarding school in which the fear of god could be invoked -it was a school in which the pupils had started off intelligent enough to get in and whose parents, if not well educated themselves, were bright enough to see the advantage of a grammar school education. I think anything dodgy would have quickly surfaced. I believe that, like most of the staff, Uncle Bill was a nice guy with our best interests at heart-I think it a pity we didn’t always appreciate their efforts.

Graham Follett

March 27, 2010 at 1:30 pm

I do agree, that Buzzer came across most benignly, and I only report what was said in my time there – 57 to 63.
However, I know of a couple of boys in my class who would avoid him like the plague. I suppose nowadays they’d be considered as homophobic.
There was also an English teacher – can’t remember his name, but I recall his face – who would rest him hand gently on a boys shoulder and leave it there for what seemed like too long, at the same time rolling up his tie and putting it in his mouth. I’m sure sex psychologists would have a whale of a time with that now. He was a small thin man with sort of curlyish hair and he wore a tweed jacket with elbow patches – not that that last item would separate him from the majority of teachers at Surbiton! But he gave me the creeps.

Dave Littleproud

March 27, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Graham- you mean Geoff Harris-Ide- the tie rolling was a bit bizarre-like the rest he coached rugby-he always seemed ok to me -good teacher. Maybe I was naive in those days or perhaps nobody fancied me. Seriously tho’ I think in these paranoid days we look too deeply at what was probably totally innocent.
I used to help with a local football team -if they got hurt you picked them up -quick cuddle -magic spit on the injured part and away they went -now some suspicious little mind would throw up all kinds of connotations.
I can think of only three teachers who gave me the shivers and I will leave it there-they have been mentioned.
If I don’t write again-Happy Easter to you all!

Graham Follett

March 28, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Thanks, Dave – Harris-Ide, indeed. Having been the subject of a paedophile when I was 11 to 14, though not, I hasten to add at SCGS, I am perhaps a bit aware, on reflection, of what might have been. My instance was at the ‘hands’ of a very trusted, and outwardly respectable sports coach. When the game was up, al the sports club could do – in,what? 1960 – was ban him from the sport and advise the national body. That didn’t stop him from moving, as I understand it to a related sport, where his obvious expertise as a trainer would have been leapt on, I’m sure.

But I digress. There were many happy times at Surbiton, and I have, through Friends Reunited to catch up with a couple of my old class mates, Paul Breeze and, the boxer I mentioned above, Arnold Pinder.

I am forever indebted, as it happens, to ‘Old Doig’. I was recognised as someone falling behind in maths, and fora few weeks, with about 20 others, was kept behind once a week for extra maths with the head – I presume a maths specialist. Something magical happened due entirely, I think, to his teaching. Everything slotted into place, clicked and I never looked back. Now I still find maths a delight to tinker around with.

Dave Littleproud

March 28, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Graham -now I know where you are coming from I can see your concern. I apologize if I appeared insensitive-I admire your courage in “letting it all hang out”. I hope you have not let it blight your life.
I remember the name Arnold Pindar-I got friendly with Paul Breeze when I was at Kingston Polytechnic-I found myself in the year behind him-I also caught up with Jim Finlay again there-2 good guys.
yes i had the pleasure of Doig’s extra maths-I am sad to say that it had little effect on me- I have enjoyed my kid’s education more than I enjoyed my own.
The staffroom must have been fun with Doig asking assorted maths teachers why their charges were not cutting the mustard. I am convinced that my 5A was instrumental in driving a maths teacher “Cyril” Parsons in to the church. Pity -he was a nice enough guy.
Why did we not embrace all that wonderful enlightenment with open arms?

Dave Littleproud

March 28, 2010 at 8:04 pm

When in an earlier post I said that only 3 teachers gave me the shivers I meant in the sense of the physical or verbal punishment current at the time -nothing dodgy. I don’t remember Doig caning me.

Just fallen across this fantastic memory lane site.
At SCGS from 1950 -58
Contempories from memory
Kenny Player
Stuart Davies
Dave Morris
Tom Brown
Michael Pay
Tony Gear
Tig Herridge
David Wade
Tube Morley
Most of above, all Colts and 1st XV players. Ken Player and David Wade great flankers, Stuart Davies a peerless fly half ( shame he was Welsh, might have got an England cap) all three represented the County and I seem to recall that Ken and David got English schoolboy caps.
Had fantastic education (not cerebal) at Surbiton mostly spent playing rugby and running the tuck shop. A powerful appointment as I recall, as “Wagon Wheels” were on ration and were particular favourites of certain masters like Haywood. I seemed to remember always receiving good marks in Latin despite my total lack of knowledge of the language due to Haywards predeliction for Wagon Wheels. I recall also Haywood and the other senior classics master Rose ? spending their supervisory lunchtime duty periods wandering around the canteen conversing in Latin !
Eddie Watkins coached the Colts team and if my memory serves me correctly at my advanced age, we had n’t lost a game since before WW2. Certainly he had us practising on Wednesday afternoons in Snow, hail and anything else that the weather threw at us. Still there was always the warm mud bath to look foward to at the end of the afternoon. As I recall SCGS had to be the best Rugby school in Surrey, probably only rivalled by Tiffin.
Dr Turner (Scum) was a class act and we all looked forward to winding him up into a big one with eyes rolling and then losing it completely. A twice weekly cabaret act which would have gone down well at the Palladium.
Sid Capper was another act to look forward to – locking some poor small defenceless unfortunate in the wardrobe/cupboard behind his desk would usually get the ball rolling.
When I’ve managed to plough through this remarkable litany of memories from everyone I’m sure it will jog my mind and provoke a few more thoughts.
Best regards to all Old Surbs

Les Thacker

Ooops , sorry at SCGS from 1951-1957

Dave Littleproud

April 7, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Do you have a younger brother Chris?

Yes Dave

He joined the year I left so didn’t have the pleasure
of introducing him to the bushes !

My memory of Hayward was incorrect – it was Slash Heymans who was partial to Wagon Wheels and massaged my Latin efforts. If memory serves me correctly he was the son of a Belgium diamond merchant and once arrived on his Triumph twin motor bike one morning slightly ruffled , not his usual urbane self. His bike was an early model with a triangular instrument panel situated on the petrol tank. If you remember there were no self service garages in those distant days. The petrol pump attendant inserted the nozzle into the hole which once housed an ammeter and started to fill the tank result petrol onto a hot engine and a singed classics master .
Alan Bolt also arrived in class one Monday morning also looking a bit secondhand. Apparently his daughter had ridden over him that w/e when he fell off his mount in front of her !
In that era both masters and pupils were characters, a sad reflection on todays requirement of having to conform !

Best regards


Dave Littleproud

April 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Let me guess! You lived over by Kingston Vale and you brother Chris was pals with John Woods in my year going in to school on the greenline bus -you must be in some of the pictures.

Yes Kingston Vale correct.
I cycled to school everyday – could n’t be bothered with all the buses. Also had the advantage of not putting your cap on until bottom of the hill. Chris never communicated much to me on his school days as I went into Army whilst he was at SCGS. Must say what with SCGS and getting commissioned and looking after a platoon I had an education I’ve never regretted. Were you on the trip to Rochefort I think in ’56 ?. I missed it having broken my nose yet again at Rugby or Boxing, can’t remember but spent the whole of the summer with my French exchange student Jean-Pierre at his parents place. Interesting time as that’s when and how I met my future French wife.


Dave Littleproud

April 7, 2010 at 10:39 pm

no not rochefort -never went on school trip-I was sep 1956-jul 1964-well educated me! What did you do in the army?
How is Chris?



Chris is in good form. Married like me, fairly young (I think that was the norm in those days) and has two sons.
I originally with Bert Forward’s advice tried for Sandhurst but failed the written examination (too much rugby and little attention to the academic side whilst in the lower sixth ! ). However got called up and joined the famous RGJ now The Rifles. Had fantastic time learning lots of new skills, man management an essential (an art sadly missing in todays corporate world), using interesting kit and playing yet more rugby with some top class players. All that and being paid at the same time! What a great university. My youngest son spent 5 years in 40 Commando and since leaving has had a very successful career also.
I was reflecting on reading through some of the blogs the very creative and differing methods of corporal punishment administered at SCGS by masters and prefects. Don’t think it did any of us harm. Not PC I know in our current culture but perhaps respect and discipline emanated from this practise that is so sadly lacking today.


Paul Leadbitter

April 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I have just found this blog whilst googling idly from a hotel room in Mumbai.

I was at Surbiton County Grammar from 1967-1974, during which period it changed to Esher College.
My form teachers were (I think) Fry, Hodgson, (Nobby) Hall, Dave Chambers and Jock Lonsdale. Other teachers I remember were Eric “Wimpy” Waller, Ted Hillier, Basil Ignatius Hunt, Chopper Hackett, Taff Davies, Mrs Williams, Mr Walmsley, “Nut” Bolt, Mr Zaft, Mr Zetter, Geoff Harris-Ide, “Pop” Major, Jack Skene, PT Silley, “Bunny” Warren, “Deputy” Doig, Dai Jones, “Manny Joe” Fifer, Mrs Elks, Mrs Trevelyan-Jones, “Fripp” Junor, Reg Mole, “Mo” Morris (once administered corporal punishment on me with a croquet mallet), Sid Sentance, Joe Turner, Mr Buzby, Tom Mayhew, “Bomber” Lancaster, Mr Stannard, Mr Crouch, Dr “Scum” Turner, Mr Bayliss, Miss White and Sid Capper. I also fondly remember the ancient lab assistant, “Jasper” Aston, Grace “Nuff” and two German assistants: Bernd Link and, very fondly, Marianne Plonka.

I suffered constant humiliation at the school, being small for my age, wearing glasses and having buck teeth. I was called “Rabbit Features” for much of the time I was there, and “Ronnie Corbett” for the rest of the time.

But strangely, I still think those were amongst the best years of my life! I would love to hear from old friends from those years who might be watching these pages secretly. My email address is

Paul Leadbitter

I remember you a little more than vaguely which is a miracle in itself after 45 years, bit busy today but check my postings around the end of October, I have similar memories although not with a croquet mallet. I found John Crowch one of the most approachable teachers I have ever met, a real nice guy. John Bayliss hated my guts from day 1 ( my brothers fault but I won’t elaborate) and blamed me and (or) Russ Procter for everything.
Another of my cohorts which I shamefully forgot to mention earlier was a good old mate john Humm, the last time I saw him was on Waterloo station, he was 6’7″ !
Two other teachers come to mind, Ralph Cook, looked like Omar Shariffe and said the word ‘basically’ at least once per sentence which was picked up on of course. In one lesson he got a bit tongue tied and the sentence (something like)
“Basically, the basis for this was basically basically -I’VE GOT TO STOP SAYING BLOODY BASICALLY” but all in good humour. There was also a maths teacher Jim Maguire but I don’t remember too much about him other than he had a big thing about not leaning back on chairs so being the complete idiot I leant sideways on my chair. He put me in detention when someone ‘aided’me and I fell sideways with chair and desk and contents onto the floor (once he’d stopped laughing).

Dave Littleproud

April 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm


Paul Leadbitter

April 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Dave Roberts!

Yes, I am sure I remember you too. In particular, a party piece involving a towel in the changing rooms….

… but moving swiftly on…

I remember the approachable John Crowch, who quickly became a legend in the place for turning his RE lessons into early sex education lessons, including diagrams on the blackboard. I was incredibly frustrated, because I was left in Dr “I’ve seen boys CANED for less” Turner’s group, copying the scriptures in neat copperplate.

I also remember “Basically” Cook of British Constitution fame, plus most of the names you mention in your Ocober 2009 postings. Particular mentions to:

“Eyebrows” Batley. When I was a first former, I distinctly remember him having a Saturday job at our local Sainsbury’s in Esher. In those days, Sainsbury’s only seemed to sell bacon, eggs and cheese, and I remember that he was on the cheese counter, allowed to use the fuse wire cheese cutter. Respect.

John Budden. A good friend of mine, with whom I had been at primary school, Great guitarist too.

Simon Lydbury, RIP. I had heard that he had passed on, but I didn’t know what had happened before. One of those that was a lesson to us all.

John Humm. Innately eccentric and very funny. Last I heard of him, he was a professor at Harvard or somewhere like that.

I also remember from these pages: Procter, Maguire, Arthurs, Denney, Kent, Cox, Edwards, Butterfield, Pritchard, Lavender, Barnes (both of them), Gillam (“Linked In” with him today), Shepherd, Shorthouse….. and many more.

Great days!


Ros Theobald nee Burkin

April 12, 2010 at 9:51 pm

I am still here in sunny Suffolk Dave,looking after our youngest grandson in the hols. The last time I was in touch I had “Swine” flu,I would not wish it on my worst enemy,but they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Richard Day has been very quiet? I recently contacted Alan Duff,an old Surb and Bonner Hill classmate of mine,he said he had looked at the blog.Keep up the good work,

A little off the subject perhaps, but a request for people to think about the ethics of buying wetsuits. Please try and think about, for example, the materials your product is made from, the conditions of the employees where they’re made and the green credentials of retailers. And endeavour to recycle rather than discarding. Thanks!!!!

Dave Littleproud

April 17, 2010 at 10:14 pm

what’s this guy on?

It’s the solvents from the rubber….

Gosh, this has grown….left a post a couple of years ago and for some reason found my way back and have just spend an amazing half our skimming through.

The one post that really caught my eye was from Keith Watling on 6 August 2009. He mentioned John Coxall’s film “The Boy”…I was one of the stars!! I’ve fond memories of it, taken on 16mm black and white film, no sound of course. It starred “PO” Phillips as the bullied boy, I was one of the bullies. I’d give a lot to see that film again, taken at the ST Marks Hill site and in and arround the woods between Thames Ditton and Claygate…

He also mentioned the Avation Society. I was an active member, we published a magazine and raised 10/- for the Swimming Pool Fund.

Also, posts from David Roberts….are you the David Roberts from Claygate, neighbour of Colin Humphris and Martin Barell?

I’ll be back a bit more often…..

Dave Littleproud

April 20, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Very good Chris -it took a moment for the penny to drop!

Peter Jenks.

No I am not Claygate David Roberts, not so up market, I am the Chessington version, user of the heavily oversubscribed 152 bus to the Ace of Spades. I was at SCGS 1966 – 1972 in Coutts house.

Paul Leadbitter

April 21, 2010 at 6:34 am

Peter Jenks.

I remember you, too. As far back as Claygate Primary School and the 1172 Esher Squadron ATC . I think you were a Flight Sergeant?

I also remember Cadet Warrant Officer Colin Humphrys. I think he lived in Crediton Way, or somewhere round that area.

I also seem to remember you having a stunning girlfriend who lived in Hinchley Wood!

Names to jog memories:RC “Dick” Naylor, Keith Thomas. Andy Fryer, Steve Mustoe, Howard Amor, RC Harris, Graham Sayers, Tony Calver, John Selwood, DV Smith, AR Harrison, Phil Harrison, ? Eyles, P “Bepo” Barrett, Dymond or Diment, Deluce, Tony Dallimore, Keith Owen, ? Ralph, Kirby, Pat Neale, Chris Leaney, Kenny Peercival, D Douthwaite, C Cuffley. Michael Black, N Chalmers Greg Coutts late entrant, A Hoawrd, John Rodd Roger Woollen. A Gomez late entrant J Hitch. Colin Bowes, Tony Ashfield, Chris Huband, A Freitag, M Redstone, Alex Hillier ? Kelleher, Southgate or Southcott, Johnathan Tack, Jeremy Richardson and there’s more.
Does anyone remenber the challenge from Fleetwood School- Rugby and footbal tournament we won both and the second eleven also won 1-0?

The trips to Betchworth, the little gang who took up dancing Melody’s near Richmond Road. Chris Leaney getting bitten by a squirrel.
M Dunkley and the formidable Mick Dunjay and the Claygate mob.
Alan Corker from Stoke D’Abernon. Where are they now. Sammy Waters older late entrant, the other Kev(in)Walters a year older and a guarantee of a few tries in each game, the Mitcham Grammar games. RC Harris and Ralph ending up going to hospital after crashing heads to tackle their scrum half as he scored a try.
David Deacon demon bowler. Frank Hartfree latterly local businessman and councillor. A Kinloch who transferred to a posh school near Ottershaw.
Phil Yeend, A Jake Jardine another Police family, A “Tony” Weekes, John White, N Graham.
Is dave Little proud the guy who wore a drape tight trousers(emphasised his bow legs) wore winkle-pickers and was Arty in Villiers house? I think a year or so older. A bit unapproachable but a nice guy.
Osborne the highly intelligent one and Osbourne of Lovelace House.
Roger Trussler Molesey one to be feared a year older.
Alan Duff god sport and prefect, the creep Sotheb-Smith a bully with his henchmen, A Stovold another known as a prefect far from perfect.
Dick Fin(d)lay, Egmont athlete.
That’s all for now , I look forward to any coments.

Dave Littleproud

April 25, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Dave Littleproud did not wear a drape tight trousers(emphasised his bow legs) wear winkle-pickers and was Arty in Villiers house? I think you must mean Pete Cole who received several standing ovations for his renditions of “Be Bop a Lula” in the house music competition. Yeah Pete was a great guy-hopfully still is – the unapproachability was shyness -last heard of teaching art to hospital patients -a very kind guy as well – I went to Italy with Pete as my pillion rider, on my 650 BSA -along with Andy Stewart on his scooter-a great months holiday. Pete’s bosom buddy was Chris Hall-encyclypaedic knowledge of “New Musical Express” and who learnt to play an excellent game of chess after only three tries. I was renowned for being able to grow a full beard and suffering a permanent 5 o’clock shadow which Bas Hewson insisted was green. It is now gr–!!

A process of elimination leaves CLF as the indomitable Colin Fleming (or has age got the better of me?). I hadn’t quite forgotten the attack by the marauding squirrel – the scars are a permanent reminder after more than 40 years. As I recall Tony Dallimore and I were cycling to Mick Douthwaite’s place on the top of Kingston Hill (Kingsnympton??) when the squirrel – clearly stunned – landed at my feet. First thought – clearly stupid – was to pick it up and see if it was OK whereupon it mistook me for its assailant and retaliated.
Tony Dallimore I occasionally see and still keep in correspondence with his ageing mother. Mick Douthwaite emigrated to Australia in the mid ’60s with his family and was tragically killed in a road traffic accident in 1982. As for the rest…….?
There is a group (unofficially chaired by Mick Aust) that meets once or twice a year to share thoughts, beers and the odd (I do really mean odd) bit of musical nonsense. Stalwarts include John Rodd, Mike Anscombe, John Sammes, Colin Parrat and myself with honorary attendances (in the pub) from the likes of Baz Hunt and Mike Fyffer. If anyone is interested I’ll pass on the details of the next gathering when a date is announced.

Paul Leadbitter

April 26, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Hi Chris,

I vividly remember Messrs Hunt and Fifer, both of whom taught me. I would love to meet them again, so please post when the next event will be.

I live in Hong Kong now, but get back to Surrey about once a year. It would be great to arrange a trip back when those two will be in attendance.

Talking of Mr Fifer, who is a real gent, does anyone else remember the issue of the “Crown Topper” ads. He didn’t deserve that, but if it really was him (I still have my doubts), he should have known better than to do that as a teacher at Surbiton Grammar!

Dave Littleproud

May 20, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Andrew Stunell????

Just stumbled across this blog trying to find some archive info about Surbiton Grammar, my dad, NICHOLAS JACKSON went there, born 1940 so circa 1951 to 1957, same time as Colin Herridge, did quite well in the rugby team. Unfotunately he passed away recently and i am trying to do a bit of a family tree so any info would be great.

Can anybody tell me why heskey played today instead oh Crouch?

Dave Littleproud

June 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Hi Richard -great to know there is still life out there! I dunno -I went to a rugby school. Nice sunny weather here -if you are not a hay fever sufferer. And at 21.03 bst I still don’t know who won.

Pleased to discover this blog (via a link at Facebook). I was at Surbiton County Grammar School from 1961 to 1966. My family moved to the Midlands in the summer of 1966, just after I had taken my “O” levels; but undoubtedly I would have gone through the 6th Form at SCGS had we remained in the area. (So people who took “A” levels and left in 1968 should all be my contemporaries.)

Unfortunately, I don’t see many of my year-cohort mentioned here; but in April 2009 one Paul Stevens (whose name I don’t remember, I’m afraid) said: “My experience lasted from 1963 to 1966… I can only remember Kelsall, who sadly died at Surbiton station, Corbett, Williams, I can’t seem to see anyone else from this era. Is any body out there. How about Simon Lever, hair was so long they would’nt let him in the 1965 panoramic photo…”

I remember Kelsall vaguely. How on earth did he come to die at Surbiton station?

But I remember Simon Lever vividly. Indeed, he was one of my friends. He was the school “rebel intellectual” in our year, and I’d love to know what became of him. Did he become a journalist, writer, rock star? Presumably not, or I would have heard more of him over the years…

Simon Lever was one of a small group of us who passed books around in the playground. It began with Lady Chatterley, Mickey Spillane, James Bond and the like when we were very young, but later, when we were 15 or so, it got on to more heavyweight stuff. I remember Simon giving me some sort Pelican (blue-covered paperback) introduction to Freud and psychoanalysis. Also he got me to read The Ginger Man by J. P. Donleavy (rebel Irishry), Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (American negro sufferings), and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (more rebel Irishry, of an earlier vintage). This was our unofficial playground book group! It was probably more influential on me than most of what was taught by Bidmead, Sid Capper, Keats Cocks, et al., in the classroom.

So I owe Simon Lever a lot. Where is he now?

Other particular friends of his and mine were Gilbert Mance, Clive Uridge (both fairly unusual names) and more ordinary souls like Geoff Jackson and Christopher Lucy. Anyone remember them?

Geoff Crowther is a name I seem to recall. He wrote here, also in April 2009: “I attended from 1961 to 1965, at which time we moved to Canada. I remember Hunt, but I had Bidmead (handy with the ruler) for Latin. … Masters I recall having are Coutts (Keats) for English, Sid Capper for French…”

Yes, you definitely sound like one of my contemporaries, Geoff — but you’re wrong about “Coutts”: that teacher’s name was Cocks. Sid Capper always had spittle at the corners of his mouth, and couldn’t control the class. The periods when he took us were always chaotic. Remember that?

A boy I particularly remember (and also associate with Simon Lever) is one who left on the dot of his 15th birthday — he couldn’t wait to get away and go to work for his father’s small publishing firm. His name was Patrick O’Connor, and he was a very peculiar, but stimulating, sort of person — tall, fattish (useless at games), and with a curiously grown-up, middle-aged manner. I really liked him, because he taught me about lots of things of which I knew nothing — old films, old music-hall artistes, and the arts generally. I kept in touch with him after he left, visiting his house in Richmond on a few occasions (at least once with Simon Lever in tow), and then, when I moved away from Surbiton, we remained pen-pals for a few years. The letters petered out when we were both in our early 20s, I suppose. I didn’t keep Patrick’s letters, but I wish now I had, because he subsequently became quite a well-known music critic for the press.

I was immensely saddened to learn just recently that Patrick died of a heart attack earlier this year:

He was a quite extraordinary person, utterly one of a kind, and he really ought to be counted among Surbiton County Grammar’s famous “alumni” — even though he left without taking any exams.

But enough for now!

David Pringle.

Dave Littleproud

June 27, 2010 at 7:57 pm

David! you may remember that 5th and 6th formers acted as table monitors to the 2nd forms . I remember being table monitor to 6 little boys two of whom were called Lucy and Finlayson-Lucy had dark hair -I can’t remember if he was called Chris –nice lads,

Dave Littleproud

June 27, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I had a very enjoyable coffee or two with Hugh Williams (6th form 1963-1965 A level art) yesterday -he is well looks prosperous and not too fat!!

David Pringle

June 27, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Dave L: Thanks for the glimpse of my pal Chris Lucy when he was a nice little lad. Yes, he had dark hair. He also had slightly rabbity teeth, but was a pretty boy nevertheless. (I can’t say I remember the name Finlayson, but he may have been another of our classmates.) When we got to be about 14 or 15, Chris Lucy was quite precocious with the girls. I remember him claiming to have lost his virginity when he was only 14. We didn’t know whether to believe him or not. (Simon Lever muttered something about “glorified masturbation” — Lord, the things which stick in one’s mind!) I do wish I knew what became of both Chris and Simon. I think I saw Chris Lucy just once in after-years, when I revisited Surbiton in my late teens; but I never saw Simon Lever again after the age of 16.

Steve Burry is another name I now remember. Geoff Jackson and Steve Burry were my “best friends” in the first couple of years I was at the school, 1961-1963. Afterwards I gravitated more towards people like Chris Lucy and the most unusual Patrick O’Connor. Geoff Jackson had an older brother also at the school — perhaps two years above us? Can’t remember his first name, but do you recall a Jackson who might have been in your year or the one below? This Jackson senior ended up as some sort of seriously-committed hippie living in a Welsh commune, I heard in later years…

David P.

Dave Littleproud

June 27, 2010 at 9:37 pm

David P-yes sounds like the same guy -he caught the 603 bus from the bottom of Cambridge Road by St Peter’s church. Well done Chris!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Well lads now you’ve done it,when you said that Chris Lucy had buck teeth and dark hair and definitely had a way with the ladies, I was not the one by the way,if he lived in Mill Street Kingston,he is the same one,and those teeth were definitely not good for kissing,I was probably only about twelve at the time, and can’t remember where I met him. If it is the same one I am very sorry to tell you that he was killed while riding pillion on his brothers motorcycle,and I have checked it on the G R O death records,he was seventeen. I do have very fond memories of him and I do hope he was telling the truth!

David Pringle

June 28, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Ros: Oh, dear. I’m sorry to hear that someone named Chris Lucy died at the age of 17 in a motorcycle accident, but I don’t think this can be the same Chris Lucy we’re talking about. Didn’t you say somewhere in the huge stack of posts above that you were in the year below Eric Clapton at Hollyfield school? Eric was born in 1945. “My” Chris Lucy would have been born the same year as me, 1950, and he was still alive at least as late as 1968 because we were still corresponding, occasionally, at the age of 18. I no longer have the letters, but I have a diary I kept in 1968 which mentions letters from Chris Lucy and how I spoke to him at least once on the phone. We drifted out of contact with each other after that.

By the way, my younger brother, Leslie Pringle, went to Hollyfield, and he has always claimed in after-years that he was “at the same school as Eric Clapton.” (Until 1966, when, as I’ve said, our family moved away from Surbiton.) But Leslie was born in 1952, and so must have been part of that school’s 1963 intake, by which time the great God Clapton was long gone.

David P.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I am very glad that it was not your Chris Lucy, David,but at the time it was a big shock ,these things hit you harder when you are young.
I was born in 1947,and Eric was two years above me, as the art group spent most of their time at 35 Ewell Road annexe,and most of them stayed on for a sixth year to do A level art we probably tended to mix more,and that is how the Yardbirds came about. I left at the end of the fifth year in 1963,I will have to ask my best friend Dot if Eric still came around for lunchtime jam sessions.
If you want to find your friend Chris try for the UK electoral rolls or White Pages for the USA, Australia and New Zealand are very good.

Dave Littleproud

June 28, 2010 at 8:28 pm

David and Ros ( great to hear from you! ) I wondered why Chris Lucy living in Mill Street caught the 603 at the junction of Cambridge Road and London Road-I remember him usually being with his Mum who I presumed was on her way to work -there was no sign of an older brother and Chris never mentioned one during lunchtime conversations- a nice kid– I’ll try to pick him out of the 1963 panorama.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I have just had a quick look at the B M D records and yours seems to be Christopher J. registered in the March quarter of 1950 in Surrey North, I found two marriages, although one could be a son with the same name,the first was in 1976 in Westminster, and the second in 1991 in Chichester,there were no deaths up until 2005. One wife was called Penelope and the other Atlanka,this may help with electoral rolls.Good luck!

Dave Littleproud

June 28, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Yup -in the 1963 panorama on the extreme right hand picture Chris is diagonally behind Scum’s right shoulder and diagonally in front of Mick Puggard-Moller’s right shoulder- Mick was sadly killed in a car crash about c1969-a good friend and a great artist.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Well Dave as I knew my Chris in1959/60 ,he could have moved!

Dave Littleproud

June 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Very good Ros ! One marriage in 1976 and a son with the same name marrying in 1991-bit close -could the name of the second marriage be Atlanta??

Dave Littleproud

June 28, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Did C and A have children after 1991?

David Pringle

June 28, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Ros: Many thanks for all your advice and help. Yes, Christopher J. Lucy sounds right, and a birth date in the first quarter of 1950 (like mine) sounds right too. So it seems as though he kept up his womanizing ways — a marriage in 1976, presumably followed by a divorce, and a second marriage in 1991. (I think 1991 would have been too early for that second marriage to have been his son’s — if he has a son. My son didn’t get married until 2005.)

David P.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Dave and David ,I have just had a look and your Chris seems to have been an only child.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 9:04 pm

David it looks as if he has three children from the first marriage and five from the second, wow I think I like him!

Dave Littleproud

June 28, 2010 at 9:04 pm

ros -my 8.53 and my 8.55??

Dave Littleproud

June 28, 2010 at 9:14 pm

after the papal productivity medal then? -think of all those sleepless nights and nappies!! and the school fees!!
Was wife no 2 Atlanta ?

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Dave it is definitely Atlanka on the index it will not allow me to view the original to compare,and the last child was born in 2001. Ask me another!!

Dave Littleproud

June 28, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Why by 2003 were C and Atlanta living at separate addresses?

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Yes Dave but think of all the fun in between, and perhaps they can afford a live in nanny!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 9:25 pm

What is this about separate addresses ,the first marriage was in Westminster and the second in Chichester.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Sorry ,yes wife number two was Atlanka.

Dave Littleproud

June 28, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Apologies- Let it go -I have let my genealogical curiosity run too far-as I said – a nice kid-I hope all is well for him

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 9:43 pm

By the way David P as he did not get married until he was twenty six ,he may have had a son before!

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm

I hope if David tracks him down,probably in Chichester,he will forgive us for all this Dave?

David Pringle

June 28, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Ros: Wow — eight kids! He seems to have been quite a breeder. Thanks again. I must see if I can contact him, maybe in Chichester.

David P.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 28, 2010 at 10:07 pm

It is Chichester registration district David so could be anywhere within that.

Dave L: This panorama photo you refer to … “Yup -in the 1963 panorama on the extreme right hand picture Chris is diagonally behind Scum’s right shoulder and diagonally in front of Mick Puggard-Moller’s right shoulder…” … I’m afraid I can’t seem to get your link from months ago to work. Is it possible you could send me that photo direct? If Chris Lucy is on there, then I’m sure I’m on there too, and probably all our contemporaries. It would be most interesting to see, and I’d be grateful. My email

David P.

Hi David … I was at SCGS from 1956-1963. The extra year was because I was a young ‘recruit’, being a May birthday and they put me into the express stream for some unknown reason as I only just scraped through the eleven plus on the re-sit. Still, someone had to be at the bottom group in the class I guess!

I ended up doing the 5-year O level course in 4, so when I finished my A-levels in 1962 I was only 17 and too young for university under the then rules of the game (great forward planning eh!) Spent the third 6th form year mostly goofing around.

Been following this ‘blog’ for a while, occasionally contributing.

Reason for e-mailing directly is re the school photos etc.

How do I link to these to download them?

Malcolm Penn

PS …compared with the recent interchange re David; I fell quite inadequate. Only have five kids and three wives … way to go eh?

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 29, 2010 at 10:09 am

David P, I have left a message for you on Friends Reunited,I use my husbands name!

Ros: Thanks, but I’m not actually on Friends Reunited! Maybe I’ll join, though. I joined Facebook just a week or so ago — which is how I ended up here, surprisingly enough. When I fed “Surbiton County Grammar School” into the search facility at Facebook, it pointed me to the Wikipedia entry on the school (highly inaccurate), and to this blog — so I came here and found all these fascinating reminiscences.

Does anybody else here have a presence on Facebook?

David P.

Ros Theobald nee Burkin

June 29, 2010 at 11:25 am

David P,unless there is another David Pringle who moved from Scotland in 1961 and went to SCGS,you are on there!It should come up in your mail list anyway.
I have been thinking about all these marriages you boys have had, are you looking for miss perfect,because I can assure you,like mr perfect,she doesn’t exist!

Dave L: Many thanks for e-mailing me direct the relevant portion of that school panorama photo. Ah, yes, it evokes such memories!

You said: “Yup -in the 1963 panorama on the extreme right hand picture Chris is diagonally behind Scum’s right shoulder and diagonally in front of Mick Puggard-Moller’s right shoulder- Mick was sadly killed in a car crash about c1969-a good friend and a great artist.”

I’m afraid I don’t remember the name Puggard-Moller (and it’s surely a name to remember). Was he in your year at the school? Not mine, I think. Anyway, yes, I see Chris Lucy — not a very good photo of him, as it happens. So, is the master in the row in front of him, and a bit to his left, the one you call Scum (of whom I have no recollection)? And the teacher directly on Scum’s left — is that the martinet Gus Hillier? He looks a bit fierce. If so, see the boy directly in front of Hillier, with brushed-back, apparently Brylcreemed hair? That’s my friend Geoff Jackson. And see the boy directly behind and above Hillier? That, I think, is Steve Burry, who palled around with Geoff Jackson and me in our first couple of years at the school. Take a diagonal five rows back from Steve Burry, to the topmost row, and you see an older boy with glasses who also has brushed-back hair. I think that may well be Geoff Jackson’s older brother — certainly, he looks a bit like Geoff, though I’m only guessing here…

David P.

David Pringle

June 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm


I am indeed the David Pringle who moved from Scotland to Surrey in 1961 (but I’m back in Scotland now).

Yes, I was briefly active on Friends Reunited eight years ago, in 2002. Evidently they’ve kept my information stored — which I suppose is what all these social-networking websites do. I never fully joined, though, or paid them any money as I recall. Maybe I ought to go back there…

Anyway, some brief autobiography for you: I was born in Scotland in 1950. My family moved to Surrey in January 1961. We lived at 14 Orchard Gardens, Chessington. My brother Leslie (born 1952) and I attended Hook St Pauls primary school — in my case, only for two terms, because I then entered Surbiton County Grammar in September ’61. As I’ve told you, Leslie went to Hollyfield, probably starting there in 1963. We moved from Chessington to 75 King Charles Road some time in 1964 — so, very close indeed to where the school then was.

In the summer of 1966 my father (a Scotsman on the make) got a new job, so we were off again — to Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham, where I attended Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School until 1968. So my memories of Surbiton are somewhat overlaid with memories of Bishop Vesey’s (which was a very similar grammar school at the time). Things do blur…

David P.

I’ve dug out from the attic the two copies of the Surbitonian that I still possess — the issues for 1965 and 1966. I kept them because they both contain pieces by me. In the second of those, my article “A Christmas Journey, 1965″ is about the cruise to the Holy Land some of us undertook aboard the SS Nevasa. What a pretentious piece it is, though — short on hard facts, and long on vague impressions. It’s signed “D. W. Pringle, V.A.” More interesting to me now is the piece which immediately follows — “Valete” by K. Bidmead. He writes about the three veteran masters who retired in 1965, Messrs Forward, Hayward and Dyer. (A. J. Doig, the headmaster since 1952, retired at the same time, but there’s a separate tribute to him, not by Ken Bidmead.) Old Ken’s piece gives us a precise date for when it all began:

” ‘Bert’ Forward was one of the four young assistant masters who met the first intake of the school, 69 boys, on 16th September, 1925.”

He also reminds us that the school’s motto was Animo et Fide Pergite — with courage and faith press on. I’d forgotten that.

When did the school “end”? 1973, was it, when it became Esher 6th Form College? So, it had rather less than 50 years’ life in total. Sic transit gloria mundi (as Ken Bidmead might well have said). History trundles on.

David P.

Iwas at SCGS 1952-1959; I remember Colin Munday as the year below me, with Ian Colins and Cliff Pottter. I joined the last year of Willis’ headship, and then had to put up with Doig til I left, after a 23rd year in the 6th ( I took ALs at 17 so too young to go straight to University). Frank Nowell went on to become a lecturuer at the University of Reading, a parasitologist. I ended up spending 40 years teaching zoology at Manchester. My main memeories among the teaching staff are of Mo Morris, who sadly died rather young . He commuted from Fetcham near Leatherhead on a little pop-pop, which he also test drove round the biology lab. after decoking. I can also remember trying to race Jock Longsdale up St Mark’s Hill – he had a motor-assisited bicycle; but he was also an excellent French teacher. I could never afford his trips to Montreux, but I did, between LVI and UVI, cycle round northern France, plane-spotting, and used my best school-boy French to buy pastries. Taffy Davis taught Chemistry, not Biology. He claimed to have served on ground staff with 617 Squ, and to have known, distantly, Guy Gibson. Adrian Bolt is still with us, in Cumbria I think; there is a Braemar web-site somewhere, but I don’t (usuaally) spend time on this sort of thing, so haven’t found it.

Hi Derek,

I am sure I remember you, but was junior to you by a couple of years. A couple of points from your letter however:

I think you are being just a tiny bit modest about your 40 years teaching Biology at Manchester. I just Googled you and I see that, apart from having Wikipedia page devoted to your achievements, you must be the only Old Surb to have an Ethiopian Tree Frog and an unspecified Ethiopian Rodent named in your honour. Bet no-one from Tiffins or Kingston Grammar ever achieved that. I am seriously impressed.

23 years in the 6th form must be some sort of record!!!

Wasn’t Bolt’s name Alan?

SCGS 1958 to 65
Been following this for a while, but only now inspired to join in by Derek Yalden’s contribution. Despite only being a weedy second former when DY was a prefect I remember him well – not only for Natural History Society expeditions to Black Ponds and West End Common but also for a particularly accurate clip round the ear for a short-cut across the grass, or some such transgression.
I’m only in touch with one other of the 1958 intake – Stan Becker – (my brother in law).
Anyone know whereabouts of Peter Howes?
Keep up the reminiscences – I cringe at the memories of Dr. Turner and smile at memories of Keats……………………….


Richard Cripps

July 14, 2010 at 2:43 pm

How about that! Stanley Becker was one of the 1958 intake from Park Road Junior School in East Molesey, together with Peter Goodenough, Chris Metcalfe, Peter Spurgeon and myself. I have to admit that I can’t put a face to your name but I do remember Stanley, he lived by the watersplash in Summer Road.

SCGS 1954-1960 (Express form jumped 1 year)
Hi Derek, I remember you as one of the more acceptable prefects a couple of years ahead of me at SCGS. Although we never crossed swords at SCGS I did get to meet you in the summer of 1959 when we both took summer holiday jobs on Poupart’s farm in Hersham to finance our respective continental holidays. We weeded seemingly endless rows of onions for 1/10d per hour while reminiscing over life at SCGS. That year I rode pillion to Venice and Rimini with my elder brother Mike who you may remember from primary school days. My memories of Mo Morris may be somewhat different than yours but also shaped my future. As a third former I was carefully negotiating the darkened corridor which led from the rear entrance to Albury House against the crowded flow of oncoming classes when two hands descended on my shoulders from the rear and I was propelled forward at high speed, being used as a battering ram. I was eventually released outside the biology lab and turned round to clock the offending B, only to find myself confronted by the red , ginger moustached face of Mo Morris. I thought Mo was going to explode- Boy what a temper. We both decided unconsciously, there and then, that Biology was not for me. For the interested I later qualified as a Radar Design engineer. Thank goodness Mo did not teach Maths and Physics,

Dave Littleproud

July 14, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Hi Peter!-glad you are still with us.
yes Alan Bolt was recently hale and hearty in Cumbria.

As promised, information from Mike Aust re:get together…
“Our next get-together for a pint and chat will be on Saturday 4th September, at the usual venue, the Victoria pub in Surbiton, say from about 8 p.m. on. I have selected this date for purely selfish reasons, viz. I have to be in London the previous day to attend a ceremony at the Institution of Civil Engineers in Westminster where my eldest daughter is being presented with her certificates as a MICE and a C.Eng , so it’ll save me two trips ‘down south’ from rural Shropshire. Therefore all requests for alternative dates will be passed through the normal channels before being rejected!
I will again be contacting Bas Hunt in the hope that a sprinking of ex-SCGS teachers will be able to join us.
Look forward to seeing as many of you as possible”

Dave Littleproud

July 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Chris – you must be very proud! Well done Miss Leaney!

Well hello fellow Old Surbs! I did find this site some years ago but few of my fellow pupils had then taken up the challenge. My term of endurance was Sep 1952 – Dec 1957. AG Willis was the head until Christmas 1952, after which we had to endure the ministrations of the disasterous Doig. However I do look back on my 5+ years at SCGS quite fondly and, despite the efforts of a few of the masters, consider I had a very good education; especially by today’s standards.

Gaffer, you old so & so, how on earth did they ever let you into USA. Good to see Ray Cawthorne’s name again. I’m still in fairly regular contact with Derek Yalden & Alan Church (whose older brother, Murray has posted here) and have only recently lost touch with Cliff Potter, who was my best man and I his. Must re-establish that contact.
I am living in Wiltshire, next door to an Old Surbitonian, who will be 93 in a couple of weeks. His name is Harry Broadbridge and he was at the school in the 1930s, a couple of years senior to Alan Boult. Strangely Alan was my first form master (2C in the smallest form room in the school). Last heard, Alan was well, living in the Lake District and had not long retired as MFH of his local hunt. If I remember correctly the form list was: Cawthorne, R. (Chuff), Collins, I., Dillow. I., Donne Davis, P., Eggleston, L (Humpty). Froude, J., Gill, R., Harrington, P. (Harrry), Herbert, G.(Polly), Highley, S., Inwood, L. Layzell, A., Munday, C.(Gaffer), Pickering, P., Potter, C., Poulton,?(Granny), Rumsey, C., Smith, G., Sutton, M., Vimpany, J., Wicker, A. (Twick), Woollard, P.
Who can forget Pete Harrington’s immortal lyrics addressed to Len Eggleston:

Ha, ha, ha!
Hee, hee, hee!
Humpty’s nest in a rhubarb tree!

I don’t quite remember Len’s reaction but even with his usual mild character, I suspect it was fairly violent.

I’m sure that there were 23 in the class so I must have forgotten someone. Sorry whoever you are. If anyone remembers, I‘d like to know.
Apart from Cliff, the only one I have bumped into in the intervening years is Tony Wicker, who was working in Basingstoke some 30 odd years ago.
A lot of the names above are quite familiar. It was good to see that Colin remembered ‘Fanny’ Price, who sadly took his own life whilst depressed. It was his sad demise that was the trigger for the formation of “The Braemar Club”, mentioned earlier by Ray Cawthorne.
Quite a lot of my year, were at junior school (St. Paul’s, Hook) with my wife of some 48 years, Pat Nash. I don’t suppose ‘Tig’ Herridge remembers being floored by her. She also remembers Fanny, Michael Herbert & Alan Howells as well as Dave Wade, who also lived in Somerset Avenue close to Pat. The youngsters of that road used to “invade” our school field in the evenings, week-ends & holidays.

I notice that most remember Maurice (MMC) Cocks, better known as Keats for his frequent quoting of same. I learned some time ago that he also took his own life.
I had some contact with Eric Waller, Doig’s successor, in the mid 80s, after I found out that the Marjorie Waller who I saw at a conference every year, was his wife. Then retired as principal of Esher College, he was still meeting Ted Hillier & Geoff Harris Ide for a weekly pint. A couple of years later he passed on and the following year Marjorie told me that Ted had gone as well. For all his terrorising of the lower school, I found him very amusing when he was my form master in the 5th. I also knew him as an ACF instructor a few years after leaving school and he was a totally different character, even if as sardonic. Alan Church could verify this as well.

I wonder how many of the following party remember my organisation of the trips to the Coventry Air Pageant & King’s Cup Air Races 1956 & 7. I found the list for 1957: Church, Healey, Hutchinson, Munday, Piggott, Sutton, Yalden plus a couple of non-school types. It cost you lucky lads a whopping £1/0/6½d(£1.0271) for your return from Wimbledon to Coventry! Plane spotting was quite the thing then and I’m still a member of Air Britain.

It’s quite funny to see the different views and opinions of various masters but perhaps that topic can hold over for another day. Hope I haven’t libelled anyone and would be pleased to hear from any of you. By the way, Dave Littleproud, Tony Wicker & I were also ex Latchmere Road! The only ones of our year to go to Surbiton!

Dave Littleproud

July 25, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Ian -hi-if you went to Latchmere where did you live – I was in Cross Road near the barracks. Very sorry to hear about Keats -upon reflection -a nice man. I recognise many of the names you mention.
General call — any one know what happened to John Oborn, I guess 1950 -1958 . Decent bloke who ran the Christian Union and read great stories at his lunchtime meetings.

Hi Dave

Lived (& was born) in Wolsey Drive on the Tudor Estate. Left in Oct 1956 and went to live in Worcester Park. Was at Latchmere from 1946-1952. We got thrown out of the Scout Hut on the corner of Tudor Drive & Park Road, where Form 4 was situated, at Easter. So I and some others were shipped out to Richmond Road School for the Summer Term before going to Surbiton.

Dave Littleproud

July 26, 2010 at 9:26 am

Ian-Scout hut is still there and is HQ for 1st Kingston Hill Scouts. I remember Mr Branson telling us about when he was there with Form 4-how during the snow the whole class ganged up on him. I seemed to spend 2 years writing out tables because I kept getting on his wrong side-then I finished up in his class! He kept a piece of wood called the “home rule” which was applied to my backside on a number of occasions-once when trying to stop him coming into the classroom.
From Latchmere I remember Mr Pearson,Miss Audric,Mr Edmonds, Mr Price, Miss Madley ,Mrs Alexander.
Miss Stanbridge was Infants head-with her assistant Miss Crow-teachers were Miss Ridout,Miss Mayall, Miss Farhall, Miss Evans-caretaker was Mr Bushnell.

Dave – I am amazed that the Scout Hut is still there…Must have been rebuilt. It always gave the impression that it was near its life end when we were there. I was a 1st Kingston Hill Cub and the Canbury Residents Association used to hold social evenings there.
The snowballing incident was in the winter of ’51-2; I was part of it. Branson was undoubtedly the best teacher in the school. Pearson, the headmaster, was strict but very fair and quite kind. The school secretaries were the Misses Crowe; the elder sister for the juniors and the younger for the infants (she was very manly, all brogues and tweeds and a baritone voice). Other teachers in the juniors – Miss Bayliss, Miss Simon, Miss Wills & Mrs Pearson who was not connected to the HM.
In the Infants I remember Miss Mayall very well. She had what would now be called the reception class and always wore a floral overall and carried a long bamboo pointer. She also lived in Wolsey Drive as did Mrs Pearson. I remember Mr Price well. He specialized in Geography and his daughter, Elaine (a very pretty girl) was a classmate of mine. We only had Mr. Edmonds for handicraft; not a strong point for me. Miss Bayliss had Form 1A which became 1 when the three streams were renamed. Apparently the C stream was considered too demeaning. Miss Simon had Form 2. She was a little white haired lady who, I think hailed, from Germany or somewhere in c. Europe and had quite a pronounced accent. She read us ‘Emil & the Detectives’. Miss Wills had Form 3; a senior lady, very proper and well spoken. She was strict but also extremely kind; a first rate teacher. Miss Evans came to the school when I was in Form 3. She initially mostly taught Art. She must have transferred to the infants after I left. The infant teachers, other than Miss Mayall, when I was there were Miss Peppard year two and Miss Foster year 3. There was also Mrs Aldridge, I think but I never was in her class and can’t think how she fitted in to the organisation.
Back in the juniors, Miss Audrich held the music sway. If you showed any musical talent you were ordered to report to her house (a rather large one in Upper King’s Road) where you were ushered into the studio, for extra practice! Wouldn’t be allowed these days.
Oh well mustn’t turn this into a Latchmere blog but I must say that the lad I sat next to on my first day at school, in Miss Mayall’s class – Chris Wightman – is still a friend with whom I am back in touch after losing touch for about twenty years. Oh and there is a Latchmere website, by the way.


Dave Littleproud

July 26, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Thanks Ian-did Miss Aldridge affect a hair style with earphone like buns on each ear? If you look at my class of ’56 list you will see there are 8 from Latchmere-you are right -it’s an SCGS blog.

email me at idcollins at

put the usual @ in for the ‘at’

We can continue the Latchmere thread there.


Gradually working my way through all the back blog.

Good to see some other namrs I recognise – Pat Morris, who I bump into from time to time. I know he and Derek Yalden are still very much in touch.

Trev Birmingham who I knew quite well at the time although he was a couple of years my junior.

Do any of the older contributors remember Ron Cuthew who my have been some 5-6 years my senior. He was a neighbour of mine but had left before I joined in Sep 52.
Also Alan Paine who was at least one year ahead of me. His twin brother Ken went to Tiffin. I knew both of them from my years in the choir of St. Andrew’s, Ham Common.
Has anyone any knowledge of Dave Lacey? He was in my year and I first met him when I was moved out of primary school (lack of accommodation) to Richmond Road School for the Summer term before going to Surbiton.
Dave & I used to go to Air Britain meetings at Caxton Hall, St. James’s once a month. must have been in the Winters of 56-7 & 57-8.

Hope something turns up


Here’s something different. Anyone thinking of a holiday ‘away from it all’ might appreciate this (otherwise it could be somewhat tedious)
Haida Gwaii apparently rated #1 in the world by National Geographic – I concur. This was a letter I sent to my sister and others.

Greetings from Haida Gwaii! (formerly The Queen Charlotte Islands)

One opportunity to write, so here goes. Will send on return.

This trip is the experience of a lifetime. We are anchored in a bay on South Moresby.
It’s a privilege indeed to find oneself in such a place.

My role is slightly more than I expected… I was forewarned when the ‘captain’s’ wife observed what I was doing with “oh good, we’ve got another sailor on board”!  We are five in a fifty foot ketch, old acquaintances. The other two are interesting, Serge ran ops. for Nestle in different parts of the world. Fred is an environmentalist.  I am almost the youngest, the fittest and probably strongest, not where I am accustomed to finding myself on a boat. Such responsibility, can I take it…

Mexico in March was fine, we were in an all inclusive hotel, unlimited booze, etc. We stayed in another Riu in Jamaica last year. This year was a ‘Riu Palace’, grossly opulent, architecturally absurd, but if you can get bookings in the exclusive boutique restaurants – palatial indeed.  Ann-Marie got us reservations most nights, Irish charm no doubt, also we seemed to have payed far less than others for prime rooms. Made the usual contacts one swears to keep in touch with and doesn’t (with some exceptions).

Montreal and New York later was a different slice of life. Sean is now back home from McGill, hair to his middle back, unique and puzzling but accepted amongst his peers. Both boys actively engaged for the summer, movie making related, but I see no income. Where did I go wrong?  Garden may be a disaster this summer, construction next door. Demo has probably started. Mustn’t think about it.
(ed. note:  disaster it is)

Captain requires me topside, look forward to hearing from you.

Here are some (rambling and unfinished) notes on the trip. Read only if desperate!

If you are interested, some of the video is spectacular.


Arrived at Bella Bella by Pacific Coastal.

This has to be the most unspoiled place on the planet,  no one else here at all. There is of course a downside. Satellite ‘phone reception is tricky, and no fresh milk or fresh anything from now on. Just fish -if we are lucky.

We are anchored outside Kent inlet, on the mainland, outside because inside, for the first time,  we were invaded by horseflies (actually deer flies but they don’t discriminate, humans will do. None here – except this one…) Wind is increasing to 20kts.

Last night was spent in Caamano Inlet, a peaceful place, two waterfalls, one reversing with the tide, never seen that before. I kayaked over and had my first real wash in a days, then swam across and braved the barnacles, to lie in the very hot sun on the rocks.

The first day after arrival I recorded the complete story of Potlatch from a young Haida I happened to have met earlier on the plane. This was done in a ‘Long-house’,
vast and inspiring.

Tonight, or more likely tomorrow,  we cross the dreaded Hecate Strait for Haida Gwaii, previously the Queen Charlotte Islands. Lunch was a great success, as are all meals, not surprising under such intense organization. No fish to date,  but tonight we have quite a choice for dinner as the freezer doesn’t seem to be functioning properly.

Decision made, we cross tonight, the wind has risen to 22 knots’.

To think we are crossing just like Captains Cook and Vancouver did. Radar bleeps traffic twenty miles ahead. Computer shows a rock at three o’clock to port, not marked. I have a thing like a TV remote in my hand that sends the boat to port or starboard with a click. Sorry old captains, I don’t do you justice….


All have gone ashore, amazingly one other boat appeared, US flag. I was going to kayak over and welcome them on behalf of her majesty, but they are clearly weighing anchor, hence  time for writing.

10th. We ‘ate out’ at  Rose Harbour. A back to nature group of fourteen dwellings on the only privately owned few acres in the National Park of Haida Gwaii. Not exactly fast food – Susan and Christine cooked what turned out to be expensive but very good – a crab based lasagna, all vegies home grown. Gust, from next door entertained us with both original and medley guitar numbers. Unique combo of Segovia, Pentangle and seventies rock, concert hall standard. A trip back to the sixties. Video tells the story better.

Unusually frequent opportunities to sail not motor, rail in the water, great filming from the foredeck. Occasional whale siting (distant), seals, I missed the sea lions (ed. note, better ones later), puffins were a bit shy, few eagles as the salmon not yet running. Ravens galore.

14th. Yesterday we sailed to Burnaby Strait, where we have been buoyed overnight, calm. Long Kayak trips. Coast Guard checked us out, we complied.  Neighbours just informed me the C.G. are doing an underwater survey here today. Imagine, we have neighbours!

Fishing going on up there, very successful, guess what’s for dinner?
Here comes a thoughtful cup of tea. Too bad the regular has run out and this is scented – can’t win them all. Kayaked and met the ‘Island Roamer’ a large luxury yacht this morning. Had a delightful cup of real tea.

16th. Just three more nights on board. Yesterday we were at Hot Springs Island, met by David, an elder called Kathleen who was making a traditional hat of great complexity, and a teen called Raven, in every way traditional native save for the braces on her teeth.

One more Indian village, Max and Aretha (she Haida) best yet info on the culture.
There’s more to totem poles than one imagined. Saw Bill Reid’s grave.

What an afternoon, I have just spent two and a half hours reading the whole blog. What memories as somebody else said it is now 43 years ago that I moved on from SCGS. Many names came back to me, especially three bloggers namely Ken Percival, Chris Leaney and Colin Fleming. Perhaps I should have hidden behind my initials “RCH”. Good spot to out “CLF” although I had spotted his name as missing from the list. Some how the dim distant memory always packaged Colin with Dick(Naylor).

Two things struck me, firstly just how many masters there were and how easy it is to associate names with houses. Colin was Egmont, Dick:Lovelace, Ken:Coutts and I am not so sure about Chris, was it Egmont again? I am not going to write forever (I will write again once the memories return) but a few updates for Colin, it was Nigel Ralph, Mick Douthwaite (so sad to hear he has past, I do remember the “Douthwaite Roll” straight over the handlebars as he cornered from the Portsmouth Road into what I later learned was Thorkhill Road((I lived there 76-83)). It was Graham Cuffley and Martin Redstone. Ken to my eternal embarrassment I remember “borrowing” your bike and riding it into the back platform of a 265 bus in Hook Road. Finally today, Chris I have a vague memory of you heading off to work, as you left school, in a path lab or something similar.
Keeping blogging and thanks for the memories.
RC (Arsy)Harris (Villiers) nowadays a more reasonable Bob.

Well, Bob Harris….. seems like only?… err 40 years ago! Yes it was a Path Lab and after letting me out for good behaviour a few years back I’ve been recruited to commission a new IT system covring most of the labs in West London – no peace for the wicked! The only person that I’ve kept up any contact with is Tony Dallimore who is now based in Wellingborough. I was involved in a band with Mike ‘George’ Packwood until he died in 2002 – quite successful at the time (20 years of regular pub and club work so not at all to be sneezed at!). Now spending my time between NZ and UK chasing the sun and trying not to grow old gracefully!
If you are still in the Surbiton area (or within travelling distance thereof) there will be a meeting of old lags in the Victoria in Victoria Road at 8pm on 4th Sept where Bas Hunt, Joe Turner and several other old members of the teaching staff will be joining us for a glass of foaming, nut-brown tonsil bath. ALL WELCOME……

Can anyone give me contact details for Alan Bolt please? Email/address/phone.
Thanks Paul (SCGS 1959-62)

Dave Littleproud

August 23, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Paul H: I am a bit loath to publish my address etc on the net –likewise Alan Bolt’s details — however if you send me your details via friends reunited I will forward you what details I have. Cheers -Dave

Dave Littleproud

August 23, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Bob H! My creaky grey cells are telling me that I and Len Neldrett were table prefects to messrs Chris Lucy, ??Finlayson and Cuffley.

Bernard Robertson Dunn

August 25, 2010 at 6:21 am

I had a chequered career at SCGS: 1957-1965.

My family moved back to the UK from Singapore in 1956 and I went to Grand Avenue primary. Mrs White was a grey haired old lady who managed to coax me through the eleven plus – it required a “second chance” go at the tests but she somehow got me through. I lived in Berrylands and SCGS was my local Grammar school. I think my parents would have preferred Tiffins, but I had no regrets

I have distinct and clear memories of my first term. Bushing did happen, but not to me.

I was in Villiers and the intake was split into houses for the first term. One of the names I remember was Marcus Plantin who went on to fame in TV land

Another was Michael Basman, who made a name for himself at school by selling enormous amounts of UNICEF cards at Christmas. Michael went on to do big things at chess

After the first term we were divided into four classes according to ability. I ended up in 2D and dropped Latin in favour of technical drawing (taught by Mr Turner). I somehow got my act together in the fourth form and was put up a class to 4C.

Technical drawing proved much more useful as I ended up at university (after repeating a year in sixth form) doing Electrical Engineering and getting a PhD in Control Engineering at Sheffield.

The year I left to go to university, 1965, A.J. Doig retired and the school moved to Thames Ditton. I was very sad to see the school disappear because it was as though my past had also gone.

Looking back, the school had amazing traditions. Teachers in gowns; houses competing in various ways, not just sport; a canteen for lunch (two sittings per day); rugby, which I played until I was about 15 and then took up swimming; the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which included a five day hike in the Brecon Beacons, shadowed by Fernyhough and Cadogan (I still can’t get used to them having first names)

I now feel as though I got a real education at SCGS. There was a degree of freedom combined with quality teaching.

I moved to Australia in 1972 and this is the first trace of SCGS I have come across on the Internet. The memories it has brought back are well worth re-living.

A last note. I was known as Dunn while at the school. At university I joined my middle and last name and am now known as Bernard Robertson-Dunn.

Ground Control to Major Tom…………Anyone out there?

if you’d watched independence day you would keep quiet -those earthlíngs are rough stuff!!
funny i had a squadonn commander called major tom so radio procedure did sometimes get a bit frivolous
good to hear from you pete

Hi Dave,

I have this image of you lurking behind your laptop, waiting to pounce!

Personally I check out the site daily and I get very frustrated at these long periods of silence.

Lets start a new line of thought…. Does anyone out there remember a teach called Clegg? Probably around in 1957 -9. Looked about 50. Broad girth and even broader Yorkshire accent. Can’t remember what subjects he taught, but he did fancy himself as a rugby coach, and a leading authority on most subjects.

Hi Peter,

‘Clegg that’s C L E G G’ is a phrase that always comes to mind whenever I hear of anyone by that name. The deputy PM is about doing my head in at the moment.

Our man at SCGS must have lasted into the 60s (I was around 60-67) and all I can remember is his rugby coaching down at Hook and him pacing around menacingly during assemblies. I guess he must have had a teaching role – possibly on the arts side and that’s why I never saw much of him.


Clegg as in “my name’s Clegg —C-L-E-G-G –There’s three ways of doing a thing -the right way — the wrong way and my way and everything will be done my way” Apparently the first and most pleasant things he ever said He taught English (with that accent???!!) Well observed Pete – he also had a broad vertical forehead.
for some strange reason these posts appear on my email so I don’t have to pounce –I’m being pounced on!

Great. Even as I read the “3 ways of doing things” I got an instant picture of the guy.

On one famous occasion however I did see someone get the better of him.

For some reason we went to Bushey Park to play against a team of kids from the US base there. (Remember it was pretty unusual for Yanks to be playing Rugby Football).

Clegg was the ref. At one point in the chaotic game he blew his whistle to caution an American player for a foul.

The kid protested violently at being penalised (in itself a recipe for disaster)

Clegg stood to his full height and said: ” Boy – I’ve been refereeing the game for 30 years, so I know what I am doing”

The brave young guy just stared him out and relplied: ” 30 years Mac, then I guess its about time you thought of quitting”

Our Clegg was once speechless. Seem to remember they went on to thrash us.

Peter-are we vaguely in the same time zone -it’s 19.02 pm here now!!!!
Loved your last !!

Peter-are we vaguely in the same time zone -it’s 20.12 pm here now!!!!
Loved your last !!

Apart from “the three ways of doing things…….” Mr Clegg would also point out, on his initial introduction, that a “clegg” is a word for a blood-sucking horse-fly. No one dared even a little snigger!

Dave – Dubai time 3 hours ahead of BST, though sometimes it feels like its 50 years behind.

Hmmmm!! so a quick beer or brekky looks a bit “Dubias”
–sorry couldn’t resist it!

Peter. Yes, I remember that game, we cobbled together a scratch team of leftovers who couldnt make it into one of the four (from memory) existing teams. I don’t remember that particular Clegg incident, but I do remember them constantly jumping over us as we attempted to tackle them. And yes, we were soundly thrashed. I presume the American base moved out many years ago, can someone confirm?

One again the name of Clegg has surfaced. I remember him well, and as I mentioned in a previous post I don’t have any bad recollections of him, I found him generally amusing. He taught English, and possibly the reason that I found him acceptable was that he replaced “Polly” Parrot for whom I have no warm feelings whatsoever. Most of the other bêtes-noir that have been chewed over in this blog had at least a measure of entertainment value that has kept their memory alive, but this did not apply to Mr Parrot. Fortunately I had to tolerate him for only two terms before he abruptly departed for a position in, if I remember correctly, Mauritius.

Yes -it was Mauritius. Not sure how we got the news but I remember some time after he left, we heard that he had secured an interesting and appropriate part-time job as the Mystery Voice on the Radio Mauritius version of Twenty Questions…..

Great to see some memories of the school – Dave Roberts was indeed in Coutts with me – you have a good memory for the names Dave and glad you remembered mine. I bumped into Will Hartje on holiday many years ago – he was a few years ahead of us – but we discovered that we had both been to Esher Grammar. I also met a teacher back in the nineties who taught at Esher College and said Baz Hunt was still there. Amazing really.

I still remember quite a lot about my times there – I remember meeting someone who knew Simon Lydbury and apparently he died falling over in his kitchen and hit his head. He was an auditor at Kingston Council at that time I gather.

Anyway – good to see this site and I will follow it and read up when I have more time – but I was glad to see it and had to post something. Good memory Dave – I am impressed!

Dave Roberts remembers his collarbone being broken – I remember that clearly and Nobby Hall doing first aid. Put me off rugby for a bit !

I seem to remember a sports teacher, old guy, we called Fritz I think. And another older teacher who retired while we were there – ‘Rob’ it was I think who used to ask him halfway through the lesson if we could have a rest and he always agreed. The physics teacher was “Bunny” Warren – his “bem pardon” still makes me laugh. English teachers – Mr Ashdown a really lovely guy. A mad American who we had for about a year – what was his name? A Mr. Bolt who was more like a country squire with his tweeds. Mr Hackett – better known as BC for reasons best kept out of print. “Deputy” Doig the history teacher (and my 6th form tutor) – ” a knock at the door and you were never seen again” that was one of his catchphrases. Crouching Johnny who admitted in class that he was a virgin and got away with it without any mickey taking. I can picture the Brit Con teacher with the moustache and “basically” every sentence. Lurch – I had forgotten him!

Queuing at break for the tuck shop – heaven was having 2 packets of potato puffs, one in each pocket, to last you through to lunchtime. And I remember playing football all the time – Lev or Stan would bring the ball, sometime Shorty. I remember my one and only fight at school – with Terry Graves. I couldn’t back down and though I lost after quite a tussle there was a bit more respect for me after that – I was a bit of a mouthy so and so and probably deserved it. Bog bag, remember him, Simon Spinks too (worked in Manchester I think for a while), Budden in Spinx Rock Band, Rog Arthurs, John Humm – I will try and remember more and post them.

SCGS 1962 – 69
Greetings! At last – both the time AND the inclination to plough through three+ years-worth. Here are a couple of indexes/indices of contributors, both by name and by era, which may (or may not) be helpful. It is likely to be Egg-Sucking for Grannies but searching for a name in “Find” on your browser will bring up all mentions of that person’s name in the blog. I have skipped all those clearly not ex-SCGS (except Ros, who I believe qualifies as an Honorary Visitor), and have only listed actual contributors in case other names are inaccurate. Please feel free to correct any anomalies.

Attree Colin 1965 – 69
Avis Peter 1942 – 47
Breeze Paul 1957 – 64
Brightwell Colin ?
Brill Mick ?
Burns Richard (George) 1954 – 61
Cadogan Alan 1957 – 61
Cawthorne Ray 1953 – 60
Church Murray 1945 – 53
Collins Ian 1952 – 57
Cooke Graham 1964 – 71
Cooper David ?
Cripps Richard 1958 – 65
Crowther Geoff 1961 – 65
Curtis John 1967 – 68
Davies Ivor (Fritz) 1942 – 46
Davies John 1958 – 65
Davis Kevin ?
Day Richard 1954 – 61
Farquharson Taylor Iain 1949 – 54
Fleming Colin 1960 – 1966/7
Follett Graham 1957 – 63
Foster Peter 1954 – 60
Goodyear David 1954 – 61
Gover Roy
Hall David E ?
Harding Paul 1959 – 62
Harris Bob RC 1960 – 67
Harrison Cliff 1954 – 62
Hartje Will 1962 – 69
Hendy Robin 1956 – 62
Hewson Baz ?
Husband Roger 1956 – 60
Jenks Peter 1964 – 70
Lay Brian 1949 – 55
Leadbitter Paul 1967 – 74
Leaney Chris 1960-67
Littleproud Dave 1956 – 64
Mann Peter 1964 – 68 (63 starter)
Munday Colin 1952 – 59.
Nunn Clive 1953 – 58
Penn Malcolm 1955 – 62
Percival Ken 1960 – 67
Piggott Keith 1953 – 60
Pocock Peter 1953 – 61
Pringle David 1961 – 66
Range Paul 1952 – 57
Rhoades Martin 1951 – 55
Rimmer Roger (Zip) 1955 – 62
Rippingale Chris 1962 – 69
Roberts Dave 1966 -72
Robertson Dunn Bernard 1957 – 65
Shepherd Gary 1966 – 72
Stevens Paul 1963 – 66
Stickland Chris 1955 – 62
Taylor Roger 1955 – 62.
Thacker Les 1951 – 57
Theobald nee Burkin Ros (hon vis)
Walters John 1945 – 50
Watling Keith 1965 – 72
Yalden Derek 1952 – 59

1942 – 46 Davies Ivor (Fritz)
1942 – 47 Avis Peter
1945 – 50 Walters John
1945 – 53 Church Murray
1949 – 54 Farquharson Taylor Iain
1949 – 55 Lay Brian
1951 – 55 Rhoades Martin
1951 – 57 Thacker Les
1952 – 57 Collins Ian
1952 – 57 Range Paul
1952 – 59 Munday Colin
1952 – 59 Yalden Derek
1953 – 58 Nunn Clive
1953 – 60 Cawthorne Ray
1953 – 60 Piggott Keith
1953 – 61 Pocock Peter
1954 – 60 Foster Peter
1954 – 61 Burns Richard (George)
1954 – 61 Day Richard
1954 – 61 Goodyear David
1954 – 62 Harrison Cliff
1955 – 62 Penn Malcolm
1955 – 62 Rimmer Roger (Zip)
1955 – 62 Stickland Chris
1955 – 62 Taylor Roger
1956 – 60 Husband Roger
1956 – 62 Hendy Robin
1956 – 64 Littleproud Dave
1957 – 61 Cadogan Alan
1957 – 63 Follett Graham
1957 – 64 Breeze Paul
1957 – 65 Robertson Dunn Bernard
1958 – 65 Cripps Richard
1958 – 65 Davies John
1959 – 62 Harding Paul
1960 – 1966/7 Fleming Colin
1960 – 67 Harris Bob RC
1960 – 67 Leaney Chris
1960 – 67 Percival Ken
1961 – 65 Crowther Geoff
1961 – 66 Pringle David
1962 – 69 Hartje Will
1962 – 69 Rippingale Chris
1963 – 66 Stevens Paul
1964 – 68 (63 starter) Mann Peter
1964 – 70 Jenks Peter
1964 – 71 Cooke Graham
1965 – 69 Attree Colin
1965 – 72 Watling Keith
1966 – 72 Shepherd Gary
1966 -72 Roberts Dave
1967 – 68 Curtis John
1967 – 74 Leadbitter Paul
Brightwell Colin ?
Brill Mick ?
Cooper David ?
Davis Kevin ?
Gover Roy
Hall David E ?
Hewson Baz ?
Theobald nee Burkin Ros (hon vis)

many memories.
please get in touch.
i will post memories when i have time.
have to say that i made some good friends but it was a crap school.

Dave Littleproud

October 1, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Disagree Charles! I think it was a good school -it just had some dodgy clay to mold of which I was a prime example.

OK you have every right to disagree. But a few observations.

I was there between 1964 and 1971. I was there when Doig was head and during the move to Thames Ditton with Waller as head. I ended up as a senior prefect and house secretary for Lovelace House under the inept management of Ginger Doig.

It was not dodgy clay to mold but the quality of the teachers and the regime. Most of this has already been documented here but made light of as amusing anecdotes. Jock Lonsdale boasting about the force with which he could cane boys? The sadism of Gus Hillier? The use of the slipper by most of the masters including those with anger management problems like Bas Hunt? The psychopathic temper and religious intolerance of Scum Doc Turner? Keats – Mr Cox – beating a boy around the head with a board rubber? Taff Davies beating Cripps in public during house assemblies directly in contravention with educative legislation at the time?

My memories of SCGS were of fear, bullying, indiscriminate use of corporal punishment and appalling teaching. I remember hour upon hour of filling in the missing letters from purple Banda sheets we had to learn off by heart for history lessons. Masters smoking in class and often failing to turn up for lessons because they could not be bothered like Mo Morris? Masters teaching subjects that they did not know anything about such as Mr Fry teaching biology. Dreadful careers advice and virtually no assistance with university entry unless you wished to study law or medicine.

I was lucky as I got cleared to a decent university where I changed course to psychology and I have had a very successful career. No thanks to SCGS where the staff refused to give references for psychology as it was deemed not to be a proper science. Indeed a pupil in the year above me was refused a reference for psychology and banned from biology lessons because he was German.

Many good chaps at SCGS and some very good teachers. But was it a good school? I have spent my career as a forensic psychologist, an academic in a university and an adult education inspector.

I find it hard to think that SCGS did much for me or others except as a survival experience. Too many old boys with the mantra “well it did not do me any harm”. Did it actually do anybody much good?

Paul Leadbitter

October 2, 2010 at 5:39 am

Well, I must admit that I find it quite shocking to recall the level of corporal punishment even as late as the 70s, compared with how illegal all that would be now. But at the time, I think I thought that that was normal for all grammar schools.

I do, however, agree with the view that higher education and careers advice was completely lacking there. I did go into the Careers Room a few times. I remember it was just lined with university prospectuses (prospecti?) on a “help yourself” basis. No proactive interest or support whatsoever.

In the event, I have now spent 32 years woking in direct marketing, living in four different countries. It hasn’t been at all bad, but I think I should really have been an accountant!

Having been subjected to most forms of corporal punishment that SCGS had on offer I can’t honestly say that it did any good. Yes I was a rebellious b*****d but I was never one to be involved in bullying or fighting (except being on the receiving end of the former from the 4th form when I was a lowly – and very small – 2nd form kid).
At the age of 11 – having seen an episode of Emergency Ward 10 – I decided that my career path should be in the Medical Laboratory service and after ‘O’-levels decided to visit the careers office for advice. Needless to say there was absolutely none forthcoming – the best on offer was ‘go and get yourself a medical degree – which, by the way, you are not likely to get given your academic achievement so far’. Armed with this ‘challenging’ statement I went out and discovered the Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology (as was) and with it a job in a London Teeaching Hospital. When I informed Waller et al of my decision to leave halfway through ‘A’-levels the shakes of the head and shocked expressions said it all… ‘Not going to university – what a waste of our teaching skills’.
Well, 40+ years on, a Masters degree and looking back on a very successful and enjoyable career that included a mid-life change of direction into Pathology IT I think I can say that I owe little of it to SCGS although many friendships forged there have endured through the years.
Latterly I have had the pleasure of meeting up with Baz Hunt who has mellowed considerably over the years. He admits that his was a heavy handed approach partly brought on by an initial inability to control 4th year students who were only a few years his junior. There seemed to have been little in the way of mentoring for new teachers at the end of the ’50s and the likes of Gus Hillier and Doc Turner were hardly likely to set a good example to an impressionable young teacher.
I wonder if any of us destined to be part of the ‘elite 10%’ really gained enormously from SCGS or any other grammar school when all is said and done – and how many will look back and say ‘I did it my way’ (sorry Frank!)

I attended SCGS from 1959 to 1965.

I don’t remember the names of most of the pupils who have either contributed or been mentioned here but there are a few exceptions.

Starting with the prefects whom I encountered in 1959 I remember Peter Pocock and Vic Gunton very well. For some strange reason these two appeared to be good chums. Strange because whilst Peter Pocock was an extremely pleasant person whose regular kindnesses to me I well remember Victor Gunton was a most unpleasant individual who took a delight in hitting as many of us as he could lay his hands (sometimes to the apparent despair of Peter Pocock).

Moving onto the teachers I recall that Brian Lancaster started at the school at the same time as me. Although he was initially known as ‘Bomber’ this changed to ‘Noddy’ due to his habit of jerking his head back at odd times. ‘Bernie’ Shaw I also remember as a nice enough chap though I believe that I made his life very difficult as he always felt he had to apologise before, during and after whacking my outstretched palms with a ruler.

Strangely I have no recollection of Gus Hillier whom so many of my near contemporaries seem to remember so well.

My favourite teacher was ‘Scrog’ Hayward. My least favourite was Alan Bolt whose loftily indifferent response when I mentioned to him that I was attempting to write a symphony remains with me to this day. Meanwhile I was deeply disappointed that Mrs Russell lasted such a short time as she was to my young eyes extremely fanciable.

Of all the pupils mentioned on this site I think that the only ones in my year were Colin Parratt, Hugh Rickard and Roger Trussler. Roger was the official school bully for our year but as we all grew a little older, and the rugby-playing fraternity grew their muscles, he was subjected to some fearsome beatings and retired from his post. Part of his problem was that the chums who formed his gang were all rather weedy and could offer little or no backup in an emergency.

Hugh Rickard was the most scary person I met at the school (teachers included) and I always took care to steer clear of him as far as possible. His voice was easily discernible during school assemblies as it was by a considerable margin the loudest (and best) during hymn singing. Another sinister guy was Howard Amor. Fortunately he was in the year below me and though I suspect that he was keen to take a poke at me I was blessedly always just that bit bigger than him which I guess was enough to dissuade him.

Of course most of the violence came from the teachers. Dr Turner (‘Scum’) in addition to being a religious bigot was also a racist. I occasionally attended one of his classes with a boy from the 1960s intake – Hans-Gunter Freytag – and Dr Turner made a particular point of telling him that all germans were scum. Hans-Gunter always stood his ground and the rest of us would sit and watch these two verbally slug it out.

Kenneth Bidmead was another vicious individual who made the mistake of whacking me around the head so hard that I ended up in hospital. My mother, who was a pretty vicious soul herself, visited the school the following day and threatened Bidmead with dire consequences if he ever touched me again. He didn’t.

Talking of parents, on one of the parent-teacher evenings my parents introduced themselves to ‘Slug’ Rigden who simply said “Ugh”. Curiously this had a positive effect on my history studies as I went from bottom to near top of his class after this encounter and have kept a love of history to this day.

The school chums that I best remember are:

Tony Babbs
David ‘Daisy’ Matthews
Philip ‘Mud’ Blackman
Pete Cole
Jim Sheahan
Clive Fisher
Mick Dunjay
Chris Jagger
Clive Gillam
Tony Hartley
David Kenworthy
Roger Webster
Eldred Kirk
Willie Ashton
Kenneth Gould
Gordon Sills
Christopher Rackley
Mike Preston
Neil Taylor
Bob Evans
Bob Hughes

Unlike most of the pupils who faced long bus or train journeys to get to school I actually lived just ten minutes walk from the school (in Surbiton Park Terrace). So I spent a lot of social time in Worcester Park where Tony Babbs (my best friend at the time) lived along with Chris Jagger and others.

I missed a lot of opportunities that the school offered – why didn’t I get involved with the G&S activities for instance? I took more of an interest in the sports side until I was seriously injured at the Hook playing grounds in a high-jumping accident (yes really!) and was unconscious for about three days thereafter as a result of three operations to my shoulder on three successive days – my ‘lost week’.

I now live in north London, run a video production company (KLA Film and Video Communication) and a video training company (Swanrose Video Training and Consultancy) and am married with two children and two grandchildren.

I last saw Tony Babbs in 1992 when we ran across one another on a beach in West Wittering. Apart from that I haven’t seen anyone from the old school apart from Chris Rackley and Jim Sheahan (and Roy Gover on telly) since I left in 1965.

This web page is a strange place to have an old school reunion. How very accommodating of Kevin Davis to allow it to run for which I am sure that we are all very grateful.

I remember Hugh Rickard as being a very loud but kindly prefect unlike many of his contemporaries. I remember Marcus Plantin as being particularly unpleasant with his unctuous sidekick Miraur?

The staff I remember include
Jock Lonsdale – ridiculous Scottish accent in his spoken French and a sadist
Bomber Lancaster – aka Nod rather meek French teacher
Mo Morris – chain smoking tea drinking hopeless teacher of Biology and Zoology also ran the Scouts had rotten teeth and was generally unpleasant
Bernie Shaw – cockney accent used to hit boys with ruler on the hand and taught Maths badly
Julian Ashdown – inspirational English teacher but too nice a chap
Bas Hunt – fat angry red faced taught Latin spoken in affected Italian accent and used slipper totally indiscriminately
Gus Hillier – nasty little man with big red Volvo and sadistic
Nobby Hall – aka gods gift to women taght RE and PE and how we laughed when he broke his collar bone
Cox – aka Keats taught English and music totally mad and would spray saliva over the front two rows as he taught
Bidmead – taught Latin and was pretty humourless
Doig – headmaster when at St Marks Hill and apart from obsession with G&S little else to remember
Waller – headmaster at Weston Green uncharismatic looked like a grocer was not amused when I set up a transvestite society using the school logo
Chopper Hacket – one of lifes casualities always sucking on his filthy pipe shaking uncontrollably and got very excited when he beat little boys which was all the time
Nutty Bolt – wtf? taught English and cultural studies and spent his time calling everyone darling strolling around in tweeds and driving a Landrover
Mole – taught Latin and was actually a taupus IMHO
Taffy Davies – hale and hearty Welshman taught chemistry and rugby also liked to cane and totally intolerant of any views contrary to his own
Bunny Warren – gruff Physics teacher who did his best
Jack Skene – dyed his hair, taught geography and whistled so we always asked him how to spell Mississippi for a laugh
Silley – mad Geography teacher who authored a series of school books a violent and unpredictable man
Jones – a greasy Welshman who taught chemistry and told me I would end up as a dustman or a politician
Joe Turner – art teacher with lovely enunciation and perfect clean desert boots always
Dr Turner – RE totally mad plymouth brethren racist religious bigot with uncontrollable temper called us scum rolled his eyes and referred to exams as eggs and ham marked our work solely on spelling mistakes and grammatical errors
Bill Busby – art master in bow tie who always said I hope this will not affect our relationship before he beat you – idiot
Doig – ineffectual history teacher who was housemaster of Lovelace when I was house secretary
Herr Fifer – a very genuine German teacher who did his best and suffered the most appalling abuse because he was Jewish
Spike – taught TD and metalwork and was a good maths teacher for the underachievers like me
Rosie – the red faced lab assistant who would kick our bags out of the way of the classroom. Very interesting man with many tales about his background
Sam Sentence – taught English and was virtually transparent
Colin Attree – taught biology and botany a good teacher who was genuinely interested in his subject
Fatty Smith – a most unpleasant overweight physics teacher
Lurch Chambers – a most unpleasant overtall physics teacher
Parrish – RE teacher also ran crusaders
Fritz Fry – PE and failed to teach biology used to beat boys with a wooden splint

Fellow pupils include

Roger Bashford
Peter Bridden
Paul Cann
Paul Cooper
James Irvine
Keith Jeffries
Nigel Spearing
Tony Duffy
Barry Winter
John MacMillan
Chris Sammes
Martin Veates
Paul Felstead
Martin Fentiman
John Brown
Tony Martin
Duncan Sainsbury
Trevor Dickens
Robert Williams
Simon Doble
Kevin Hedley

If you go onto the Friends United website and look up Surbition County Grammar School there is a school photograph of June 1965.

I do have good memories of this time though. The wonderful Toby Jug Club with bands such as Led Zeppelin, Steamhammer, Chicken Shack, Groundhogs and artists like Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf. Eel Pie Island with Edgar Broughton band and Pink Fairies. The endless supply of drugs from The Three Fishes and L’Auberge. The excellent concerts at Kingston Poly, KCFE and the art school.

The music scene in Kingston and the easy access to London – 100 club, Ronnie Scotts, Roundhouse was brilliant.

I seem to remember some talk that Dave Davies of the Kinks went to SCGS?

I do hope others contribute to this site as it is all very interesting reading.

Hi Stuart,

Welcom to the blog.

I am lost for words….

Yes – Viv Gunton and I were very good friends, but I never thought of him as being particularly aggressive – anymore than I thought of myself as pleasant. In fact from the moment I got those 10 yards of gold braid sewn on the blazer, I tried my hardest to be a tyrant! Obviously I failed, but thanks for the compliment anyway.

A bit puzzled at so many negative comments about Nutty Bolt. I always found him to be the perfect gentleman – perhaps a bit eccentric,but never a threat.

Hi Peter

Thank you for the welcome – I’m pleased to be here.

Re V Gunton – I guess it all depends on your viewpoint. As I recall the decent prefects consisted of you, Stovold (didn’t know his first name – he looked fearsome but was also actually very pleasant) and another prefect whose name I now forget (he was dark-haired and into cricket). I’m sure that there were others but those are the ones that I remember.

I look forward to seeing more reminiscences here and hope and expect to contribute as the mood (and memory!) take me.

Has anyone considered asking Kevin Davis to relinquish the site so that it could be given a more appropriate title? I notice that he doesn’t use this site anymore for anything else.

I’ve been reading some of the more recent posts with a vague feeling of disbelief. Good Lord, were things really that bad? How could I possibly have survived seven years of that?

One thing that surprises me is that some of the teachers who joined the school after my departure appear to have been as incompetent and as prone to use violence as those that I encountered. One would have hoped that by the mid-sixties things would have been improving in that area.

I’ve been thinking back with the criterion, which masters’ lessons do I remember where the memory includes apprehension? The only names that invoke that feeling were Bidmead, Hillier, Hunt, Parrot and Dr Turner.

Ken Bidmead tended to waste far too much lesson time discussing his dissatisfaction with his pupils, and could be inexcusably heavy handed when slapping anyone who had offended him around the head. In this day and age he would have ended up in court. But he did know, and appeared to enjoy, his subject and against all the odds I did (reluctantly) acquire a modest grasp of Latin under his tuition; and as I mentioned some time ago I once worked with him on some voluntary extra-curricular activity when he was as nice as pie.

Ted Hillier: enough said already, probably. Yet many of the lads had a sneaking regard for him in an oblique way, and when it was announced that on Bert Forward’s retirement he would take over as deputy head a cheer actually went up! I left at that time, so was never able to see the results in practice.

Now for Baz Hunt. I recall from an earlier post that his hard man stance was all an act. If so, it was a pretty effective one. The guy nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. At the tender age of 11 I could not figure out why one master needed to dish out quite so many lines and/or detentions to get the job done. On one later occasion he gave me a public dressing down for doing something that I had been instructed to do by another master. So although I know that other boys were happily accompanying him on extra-curricular activities such as Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions, I was never subsequently able to relate to him, and went out of my way to avoid him wherever possible.

“Polly” Parrot appears to have been something of a transient. I just don’t recall him doing any teaching at all, just spending entire periods screaming at us about our incompetence and inadequacies. No tears shed when he left.

Finally, Dr Turner: again enough said. An educational black hole.

But Jock Lonsdale a sadist? Come now! One of the school’s most entertaining teachers, accent notwithstanding. The regular organizer of the annual (ostensibly) language-exposure trips to Europe, that were always well subscribed.

I have noted criticism of Fernyhough, too, although my memory puts him in the firm-but-fair category. Certainly I don’t recall ever suffering at his hands. He excelled at mind games as a disciplinary tool, and one trick was to make a malefactor think that he was about to be slapped, without actually doing it.

Other than that most of those teachers were simply characters, some more than others. Many contributors have grumbled about Mo Morris, but I always found him to be hilarious, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not. I well recall a biology lesson in which the objective was to persuade a bluebottle to walk over some agar jelly, then grow a culture from the bacteria so deposited. Mo duly produced a captive bluebottle under a bell jar, but in attempting to insert the petri dish the bluebottle escaped. We were then treated to twenty minutes of pure comedy as Mo charged around the lab attempting to recapture the insect, which included him climbing onto the lab bench and trying to sneak up on his quarry which had alighted on a fluorescent fitting. Believe it or not, he did get the thing back under the bell jar eventually and the experiment proceeded!

If there was one master on the premises who was a puzzle to me, it was Bert Forward. That Beatles song, “Oh go away, leave me alone, don’t bother me,” might have been written with him in mind. He seemed permanently irritable and generally unapproachable, considering that he was supposed to be providing a number of advice functions. My career advice, when I was able to attract his attention long enough to ask for it, lasted about 30 seconds. I guess that after 40 years in the same school anyone would be a little jaded.

Dave Littleproud

October 10, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I think that i may have opened this current can of worms by suggesting to Charles that SCGS was a good school. I said good not perfect. from what my daughter and her peers say , or do not say, I have the impresssion that her co-ed Grammar school is far better than SCGS-however the buildings are 14 years old -the year 7 intake consists of 120 of the “la Creme de Gloucestershire” who were selected from the 800 plus who applied. The staff and pupils have a strong work ethic. It is approaching what an ideal school should be. but there is forty years between them and i think we have to look at SCGS from what there was then- not our life experiences and current expectations think it should have been.
I cannot disagree with many of the comments made about personalities -no one went anywhere near Gus without a feeling of apprehension. Peter P and I have discussed Scum with allusions to the more colourful characters of the Spanish Inquisition. Biddy I found rather unpleasant particularly his penchant for making us wait until he had finished his late class before allowing us to collect our books. Watkins was just a thug.
Parrot and I never met. Morris and Davies were 6th form science which I never studied but i gathere they were quit jovial -Mo’s moustache made him seem a bit fierce.
I remember Jock as a friendly sort. I would never have passed French without Fred Fernyhough’ s encouragement. Mr walmsley was a true gent and superb maths teacher-even with me, Mick Hammond Tony Harriman and Eddie Hughes he never raised his voice.
Bert I found to be a dry sort – a superb teacher and very kind to me beyond his duty.
Slug Rigden never held my negative latin skills against and imbued in me a love history that I never lost. Slug was a good friend to me during some 6th form traumas – I wish I had known him better.
No it was not perfect and I guess we knew that but I believe that most of the teachers tried their best within the limits of their experiences and let’s not forget that some of them now would be well over a 100 -I think that dear old slug would now be about 112.
What stick did his peers give the German kid for being German? Sure Scum was wrong -but the prevailing mood of the time -the war was still vivid for many people -and for Scum it may have been two wars.
Looking back through my own personal retrospectoscope I can see SCGS’s flaws But in all honesty I know I did little at the time to make it better- mainly out of ignorance and because I was a child of my time.
I’m not even going to rweread this!! WYSIWYG!!!!

Could I just add a few opinions on the SCGS staff, who, let’s face it, had a pretty unenviable task in trying to teach such a variety of (largely) social misfits, (and I certainly include myself amongst them in my teenage years). I owe a lot to Fred Ferneyhough for his efforts to get me to enjoy French, and to Jock Lonsdale for perpetuating it through to my A levels. Gus Hillier I found largely bluster, underneath it all I often found he had a quite different human side – but then his wartime experiences were pretty horrific. Bert Forward, by the time I had him in the sixth Form, was probably looking forward to his impending retirement, (and also to his very young new wife, if I remember correctly, which led to numerous quips about him taking Phyllosan “to fortify the over-sixties”, I think their slogan went). Also agree with the views of Bolt being nothing but a rather refined but eccentric gent, certainly never saw any aggression in his manner. I once tried to help start Rigden’s car, a little Austin A30 I seem to remember, I wound the starting handle like a clockwork toy but to no avail, (quite a contrast with my father’s old 3.5 litre Jag which I was more at home with). Busby had a Railton, I think. Bidmead felt teaching was beneath him, he once gave me a major dressing down for some supposed transgression that I vehemently denied, however he justified his actions by saying that everyone in the class was equally guilty! Never did get into Latin, and it coloured my view of the not-dissimilar structure of the German language some years later, though Mr Williams (young Welshman) managed to bring me through all that.
Does anyone remember the last months of Aysgarth, when we sixth formers started our own impromptu demolition of the place some months before we were officially due to vacate it, the staircase supports were gradually kicked away until eventually the whole handrail fell off. But what wonderful buildings both Braemar and Aysgarth were, so interesting and full of character, probably not ideally suited to teaching, but such a wonderful environment compared to what replaced them. I left just as the new building was becoming reality.

Dave Littleproud

October 11, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Phew! I reread my last and realizing that I had stood up for Scum had expected a deal of opprobrium(?).What do I find? Cliff sticking up for Gus –funny old world.
I can’t fault any thing Cliff says. (how long was your stretch Cliff? -would you be in any of the photos?)
I remember the demolition of Braemar- halfway through said demolition Alan Kemp and I were cycling past Braemar and found it ablaze-We got a bollocking from the police and fire brigade for just sitting enjoying the fire rather than telling them. Smilingly pointing out that it was our school got us no sympathy!!
Albury , Braemar and Aysgarth were totally unsuited to teaching. But those of us who were there will never forget them -will those who were educated in purpose built state of the art soulless 1960s schools remember them at all? -let alone with affection –I think not.
I missed being a resident of Aysgarth but spent 2 years in Braemar -great fun-drinking water filtered through long dead pigeons and rats never hurt us.

I think Phyllosan claimed to “fortify the over-forties”.

Other pieces of random trivia bought to mind:
An ornate Front Door to Braemar, facing the street, but which was never ever opened.

The disgusting toilets in the old stables in the courtyard outside the main school, and the equally disgusting grafiti thereon. (to this day I can still recall one curious statement proclaiming to the world that “Prakash is a w***ker”

A tall unwordly music teacher called Noble, who stayed briefly as Keats’ assistant. Great baritone voice.

The amazing underground cloakrooms in Albury House. Seriously spooky and often the scene of some very dubious activities.

Lethal lunch time soccer matches, often maybe half a dozen different games, played simultaneously the length of and the width of the playground.

Those wonderful mud baths at Hook, and the number of times bad weather demanded that rugger practice was cancelled and substituted with a sadistic cross country run, in studded boots along Claygate Lane.

The rather posh little bound calendar booklets produced on Busby’s ancient printing press, listing all the term activities.

Sorry, rambling.

Peter, you are of course correct on the Phyllosan slogan. Interesting that you remembered the school diaries, I was given the honour (?) by Doig of compiling them each term during my last year at Surbiton, and then collecting the sixpences from my fellow pupils. It was a major job getting hold of all the various rugby and cricket fixtures. However, they were set and printed by an outside company, not Busby. I think he tended to do anything that needed a touch of class like the G&S programmes. Cliff

It has been really interesting reading commentaries over the last few days, if someone not “in the know” were to read the comments it would appear that were were taught by a load of sadistic incompetants. Probably not quite how it was, certainly looking back now after 40 years, yes it could be painted that way; but one way or another most of us turned out well enough.
Over the years I have had thoughts about my school days and the negative points, I guess here and now is the place to voice those thoughts. I feel really let down as far as my education (not my life) is concerned in that I had little career guidance ( a point raised often enough) and stumbled into Bot, Zoo and Chem in the sixth form to find three different types of teacher. Colin Attree a nice enough guy, young and keen made botany interesting but why on earth was I doing it? I appreciate the glories of nature but never liked gardening! Taff Davies was probably the best teacher at the school and no doubt knew his chemistry but I do wish he and others could have focused on turning out a pupil ready to engage with Uni. All that brings me on to Mo Morris. He taught just one lesson in two years and I have no idea why he bothered to do that. He also ran the 2XV rugby team and as far as I can remember just picked the team, he certainly never ever turned up on a Saturday morning to support, encourage or take responsibility. The guy is probably long dead and gone but you’re not going to tell me others in the management of the school did not know what was going on. They, one and all, should feel guilty about letting such a waste of space get away with what he did. Aged 16 & 17 I knew no better, later in life and better equipped I can assure you he would have have been promptly retired from his post. Bottom line guys, he really cheated us, but life is what we make of it so let’s get on with it.

Dave Littleproud

October 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Saddo that I am- I saved this wonder of literature– this booker prize to come–this bane of GCSEs to come to a word.doc -163 pages!!!

Some interesting reading in recent weeks.

I have to agree with Bob Harris that Mo Morris was a total waste of space as a teacher. Any interest in zoology that I managed to maintain through 6th form (1960-62) was largely self-generated and through occasional contact with Alan Cadogan, a truly inspirational teacher. Alan taught botany in the 6th, which strangely I had elected not to take – more fool me. I failed A level Zoo but nevertheless managed to leave SCGS to get a job in zoological research.

Careers advice has come in for some stick too. My comment would be “What was that?”. Never had any as far as I can remember. I found my zoology job advertised in a copy of a Cambridge newspaper, which just happened to be used as wrapping for a cabbage from a market!

Even earlier, I had experienced bizarre and unhelpful advice from SCGS on subjects to study at A level. Having arrived from Ireland into the 5th form, I made a bit of a hash of GCEs. I was only just allowed to stay on for A levels, but was advised to take Geography, Economics and something else of no interest to me. I wanted to take Geography, History and Zoology, but was told that was insane, impossible, immoral, etc. Finished up with Geog, Zoo and Chem, but dropped Chem after L6th as I was 100% hopeless. Guess what main topics my career took me into – biogeography and historical ecology – I was trying to make a sensible choice, aged 16!

The corporal punishment sagas are quite disturbing. In my 3 years at SCGS, I remember only ballistic blackboard erasers and the occasional clipping of ears. Managed to avoid both myself. My experience was of much less violence from teachers than I had experienced in Belfast. As I said in an earlier comment, I was one of a band of lunatics whose form room was above the stable. We declared UDI fairly early in the L6th and seemed to get away with it for 2 years with few visits from staff or perfects.

Who was the Geog teacher in 1959-62 period? He taught me O level geology too. Stebbings / Stubbings? He was a pretty good teacher if you were interested, but a bit plodding in style.

My overall impression was of a pretty mediocre bunch of teachers, many with some strange attitudes to teaching, life and people. For me, gold stars went to Alan Cadogan, Alan Bolt and the aforementioned Geog master.

Anyone remember an occasional film club in 1960-62? Particularly remember seeing The Wild One (Brando as biker), but not sure how we managed to get away with it – must have been cert X.

Anyone remember an embryonic rock band playing in the school hall one night in 61/62? I think Chris Dreja was involved so possibly an early precursor of the Yardbirds. His brother older Stefan was in my year.


Dave Littleproud

October 12, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Paul- I was in Stefan’s year but I must confess to not being able to place you. The teacher you mention was, I think, Mr Stubbings who taught me English in the 2nd form. He ran the film club and I well remember the showing of ” The Wild One”-I remember feeling quite sophisticated watching “a banned film”. These days I doubt it would be given a PG rating.

I was at SCGS from 1953 to 1958, leaving for pastures new.

My parents knew Willis and were thrilled I was going to his school, only to be disappointed that he had retired and the victorian thug Doig had taken took over shortly before I joined.

Does anyone know when Doig’s age when he snuffed it and whether the circumstances of his demise were suitably unpleasant?

Otherwise facinated to come across this site. I will definitely revisit, and happy to answer questions as well as ask them.


I was interested to read comments on the various teachers, and have made my views on thug Doig fairly plain.

As Doig enjoyed administering pain so much do you think he was into S&M? Or maybe he was a paedophile? Maybe I should have offered him a sexual favour to get off (!) being caned? Ugh! second thoughts, I’d rather have ‘six of the best’.

Anyway Gus Hillier used to walk up and down the second form slapping us on the face / head / ear as he talked. No reason for doing it other than to establish his authority and / or just because he enjoyed doing it. Another pervert.

Bidmead, funnily enough, I quite liked, despite the self important bearing. Good latin teacher and got me interested in it.

Though I remember Bidmead trying to get boys to ‘split’ on other boys for some misdemeanour or other, saying ‘this schoolboy honour is pathetic and wrong’. What a terrible thing to say to impressionable young boys.

Enough for now. I’ll comment, maybe more positively on other teachers some time.

Dave. I was there from 54 to Easter 62, I should have left in summer 61, but my A level results were so bad I did an extra two terms to get some qualifications, (with moderate success, I am relieved to add). Does anyone remember the tuck shop opening in about 56, at the end of the Physics prefab, (a window was opened for the purpose). What was the name of the school caretaker who lived in the lodge by the driveway entrance to the main school? A tall guy, pretty harrassed.

Dave Littleproud

October 13, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Cliff. tall bald guy with glasses -always a wore a brown lab coat called i believe Mr Brooks –not agreat conversationalist I remember.

Dave. That’s him, thanks for the info. In fact, once you managed to chat to him one-to-one, such as after school and weekends, he was much more human.

Dave Littleproud

October 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Neil -i think your remarks about Doig were abit OTT.Sure he walloped us but as i have said some of us were “dodgy clay ” behavior wise as a swell as academically. Just remember at that time “birching”and the death penalty were still legal-not only in grammar schools.
Doig was not the most pupil friendly character but like us he was a child of his time. the only time I remember him being pleasant was at half time through one of his G&S productions which was going particularly well.
However I have it on “good authority” that if a teacher felt that a boy was not up to O or A level and should be asked to leave nine times out of ten Doig would ensure that he was given another chance.
As to dodgy clay and behaviour one poor maths teacher must have gone home in tears every time he had to face VA 1960 -1961-why were we so unkind -I don’t know-he was a nice enough guy -might have been a good teacher-but we never gave him a chance.


I accept my remarks were a bit strong, but that’s how I felt and, believe it or not, still feel.

I know hanging and flogging were legal at the time, but not for a minor offence, so I can’t even excuse him on those grounds.

I base my severest criticism on a particular incident when I was about 14; there were others.

I was at a SCGS fete / fair on a Saturday. We were all in ‘mufti’ – no requirement for school uniform.

Three of us were smoking, quite openly, as naively, we didn’t think there was a school problem. It really never occurred to us, and being 14 we felt quite ‘cool’.

Anyway, to our great surprise a very aggressive prefect ‘nicked’ us and reported us to someone or other. On the following Monday, we were seen by Bert forward. He said he ‘couldn’t deal with us’ as Doig was out that day, so he suspended us for the day.

Next day we got severely caned by Doig who made a big deal of running across the room and laying in to me. Six of the best I think the moron called it.

Now, I reckon that being suspended was OTT enough on its own and Bert should simply have left it until the next day. To also be caned for such a minor offence was outrageous. It still annoys me god knows how many years later.

So, looking back, I reckon Bert was a wuss and Doig straightforwardly a cowardly bully. Like I said, maybe he was in to S&M or was a paedophile. Disgusting child molester that he was. I hope he is rotting in hell.


But did it stop you smoking?


Absolutely not. I smoked for many years. Might be feeling differently if the incident had any positive outcome whatsoever. It merely reinforced my rebellious streak.

How should it have been ‘handled’ by SCGS, if at all? I thought it bhad bugger all to do with SCGS.

If Doig had health interests at heart (and let’s face it most of the teachers, including Bert Forward smoked) he would have written to our parents without our knowledge, and the ‘punishment’ might have been an essay on why we shouldn’t smoke.

Too subtle and effective for a victorian thug methinks.

As it happened, and to complete the story, we did not go home on our day of supension, but rather spent time wandering around town and on the banks of the Thames. Open to abuse from any perverts or paedophiles knocking around, but that aside.

We knew there would probably be a letter home from the school and we all agreed to rescue it from next day’s post, which by some miracle of the post office we all did successfully.

So our parents never knew about the smoking or the suspension. We were all in dread of the subject coming up at parent / teacher evenings, but it never did.

So we can add incompetence to Doig’s list of inadequacies. In addition to pointlessly thuggish child molestation.


Absolutely not. I smoked for many years. Might be feeling differently if the incident had any positive outcome whatsoever. It merely reinforced my rebellious streak.

How should it have been ‘handled’ by SCGS, if at all? I thought it had bugger all to do with SCGS.

If Doig had health interests at heart (and let’s face it most of the teachers, including Bert Forward smoked) he would have written to our parents without our knowledge, and the ‘punishment’ might have been an essay on why we shouldn’t smoke.

As it happened, and to complete the story, we did not go home on our day of supension, but rather spent time wandering around town and on the banks of the Thames. Open to abuse from any perverts or paedophiles knocking around, but that aside.

We knew there would probably be a letter home from the school and we all agreed to rescue it from next day’s post, which by some miracle of the post office we all did successfully.

So our parents never knew about the smoking or the suspension. We were all in dread of the subject coming up at parent / teacher evenings, but it never did.

So we can add incompetence to Doig’s list of inadequacies. In addition to pointlessly thuggish child molestation.

Sorry about the (nearly) duplicate post, but the site filter said the first version looked like a repeat and wouldn’t post it. I amended it and it went through, as did the first one!

Dave Littleproud

October 14, 2010 at 7:51 pm

If he had been a child molester he would have given you a bag of sweeties!!
Seriously I think the school reaction was totally OTT. Might have have been more effective if carried out in public -”pour encourager les autres”. Better still to have Mr Fry giving his lecture on the dangers of smoking which certainly made me think about it.
I don’t know what the legal , if any, position was on smoking but it was certainly verboten on school premises and functions and while in school uniform. Bet you didn’t do it again.
I repeat I think you were very hard done by.


I think the technical legal position was over 16.

In my day, Fry was a regular pipe smoker and he had a mis-shapen lip to prove it!

As I said, I wasn’t in school uniform, and was unaware it was ‘verboten’ out of school time. I wouldn’t have done it the first time if I had known it was such a big deal. We were in full view walking towards the main school building!

Completely soured my already negative view of Doig who I despised with a venom, and led to me engineering my exit from SCGS to somewhere decent some 18 months later.

Ironically, Doig tried to stop me going in the end, even writing an appeal letter to my parents and making an a speech about it at the end of term assembly. Maybe he regarded losing someone as a personal failure. Hope so, ‘cos it was.

Mr Fry?

Walking around smoking his pipe filled with Erinmoor mixture? With his two wooden splints for beating young boys? One with a zinc sheath to maximise pain?

I think we need to be honest about what happened at that school. Forget the legality of it all – it was abusive. Pupils were humiliated and abused in a punitive way and in some cases a sexual way.

The only positives were the camaraderie of pupils uniting against the regime. The teaching was poor, the staff were a very mixed bunch with some who were excellent and some who were personality disorded and probably criminally insane. Strong words? Maybe – I was beaten and banned from all RE lessons because I asked Dr Turner if there was any actual proof that god existed? I spent a whole year standing in the corridor when RE took place. There are countless examples of abuse and incompetence.

I applied for medicine and was asked for three C grades from St Georges – an old friend of SCGS apparently. I did not get the grades as Mo never showed up to teach me, Taff was OK, Bunny Warren did not have a clue about the new Nuffield syllabus. I got two C grades and a D. I went on to Hull university and got a 2.1 psychology and have spent the last twenty years as a forensic psychologist and an academic before becoming an education inspector.

It was a shit school but probably no worse than any other. Was Tiffins better? Or Kingston Grammar School? I suspect not.

I hope we can continue to enjoy memories and reminiscencies but let us not be under any illusion that it was good. But are any schools good? Are they not just a vehicle for young people to focus their rebellion and mature as people? SCGS focussed me on blues music, rock music, sex, drugs, alcohol and a determination to champion the causes of those treated unfairly. I was one of those and I saw so many suffer at that school.

On a lighter vein –

Sid Capper – we used to eat sandwiches and smoke in classes as he was so short sighted

Zetter – smackies? – complete arshole

Rosie – Mr Aston

Harris-Ide – used to play with his loose change in his pocket, whistle and play with his tie. I remember his caeser adsum iam forte gaius aderat. lol



Good post. Exactly how it was.

Dave Littleproud

October 14, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Why didn’t we talk to our parents? My son was on to me like a shot if he thought he was being maligned unfairly-and I would fight his corner.
I must have been very lucky , a goody two shoes and totally oblivious to my surroundings.

Dave L, and everybody:

There’s a lot of bad-mouthing of the old school been going on here in the past few days!

I was there for five years, from 1961 to 1966, and my memories are mainly positive. I received no physical chastisement that I can recall, and nor do I remember any of my immediate friends doing so.

That’s not to say that corporal punishment didn’t happen, but it was only a small part of the school’s life in my experience. It was all a part of the wider society of the times — different times! You’ve got to try to cultivate a sense of historical sympathy.

David P.

Neil. The staff rest room on 1st floor main school building was always an absolute fug from ciggy smoke, yes, of course almost every master smoked. But the punishments were designed simply to try and make us kids toe the line. The worst I ever got was 200 lines, never anything physical (though Keats got a rollicking from my father for hitting me round the ear), though as the instigator of a variety of explosive devices in around 1961 I suspect that I would have been caned had the truth come out – but I think Doig didn’t believe I could actually be so naughty or inventive, so I escaped retribution.

David P.

I was there from the early 50′s and I suspect this was the arse end of the victorian school ‘culture’ which revered authority and treated children like shit.

SCGS was in my opinion at the arse end of the arse end in Doigs early years. In those years (don’t know about later) he was a pompous abuser with an exalted view of his own importance.

Like the captain of any ship he coloured and influenced (encouraged?) the actions of his staff, some of whom were as perverted and psychotic as him.

I think Doig was acting out Flashman’s role in J B’s Schooldays. Despicable turd.

hi all, on a lighter note……

poor old ‘sid’ capper. he couldn’t help himself could he. he looked weird, got called sid or, more hurtfully, ‘bosky’. a very clever man, but could he teach? – nah.

i remember one day some of us were on a bus and sid was on there too. he dropped an orange he was carrying and the bus must have been on a slope because the orange just kept rolling right up the bus floor. the sight of poor old sid nearly on his knees chasing this orange which kept moving out of his reach was hysterical. of course, sid kept serious throughout but we boys were just pissing ourselves. needless to say, none of us came to his aid.

poor old sid.

me again

got the old memory cells on overdrive now.

i don’t remember how it came to the attention of our betters, maybe by some snotty prefect, there were plenty to choose from, but the dreaded masturbation and dicks got on the SCGS agenda.

apparently this kind of sexual deviancy was rife in the 2nd / 3rd forms, and no doubt others, and Doig decided to tackle it head on. Apparently, a bunch of boys had been ‘caught’ doing naughty things in one of the toilets.

so Doig did a tour of god knows how many classes giving us a lecture on this ‘activity’. well, he started by reminiscing that in his school days boys were actually measuring and playing with their ‘persons’ in class in full view of other boys.

he knew such ‘practices’ were happening at SCGS and he was determined ‘it would stop’. i believe a select group of offenders were ‘punished’, quite severely i think, but i think he drew the line at writing to parents. he probably didn’t want to admit to such ‘practices’ at his school.

well, can you imagine how the knowledge that Doig was on his rounds doing a lecture on ‘persons’ and ‘playing with oneself’ spread round the school like wildfire and was eagerly discussed and anticipated.

there he was during his lecture, fat, pompous, gowned and looking over the top of his half frame glasses speaking in starkly serious tones. most of us could hardly keep a straight face and he bollocked us for that. but what a hoot.

here i will pay respect to the era (1950′s) and society’s attitude to all things sexual. masturbation was generally considered deviant, depraved, very unhealthy and a serious piece of misconduct.

if you watch the tv series mad men, which is set in the 1960′s and faithfully reproduces attitudes then, in a recent episode a yound girl was ‘caught’ masturbating and reported to her mother. oh dear, did the sh1t hit the fan! the upshot was that the young girl was sent to see the psychiatrist to ‘cure’ her.

funny or what. LOL.

more stories of our youth will no doubt follow. i don’t suppose anyone caught Doig having a quick one, maybe with old Scummy? what a picture!

Dave Littleproud

October 15, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Neil-didn’t any poor innocent ask for a demonstration-me -I was worried about going blind!
In serious vein Carpenter’s graphic talk to 4B on the horrors of VD had most of us swearing to eternal celibacy or at least staying away from women.
Sure some of the teachers were swine -ask Eddie Watkins a question and he would lash out with the edge of a steel ruler. But not all of them.
So why were we so unkind to those who were not swine -Parsons the maths teacher -Sid who tried so hard to teach 4B French -was it parenting ? Why did no one help an elderly gent, who you all knew was a decent sort, find his orange?
Referring to an earlier post concerning Bidmead’s scathing remarks about pupil loyalty -Scrog Hayward was ready to dish out a collective punishment because the perpetrator refused to own up-however on the suggestion of one class member he willingly left the classroom to give the class an opportunity to talk the malefactor into confessing. Had said miscreant not confessed we would have taken the punishment -pupil loyalty was important. Still -shows what a decent person Scrog was.

Dave Littleproud

October 15, 2010 at 10:59 pm

PS- any one source a braille keyboard ?- I have trouble finding the “j”


there were some good guys amongst the teaching staff. hayward was okay, but a bit vague. i liked fred fernyhough as i think he was a good teacher and i was good at french, even though he once threatened to ‘beat me up’ (twat – i was 12!). even gus hillier became human once he stopped the random slapping lark which was, presumably, to establish his authority.

i thought bert forward was an old woman and fairly useless. keats (cocks) was tiresome unless you liked music. watkins was only a sports teacher. bolt only interested in music and rugby. scum was a lunatic – didn’t realise he was plymouth bretheren until i read it on here. i’m technically a catholic and as soon as i realised non coe’s could opt out i swiftly got a letter from my mother and bingo! no re for me. so i never saw all the scum buffoonery, only heard about it from other, envious pupils and sometimes heard it through the walls when he was in full flight.

cox (pip) the scientist was fairly useless and we played him up something rotten. rose (unfortunate nickname of snot) was very serious and not that good. couldn’t wind him up though.

they were overall a pretty motley crew, weren’t they.

and prefects, don’t get me started on that! some good ones, a lot of self regarding over promoted dross, and many outright bullies. whoever gave prefects permission to administer corporal punishent to young boys? all wrong, even in the child abuse acceptance / encouragement world of the 1950′s. all a reflection on the arch sadistic bastard doigfuhrer i reckon.

Paul Leadbitter

October 16, 2010 at 3:36 pm

When I passed the 11 Plus and was accepted for Surbiton Grammar, I remember being told in the street, by a pupil whom I knew and who was 1 or 2 years older than me, all about the “rules” under which I would be beaten (publicly and privately), respectively, by prefects, teachers, house masters, the Deputy Head and the Headmaster.

At the time, I accepted that. It seemed quite reasonable. But today, and with memories of that “system” in action, I think it was all totally sick
and obscene.

I wish I could say it was “character building”, but I actually think it was closer to criminal.


as you can see from my posts, i entirely agree.

the tom brown’s schooldays ‘model’ was probably etched in the minds of many grammar school teachers. and i suppose what was it, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ was the motto.

all ‘good for us’ and children would be ‘better for it’. funny how some people will excuse abuse on the highest of supposed well intentioned ‘principles’.

whatever folk say on here it was actually illegal to abuse children, even in the 50′s and 60′s.

i remember one pupil being caned in front of the whole school. what doigfuhrer did was to use the pe changing room at the end of the assembly hall, so we didn’t actually see it, just heard it. in a way that made it worse.

i don’t remember what the miscreant’s ‘crime’ was (although i remember who he was but will spare him public embarrassment) but being flogged in front of 650 people wouldn’t have been done to a murderer or traitor at the time.

i expect doigfuhrer abused himself for weeks after the excitement of that piece of depravity. disgusting piece of filth that he was.

why didn’t the abused pupil tell his parents and create a stink? maybe he did, but 1950′s attitudes might have sided with the school on the basis they ‘must have had a good reason’. i don’t know, but quite possibly the pupil felt so ashamed he blamed himself, in much the same way as some women do, and probably did back then, when they are abused and raped.

sorry if i’ve soured the memory of some SCGS former pupils, but maybe doigfuhrer and some of the teachers spent too long in pow camps.

Ok Neil Curtin
Time for the curtain to come down I think we all know how much you appreciated Doig!! but it is surely out of your system by now. Let’s have some of the more positive memories, there is always a good one to counterpoint the bad

bob harris

were you a prefect?

what an interesting exchange?

it is a little bit like the current debate over the pope?

yes well – we all know that you were beaten and abused but let us draw a line under that. let us think positive.


sorry – cannot think of a positive at the moment.

Dave Littleproud

October 16, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Neil -I’m sad that you had such a rotten time at SCGs and it’s good that you are willing to let it out let it out-but now, if you can, try to let it go -after all it was 40 + years ago and as Scarlett O’Hara says “Tomorrow is another day”
Anyway Neil there were a lot of years after SCGS -how did they work out for you-me, although not shining academically or professionally, in my 66th year I feel pretty content.
Take care -keep posting


i didn’t have an entirely bad time at SCGS but as i’ve found many times before and since, i do rail against and react very badly to bullying and harsh authority.

i ‘let it out’ on here to see if my views and reactions were typical. from the posts before mine and responses received, it seems a fair few pupils felt as strongly as me. one even more so, talking of sexual abuse, though i saw none of that, except possibly any erotic pleasure the thugs may have taken from violating young boys.

i suspect the anti group consists of pupils that were naughtier, and more outspoken, perhaps more extrovert than the majority, and that wasn’t going to be tolerated by a darkly victorian monster like doig and his stazi.

from what i know about willis (and he was the main reason my parents pushed for SCGS) things might have been very different. but that’s life i guess.

i was glad to get out of SCGS and moved on very successfully. i had a very good career mostly in sales and marketing, finishing up with a management buy out which went extremely well.

i have an excellent family life with a daughter and two grand children. though i can see in my 9 year old grandson some of the ‘kicking over the traces tendency’ i know so well, and i will try to help him through that!

thanks for you post and best wishes.

charles clark wrote

“what an interesting exchange?

it is a little bit like the current debate over the pope?

yes well – we all know that you were beaten and abused but let us draw a line under that. let us think positive.”

exactly charles. it’s like, apart from that Mrs Lincoln, did you enjoy the show?



sorry – cannot think of a positive at the moment

What an astounding revelation of vile, or at least unpalatable, practices emerges from the passionate exchanges between ex-pupils of Surbiton County Grammar School. I offered on this site (see July 21 and July 24, 2009) my own recollection of times even longer past, but they did not include the harrowing experiences recounted since by many others from a decade later.

It does seem that one man – be it Hitler or, apparently, headmaster Doig – can be capable of creating, or promoting, a whole culture of repression in a society. The stories I read now do not recall my own earlier memories of the same school between the years 1942 and 1947, when a more benign AGF Willis presided over all our fates.

On one single occasion, I suffered physical punishment at the school: a slight slap on the face for being lippy, from Bert Forward, my favourite teacher (I was shocked because I thought I was his favourite pupil, so it took me down a peg or two). Anyway, on leaving school, I remember being happy to go with my parents to a party for Bert hosted by the parents of my then friend Peter Pulzer. It was all very civilised, and I remember Bert Forward, with his mild iconoclasm, for encouraging my early critique of constituted authority and to carry such an attitude into journalism (which I still do).

Ken Bidmead, then future Tory mayor of Brighton, was urbane and I never knew him to display the physical aggression described now by later witnesses. Sid Capper, of course, would never hurt a flea; Bill Busby was one of the nicest of many Communists I have known in many countries; Neville Holdaway, detective story writer and Marxist historian, was a bit of a dry stick with such a rich hinterland, but no threat to his pupils’ integrity. The black times on Surbiton Hill seem to have eluded us in those wartime and early post-war years. Did we live in a golden interval?

Anyway, we often too easily say that the world was better when we were young. It wasn’t. Thank goodness, we don’t now accept physical violence against children. As we don’t send them (in England) to work in mills and mines. There is progress, and we can make the world a better place (though there’s a lot of work to be done).

Wise words, Mr Avis!

peter davis

good post. i suspect a combination of the war years and a more benign headmaster provides the answer.

as i’ve said, my parents knew willis and thought him ‘a really nice man and a gentleman’ and were disappointed to find he retired just as i joined the school.

Curious thing about Doig …. I find it hard to believe that he was the driving force behind sadistic and brutal disciplinary practices. My memory of him was of an intelectual and pompous snob, who probably felt that a common county grammar school was beneath him.

Far from giving him the dubious credit of being behind it all, I remember feeling that he was totally out of contact not only with his pupils, but also with his staff. I cannot recall ever seeing him
sharing a joke with other teachers. I cannot ever remember him walking the school, in conversation with his staff. I only see him sweeping majestically down the corridors apparently lost in his own importance. I doubt he even knew where the smoke filled staff room was.

In the 6th form, we would occasionally discuss Doig, informally with the more sympathetic members of staff and I never once heard any of them rushing to his defence.

My other memories of him where when he would unexpectedly arrive to take a lesson (usually, ostensibly Maths), and would then proceed to ramble on about almost anything he felt like. Bad tempered yes, except when he was making feeble attempts at making a joke. Indeed there was a time when it was speculated that he kept a bottle of Scotch in his desk drawer….

Sure, he carried out his ritual canings, which may or may not have ‘turned him on’ but he certainly wasn’t into the violent and gratuitous violence meted out by the likes of Gus et al.

This is by no means a defence of Doig, who was without doubt, a poor leader , a poor teacher, a poor communicator and a poor motivator.
I very much doubt he even knew the names of more than a handful of pupils.

In summary, his greatest failure as a Headmaster, was to be without emotion and without humility, and without any understanding of his role

I have managed to find 10 happy memories of my 7 years at SCGS (1954-1961), in spite of the undoubted shortcomings of the place.

The end of term hymn “Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing” for the obvious reason that it was the EOT

The bus ride to Hook on games afternoons

Playing in the school orchestras especially for G and S productions

Trumpet lessons on the top floor of Braemar after school once a week

Lunch hour in the school grounds during the summer terms

School journeys : I particularly remember one to the Isle of Wight and a residential week at Slapton Field Studies Centre in South Devon as part of the A Level Biology course

Inspirational teaching from Messrs Stubbings and Cadogan

Good friendships

An awareness that though the school was rightly or wrongly in the shadow of other nearby grammar schools, it was still actually a privilege to have passed the 11+ and so avoid the alternative options

A year after leaving school being employed in the school office as assistant to the redoubtable School secretary Dorothy Gambling

Perhaps others can add to the list.

peter pocock

you wrote:

“Curious thing about Doig …. I find it hard to believe that he was the driving force behind sadistic and brutal disciplinary practices. My memory of him was of an intelectual and pompous snob, who probably felt that a common county grammar school was beneath him………………………………..

………………..In summary, his greatest failure as a Headmaster, was to be without emotion and without humility, and without any understanding of his role”

or put another way, a totally useless sadistic bully who should never have been put in charge of children.

if he didn’t drive the sadistic practices, it is hard to see who did. there were plenty other thugs among his staff and prefects but i am quite sure he was the lead player / encourager.

maybe you were never caned by this piece of garbage. he tackled it with the same enthusiasm and lack of decency as a bunch of drunken yobbos kicking an old man to death.

Again some interesting posts.

Bill Busby – I remember him eating his lunch inthe art room and accusing us of stealing his orange from his lunch box. He beat all six of us and then found his orange in his briefcase where it can had fallen from his lunchbox.
I hope this wont affect our relationship laddie? What do you think?
I also remember when four of us were due to be beaten by him for carving our initials on our desk. One of us stuffed a handkerchief down the back of his trousers only to be spotted by Bill Busby. He made the boy take down his trousers and pants and beat him on his bare bottom in front of the rest of us. This is a total violation of human rights but we were not aware of this at the time. A gentle well meaning communist? A sadistic pervert!!!!

The bullying was rife. I know as I was at the receiving end for my first three years because I was fat and wore short trousers. I hid every break looking out for Omph and Sutherland who would seek me out and beat me up for being a fat kid. We had two Asian pupils whose life was hell especially one who had to wear a calliper on his leg. We also had one severely disabled pupil who used to be followed by others taking the piss out of him every break.
I remember being a prefect where we had a fellow sixth former who was asthmatic and we used to force him into the prefects room and jump on the horse hair sofa until the chap collapsed with an attack. Such cruelty was commonplace. I was bullied and I am ashamed to say that I bullied.
It was a cruel environment which made me tough but I know some who did not make it. Two of my contemporaries had breakdowns and left. Strangely enough one is now a very successful QC and the other a very successful retired businessman. Maybe the best outcome was to leave the school ASAP.
Anyway – I have no axe to grind as I have had thirty years as a very successful forensic psychologist, academic, researcher and now an adult education inspector. I have done very well but all thanks to my university experience which was brilliant, truly educational and made me grow up.
The only good thing about SCGS was the friends I made and the few I am still in touch with. The school, the teachers, the educational experience, was without doubt overall appalling. Cruel abusive educationally inadequate.
That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.

Apologies to Charles Clark for having evidently embellished the reputation of Bill Busby, who must have deteriorated in character and behaviour from the rather reticent teacher I knew in his young days, at the blissful end of war: “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!”
I can’t explain the Busby phenomenon, unless it be another case – history records so many – of violence breeding violence. And I suppose we are all potential monsters at some level of our being, though happily many of us manage to keep the monster at bay. Engaging in this Old Surbitonians’ debate is a cathartic experience. Hope it does us some good.

Can’t help thinking these current discussions have played well beyond their ‘sell by’ date. I was at the school from Sept 1955 through July 1963 and I never witnessed the systemic beatings, sex abuse etc alluded to in the recent blog exchange. Yes corporal punishment was practised; yes the school was not ‘politically correct’; yes the standards of teaching were mixed; yes the teaching agenda was biased towards classical red-brick university entrance; yes the buildings were far from ideal; yes Doig was a man with his own agenda; yes … blah, blah, blah.

Now put all this into perspective. Yes capital punishment was the norm; yes homosexuality was illegal; yes racial abuse was the endemic; yes gang warfare – from Rachman to the Krays – was rife; yes we had National Service, with all of its associated boot camp abuse culture; yes there was social militancy and intimidation; yes driving home blind drunk was de rigueur; yes you always had a 10 shilling note strategically placed in your driving license in case you were stopped by the police; yes if you got a girl pregnant you married her;yes there was no sexual equality in the work place; and yes we were living in a Gene Hunt “hit first, ask questions afterwards world”. Yes, the world we were living in was far from perfect… truth is it still isn’t today, just imperfect in different, but equally abusive, ways.

We were all very privileged to have been given the chance for an education denied to the rest of our peers and yes were also lucky to have been at the start of, and part of, the massive cultural revolution that was enveloping the post war society, from music, arts, literature, entertainment, cars, air travel etc. etc.

I learnt great common sense and survival skills at SCGS, from avoiding the holly bush indoctrination to keeping your head down and keeping stumm when the proverbial hit the fan, also to stand my ground when the circumstances saw fit. I also learnt how to make the most of my chances and get the best out of what I had been given.

I also gave up my seat for a woman on a bus – an act today that would probably see me prosecuted for ‘indirect sexual harassment’, opened the door to allow my elders to go first, was taught respect and decency for others and was scared to death at the thought of going blind! We also flew (or more accurately crash landed) model aircraft on the school grass area by the canteen, played conkers and indulged in other activities that today would keep legions of Health & Safety and Risk Assessment Managers in apoplexy.

I look back on SCGS with a deep affection, warts and all, it was part of a process and has helped make me what I became, placed me in good stead to deal with life’s difficulties and helped me achieve my successes and deal with the failures on the way, skills I see sadly lacking in later generations. The ‘chaos and inadequacies’ of SCGS were a key part of this process, but life too back then was woefully inadequate by today’s enlightened standards.

At the recent SCGS reunion at the Victoria in Surbiton, everyone there had made a real success of their lives; so too have the peers and contemporaries I still keep in touch with from my era and a lot of the people who have blogged on this entry.

As for the diversity and quirks of the teachers; what a tremendous tapestry we were given for laughter and merriment; ideal material for St Trinian’s, Carry on Teacher, etc, etc. and yes these were all poking fun at what was the norm in this period of our lives. Can’t imaging be able to do any of the stuff we did then now… how sad, how sanitised. And yes, in our various ways, we did all help change the world; our job now is to encourage our children and grandchildren to do likewise to today’s injustices, including a fight against the toxic endemic culture of selfishness and instant gratification.

malcolm penn wrote:

‘Can’t help thinking these current discussions have played well beyond their ‘sell by’ date. I was at the school from Sept 1955 through July 1963 and I never witnessed the systemic beatings, sex abuse etc alluded to in the recent blog exchange’

not sure i f you’re saying it didn’t happen or if it did. it was all part of a rich tapestry, and presumably, by implication, all jolly well good for the victims. made them better people, better able to face the rigours of life?

i’m afraid no amount of excusing or justifying or post rationalising or ‘being grateful for the privilege’ excuses child abuse, not even in the homophobic, sexist, xenophobic racist days of the 1950′s. no, it wasn’t legally condoned then and isn’t now.

let’s ‘move on’ by all means, unless others wish to share their experiences. but please don’t try to justify / deny the perversion at SCGS by painting it as a really okay 1950′s schoolboys’ adventure that made us better people.

Thank you Malcolm for a balanced and erudite reponse to the recent postings. I had the benefit of both Messrs Willis and Doigs’ stewardship at SCGS and in my time 50-56 received a short quick punishment courtesy the cane from both. Can’t remember the offences but do remember the embarrassment of waiting outside their study waiting to be called in whilst it seemed the whole school filed past. Both were very different characters and had their own vision as to the school’s direction and curriculum.
Also after leaving the school I completed the mandatory term of National Service where beasting in the first months of training was again not unusual.
Of course in todays ‘Nanny State’ we do not tolerate such behaviour, where parents will now rush to complain at the slightest form of verbal correction to their progeny. Do not seem to remember either in those past times the litany of stabbings, muggings and worse in everyday life and in education establishments the daily assaults on teaching staff prevalent in todays’ society. Perhaps there is a moral there somewhere.

Les Thacker:

I agree with you that Malcolm Penn’s contribution, a couple of messages back, was a good and wise one. You go on to say:

“Of course in todays ‘Nanny State’ we do not tolerate such behaviour… Do not seem to remember either in those past times the litany of stabbings, muggings and worse in everyday life … prevalent in todays’ society.”

I’d just like to back that up with some figures I found online. In 1960, according to official statistics, homicides in Britain were at their lowest point of the 20th century (“homicide” included the offences of murder, manslaughter and infanticide). Homicides per million population in England and Wales were:

1900 — 9.6
1910 — 8.1
1920 — 8.3
1930 — 7.5
1940 (no figures)
1950 — 7.9
1955 — 6.3
1960 — 6.2 **
1965 — 6.8
1970 — 8.1
1975 — 10.3
1980 — 12.5
1985 — 12.5
1990 — 13.1
1995 — 14.5
1997 — 14.1

“Since the early 1960s the number of homicides per million population has more than doubled.” (House of Commons Research Paper 99/111, 21 December 1999.)

I’ve double-asterisked the lowest point for homicides in the above list — 1960! It was precisely during the years most of us have been talking about here — the 1950s and 1960s — that the most serious sort of crime was at its lowest in Britain. Tough discipline in schools (and elsewhere) may well have had something to do with it.

dave pringle

is the implication then that the abused children of the 50′s and maybe 60′s would have gone on to be murderers had it not been for thugs like doig and his stazi?

i wonder why 1900 was so high given that all forms of corporal punishment were prevalent?

would you be happy for your grandchildren to be severely birched for a minor misdemeanour either in the privacy of some pervert’s study or in public in the pe changing room while the school was in assembly?

no, didn’t think you would. please don’t defend the indefensible with selective, spurrious statistics.

it was abuse. it was wrong. end of.

I have been fascinated to read the recent comments. I feel quite disgusted to read the memories of former pupils about some of my colleagues from long ago. As I arrived at Surbiton (1958), a newly trained teacher barely four years older than some of the pupils that I taught, I was happy with the teacher/pupil relationships that I discovered. As far as the Head was concerned I knew little of what went on in his study! However, he did tell me on the 3rd Monday of my first term of teaching that I should make a reputation by hitting a pupil that week! What did I know of such things? – there had been no physical punishment in my own shooldays and the only thumping I had ever done was on Welsh rugby fields. But I was obedient – in the Biology lab I hit a big lad (sorry DP) and never again in a longish teaching career did I ever lay hands on another pupil. I told Mr Doig and my housemaster Malcolm Davies that I disagreed with physical punishment and would attend assemblies but that on each occasion I would leave before any public beatings. Both agreed – probably thinking what a wet youngster I was. In a clash with Mr Doig I stated that I would not wear an academic gown in laboratories – he said that it was a requirement for all teachers – but I stood my ground, explaining the safety issues and stating that the official dress for the lab should be a white coat. Eventually he agreed and – lo most of the other scientists also changed dress to white coats immediately.
I suppose that in an atmosphere of physical punishment most accepted it as normal and the only way to get discipline. That was true in many, but not all, schools at that time. I remember one colleague who started teaching at the same time as me. He was frequently in tears and totally unsuited – though he may have been good in another school. There were some amusing events – such as Sam Capper’s constant neurosis that he may have damaged a pupil by a slap and the time that one teacher slapped one pupil, not realising that the boy had to wear a wig – the wig sailed across the room and one can only imagine the horror that ‘Keats’ suffered.
But there were so many good things about that school – I learned so much that I could take on to two more schools and then on to the postgraduate training of generations of Biology teachers at the Universities of Bristol and Durham. I did enjoy coaching a rugby team, working on the G & S productions, running the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme (and taking SCGS pupils to the Palace for the first Gold awards) and even the Staff/student plays – always a farce – with colleagues Bolt, Harris-Ide, Hunt and Fernyhough. On the subject side I was not really helped by my Head of Department – but was given a free reign to innovate by Morris – so we had a Natural History Society with field days and a week of Ecology on the Devon Coast for A-level biologists.
I have happy memories of those four years with lots of good things – and there were some great kids and splendid teachers (Frank Walmesly immediately comes to mind – we took a group to the 1960 Olympics in Rome). I am saddened to read that some of the correspondents here did not think of their schooldays as ‘the happiest days of life’. Corporal punishment, thankfully,is now over – but one reads that bullies still exist in schools – but they are mainly other pupils.

Since discovering this blog I have been thinking back a lot about my schooldays trying to remember more. I was at Esher Grammar as it was by them called with Wimpy as Head – the only Doig I knew was a really nice guy – some of his lines about History are still ingrained in me. There was one horrible science teacher whose name escapes me but was a psychopath and picked on a few weaker boys as we queued up to get into the lab (he never taught me so can’t remember his name). And there was Baz with his thrown blackboard rubbers, and Mr Silley with his long ruler which he used to thump on your head. And of course Gus – who walked into the room and everything would go grey . Apart from a thump with BC Hackett’s plimpsoll I think the fear of the cane kept me out of trouble.

I was by no means a goody goody – and I used to love the breaktime ritual of being out by the back gate on the grass smoking Numbos or roll ups. And I remember some bullying – but not against me or by me – my fight with Terry Graves (although lost) gave me a little more credibility as I landed a good few blows and hurt him as much as he hurt me.

But I don’t remember that much brutality to be honest – I remember some really good times, and a few good teachers, and by then I discovered girls to add to football and music as obsessions. Tiffins Girls – happy days ! Concerts at the Coronation Hall (anyone remember seeing Focus there?) and sneaky halves in the pub at lunchtime – we went through a phase of smoking pipes !

School was kind of always there and you went there and accepted it, but life was happening and so many things to discover outside – so my happy memories are wrapped up with memories of stuff happening outside school. There was bad stuff too as my mum died while I was in the 6th form and the school seemed oblivious to this fact. But generally I don’t remember too much brutality – I guess the early 70′s were changing everything and it sounds a different place to the Surbiton Grammar regime.


One of the differences would be the choice of missile. In my day it wasn’t blackboard rubbers but milk bottles (those 1/3rd pint jobbies) that were hurled towards one.

I was fortunate in that I always saw them coming and was able to dodge them in time.

A previous post mentioned the blessed lack of excessive Health & Safety in those times. I broadly agree with that sentiment though a smidgeon of H&S back in March 1963 when I seriously injured my shoulder high jumping in an unsuitable pit (we were forced to use the side of the pit at the back of which was a rock hard mound of sand – this was end of Winter 1962-63 don’t forget) might have saved me from an injury the after effects of which are with me to this day.

Perhaps if Baz Hunt hadn’t insisted on applying a splint to my forearm(!) and then advising my parents that I had been taken to Kingston Hospital (when I was actually taken to Surbiton Hospital) I might have less unflattering memories of the efficacy of the teaching staff.

Alan Cadogan’s recollections reminded me of an incident in the mid 50′s. Dr Turner was demonstrating the properties of Sulphur to our class and had set up the chemical apparatus at the front of the lab. We all gathered round, pushing and shoving, while he poured the concentrated sulphuric acid on the copper turnings and collected the ensuing gas in a gas jar. As he turned sharply, to write the equation on the blackboard, his academic gown caught the retort stand and sent the apparatus flying. We all pressed forward laughing at his misfortune. Suddenly we all started choking and I found my lungs had stopped working. Realising I had only seconds of conciousness left I led the rampage for the door. I came to flat on my back on the grass quadrangle outside the lab with the other survivors. I felt like I had experienced the last days of Pompeii first hand. Great respect for sulphur dioxide, less so for Scum. Laugh I almost cried.

Paul Leadbitter

October 19, 2010 at 1:42 am

Gary Shepherd,

I remember you. I was in the same year as you and Graves. But I don’t remember the fight.

The psychopath science teacher you remember was Mo Morris. Whenever there was less than absolute silence in the queue outside the lab, he would suddenly throw the door open, grab the first boy he could lay his hands on, drag him inside and thrash him in full view of the others waiting outside.

This became very counter-productive. Invariably, the “weaker” boys were forced to the front of the queue by their unpleasant classmates, and the latter started talking very loudly, in anticipation of the forthcoming explosive spectacle. Worked every time…

alan cadogan wrote:

“………………As I arrived at Surbiton (1958), a newly trained teacher barely four years older than some of the pupils that I taught, I was happy with the teacher/pupil relationships that I discovered. As far as the Head was concerned I knew little of what went on in his study! However, he did tell me on the 3rd Monday of my first term of teaching that I should make a reputation by hitting a pupil that week!”…………

well there you have it from the horse’s mouth. doig was a thug. a throwback to dark victorian times when monsters like him took a particular delight in abusing and violating children.

he should have worked in a borstal or similar correctional facility. but maybe it’s as well for society that he didn’t.

thanks for the post alan.

I must say I am a little saddened by some of the above posts.I am almost afraid to admit that for the most part iI actually enjoyed my sojourn at SCGS(1954-1962).Thoroughly agree with Malcolm Penn.As to Doig,it all changed for me ,when in an unguarded moment,at aG&S rehearsal,he told us that at University he was called PB Doig.PB standing for “prominent buttocks”. I have to stand up for Mo Morris,When I took A level Zoology he was engaged and quite frankly alot of fun.Alan Cadogan,you were abreath of fresh air.You took us to Slapton and gave me a life long love of natural history.As well,you gave us along list of contemporary English literature to read, I also thank you for that

I was at SCGS from 1965-1972 and part of the 1st year intake that made the transition from Surbiton Hill to Thames Ditton. I think I attended the school at Surbiton for just the autumn term before we made the move to the new school, complete with its playing fields and outdoor swimming pool. I do, however, remember the old playing fields off Somerset Avenue in Hook which were especially convenient for me as I lived in Chessington at the time. I also recollect our first rugby lesson at Somerset Avenue when a master (Mr Cripps – Maths) while demonstrating how to tackle, ended up breaking a class mate of mine’s collar bone (I think his name was John Stagg?).

I have been following the postings in recent weeks concerning the extensive bullying by teachers that evidently went on during the 50s and the early 60s and wanted to add a perspective from my somewhat later era. My recollection was that although some canings took place, notably by Gus Hillier in his office, the level of corporate punishment I witnessed was pale in comparison with what I have been reading about. I can’t help but think this had something to do with the new headmaster, Eric Waller, whom I assume took over from the (seemingly sadistic) Doig. Not long after starting at the school, I do recall Mr. Walmsley (then House Master for Lovelace)caning a boy named Jones in front of our form for carving his name in his desk, but thereafter such public beatings were few and far between.

Taffy Davies (Master of Coutts), Bunny Warren (Master of Egmont) and Baz Hunt (Master of Villiers) were still there and to my recollection were very devoted and dedicated teachers. I think I had Bidmead for my first year Latin, but then he left/retired and I moved on to Harris-Ide and then Baz Hunt. I studied very hard and came away with 11 O’levels, plus I also played rugby and cricket through each of my seven years and ended up captaining the 1st XI under the supervision of the delightful ‘Bomber’ Lancaster who taught French. For my A’levels, I took Chemistry with Taff Davies (was Bristol the only University worth applying to?), Botany with a new teacher we used to call ‘Runk’ (I can’t remember his real name?) and Zoology under the deplorable Mo Morris who was no more a teacher than I’m a Dutchman! What a despicable man and a disgrace to his profession! His lessons simply consisted of his reading aloud various passages from text books that we were expected to write down verbatim with no opportunity for discussion or comment. I still marvel at the fact that I managed a B in zoology which helped me gain a place at Southampton University where I gained a first in Physiology and Biochemistry in 1975 and a PhD in Pharmacology in 1978. I have had successful careers in pharmaceutical research, scientific marketing and scientific business, but I often think back to how, given my academic and sporting interests, someone at SCGS should have directed me towards medical school. However, as has been discussed in previous postings on this site, career advice at our school was noticeable by its complete absence in spite of a ‘Careers’ Room’ (just off the Assembly Hall and down from Gus’s office, and a Careers’ Master named ‘Sammy’ Sentence who also taught English (what else?). As for Mo, I remember how we all laughed when we heard he had broken his collar bone while refereeing a school rugby match, especially as he did as a result of slipping on an especially frozen pitch while running out onto the pitch before the start of the game!

Not sure if any of my class mates are reading these entries, but if any of you are out there, here are the names I remember from the countless times they were read out at form registration:

Best, Bleach, Blowers, Broughton, Brown, Clark, Davies, Dawes, Dresch, Duke, Gledhill, Green, Issacs, Jones, Logan, McDowell, Norton, Phillips, Pickett, Rossum, Shimell, Stag, Titow, Toft and yours truly.

When I left in 1972, there was still a 1st year intake, but I think that may have stopped in the mid-70s following which the school slowly transitioned into a 6th form college.


here’s a bit of elf ‘n safety 1956 style.

you may remember there was a small white lodge at the entrance to the drive that led up to the main, white school building.

this was used as a store room for all things military. as you know SCGS had its own army cadet force of which i was a member.

i remember one lunchtime / afternoon that a number of us were for some unfathomable reason, allowed to go inside the lodge.

well, apart from military uniforms and other supplies, the lodge had several rifles, yes, genuine .22 rifles. and, guess what, one of the boys found some – bullets. not blanks, but yer actual real bullets.

one of the boys loaded up the rifle and shot the padlock off a metal case. another shot through a narrow pipe in the wooden window frame to the outside.

can you imagine? the bullet that hit the padlock could easily have ricocheted and hit someone. the bullet through the window frame could so easily have hit someone – even a pedestrian walking up surbiton hill.

some of us did a runner when the bullets started flying, but others stayed there enjoying the ‘fun’.

make of that what you will. nobody got caught and as far as i know, nobody was hurt and nobody but those of us that were there ever knew, again, as far as i know.

why were there guns and bullets on a school site? how did the boys get the keys to the lodge? why were we allowed in there?

etcetera etcetera. beat that for a story!

Neil. I though the armoury was alongside Aysgarth, just beyond the end of the Physics lab. I seem to remember there was a proper field gun in there, used by the cadets for training I suppose, with Gus as the leading participant.


you might be right on both counts, but as a cadet, i don’t remember the aysgarth armoury.

i think the lodge was officially just an army clothing and harmless materials store.

i have this graphic picture etched on my mind of this boy pointing the rifle at the pipe in the window frame, and firing it in the direction of surbiton hill beyond.

absolutely amazing experience that still gives me the shudders today when i think what could have happened with bullets flying around!

Dave Littleproud

October 20, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Neil-I vividly remember the 25 pounder in the shed/garage next Aysgarth-and I wasn’t a cadet- I figured I could be shouted at enough at home!-let alone by Gus and Lefevre on a voluntary basis-Gus tried to sell the cadets by telling us -”you will join”-as self confessed rebel,Neil, why did you join?
I remember cadets pedaling home with .303 rifle on shoulder in order to practise rifle drill at home.
When Busby found my name etched on a desk ( I can’t believe I spent however long to do it-bit of acarving marathon) he merely gave some sandpaper and told me to remove said signature-he did try to give me some career advice which happily I ignored.
I only crossed swords with Doig once. Over some disagreement with a bus conductress. I was called to his study-he told his story -I told mine – he considered the matter- told me to be more thoughtful in future and there the matter ended. I don’t think I was even asked to write a diplomatic letter of apology.
As I have said previously a good source has told me that Doig was always willing to give apparently hopeless clay a further chance.
What is this? -I have just stood up for Doig -I earlier stood up for Scum( he was still a swine) and I knew someone for who had received kindness from Rachmann.
(anyone see the pictures of Christine K in the sunday paper-pheeeooowww!! Mandy was rather tasty too!)
I’m trawling my memory to find something positive about Gus or Watkins-might be a long voyage.
I take Neil’s point about h ‘n s regarding 22 rifles easily accessible but if he got caned after smoking what would have happened to him if he had been caught aiding and abetting in the discharge of rifles? Senior heads should have rolled too.
From what has been said I was unfortunate in not being taught by Alan Cadogan.
I see even the unflappable Frank Walmsley had his physical moments.
As to rising homicide rates there has been a significant demographic change since the 1960s that we mustn’t mention because it upsets Mr Brown.
At least in the 1960s I could leave my bike outside a shop and it would stay there till I came back.
Cars did not need the complicated locking devices we need now.
Close to home the eldest son of the local “problem family” went away to a school of a “higher standard” and when he returned made it plain he wasn’t going back- birch twigs were mentioned but that was a rumour.
Now my daughter wants my pc!!


don’t remember exactly why i joined the cadets. probably because i moved to chessington about one year after joining SCGS and left the scout group in kingston, which i had enjoyed.

the cadets were a bit like the scouts. lefevre and gus were pleased to have recruits and there was no shouting and screaming. maybe some parade ground style lef’ roit, lef’ roit, but none of the ‘orrible little man stuff.

a number of my friends joined up too and i have to say we all enjoyed it. i would have been out like a shot if there was any personal arse kicking and so forth, but there wasn’t. no, it was great fun and we learned a lot.

we went to a kind of camp for a kind of holiday at aldershot, and were all signed up for the parachute practice jump when suez happened, the ta was called up, and the project was abandoned sad to say.

i agree about the demographic change since the 60′s and its effect. our politicians don’t like us saying so but they know it too.

Dave Littleproud

October 20, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Neil- I am an old kingstonian from near Richmond Park- where were you?


i lived in near the town centre in acre road. before that in beaufort road which is quite near surbiton.

i was in the scout troup mentioned in someone else’s post, 1st kingston hill i think it was called, located on the corner of park road / tudor drive.

richmond park was a regular haunt when i lived in kingston.

Dave Littleproud

October 20, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Neil -have you noting better to do than sit in front of your pc all evening?? I lived in Cross Road at the Elm Road end- I was born in Shortlands Road-next to “Flaskett’s” little workshop next to the Wych Elm which is a sometime Friday night venue for old Surbs. As kid I used to go totting for metal , newspapers , jars and sell them to Collins Scrap in Acre Road -now there was a place in which ‘elf n s’ would have had a field day. I went to Latchmere Road primary and the cubs at St Lukes. Most of my mates came from the Elm Road flats and York Road.

Dave Littleproud

October 20, 2010 at 9:27 pm

If Uncle Bill Busby was a Commie how come he drove that great big Railton?-when Doig was driving an Austin A30.
And who were the meanies who chained the back bumper of said Railton to portico columns of Albury House?


the pc can be addictive can it not.

i know all the roads you mention, and pretty well know where they all are. the whole area was my ‘hunting ground’

i went to st joseph’s rc primary school near fairfield.

i also used to scrounge door to door scrap paper, glass jars bottles, old clothes etc and sell them to the scrap yard in acre road. must be the same one. as a kid that was very lucrative business.

i actually don’t remember which cub group i went to but it was probably 1st kingston hill, same as the scouts.

happy days, eh. i used to love kingston and liked living near the town centre.


the pc can be addictive can it not.

i know all the roads you mention, and pretty well know where they all are. the whole area was my ‘hunting ground’.

i went to st joseph’s rc primary school near fairfield.

i also used to scrounge door to door scrap paper, glass jars bottles, old clothes etc and sell them to the scrap yard in acre road. must be the same one. as a kid that was very lucrative business.

i actually don’t remember the name of the cub group i went to but it was probably 1st kingston hill, same as the scouts.

happy days, eh. i used to love kingston and liked living near the town centre.

apolgies for the nearly duplicate post. site filter!

Dave Littleproud

October 20, 2010 at 10:08 pm

If you google map Park road you will see 1st Kingston Hill Scouts is still there.
as I have said before-at least you haven’t ordered 11 packets of rice krispies

You all seem to have way better memories than me for “people details” – BUT when it comes to cars……..Buzzer wrote off the Railton in a head on crash with I believe a Ford Zephyr (the occupant of the Ford did not fair very well?) It was his replacement – a VW Beetle(!) that I remember being attached to the columns – and no it wasn’t me.

It was the Art group,Baz Hewston,Dave Ashwell,etc

Dave Littleproud

October 21, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Inside knowledge Richard?? or a close source?-you surprise me! How is Dave -like to hear from him some time.
Yeah I remember the beetle.
Who split on the kid who put up the notice about head boy “Angus” Hind being in charge of lavatory cleaning -about 1958-59??-cracked me up when I read it.
Neil -funny by the time I got to 18 I knew I didn’t like Kingston-no regrets at leaving it or London.

It’s been a while since I checked the progress of the “SCGS story” ( poor old Kevin Davis perhaps rues the day it ever got off the ground!). Blimey, this has the makings of a rival thread to the Archers. Sorry but I don’t quite understand how some of you guys have the time to spend and/or waste chewing over the same cuds time after time. I will though break a lance for my old buddy Malc Penn and endorse heartily every word he said recently about the ol’ school. I’m sorry for those of you who seem to only be able to serve up vitriol on the subject – some of us look back with plenty of gratitude for some basic training in civil decency, canes or no canes, wierdo or exemplary teachers etc; everyone’s entitled to their own opinion of course but frankly some of the more hair-raising accusations I find difficult to square with my personal experience. I will say that I’m proud to have brought up 4 kids, all of them now adults, whose values do reflect what we were taught to respect way back then. Regards to all of you out there – still alive’n’ kicking after 40-odd years in sunny Madrid. (Maybe that’s part of the secret….)


when were you at SCGS?

Dave Littleproud

October 23, 2010 at 8:35 am

Neil -Len was in my year and served the years I did-for half of that time we were in the same class so we shared most of the same basic experiences-and I am in agreement with him-although I would say that our basic decencies came from our parents- the school might have polished them a bit. I’m no poo-pooing your experiences Neil but we all had different ones and most things are shades of grey-jeez I’ve even made a tiny allowance for Scum and Doig.

Dave Littleproud

October 23, 2010 at 8:41 am

Len- sound comments -good to hear from you again.
i look on this site as much part of my social networking as my friends/ neighbours bridge club art class. I check my email everyday, as I do my post, and for some reason this site appears on it. But most of all, like the activities mentioned above, I enjoy the social contact.
Keep them coming!


i guess we all speak as we found. my basic values were also mostly based on those of my parents, certainly not those of SCGS.

what i find strange is len finding some of ‘the accusations’ hair raising, yet ‘difficult to square’.

on the assumption i was just describing what happened, doesn’t that make them even worse?

and in my case at any rate, they are not subjective accusations, they are fact.

but hey, this all started by me slagging off doig and because i thought he was such a vile, bullying scumbag, i pretty much took it for granted that would be the general view. i wasn’t initially expecting to feel the need to back that up with examples.

the worst tyrants in history had plenty friends and admirers!

Dave Littleproud

October 23, 2010 at 10:59 am


Paul Leadbitter – I remember you as well – Terry Graves had a lot of fights so I was one of many – I remember it as it was my only one ! So more significant to me in that I wasn’t seen as a soft touch by anyone (even if I was constantly baited by one or two in the year who tried to question my masculinity). Mo Morris – thanks for reminding me who he was and now it makes all the other postings make sense. What a horrible specimen he was – and yes you are right the same boys were pushed to the front and blamed for any minor indiscretion.

So mixed memories – I suppose I dodged out of the way of trouble.

Neil. I agree that the values we kids generally upheld were the ones instilled in us by our families and the various people we came into contact with on an everyday basis, but then I think they were generally those of the majority of society anyway. If we ever got into “mischief”, as we certainly did on occasions (witness our treatment of poor old Sid amongst others), it was certainly never violent and rarely destructive in the way that so much reported behaviour is nowadays. Yes, we were often selfish in the way we treated others, but it was rarely accompanied by self-important arrogance – more a way of letting off steam in a somewhat restricted social environment. I’m not proud of some of the things I did at school, i was a very immature teenager, but I think it did start me on a better road in life generally. If I hadn’t got my 11 plus and gone to Surbiton I suspect my achievements would have been far fewer in subsequent years. From the varied comments posted here, it seems that pupils often had very different views of the relative merits of different teachers, I suppose things often depend on personal relationships at the individual level. But isn’t that true of life anyway. I always felt that I had a relatively good relationship with, ( and hence felt that I owed a lot to) Ferneyhough, Lonsdale, Forward, Smith (Physics), Williams (German), and even Gus (my very first form teacher), plus a small number of others whose names elude me at this distance in time. Also to the G&S operettas, which were an interesting social diversion. But the overwhelming majority of teachers were impersonal and cold, and contributed nothing to my personal development other than occasional doses of fear.

Paul Leadbitter

October 24, 2010 at 4:33 am

Gary Shephered;

I have just remembered that you and I used to have extra music lessons with Philip Alderson, Head of Music, who – for some reason, does not seem to have been mentioned yet on this site. There were only three of us in those extra music lessons, the other one being the eccentric John Humm, who has been mentioned above somewhere.

Mr Alderson was a superb teacher, never ever resorting to the techniques described in recent postings. Maybe that’s because I think he only taught music to those who positively elected to study it, and who were genuinely interested in it.

I remember that we had our music lessons in one of those little soundproofed rooms with a piano in it. Phil used to sit there and play any classical music we chose, on request, including all the Beethoven piano concertos: extremely impressive.

Humm used to stand behind him, madly “conducting”, using various puerile hand gestures that made you and me crack up.

Phil used to ride an ancient “sit up and beg” pushbike from his house in Kingston to Thames Ditton every day, and he must have been well into his 50s or 60s then. I remember him telling us about the sheet music he used to carry around in his kit bag during WW2.

I remember that there were a few of us who took Music “O” Level and Phil invited us all to tea at his house during the Christmas holidays. He lived in a vast old three-storey house near Coronation Hall, containing at least three grand pianos on different floors.

He lived there with his two aged sisters, who had laid on a fantastic traditional English tea for us: various cakes; cucumber sandwiches without the crusts etc. When we sat down for tea, one sister sat at each end of the table, each with a huge teapot (and cosy) in front of her and a set of cups and saucers. One of them said: “India or China?” If you chose India, it was in the teapot on the left, and vice versa for China.

I remember it was freezing cold in the house, and Phil was wearing those fingerless gloves (I used to call them “Steptoe” gloves) to keep his hands warm enough to regale us with fantastic piano music.

After that time, I was always reminded of Mr Alderson when I watched “Dad’s Army” and saw Mr Godfrey (Arnold Ridley) living as a bachelor with his two aged sisters.

Very happy memories (unlike some of the others I have recollected here).


no doubt we all liked teachers for different things, either as people or just for the competence of their teaching ability. fernyhough, gus (even!), lefevre, skeine, bidmead, heywood (?) heyward, masters (latter two died circa 1955), forward (unless he had to make decision!), bidmead, chemistry (don’t remember his name), biology (ditto) etc etc etc.

some of these, and others, had unfortunate attitudes, usually unduly aggressive.
this kind of workhouse ethic victoriana worked okay if the recipient of the bad behaviour (the pupil) accepted his compliant role in society and that being verbally and physically abused is acceptable, and damn it, jolly well good for you.

i reckon the only thing being abused teaches most people is how to abuse.

coming from a predominantly immigrant (irish, italian, polish etc) rc primary school, much of traditional, conservative middle class england was alien to me. i think this is why i felt uncomfortable at SCGS and rebelled against some of its ‘traditional’ values.

remember also that we pupils were (depending on your year) either at the beginning of (in my case) or in the middle of a teenage revolution kicked off in the usa with rock’n roll, and continued in the uk with the big pop groups of the early 60′s. you may remember this ‘vulgarity’ and teenage independence was greeted with horror by our betters.

added to which i absolutely loathed the self regarding abuser doig and though some feel i’m being a little harsh, nobody here has actually spoken up for him other than to praise his operettas.

but did i benefit from passing the 11+ and receiving a good education while i was at SCGS? yes of course.

bizarre, innit.

Are there any known facts about Doig before he came to SCGS, which might help to explain his unusual character?

Was this his first appointment as a Headmaster?

Any apochraphal stories from previous schools?

Were did he himself go to school?

Did he ever do military service?

Was there a Mrs. Doig, or even little Doigs?

Did he ever excel at any kind of sport (apart from pulling wings off flies)

Anyone know where he lived? Bet he had garden gnomes on his lawn.

Under the system in the 50′s and 60′s, was it Doig, or someone in Surrey County Council who appointed new staff? Similarly, did he have the power to fire teaching staff?

Peter. There are only two things I knew about Doig. He lived at Raynes Park, I think in Coombe Lane not far from the Atkinson Morley Hospital, and his son Lee Doig was (at that time) a well known film editor having worked on several major feature films, and subsequently The Saint. Doig was very proud of his son. As I recall you were a year ahead of me, joined ’54, so you would have arrived same year as him I think??? Doig was so full of his own self-importance that he lived on a different planet. He never just walked anywhere, he swept majestically along with his gown flowing behind him. Hornby was head boy in my first year, a memorable name. And has has already been alluded to, you were one of the nicest, most human of prefects of that time, (no, I’m not trying to butter you up for any favours!).

Phil Alderson

He was brilliant. I learnt cello with Phillip Lunn who was excellent. I also did O level music with Phil Alderson. He played the clarinet and was responsible for the schools music. A real gentleman and a good teacher. I was hopeless at music and I dropped out of O level music but he taught me to compose and I developed a real love for all music especially classical music.

Thank you for reminding me of him as he was special and made a real differnece to my education.

Dave Littleproud

October 24, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Neil- have i got this right?-are you sticking up for Gus???

dave – does seem strange, but no, a bit of positive spin relating to teaching ability. and of course i was a cadet and he was okay in that.

i didn’t have a problem with gus apart from the silly head banging routine.

“Gubby” Alderson was indeed an exception amongst the SCGS staff. The fact that he only attended school Monday, Wednesday & Friday was unusual, but that Music O & A level was an option at all was pretty odd when it necessitated giving up another whole subject to facilitate its inclusion in the timetable. I had to give up Art for the year before O-levels which was a pain, especially as Buzzer gave me grief when I wanted to resume the following year, implying that as I’d missed a year, I couldn’t expect to pass O-level, laddie. (I managed to scrape through.) I was far happier about sacrificing Physics the next year. I too enjoyed tea at The Aldersons which I believe was in Knights Park. My chief memory is of suffering embarrassingly from hysterical giggles as PA would insist on accompanying significant passages of the set pieces we were listening to with his own “tyom pom pom” of the melody.
As much of my adult life has been spent involved in music, both for work and pleasure, it would be churlish of me not to offer a belated thanks to Gubby for his inspirational efforts, largely unappreciated at the time.

Paul Leadbitter – I do remember those extra music options really well but had forgotten his name – I just used to love listening to him play and was searching only recently for one of the pieces he played (I think it was called Month of May or something like that but I never found it). It was in that tiny room with the upright piano. Although there was a bit of mickey taking, actually we all really liked him – I kept asking him to play Bach’s No. 1 Prelude again. Music has always been important to me and I worked in the music business for a while (and my Dad was also in the music business) – and those lessons are really fond memories of how an enthusiastic teacher can pass that on to pupils. Of course it was a bit different from what I was into at the time, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath but the prog rock of Genesis and Yes had classical influences and good music is still good music. Its funny, I remember John Humm being in the lesson but could not remember the other person – you have filled that gap. Its also funny how bits of memories keep surfacing – and how important those days were. In a way everything was new and up for grabs in a way that it isn’t now – the world really was changing and there was definitely something in the air – or is that just 70′s nostalgia?

Dave Littleproud

October 25, 2010 at 10:52 am

John -Don’t worry about it -”as Buzzer gave me grief when I wanted to resume the following year, implying that as I’d missed a year, I couldn’t expect to pass O-level, laddie.” I can assure you that you wouldn’t have missed a thing- because there was no art teaching -no syllabus-no showing how to do something -no explanation of technique-if other subjects had been “taught” in the same way we would all have been academically illiterate. I liked the guy but with hindsight………..anyone remember Phil Reed teaching ART!!!?? Now there was a teacher.

I seem to remember Phil Reed as a bearded guy who taught pottery? If that is him he was a brilliant teacher.

Something I have seen in all your blog posts and I wanted to give you a compliment on is how good your English and spelling are. Where did you figure out how to write so good? It looks like you have a certification in writing from a College.

I think I “write so good” because I have read a lot of good books and digested them well. It also helps to study the spoken word: in our own age from Winston Churchill to Tony Benn. You can pick up some good expressions in pubs, too. Dickens did.

Dave Littleproud

October 30, 2010 at 9:57 am

All those years at SCGS!!! –plus all that Peter Avis says

… and for years I laboured under the misapprehension that our role was to occupy the teaching staff during the day to prevent their running amok through the streets of Surbiton.- – now you’re telling me that I learnt something too?

Mr Davis… I see a comment by Richard Day on the Kanis brothers. I am doing some ancestral research and have found that my late aunt, Doris Jenkins, was married to an Arthur Kanis who ran a plastics factory in Teddington. Just wondering if the Kanis brothers mentioned might be related to me. Any info would be appreciated. Regards…

Dave Littleproud

October 30, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Peter Levy -as one family historian to another –google John Kanis–could be useful

I should also like to put in a good word for Philip Alderson. Curiously I had actually forgotten that he was a (part-time) teacher at SCGS.

In 1963 my parents, at my earnest request, bought me a piano (originally a second-hand standard upright but it proved impossible to get it up the stairs of our flat so I became the proud owner of a brand new mini piano). As I needed a teacher I chose Philip Alderson and now I realise how I came to know of him.

I have never worked in the music industry but did write lots of music as a youth (a choral piece I wrote in 1968 was given its first public performance as recently as 2006!) and am happy to acknowledge Philip as an inspiration.

Sadly my piano-playing ability never developed much but I did rather better on guitar and, latterly, saxophone.

As for grammar and spelling – I went to a Grammar School.

I have just been perusing the photo of the group at the Victoria pub ,posted on friends reunited.It seems like this gathering might be an annual event.If it is and there is any plan for next year,perhaps the organisers can publish the date and venue on this space for out of towners who would be interested in attending.

I agree with Richard on this.

I would love to meet Messrs Fifer and Hunt again. Baz is clearly recognisable in that photo, although he has lost a huge amount of weight. Does anyone know if his health is OK? I hope he is well, despite the slipper! He was a very good teacher.

I was also amused to see “Fripp” Junor in that photo. He now looks like the kind of bloke it would be good to have a pint with – and reminisce about the day he gave me 300 lines when he saw me take my school cap off in the train from Thames Ditton to Surbiton!

Hey, this page was an interesting find. I thought SCGS had been erased from history after the “Great Rebranding” after I left in ’70.

Then a Google search found this extensive blogversation. There’s too much to read in one sitting, so I’ll look forward to coming back. What am amazing set of memories. I’m wondering what I could add.

BTW Dave Littleproud knows me: he is mates with my brother Alan since school, some 6 years before me. Dave: I hope to catch up with sometime…

Dave Littleproud

November 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Hi Mike-great to hear from you- saw big brother last April when he stayed with me for Prescott hill climb. You served your seven years -you have plenty to say!!!

Hi there again, and thanks to Dave for the welcome. I’ll introduce myself:

At SCGS from 1963 – 1970.

The old location at the top of St Mark’s Hill was only about 500 yards from the old family home in Berrylands Road. After the move it was 3 miles away! Sadly it was about 10 yards short of 3 miles so did not meet the threshold for the council to pay the rail fare, but such is life.

I scraped in as I failed my 11-plus. Luckily the interview panel agreed that I should have passed so they let me in. Later I figured out the trick for passing exams, which I clearly didn’t have at age 10/11.

My first year form master was Harris-Ide. I recall he had one joke. “If you kill your father it’s patricide, if you kill your form master it’s harricide”. How we laughed. (I think this beats the eggs and ham joke, referred to above, which I also remember).

Harris-Ide was great in that he had a friend at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, and he got me a private visit to see my first (valve) computer in about ’64. It amazed me by being able to display the day of the week I was born on a VDU given my birth date.

My greatest mates through school were

Clive Telford
George Bondar

Later in the sixth form I also got friends with

‘Ted’ Barell (Martin Barell by proper name)

Ted, George and I were all keen on maths (when not playing Bridge).

I met up with Ted at Cambridge (he got in without a gap year while I took the entrance exam and a year off). I last saw him 1976 when he came to visit while I was converting our rented house in Cambridge into a recording studio.

I last saw Clive in the late ’80′s when I stayed with him and his wife near Cheltenham. Sadly I’ve fallen out of touch and haven’t been able to trace him online (so if anyone knows where he is, please let me know).

I still keep in touch with George regularly by email.

I missed out a chunk of schooling as at age 15 I was in hospital for 6 months (summer of ’67) due to a condition misdiagnosed as “growing pains” that, being untreated, ended up with me having non-functioning hip joints for the next 25 years until I finally got some new ones. That meant I was off until after O levels. I did come in to sit the O-levels with everyone else, and I had a hastily modified armchair brought in to accommodate my strange sitting position.

I returned for the 6th form in ’68, on crutches (later a stick).

As mentioned, I got to Cambridge and went from one of the best mathematicians in school to one of the worst in Cambridge, so I did a final year switch to Computer Science and got an okay degree. They did let me stay on to do research but after a term I quit to set up a recording studio and spent a decade or so recording punk bands (and others). Later I drifted into designing audio gadgets (mostly software) which I still seem to be doing.

I moved to Portugal in the ’90′s with my partner for better weather and still seem to be doing audio software….

So that’s a potted history.

One recollection of HM Waller. When I said I wanted to apply to Cambridge he told me “I’m a Cambridge man myself, and I don’t think you stand a chance.”. Was he a clever psychologist or the pratt I though he was at the time? It did make me determined to prove him wrong.

More recollections of school days are coming back, I’ll try to share them…


I was interested to read Keith Watlings’ memories of slightly later times than mine. (I’m still working through the stories).

Keith: you mention that you were close to the transition to 6th form college, which was done by simply taking no more new entries into lower forms until everyone reached the 6th. I have often thought it would have been odd to have been the last to enter at age 11, always being in the lowest form.

I assume there must have been a major change in the teaching staff too. Some teachers seemed incapable of treating us like adults which, when you’re in the 6th, you expect and deserve. I seem to recall the odd insulting remark by jumped up members of staff when aged 17/18. My strategy was just to ignore them as far as possible and dismiss them from deserving any respect or regard from me at least.

Mike -send me your email via Alan-late now just got back from round trip to bristol -traffic awful-have comments to make on yours another day-take care

Hi Dave, no problem with posting my email address as I’m pretty easy to track down on line anyway. To confuse any robots it’s mjklap at where x is my company sintefex. Will be great to hear from you.

Hi Guys,

How fascinating to find this site after so many years. I recognise a few names but you don’t appear to have too many correspondents from my intake in 1961.
I joined the school from Tolworth Junior Boys in a group that included Chris Forth, Mike Harding, Dave Wootton, Bob Ireland, Andy Russell and others from the victorious Tolworth football team that thrashed Latchmere in the primary schools cup final at the old Kingstonian ground in Richmond Road. I think we were all initally disgusted that the school didn’t play football, but some like Chris and Mike went on to make the grade in rugby, unlike me, who went into a big sulk and refused to have anything to so with Saturday morning winter sport, instead carrying on with football with mates from Southborough and Fleetwood schools.I did play for the school in cricket in summer though, along with some of the above. Other names I remember from my years were Paul Turtle, Paul Pike, Derek Thorogood, “Bernie” Thomason, Ken Witts, Neil Roberts, Terry Scrivens,Stuart Simpson and a brilliant brainy guy called Searle, who won a scholarship to, I believe, Stowe School, and left the rest of us behind. I fondly remember the lunchtime games of football in the playground where I won quite a reputation as a “goal hanger” One day I was lurking near the goal at the gym wall end when I was shoved into the wall and knocked clean out- for how long I don’t know. Served me right I guess.I also remember a vicious little red- headed prefect called Becker who smacked me round the head one day for “talking in lines” . Did he go on to become a prison warden perhaps, or the world’s shortest walloper?
Also, I wonder how many of you remember the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas which, if my memory serves me well, were produced by another pompous prefect type, by name of Plantin. Many years later I forgave him his pomposity though when I realised that he was probably the Marcus Plantin who went on to produce the Two Ronnies on TV. His G and S experience at Surbition obviously served him well with those wonderfully funny G and S skits they used to close their show with.
When I left school I went to work as a journalist, initially with the Greater London Council press office, then with the Surrey Comet, (even though headmaster Waller had told me I’d never make it into journalism!) before emigrating to Australia where I worked in newspapers, radio and television in a variety of roles, most recently as producer of a nightly hour- long news programme. Like someone who commented before me I also wonder if Waller was a good motivator, or if he just didn’t like the idea of someone leaving early ( I quit after O levels), rather than going on to A levels and then to University. Well, that’s enough from me for the time being. I’ll check back in from time to time to see if there’s any news of any of the above, and to share some more memories.

Hi Tony, I was a couple of years after you so don’t know many of the people you mention.

There was a boy named Turtle in my year, but I think he was Mark. Brothers maybe.

I met Marcus Plantin in the mid ’80′s when he was producing a TV show at the BBC theatre in Shepherds Bush that some mates of mine in a band were on. I mentioned the old school but not the reputation. He was a nice guy then, though I do remember his torturous traits as a prefect during my first year or two when I was no doubt fair game in the hierarchy.

Sounds like we are establishing an MO for Waller, if he used that same line on you. (“You’ll never make it …”).

BTW I came from Tolworth County Primary School (‘TCPS’ which doubled as the motto ‘Truth, Courtesy, Politeness, S…?’). Would that be the same as yours? I can’t imagine Tolworth had that many primary schools.


“I recognise a few names but you don’t appear to have too many correspondents from my intake in 1961.”

Hooray! Your comment is almost exactly the same as one I made a few months ago. It’s good to hear from another of the 1961 intake at last. There seem to be many people here from a few years before us, and a number from a few years after, but few from 1961.

I was there for the same years as you, 1961-1966. (I would have been there until 1968, but my parents moved home, to the Midlands, so I ended up spending my 6th Form years in another, slightly “better,” school in Sutton Coldfield — where I was horrified when I arrived to find that many of my classmates had ten ‘O’ levels while I only had seven. Still, I was able to hold my own with them.)

I vaguely remember your name and most of those you mention…

“Chris Forth, Mike Harding, Dave Wootton, Bob Ireland, Andy Russell and … Paul Turtle, Paul Pike, Derek Thorogood, ‘Bernie’ Thomason, Ken Witts, Neil Roberts, Terry Scrivens, Stuart Simpson…”

Wasn’t Derek Thorogood actually Derek Thorogate? He’s on Friends Reunited, but I haven’t spoken to him there. One I have exchanged emails with, though, is Terry Scrivens. Since he doesn’t seem to be on this blog, I’ll take the liberty of quoting him here:

“… An amazing bunch of teachers, flapping around in their gowns, like something from Hogwarts !!! Also remember Dave King (the Metalwork/Technical Drawing master). I had the misfortune to attend him when he passed away…fairly young as I recall, After my 9 years with the Royal Marines I the did 30 years with the London Ambulance Service as a Paramedic in the Kingston Area, where I still live, but was forced to retire on medical grounds…”

I replied:

“… As for Dave King, yes I knew him quite well — he gave me after-school special maths coaching for a year or so. Sorry to hear you had to attend his final moments in your professional capacity. Can you remember when that was, and how old he was? My younger brother Leslie Pringle (who went to Hollyfield school) is also a recently-retired ambulance man (in the Birmingham area), and has just finished writing his second book about it; see: ”

And Terry said:

“… can’t remember exact year, but we were called to a ‘collapse behind locked doors’ in Surbiton, broke in with aid of police & found him dead in an armchair. Probable cause ‘massive coronary’, nothing we could have done, he’d been there overnight at least. Shame, I always got on really well with him, and did Metalwork & Tech Drawing (which lead me to become a Surveyor in the Royal Engineers). Funnily enough, I’ve been thinking of writing a book about my time in the LAS, including The Clapham Train Crash, Marchioness sinking, Poll-Tax Riots, etc etc. better to do it now before the memory fades!”

So that tells us what happened to one of our old teachers, Mr King. I’ve also exchanged emails on Friends Reunited with our contemporaries Geoff Jackson and Stuart Foster. Remember them?

Its good to see I’ve sparked a couple of memories. Yes David, you were right it was Derek Thorogate- I’d confused him with Thorogood, which now I recall was the name of a local building firm in Tolworth.
I remember Stuart Foster ( blondish hair, rugby player?) and the name Jackson rings a bell but I can’t picture him.
Mike, I guess TCPS was the same primary school- one entrance in Douglas Road and the other off School Lane, which ran up from Red Lion Road? Teachers there included Fred Bruce, who ran the football team, his mate Wilding and a very nice bloke called Hopkins.
I remember Bruce and Wilding played cricket together for Hook and Southborough. It was a great school if you were sports- mad like I was.
I don’t know if anyone on the blog can sort out for me whether the story of Eric Clapton going to Surbiton is/was correct or an urban myth? I don’t remember him there, and in his autobiography he talks of going to Hollyfield Road ( presumably before Hollyfield moved up to Surbiton Hill when we moved to Esher ?) and then on to arts school in Kingston. Some confusion there maybe?
From what I have seen quickly scanning this blog a couple of the teachers I remember well didn’t make much of an impression with others. Namely “Bernie” Shaw, a maths teacher who was our form master in my first year- a keen tennis player who came, I believe, from Brighton. I liked him but that didn’t help my grasp of maths, which was always hopeless. A more successful teacher, as far as I was concerned, was “Ozzie” Osborne, who taught English Lit. In despair at my writing style he once lamented: “Townsend, the only thing you’ll ever be is a journalist” which pleased me at the time and is precisely what I turned out to be, despite Waller’s negative prognosis.
I, too, remember Dave King and his metalwork and tech drawing classes. He was a nice enough bloke who became frustrated with me when the best I could show for a term’s work in the metalwork room was a tiny square ash tray. I’m sorry to hear that he went to the great blast furnace in the sky at an early age.
I certainly remember Terry Scrivens well. We went to the same youth clubs after we finished school and I went to his wedding to Christine in Chessington and stunted up a picture of the happy couple on a No 265 bus that was published in the Surrey Comet.
After the best part of 40 years in Australia all this seems to be very distant. But other Old Surbs I have stayed in touch with include my Best Man, Nigel White, and Colin Hastings, also ex Tolworth Boys and the Surrey Comet, is running a magazine business in Thailand.
Can anyone tell me what happened to Alan Capel, Roger Vaughan and Phil Spooner of our year- I’ve often wondered? And perhaps where in Australia Johnny Mann ended up? He was always very good natured when teased about his Aussie accent.

nice to hear from you stuat i thought you would end up doing something arty , i remember our days in hinchley wood , just found the blog and have spent the last two hours laughing , dont think doig was a bad as you all made out i used to go to his extra maths group, i liked bert and like all of you thought walmsley was a real gent [although i did not know what a gent was,] used to do a paper round in kings keep where sid lived , he read the daily herald , i was one of the lagoon boys and thought that on a hot summer day the lagoon beat latin by a mile would love to hear from chris william, stuart little, dave sudbury , ian harrison, dont think clapton ever went to scgs , but went to hollifield road , did better than me , sid taught me french , i always worked on the basis that a foriegner would always understand you if you had money or kicked him hard enough , and having travelled all over the world for the last 30 years see no reason to change that thought

Hi Chris – well there’s a thing. I am very flattered that you should think that I’d end up doing something arty. Corporate video is probably not an ideal way to express one’s creativity but I am working on my music (however my wife insists that I’m not a Rock God nor ever will be).

[For the casual reader Chris Rackley (Villiers) was in the year ahead of me (Egmont) ie 1958 entry to my 1959 entry. During our years at school I guess we had little more than a nodding relationship but when we left SCGS we both ended up at the Surtax Office in Hinchley Wood for a few years and became very good friends there (Jim Sheahan – Coutts – was also there for a while). Chris and I took part in a couple of Tanners Marathons down in the depths of Surrey. On the first one (won by Gordon Pirie!) we tried to run it all the way and had achieved 15 miles in 3 hours. But then we saw a pub and stopped there for, in my case, a lager and lime (the best one I ever tasted) and could only manage the last 18 miles (we got lost at one point and had to do three extra miles) in 6 hours. The second Tanners Marathon we completed in a more respectable 7 hours.]

Interestingly just after I spotted Chris’s note I went to the Kingstonian FC web site and it featured a video interview with former Ks captain Micky Preston who holds the record for the most Ks appearances. Mike (Lovelace) was part of the SCGS 1959 entry.

I wonder if there are there any other folk from the 1959 entry out there who might like to join this forum?

stuart, did you ever write your sympony? , great to hear from you , i left hinchleywood and did a commercial apprenticeship in the aircraft industry at british aircraft corporation and an hnd at kingston polytechnic my eldest son who got married this summer also got a degree at kingston , i have two sons, i remember pat harrigan and the tanners maraton well ,my wife never could see me as a marathon runner ,it was mega-hot and the two pints we had in the steven langton at friday street were still the best i ever tatsed , i live in burgess hill in sussex ,so still go thorugh the north downs a lot , i alway think of jack skeene , i have travelled the world on business and what jack taught me helped a lot , i was also in china and talked about the opium wars with some chinamen and thought about henry zetter and history , i peeed in jacks rainfall guague one night after a school dance and a session at the railway [now sadly a block of flats ]and jack went on about the high levels of precipitation that weekend , imagine the amount of whistles you can get out of a word like precipitation , it was great to find this website , and really great to hear from you , best regards

stuart little
stuart just read through my message and realised i cant spell, either i cant spell or i cant type , blame keats if it is the former

Dave Littleproud

December 7, 2010 at 8:08 pm

! suppose that Keats would find this the best time of year to discuss clause analysis

Dave Littleproud

December 7, 2010 at 8:10 pm

particularly that relating to ones mental state


December 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm

dave , damn you! i had not given clause analysis a single thought since 1964 , now it all come flooding back ,
p.s. what was clause analysis ?


December 9, 2010 at 4:44 am

to peter pocock, ,
peter you ask about mrs doig , i remember that doig had addressed the school at an assembly and told us all that his wife had died , he woke up one morning and found her dead in bed , quite a tragedy , i can remember what year it was but i was quite near the front of the hall , you remember how as well got older we moved nearer the back of the hall in assembly , so i would presume that poor mrs doig left us in about 1958/9 , i realise thats quite an unusal thought , how old were you? well i was near the front so i must have been about 12 , now over 60 i would probably be so far back i would be in guildford

Hi Christopher,

I would certainly have been somewhere near that back in 1958/59, at the tender age of 16, but have absolutely no recollection of Doig announcing the death of his wife.
Sad, because in general he was a character with apparently very little emotional capability, and presumably a ‘public’ announcement of the death must have been quite painful for him.
A propos absolutely nothing, does anyone remember where the teaching staff used to take lunch? Certainly don’t recall ever seeing them in the Dining Hall, and they didn’t look to be the types interested in ‘brown-bagging’

Tony Townsend mentioned Bernie Shaw, and I’d like to add that he was a great help to me, nurturing my meagre mathematical skills.

I recall him taking over from Walmsley, who was a strange distant character who seemed to glide around in his gown as if on wheels. I think he retired about the time the school moved to Thames Ditton. Don’t get me wrong, Walmsley was a great teacher, smiling beneficently on those of use who sat at the front and lapped up maths (yes, I have to admit I was one of those). But that was in my first two years.

By the sixth form Bernie was actively pushing some of us onto better things, even arranging some special advanced lessons for a few of us held in the sixth form common room with an old codger named Dalziel.

Bernie had the disconcerting tendency to spell the word “show” with an ‘e’, as in “Shew that x is odd” or the like. I still can’t avoid pronouncing this as “shoe” lending a surrealistic image to it.

So he was great guy. I never managed any sort of return visit after leaving school, it would have been interesting to catch up with a few influential teachers. I imagine is he long retired now.

to peter pocock , jack used to sit in the new geography room eating salad sandwiches , in fact once jack had the keys to the new geography room he hardly ever left it , it was believed that mrs skeene made conjugal visits after school
after i left school and turned 18 and worked in kingston you would accasionly see some staff in the griffen in kingston market -place at lunch time

Chris, when you say “new Geography room”, I assume you mean room 9 in the Practical Wing at Thames Ditton. I remember Jack’s fondness for that room too. At lunchtimes, a few of us used to hang around in there. Everey day, Jack used to throw us all out, lock the door and go off to the staff room for a few minutes, before coming back and opening up again. We all used to go back in there and sit there talking while Jack ate his salad sandwiches and also his daily apple (with incredibly loud crunches).

One day, while he was on his ritual jaunt to the staff room, two of my contemporaries (names deliberately withheldl) climbed in through the window of the locked classroom and ate his sandwiches and apple. When Jack came back, all there was in his Tupperware box was the apple core. Poor old Jack. He didn’t say a word about it, but I actualy felt sorry for him.

Another day, he had to go out somewhere in the afternoon, so he had to leave the door unlocked to let a junior class (1st or 2nd form) into the room in his absence. On the blackboard, he had written out instructions for them to do a certain exercise from a textbook. We found the textbook, rolled the board round to the other side, and one of us with artistic talent wrote instructions for a competely different exercise from the same book on that side of the board.

After the junior lesson period was over, we went in and rubbed the forged instructions out and rolled the board round again, so that Jack’s original instructions were back where they started. Again, there was no “feedback” from Jack, but I can just imagine him looking at the handed in exercises, then at the board, over and over.

I must admit that I still giggle about that.


December 13, 2010 at 3:19 pm

to paul leadbitter, no the geography rom at surbiton,i never survived to go to thames ditton , left in 1964 when they pulled braemar and aysgarth down , the new geography room was at the south end on the top floor, some people might say that braemar and aysgarth were buildings of character , realists might say they were well past there sell by date, the new geography room became jacks fiefdom , as obviously as it did at thames ditton ,
good man though jack , i learnt a lot about the world from jack and in later years i have travelled al round the world on business , realised that a lot of what he tought me was true
best regards

so old doig’s missus croaked in bed lying beside the man himself, eh?

why don’t i have any sympathy for the old flagellator?

anyonone know if the man himself met with a suitably unpleasant demise?

Tis the Season of Goodwill to all men, Neil

oh no it isn’t. what about hitler?

Hello all,
Perhaps I am a little young to be posting here (I was at the school from 1969-1976) , but I wanted to say thank you for reminding me of many of the teachers who were around during my time. “My time” included the change of name to Esher College, the introduction of girls to the sixth form and concurrent demise of the school uniform. That said, I still have the school cap (mandatory in form 1 and 2) and a Coutts house tie, which I can’t bring myself to get rid of.

I’m pleased to be able to tell you (from personal experience) that John ‘Chopper’ Hackett and B Hunt (Latin) continued to use gym shoes as a deterent, but that Hillier mellowed during his time as deputy head to use cutting sarcasm rather than other punishment.

Season’s greetings from Western Australia.


I am pleased to see that my attempts to keep my head down during my 7 years at SCGS (Sept ’53 – Jan 60) appear to have been successful – not mentioned in dispatches anywhere. So why now? Maybe because I passed the old site a few weeks ago after 45 years living elsewhere, or perhaps because the grey matter remembers more of the distant past than what happened yesterday. What a surprise on googling SCGS to find so many old memories buried there. Have school photos from 1954 and 1958 plus the speech day program for 4th Feb 1959.(the only time my name appeared anywhere whilst at the school, or since?) Made the mistake of getting 6 O levels against all odds and finished up with a prize for “special merit in the GCE exam at Ordinary Level. Unfortunately this qualified me for the 6th form. Didn’t do too well academically there and left after 4 terms in Jan ’60. Was offered the chance to scan thro Bert’s careers leaflets – anything I found was either so old and dusty or it led to interviews where I was advised to try again once I had passed my A levels!! The Youth Employment Office in Surbiton, or was it Kingston, came to the rescue with interviews at NPL and ARL Teddington. the Admiralty Research Lab came up trumps and I started there as a kind of laboratory assistant in 1960. As the work centred around acoustics and ship noise with field trips to various Scottish Lochs and odd submarines and minesweepers this was a far cry from SCGS and all its foibles!

David you seem very involved with this site but regret I’m not aware of your name in my rusty list – probably because you were several years after me. I clearly remember the likes of Keith Piggott (inter-house boxing match, who won? – probably not me!!),David Morgan – very high pitch voice in his early days,Peter Pocock, Clive Nunn, Neil Curtin – who looked as happy as he still sounds in the 1954 photo!! any many more who have not posted on this site. Will list some names if I get involved again, and/or anyone is interested.
Ref Doig – hadn’t realised how bad he appeared to some pupils – my only annoyance was his excessive interest in rugby and music – neither of which appealed to me in the least! The midwife for our 3rd child in 1973 turned out to be his sister-in-law, no real news there tho, sorry. Child and midwife OK!!

A note to echo Mike Kemp’s recent comments re Bernie Shaw. I was a member of the Ist form that made the transition from Surbiton to Thames Ditton in 1965/66. As I progressed through the school, I recall a series of ho-hum Maths teachers – Walmsley, Diver and Hillier – and also taking my Maths O’level a year early as was customary for the top set. Having distinguishged myself with a laudable E grade, I was treated to the vagaries of ‘Additional Maths’ (a grade between O and A level) during my 5th year – an exam I duly failed (the only exam, apart from two UK driving tests, that I have ever failed). However, being a glutton for punishment, I decided to retake Add Maths in my Lower Sixth year under the one-on-one tutorship of Bernie Shaw managed a commendable E pass. He was a wonderful teacher – very patient and good at explaining the abstract mathematical concepts that I so struggled with. He was, in my view, one of the real gems, of that era. I also recall he was a passionate tennis player.


Dave Littleproud

December 15, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Neil and Peter-I don’t think ones views contradict the others – in this world there is ,of necessity, room for both sides -on the same afternoon and in the same breath!
Anyhow if I don’t say it later–All the best to everybody!!!!!!!!

Dave Littleproud

December 15, 2010 at 2:18 pm

A second hand contribution from Alan Kemp SCGS 1955-1963- big ginger haired guy with a big motor bike

” My main memories were of being bullied in the 2md form (as I was the tallest), but that didn’t last too long. When we moved up to Berrylands Rd I stopped having lunches, so barely remember them. I recall Sid was useless at teaching, so I didn’t really learn any French, although some must have stuck, as whenever I go to France it’s always me who does the talking, although they seem to understand better the further south you go! I did find later that the year of Latin helped tremendously when I learnt German, and still does with crossword puzzles. Otherwise, the years passed, Falling off a motorcycle pillion jsut when the O- levels started did me no favours, but I got what I needed. I didn’t understand the A-level Maths courses, and it was only later when I realised what calculus was all about that it made sense… fortunately for my Engineering Degree course! The A-level Art was a doddle and those years were the best at the school.
You may recall John Humphreys 1956- who had a ‘minor’ road accident crossing the Ewell Road, which knocked him out for a long time, and caused a brain tumour from which he eventually died some years later! ”

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you.

Alan “


yes, i remember you and the other names in your post. and several others who either have not found this blog or aren’t interested.

‘Neil Curtin – who looked as happy as he still sounds in the 1954 photo!!’ – LOL.

i guess i should apologise to all for using this blog to cane doigfuhrer, but in all my life i have always clashed extremely badly with arrogant, and especially bullying, arseholes.

merry xmas to all, apart from doig of course.

Dave Littleproud

December 15, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Neil—Better out than in!

Keith Watling: I also scraped an E grade pass in Maths “O” Level in the 4th form, and went on to fail with a “H” in Additional Maths. I seem to remember spiritually giving up on that whilst trying to understand Fripp Junor’s explanation of “solids of revolution”.
Merry Christmas everyone. Here’s to much more reminiscing in 2011.

It was a dreadful school full of sadistic paedophiles and the only positive is the children who survived and went on to do something with their lives. Many good kids went on to successful lives but why was it necessary to hit an 11 year old child as hard as you can with a cane repeatedly? As an adult responsible educated man – can you see that this might not be the best way to treat a child? Maybe your erection was more important than their care?

not just the catholic church that was full of perverts. scgs was yer sadists and masochists branch of the paedophile (or was it paedosceptic?) pervy society.
they got away with it due to a veneer of decency and kids keeping their gobs shut – kids notoriously blame themselves when abused.
scgs had some very good teachers but the folk who ran it and set the tone were abusive filth.

I find it hard to accept all those who praise the school. A recent pic of Baz Hunt alive and well after he sujected generations of boys to humiliation and pain is unacceptable. Why has he not been prosecuted? He is a criminal.
I still think about being punished unfairly there after 40 years. It was a nasty Dickensian regime which brutalised young boys for the pleasure of nasty old men.

Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, the school made a worse mess of you than it did of me, and I was the one being attacked all the time! (Teachers and Pupils).
None of you are wrong about the school being a hell-hole, but you should not let it screw you up. I was too stubbon to leave, which I should have done, and too stubbon to let them win. I use school stories now as a way of amusing and horrifying others. Most, although the truth, are not believed.

Greg, Hillier did not stop hitting us because he mellowed, he did so because my Father threatened to take him to court if he struck me or anyone else again. He had a really whippy cane, that he swung with relish, which left visible marks through your clothing.

A few clarifications: Eric Clapton did not go to SCGS. He went to Hollyfield before it moved to Surbiton Hill. Also, the only member of the Kinks who was local was Mick Avory who came from East Molesey. I don’t know which school he went to, but I remember running into the Kinks in the local pubs in the late sixties.

i agree with crclark. doig ran a dickensian punishment culture more typical of 1880 than 1950 and on.
some apologists say ‘ah, but it wasn’t a crime in 1950′, but it was. it may not have been illegal, but it was most definitely a crime.
many things were ‘legal’ in nazi germany but they were crimes.
even prefects at scgs were allowed to put the boot in, and of course some did, and relished that bit of petty authority.
i’ve always maintained that if the uk ever descended low enough to get our own version of adolf, there would be no shortage of volunteers to join the ss.
merry xmas to all!!

Messrs Clark & Curtin get over it. If these things are an issue 50 years on I really feel sorry for you

bob harris

they are no more of an ‘issue’ than the various reminiscenses on this blog. they are simply memories and recollections without the rose tint preferred by many.
after all, schooldays are meant to be the happiest days of one’s life aren’t they?
i don’t think any of those abused in the catholic children’s homes would read through soft focus posts without interjecting with the way it really was, if not for all then for a significant proportion.
you can always skip posts or posters you don’t like.

I have to say that I saw at SCGS some things done by some teachers to some pupils that were and remain shocking. Certainly, it would be criminal today. But the perpetrators were, in my experience at least, very much in the minority of teachers there. I can think of many who never lifted a finger in violence. And they generally constituted the better teachers. The only one that I remember being predisposed to corporal punishment and whom I also consider to have been good at the job of teaching was Baz Hunt. I know this will upset some people, but he did apply predictable criteria before resorting to violence, unlike some others who seemed to do it almost indiscriminately; just for the hell of it. And there was at least one, in my memory, who certainly seemed to get an unwholesome kick out of it (not Baz).

But was SCGS very different from other boys’ grammar schools in that way? I don’t think so. I’m certainly not trying to defend it; I think that particular trait of grammar school education in those times was disgusting. But I’m not sure it was unique to SCGS.

Now that you describe it, Mark, I think that I remember talk of Ted Hillier’s cane. But I don’t think that he used it after 1970.

I generally kept out of trouble myself and copped only a couple of ‘good humoured’ slipperings from Chopper Hackett and one from Baz Hunt. I can’t remember what I did to Baz for him to ask me “Shall I beat you, boy?”, but I remember my foot-in-mouth response to this day. “If you think that I deserve it” came out as “If it pleases you sir”. He did say “That’s not the object of the exercise, boy” before he slippered me.

I was Mo Morris’s target on just one occasion and remember it clearly enough today to feel more than a little sympathy for those of you who had to suffer him and his kind.

Academically, I suspect that the school was past its best by my time. I was probably in in the top third of my year at ‘O’ level and one of 10-15 kids to go on to university, but then just scraped a 2:2 and subsequently struggled with my masters (in an Oxbridge dominated class). I recall the teaching at the school overwhelmingly as well meaning, but I’m not sure how good it was.

It would be interesting to know something about the school’s reputation. Did teachers aspire to join the staff or would they rather have taught at other grammar schools? I also wonder if brighter kids may have preferred other schools at 11+. After 35 years my memories are fairly fuzzy, but I don’t think that Eric Waller had the force of character to shape the school and his predecessor, Doig, sounds like he was a malevolent influence.

I’d be really like to hear other thoughts on reputation.

Interesting that you ask about the school’s reputation. The impression that I had when I took my place in the 1961 intake was that the really smart kids who passed the 11-plus ( from the Tolworth area at least ), got to go to Tiffin Boys in Kingston, which was considered more academic than Surbiton. Whether results ultimately supported that I don’t know, but I suspect that might have been the case. On the sports field Tiffins were considered the arch enemy at rugby, though I don’t think we played them at cricket. Whether the teachers there were any better qualified I don’t know, although I remember that when I went to work at the Surrey Comet, the editor at the time was an Old Tiffinian and seemed very proud to be so. The local school with the best reputation academically, I believe, was Kingston Grammar, which from memory was a fee- paying school which occasionally took super-smart kids on scholarships… a bit like Surbiton Girls High, which managed to get my younger sister through to Oxford.
I must say I agree with those who write critically of Gus Hillier’s propensity to wield his cane. I remember receiving three painful lashes one day which brought up very livid bruises. He had caught me and two others flicking ink pellets at Bernie Shaw during a maths lesson, so I reasoned that I deserved it. I didn’t tell my parents ( or show them the evidence!) but suspect that had I done so my father might rightly have taken umbrage as Mark Sheridan’s did.
That aside I had no other complaints and found most of the teachers were well meaning if not overly inspiring.
Looking back, I believe we received a fairly good grounding in the basics. The school instilled in me a love of learning, and good general knowledge, which has served me well, and although I did dismally in maths I was always able to make sure that I received the right money in the pay packet!

Bernie Shaw and Stefan Junor taught Math to an extremely high standard. I was exempt a semester and a half of Applied Math when I went to University, more than most others on my course, including the guys from Public Schools. Physics was also cutting edge – Surbiton was one of the first schools to embrace Nuffield Physics. Also, I used to be suprisingly fluent in French, good enough not to get sworn at when I was conversing in France. All in all, I don’t think the standard was too bad in my time (1964 – 1971) although only 1/3 of the Sixth Form went to University. I told Waller this was abysmal as the school had creamed off the smartest kids at 11 and then weeded out the less academic at 16. Subsequently, having seen the performance of other schools, 1/3 does not seem a bad success rate.
But just look at the collateral damage on the way! The ends do not justify the means.
Bye the way, the students used to get back at Gus Hillier (who we also used to call “Adolf” after he became Deputy Head). He owned a Volvo sports car (same as the Saint) which had swing axles at the front. He would regularly find that someone has lifted the front of the car and let the wheels drop undeneath. The car would be resting on the front wheel hubcaps flat on the road! It used too drive him crazy!

Dave Littleproud

December 17, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Kingston Grammar was for those kids whose fathers were not carpenters. Tiffins was for those kids who didn’t resit the 11+. So I came to SCGS in September 1956.

Reading Eric Clapton’s biography reveals NO mention of SCGS–conversation with the brother of a Yardbird(who did go to school with EC and had had him stay chez parents) results in an emphatic denial that EC went to SCGS.

Bob Harris -are you of the group leaving in July 1957-Keith Masters and company?

As I said above I joined SCGS in Sep 1956. Being forewarned on day 2 I avoided Gus like the plague for next 8 years-my maths was of sufficient standard for me to avoid the collective caning after the mocks in jan 1961. He took a swipe at me when I was in the sixth form-observers told me that that my glare of stone and the realisation that I was a lot bigger resulted in a hurried retreat by Gus–all I can remember was being more bemused than annoyed.
Scum was well just Scum -one to be avoided like Mo and Taffy -there was french teacher who could be a little spiteful.
Sid was a lovely man who was not appreciated–he could have taught if the hooligans in 4b had let him. One kid in particular seemed to take great pride making it his life work to be as disruptive as possible.
Some of us were no angels -I don’t remember being abused -just got wopped now and again for being out of order according to the mores of the times. More power to Mark’s dad -mine would have said any punishment I received was my own fault— “Shouldn’t have been there” would have been the phrase.
I have no grouse other than that learning seemed a chore rather than a pleasure -perhaps the staff could have made learning more fun -but maybe after you have marked the same latin mistake 30 times you get a bit jaded.
I believe I was treated fairly and had some good times- to me the great majority of the staff were decent people -OK some maybe a bit eccentric -so what-we should have room for the maverick.
I was in the sixth form in the beginning of the teenage revolution- we were bright, clever and would have mad a lot of noise if things had been that out of order.


the thugs would have been a bit wary of 6th formers, many of whom were big enough to deliver a return thrashing. bullies are nothing if not cowards.
i remember, when i was about 13, a boy in our form, brian upward, who was built like a brick u no wot.
i think it was heywood (?the one with the beard) who was getting in a temper with brian and generally slapping him around. i could see brian’s blood was fast rising, and sure enough, whack! he planted one or two on heywood that visibly left the twat shaken.
who was wrong? should a good pupil just stand there while some idiot teacher loses his temper?
well, as you can imagine herr doigfuhrer was having none of this. brian was the one flogged in front of the whole school, japanese pow style.
the flogging was out of sight in the pe changing room while we were all in assembly so we could only hear it. didn’t make it any more acceptable, worse if anything.
what’s the moral of that? adults can slap 13 year olds around with impunity / immunity? 13 year olds must meekly accept being shat on by their ‘betters’?
i don’t remember brian’s original crime, but it was no more than the usual messing around. nothing that would justify the reaction he got.
i must admit, the rest of us were delighted when he struck back.
oh how scgs did loike to make a drama out of a non crisis.

My older brother Alan’s reminiscences “You may recall John Humphreys 1956- who had a ‘minor’ road accident crossing the Ewell Road” brought a memory of that accident though I was only about 6 at the time, my brother must have been 12 or 13. I had not realised that John was at SCGS.

I recall the shocking news arriving that John had been knocked down. Later we knew that he was in a coma for over 6 weeks and was close to being switched off but for the tenacious nursing staff.

Years later he struck up a bit of friendship with me – must have been ’68 – ’70, at which time he was coping (just) with coordination problems from the brain damage he sustained. By then he had turned very religious but despite me reading some of the tracts he lent me, I was not persuaded and we dropped out of contact. I don’t know what became of him after that.

Was it really that bad? Can’t say I particularly enjoyed school but put it down to my “soft” upbringing. Had a gentle few years at Grand Avenue primary school in Tolworth followed by a rough term at Tolworth Secondary school while my 11 plus result was awaited. If SCGS was bad then Tolworth was equally so or worse. “Killer” Kerslake used to wield the cane for the smallest spelling mistake in regular tests. As a result my spelling rapidly improved and is still reasonably good!! Can’t remember the other staff though so maybe they were not so bad. Guess I did not upset too many staff at SCGS, mainly suffering the general effects of Gus as he prowled the classroom! As I said before I managed to keep my head down most of the time. Not very adventurous but safer! Mention of Peter foster way back, does anyone remember his f**ts – they could almost empty a classroom !! Hope he’s off the baked beans these days.

Different regimes. I had a year or so of Doig rule before Waller arrived. Although his era was more vicious, it was also more controlled violence. The psychos had to play by the rules. Bert Forward, as Deputy Head, used to run interference, tempering the destruction. Waller was completely ineffectual. You would be on the way to the gallows at the beginning of a conversation with him and by the end of it you would be let off with a mild warning. Hillier could do whatever nasty stuff he wanted without anyone to stop him. Hacket once slippered half the class for some minor misdemeanor. Morris kept his Great Dane in the Biology lab, where it would steal sandwiches from your school bag. If you tried to stop it, it would bite you. It bit one kid so badly that he had to go to hospital and they still did not fire Morris. Basically where Doig would not stand for any nonsense whatsoever, Waller would let anything pass, so those of us who were having a hard time had to fend for ourselves. We could not depend on the system to protect us. Hence Charlie Clark’s understandable hostility.

I remember Morris’s Great Dane too. There was a tiny lift up the science block (staff only), and he used to have to bend the dog round the walls of it to get it in there. Someone bought a plastic dog t**d at a joke shop and put it in the corner of the lift, but I don’t think anybody witnessed any reaction to that.

Thinking about the “old school” teachers, things really did change a lot while I was there (67-74). On the one extreme, there were people like Morris, Hillier and Scum Turner still there, but also a very new breed came in who just ssemed to want to teach, without conflict or violence. Teachers like Ashdown (English), Mayhew (French) and Mrs Elks (Geography – I also had a crush on her!)


A note to agree with your comment about ‘the new breed’ that came in during the late 60s. I was at the School from 65-72 and remember Mr. Ashdown – I recall he was good athlete who told me he had once run a sub 4.5 min mile. Two other newbies I remember were John Hodgeson (tall with sideburns who taught English) who slowly wrestled the running of the 1st XV from Taffy Davies, and Mr. Clements (Welshman who also taught English) who also played a bit of rugby himself. The only bully among the new breed was Mr ‘Lurch’ Chambers who ‘taught’ Physics’se. He also had an interest in rugby and ended up running an under 16 XV (i.e. a team made up of 5th formers) during the 69-70 season. Previously, 5th formers were lumped in with the upper and lower 6th to provide the pool from which the 1st, 2nd and 3rd XVs were selected. Lurch (named after the character in ‘The Munsters’ because he was very tall) was a decent enough guy when he was talking rugby (I think he may also have played a few games for the Old Surbs), but in the classroom he was an utter bully and a disgrace to his profession. Lastly, there was Mr Crouch who taught RE with whom I remember having my first arguments about the existence of God – he didn’t convince me then and probably helped the seeds of my fledgling atheism take root. Anybody else remeber these guys??

Merry Christmas to all,


Hi Keith,

Yes, I should have mentioned John Hodgson. He was my form master the term he arrived. Great guy: an obvious healthy cynicism towards the “traditional” staff there. Giot immediate and total respect, without lifting a finger in violence. Mr Clements rings a bell, but I can’t quite place him. As for “Lurch”, yes he was a bully in the classroom, without doubt. He had a habit of “concocting” unique and unpleasant corporal punishment routines, I remember.

On one occasion, I vividly recall him making a generally well behaved boy kneel right on the edge of the low platform that raised the teacher’s desk off the floor in the Physics lab (Thames Ditton) so that his knees were on the platform and his feet on the floor, about 6 inches lower. Then, he made the victim hold one of those wooden student lab stools up above his head with both hands and also lift his feet off the floor. For the piece de resistance, Lurch put two housebricks on the ankles of the victim. Lurch carried on teaching the rest of us Physics, standing alongside this poor wretch, and holding a length of bunsen burner tubing at the ready.

Every time the poor s**’s arms got so tired that he lowered the stool, or his legs got so tired that his feet touched the floor, Lurch flailed him with the bunsen burner tubing. I kid you not…

But after I left the school, I can remember having a few good chats with Lurch at the Old Surbs club in Cobham.

I think it is a sign of how things have changed that I even acknowledged hin after what I had seen.

You left Stefan Junor out of the list of decent teachers. I’m afraid I have a soft spot for Chambers. You are right he was hell in the classroom, but outside he was one of the good guys. One day I was in a terrible fight in the corridor outside his room. Fair fight, as usual, 4 against 1, and I was taking an hell of a beating, again as usual. I had a quick wit and a sharp tongue and the less articulate would resort to the only response that they had, namely violence. Anyway, there I am backed up against the corridor wall, when out comes Chambers, flailing into my assailants swinging a physics textbook like it was a sword. For a brief moment we were battling back to back, like a scene from the Alamo (to my young mind then). He let them know in no uncertain terms that he knew why they were attacking me and that he was not going to stand for it. That was the first and only time that a teacher had actually done something positive about my situation. Most either turned a blind eye or tut-tuted as though there was nothing they could do. From that day on Chambers could do no wrong in my eyes and his corridor was always a safe haven. He did not treat me any better in class, but he did pay special attention to my “friends”

I wonder if you are the younger brother of a Sheridan who was in the same year as me and stayed on for an extra year to retake A level Physics under the incompetent direction of Bunny Warren? He never did understand Nuffield physics even though he had attended all the special training courses. At least he was honest enough to admit it.

I remember “ping pong ” Junor as an inadequate table tennis geek who spoke incoherently. Chambers was a sadistic bully and I remember the incident of his torture of a pupil against the raised dais in the physics lab well even though I was not in that class.

Julian Ashdown was a real gentleman and an inspirational teacher. I can remember teasing him relentlessly about the non submission of my Nostromo homework which he took in good part. Zaft was mad and suffered at our hands. Some French assistant who got pregnant by a sixth former nick named Mole?

I also remember SCGS as being very anti-semitic and racist. I know that the Sheridan I knew had a hard time as indeed did Herr Fifer. Leoni and Noorani as the only BME pupils in my year also took some stick. I also remember a disabled pupil in the year below me who was tormented because he had elongated hans and feet. Just remembered Bridden who suffered from asthma – the prefects used to summon him to the prefects room when they got bored and jumped up and down on the horsehair sofa until he collapsed with his wheezing.

Gosh – wasn’t SCGS a jolly place?

Mr Clark says: “Leoni and Noorani as the only BME pupils in my year also took some stick.”

BME? That’s a new one on me — but, looking it up, I deduce it stands for “black and ethnic minority.”

I don’t recall any “BME” pupils in my time at the school (1961-1966) — none at all. That’s not to say there weren’t any — there may have been two or three — but there were none that have lived in my memory.

I was there 1964 – 1971

I am the very Sheridan of whom you speak. Yes, I did hang around for the extra year, but I was not in school much, so I do not count it as attending. There were 4 main sufferers in our year. Me, John Noorani, who was Anglo-Indian and 2 Catholics. John Leone suffered because he had had polio and wore a caliper. And, of course there was Roy Goodwin, who was academically brilliant but had a social age of about 10. He, at least, did not seem to understand that he was being bullied. In the early years people used to steal his lunch money by selling him a “rare” penny for a shilling. Most of my early fights were defending him and returning his property (I knew him from junior school). You are right, the anti-semitism was endemic, students and teachers, but so was the anti- any other religion other than CofE. You could run and hide or you could stand your ground. I took the latter course which gave me a lot of grief. My brother, Kevin was 2 years younger and had the advantage that I was running interference for him (mostly without his knowledge). By the way, the bullying stopped when I grew to 6″1′ (1.85 m) over the summer before the sixth form (the ant-semitism did not, however).
Stefan Junor seemed incoherent to us because he came from Walsall. Most of us had never heard a strong midlands accent before – we thought he sounded “African” so his first nickname was “Massa” before it became “Frip”. He was actually a pretty smart guy, straight out of teacher training. First week in, he set the tone by giving the Head Boy 500 lines. How to discipline 101! When you took A-level Math he was a whole different person, he treated you as an adult, (almost) as an equal. Also he helped me restart the long defunct table-tennis club when noone else gave a damn. Chambers used to like to crucify students by making them stand for long periods with heavy books on outstreached arms. He never seemed to see the irony when he did it to me. But, as I said before, he was the only one who took any action against Jew bashing.
David, you had at least 1 “ethnic”, Roger Nathan, also Jewish, who ran the Chess Club until about 1965. He was the only other Jewish kid that I know of in the school. Of the teachers, Zaft and Fifer were Jewish. The former was short lived and the the latter could not even defend himself, let alone me.
On a lighter note, the table-tennis became the most successful club in the school ever (run by me and John Noorani), with a membership of one third of the school and a massive tournament between the houses that stopped the school dead!

Ashdown in particular was a very nice guy – he did give me lifts home occasionally (which sounds terrible – especially these days) but he was genuine and trying to help me (he knew my mother was struggling to bring us up as my father had abandoned us). I think he wanted to make sure I was okay – and we would talk about rock music and stuff. He went to work at a boarding school or a public school I think – his wife was an artist I seem to remember.

Dave Littleproud

December 21, 2010 at 1:30 pm

There are moments when I think I must have gone to a different school. From 1956 to 1964 there were very few “members of ethnic minoritie” that I remember.perhaps that’s because the admittedly “wasp” majority treated them just as other members of the school. The catholics and jews and atheists took time out of assemblies in the room next to the main hall under the eye of Mr Rigden, a catholic, a well respected and liked teacher.
One of my classmates, a jew, once gave us a talk on judaism-complete with 7 armed candle stick, skullcap etc. Other than that we never noticed he was jewish-he was just one of us. One of my close friends was a polish catholic-well he couldn’t help that -most importantly he was my friend still is. Another good pal was a jehovah’s witness.
Another jew would join myself and the polish catholic in playing air guitar at the back of poor Mr ——’s maths class. In the Autumn term of 1956 a curly haired brown skinned hook nosed character looking like Nasser received a great deal of good natured banter-for a while people thought his name was really Nasser. He too was a good friend of mine and of many others from that period- and those who remember me will never accuse me of being a bleeding heart liberal.
Some nasty remarks to a jewish sixth former resulted in a very stiff whole school denunciation from Doig.
The only “member of ethnic minority ” who got pilloried got it because he was a bullying nasty arrogant shit-not because he was brown. There was also a professional Yorkshireman who could go on a bit.
Roger Nathan was some years younger than me -I knew him because his big brother Richard was a friend from primary school.
In my time at SCGS I saw no no racial or ethnic bullying of any kind.

Dave L:

As I’ve said, I remember no “ethnic minorities” in the sense of kids of different skin colour. However, I do remember a Jewish boy being picked on: he was small, and sat near the front of the class, and was accused of being a “suck’ole” (charming word, not heard for 45-plus years). This would have been about 1962, or 1963. I remember feeling bad about this ragging, not because I participated in it but because I just kept out of it and didn’t try to stop it (some of the participants were my friends) — and I feel bad about _that_ now. The boy in question, whose name, I think, was Becker, didn’t last long. One day he was gone, and we heard he’d moved to a different school. So yes, that episode was definitely anti-semitic, and definitely something to regret about Surbiton County Grammar School. But this was the only such incident I recall from the five years I was there.

“The only ‘member of ethnic minority’ who got pilloried got it because he was a bullying nasty arrogant shit-not because he was brown. There was also a professional Yorkshireman who could go on a bit.”

I was ragged slightly for having a Scottish accent, and I was frequently called “Haggis.” No big deal in that, though.

The two Daves:
You both left before, or soon after, the regime change. As I said before, Doig kept a lid on the uncontrolled nastiness. Things did not get bad until we were well ensconced in Thames Ditton. Also, not everyone was involved and you can miss what is going on if you run in different circles. Roger Nathan told me that in his time he did not have a problem with other students, but had a bad time with a number of the teachers. In my case there was always bad blood from day one because I was exempt assembly and RI (even though I used to sit at the back of the class). This started out as jealousy and developed into full blown Jew hating. Scum did his best to heat up the situation. One class he stated that anyone who was not CofE was an idiot and deserved to go to hell, while sweeping his hand in my general direction, in case someone missed the reference. I never attended his RI class after that. Even worse, the school decided that I had to have a mark for RI and that it would be an average of my English and History marks. This arrangement ensured that I came top of RI without ever attending! You can imagine what the other students thought of that idea. If Waller had put a lid on the problem early and had managed it better, everything would have died down. But he didn’t.
David Pringle I don’t remember, but “Haggis” I do! It was used as a term of endearment, not an insult, at least by the younger kids. We must of liked you!

why would any sane school hire or tolerate a thick bigot like scum turner? tells you lots. i suppose he fitted in nicely with the other perverts, sadists and paedophiles.

why would any sane school hire or tolerate a thick bigot like scum turner? tells you loads. i suppose he fitted in nicely with the other perverts, sadists and paedophiles.


“David Pringle I don’t remember, but ‘Haggis’ I do! It was used as a term of endearment, not an insult, at least by the younger kids.”

Ah, thanks for that — warms the cockles, etc. You didn’t have to be an out-and-out furriner: kids from anywhere outside the Home Counties might find themselves labelled the way servicemen were (esp. in old films) — Paddy, Jock, Taffy, etc. The trouble with Haggis, though, is that it got abbreviated to Hag. Hey, Hag! — where are you going?

I didn’t have to put up with that after I left in 1966 and moved on to another school far away.

David P.:

Sorry about that. I shall refrain from using the monicer!
It is funny how different things affect us; of all the names I have ever been called ( and there have been quite a few that are unrepeatable) the one I hated the most as a kid was “Cherry blossom shoe shine”. I could not tell you why, it just did.

Mark Sheridan

I remember Roy Goodwin well. I was bullied by Sutherland and Oomph lots in my early years and sought Roys company on occasions. He used to be on his own walking up and down talking to himself. The older boys used to torment him and make him dance and sing the theme to Captain Scarlet.

I ended up house secretary of Lovelace house and I asked Roy to do a reading at the house assembly. He chose a very obscure existentialist piece from Jean Paul Sartre. Totally brilliant as it left the house spellbound and ginger history house master Doig speechless. I respected Roy and was decent to him – I hope he has done well.

Maybe that is what I mean about survivors. It was a really bad school and those who survived it did well. I was bullied in my first three years unmercifully, beaten repeatedly for no reason, witnessed many activities which would lead to prosecution nowadays ( attention Mr Hacket if you are not dead ). I hated SCGS until I got into the lower fifth when sex drugs and rock and roll took over my life the better.

I have been hugely successful in my terms in career, life and relationships and it is all due to not letting SCGS mess me up. I am close to retirement after a wonderful career in forensic psychology in the prison service, a senior academic in a good university and and government inspector.

Worst careers advice ever, appalling teaching in many areas especially the sciences. Leadership and management – nil points, equality and diversity – nil points, safeguarding – nil points. Doig ruled over a sadistic regime whilst Waller was a faceless bureaucrat.

By chance I went on to a good university, MRC scholarship for a PhD and then a good career. SCGS told me I was useless and would end up as a politician or a dustbin man. Thanks.

Lets lighten this up, shall we? I prefer to avoid the misery if at all possible.
Ken Bidmead, Mayor of Surbiton 1952-53, Mayor of Kingston 1968-69.
A nasty little man that taught latin and controlled the school stationery. Nicknamed: Bogweed. When he was angry he would rub the backs of his hands while lecturing you.
His pet hate was people not writing on the top line in their notebooks. He could spend a whole latin lesson calculating how many extra notebooks in a year that would cost the school if everyone did the same. Of course, we did.
James Irvine and I sat on opposite sides of his class and would swap identities to confuse him.
To the point: 1967 summer cruise to Iceland, Denmark and Russia. Bogweed was so disliked the school did not tell us he was coming with. When we found out we were devastated. The whole trip was ruined! The first morning at sea we were sitting miserably on the deck waiting for hell to arrive. Sure enough he came marching along the deck berating us for slouching in the deckchairs. What else are you supposed to do in a deckchair? Suddenly, from behind him came this voice: “Leave the boys alone, Kenneth”. Edith Bidmead, his wife, as large a woman as he was small. To our amazement, Bogweed responded “Yes Edith” and rapidly withdrew. For the whole trip, Edith ran interference for us. She was our hero. She kept Bogweed under such a tight leash that we did not even know he was there. Every time: “Leave the boys alone, Kenneth”, “Yes Edith”. On top of that she was a really nice person. She always had treats for “her boys”. When we arrive in Leningrad, the Russians decided to treat us to a traditional Russian meal which included caviar. Edith piped up that if anyone did not want their caviar she would happily eat it for them. She ate all 30 portions.
When we got back this story got passed around the class. After that whenever Bogweed got out of hand a little voice from somewhere in the room would pipe up: “Leave the boys alone, Kenneth” to which, of course, someone else would respond: “Yes Edith”.

Continuing the theme of from Keith W and Paul L, I agree that the culture of the school must have changed with the new masters that arrived in the late 60′s and early 70′s.
I’ve been surprised how many memories have come flooding back since reading this blog. Here are a couple of ‘new’ teachers and factoids that may be of interest.
Does anybody else remember Andy Rankin who took over as head of biology when Mo Morris retired along with his dog? A decent guy, as far as I can remember. Sadly I don’t remember the girl who taught me zoology ‘A’ level and helped me to my best grade, despite dictating notes non-stop.
I think the lab tech for biology was a Mrs Robinson. Not quite as remarkable as the old man Aston in chemistry, who was reputed to have been in Russia at the time of the revolution.
My form master in the second year was Raymond Stallard, an English teacher, who had a significant birth defect of one hand. I believe that the poor guy left after a couple of years, in no small part due to piss-taking.
I think I remember John Crouch loosing his faith and eventually quitting the school to do something else in ’72 or ’73.
My latin teacher in first year was Reg Mole. He was mainly noteable for cycling to school and possession of a large bald patch. I thought he was ok, but didn’t learn much latin.
I have very fond memories of ‘Lurch’ Chambers, despite copping a major essay on self control (yodelling in class – anybody remember the Focus tune, Sylvia?) and being lifted off a stool in a particularly painful manner for some other infraction. He was my form master for two years, ran the 2nd XV in which I played, and ?started/ran a bridge club. He was always straight with us and I don’t recall undeserved punishments, even if the punishments themselves may have been over the top.
I remember “Bunny” Warren telling us that he had been an engineer involved in the design of the ill-fated Comet jet. But I can’t remember if he said that his change of career to teaching was due to the problems with the aircraft.
There were several ‘official’ opportunities to make money or get involved in non academic/sporting pusuits during my time. I was one of the ‘maintenance staff,’ run by “Spike” King, that fixed broken and damaged furniture and had the privilege of being in the building during breaks. I also helped clear the teacher’s dining room during lunch and did minor maintenance of the new language lab (tape splicing, head cleaning, that kind of thing) at another time. The ‘new’ language lab took over one of the rooms in the classroom block. I can’t remember if it was in addition to the one in the third floor along with the chemistry labs.
One of you guys must have been in the same year as a tubby bloke called Gaylard (I think). The only time I’ve ever been knocked out was by him. To this day, I’ve no idea what I had done (playing in a different soccer game on the same playground), but he certainly landed a good one.


Great anecdotes about the Bidmeads, Mark. They sound like something out of the “William” books — you know, Mr Bott of Bott’s Sauce and his formidable wife. I too had the pleasure of going on a school cruise with Mr and Mrs Bidmead — the one to the Holy Land, Christmas 1965, aboard the SS Nevasa. I can’t remember any particular incidents involving Ken and wife, though I recall that her very presence seemed comical to us all. There was no caviar on that trip, though.

I remeber Ray Stallard, he was known as Pigs Trotter – nice boys weren’t we. My nemesis of the new intake was french teacher Roger ‘Bruiser’ Bayliss a spindly guy with glasses who really fancied himself as a hard man , we started on the same day. He used to slam his briefcase on the desk at the start of the lesson in an attempt to startle or frighten us I guess, it didn’t work, we all thought it was hilarious. He held a grudge against me from day 1 when he found out that I had a brother in the 6th form, he and some mates chanted ‘new boy’ and gobbed at him from the windows over the covered way. If there were punishment essays handed out, everyone got 1/2 a side, (Russ) Procter & Roberts 4 sides. He never believed that it wasn’t me who cut through the handle of his briecase so that when he slammed it on the desk it flew into the first row and left him holding the handle, it REALLY wasn’t me but I would like to congratulate whoever did it, one the high points of teacher humiliation.

One memorable (unforgettable to me) incident involving Bayliss was a games period when the rugby pitches were unusable so we all had to do a X-country run. I was permanantly excused rugby having been half crippled in an accident a few years previously so I was quite knowledgeable in the short cuts available, general concensus was 20 minutes should do. Just heading for home down ‘the alleyway’ near the school which was liberally covered with No6 packets and dogends, Bruiser leaps out from a gap in the fence – got you! We all perform a sharp U turn, Bruiser, wearing his nice cream mac, ends up flat on his back in the mud. The result was the entire first 15 plus me in detention. Bruiser left the room and Pete Cox had put the clock forward by 20 minutes before you could blink.
5:00, Pete innocently asks that we are allowed to leave. We all legged it and certainly didn’t stop when Bruiser realised he had been ‘done’ shouting dogs abuse at us down the corridor.

Funny how people change, he ended up running the Duke of Edinburgh awards which I was doing, he was really pleasant company over the weekends, never thought he would ever speak to me civilly.

Phil Gaillard – I also traded a few punches with him over the years.

I do recall Andy Rankin who joined the school in the late 60s and taught Biology. For some unknown reason we gave him the nickname ‘Runk’. He was actually a very nice guy and a good teacher – especially when compared with Mo Morris. In spite of the latter’s dreadful teaching, I got an A grade in Biology at O’level and was encouraged to read both Zoology and Botany at A’level where I achieved an A grade in the latter subject due, in no small measure, to Runk’s excellent teaching. It still haunts me that Waller never encouraged me to go to medical school given my interest in the biological sciences. In a recent entry on these pages, someone described him as a faceless bureaucrat, and expression that summed him up to a T.

Merry Christmas to all from Boston, USA,


Dave Roberts:
I’ve been browsing the previous entries.
I was involved in the distribution of the “NUFF” cards. The printing club had an antique printing press and we were running an illicit busness in fake club cards. The only way to get in the buildings during breaks was to be a member of a club that was meeting at that time. We invented all sorts of plausible and inplausible clubs, the all seemed to work, including ones like the “John Nokes Appreciation Society”. (from Blue Peter). However, all hell broke out when we issued the “Transvestite Society” card. Parents complained and we were instructed to get the cards back. The strange thing was that we issued 200 cards, but we got back 250! Someone else was scamming our scam! We never did find out who. Typical of Waller, he could not pin it on anyone specific, so no heads rolled, noone was suspended or punished in any way. Of course, noone was dumb enough to own up, either.

Dave Littleproud

December 22, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Just had some disappointing news-your anecdotes about Biddy and Edith cracked me up-your “Transvestite Club” scam being outscammed had me rolling! Thanks guys -just what I needed!!

The treatment of Ray Stallard was so bad that I remember feling very sorry indeed for him. His hair went from black to grey during the short time he was there.
For some reason I could never understand, his mass tormentors had a habit of breaking into choruses of “I do like to be beside the seaside” whilst rioting in his lessons. Around the same time there was a very young teacher 0f English (I think) called Attryde or similar, who used to take a lot of stick for being a broad northerner.

Greg Barrington, if you were yodelling a Focus song, I bet it was “Hocus Pocus” and not “Sylvia”. As for Mo Morris, I think he died in service before retrement: I can still remember some of the highly irreverent comments. I think Hackett (a very strange man) also died in service; maybe Busby too, from memory.
I remember Gaillard. He was 1 or 2 years older than me and incredibly overweight, but then he slimmed down to a very trim figure a few years later. I can’t remember him fighting; I wouldn’t have thought him capable of punching his way out of the Sunblest loaf wrapper full of sandwiches he used to eat before morning assembly (before he reformed of course).

For information, I and another senuir prefect called Paul Cooper were held responsible by Waller for the Transvestite Society. He was incandescent about it and ranted on about the bad publicity it could cause for the schoool. He told us the we would both be expelled if we did not ensure that every membership card was collected and destroyed. The prat who made the cards had put my name and Pauls on the cards which asked member to report to the senior prefects room and bring a first former.

I remember Gaillard rolling around the school playground.

A first former???! We didn’t have those in my day.

Everyone started in the 2nd Form and worked their way upwards from there.

I am sorry – you are quite correct. We did all start as second formers. Has anyone any idea why?

Really? I am sure I started as a 1st former, in 1967.

I had forgotten that you were (innocently) implicated in the Transvestite Society debacle. We dropped you right in it, didn’t we? It wasn’t “pratt”, it was “pratts”, there were at least half a dozen involved. Each with his own task, a bit like the Great Escape. I was “Distribution”. Waller was always threatening to expel people at the beginning of the conversation. By the end of it, he would invite you to tea.
The reason why we started in the second form was because Public schools had a pre-year at the age of 10 that was always year 1 and Surbiton had pretensions. Hence the houses etc.
The second form classes were all at the same level, so they were named two one, two a and two alpha.

Dave L.:
I hope it is nothing serious.

Not in my day they weren’t.

They were 2E, 2C, 2L and 2V for Egmont, Coutts, Lovelace and Villiers respectively. Mind you we all soon got mixed up and outside of the sporting competitions there was little sense of one house against another.

Mark, I had quite forgotten the origin of the 2nd form entry. Looking back over the blog with the ‘retrospectroscope’ I now wonder how much of what has been written merely represents the pretentious nature of the establishment. Doig hovering his way around in full gown with entourage in tow… Bert trying his best to be chummy with those of us who represented the hoi polloi… Ken always telling us we were ‘part of the elite 10% of the country’… Gus, well he was just Gus, I guess. The number of comments on how different the teaching staff could and would be ‘out of hours’ makes me think that they too may have been subject to pressure from elsewhere to make the little buggers in their command conform to a ‘minor public school’ template. But survive we did – in no small part to rebellion I’m sure – and how many similar schools could boast of the likes of Braemar and Aysgarth (or would want to?).

Merry Christmas (what’s the G&S production this year?).


No. In 1967, I distinctly remember that there were three first forms:
1C for Chambers
1F: F for Fry
1 H for Hackett.
Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but I am SO glsd I was in 1F.

I concur with Paul. When I started at SCGS in Sept ’65, I was a ’1st former’ and was assigned to class 1F, named after Mr. Fry – a Welshman who taught gym and biology, and also ran the Under 12 rugby XV. He was a really chap who first introduced me to rugby (I had only ever played football at Primary School). Given that I took to the game like a duck to water, I have a lot to thank him for – not least for deciding at the outset of my playing career that I was a back rather than a forward thereby sparing my ears. Curious though how he was born with a special hole in the corner of his mouth into which he could insert his pipe……….


When I joined SCGS in 1964 there were three classes 2a 21 and 2 alpha. I was in 2a with Chopper Hacket as the form teacher.

Looks like they revised the names of the first forms every few years. And, of course, the Masters also changed. I can’t remember who my Form Master was in the first year. My last one was Bernie Shaw, for the whole of the Sixth Form, which was a pleasure.
While I was there the Public school agenda slowly faded away. The demise of the OTC, the boxing, the house cups. I don’t think Waller saw the place as a minor public school and he started to dismantle the system. I’m not sure whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. The “old school” teachers certainly retained the idea. That was probably the big difference between them and the new ones.

That answered my question. I was also in 2a. Hacker Choppit, as my Mum used to mis-speak.

Didn’t think of Bidmead as ‘nasty’ altho wasn’t that keen on him. I did quite well at latin tho so perhaps thats’ why I didn’t fear him too much. He had a (possibly warped) sense of humour – especially over the renewal of writing books. I remember being in the queue once when he told another victim that he had only used half his book – “turn it upside down and use the other side of each line”!!
Amazed he was still there in the late ’60′s – seemed old in the ’50′s – then lots of them did I suppose. His book cupboard used to be in the hallway of Braemar in the ’50′s. Never had a trip with him & Mrs- not sure they did such things then – austerity Britain etc. but did have whole school trips to IOW and Oxford come to think of it. Some-one mentioned water pistols – sounded familiar! Perhaps it is time to try and remember the good (or slightly better) occasions – there must have been some?!

Certainly started in the 2nd year in 1954 but unsure of the ‘letters’ , may have been 2a,2b etc. Sure it wasn’t house initials.

I definitely started in the 1st form with Dave Roberts and I think Roger Arthurs – it must have been 1967. I am ashamed to say I can’t remember the form tutor. I thought there were at least 5 forms – again I could be wrong. Where would we have done Year 1 if we started in the second year?

I remember the treatment of Stallard or PT as he was known. It was cruel but it happens. I didn’t notice his deformed hand for ages till someone told me. He could have overcome it by being a better teacher and more interesting – I think the pigs trotter was just a convenient means by which his general weakness was attacked. If he had just had ginger hair, that would have been the hook on which he was hung. If you can’t hack it then don’t teach, as kids are horrible, and clever grammar school kids find the weakness very quickly.

Randy Rankin had just got married – and I remember one lesson where he seemed to be daydreaming – and then said “It’s nice in the morning” – presumably having enjoyed his wife before school. He was one of the good guys.

This has developed into a very interesting exchange of experiences, opinions and views. Getting more lively by the day. It would be good to invite any other previous inmates from the school from hell – not that I have a biassed opinion – to contribute.

I did draw attention to it on Friends Reunited. Perhaps other could spread the word and more of us could share the fun.

Apropos to the ongoing comments on this blog about the level of sadistic corporal punishment that sadly appeared rife at SCGS during the Doig years (not my era, I’m pleased to say), I noted an interesting scene in a recent BBC film called ‘Made in Dagenham’ that I saw last night at my local Arts cinema here in Boston, USA. The movie is the true story of the fight for equal pay by women seamstresses working at Ford’s car factory in Dagenham in the late 60s. Interestingly, there is a scene in the movie where the lady who ends up leading the women’s cause confronts her young son’s maths master (complete with gown) who has canned her son on the hand. He dismisses her complaint with words to the effect that ‘boys from your side of the tracks need to be taught how to behave’. Sounds like SCGS wasn’t the only school staffed by cane-wealding Nazis.

Serious question? So why was this kind of violence so prevalent? I’d be interested in other people’s thoughts. We all agree that the new breed of teachers that arrived in the late 60s (Ashdown, Junor, Rankin and Hodgeson, but not Chambers) were by far the better teachers by virtue of their ability to gain pupils’ respect through treating them as adults and affording them the dignity they deserved. So what was it about Turner, Hillier, Morris, Hunt, Bidmead et al that made them such arseholes? Surely they couldn’t all have been abused as children? Sensible answers only please!


PS Towards the end of the movie I refer to above, we learn that the offending master was eventually asked to leave the school……

Stuart/Phil When I was there ’54 to ’62, the first year started with 2a, 2b and 2c – just pot luck which on you started in, certainly not related to houses. By 3rd form you were streamed according to ability shown in first year, 3a, 3b, 3c and I think there was a 3d too, (there certainly was a d for 4th form, which is the stream I stayed in until I made LviModern with those others who showed aptitude for neither arts nor sciences. Cliff

Phil Seaman (an appropriate surname for the subject — were you in the Sea Cadets, by any chance?)…

“Didn’t think of Bidmead as ‘nasty’ altho wasn’t that keen on him. … Never had a trip with him & Mrs- not sure they did such things then – austerity Britain etc. but did have whole school trips to IOW and Oxford come to think of it.”

The “educational cruises” only began in the mid-1960s, I think; and of course they weren’t solely a Surbiton thing but shared by many schools. The ships, Nevasa and Uganda and perhaps others, were converted troop carriers (the big defence review of 1958 had not only announced the end of National Service, but had also declared a new policy of not shifting troops around by sea — heneceforth they would be sent by air). Someone had had the bright idea of converting these still relatively new, but unwanted, troopships into schoolkid-and-teacher-carrying vessels. The heyday of those cruises was circa 1965 to 1980, and after that the ships were scrapped. I’m glad I was able to go on one of those cruises. As for the Bidmeads, they clearly seized the chance eagerly, from 1965 onwards!

Mark -Kind of you to ask -no not serious -daughter had been through the traumas of an Oxford interview and had just heard “no”-not the end of the world -she has a place at Birmingham and is waiting to hear from two more.
Glad to hear that in your capacity as “distribution” the spirit of Colditz lived on in Thames Ditton. Back in Surbiton I suppose I was “decoy and construction” in our “Colditz ” organization. To achieve our nefarious ends it was necessary to cut off power to Albury House. Watch had to be kept to ensure that the dirty deed was done before caretaker Brookes arrived to investigate why power was off. Bert was within 10 ft …….CENSORED –100year Rule…………………………………………ouflaged by a milk crate. Mass 6th form escape after A levels- Overnight stays -smoking room – never found in my time -wonder if Hollyfield road did?
Mark–I am wondering why you enrolled Charlie Clark and his colleague in the Transvestites Club -I hope it was a complimentary membership.
We had a senior prefect weaned on salty porridge-his nickname was “Angus” -NO term of endearment-he was a nasty piece of work. Pity that at 15 I had more respect for imposed authority than my own physique.
Ps– for the class 1956 -63 I’ve just had an email Christmas card from “Len” Neldrett-sounds good and in England over Christmas.
PPS Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year to all!!!!

Dave P:
Cruise ships: Nevassa, Uganda, Dunera and Devonia. I went on the Uganda and the Devonia. I was later horrified to find out that the Dunera was used to transport 2000 Jewish aliens to a concentration camp in Australia during the war.

Dave L:
Tell your daughter that Oxford is not all it is made out to be, especially if you are not a Public school “erk”. Birmingham would be a great place to go.
As for the Transvestite Society card, I did not remember that we had done that. It was probably something to do with the fact that Charles was the Secretary of Egmont House and therefore was considered a major “suck-up”. Sorry Charles, its all in the perception, not in the fact. We were not being malicious, just mischievous.

I was secretary of Lovelace house.

As for being a “suck up”? I do not think so. I wore outrageous clothes and had very long hair to the extent that Waller asked me to stay away from a parents evening.

This is indeed becoming more compulsive reading by the day- perhaps its something to do with all that icy weather over there keeping you all indoors attached to your computers?
Anyway a Merry Christmas from a warm and sunny Sydney to all- I’ve just enjoyed a splended one kilometre swim. Someone has to do it!
And in the spirit of the season: a Happy New Year to all those ( much maligned) teachers great and small!

Sorry Charles, I confused the houses. Age relate memory loss. As I said, it is all in the perception, not in the fact. For those of us who were persona no grata, anyone who was a senior prefect was a suck-up. The House Secretary, well! I personally had to give Baz a 20 minute dissertation on why I should be made a house prefect, on what I had done for the school. The fact that I ran the table-tennis club and was on the school team was not good enough. He eventually relented when he realised that when the 20 minutes were up I could have and would have gone on for another hour! I only wanted it so that I could put it on my University application. Who the hell needs something given so grudgingly? Especially as I knew exactly why they were doing it. Waller was always trying to get me and my parents to stay away from parents evenings. Something to do with contaminating the gene pool. We took no notice. My Father liked to go over my homework with the teachers and ask them why I got low marks for correct answers. Most embarassing.

Work computer is attached to Internet all day, so I browse when I need a break. Anway all this chatter is cathartic. I have not talked or even thought about the bad stuff for nearly 40 years. And it is good to appologise to the people you inadvertently screwed, like Charles.
Different subject: Do you remember the name of the guy who lived in a house named “Monaco” in Ember Lane? I think he was in your year, maybe the one before.

Okay – I started at SCGS in September 1959 and the 2nd Form classes were, as previoulsy described by me, 2E, 2C, 2L and 2V ie named after the four school houses. As I recall midway through the academic year we were all re-arranged into streams and the classes were renamed in descending order: 2X, 2A, 2B and 2G.

I scraped into 2B and remained in the third stream up to the fifth form when I did rather badly in the ‘O’ Level exams passing only three.

Meanwhile, in order to accomodate the peculiarity of having no 1st formers, the school had a Lower Fifth form. This consisted of Lower 5X (actually the brightest kids from the year below!) Lower 5A, Lower 5B and Lower 5G.

So the ‘O’ Level year comprised 5X (smart younger kids) , 5A, 5B and 5G. As I had done so badly at my ‘O’ Levels it was decided that I should spend another year in the fifth form. And here is where the school establishment was finally able to exact the revenge it had been after for some years.

Avid readers of this string of reminiscences may recall from an earlier post that in my second or third year I was assaulted in an unprovoked attack by Kenneth Bidmead and had to be taken to hospital later on the day of the attack. My mother was well known to the teachers at the school (from attending PT evenings) as she was blessed with remarkable good looks (which sadly she failed to pass onto me). But she was also a violent and aggressive woman (sadly she did manage to pass this onto me) and visited the school the following day.

Exactly what or how she threatened the school I don’t know but from that point on I was pretty well untouchable (apart from regular hand canings from Bernie Shaw who always seemed close to tears as he administered them) and was able to get away with taunting various teachers with relative impunity. My unfortunate reputation was confirmed when a small boy approached me in the playground one day and asked me if my name was Little to which I replied yes. On asking why he wanted to know this he told me that his teacher had told him that if he didn’t mend his ways he would end up like me.

So I don’t have any experiences of canings (I’m not sure I remember Gus Hillier at all!) and appear to have been spared much of the brutality that was rife in the school. Meanwhile my mother years later managed to get herself banned from Tescos for life (she has never told us why but an incident in the Tescos car park that she did tell us about would certainly have warranted that). She is ninety next month.

So what was the revenge? Well as I said above (it seems ages ago now) the decision was made to keep me in the fifth form for another year. But rather than place me in 5A, 5B or 5G they put me in 5X which meant that I shared a classroom with boys two years younger but much smarter than myself. I guess they hoped that I would just leave but instead I buckeld down and improved my ‘O’ Level passes. I cannot recall a single boy from that class as I don’t think I ever spoke to any of them. Meanwhile my former same-age chums had either left the school or had become 6th form prefects and ignored me.

It was a lonely year!

It’s amazing how different experiences are – not having any recollection of violence from the masters. There was some amateur torture from prefects and at least one wiry little bully (was that the above mentioned Sutherland?) who luckily left as soon as he got to the age limit (was it 16 then?). There was some unpleasant shoving in the canteen queue at the old buildings and I see from Google Street View that those canteen blocks have not changed. The crowd chanted the school motto “with courage and faith push on” administering a nasty shove on the final words, I am surprised there were no major injuries.

I also noticed on street view that the elevated platform outside the gym in the playground is still there, where the bigger boys would sit and use their feet to repel anyone smaller who tried to climb on it. I wonder if they still do that at Hollyfield to this day.

A good memory of the old building was the sloped grass area downhill from the main building where one could sit in the sun and discuss the latest Dr Who or whatever. I see from Google it is now a car park.

I recall we were told on arrival (’63) that they were renaming the second form as 2-1, 2-a and 2 alpha to remove any illusion of inferiority. I also recall Forward coming to tell us that those of us who were shortlisted for what had previously been a faster stream would instead have additional subjects as the universities did not want students a year early. That’s why I got German as well as French (and Art) despite being a science student. He was very friendly and seemed to be inviting our opinion, no doubt an illusion but it felt good to be treated as vaguely human. He and Doig were never my teachers so maybe I was lucky there.

I recall Hackett turning up at an early free period before we had started proper science subjects and telling us he was going to teach us some chemistry. He gave an enthralling talk on the discovery of oxygen, the periodic table and the phlogiston theory. I remember it to this day as a riveting performance. Again I was never in his class. Clearly he was capable of being a great teacher, from other items here I gather he either got fed up with it or succumbed to the pressure of 30+ teenagers – one can imagine what that must have been like at times.

I recall by the 6th form Bunny Warren was great, letting me have fairly free reign in the physics lab. One of my goals was to use the two old oscilloscopes in tandem to display a TV picture – the BBC1 signal was so strong in the area that you could pick it up on a crystal set. I can’t recall if the experiment succeeded. (I notice Stuart Little runs a video company – was spent most of my time in audio, but we must talk as I am thinking of some video ideas).

Bunny Warren smoked something evil smelling all the time, which almost scuppered my A level practical as it smothered the smell of my electrical experiment melting due to a short circuit while he looked on in clouds of smoke.

Luckily we are not snowed in here in Portugal, but it’s not quite up to Australian conditions. Seems quite a diaspora, or maybe this blog attracts those thinking back to dear old blighty…

Happy Christmas (or holiday for those who prefer that term)….

Mike Kemp

I look forward to hearing from you.

My video company is KLA Film and Video Communication and you can find it at:

David P
No I was not in the sea scouts – its just a name!! Was in ordinary scouts in 3rd Tolworth troup but gave that up when homework took up more time. My time with the Admiralty Research Lab in Teddington was more relevant I suppose.

Cliff – I seem to remember being in 5g – ‘grotty/general/good’?! was an average level so no brilliant brains there.

Merry Xmas to all ex SCGS pupils who bother to indulge in nostalgia!!

Phil S:

A very merry Christmas to you too, and to all here present.

Actually, it was the Sea Cadets I was asking you about — not the sea scouts. Steadfast, the local “ship” was called, situated by the river in Kingston-upon-Thames. I remember cycling down there from Chessington, where I then lived — in fact, there’s a 1963 photo of me in full naval uniform, mounting my bike, in my photos album on Facebook. I believe a number of SCGS boys were in the Sea Cadets at one time or another.

Talking of Facebook, are any of the “regulars” here members of that? It’s a good way of showing each other old photographs, quickly and easily. If any Surbiton old boys are on F/B and would like to become my “friends” there, please contact me on that site…

Mark S:

“Cruise ships: Nevassa, Uganda, Dunera and Devonia. I went on the Uganda and the Devonia. I was later horrified to find out that the Dunera was used to transport 2000 Jewish aliens to a concentration camp in Australia during the war.”

Thanks. I’ve now read up on the four ships. The educational cruises started in 1961 (although they didn’t peak in popularity until the late 1960s), and the Dunera and Devonia were the two older vessels, soon taken out of service and scrapped. The Nevasa and the youngest ship, the Uganda, were the two that ploughed on into the 1970s. The Nevasa was the biggest, and I remember her fondly from that Christmas 1965 cruise I went on.

As for the World War II “Dunera Boys” story, I never saw that TV movie, but reading the account of what happened on Wikipedia, I see that it was the voyage itself that was hellish for those wartime detainees — not what happened to them once they got to Australia, where in fact they were reasonably treated. About half the “boys” elected to stay on in Oz after the war and did quite well there. But the voyage itself, in 1940, was a disgrace — the hellship Dunera! So, yes, it’s an unfortunate association.

Dave Pringle:
“the voyage itself that was hellish for those wartime detainees — not what happened to them once they got to Australia, where in fact they were reasonably treated” Reasonable treatment is a relative term. The detainees were kept in a prison incommunicado thousands of miles from their families and some of them were killed trying to escape.

On a different subject, I may need to offer another apology: I was in the Sea Scouts – Ajax, across the river. We used to play merry hell with Steadfast. We had a lifeboat from HMS Ajax with which we used to ram them. We also used to harrass them under sail. I have no idea why there was such a rivalry, but I know the Scoutmasters more than turned a blind eye. I was there 66 – 68 or there abouts.

Seasons greetings to one and all, and have a happy new year.

Dave P:
Yes, I too was a ‘Steadfast’ chap. I have fond memories of a Whitsun trip from Kingston to the far reaches of the Thames (well somewhere near Henley as I recall) in ’62 or ’63. For my sins I ‘graduated’ to the Marine Corps which was run by a Sergeant Major who was a Mo Morris look alike. Not sure why I stayed as the bullying there was even worse than anything I received at SCGS. It all came to a head one day in Nov ’64 when we were marching with Lee Enfield 303s around the streets of Kingston and one of the jumped up NCOs started screaming abuse – as they were wont to do – so I placed the rifle in the middle of Kingston Hall Road shed as much of the uniform as I could whilst staying decent and jumped on the bike and cycled back to Hook – followed by more shouts of abuse and threats of violence. That was the point where I realised that you didn’t have to take it all lying down – be it in school or out. God I must have been hell to live with until I discovered music and the hormone rush ended!

David Pringle

Was ‘Steadfast’ close to ‘Raven Ait’?

I would like to wish all who have contributed to this site a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope we will continue to share memories into 2011.

Steadfast and Ravens Ait were separated by Kingston Bridge. The latter went through many changes and is now derelict, I believe. Its most recent incarnation was as a wedding venue and seemed to be doing very nicely until an unexpected down-turn in the money supply saw it closed down. Shame to see it left to decay now.

seems to me we’re all writing about different schools!
the 1953 – 58 era was like something out of the worst of dickens with all the disrespect of teachers for children and, because of that, the hatred of many of the teachers by many children.
by the early / mid 60′s it seems doig had to clean up his act, as did his stazi, the hilliers and other pathetic, perverted creatures.
i don’t think any of this filth would have changed in their heads or without coercion, or perhaps parents decided enough was enough. different era.
nothing i have said on this blog was an exaggeration. it all happened as i described it in all its disgusting, depraved glory.
i won’t post on here again, because i’ve really said all i’ve got to say.
i will still receive the posts though and might post again anyway.
but i would now like to forget about scgs.
however, a merry xmas to all, except doig of course who i hope is burning in hell.

seems to me we’re all writing about very different schools!
the 1953 – 58 era was like something out of the worst of dickens with all the disrespect of teachers for children and, because of that, the hatred of many of the teachers by many children.
by the early / mid 60′s it seems doig had to clean up his act, as did his stazi, the hilliers and other pathetic, perverted creatures.
i don’t think any of this filth would have changed in their heads or without coercion, or perhaps parents decided enough was enough. different era.
nothing i have said on this blog was an exaggeration. it all happened as i described it in all its disgusting, depraved glory.
i won’t post on here again, because i’ve really said all i’ve got to say.
i will still receive the posts though and might post again anyway.
but i would now like to forget about scgs.
however, a merry xmas to all, except doig of course who i hope is burning in hell.

sorry about the duplication. seems if you accidentally press twice, nothing gets printed and if you change just one word both get printed.

bah, humbug.

Phil. you are of course right. I too was in 5G, in fact the streaming into arts/sciences/ and those who were the also-rans started in the fifth form. I drifted along in the “d” stream, around the middle of the bunch, then into the “g” stream for 5th form, and then into “Modern” (Economics/Economic History). Modern Languages were probably my best subjects, something I did find fairly useful throughout life. Like many others, I’m afraid my memory is less than perfect on the detail of school life after 50 years absence, but, again like others, certain aspects suddenly spring freshly to mind. Cliff
PS A couple of pupil names from the mid fifties that I haven’t seen mentioned yet – does anyone remember Hallt, Bennett (Malcolm, but nicknamed Talcum) or Richard Barnes whose father was a bank manager.

I was at SCGS 1957-1965. I left the year it moved to Thames Ditton, so as far as I was concerned the school just disappeared – there was nothing to go back to or for. I have hardly given the school a thought since.

I survived by keeping my head down then, and I think I’ll carry on doing the same again.

Best wishes to everyone from a warm (30C) Canberra, Australia.


I’m afraid I have no recollection of anyone who lived in Ember Lane unfortunately. Pretentious moniker for a house tho!

best wishes to you all, pa particular good wish to stuart little and stuar you have not answered ny question, did yoiu ever write your symthony,

Just one Christmas memory of SCGS. The carol service at St Mark’s church, with the whole school rising to lustily sing in unison, “Oh SSSSCUM all ye faithful…” Happened every year!

I remember it well. Excellent.

I seem to remember a Cripps who was constantly in trouble and caned in front of Coutts house by Taff Davis?

The first cruise in which SCGS participated was in April 1964, on the Devonia around the Mediterranean. It was organized by Bill Busby, and I think it was Baz Hunt, Nutty Bolt and Ken Bidmead that came along to supervise. I don’t recall any of them being particularly troublesome, indeed the biggest explosion came from the normally avuncular Busby at the news that a number of his charges had been buying flick knives in Spain. We were bussed down to Dover, ferried over the Channel to Calais and loaded with several hundred other kids onto a train which ambled down the French/German border to Basle and over the Gotthard Pass to Milan, thence to Genoa where the ship was waiting. By the time it arrived the train was several hours late, all the toilets had run out of water and we were all starving as no feeding arrangements had been provided en route. So we didn’t get to see anything of Genoa as the ship set sail immediately we were aboard. Things got better after that with visits to Palermo, Tunis, Alicante and Lisbon providing different levels of culture shock before our return to Tilbury, notwithstanding the fact that within two days every kid on the ship had a cold (probably imported by me) and all sailing was performed in a force 8 gale (I’ve never been seasick since). The only loser from this activity was Jock Lonsdale who had to cancel his annual language-immersion trip to Europe because no-one was interested in it. I don’t think he was any too pleased about that.

Not me! I managed to survive my seven years without receiving more than an occasional slap across the head, but I did hear of a later pupil of the same name who apparently was less well behaved.

That would be Mick Cripps, sometime classmate of mine, Coutts 1962 intake, who seems to have materialised recently on Friends Reunited. Yes, trouble did seem to precede him…

Chris Rackley

Chris – many thanks for your best wishes – I hope that your Christmas was as serene as mine.

Re my symphony – generally I prefer to parade my triumphs rather than my failures but as you ask I shall tell you. I managed to complete the first movement in full score and wrote a main theme for the second movement which I also completed in full score. I composed a theme for the third movement (in 13/8 time – unusual time signatures became all the rage in the 50s/60s) but that was pretty much it. I was only 17 years old and with no formal musical training so I don’t think I did too badly.

I did of course write other music for eg piano, and kept writing until I was twenty years old ending up with a piece for unaccompanied choir based on a poem by Tennyson. This received its first public performance in St Andrew’s Church Enfield in July 2006 only 38 years after I had written it!

The choir that performed it asked me to write another piece for them and after four years of inaction I have started work on this. But I don’t think I’ll ever write a symphony now. My musical horizons are set on developing my guitar and saxophone playing and writing small-scale vocal music.

Getting back on theme I can state with absolute certainty that I learned absolutely nothing about music at SCGS where my musical interests were almost entirely ignored. I say ‘almost’ because in my first year at SCGS our french class was supplemented, for french conversation purposes, by a guy from France called Phillipe Egginton. He discovered that I shared his passion for jazz and we became good friends for the duration of his stay.

I wonder if anyone else remembers Phillipe?

Richard C:
I went on 2 cruises: Uganda in 1966 and Devonia in 1967.
30 July 1966 we found ourselves passing through the Keil Canal on our way to Scandianvia. We had a great time throwing toilet rolls and pennies at the German dockers and shouting bad German at them such as Deutschland, Deutschland unter alas! and Deutschland Nein, England 10! The Germans threw Deutschmarks back at us and shouted appropriate abuse in return. The exchange rate was great! It was all good natured and the only people who got upset were the teachers. Have you noticed how they like to be in control? We made an unexpected stop at Keil for a few hours to pick up film of the Cup Final, so we saw the whole match in all its glory within a couple of hours of it happening.

Dave Littleproud

December 28, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Perhaps the teachers were worried about you lot staring a rerun of ww2? -perhaps Hitler invading Poland was media hype and the true cause was SCGS school trip to Berlin 1939!!–which Chamberlain would have thought a pretty poor excuse!
Good job you lot weren’t performing like that in 1967 Leningrad -you would still have been in Siberia!

1967 Russia: We spent a day in Leningrad, then took the night train to Moscow, spent the day there and took the night train back. My brother, Kevin, (just 13 at the time) got “lost” in Moscow as is his wont, this time taking 2 friends with him. How they slipped our Russian shadows, nobody knew. The only person not in a panic was me, I was used to him. HE knew where he was and he would come back sooner or later. Sure enough the three of them sauntered back after a few hours. On the train back to Leningrad the officials came round with customs declarations. Mass panic again ensued (this time not including the teachers). We needed a plan. Russia at that time controlled the price of everything, but there were no rules about selling to minors. English cigarettes cost 6d compared to 2/6d at home. Vodka cost 1s. Various people had bought lighters, flic knives, porn playing cards etc., in fact anything that was contraband. We collected the offending items from 6 of the smaller members of the trip and redistributed everyone’s dirty washing into their back packs. What a smell! When we got to the customs barrier, the 6 “ringers” were up front. The customs officers upended the first 2 bags, glanced in the next couple, looked at the line of kids all screaming, “me next!” and waved us all through with a look of horror. After we sailed everyone began drinking and smoking themselves sick. The ship thought that everyone had food poisoning, because every other school on board had done the same thing and were just as ill!
The afternoon before we left Leningrad, we were allowed to go to a “Tourist Shop”, locals no allowed. John Leone put his bag down for a second and someone grabbed it and did a runner for the door. As he reached the door 2 burly Russian “policemen” grabbed him by each arm and carried him back into the shop backwards, his legs still flailing in mid-air. It was just like something that would happen to Norman Wisdom. John got really upset when the Russians wanted to keep him as a material witness and would not let him come back to the boat with the rest of us. Fortunately they relented, but John was quite relieved to see the back of Russia.

sounds like a great trip to have experienced. horrendous but memorable!

best example of my point about ‘two different schools’. in 1955 you would have been publicly flogged, hung and had your nails ripped out by doigfuhrer and his sick band of perverts / paedophiles for acting the way frisky teenagers do when out of direct school control, i.e. not in scgs time or uniform.

scgs was a better place to be a teenager than doigfuhrer’s colditz methinks.

highly entertaining story – i woulda loved to have been there!!

They had to catch us first! I think the biggest difference was that the power of the Prefects was weakened after Doig. So there were fewer goons looking for the tunnel! When they did catch us at something, there would be canings, slipperings, lines or detention. It was less structured than Doig and if you could get yourself sent to Waller, you could talk yourself out of anything. Hillier and Hunt ( I was Villiers) were a different matter, however. It could get very painful.

you are right about the prefects, or some of them. doigfuhrer’s stazi or ss.

it was a prefect that booked us for smoking at an out of time (saturday) school fete when we were not in school uniform. what a bastard eh – and he absolutely relished it.

probably relished the outrageously ott punishments dished out as a result of his grassing up fellow pupils. in vichy france he woulda been castrated or worse.

My pet hate was the cap. I kept it in my pocket at all times, never on my head. So I was always up in front of Hunt for being seem going to or from school without a cap. I had cut out the rubber stiffener, so the conversation with whoever caught me went: “Where’s your cap?” “In my pocket” “Put it on” (pause) (sigh) “Take it off and buy a new one”. Of course, I didn’t – the cap went straight back in my pocket, ready for the next time. At one time I had a pen that had a white body with a mustard coloured cap. Looked just like a filter tip. I had a habit of walking along chewing this pen. One morning I got hauled in to see Hunt and accused of smoking on my way home from school. I, of course, denied this and pointed out that I did not smoke and never had. The debate went on for about 10 minutes until I casually pulled out the pen and started chewing on it. I got 500 lines for wasting Hunt’s time. As far as I remember he had 3 nicknames: “Peewee”, “Baz” and one that rhymed with Hunt.

Dave Littleproud

December 28, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Mark! –love-it!! the best brains of the CHEKA, OGPU, NKVD and the KGB outsmarted by SCGS!!! —go Surbs go!!!

“Peewee” Hunt, that’s the name I remember.

He helped out once when my dad picked up an Italian au pair on the train.

She and my dad were in a carriage coming home from somewhere like Bristol when she, in great distress, leafed through her dictionary and finally announced “heart attack”. My dad deduced she was in some distress and brought her home. My mum phoned the school and discovered that Hunt spoke Italian so he came round and got the story.

She had been au paired in Wales (of all places) where she was treated like a servant and unable to understand anything, until eventually she had been put on a train to an airport to go home, but the airport was closed by bad weather so she was put on another train to London, by which time she had no idea what was going on and was in a total panic.

We got her on the phone to her parents and after much continuous Italian (we discovered that they get twice the value by both ends speaking at the same time) she was much happier and stayed for a few days before going home.

So I got to see a human side of Hunt…

For years afterwards we got a giant Parmesan cheese through the post every year by way of thanks.

pewee’s nickname ,
peewee was our form tutor when i joined i think he was straight out of teacher training college, he took us for latin , we always used his middle name “iganatius “as his nickname
the first word he said to the class when he took us for our first class in latin was wiperam [latin for snake] i gave up latin at 13 , now 43 years later it is the only latin word i know , perhaps it is because in life i have met many wiperams and have nearly always been able to recognise a wiperam when i meet one , peewee was probably the first wiperam i ever met

If I came home with an Italian au pair, my wife would have the heart attack! Good excuse, though, “I found her on the train, Dear”. The next line should be: ” If noone claims her, can I keep her?”

I realise now why it seems like 2 different schools: You lot thought it was Colditz and we thought it was Stalag Luft 3.

Ignatius means “fiery” or “incendiary”. A perfect fit for the bad tempered old goat!

Dave Littleproud

December 29, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Mark: re Mike’s Dad bringing home an Italian au pair —you obviously never had the honour to know Mike’s Mum- a lovely lady! -the incident was typical of a very kind family. Mike’s dad is pretty well and living with girl friend in Peterborough-must be close on 90 now – successfully took an engineering degree in his early eighties.
Peewee is ,up till last September, still around though not, I believe , in robust health.

Sorry to hear that Peewee Hunt is not in robust health.
He used to bumble along the corridor trailing his fingers against the wall. His Mantras were ” beat you boy” and “trouble at home”. He was like many of the teachers at that school very inadequate and he used to think that he could be a friend to boys at the same time as beating them.
I hope his poor health continues to deteriorate slowly. I knew several boys who suffered for many years after his excessive appetite for corporal punishment. Maybe he was just obeying orders? That excuse has not worked before historically.

He was certainly around when I started at SCGS in 1960 and I had the misfortune to be subjected to his favourite form of punishment (needless to say for not wearing a cap) on a number of occasions. A chance meeting with him in Worthing a year or so ago revealed that he started straight from Teacher Training in 1958 and was put to the test by 4th formers who were not much younger (or smaller) than he. The advise he appears to have been given was to “toughen up” and so began the metamorphosis into the Baz that we all came to know – but not necessarily love.
His visit to Worthing at that time was a nostalgic trip to the area where he convalesced following cardiac surgery some 5 years earlier – the reason for his lack of robust health no doubt. He also revealed that he was 74 years old lending further credence to his youth when he first pitched up at SCGS.
I have to say that he came across as utterly charming at that meeting and confessed to no knowledge of me at all – and I wasn’t prepared to give him the view that he might remember rather better!

Re: my own Colditz/ Stalag experiences I feel I should obtain agreement from fellow “kriegies” in the senior art room before I reveal more.
I too read Wikipedia about the Dunera-they were hard times for everbody and I strongly believe that the matter should be looked at in the context of the time not from 70years on.
-what was the British government supposed to do with 2000 men of hitherto totally suspect loyalty?-remember this was 6 weeks after Dunkirk -just over 3 weeks after my own father escaped from France. British forces were still being evacuated from France in August.
The Dunera boys should be forever grateful that a nation in very deep shit took time to do the most decent thing they could -there were other things the Dunera and 300 guards could have been used for. They should be grateful that they were not left to the tender mercies of the Nazis or the Russians (Katyn etc-the top Russian executioner could get through 300 Polish officers a night-so the “Dunera Boys” would have taken him about a week)-
I suspect that there were moments at Manston Airfield in August ( probably after he came back to his barracks to find his bed riddled with machine gun bullets) when my father would have enjoyed a trip to Australia-my mother doesn’t remember too many amusing moments in the blitz while she was building hurricane fighters.
Just as I was born V2s were knocking great big holes in the immediate neighbourhood.
Forgive me the sympathy bypass.
Give me an address for poor traumatized “Dunera Boys” and I’ll send some smarties.

Spoken like someone not on the receiving end of all that “kindness”. Being torn from your family who are then left destitute is not a kindness. And the V2s that you mentioned were deliberately targeted on their homes in the East End of London. My Father lost a lot of childhood friends when the last V2 hit. There were plenty of things that the Government did with other “suspect” aliens. One of my Grandfathers was not affected at all (he was Polish and therefore “loyal”), the other one was “banned” from London and had to move out. Others, of German origin, were sent to the Isle of Mann. All of these people were able bodied, hard working men who could have contributed to the war effort on our side. While my Grandfather was banned, one of my Uncle landed at Pegasus Bridge on 5 June 1944, the night before D Day, and subsequently fought his way across the Rhine. All my family that were eligible served in the armed forces. The “banned” Grandfather served in the Great War. The loyalty of these people was NEVER in question. They were Jewish, so they were treated badly. The real traitors, quislings and 5th column were never treated it such a way when they were caught. Meanwhile, all my family in Europe were wiped out by the Nazis. Most, if not all, of the Dunera Boys are dead by now. However, I can assure you that they would not appreciate your position which, I am afraid, is typical English insularity which allows intolerance in others to florish.

Dave Littleproud

December 30, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Mark: “War is Hell” -tends to bring you out in cuts and bruises!
You cannot detatch an incident from the history of that moment.
For the second time in 25 years men with German sounding names had rampaged across Europe.My father had been chased across France by such men-he had watched them machinegunning innocent refugees. as he left St Nazaire on a listing ship he watched men with German sounding names sink a ship called the Lancastria -4000to 6000 people drowned .-what did you expect him to do with men with German sounding names??
There was no time to vet them all to sieve out Quislings and 5th columnists.
Kingston Surrey’s “V” weapons were obviously misguided.

“Peter Eden and Willy Field recall their Dunera experience
Both men say they bear no animosity towards Britain for having deported them in the first place, and maintain they were grateful to the nation for having saved their lives in the first place. Both later became British citizens and adopted their current names, abandoning their original Germanic ones.”

Wars are always best looked at with a map so re “English insularity” look at a map of Europe circa June 1941.
The whole thing was a tragic mess for millions -our grandparents and parents generations got us into it and did their best to make it right -unfortunately when you try to get chestnuts out of the fire you sometimes burn your fingers.

Take care Mark

Too right they changed their names! Once bitten twice shy. Everyone changed their names, why do you think my name is Sheridan? They also changed their accents. The Jewish population learnt to disappear as much as possible. Peter Eden and Willy Field would not say anything other than what was quoted to any non Jewish person. What they really thought would be shared only with a trusted few. You don’t rock the boat if you want to get back to your family on the other side of the world. You do realize that you are condoning descrimination and abuse on the grounds of name and accent? And your Father’s leaking ship was allowed to dock in England. You forget the 10s of thousands of refugees that arrived in listing ships that were not allowed to dock and were sent back to die in the death camps.
It is a documented fact that the Germans were aiming at East London. The V2s were not very accurate and thousands of them were fired.
This site has a map showing the scatter of bombs across London. Just because some of them fell on Kingston does not mean they were aimed there.
I also suggest that you watch a movie called “Bad Day at Black Rock”. It is about small minded American bigots and their behavior to an immigrant of Japanese descent. The metaphors are very appropriate.
English insularity is nothing to do with maps but with attitudes. The Police cannot tell the difference between a Catholic Brazilian and a Moslem Pakistani, the guy looked and behaved “foreign” so they shot him dead. And then they used justifications similar to yours: ““War is Hell” -tends to bring you out in cuts and bruises!”
If you want to look at it “from the history of that moment”, Britain was as anti-semitic as the Germans. It was only luck and the London Dock workers that stopped the Fascists from taking over. If Moseley had managed to march down Cable Street things would have been completely different. And Edward would have been back on the throne.


Was it because I was white English and apparently Church of England that you put my name one the Transvestite Society cards and nearly gor me expelled?

Back to the light hearted banter! This is getting way too serious and nothing whatsoever to do with SCGS.
I did not enjoy PE. For one thing I never had the arm strength for the ring and rope exercises. Secondly, early on in my career, Fry tried to kill me. Literally. For some reason he decided to have the class play cricket in the Gym. 2 medicine balls for the wicket, a hollow plastic ball and a stump for the bat. I was in the “outfield”, ie some way up the Gym. The batsman (I cannot remember who it was) took an almighty swing at the ball, missed, and the let go of the stump. The stump, following Newton’s law, whistled up the Gym, bale end first and struck me right temple. To this day I have a scar clearly showing the 2 sectors of the stump end. 1 cm over and I would have been dead! As it was I had a very bad headache. I did not pass out – apparently I have a very hard head – but I slumped to the floor bleeding profusely. First words out of Fry’s mouth: “You know it is not my fault, don’t you?” Second words: “Get up, you are ruining the parquet”. The stain was large and permanent, I lost a lot of blood. I was shipped off to hospital where I stayed overnight to make sure that I did not have anything worse than concussion. The place was so crowded that there was no room in the children’s ward, so after many stitches, I ended up in the men’s ward. The ward adopted me and they decided that a little beer would be good for my headache. They were right, it made it worse!
In order to avoid PE, I learnt to bandage like a professional. Fry and Hall used to inspect the wrapping and the knots to try to catch you out. I got so good at it that others started asking me to bandage them. Soon we had a club going, the “Skivers Club’. Arms, legs, heads, feet, you name it, I wrapped it. I even faked a broken collarbone for someone.
Hall was a piece of work. He really fancied himself and we had an instant mutual dislike. I had 2 major run-ins with him. The first was at a swimming lesson in the school pool. Hall was “teaching” diving. Some of us were nervous about jumping in the deep end, so Hall decided to shove us in. He came up behind me and heaved me into the water, when I was not expecting it. I went down like a stone, hit the bottom of the pool and clawed my way back up to the surface. In the process, I lost it. Complete red rage. When I hauled myself out of the pool, I saw Hall squatting at the edge talking to someone in the water. I took a good run up and drop kicked him in the backside. He launched forward, fully dressed, into the water with a very satisfying splash. He came back out or the water like a train bellowing and cursing. I took off across the playing fields with him hard on my tail, leapt the back fence, and came back into the school through the front entrance.
Now Hall fancied himself as an athlete, he ran compeditively. I always tried not to win races, it was too much effort. However, I was told by witnesses that on that occasion I went away from him like he was standing still. It is amazing what fear can bring out in you. The second run in involved the regular 6 mile cross country run. I may not have been fast, but I had tremendous stamina. I could run 6 miles without breaking a sweat. One afternoon, I arrive back in the middle of the pack, everyone collapsed around me panting and I was just standing there breathing normally. Hall came up and accused me of cheating, of not running the 6 miles. The SOB sent me round again! I pointed out to him that if he did not come with me, I might very well cheat again. After a lot of bluster, he finally agreed, so I dragged him with me all the way. I still was not panting when I got back for the second time and he was apoplectic with rage.

I told you, I was “Distribution” not “Graphics”. It was probably because you could not remember my name properly, still can’t, I see. Anyway, nearly is a far cry from actually. I don’t remember Waller expelling anyone, even for extreme violence.


Sorry I got your name wrong. I seem to remember that we only used surnames in those days. I absolve you of all responsibility for the Transvestite Society.
Knobby Hall was a total wanker. AKA gods gift to women. I can remember he also taught RI and gave us a lecture about sexual temptation at university. Apparently when he felt tempted he used to go and play squash. We thought he said he would go and squash it with a racquet. Childish humour.
I do remember you or your brother having a bad time. Pupils used to rub their noses and talk about shekels when in your company. Totally unacceptable. Pupils used to come and find me at break and say “fat kid” and beat me up. Not much fun.
Ah well. The joys of SCGS. But – Kingston was the most amazing music venue with ample opportunity to get drugs. Being cleared to Hull University gave me the chance to excel and discover the joy of learning as opposed to the tedium of being taught. I got a good degree, PhD from Institute of Psychiatry and then a career in Forensic Psychology and Academia until a change of career into Adult Education Inspection.
I have had a charmed life – rich and full with much potential left – no thanks to SCGS.

Thank you for your absolution. I went in a different direction: BSc Honours from the University of Bath in Mechanical Engineering. A career in Design and Development Engineering of anything and everything from Naval radar, Canadarm 2 (the robot on the space station), the pylon for the Eurofighter, PCB and Display repair systems to silicon chip inspection systems. That is where I was always going. SCGS just got in the way. And I’m not finished yet, not by a long chalk!

“Britain was as anti-semitic as the Germans. It was only luck and the London Dock workers that stopped the Fascists from taking over. If Moseley had managed to march down Cable Street things would have been completely different. And Edward would have been back on the throne.”

I can’t say I agree with any of this jaundiced view of history . A rather silly and ill informed thing to say in my opinion.

Mark’s anecdotes about the two cruises he went on are great, as are many of the other school tales he has told us; but I agree with Gary Shepherd that’s he’s a bit wide of the mark in his comments about Britain in the 1930s. I’ve just read a well-researched book on the topic, so I should know! That’s _The Morbid Age: Britain Between the Wars_ (2009) by Richard Overy, recently out in Penguin paperback. The author makes the point that Britain _didn’t_ go to either of the political extremes in the 1930s, whereas much of continental Europe did. Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and the Communist Part of GB had roughly equal memberships at their peak in the late ’30s — but, really, neither ever came within smelling distance of power. At the last chance they had to vote before the war, in the 1935 general election, the British public overwhelmingly backed the National Government led by Stanley Baldwin (the same guy who pushed Edward VIII off the throne, Mark). By the pretty terrible standards of the day, it was a kinder, gentler country. Let’s hope it still is.

Funnily enough I asked my dad over Christmas whether he remembered Moseley’s rallies (my dad having been born in 1919 and growing up in the east end of London). He did, but said that as he was working all hours getting his apprenticeship it did not impinge on him much.

His impression was that Moseley’s lot hung around at the edge of the more Jewish areas to stir up trouble, but always made sure they had an easy get away if things got tough. I’m told that that’s typical bullying behaviour. It sounds like that bunch had big mouths but little follow through.

I, like my dad perhaps, may be blind to some of these things. I did not even know what a Jew was when at school, had no idea about all the discrimination that seems to have been going on based on the memoirs above. I recall we used the term “shekels” as easily as “dough” “dosh” etc without any adverse connotation. We had German Jews in the family (I realise now). It all seemed like part of a diverse world.

My recollection was that, for example, Fifer (who taught German) was made fun of, not because of his religion (if indeed he had any), but because he smiled all the time. We all used to whistle “when you’re smiling” behind his back when he got near. Perhaps not the worst trait in a teacher, it is sad we abused him like that.

Just because you do not agree with an opinion does not make it silly or ill-informed.
You know because you read a book. I know because I have first hand information. My family and their friends were intimately involved. My Uncle was manning the barricades in Cable Street in October 1936, long after Baldwin won the election. The Nazis did not care about democracy. They took over in Germany without a majority and they would have done the same in the UK given half a chance. Cable street was a pitch battle between the Jewish residents and the Dockers on one side and Moseley’s Black Shirts on the other. Fortunately, the Fascists lost this and other smaller skirmishes which put a damper on their plans. Baldwin only lasted until May 1937, replaced by Chamberlain who only lasted until September 1939. It is well documented that Edward was pro-Hitler and that the Nazis intended to put him back on the throne after the invasion of Britain. Moseley would have led the puppet government. It is also well documented that there would be a lot of British support for this arrangement. The fact that the invasion never happened, does not change things. Using the Nazis as a standard for kindness to Jewish people is not valid. That is like using Absolute Zero as a standard for warmth in your house. -20C, well it is better than -273C. The things that were and are done to minorities in the UK are neither warm nor kind, neither then nor now. You and Gary live in a situation where you are the majority and mainstream. These things do not impinge on you day in, day out, all your life, so, I am afraid, you do not understand them. However articulately I can explain them, you can never actually experience them. Charles Clark is, rightly, upset to this day that he was bullied for being fat. Multiply that feeling by 100 and you will still not come close to what it feels like to be on the receiving end of anti-Semitism or any other form of racism.
The anti-Semitic terminology was not confined to “sheckels”, there were many other fine phrases in use. I will not repeat them. And as for poor Mr. Fifer, I once saw him in tears over a particularly vicious anti-Semitic attack. He was a very gentle man. His plight made me all the more determined not to give in to the bullies.

Neville Chamberlain actually lasted until May 1940, his attempts to avoid another Great War having failed. Fortunately for us, and pretty well the rest of the World, Britain finally found its backbone with the succession of Churchill as Prime Minister after Chamberlain.

Anti-semitism still exists in the UK. I am frequently dismayed by how many people outside of London that one has often just met, and in every other way seem to be perfectly nice folk, happily flout their anti-semitic views and take it as a given that I and my companions agree with them. It is this assumption of agreement that I find most disturbing.

Meanwhile I’m not sure that ‘first hand information’ is an absolute trump over ‘reading a book’. I’m pretty sure that a specialist historian will know more about the Battle of Waterloo than many of the soldiers that fought in it (and more particularly the sons and daughters of those soldiers). Nevertheless a stimulating exchange of views.

And finally I cannot say that I noticed any anti-semitism at SCGS only the anti-German antics of Dr ‘Scum’ Turner as described in my previous post about him and Hans-Gunter Freytag.

I think that there was a lot of ism at SCGS. I remember that a cohort of boys from the local secondary modern schools were imported into the sixth form and it took quite a while for them to integrate due to the snobbishness of the exisiting pupils.
There seemed to be a culture to bully anyone with any attribute that made them different such as colour, religion, size or disability. In my year a very capable and likeable boy called Leone had the dual problem of being from a BME group and having a calliper on his leg. We became friends because we were both bullied so much. He went on to become a first rate tennis player under the tutillage of Bernie Shaw.
I think this was simply the culture of the time reflected in all sorts of ways such as Lord Snooty and his pals and the Bash Street Kids in comics. I think as a society were very aware of class and race differences and that this changed significantly in a politically correct society.

Stuart Little sez: “Neville Chamberlain actually lasted until May 1940…”

Quite right. It was at the end of the Phony War that he stood down.

“Anti-semitism still exists in the UK. I am frequently dismayed by how many people outside of London that one has often just met, and in every other way seem to be perfectly nice folk, happily flout their anti-semitic views…”

I think you mean flaunt rather than “flout.” But you’re right that there seems to be a new wave of anti-semitism in Britain today, though whether it’s worse than in other parts of Europe I doubt. It takes the form, for the most part, of “anti-Zionism” — it’s OK, in some quarters, to say anything bad about Israel, ignoring the fact that it’s the only Jewish-majority country in the world and that therefore it’s very hard to separate anti-Israelism and anti-semitism. It’s especially virulent among the Muslim minority in our society, and among those who sympathize closely with them.

As for “traditional” anti-semitism, well, I don’t know. I suppose there’s still some of it about, among BNP members and unreconstructed Hitler admirers (e.g. the “historian” David Irving) — but I imagine they’re a vanishingly small group of people.


Yes I meant ‘flaunt’ not ‘flout’. It’s amazing how the consumption of a bottle of wine the night before can bite you in the most unexpected of ways.

Meanwhile I shall make a New Year’s resolution to think of some nice things to say about SCGS on this forum.

Sorry Neville, I got rid of you too soon. Wishful thinking. He resigned on 10 May 1940. Historians compile their versions of history from witness accounts at the time. Then they put their own political or social spin on it. My sources are not just “soldiers” in the battle. They are highly educated, highly literate individuals who were extremely politically aware at the time. They knew exactly what was going on and why.
Stuart and Charles:
I applaud your insight. One can discuss a subject from different points of view without being disparaging.
Now, can we get back to the relevant subject: SCGS? Neville Chamberlain never went there.
I remember John Leone getting upset because every time anyone dropped anything metal, people would shout out his name as if his caliper had fallen off. It went on all year until they got bored with the game. Kids are mean.

I do remember a more amusing example of bullying.

One day in the playground some fellow third-formers and I were playing a game of football (with a tennis ball) and some of the bigger second formers started to interfere with our game by intermittently pinching the ball. At first it was just momentary interruptions but as they got bolder, and none of us did anything about it, it became more blatant. Finally, angry at this flouting of convention, I rushed in between them, picked up the ball and offered to fight anyone of them who touched it again.

At this point I realised that there were about ten of them circled around me (including Howard Amor who was a somewhat fearsome individual) . But nil desperandum I thought, my pals will back me up. I looked around for them and there they all were assembled at the other end of the playground looking on with detached interest.

Fortunately none of the second formers took me up on my offer (I was actually bigger than any of them) and honour was restored.

Mark Sheridan: Your opinion which I disagree with is not backed up by enough facts which is why I say it is ill informed and silly. England did have some anti-semitism of course – but not the same as Germany – after all they managed to elect and allow a fascist anti semitic government to run their country and pass anti-semitic laws . I think you badly misjudge the English people if you think we were the same or close to matching the Germans – especially by the time of the 1930′s. England as a nation has done some terrible things – but to suggest we would have taken the same route as the Germans is nonsense and at odds with the historical context that Germany and England found themselves in at that time. Germany was suffering the consequences of the first world war reparations and perhaps was more ripe for scapegoats. Moseley was a threat in the same way that the BNP or the earlier version in the 80′s called the National Front was a threat – preying on fears but unlikely to gain power in a democracy that dislikes extremism. I actually think there is a tolerance in this country that makes us different from other European countries and less likely to fall to extremist governments. You have opinions of course – but some of them appear to be statements of fact which I still say are ill informed – it’s not just a question of disagreeing with your view about anti semitism in England which you have decided to share on this blog about our old school. Perhaps this historical argument is better placed on some other forum more suited to this sort of thinking. I don’t recognise memories of Esher Grammar in the same way as you do perhaps when it was Surbiton Grammar. There may have been individual views but there was no anti semitic ethos.

You know nothing about me so how can you say I am part of the mainstream majority ? Again an ill informed assumption.

i don’t remember any racism or anto semitism in my time at scgs. it was many bad things but not those.

germany was a whole different ballgame to uk. the seeds of hitler or similar were sown at versailles. there was probably always a touch of anti semitism in germany and hitler, being strongly anti semetic simply exploited it.

Mr Shepherd:
Repeating an insult does not validate it. As for your opinion on anti-Semitism in the UK, it is you who are ill-informed. I could post extensive corrolation of my position, but as you correctly point out, this is not the forum. I did not start this discussion and have tried to turn the conversation back to SCGS on numerous occasions. Work you way back through this blog and you will see. Oswald Moseley and the Black Shirts were far more powerful than the BNP or the National Front will ever be. Moseley was a respected member of the establishment and a ex-Labour Minister. That he and Hitler were supported by some other members of the establishment is a matter of public record. As for anti-Semitic laws, there are plenty of examples in the UK, both local and national, over the ages. The British behavior in mandate Palestine from 1918 to 1948 was not exactly exemplary.
Now can we please get back to SCGS.

Mr Sheridan – what insult? That I think your opinion on this matter is ill informed? Well if you take that as an insult then you are far too sensitive to take part in internet discussions ! No insult was intended – just an exchange of opinions . This is not the school playground any longer and I am not waiting behind the bike sheds for a fight to settle matters ! Whether you started the discussion about anti semitism or not, you certainly ramped it up with your comments which were somewhat controversial concerning anti semitism in this country. I disagreed and answered and also suggested this was not the forum for these views – I will be very glad to return to reading people’s memories of our schooldays ! Happy New Year to you all.

come on girls, no personal arguments. disagree, yes, but for some 800 posts this blog has been very civilised.

happy new year to everybody!!

So you don’t think that calling someone’s opinion silly is an insult? And I ramped it up? Offering to send smarties to traumatized detainees is acceptable? Until you have lived through it, mate, I don’t think you have a right to pass comment. You can get as mad as you like, but you do not know a fraction of terrible things that have been perpetrated on Jews and other ethnic minorities in the name of altruistic Britain thoughout the last century. And as for waiting behind the bike sheds to sandbag someone, that would be your way of doing things, not mine. I am perfectly able to articulate an issue with a well reasoned argument. Whether you like it or not.

The comment about the bike shed was light hearted and meant to be a joke – and I still don’t think I was insulting you – but you have clearly taken this the wrong way. My friends and family are always disagreeing with each other’s opinions – but we don’t take it as insulting. It’s just banter. And I have a perfect right to comment as I have Jewish ancestry – I even support what some football fans call the Jewish club and have got used to the anti semitic chants of some other teams supporters. Not sure where smarties comes into this as I didn’t mention them. I did object to what you said about England being as anti semitic as Germany. I don’t agree with you – but that’s okay – it’s allowed – let’s disagree . Have a happy new year.

Happy New Year to all.

I think we ought to draw a line under the discussion about the treatment of people outside of the boundary wall of SCGS. This site is focussed upon SCGS and I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet fellow inmates and share experiences. Lets us keep this going into 2011 with the resolution that we will try to identify other ex-Surbitonians and invite them to join in.
Whatever our feelings about the place – it did occupy several significant years of our developing lives and there is much there to be worthy of comment.

Here! Here! Charles. Well said. A Happy and Prosperous New Year to all.

I quite agree – there are plenty other forums for discussions about politics and history – this blog is more about personal history.

Dave Littleproud

January 4, 2011 at 11:57 am

Mark-Charles -Gary-Neil and the rest of you!!
-pity-. this was getting interesting!
When I was at SCGS I had some real harsh arguments with some of my mates and then
we’d go down the pub!-so I raise a spiritual glass to you all in the hope that we can some day do it for real and wish you and yours a Happy New Year.

A really good idea – it is too easy to take offence on the internet – face to face exchange of views over a pint is much better. I hope that some of us can meet up some day to just that. Happy New Year.

Happy New Year to all old/ex SCGS inmates

Further to class names and numbers, have come across Feb 1959 Speech Day program.
Under various awards classes are listed as IIa, b, c ,x
IIIa, b, x
IVa, b, c
LVa, b, x
LVIS , LVIA&M (or was it S & M?!)
Have been checking memory against 1954 and 1958 school photos. At least half of my Sept ’53 intake are now nameless. Oddly, remembered 47 from ’54 but only 38 from ’58, a total of 54 different names. None of them will yet have reached 3 score & 10 so where are they all?? Only a few of us appear to have featured herein so far. So here’s a list to mull over :- (in no particular order as they say on TV)

courtney x2
lockyer last saw in 1970′s
shepherd (john?)
morrell – worked at ARL when I was there early 1960′s
yours truly

and from the 1959 speech day program :-
g. jackson
r. jackson
All of these were either Sept’53 intake or 1958 “O” level sitters.
sorry about lack of capital initials but I don’t like living at the computer believe it or not!!

Also notice my house – lovelace – won the Peter Dibben championship cup for COCK HOUSE in 1958. Don’t remember any comparisons (well not official ones – only in the post rugby baths!!) so how was it won??

Also went thro staff names – made it to 28 out of 35 in 1958 photo. Most have already been discussed. Harvey – art – was David – my ma new his ma.
I wonder if Alan C remembers Paul Turner – a decent teacher of chemistry I think or was it physics? I thought Warren was maths – perhaps a different one?
Enough for tonight.

Hi Phil,

At last I can remember you, and put a face to the name. Impressive list of names. For the record, I think in that same year,(1954) there were 2 Ashtons, 2 Whites, 2 Nyes, 2 Jacksons and of course at least 2 Courtneys.

A few names I don’t see anywhere: Samson ( way ahead of his time as his nickname was “LOL” ), Rafferty,Dodson, Mullins and Polden

Any way you could post that 1954 photo on the site. Would very much like to see it, even if you have to break it up into smaller bits….

hallo there Peter

I was going by face recog from the photo! Yes do remember a Rafferty, Dodson, and Mullins but didn’t put names to faces. What about Rumble – was a pal of David Giddy I think. Don’t remember Samson or Polden tho. I don’t have the knowledge to add photo to this site, others seem to have posted photos elsewhere. I could probably e-mail it with a bit of effort but that involves putting personal info onto this site which we don’t seem to do. Any other ideas?

Was amazed to see elsewhere that Gus made it to deputy head – after school moved I think. Did all the others take a step backwards I wonder?

talking of old boys does no-one remeber the most famous old boy [or the richest] felix


Was that the caretaker’s cat?

“talking of old boys does no-one remeber the most famous old boy [or the richest] felix”

Felix Dennis? There’s a claim on the school’s Wikipedia page…

… that he was educated at Surbiton County Grammar School, but no one has mentioned his name here until now. I did send a query message to his Facebook page months ago, but got no reply. I had been assuming it was a Wikipedia error, but do you remember him, Chris Rackley? Was he perhaps only at the school a short time — a term or two?

Phil, maybe Dave Littleproud can help – he has succesfully posted many photos online in the past.
Rumble – yes, forgot him. Wasn’t there a guy called Spittle also?

I have found 2 references to Felix Dennis that do not lead back to the Wikipedia page:
This one clearly implies that he was in the school in the first year. The poem refer to: “When I was but ten or eleven”. The notes that follow:
“The paving stone was by the church at the top of St. Mark’s Hill, Surbiton. The tree was in Effingham Road near Long Ditton Recreation Ground. The fish shop sign was on the way to my school’s rugby pitch which we had to reach by travelling on a double decker bus.”
The second reference also inplies SCGS:
Interview in the Observer 3/11/2002:
“Born in Kingston-upon-Thames in 1947, Dennis passed the 11-plus and won a place at a grammar school in Surbiton, Surrey. There his dissident streak revealed itself. He contrived to get himself kicked out of three schools and an art college.” The Art College is Harrow which does not acknowledge him as an alumni.
That would put him in the school around 1958. He could not have lasted long because he was already playing in bands and working in Pinner at the age of 14.

Another name from the ’63 intake: Swade (Andrew or Anthony, memory fails me). We were starting to be friends and he introduced me to tennis which was about my only brush with sport (he was rather good at it). After a year or two he won a scholarship to Charterhouse. I wonder if anyone knows what became of him.

Surbitonian 68, List of Prefects:
IJ Bethel – School Captain
E Thomas – Vice Captain
M Ferris – Vice Captain
S Boyce
C Forth
C Finlayson
DV Smith
P Turtle
D Clements
N White
G Bellairs
S Foster
R Batley (of the eyebrows!)
K Cleminson
N Clubb
B Crossley
G Cufley
P Denyer
N Elliott
M Gillam
J Hawkins
M Hunt
R Ireland
G Jackson
A McArthur
P Oakshott
P Pike
A Russell
P Scouby
S Simson
P Spooner
D Swanson
R Thornton
B Turner
C Uridge
Most of them I cannot remember. 1 or 2 still make my blood run cold: Pike, Spooner, Gillam, Boyce. And the good guys: Batley, Turtle, Finlayson.

Mark: Double thanks to you — firstly for those links referring to the multi-millionaire magazine publisher Felix Dennis. (No hard proof he was at SCGS, then? Does no one here present remember him, even in the slightest? I certainly don’t.) And secondly for that list of prefects in 1968.

Now I left the school in 1966 (to go to another in the Midlands), but if my family had stayed in Surbiton I would have been among those who finished at SCGS in 1968. So those prefects you list are my “lost” contemporaries. I do recognize most of the names, although many of them only faintly. I’m pleased to see my friends Geoff Jackson and Clive Uridge became prefects, as did I number of others I recall such as Stuart Foster and Rob Ireland. Chris Lucy, a particular friend of mine, is not on the list because he left school before 1968 to go to a job in the City of London (where no doubt he became rich). Another who’s missing, though, is Simon Lever — and I still don’t know what happened to him. Evidently he didn’t become a prefect, although he was one of the brightest boys in the school. Too rebellious? Or did he leave early, like Chris Lucy? Or did something horrible happen to him? Does no one know what became of Simon Lever?

Hi Peter

Thought I’d put in my e-mail as I see others have done same. Have scanned in 1954 and1958 SCGS photos.

If you care to e-mail me on then I’ll try doing an attachment to you. (that’s a zero one). Post on site if you’d rather not do it that way and we can think again.

Long way back you mentioned John Noble – heard a radio interview sometime after I left SCGS he had pursued a singing career I seem to remember.



Dave Littleproud

January 6, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Mark–with Len Neldrett I was table prefect to Messrs Cuffley, Finlayson and Lucy when they started at SCGS. Paul Turtle’s daughter is a good friend of my daughter. i see Paul when we share taxiing services. Small world!!

Prefects in 68 must have been pretty much my year (63 intake) but I recognise only one name, Turtle. Don’t know if he is the one I remember (I thought he was a “Mark” but due to the surname regime I am not sure) but IIRC he voiced strong anarchist views in the first few years. I am sure that promotion to prefecthood cured him of that. (Dave may be able to ask him if this rings any bells, and for the avoidance of doubt this in only a light-hearted observation, I don’t intend any offence).

I was not an anarchist but I have a great disrespect of authority (probably why I have never worked for anyone else, apart from gap year). That’s probably why I never made prefect. Actually I did get made an Egmont house prefect (whatever that meant) in around 68 but apart from a whimpishly green striped tie it made little difference.

The tie was one of my major embarrassments. I inadvertently wore a “full prefect” tie the first day of assuming that role and discovered the full weight of this offence. Nothing physical but the emotional pressure made me remove it after an hour or so and go tieless for the rest of the day, which in itself felt weird but no-one mentioned it again.

Peter Pocock

Hi there. Pete foster got there first(good to hear from you Peter). Have just tried to e-mail him the previously discussed photos. If it succeeded they are available for you if you wish.


S Lever (I’m assuming Simon) is published in the 68 Surbitonian:
“Sickly beerclogged grey wet Monday morning fight against the gravity of sleep.
Crawl on a red bus, going your way, sour breath, B.O., stale Weights smells and sulking mouths, dragged hating from their beds to face the week, with only weekend dreams and memories between them and the cold truth.
Assembly drag. There they all are, singing and praying, “and little Johnny (product of Love) will see me after to get what he deserves”. (Thank Christ we all don’t). For is it not written “Suffer the little children to be beaten and terrified, for such is the Kingdon of Heaven”?”Hymn 83.” Little Johnny sweats and shakes not knowing it is “good for his character”, he has almost wet his pants. “And so God, to conclude, if there is any thing we can do to help our fellow man, whatever his colour or income bracket, we thank thee (humbly?)”. Of course, it’s old prose. I’ve got my pride! Exit all forgiven, and Johnny near to tears and his first religious revelation.
What a way to start a day.”

A scathing inditement of the start of SCGS’s day. I don’t think they understood what it meant or they would never have let it be published!
So Simon was still there in 1968. The House Prefects are not included in the list so he may have been one of those. In answer to Mike, when I was there, House Prefects had the same duties and powers as full Prefects, it was just a lesser honour. The only thing it was good for was showing good character on your application to University, and they could not tell the difference.

My list is probably the 67/68 prefects which means the 61 intake. P Turtle is definitely Paul, he is the art editor of the Surbitonian for 67 and 68 and I instantly recognised his picture. Mark Turtle was possibly his brother. Dave, if you see Paul again, you can give him my regards, he saved me on a number occasions from clutches of Pike and his pals.

Mark: That’s great — thanks very much. It’s the first “news” I’ve had of Simon Lever I’ve had since I last saw him in 1966. So he was still at the school in 1968, which means he probably did A-levels. I’d still like to know what happened to him after that, but at least now I know he made it through school. Thanks for the extract from his story. It sounds as though he hadn’t changed much in between 1966 and 1968. I recall him being very influenced by J. P. Donleavy’s The Ginger Man, which we read when we were about 15. Somewhere I have the yellowing manuscripts of a couple of stories, in pretty much that style, that I wrote in collaboration with Simon Lever. I also have at least one piece co-written with another classmate called Gilbert Mance (who was also a Donleavy fan). Is there a G. Mance mentioned anywhere in that 1968 Surbitonian you have? He was a big fellow, as I recall, well-built, a rugby-player, with dark curly hair and rather “Chinese” eyes. He’s not listed among your prefects and I sometimes wonder what became of him too. Now, both Simon and Gilbert, with their beatniky ways, might have been suitable pals for, and future contributors to the magazines of, Felix Dennis … if Felix ever went to SCGS!

ref felix, doig told us all at assembly that felix had left us, i told you recently that doig had to us about poor mrs doig who died in bed one night , none -of you seemed to have heard that either did any -one other than me listen to what doig said , it think it was jolly bad of you all not to pay attention to the headmaster
best regards

There are contributions in both the 67 and the 68 Surbitonian by Gilbert Mance. They are far too large to reproduce. One untitled, one titled: In the background There is Always the Sound of the Drums and one titled: He Came From the Sea. I also am a fan of J.P. Donleavy.

J.P. Donleavy – I am a fan too – although I read A Singular Man first when I was 15. I hadn’t thought about him for a long time – now I have just bought a Kindle e-reader I must see if I can get an e-version of some of his books.

“There are contributions in both the 67 and the 68 Surbitonian by Gilbert Mance.”

Ah, that’s good to know — thanks again, Mark. So Gilbert saw his school career through to 1968 as well. (As with Simon Lever, it’s the first I’ve heard of him since 1966.)

“I also am a fan of J.P. Donleavy.”

S. Lever and G. Mance were big Donleavy fans. I may have given the impression in my last message that I was too, but I’m afraid I wasn’t. I did read The Ginger Man, on Simon’s & Gilbert’s recommendation, and quite enjoyed it; but I didn’t go overboard the way they did. I tried a later book — I think it must have been A Singular Man — and it seemed over-repetitive and I never finished it.

I see Gary Shepherd also adds: “J.P. Donleavy – I am a fan too.”

Another one! Maybe this was a wider cult among Surrey schoolboys than I ever realized…

Talking of literature, does anyone remember the American English teacher (oxymoron?) who read us Catcher in the Rye in class because we could not get the American meter right? The one book from the school curriculum that I appreciated. I liked the Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle too, but only after I read it again after I left school. School made it boring! I don’t remember the teacher’s name, but he was an honourary Sherriff of Tombstone, Arizona which he said got him out of speeding tickets in the US. He had the badge to prove it. I remember getting very angry over Lord of the Flies. I did not like the writing and I did not like the premise. I would wax literate on the subject in no uncertain words. Foolishly, I reproduced these sentiments in my English Lit. O Level which I duly failed. Clearly the world was not ready for such radicalism, however well thought out and writen it was. Schools around the world are still using this book (my son just had to read it) and my opinion of it has not changed. There are millions of good well writen books and I have read thousands of them. There is no need for this horse s–t.
Rant over, back to English teachers. Best teacher I had in English was Zaft (known as “daft Zaft” because he was completely eccentric) He once gave me 20 out of 10 for a haiku that I wrote. And he was jumping on desks long before “Dead Poets Society”. He used to take the English class on “field trips” on the spur of the moment, nothing related to class.

I certainly remember ‘Catcher in the Rye’ being read to us by the guy but cannot for the life of me come up with a name. I think we were in LV at the time and he was our form master (Forbes just came to mind as I was typing – but that may be just false memory). The book made a lasting impression and I have re-read it several times over the years. The only other piece of literature to have inspired me from SCGS was ‘Under Milkwood’ – as I recall there was an organised trip to Leatherhead to see a stage production. My memory is of a largely unlit stage with two tables a chair and a wooden box and some cleverly arranged lighting. Anyone else on that trip?

The list of prefects was largely from my intake year (1960). Graham Cufley seemed to be the butt of a lot of rather poor practical jokes. He always seemed a bit of a loner so that may be why.

Paul Leadbitter

January 8, 2011 at 3:56 am

I remember an American teacher called Kenworthy. Was that him? Dark hair and glasses are the only features I recall. I think he taught English, but I am sure that he also played the piano for the aural section of my Music O Level exam.

Spot on Paul! Well remembered. Kenworthy it was! I just remember that he looked American, clothes style slightly different, slightly chubby.

And, with the eye-witness evidence of Chris Rackley added to the other clues, it is safe to claim Felix Dennis as an alunmi, although, from what I have read about him, he will not thank you for it and nor would SCGS.

Mark: “… with the eye-witness evidence of Chris Rackley added to the other clues, it is safe to claim Felix Dennis as an alunmi…”

Has Chris Rackley given us “eye-witness evidence”? I’m still waiting for him, or anyone else on this blog, to give us a clear statement that they remember Felix Dennis. Chris said something about Doig announcing that Dennis was leaving, although whether that’s later hearsay or something Chris definitely remembers Doig saying has not been made clear.

Since no one (including, so far, Chris Rackley) has actually told us that they personally remember Felix Dennis, I would conclude that the lad must have been at SCGS for only a very short time. He was born in 1947, three years ahead of me, so he would probably have been part of the intake of 1958. My guess is that he had come and gone well before I started there in 1961.

I too became a magazine editor and publisher in later years (though a much less financially successful one than Felix Dennis), which is why I’m interested in the guy — although I’ve never met him.

Dave, Chris gave eye-witness evidence of Doig announcing Felix’s departure. Interesting in itself, because how often did the Head announce a pupil’s departure, particularly one as notorious as Mr Dennis? By 14 he had already been thrown out of 3 schools. The Art College that he claims to have been to does not acknowledge his existance although they do claim some other dubious characters. His antics with OZ seems to have made him persona non grata then and now.
The other evidence is circumstantial but pretty strong. How many other Grammar schools in Surbiton sent students to their playing fields by public bus?

Dave Littleproud

January 8, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I had a brilliant idea- I emailed him!!— so let’s be patient !!

Kenworthy – that’s the name I was trying to remember. He was camp but loud and passionate – he certainly made the lessons interesting. He was one of the teachers (along with Ashdown) that helped inspire my love of literature (I eventually went and did an English degree). He was only with us a short time but I liked his attitude.

Both of the aforementioned English teachers introduced me to Salinger and Hemingway which I am very grateful for as both authors are still favourites. My eldest daughter is currently doing Lord of the Flies for her GCSE – so I will re-read it – I enjoyed it previously at school so don’t know how it will be second time around..

felix, i do remember felix , round faced and slightly redheaded , i remember clearly doig at assembly , it might have been a special assembly i was somewhere near the front so that would make it 59-60 , i remember doig saying that it was sad to lose a pupil in this way, felix had a cousin who also went to the school whose name [i believe was “collar” i think ian was his first name ] i met him a few times after i left school, normally in tiffanys wimbledon [does anyone remember tiffanys wimbledon] i also remember reading catcher in the rye and like someone else said this got me into american literature stienbeck,mark twain particularly , and one of the places i still have a hankering to go to is the pacific coast of the states which stienbeck wrote about in big sur and maybe one day i will , so it is interesting to read about kenworthy i do vaguely remember him , keats was the english teacher i remember most as you can probably tell from my spelling , it is interesting to read in these ramblings what generates interest later in life , i never lived in the states but i worked for a company in cleveland , and when i travelled to the states it was books and rock and roll that made the travelling even more interesting and relevant.
chris rackley

just googled up the wikiepedia account of the school , felix is listed there , take a look

Chris Rackley:

“felix, i do remember felix , round faced and slightly redheaded …”

Ah, good — a specific memory at last. Thanks!

“i remember clearly doig at assembly , it might have been a special assembly i was somewhere near the front so that would make it 59-60 , i remember doig saying that it was sad to lose a pupil in this way”

And that gives us an idea of the date. Thanks again. You haven’t explained, though, what “this way” means. What was the reason Doig offered for Felix’s leaving the school?

“just googled up the wikiepedia account of the school , felix is listed there , take a look”

You sound very trusting of Wikipedia! It’s written by anybody and everybody. Just because something is claimed on there doesn’t mean it’s true. But anyway, I think it was the Wiki entry that got us started on this whole debate. I in fact emailed Felix Dennis’s Facebook page months ago, pointing out the Wiki claim, and asking if it was true that he attended SCGS. But I received no reply.

This is all very fragmented as we all were in different years and had different perceptions of SCGS. I think that this is what makes this site so very interesting and I think that together we can piece together a celebration of all that was good and a condemnation of all that was bad. Anyway I would like to hear more about SCGS.
I went there in 1964. I remember Paul Turtle and his brother Mark Turtle who I think went to St Georges Medical School. Indeed I was offered 3 A level passes at Grade C to go to St Georges but did not get the grades due to excessive exposure to the wonderful music scene around Tolworth, Kingston and Twichenham, excessive use of alcohol and cannabis and a very beautiful girlfriend. I would have been a lousy doctor anyway.
Julian Ashdown was an amazing teacher and through his politeness and respect I learned to love English Literature and appreciate that some teachers actually believed in their subject and had a genuine desire to enable young people to learn.
I remember Kenworthy but was never taught by him. What about Jack Skene – the whistling geography master with the dyed hair? What about a geography master called Scilley who had retired from Kingston Grammar and was the author of a series of books? Totally barking. Zaft was mad and I remember him jumping out of the window of the room at the back of the library after we had conned him into believing in a play we had written about maggots. Junor was a working class Northerner – enough said – how can you teach if you cannot speak English properly?
I wonder someone with the necessary skills should set up a SCGS social networking site which would be sufficiently conspicuous to attract the attention of other ex-inmates? After all, we all found this forum by chance. Facebook? Myspace? I do not know as I am not very accomplished at such things. I would like to have the chance to meet others who have had the SCGS experience.
Whatever – let us continue the chat.

I will be very surprised if Felix responds. He is very anti school and university.

Wikipedia is the main source of mis-information on the web.
At least 2 other alumni claims are untrue. Eric Clapton and John Cooper. Neither went to SCGS. They both went to Hollyfield before it moved to St Mark’s Hill. John Cooper’s garage was in Hollyfield Road.

I had Keats for music, but not English. To this day I can lift a desk lid without the tips of my fingers projecting over the top. Keats used to throw the board rubber at you, aiming for where your fingers would be if you got the lid up in time. If you didn’t, it was likely to hit you smack in the ear! I remember one kid ducked the wrong way and caugth the board rubber full in the face.

And did I mention how much I dislike “Lord of the Flies”? (I know I did, I’m just using dramatic emphasis!) John Steinbeck and Mark Twain were much better writers than William Golding. Come to think of it, even Stan Lee was a much better writer! Don’t blow your stacks, its only my opinion, if you like him, you like him, I just don’t.

I can tell you had Jack Skene for Geography. Stefan Junor came from Walsall which is in the Midlands, not the North. He was also one of the few really good teachers that I had. Between him and Bernie Shaw, I was exempted most of the first year Math on my Engineering degree course. I also ended up with 2 Maths A-Levels.

Midlands? North? All foreign to me. I still could not understand him. Ping pong? OK.
Bernie Shaw did nothing to teach me maths. Spike King got me through my O level.
Attree? A very dedicated biology master who taught A level Botany?
Pupils in my year? Jimmy Irvine, Bashford, Bridden, Cann, Doble, Noorani, Leone, John Brown, Martin, Ross, Fatty and Skinny Smith, Cooper, Bill Williams, Veates, Christian, Goodwin, Felstead, Fentiman.
I can see their faces but do not remember their names. I remember Marcus Plantin as a particularly nasty prefect with his inadequate sidekick Mirauer who was not a prefect at all. Most prefects were up their own arses but there were a few who were decent. The problem was that they abused us and so we abused the lower years. I realised very quickly that this was wrong after I had been mean to a younger boy and recognised how I felt when it had happened to me. I ceased being a bully immediately and tried to stop others. My first three years at SCGS were hell and I tried to stop other young boys going through that.
I have moved on and I hope others have as well.


Tried emailing but the message keeps bouncing back as undeliverable. Please confirm the address.

Bernie Shaw was really smart, but could not teach to save his life. I just happened to be good at Math so I could decipher what he was talking about. He had no top limit, so he would take you to degree level Math and beyond even though it was not required for the GCE. I had no problem with Frip Junor’s accent, I guess I was used to relatives and friends with “funny” accents, although I had never heard Walsall before. Again, I was good at the Math, so it was easier to communicate. When Bill Busby died the table tennis club died with him. Frip was the only teacher who was interested in helping me reopen it. We even got the Parents Association to buy new tables. I ran it with John Noorani’s help. A massive campaign thoughout the school grew the membership to over 230, 1/3 rd of the whole school! We staged a House tournement and Waller cancelled classes for the afternoon so it became a big event. Villiers won.
I thought it was the Cooks/Cookes that were Fatty and Skinny, Graham Cooke being Skinny. If you look at the 1965 picture in Friends Reunited, he, I and Simon Doble are all in a row. I think it was John Cook who was Fatty.
You are right about the prefects, there were a lot of sadists among them and they were none too subtle about it. There were some who stood out on the side of good. Rickard, for instance, was always the champion of the weak and undertrodden. And Churchill, Batley, Turtle, Finlayson, Paice and others who’s names, for the life of me, I cannot remember. I remember with great distaste Pike. There were others just as bad or worse, but for some reason I particularly remember his name. When I was a house prefect, I used other means of getting the little monsters to do my bidding. I put steel taps on my shoes. When I was sent to substitute a teacher in class, I would loudly tap my way down the corridor. You could hear a riot going on in the classroom but when I opened the door all the little angels were sitting quietly in their places. They thought they were very clever, putting one over on me! Once they were quiet, you could keep them quiet, but getting them to calm down was the trick.

Remember “Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man”? This was one of the texts that turned me off E lit. Not being one not to judge a book by its title I refused to read it and refused to take E lit seriously (only failed O level). I read a lot and always failed to understand why their choice of books was better than mine.

“Lord of the Flies” was sort of interesting as it was almost SF, my fave genre but it was not what one would call enjoyable. “Macbeth” has proved useful in shouting out answers to the occasional quiz programme or being able to chuckle knowingly along with the luvvies on arts programmes.

We didn’t do Sallinger and I have never read him though it is on my pile to read sometime, but perhaps the moment is passed. (BTW off topic but I recently discovered Gore Vidal who’s essays have taught me a lot about the cleverness of the American constitution and the abuse of it).

I got into Steinbeck later, and even visited Cannery Row on my first trip to the States. Mostly a tourist trap of course, though the Grayhound bus trip from SF was interesting in revealing the boring flat lands of the Monterey peninsular.

Keats and music: His joke was that ‘pause’ marks on the music must be due to a cat walking over it. (Get it? Try to stop laughing). Maybe we should make a list of the teachers along with each one’s favourite joke.

I might have learned to play a musical instrument as I requested to learn the clarinet, but was given a violin instead. After some months screeching a vague G major scale endlessly to entertain the family I gave up that torture machine and my musical involvement later became strictly behind the mixing desk. (BTW I do like the violin, just not in my hands. Thought: If you invented the violin today, the marketing department would laugh you out the office. It takes HOW LONG to learn it? And who’s going to read the manual?)

I hoard books. If I read it, I keep it. Drives my wife crazy. I have over 700 SF books most of which I read before I left school. Last count the total collection of all kinds was well over 2000 and climbing, although very slowly these days. Plus 500 technical books. I did not like Golding’s writing, but I was more upset by the premise. The assumption that we, as a group of unsupervised children, would degenerate so quickly to a level of such barbarity without outside intervention deeply offended me. It implied that it was inherent in mankind, that the Nazis, for instance, were not a cancer that could be cut out, but were a natural phenomenon that could spring up any time, any place. This is patently not true, is a very jaundiced view of society, and should not be presented as literature in school. There are plenty of great writers that they could teach. Sassoon was a good writer, but he was completely out of context even when we studied him. The teaching was poor, so we had no chance of being interested. Kenworthy read Catcher in the Rye to us and explained the context and the metaphors. Then he encouraged us to discuss meaning. That is why we enjoyed the book. The other books we each had to read out passages in front of the class and we were more worried about getting our part over than understanding what we were reading. Then we were instructed as to the interpretation. No wonder it put us off those books. I thought that the Black Cloud was terrible until I read it again outside of school. I had found and enjoyed some other books by Fred Hoyle, both fiction and non-fiction, and could not understand how he could write in such a contradictory manner. So I reread the Black Cloud and found out that he hadn’t. The teaching had ruined it.

Its never too late to read Catcher in the Rye – its still one of the best novels ever written – the voice of the narrator and his spotting of “phonies” still rings true. As a young man it was great to hear that voice – as an older man you see how clever Salinger was to catch that tone but make it say much more. But don’t bother too much about metaphors – the emotion still comes through.

Lord of the Flies rang true at the time as to how boys might react – although the premise of the castaway situation was a device, and the using of the conch as a symbol of authority dubious, you could see signs in some of the types and bullies at school how this might develop in a real situation albeit much less dramatic. However, I haven’t read it since nor any other of Golding’s books – and as a voracious reader that tells its own story. It probably is a studied book because its “themes” are obvious and gives bored teenagers something to write about with the minimum of effort (i.e. they probably don’t even need to read it). Catcher in the Rye is much better than this.

Mark, Gary: Actually I am not sure the prefect analogy holds. What gave prefects their “power” was that they were appointed to a niche in the imposed hierarchy. This power allowed them to behave badly sanctioned by the greater power. I suspect that the moment that protection were withdrawn, they would shrink away.

What might happen in an anarchic situation like LOTF would surely be very different, although I could see that it could generate a new power structure given a sufficiently powerful figurehead. Still, in the context of a book it is not unreasonable to speculate. This is/was the power of SF, to speculate on the hypothetical.

Here we are debating it after all those years! Maybe that makes it “literature”. Had we debated in class what made SF so powerful I would have woken up and taken notice. I actually drifted away from SF though I too still have most books I ever had, stacked 3 deep in shelves.

“The Black Cloud”: Loved it from day one. A great scientist and character. I attended one of Fred Hoyle’s public lectures in Cambridge on his subject of life arriving on earth from ET origins and G being proportional to the age of the universe rather than a constant. I even got to ask him a question contesting some point, but I don’t think he was fazed.

Thanks, I will read Catcher. I have been postponing it thinking I may have missed the boat (if it is a “young man’s book”).

mike kemp good idea the favourite jokes ——how about sid about jimmy greaves “when jim dont score jim grieves” spoken with a big chunk of saliva in the right hand side of his mouth and his index finger on his right hand extended or turner “my name is scum i remove the muck” spoken with his eyes rolling and rubbing his stomach with both hands left hand revolving anti-clockwise and the right clockwise ,or” chips” carpenter when i was cowering at the end of the vaulting horse run up “come on rackley no-one has ever been hurt jumping over a vaulting horse ” so straight down i went over the vaulting horse and on to surbiton hospital where i had my broken ankle set and plastered , no -one talks much about chips carpenter , but i thought he was a super guy with a nice wife, my mum used to like him as well.
best regards

I never met Hoyle, but I did meet Barnes Wallis twice at BAC. The one really good thing about SCGS was that it was positioned between Vickers and BAC. I saw the Harrier fly and had the silver emergency blanket material long before they thought of using it for that purpose. They used to give it away at the factory when you visited. I sat in the pilot’s seat and worked the nose of the first Concorde. I saw it take off and land time after time. And I saw them barrel roll a VC10 when testing it! Barnes Wallis used to lecture to kids and show us all his “crazy” ideas, like swing wings, forward swept wings, copters with no tail rotor, planes with no tail, “impossible” stuff like that. After the lecture he would chat and answer (and ask)questions individually. He is one of the reasons I do what I do. He had absolute faith that all his ideas would be built one day, and he was right!

Dave Littleproud

January 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Mark-have you coloured them all in yet? -sorry couldn’t resist!!! However as a ymptom of my recent interest in art and painting most of my latest book purchases have been “coloured in”. Two notable recent purchases are “Water Colour Painters Pocket Palette” and ” The Art of Colour Mixing” Good to see that our wives would have some common ground !! Last time we moved I counted my books by the hundredweight -Kenco coffee boxes weighing 20lb– and I have now not moved house for 20 years. My wife is particularly irritated by my habit of buying the hardback when I already have the paperback and not throwing out the latter.
My English literature syllabus was still composed of shakespeare and the classics.
I read “Lord of the Flies” independently and saw the film on release. My daughter read it for GCSE 2 years ago -she had to write the last chapter on what happened after the rescue with particular focus on what happende to Jack, Ralph and Piggy’s Aunt -interesting exercise.
I disagree with you Mark- a recent TV “reality prog” put separate groups of boys and girls into separate houses and left them to it for a week or so. The girls cooked cleaned and generally behaved while the boys wrecked the place.
I don’t believe the “nazis” were a none off while- Hitler killed his half millions, Stalin killed his millions, Mao killed his tens of millions and Pol Pot killed 3.5 million. What about the Tutus and the Hutsis- How about Darfur and anywhere the Koran is top of the local Booker List.
The attitude of pakistani men to English girls appears to be part of a culture rather than a one off like our own homegrown yorkshire ripper.
It only takse a few rotten apples…… and they do exist.
Forty odd years ago out of interest I read a book by J D Salinger-I cant’t remember which one but I thought it foul rubbish and the “hero” despicable -I wish I hadn’t bothered.

Odd to see a discussion of science fiction breaking out on the SCGS blog!

Rob Ireland and I were the two keenest readers of it in my class. He was slightly ahead of me, I think, but I caught up with him when I was 13 (so this would have been 1963), when I discovered the works of John Wyndham and Arthur C. Clarke. The latter’s _Childhood’s End_ (read in a Pan paperback edition) blew me away, especially the climax where most of the human race evolves into a great cloud of “mentality” and spins off into space. I remember reading those pages in school, in class — I must have been reading it illicitly under the desk, as it certainly wasn’t a set book. Some of the masters were sympathetic to science fiction, though, or at least selected authors of it. I remember discussing John Wyndham’s disaster novels with Dave King, the maths master. This wasn’t in class, but must have been afterwards, when I was doing extra maths tuition with him. (I also remember his mugs of unsweetened tea, and him saying how one shouldn’t take sugar.) He seemed to have read most of Wyndham’s novels. There was another master, whose name I can’t remember now (maybe some of you can identify him for me) who encouraged us to read Ray Bradbury, and I recall a discussion of that writer in class, with me holding forth pretentiously about how his later books, after _Fahrenheit 451_, had “gone off.” My friends Simon Lever and Gilbert Mance, that rebellious literary pair, weren’t much into SF, but they read some. I remember, especially, that they both liked Theodore Sturgeon (American and stylish, though not quite like Salinger or Donleavy). Sturgeon’s main book was _More Than Human_, of which there was a nice new Penguin edition in 1965. I bought that book, and somebody nicked it from me in class! Disappeared from my desk, it did, and I never found out who took it. Maybe it was one of you…


I liked Chips Carpenter too – and I didn’t even know his wife.


I never met Fred Hoyle but spoke to him a few times on the phone and got a sort of mention in one of his books. He was a nice guy too.


I also never met Athuir C Clarke but received a nice note from him after sending him (at his brother’s request) a copy of one of the video documentaries I produced. He seemed like a nice chap too.

I never came across JD Salinger. And I’m not at all sure that he was a nice chap.

Dave Littleproud

January 9, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Mark -you fill me with envy – on the available evidence Barnes Wallis calculated the date of his death and was frighteningly close. A very clever man.

Maybe the pro-Salingers should fight the pro-Goldings! Pigs head on a stick anyone? Stormy petrel, albatros! Sorry, I’m deviating.What ever you do, don’t mention the war. I did, but I think I got away with it! Sybil!Isn’t sream of thought a wonderful thing?
Back to SCGS:
For some reason I don’t remember the teachers being funny. I do remember some pet phrases though:
Jock Lonsdale on pronunciation: “If 50 million Frenchmen can do it, so can you. After all, they don’t have a brain between them!
Curtis (another French teacher, don’t remember his first name or nickname): Its no GOOD to ME, BOY! while rapping you on the head with his knuckle. ( You have to spit the capitalized words.)
Sid Capper: (Also French): Squirrels? I hate squirrels!
Dr. “Scum” Turner: When I was there, he had refined his pet phrase to: Muck and scum, sir, that’s what you are, muck and scum!

Sid Capper was blind as a bat. He could not see past the front row of the class. We used to make a rope of elastic bands and wind it round the class, through the desks and chairs. Then someone at the back of the class would ask for his help. On his way Sid would get tangled up, just like Inspector Clouseau. As mentioned above Sid hated squirrels. There was a road crossing campaign for children using a squirrel called Tufty. One day someone brought a stuffed toy Tufty to school. It was attached to the aforementioned rope of elastic bands. One end was attached to the open window and the other end, with the Tufty, was trapped in the classroom door, so that the rope was stretched tightly across Sid’s desk. The person by the door (I don’t remember who that was) then knocked on the door as though there was someone outside wanting to come in. Sid duly answered the door and Tufty catapulted past his face, across the room and out the window. Sid, flustered cried out: “What was that?” The whole class responded: “A squirrel, sir!”, which elicited the required response: ” A squirrel? I hate squirrels! Gales of laughter, a very confused Sid and a visit from Adolph to find out what the noise was about. We then spun him a very convoluted story about how Sid had tried to kill a poor innocent squirrel that had wandered into the classroom. We were all shocked and traumatized. It wasted the whole lesson very nicely.

Dr Turner would usually start one of his interminable, and frequently repeated, anecdotes with, “I have a friend….” Something that we all rather doubted, but as I reported some time ago there was at one time a website in existence dedicated to his memory and proclaiming what a wonderful person he was. Maybe he put it up himself, anyway it seems to have vanished now.

Whenever we wanted a laugh in Geography we would get Jack Skene to say, “A Valance, le Midi commence,” in his distinctive whistling style. He always obliged.

When upset about something, Bill Busby was inclined to come out with, “You know I’m of a nervous disposition!”

From Ted Hillier, “I’m just going out for a few minutes. Don’t go away.”

Dave Littleproud

January 9, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Mark-stop making me laugh!!!
“Mansfield Park” put me off Jane Austen for years-recently read “Pride and Prejudice” and enjoyed it -so in fairness I really ought to give Mr Salinger another chance.

Dave Littleproud

January 9, 2011 at 9:47 pm

“Pigs head on a stick” would be considered pretty offensive in some parts.

Dave L:
““Pigs head on a stick” would be considered pretty offensive in some parts.”
My point exactly! Unless it came with chips, of course. Still would not be Kosher though.

Dave Littleproud

January 9, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Mark -how about if the only available lunch on the island had been rabbit ? would that have been offensive?
I have the idea that in the 19c kind hearted missionaries would leave pigs on apparently uninhabited pacific islands for the benefit of shipwrecked sailors -so I don’t think that Golding was being deliberately offensive.
As to my allusion I refer to a bit of local aggro that I need to research further-late 19c I think.
On which Salinger should I start my belated education?

Catcher in the Rye definitely. Then there is Raise High the Roof Beams Carpenter – for an introduction to the Glass family.

Dave L:
I am not offended by Lord of the Flies from a Jewish point of view but from a civilized one. And my latest remarks were mearly facetious. It does not help that I do not like the way Golding writes at all. However, in answer to your question, the simple answer (and there are no simple answers in the Jewish religion only simple debates!) is that if your life is in danger you are required to protect it. Which means that if the only source of food is rabbit, you eat rabbit. Just that you cannot worship it, curse it, cook it on the Sabbeth, steal it from your neighbour or sleep with his wife. (Unless that is the only way to get the rabbit in order to protect your life! Clear as mud.)
Catcher in the Rye is Salinger’s most famous book so I would start with that.
The Salinger fan club site ( states:
“Salinger published just 36 stories in the course of his career. Of these, 14 are easy to obtain: One novel and 13 short stories published in three mass-market books. I suggest the following order for those who are just (re)discovering Salinger:

1.The Catcher in the Rye
2.Nine Stories
3.Franny and Zooey
4.Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction “

I remember Charles Kenworthy, he taught for a year at SCGS, I don’t know if this was an exchange. As well as being an honourary Sherriff of Tombstone, he claimed on numerous occasions that his granfather founded the Origon trail. His memorable punishment (to me anyway) if you were yacking in class was to approach from behind, just say ‘Quit it’ and rap the perpetrator firmly on the skull with a bl**dy big ring that he used to wear.
On his last day he made a farewell speech wearing a suit, a pair of cowboy boots and a stetson hat.

Dave R:
I remember Kenworthy’s boots, he used to wear them in class, with his feet up on the table. So now we have his whole name, but not his shoe size. Anybody?
If you are 66 intake you might remember my brother, Kevin?

Peter (Pocock)

Did you do a zero one in my e-m address or an o one. It is zero one 01., not o1
If not then put yours on the site and I’ll do a reply to establish contact.


Dave Littleproud

January 10, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Gary and Mark-thank you for the syllabus-I will look out for them -although since,like Mark, I never throw away a book the Salinger to which I took exception may still be in my book boxes ( which are now banana boxes and not coffee -large books stack better-also good boxes for videos -don’t mention those to Mrs Littleproud!!)
Mark -re the pig-please explain to this poor ill educated Anglican- I am getting nightmares about you, me and a pig stuck on a desert island with no other source of food!!
Aha! I think I’ve got it -you’d let me eat the pig!!??

Dave Littleproud

January 10, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Mark-or would it be a smart move on my part to eat the pig asap???

Then I would have to eat you! Or, maybe, I let the pig eat you and then I eat the pig! Of course, you forgot the fish. I let the fish eat you and the pig and then I eat the fish. There, no commandments or kashrut laws broken. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
Poor, ill-educated and Anglican, not a good combination. You should be like Felix Dennis: Rich, un-educated and irreverent. Apparently the combination works better.

Dave Littleproud

January 10, 2011 at 10:21 pm

No -it’s just you, me and the pig-Tesco’s have got all the fish! Ok so you could eat me -South American rugby team air crash etc. I suppose there may be some debate over eating the pig second ie eating me after I’ve eaten the pig but I’m lost as to how you can eat the pig after it’s eaten me.
Anyway why the downer on the poor pig -I’m told that anatomically they are the closest mammal to the human-as in using pig hearts for transplants or would that count as life saving?
Apart from his more obvious peccadilloes Scum failed miserably in enlightening us about other religions. I remember my father cracking up laughing when he saw my little RE notebook.
If Mr Dennis went to SCGS he can’t be uneducated.

Dave L:
Scum failed to enlighten anyone on any subject. It seems from previous posts that he had accidents in the lab regularly. I remember him trying to put out a sodium fire with no success and also filling the room with sulpher fumes when that also caught fire. We had a 20 minute discussion on not taking metal into a TNT factory and what to do about your metal trouser zip if you went in: ” Have you never heard of BUTTONS, boy?” Of course none of us had, so we were facsinated by the explanation that in the old days there were no zips! As I said, 20 minutes. I don’t actually remember learning anything in his class.
I’ve been browsing back through the old postings and found a discussion between you and Richard Cripps about a French teacher nicknamed “Ahab”.
That was Curtis who I mentioned previously: “Its no GOOD to ME, BOY!” Nasty piece of work who thankfully left. I had forgotten he was called that, probably because of the beard. Most of the nicknames were handed down through the years and, except for the obvious ones, like Scum Turner and Bomber Lancaster etc., the meanings disappeared. I never knew for years that the real Peewee Hunt was a jaz trombonist. One of those “aha!” moments.

Was “Bomber” Lancaster a youngish chap? I had forgotten the name till just mentioned. I think it was he (rather than Harris-Ide) who was my form master and recognised my interest in technology. In my first or second year he arranged a private visit with a friend of his at the National Physical Laboratory to see my first computer, a valve machine with an early VDU which was able to display a graphic image of the day of the year on which any date fell (I tried my birthdate of course).

I recall seeing their first transistorised model being installed behind glass doors (named KDF9 I think). Later in the 6th form I did a week at the NPL on a programming course. Thanks to the proximity of the NPL and this experience I have a little short of 50 years of exposure to computers. I get mildly annoyed when the media refer to older people not being computer literate. Have people had their heads in the sand for the last half century? (I first experienced the arpanet later renamed the internet over 35 years ago).

Another book from school that struck a chord with me was “The Machine Stops” by E. M. Forster. A great story of decadence of society and scientific reasoning. Another SF story disguised as literature so it could get past the thought police.

BTW I see Mark got the 1,000th entry in this blog. What was the prize Mark?


Zero one seems to work – at least it hasn’t bounced back. Looking forward to the next step.

The prize: write out 1000 times ” I must not blog in class”.
I was fairly used to computers early on. My Dad used to take me to work to see the fancy new payroll computers that they had installed and my Uncle was an ICL technician. After my A-levels, the school sent me on a computer course at Kingston Tech, as it was then. They had an Atlas computer that filled a large room and had far less computing power than my phone has today. Lots of air-conditioners though. I got told off because I ran a program to calculate all the squares from 2 to 100 and it used a lot of expensive CPU time! By 1975 the University had a “tiny” Digital PDP11 – it was the size of 2 wardrobes.
As an aside, I remember the day slide rules died! At the end of 1973 the University allowed pocket calculators into the exams and that was that. We all went out and bought rediculously expensive calculators. There were 3 choices: TI, CBM and HP. A group of us went to the importer and paid £80 each for a CBM SR36, 2/3 rds of the retail price!

Dave Littleproud

January 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Mike -re the blog count you could be like the guy in the times who works out which royals have been to which events and how often –no don’t – I’m joking !!
I managed to hang on to my slide rule until about 1979 when I lost it during a romantic interlude with girl friend in the hospital in which she was working -she couldn’t remember in which of 200 rooms ………pity -it was a good slide rule.
I later had to explain the workings of a slide rule to a graduate engineer who was off abroad to places without reliable power sources for recharging calculators.
Even later I found explaining the principle of the slide rule even more difficult when I realized the recipient of my wisdom had never heard of logarithms. My kids did them but not till GCSE and then I think only for the crack.
I still have my book of 6 fig logs which I needed for my surveying course.
I think Curtis arrived as I was leaving -in my years I remember a rather nasty case called Williams -luckily I had Fred Fernyhough for french in my O level year -with his encouragement I passed .
Mark -what about this pig?

I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals. ~Winston Churchill

Dave Littleproud

January 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Do you treat pigs as equals-surely not eating them is a form of discrimination?

If its good enough for Winnie…………
Pointedly changig subject:
While Rowen Atkinson did not go to SCGS, he certain went to a clone:

I remember almost the same conversation between Waller and my Father over Adolph Hillier “signing” my back. He was aiming for my backside which he missed, because I don’t have one.

Dave Littleproud

January 11, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I cannot believe that I went around with my eyes shut during my time at SCGS-my group didn’t do racism, antisemitism, snobbish elitism to comprehensive kids or blatant cruelty. I don’t remember anyone, staff included, being pilloried for their accent or background.
There seems to have been an appalling culture change after I left
While I cannot condone the corporal punishment it was of it’s time -It really is over done to put SCGS staff in the same box as Hitler and his ilk (readings from the Nuremberg trials and “Scourge of the Swastika ” might put things more in perspective) -remember that the VA group that Gus caned were the same group that drove one teacher to the staff common room in tears and finally out of teaching-the previous year Frank Walmsley had them eating out of his hand.
We, as schoolboys, could be bloody difficult.
I was amused by Sid and the Squirrel -but why were you so unkind to such a nice person -sure you would have whined but you would never have dared it with Gus.
What my VA did to the poor guy and what your lot did to Sid seem to me to prove Golding’s premise(?? -my internal dictionary sometimes gets lost -but you know what…..) -there were people who proudly went out of their way to be disruptive to the weaker teachers-Alan Cadogan was against the use of corporal punishment-how did he keep order with some of the rotten apples in your and my barrels. It was of it’s time but has behavior improved in today’s schools?

stuart little,
stauart nice to know you have not lost your sense of humour
best regards

We were the 60s generation. We were brought up on “Alfie” and “St Trinnians” and “IF”. We combined the lot and put it into practice. Sid was completely past it when we got to SCGS. He should have been retired long before. Even so, “Tufty” was probably the worst we did to him. Others were not so lucky. As for Gus, I shall reprise my earlier posting:
“He owned a Volvo sports car (same as the Saint) which had swing axles at the front. He would regularly find that someone has lifted the front of the car and let the wheels drop undeneath. The car would be resting on the front wheel hubcaps flat on the road! It used too drive him crazy!” This did not happen just once, but over and over.
Our year ruined the “entry” system. 3 entries in 1 term and there was hell to pay. One year the 3 classes decided to have a competition to see which class could collectively run up the most entries. By the end of term we had hundreds of them each class. The next term the system was abandoned with no substitute. Class control was, and is, in the hands of the teachers. If the teacher was not on the ball, he would pay for it. You did not dare do anything to Davies, Hacket or Chambers in class. Junor arrived fresh from teacher training and boy, did we start with him. Buckets over the door, chair glued to the floor to name but a few. But he was on the ball and it soon stopped. He had the right balance of firmness and revenge without over using his power, so he was liked (on average).
SCGS was a school full of the smartest kids who were just beginning to defy authority. They invented train wrecking and all sorts of other creative mayhem. Todays school discipline and behaviour is much worse. The mayhem has filtered down to the “other ranks” and is perpetrated in a much cruder fashion.

Dave Littleproud

January 11, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Ok so maybe Sid was past it-he was still a nice guy-obviously Junor deserved it because he was just a working class northerner. They could have been better, I think we could have been much better-maybe the baby got thrown out with the bath water. Good to see your continuing support for Golding.

Dave, Dave, Dave,
Three strikes and you are out!
1. There are no nice guys in a draconian regime, only less bad ones.
2. Junor was not a working class northerner. He was a middle class midlander. By definition, you cannot be working class and have a degree and be a teacher. His background may have been working class, I do not know, but so what? Your slip is showing. Cross the Thames once in a while, there are people out there! And not just North Londoners! As I said, we stopped harrassing him when it did not work.
3. Nothing I have said supports Golding’s premise which is that there are no bottom limits. Quite the reverse. Sid Capper was a demented geriatric. At no time did we do anything really vicious to him. Just annoying. We knew there were limits and we stopped at them. We even policed them. There was one nut job in our Chemistry class who used to close all the windows in the lab, light a bunsen burner at one end of the room and leave, turning on all the gas taps as he went. Fortunately, we caught it before the lab exploded. He did this 3 times before he was taken outside and “persuaded” that it was not a good idea. We had limits. The few that crossed those lines knew it and backed off. Goldings characters had no limits. That is my argument against Lord of the Flies. And the fact that it is badly written. Even the skinheads invited to the school gates to beat up the “Jew” stopped short of trying to kill me (just). When the local bobby was being attacked outside the school the whole of the sixth form went to his aid, even the bad guys. Golding is wrong.

mark and dave , i used to deliver sids newspaper he read the daily herald , he lived in kings keep down the bottom of the hill, one cristmas i knocked on his door for a christmas tip and he gave me a quid a huge amount of money in 1961 he was just a lonely old soul, past his sell by date , i prefferred sid to some of the other pyhcopaths like slug , i also think that he knew his subject but could not put it over

I fully agree with you, “past his sell by date” is spot on. I think he probably did know how to teach once upon a time, but that time was long gone when he got to us. Give him his due, he was never violent with us, however much we teased him. I realized pretty quickly that I was not going to pass O Level French if I stayed in his class. Waller anounced that the top 2 of Sid’s class would be moved up into Jock Lonsdale’s class next term, so, by fair means and foul, I maneuvered myself to the top of the class and escaped. I used to like to stay in the middle of the class – less obtrusive and less was expected of you, but if I needed to I could turn on the brains and storm out ahead. I managed to pass French from the middle of Jock’s class. The only class I could not get to the middle of was Davies’ Chemistry. He used to mark by House. Coutts at the top, Villiers at the bottom and the other 2 in between, I don’t remember the order. Then he would add his personal dislikes. I was always dead last. And I was good at Chemistry, really good. Theory and practical. I was the only one in class that could accurately titrate. At the parent teacher meetings my Father would go through my homework with Davies to have him explain why I got 2/10 when all the answers were perfectly correct. Davies would always have some lame excuse about neatness and spelling. The next day he would lecture me on how useless I was and how I was going to fail my A Level and not amount to anything. Well, I passed. The beginning of the new school year, 4 of us marched into his lab, interrupting him in full flow. We all “saluted” him with 2 fingers and told him what we thought of him in front of the whole class. It was very satisfying. And he could do nothing about it because we were no longer at the school.

Dave perhaps you left your slide-rule in the linen cupboard??!!

Poor old Sid – his teeth looked as if they were all worn down – you appeared to see holes in the tops of them or was it just nicotine effect??

From the racism point of view I guess the lack of coloured(is this PC??) pupils accounts for the minimal racism in SCGS when I was there in the ’50′s. The ’54 and ’58 school photos show almost no none-whites (is that PC??!!)

Dave Littleproud

January 12, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Phil–no it was one of 200 bedrooms –if you see it it’s a Hemmi in a grey box with masking tape wrapped round the ends –got my name on it.

Ok one at a time ish.

The most draconian regime in our culture is nazi germany in whichto my mind there was no no bottom limit-worse than mao’s china or stalins russia –these were not silly frightened schoolboys with a partial literary diet of 1940’s penny dreadfuls who probably regarded the whole thing as a game in which like the western nobody really gets hurt-bang bang your’e dead –count to ten and carry on so I don’t think Roger intended to kill Piggy nor did the group intend to kill Simon –I think the verdict is manslaughter.
-The Nazis were highly educated cultured people who worried about their income tax and their holiday entitlements-mengele had an ology! Those guys hit the pits and but for the allied victory in 1945 would have kept going into deeper depravities And yet in that mire there were decent people adam von trott ,pastor Niemoller –hans and sophie scholl of the white rose group-von stauffenberg saw the light later than we would like but today he is regarded as a hero world wide and has a statue –oskar schindler , one of the righteous.
I think the nazis back Golding’s premise to the hilt
.As an Eng. Lit. failure and not having read the book since 1962 I wouldn’t presume to criticize Goldings style but I’m more interested in what he says than how he says it. Presentation is not my strong point.
There were good guys in SCGS in my time Dyer, Rigden( I disagree with you Chris- Slug Rigden was the kindest of all to me through a couple of traumas) , Walmsley, Joe Turner, Hayward ,Bert Forward ( also a kind guy) Fernyhough–maybe they had all gone by 1964 –if you hit a dog it bites -maybe Peewee felt hit by hooligan schoolboys and he bit. Perhaps your burgeoning teenage culture of rebellion was crashing into an educational culture that was on it’s way out. But stop lumping all staff into the same barrel- their barrel had rotten apples –so did mine –so did yours.

Junor – Sorry I expressed myself badly and clumsily- I was trying to use a previous comment (not mine !!!) sarcastically to illustrate an attitude towards staff – (the slip showing is my inability to express myself as I would like)

the quote is

“Junor was a working class Northerner – enough said – how can you teach if you cannot speak English properly?”

That quote was followed by

“Midlands? North? All foreign to me. I still could not understand him.”

I would rather not comment further

“By definition, you cannot be working class and have a degree and be a teacher.” — Why not!!(is your slip showing or am I missing a subtlety?) Surely that was the point of the 1944 education act that opened grammar schools to all.
In this case I tick all the boxes-working class, no degree and not a teacher. Well somebody’s dad had to be a carpenter-some famous people in fact. No degree -didn’t work hard enough therefore not a teache( I wouldn’t have had the patience) and no profession– but I believe that I deserved the chance. However God smiled…..

“Cross the Thames” Is that a reference to “wogs begin north of the Thames and south of the bypass” (indicating a tongue in cheek insularity at SCGS)? We used to cross the Thames to take advantage of the longer opening hours in Middlesex.
I lived across the water for nearly ten years just near Stamford Hill –interesting ethnic melting pot –changed some of my preconceptions.
Who invited the skinheads to the school to”beat up the Jew” You were lucky not to have been accidentally killed. I hope you found who wrote the” guest list” and took appropriate action. I am horrified.
Were the ”guests” the people who attacked the local bobby?

Any way back to the pig- I looked up Kashrut and found it very confusing –I can’t believe that acceptable animals don’t have worms so I was still prepared to carry on with the porky scratchings until I read about pig toilets in Goa-bit offputting –However on the plus side as I understand it– if you eat me after I’ve eaten the pig you would be out of order and I don’t think you could kill me and claim self defence since in theory we are both in the same boat (island)

Local to me in certain pubs on a saturday night if you were to ask “who put the pigs head on the wall” you would get a smack in the mouth. Likewise if you were to ask ”who killed the bear” the reaction would be similar. I haven’t worked out the link between the two incidents.
Funny old world.

Mark Sheridan: This is for you. I couldn’t help but think of your recent comments as I read it. The literary critic and editor John Gross died the other day, and this is from his Telegraph obituary:

Born in the East End of London on March 12 1935, John Jacob Gross was the child and grandchild of Orthodox Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe, all of whom had come to England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“Being Jewish”, Gross wrote, was “one of the central facts” of his existence, but his Jewishness was almost entirely secular. His father was a GP in Mile End and so came into professional contact with numerous non-Jews; it was thus hard for him to stick to all the rules he had grown up with in eastern Europe. “Orthodox in principle” but “semi-orthodox in practice”, his parents brought up their son to be responsive to tradition but not constrained by its more rigid disciplines, and thus open to wider influences.

Gross’s retreat from Jewishness was further encouraged by the security and happiness he experienced as he grew up in wartime England. Before the bombs began to fall on the East End, his father sent John, his mother and baby brother to Sussex, and then Egham in Surrey, where he attended Mrs Gittins’s private school, then Egham Grammar School, and imbibed “a certain idea of England” which included fair play, the King’s English, trial by jury, the Magna Carta – and virtues that would lead South American traders “to seal their bargains on the word of an Englishman”.

Neither a hearty nor a swot, John happily devoured The Dandy and The Beano, collected stamps and cigarette cards, laughed at his more eccentric teachers, joined the Scouts and had fun with his friends. The war barely impinged, and if there was anti-Semitism in suburban Surrey it seems to have passed him by. “I never suffered on account of being Jewish,” he recalled, “never felt that my future was hemmed in, never endured either literal or metaphorical blows.”

Early on Gross made a conscious decision neither to ignore nor overemphasise the anti-Semitism he found in literature, but to consider it in context and to reserve the right to turn a blind eye. It was only later on that he would learn, from books, how lucky he had been as a Jew living in England during the 1930s and 1940s, but the fact of the Holocaust did not alter his fundamentally temperate approach. He felt that historians of the period had skewed the picture, not by inventing anti-Semitism but by playing down its widespread absence. “The history of non-anti-Semitism remains an unwritten subject,” he reflected.

Dave L,
If you go to University working class, you come out middle class. Class is an attitude of mind and a way of behaving. You have to change to survive in the environment. And you cannot change back.
SCGS was a state school and so accepted anyone who passed the 11+ or pleaded their way in. How many of the working class got passed the 5th form? How many working class went to University with me? And how many survived the degree course to the end? These questions are all rhetorical, you do not need to answer.
As for the Nazis, they tried to get rid of both the aristocracy and the educated. Apart from the 6 million Jews there were 8 Million others that died in the camps. Gypsies, Disabled, Communists, Aristocrats, Intellectuals and anyone else that disagreed with them. You cannot use the Nazis as a standard: ” They did it, so everyone else will too” It just does not cut it. They are not the average, they are off the end of the curve.
You are right, there were nice teachers and nasty ones, good teachers and bad, but they all represented the school and the way it was run. Bert Forward was a very nice guy, but Doig still ran rampant. The nice guys and good teachers did not stop the hell, they endorsed it by being there.
As far as I remember the bobby was attacked by adults. My class “friends” invited ousiders to “chat” with me. I always took it as a sign of cowardice on their part. Even against greater odds, I used to give as good as I got and it hurt less if other people were on the receiving end. And luck had nothing to do with it. I knew when I had had enough and needed to curl into a ball until they got bored.
The rules and interpretations of Kashrut fill more volumes than the Encyclopedia Brittanica, so it is no wonder that you cannot understand them. Noone can. It is a philosophy.

Dave P,
Nice reference, relevant and perfectly to the point.
It is interesting how 1 generation, 20 years and luck can make things turn out differently. Gross’ background is my background. His upbringing is my upbringing. My Father was born in the same place exactly 7 years earlier. I wish our experiences were the same, but they weren’t. My Father was evacuated alone to Soham Ely Cambs. And I can assure you the war impinged. When you lost your Grandmother and most of your Aunts, Uncles and Cousins, it impinged. That even affected me, and I never met them. Mr Gross was either very, very lucky or completely blinkered. Alternatively, of course, he was a newspaper man – he could have lied. I would have liked to debate his opinions with him, but unfortunately it is too late now.
Why do we not discuss something more relevant to SCGS, like why the WWII memorial plaque is not still hanging in the school, but has been relegated to the Braemar Club? Not that I am dissing the Braemar Club, don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for why it was created. But why has Esher College disassociated itself completely from SCGS?

Dave Littleproud

January 12, 2011 at 11:59 pm

“Seek and ye shall find” -a line I’ve heard many times but never thought about-I had always presumed it referred to finding god but I suppose it could apply to anything-people looking for a fight find one -those looking for peace find it-and I do the jokes about slide rules!!

So you don’t like it either? Translation of your posting: There is a fight to be had, I cannot find peace so I’m playing with my slide rule.
I was not looking for a fight, I was just surprised to find out that the plaque was not still in the place of honour. It was the one thing in the school I used to salute. There were 50 guys you could be proud of.
I was even more surprised and upset to find out the motivation for setting up the Braemar Club. Noone should be driven to suicide, I would not wish that on my greatest enemies. Strangely, I feel somewhat responsible, even though I never met the man. Had we met, would I have been able to stop him? I had a depressed friend at University that we put on unofficial suicide watch. Then he dropped out and we never saw him again. I often wonder what became of him, if I should have tried harder to stay in touch, if he survived. Here is to Fanny Price, RIP. I am sorry that none of us saved you.

dave nice comment about later drinking in middlesex there used to be quite an exodus across kingston bridge at 10-30 to take advantage of the 11 closing of the white hart on the middlesex side , as to all the disputes as to where the north begins now i live in sussex the north begins just north of gatwick its called surrey

I well remember Taff’s marking regime. As a Lovelace oik I was subjected to a similar treatise on neatness etc as an ‘explanation’ for a poor homework or practical mark. Having spent more time concentrating on music and the female form than GCEs I was ‘invited’ to spend another year in the Vth and retake even those three subjects that I had passed the previous year (Maths (A), Chemistry and Biology (Cs)). This was where I encountered Taff outside of the world of rugby. On one glorious occasion my parents attended an evening and were told by himself that I would never pass Chemistry O-level in a million years – my mother (never one to hide her feelings) took great delight in telling him that I had already passed the previous year!
I wonder what kind of hand-over there was before a new class was taken on by any of the teachers. There were a few who seemed to have an inkling as to one’s previous form but many seemed totally oblivious to anything except any misdemeanours that may have been committed. Were they ever marked on their ‘homework’?
Despite Taff’s misgivings I went on to enjoy a successful career in the NHS as a Clinical Chemist. As fas as I am aware my apparent lack of ability in his classroom was not a particular hindrance.

just puzzled why one would need a slide-rule when courting nurses??!! Perhaps I missed something during my courting day?! (not chasing nurses though!)

Dave Littleproud

January 13, 2011 at 10:54 am

Mark-not exactly what I had in mind -however beam deflection calculations can be quite therapeutic.
Your comments about suicide ring true . I have known four people who took that way ,three male and one female, two of whom were fairly good friends.
One, Mike, I feel very guilty about because I had not contacted him during a period I was covertly dealing with my own “black dog”. Lesson learnt -troubles shared are troubles halved-maybe -I’m here he’s not. Sometimes too many kicks (real and imagined) push you over the edge.
Two of my friends were actually under psychiatric care at the time-I’m not blaming just trying to point out that if the professionals can’t stop it what chance do mere mortals like us have. All you can do is offer support by being willing to listen and not condemn.
If Fanny Price is the person I’m thinking of he would have been older than me but he seemed a pleasant enough person to us young ones.

I once did an experiment to prove to my parents that the teachers did not read our work. I sent in the next few papers with “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah” written through the middle of them. Nothing happened, I got the same marks as usual.
I defer knowledge of the inner workings of Psychiatry to Charles Clark, who is the resident expert on the subject. I have a feeling that the professionals are too clinical. What people seem to need is a sympathetic ear and a helping hand at the right moment. That is why the barman,the hair dresser and the window cleaner are so useful. Mr Price managed to survive his time at SCGS being called “Fanny”. That is a feat in itself. Something much worse pushed him over the edge and he went back to where he felt comforable for help – the club. It is a shame that he did not find anyone he could confide in.


Re: JD Salinger.

I just picked this up from the BBC web-site
Has anybody out there been aware of the so-called sequel – or more importantly read it? I wonder if the aforementioned sherrif is aware of it – even though publication in the US is apparently banned. In the early ’90s I accompanied a friend who organised exchange trips on one such to St Petersberg and Moscow (much less luxurious than the cruises referred to earlier). While we were there I spoke to a number of Russian teenagers about the works of Solzhenitsyn and was surprised to learn that even though he was banned every student had read at least one of his books. I wonder if ‘JD California’ will achieve the same degree of notoriety or be as widely read.

Dave Littleproud

January 14, 2011 at 12:07 am

Mark-I had always presumed that the nickname “Fanny” derived from the heroine, “Fanny Price, In Jane Austen’s book Mmsfield Park and had nothing to do with any part of the female anatomy.
Fanny Price , as he is called in the 1957 Surbitonian, was hooker in the 1st 15. So I think would not one to be intimidated by a nickname.Photos show him, although small, as a chunky lad well able to take care of himself.
What pushed him over we can never know-speculation would be useless-to a lesser degree we have all probably been to some of those places.
You are right -someone who listens with their heart and not by the clock is a huge help. I can well believe that it is hard to overcome embarrassment in order to confide-it must be hard as a male to admit weakness particularly to one of his generation-he would be early 70s now.

Never even thought of the anatomical connotation, being given a girl’s name is bad enough. My point was that he was strong enough to embrase the nickname so what was troubling him must have been much worse. By the way, the nickname could also have come from Fanny Brice, the American comedienne. Much more to a schoolboy’s taste, I suspect. When I was at SCGS, we had a “Judy” Garland. I wonder what part of the anatomy a “Judy” is?
I had nice exchange of e-mails with Lionel Frewin over a typo in the Braemar Club history, which he fixed. Shame I am too far away to drop in, but you never know, one day.
Your description of Fanny as the hooker in the 1st 15 is enough to define his build. It is a job requirement. The description reminded me of how I got Villiers when I joined SCGS. Hunt and Davies used to “tune” their intake by the potential of the student to play Rugby. They always had a tremendous rivalry over Rugby. Your description of Fanny could have been ascribed to me at the age of 11. So 1st year, I played hooker. As I grew older, however, I thinned out, moving down the 3/4 line all the way to wing 3/4. In the early days, Hunt wanted me to play for the House and I always refused, because I did not like playing Rugby. Because of this refusal, Hunt developed a virolent dislike of me that he kept going till the day I left SCGS. I made it worse a few years later when Malcolm Crozier (I think it was) broke his collar bone in a game I as in. They carried him off and I walked off the pitch vowing never to play again. He was literally twice my size. When I refused to play for the House, Hunt went bright red in the face, and you should have heard the language! I think that was the first time I had heard those type of words actually strung together is a coherent sentence. Davies, on the other hand hated me because I was in Villiers. I don’t think it was personal, he hated anyone from Villiers. My propensity to answer back is probably what dropped me to the bottom of the Villiers pack in his class. I could not help it, he was an easy target, he used to spout such rubbish.

Leave Taffy alone! – I was in Villiers and always got on well with him – but maybe my name saved me?
As to the various comments about northeners – I seem to remember getting most stick from Fernyhough – but very light hearted – (I started at SCGS straight from junior school in Liverpool)

And where is Liverpool, anyway?* Joking, really, but my sum knowledge of Liverpool in the 60′s would have been the Beatles etal, Shankley and that was where the cruises started. Jack Skene was a wonder at teaching Geography. I often wonder if he ever did!
As for Taffy Davies, if he can’t take it, he should not dish it! I’m afraid that if I piled up the teachers in order of preference, he would be right near the bottom, still clutching that b****y Rugby ball! As the memories of the abuse fades, the verbal seems to stick longer than the physical. To this day I want to walk into his class and “salute” him. ” Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt you”. What a lot of nonsense! Poor old Fanny did not get in that state because he broke his arm.
* Reference plagiarized from Robert Benchley “Taking Up the Cudgels” in defense of Einstein. Too obscure?

Dave Littleproud

January 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

-Mark totally obscure!! I shal!l look at it!
The nickname was obviously well in use before 1957. I doubt that anyone then had heard of Barbara Streisand let alone Fanny Brice other than a few cognsecenti -so I stand by my original premise-so if any 19555-1957 A Level eng lit veterans can confirm that Mansfield Park was on the syllabus I would be grateful.
the school magazine would not have allowed the nickname to go into print had there .been more obscene connotations. In his photo he looks a decent guy. Perhaps Peter Pocock can enlighten us further.
As to physique and ability to cope with life’s dramas the “black dog” respects nothing.
I think Peter P must be the oldest correspondent on this site -where are Oborn, Masters ,Hughes, Gill etc?

If peter P is the oldest then Myself, Neil Curtin, Keith Piggott, Clive Nunn etc were all of the same era (Sept 1953 intake). Good question where are the rest of our peer group?? They can’t all be dead – we’re not even 70 yet!!

Phil Seaman:

“… all of the same era (Sept 1953 intake)…. – we’re not even 70 yet!!”

But you can’t be far off it. I was in the Sep. 1961 intake, and I’m due to turn 61 in March. I think the oldest “boy” ever to send a message to this blog was the following gentleman…

“Peter Avis
July 21, 2009 at 4:03 pm

“Digging into the long past, by surprise I come across this Surbiton County Grammar School memory box. In fact, I was seeking information via Google about the ‘venerable’ Neville Holdaway (as one old boy remembers him), who taught me during my attendance at the school between 1942 and 1947.

“Indeed, our silver-haired geography teacher was a brilliant communicator: I was fascinated to learn from him about such places as the lush Riverina district of Australia, a country that would otherwise have left me unexcited (but later I fortunately discovered its rewarding wines). I somehow learnt many years ago that Mr Holdaway had another life, never displayed before us in school. He was, in fact, a writer of detective stories, doubling up as a respected Marxist historian!”

Can anybody beat that — 1942 intake?

Dave – disappointed that you should have labeled me as the ‘oldest contributor. As Phil rightly says, there are already several 1953 intake correspondents.

I knew Fanny Price reasonably well although he was a year above us. He was an outstandingly cheerful guy, and a kind and humane prefect and I was truly shocked to hear of his sad death.
Can I give a public word of thanks to Phil Seaman who managed to email me the entire SCGS school photos for 1954 and 1958, plus the Speech Day programme. (If anyone is curious, Fanny Price appears on the 1958 photo, last prefect on the right, 4 places to the right of Parrot.)

Wow! Gentlemen, lets back up a bit:
Neville Aldridge Holdaway, MC, aka N. A. Temple-Ellis. Bibliography:,%20NA
If SCGS should be bragging about anyone on the Wikipedia site, this is the guy!
MC stands for Military Cross, Britain’s third highest military honour.
Look at the company he kept when published in this anthology: A Century of Thrillers, second series 1935:
He was also a member of the Royal Meteorological Society.
I envy all you who had him as a teacher. I wonder what he would have had to say about Lord of the Flies?

I joined SCGS with the 1951 intake and so was a contemporary of Fanny Price.
I can’t recall how he got his nickname but as a high percentage of pupils were also dubbed with names other than which their parents had intended he was not alone.
I played rugby through all my time at SCGS with some very talented players who went on to representative rugby and remember Fanny as a great hooker and always enthusiastic in everything he did. I was also saddened when I learnt of his passing some years back.
Returning to the rugby theme I certainly remember Eddie Watkins (Cardiff and Wales prop forward in the late 30’s) stewardship of the Colts team.
Regardless of the weather Wednesday would see the team in practise sessions under Eddie’s pretty stern discipline. Little wonder that the Colts XV had never lost a match since before WW2. Later when I graduated to the 1st XV Taff’s management ensured that again SCGS was the force to be reckoned with in Surrey Schools rugby. Whatever their perceived faults as teachers you cannot argue with their record in the sporting field.

Dave Pringle – I’m not 70 until May 2012 – seems a long way off but I bet it will come round very quickly!!

Peter P thanks for your photo accolade – glad to have been of assistance.

Anyone else who needs an e-mailed copy let me know. Took 6 e-mails to send two (split into 4 ) photos plus the speech day prog of 1959.

Dave Littleproud

January 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Peter P!– apologies but you are the only correspondent to whom I could fix a date of entry-1953 or 1954. Les I knew was earlier than me but no photo as prefect to narrow it down. If I could email a glass of brown frothy liquid by way of condolence………
Saddo that I am I have begun sending invitations to join us to everyone in SCGS friends reunited -so far I’m up to 1950. I tracked down 3 old boys and sent invitations by email. One who left in 1947, promises to contribute soon.

Dave Littleproud

I hope that you persevere with your quest – it would be nice to see another contributor from my year – 1959 – on this forum.

Dave Littleproud

January 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I meant the year 1950 not…….

Oh, when I looked on “friend reunited” there did not seem to be any mention of SCGS. Where am I going wrong? I admit I only spent a few minutes looking.

It’s sad that the school had been largely erased from history. I suppose the move of premises then the change to 6th form college then the change of name has sort of hi-jacked it. To my mind SCGS is a distinct entity not really related to the current occupant of the Thames Ditton site (even if they think they are now in posh Esher).

That’s why I was pleased to find this site, despite its inappropriate location which can presumably be shut down at a moment’s notice it is the first reference to the old school I have ever found online.

BTW My reference to the 1,000th post does not really reflect a nerdish numerological obsession, I just happened to notice the number of posts indicated at the top of the page creeping towards 1,000 and it seemed momentarily interesting to pass that point. I am no great fan of the decimal system and prefer to measure my age in hexadecimal. As such I am looking forward to my 40th in just over 4 years time.

Dave Littleproud

January 16, 2011 at 3:28 pm

So in the duodecimal system am I approaching my 56th? I think I prefer the duohexadecimal-which at the moment means I am still……..

Well 56 in duodecimal (base 12) would 42 in hexadecimal (base 16). I know which I prefer.

I often muse on how poor the decimal system is. I am convinced that if the cheap calculator had arrived just a few years earlier Britain would have retained pounds shillings and pence. AFAIR the reason for change was to make mental arithmetic easier. Hah. Who does that any more? Not to mention that you can’t divide 100 by anything very useful. And things are usually packed in dozens or half dozens. VAT at 4 shillings in the pound eh?

Dave Littleproud

January 16, 2011 at 4:59 pm

No No no–duo means 2 Therefore 2x hexadecimal= 2×16 =32-therefore in duohexadecimal 1×32 +1×32 +1=65or in duo wotsit= 21!!!

This mathematical flair is very encouraging from a Nation which just a few years ago couldn’t even calculate the correct year in which to celebrate the Millennium!

Dave Littleproud

January 16, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Any “mathematical flair” is solely due to the enthusiasm encouraged by the inspirational teaching methods of Mr Hillier.

David Littleproud
So you found me….. and I find there is a website for Surbiton County Grammar School! Interesting reminiscences and arguments.
I entered the school in 1942 at level IIIa for my age, skipping the 11+ while I was learning English elsewhere. I’d got stranded in England when Hitler invaded Holland in May 1940, just a month before I was due to sit entrance exams for the Lyceum at Leiden.
My memories of SCGS are mostly very happy once…. I had made it clear to bullying prefects that my foreignness did not constitute either enmity or inferiority by physically knocking that premise into one of them in the cloakroom.
But most of all I have happy memories of our teachers. And I owe a particular debt of gratitude to Mr Hayward, whose English lessons were so very enjoyable as to have given me a long teaching career as a teacher of English, both as a foreign language and literature/culture abroad and back over here in England. I also owe Mr Cocks (“Keats”) thanks for a lifelong enjoyment of musicmaking. In LVa and Va he often called on me to accompany Choir practice and the hymns in assembly on the piano. In those years the school enjoyed the facility also of offering pupils in after-school classes to learn to play an instrument of choice borrowed from school. This resulted in a tradition of maintaining a sizeable orchestra of some repute. Our termly concerts were always well attended!
Mr Dyer as my main maths teacher was another of my favourites, even if he struck me a blow on the head from behind with a pile of books he was carrying when I happened to be whistling in the corridor. It did not break this habit. My daughter still tells me to stop whistling before dinner.
Then there was old Mr Holdaway for geography. He was very good and fun, and also gentle and kind as I remember him, in charge of the allotments beyond the school buildings, digging for victory and the school dinners.
I also seem to remember a Scotsman “Mac” (whatever was his name?) who taught us French with a rolling accent (that later ruined my exams in that subject on return to Holland).
At one time we were temporarily taught maths by a young female teacher, Miss Lane. She was much teased by the class as she made the error of rushing through sums and talking to the blackboard while writing on it. One day, when we were continuing the lesson in one of the air raid shelters built around the perimeter of the school grounds, the bombers were loud overhead and cheeky Digby Collins said “Shall I hold your hand, Miss?” to general mirth and merriment.
And then there was Mr (“Daddy”) Adams (called back from retirement?) who at roll call in the mornings would habitually ask “Stand up all those who aren’t ‘ere!” He was easily diverted from the subject matter in hand and rarely remebered where we left off last lesson.
Of course of our headmaster, AFG Willis, I have good memories. First for his co-operation in getting me in, on condition that I learned algebra and geometry during the summer of ’42 to catch up with the syllabus for IIIa. Second for his insight in advising my father against moving me after Matric in 1945 to go to Kingston Tech and a future in engineering. I did go and took InterBSc in ’46 and subsequently went on to study Physical Engineering at the Institute of Technology in Delft, which I broke off in ’49 to switch to study English at the School of Philology and Literature in The Hague. Thus vindicating Willis’s recommendation that I should study the humanities!
Uncanny, how some teachers can assess what’s good for their pupils.

Well, how’s that for a first contribution to your website, David?
I also remember names of many classmates, but not what became of any as I returned to Holland in August ’46 and lost touch with most of them.
I returned once in 1953 and found SCGS moved to the Thames Ditton site. Funny to think that we had lived just down the road from there in Station Road. But there was no-one left of the staff from my years.
Again a few years ago I drove over to Surbiton and stopped by to visit the old school. There is/was still one old shelter left beyond the hall on the edge of the grounds….. Ah well.

Aha, I’d not realised you meant base 32. Interestingly on googling it I find that one name is “Triacontakaidecimal”, though it appears that a version omitting the character ‘U’ is preferred to avoid obscenity. It appears that ‘U’ is decidedly ‘non-U’.

So should I not have celebrated the 1,000th posting, but the 1001st? Maybe that’s why the year 2000 got the celebrations, though of course no one would call it the start of the second millenium, but the much more exciting end of the first. Actually I was far too grumpy to celebrate it anyway.

Thanks to Dave Pringle for reminding me of my apparent if dubious status as the “oldest boy” (1942-1947) on the website of the long defunct Surbiton County Grammar School. In between continuing bouts of journalism – for the French press and occasionally for the Guardian in London (find me on Google, and – I delve into the Kevin Davis site to see what recollections and arguments the erstwhile Surbiton youngsters have to offer. By the way, for a recent pic of a still functioning old schoolboy, look at “Peter Avis Caroline Lucas” on Google and click on “Who backed Caroline in the election?”

And thanks, too, to Mark Sheridan for pursuing research on Neville Holdaway, whom I mentioned on the site in 2009. He was, indeed, all those things Mark lists, and also (in the eyes of George Orwell) “one of the best Marxist writers we possess”. The quiet and reflective teacher I knew and respected had no bravado about him and he never made any mention of his achievements in other fields. He wasn’t gregarious and he seemed to be something of a loner on the staff. I think it may have been Bert Forward who revealed to me that there were hidden depths to the personality of the modest grey-haired man who wore a brown cotton lab coat in the geography class. An anonymous hero. I wonder if the horrors of the First World War trenches dictated his reticence.

I enjoy the SCGS old boys’ musings most when they are funful, not racist, and are explorative of new experiences. New experiences are always available. You have been debating the merits of “Catcher in the Rye”, which I finally got round to reading on the ferry between England and France a couple of months ago. I liked it, but I still am moved more by George Eliot’s “Middlemarch”, Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure” (which the Bishop of Wakefield felt obliged to burn), Sebastian Faulks’ “Birdsong” (think of modest Neville Holdaway in those trenches when you read it), John Le Carré’s “The Constant Gardener” and Guy de Maupassant’s “Boule de Suif” (the finest short story ever written?) …..

I shan’t plough on about some of your painful passages about who manifests, and what is, anti-semitism, other than to recall that all nations have been plagued by it (King Edward the First threw the Jews out of England in 1290; Oswald Mosley and his mates in high places would have done worse had Hitler crossed the Channel in 1940). Also, I point out that racism and anti-semitism comprehend today the appalling treatment visited by successive Israeli governments upon the Palestinian people. I was pleased last year to join a march in Brighton against the destruction of Gaza, with members of the Jewish campaign for Palestinian rights; and I think Daniel Barenboim, creator of a Palestinian and Jewish orchestra, is a great guy. Barenboim is up there in my pantheon of heroes, together with Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Oscar Romero and the inspiring Jiri Dienstbier (whose obituary should be published, I hope not too truncated, in the Guardian during this coming week).

On more domestic subjects, some of your teachers were mine in their younger age. Jack Skene, I remember as a diffident young teacher, who had to disguise the fact he had married an equally diffident young colleague (married couples in that era were not permitted to be employed in the same school). The “old Busby” of later pupils was my “young Busby”. I delivered leaflets for him when he stood in Kingston as Communist candidate in the first post-war council elections in October 1945, a year and a half after doodlebugs had been falling on Surbiton.

I suppose my favourite teacher, as he was also of my then schoolfriend Peter Pulzer (look up Professor Pulzer on the list of SCGS illustrious alumni: he’s probably the most illustrious of the lot), was deputy head Bert Forward. Bert once slapped me sharply on the face because I had been cheeky: it was a shock and the only physical punishment I ever received at school under the benign and somewhat remote regime of headmaster AGF Willis.

Bert Forward (but more, my very politicised family) gave me a taste for history and for politics, which took me to the London School of Economics, journalism in a dozen lands and, from time to time, public campaigning. And in that latter activity, schooL helped a great deal: prefects were required to read the lesson for a week at morning assembly. I discovered that you could choose your own texts, and so for the two theatrical weekly stints during my school career I chose readings from the Bible that cast Jesus in the role of the first socialist of history, turning money changers out of the temple, and all. I found some good liberating lines in the Old Testament, too. Tony Benn has a similar attitude to the Bible: his mother taught him to take heed of the prophets and not of the kings. From those two weeks of schoolboy Bible thumping, I realised I could deliver speeches in public. In English, and later in French.

Sid Capper, I remember, as a gentle and flustered teacher who was sorely put upon by many of those who sat fitfully at his feet. Incidentally, he was a Communist sympathiser (he told me that his brother, a leading light in the National Union of Teachers, was a CP member). Whatever, sweet Sid had no trace of Stalinism in his character or performance. I suppose he helped me to a later fluent use of the French language, which enables me still to turn out quickly an article on the British general election for a French daily, and to engage in discussions on French radio and TV.

If any of you lot are passing through Dieppe, ask Jeannot at the Sarajevo, at the top end of la Grande Rue, whether I am in town. If I am, I invite you to a glass of rosé or three on Jeannot’s terrace or, in balmy weather, at the Bar-O-Mètre at the western end of the seafront. But first get hold of my little “Taste of Dieppe” at the tourist office and take a look at the Dieppe website (, where you will find a load of blogs in English (“Blog. Dieppe seen by Peter Avis”). Among the videos, perhaps find “Peter’s song”: a hidden camera job I allowed to be used. I don’t know about the blogs, but the website is acknowledged as one of the most impressive municipal sites in France, thanks to Antonio Garcia, its genius creator.

That’s enough. Too much, some of you will say.

Go well, fellow oldies and not-so-oldies,

Peter Avis

In Friends Reunited, go to Quick Search (top right).
Change the menu in the left box to “secondary schools” and type in “Surbiton” in the right box. It will give you 3 choices one of which is SCGS. Then all you have to do is fiddle with the dates and you will find your pals.
By the way my age is OQ== (in base64)

interesting that mike and others mention the decimal system , occasional i used to go to doigs extra maths classes , one day he expounded the theory that the then currency system 24o pence to the pound , 12 pence to the shilling etc , lent it self better to horseracing odds 7 to 2, 5to 1 16 to one the field etc than a decimal currency , i did not understand it then and i dont understand it know , so on my occasional visits to brighton races i stick to the tote and let mrs rackley make the selections

I started in Form 2b at what was then Surbiton County School in 1942, the youngest boy in the school and allocated to Egmont house. It was probably around 1944 that it became SCGS ( there was also a Surbiton Grammar School in Ewell Road). The boys in my form were Abery, Bedford, Berry, Broad, Canham, Curtis, Derby, Durant, Elcock, Evans, Fenn, Ford, Heater, Hicks, Hillier, Hinton, Love, Meikle, Mills, Morgan, Opie-Smith, Philo, Pratt, Shearlock, Skinner, Sweasey, Tennant, Thomason, Vause, Wenham and Whybrow (with apologies for any omissions).

The Headmaster (the ‘Old Man’) was AGF Willis. Other members of staff included Hayward (Bot), Holdaway (Gramp), Cocks (Keats), Cox (Pippin), Finlay (Mac), Dyer (Drat), Rowlatt (?), Capper (Sid), Skene (Jack), Forward (Bert), Bidmead (Biddy), Adams (Daddy Addy), Busby (?), Mrs Foskett (?), Miss Parnham (married Skene), Fry (?), Rose (Snot),
Turner (Scummy), Bolt (?).

Of the 31 boys in the form, my normal position was either 30th or 31st. Having failed my first attempt at the General Schools Certificate, I was held back for a second year in the Vth form and eventually left in 1950 with what was then called (I think for the last time) the Higher Schools Certificate.