DARTECH AND WILMINGTONIAN - NEWSLETTER No. 1 - November 1994
THE STORY SO FAR . . . . - by Mr L.G. Hollingsworth (Staff)
On September 26th a meeting took place between Mr Titterington, Mr Daley, Mr Whiffen, Mr Boyling and Mr Hollingsworth - an unofficial, unelected group to carry the work forward after the success of the Dinner on July 16th. ts findings, therefore, are provisional and subject to ratification:
i) a model draft constitution exists, to which we felt that we ought to adhere, once it is formally adopted;
ii) a newsletter will appear two or three times a year, linking Old Boy to Old Boy and informing you of news from the School, both current and not so recent.
iii) The main formal meeting will be the Annual Dinner and AGM on the first Saturday in February. Unfortunately pressure of space will preclude the inviting of partners, so that
iv) a summer event will be held at which, with the co-operation of the weather, the outside format will allow all family members to attend.
v) A full Committee will be formed which might, among other things organise further events likely to cater mainly for those still resident in the neighbourhood of Dartford.
vi) The School will notify Old Boys of any of its functions at which members will be particularly welcomed.
vii) Where brevity requires it, the name ‘Old Wilmingtonians Association’ shall be used. Wherever possible the name and concept of ‘Old Dartechs’ will also be used and be of equal value and importance.
viii) The aims shall be (i) to facilitate links between former students and to afford facilities to advance this cause; (ii) for former students to have opportunities to make their expertise and resources available for the School.
OLD DARTECHS - since you’ve been away, some or all of the following have been going on:
1961 Last of the ‘Ag.’ stream students leaves. Entry falls from 4 form to three, until 1992.
1962 Dartford County Technical School becomes Dartford Technical High School.
1963 Retirement of Mr L.V. Wall, first Headmaster of the School. Appointment of Mr J.A. Mogford as Head.
1964 Introduction of ‘A’ level studies in the Humanities and Languages, thus making the School more like a Grammar School.
1964 Building programme commences to add Science labs, a new Staffroom, a Gymnasium and a purpose-built Hall and Canteen.
1969 Kent Education Committee plans four 11-18 comprehensive schools in Dartford. Wilmington will house the boys' school. Strong local opposition.
1971 Demolition of Wilmington Hall’ (except for the stables), in order to commence the first half of an extension to house the new school
1972 K.E.C. withdraws its original plan and decides to convert the new buildings for the creation of an ‘interim’ mixed non-selective school - the Wilmington Secondary School.
1974 The new school is opened with Mr J.D. Edgeler as Head of both schools following the departure of Mr Mogford. DTHSB has access to WSS Sports Hall
1976 Formation of the P.T.A.
1979 As a result of the falling birth rate, only two forms of entry are available.
1980 Joint working of a Sixth Form timetable with Dartford Girls’ Tech.
1982 K.E.C. announces a plan to change the nature of the school. Mr Edgeler remains as Head of Wilmington High School (renamed). Mr D.B. Thomas is appointed Head of D.T.H.S. D.T.H.S, in common with the Kent policy for its many Technical High Schools, is renamed Wilmington Grammar School for Boys.
1984 K.E.C. announces a second plan to change the nature of the School.
1987 K.E.C. announces a plan to close the School. Formation of an Action Group.
1989 First vote on whether to seek Grant Maintained status-defeated. Chairman of K.E.C. tells the Staff “please don’t let it go - you’re safe with us”.
1990 K.E.C. announces a plan to close the School. Governors recommend seeking G.M. status. Parents and Staff give full backing. Action Group reaches a peak of lobbying.
1991 (January) announcement that Grant Maintained status would apply to our School from April 1991. School roll 307. December - retirement of Mr D.B. Thomas as Headteacher, following the appointment of Mr B.N. Titterington in September.
1992 We accept four forms of entry again.
1993 Renovation of the Library. Extensive investment in Information Technology (with financial support from the P.T.A.)
1994 Refurbishment of the Science Laboratories with a capital grant from the DFE. September - 550 boys on roll.
OWs Inaugural Dinner. Written by Mr J. A. Austen, Staff 1954-74
What an evening it turned out to be! So many had returned after all those years; the thin and the fat, tall and short, bald and curly, the pompous and the ridiculous - and that was just the staff.
I must confess that of the Old Boys there were some that just did not jell from remembered names. Usually the teeth and set of the mouth or the eyes carry over a recognisable feature from years of yore, but nevertheless just a few remained obstinately alien.
Many of those present however defined their years by recollecting incidents at which they were present (or were involved) including Corn Cob Nunn who had no little part in laying out the staff car park with whitewashed identification, which caused the Head of Maths, Mr Grason who always wore a short army field coat, to enquire in his clipped, precise voice, “And who is this ‘Monty' ‘’
Many remembered the piles of pictorial stamps I used to bring in once or twice a year which were distributed around the DO for the aficionados to sort through at 1 penny a time for School Funds. I well remember the look of agony on the face of one prefect (the prefects used to supervise generally, i.e. stop the nicking and collect the cash) when one particularly nauseous specimen walked in and straight away fished out a £1 stamp - unused! A fortune in those day's.
And many remembered the cigarette card club, some of whom still had some cards!
One group I failed to track down concerned one class in the stables DO a member of which stuck a compass point into my back as I patrolled the gangway. ‘Right monkey I thought, ‘Softly, softly’.
On the return trip it happened again, and again, and again. A quick 360 sweep revealed the dear little ones all immersed in their lawful quest into the mysteries of isometric circles. When it happened again, a quick dash to the staff loo in the House was called for.
Meeting Mr Wall in the car park, accompanied by a School Governor, I shall never forget the look on his face when my reply to his ‘Ah, Mr Austen, this is ....’ was, ‘NOT NOW’.
In the loo a removed shirt dislodged to the floor the largest Queen Wasp I have ever seen: it appeared that the roof space in the old stables was renowned for wasp nests.
Remembering some old wanderings through the trees beyond the vegetable plot below the DO, I tried to retrace a route to the old bridge over the road. Near the footings of the bridge there was a bricked bee-hive top protruding from the undergrowth, a half-covered opening revealing quite a large space which was no doubt an ice room, presumably near to the road so that the ice could be transferred as quickly as possible.
The undergrowth was much denser than I remembered, apart from a well-tracked path which led to the top of the bank by the road near to the Birchwood Road path, obviously an unofficial short cut! No trace was found of the ice house but I confess that without a machete I was not over enthusiastic about penetrating bramble thickets. Perhaps it was demolished at the same time as the bridge?
Sadly, the reunion lacked the presence of one known to all; highly respected and esteemed colleague and one who the skivers of the parish confronted at their peril: Mr Black. Sorry you could not be there Blacky, you were missed.
From Clive Stringer (1969 - 1977):
Old Dartechs-Cricket Club was formed in 1963 by pupils at the School, with the help of Wally James, who is still our President.
Over the years, over 100 pupils of the School have played for the Club, including Alan and Malcolm Gregory, John Nunn, Carl Targett, Graham Bennett, Dave Lemon and Pete Wright. The Club would not have survived without their hard work and the efforts of countless others.
Every year we have a Past Players versus Present Players match in September, where ex-players don their whites for one more time to play the current team. This event is always well supported and we would welcome any “old boy” to come and watch this fixture. It is an ideal opportunity to meet up with old friends.
The fortunes of the Club have waxed and waned over the years. At one stage the Club ran two sides on a Saturday and one on a Sunday. Currently the Club runs one side on a Sunday, as, like many other small clubs in the area, we are struggling for players. We very much hope that by strengthening our links with the School we can attract new players. If any of you would like, a friendly game of Cricket, or have sons who are interested in playing, then please contact Clive Stringer (0322 279452).
In an effort to maintain our connection with the School we have re-instituted the Old Dartechs v School match. This will be played annually for the Old Wilmingtonians Cup, kindly provided by the Headmaster for the match this year.
We are also in the process of setting up a trophy to be presented by the School to the best cricketer of the year. This trophy will be in honour of Dave Lemon who sadly died this year. We hope that we will also be able to make a donation to the School, again in Dave’s honour, to help restore the Cricket nets to their
former ‘glory’. If any of you knew Dave Lemon, and would like to contribute to this cause, please contact Clive Stringer.
Lastly, we would like to emphasise again that we would dearly like to expand the Club and help provide cricket for all pupils and ex pupils of the School, and, dare I say it, some day have a Pavilion on the School grounds to help do justice to the lovely setting.
THE CONTENTS OF FUTURE EDITIONS . . . - from Mr L.G. Hollingsworth
will depend largely on you, our readers, but the intention is to have an extended reminiscence of a former student or teacher, letter from a former student about his career since leaving the School , and a group of ‘ where are they now? ‘ items - perhaps four or five in each edition. For this we need (i) name (ii) years of attendance at the School (iii) a few lines about your life/career since then, and (iv) if you would like to be put back in touch with your friends, your current address.
News of the School will be a standard regular feature and we may try a series of ‘how things have changed’ under headings such as sport, science, exams, outings, etc. If you have othersuggestions, don’t hesitate to let us know. Suggestions accompanied by contributions are very much welcomed!
One suggestion made was ‘photographs'. If we can achieve a suitable standard of reprographic skills we would be pleased to include a photo in each edition (this is largely a financial matter). Mr Daley would, in addition, be very pleased to receive old photographs of the School and/or its students and staff. If you wish to donate them that would be wonderful. Photos merely on loan would be treated with the utmost care and, in appropriate circumstances, be copied. All material under this heading direct to Mr Daley at the School please.
WE WOULD BE PLEASED TO SEE YOU AT THE SCHOOL . . . by Mr L.G. Hollingsworth, Staff
Old Boys return as individuals at all sorts of times and in all sorts of circumstances. We would find it very helpful to have volunteers to speak, especially to Sixth Formers, on their career since leaving the School. Such accounts are rooted in an experience known to our existing students, who can then see what can be done.
You are all equally welcome, singly or as groups, to the following: our Open Evening for parents of prospective pupils at the School - there’s nothing like showing off the end product! Our Quiz Nights. Come as a group in a team - friends and/or family - or as an individual - we’ll fit you in! Our atmosphere is social and relaxed rather than intense and suicidal: PTA events of many kinds - sales, cabaret evenings, dances etc. Spend a few hours together and plan some events for yourselves. In May the History Department will be running its seventh outing for parents, friends and other relatives. Truly a family affair.
The aim is to learn a little History (usually of the World War Battlefields) find out how the boys learn History now, and finish off with a meal, trip or hypermarket visit. We go by coach, (usually two coaches), and they are fully subscribed. Any surplus money goes to providing extra resources for the boys to learn History in school. On May 13 we will leave at 6.15 and go to Ypres for the Cloth Hall Museum and Menin Gate, Hill 62 (the preserved trenches, stereo photographs and museum), then go to Bruges for a trip on the canals and an early evening meal before returning to Wilmington by about 11.00 - 11.30. Come as a group and spend the day planning how the Old Boys might develop! The cost is about £26.
For all of the above, further information is available at the School, either by telephone or by coming to the School Office.
The stereotype of the traditionally reserved South of England male took a severe blow at the Inaugural Dinner in July, which has already been described as ‘emotional’. Those reading this communication who did not attend should be in no doubt about what they missed.
Now it is up to a small group including Mr Daley to face the difficult task of taking up from the excellent start he gave us. “However long ago you left school, some things never seem to change” reflected Stan Frith on the Night, and those readers who have been associated with school newspapers in the past will be familiar with the regular warning that “this publication can’t continue without your contribution”.
As well as these contributions, the School will add news of current events for recent changes have brought about a vastly transformed school. We appreciate the generosity of those whose money provided our display cabinet on the night of the dinner.
Don’t worry - we aren’t after your money . . yet: But there is one way in which the School could benefit from your experiences - the provision of Work Experience placements for its students. You don’t have to have been out of school for many years to be unaware that Work Experience is a valuable new dimension to education. The law has recently required that all pupils under 16 spend two weeks in “the world of work”, with a further two weeks for those who choose to stay beyond the age of 16.
The pattern at our School is to have two consecutive weeks in Year 11 (Fifth Form, for most of us) in the middle of December, with the Lower Sixth having two weeks in February. Payment to the students is not expected, although many report to our pleasure, that a token (in money or kind) has been given as a mark of what the student has done for the firm.
Our students need the experience of the world of work, sometimes to demolish any misconceptions they have over timekeeping, loyalty and appearance. In other cases they need the experience of commuting, of working until about 5.30 (and then perhaps doing more work in the evening).
In further cases we find it valuable for employers to reinforce what we at School are telling our students, but to which they remain impervious just because we are teachers. (Fathers among our readership will be quite familiar with this situation).
Some students know accurately what they want to do in life and consequently seek fairly specific opportunities. Others are less sure but would benefit greatly from the experience nevertheless. All students on work experience are visited by the Staff after sufficient time has elapsed to settle in, but early enough to adjust to any problems (to be fair but immodest, our students almost without exception get good reports). If they don’t we need to know. If you are able to give personal or fairly close supervision, that would be ideal. We do appreciate that at this time firms are under great pressure to get even more out of the existing number of workers - or even fewer, but your help could be invaluable.
If you can assist, please write to let us know, including information on the type of work to be undertaken, the address, a contact name (if not yourself) and, of course, your own address. Thank you.
IT’S ALRIGHT FOR SOME . . . - Mr L.G. Hollingsworth
Old Boys at our School between 1980 and 1992 may well remember either Michael Wakeman or Bradley Wylde, whose soccer talents have qualified them for scholarship at Catawba College, Salisbury, North Carolina, USA. Michael is the Assistant Coach and Bradley currently captains the team, which is one of the foremost college teams on the Atlantic Coast. Michael is studying for his MBA at the University of North Carolina and Bradley is half-way through his degree course at Catawba. Recently I was pleased and proud to be able to watch one of their home games. Those who knew Micky will be heartened that his greeting to me - “Iss grayt ‘ere i’n it?” proves that a small part of WGSB culture.