DARTECH AND WILMINGTONIAN
Number 13 February 2001
SCHOOL TRIPS AND VISITS SINCE 1960 - Len Hollingsworth (Staff 1960-1999)
In Edition number 12 it was suggested by Angus Gilbert that it would be interesting to have a ‘themed’ article on a topic such as school visits and trips. What a good idea! I too, remember with some discomfort the trip to Bruges.
Although my experiences go back to 1960, I hope that readers will understand that I will give greater prominence to those trips with which I was personally involved. If anyone feels that I have been less than full in my details, it’s their fault for not asking me along - there was always a “travel mafia”! In the early days the trips were in the hands of Mr. Black and the French department (Mr. Robinson and Mr. Dougal). Switzerland was one of their destinations. Later on Wilf Hodgson, as Head of Lower School, introduced first the day-trip to France, expanded it to long weekends in Bruges, and finished with holidays in Rome and Positano, Switzerland, and Athens and the Island of Aegina.
The spirit of the short trip lives on, via the excellent Loire valley trips of Graham Nicholls and Jean Mckay’s French trips, to the ‘long weekend’ in Boulogne now associated with Mr. Room, currently Head of Modern Languages.
As destinations grew more ambitious, soccer tours began in the mid-1960s, but have never achieved the popularity of the skiing trips at present in the care of Mr. Harper, of the Business Studies Department. In addition we have seen Art Appreciation recently in Paris, instigated by Miss Wake, and a History trip to Berlin. Of special value were the exchanges, most of all with the Hohelandesschule in Hanau (near Frankfurt) - Dartford’s twin-town. Alan Costar built these up and with the participation of GSGW, the link became a great feature of the school’s experience and a credit to all involved. Friendships were forged which exist to this day, not only among the students, but among the Staff, and they even survived the booking of a visit to the dolls’ museum in Hanau by our German counterparts. Dartford’s attempts to forge a link with Dunkirk (only Dartford could choose Dunkirk in preference to, say, St. Tropez) were less successful and eventually a partnerschool was found in Dreux, near Rouen. This was also under Mr. Room, and the opportunity to visit schools in other countries became a regular feature of the education of the time. Recently Frau Paetow revived the idea of a holiday in Germany to promote knowledge of the language, and the concept of ‘do it yourself’, born under Alan Costar, survives. The ski trip, most recently to Mont Tremblant in Canada, is still among that majority of the trips, however, which are run by outside organizations.
Demands made upon staff and their responsibilities have become so onerous that the memory of an erstwhile member of the English Department, leading a school group like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, all the money in an attache case, provokes equally both mirth and shivers of ‘what might have been’.
Currently school trips require parental consent, mobile phones, telephone trees and medical histories sufficient to qualify as ‘excess baggage’. I have always adopted the worst case scenario’ approach, preparing for the worst, but it was a surprise to me that the only person finishing up in hospital on one of my trips was me. I left my appendix in a German hospital and experienced a severe bout of peritonitis. I was leading a field-study trip of Sixth form Economists, Historians and Geographers to the Rhineland with Terry Moyle of the Geography department. The late-night pronouncement of the German doctor in the hospital “you must stay here the night” produced from me a belligerent “Ich will nicht bier biciben” (I WON’T stop here), but at 4.30 a.m. I drove myself back to the hospital in the minibus, surveyed by a group of Teutonic medicine men with a ‘told you so” expression on their faces. I confess that I was ungracious enough to throw up over their front doormat as a last gesture of bulldog defiance.
After ten impatient days the doctor explained in German the conditions under which I might be repatriated. My interest in sports caused me to ask about participation, one by one;” Wann kann Ich Fussball spielen,? Wann kann Ich Tennis spieled’? Having been married long enough to decide that it was high time to start a family, all I could stutter was about “Sport im Bett mit Frau”. The roars of laughter at this were greeted with the confession that I did not know the precise German for such an activity; the doctor told me that he knew, but wasn’t going to tell me. It was probably the economist in me that prompted me to want to ‘do it myself, for in 1967 I took my first such trip to Holland, and in 1969, undeterred by the case of the lost appendix, went on a similar trip to Sweden, of which I have the happiest memories.
In February 1991 I paid a short trip to the World War One battlefields around Ypres and that summer took a coachload of Year 9s to the area. Virtually every year since then the trip has been repeated, sometimes with the addition of a trip to the area of the Somme battlefields.
Fortified by this, in 1992 I began to arrange similar one-day trips for parents, family members and friends. So far we have had 21 such trips and have taken over 1000 people. The day might consist of a visit (or visits) to scenes of fighting in the two World Wars, or Waterloo, with time for perhaps a canal trip in Bruges, and definitely time at a French hypermarket. There can’t be many more suitable situations for a day out by the Old Boys, with the family, if they are allowed. We will shortly announce our programme for 2001.
Having first visited the USA with the Kent/Delaware Teacher Exchange I found that I had made many friends and teacher contacts in Wilmington (appropriately) Delaware. Frustrated for years by rising dollar values and falling WGSB numbers, it was not until 1997 that I could take a group and then it took the fervour and experience gained at Temple University, Philadelphia, by Judith Hogg of the Geography Department to clinch it for me. By using the experience of our U.S. counterparts we are able to organize it all ourselves, except for buying and flying the plane. It sounds a little immodest to say that the Kent end does more than its half of the arranging. In this way we undercut the commercial organizations by about £200 and, sustaining the ‘exchange’ aspect, provide experiences that would otherwise not be available. We are indebted to French, Swedish and British ancestors, however, who so thoughtfully located Wilmington little more than two hours from both New York and Washington, one and a half hours from Baltimore, half an hour from Philadelphia, and close to the shoreline. Our third such trip took place in the fall of 2000.
Rewarding though this trip has been, it cannot quite match the adventure of the aid trips to Romania. Asked in 1994 if I would like to organize a trip with students to the town of Tirgu Ocna in N.E.Romania, I promptly said “Yes’ and later contemplated the enormity - of the task - 1600 miles each way in three days in temperatures of up to 40 degrees, and worst of all the arbitrary attitude of the border guards. That the school had a new minibus for the first trip in 1995 was the work of Keith May as Chairman of the Governors. In the knowledge that probably no more than half a dozen schools in the country have accomplished such a trip, one might forgive a little pride. Having seen inside the orphanage, hospitals, schools and maternity hospital, however, the overriding feeling is one of gratitude for the opportunity to see and relieve suffering, even if only on a tiny scale. Unfortunately the requirement for a PCV licence for driving a vehicle with more than 9 seats in mainland Europe has meant that after four years the trips are stopped, temporarily, we hope. If anyone knows the whereabouts of a reliable truck of up to 30 cwt. capacity, or an MPV, not only would I like to hear from them on 01322 525115, but a lot of Romanians would find that their unfortunate lives were a little brighter.
These are just perceptions of a teacher. Doubtless there are readers who remember some of these trips for reasons of a very different kind.
MICHAEL MANNING (1957-1960)
Dear Dennis. Thank you for the effort you are putting into the Dartech and Wilmingtonian. I guess I am not alone in enjoying the many word pictures that contributors have painted over the last 10 issues.
Jeff Boult’s contribution (issue 10) which was proceeded by Jim Austen’s wry reference to Mr Hughes’ Ag Boys brought back many memories. Among others, these included the enthusiasm with which I convinced my long suffering parents of the necessity to reproduce ‘Hughes’ steamed soil in a boiler outside our home kitchen (to our neighbours disgust), and keep chickens, from often incorrectly sexed chicks, incubated by us in the cottage next to Jack’s house.
Life was exciting for many of us ‘transferees’ from local Secondary Schools, though I know of only one person in my year, for whom the dawn to dusk promise of an Agricultural career, became a reality - perhaps Trevor (Parsons) might be one of your readers. Those sexed ‘males’ by Jack for our home Christmas dinner, often turned into the egg laying variety and therefore cheated death for a while, but which ever, I was always grateful to Trevor who would come and rescue us by expertly ending their short lives, and leaving me to prepare them for ‘the Table’
Among the excitements were;
rat catching around the deep-litter chicken houses (strictly forbidden, and on one occasion finishing up with a foot pierced by a pitch fork - I cannot recall the rat being exterminated!!):
destacking an overheating barn of sheaves of damp corn - another smelly operation:
ploughing and general use of that grey (Fordson??) tractor:
watching from a safe(?) distance Mr Hughes smoking out bees, while assuring us that they seldom stung:
avoiding over zealous cockerels, while feeding their Harem of hens.
But the reality of getting adequate ‘O Levels’, for some of us, rather spoilt the practical fun of being an Ag Boy and thereby hangs another tale.
I am grateful for the friendships made during those years, although a career as an industrial chemist and latterly in management in the Packaging Industry, seems a long way from the objectives set by the course. It would be great to hear from others in my year, and where being an ‘Ag boy’ led them.
I have now left the busy world of Industry and currently share with Marilyn, my wife, the equally hectic role of Layworker in a local Methodist Church. I am thankful that among the staff during my years at Wilmington Technical High School, there were those who were prepared to openly declare their Christian faith to the pupils, and to demonstrate this in the care and encouragement they gave to us, as we tried to sort out the puzzles of life as a teenager.
Thank you again for all your hard work. Yours sincerely, Mike Manning (previously known as Ginge!)
Richard Phillips (1972/7)
I first became aware of the ODWA newsletter when I was handed a copy by my mother, who had been given it by the parent of another former pupil at the school, John Hampton. She thought I'd be interested and I must say, despite it being a fairly short publication and a little lacking in contributions, it was. It brought back lots of memories. I wrote in, putting my name and address on the mailing list and have received my copies ever since. This was now a few years ago.
The best thing for me that has come out of it so far is that I have been able to get back in contact with a long time school friend of mine, Keith Jackson, who I noticed was on a dinner guest list a couple of years ago. I had lost touch, as you do and thought I'd write in, asking if they could provide Keith's current address. A short time later, there it was, sent as a highlighted line in a list of addresses. I have since made contact with Keith and do not intend to lose touch again.
I haven't got around to attending any reunion dinners yet and I don't know whether I will. Currently I'm living in Rochester with my wife and children, although we are planning our move to Devon, a far more relaxing place to live. We've been lucky enough to own a second home in Devon for a couple of years now, which I renovated myself (with a little help from an excellent builder) and have since been lucky enough to buy and renovate a large cottage in the next village, which is where we are going to move to. I suppose the passion I have for renovating property which has been my main business now for around 7 years, comes from my great interest in all things practical (my favourite subject at school was woodwork).
I have great memories from my time spent at Dartech. The teacher who tried very hard to educate me in the French language, Mr Nichols (Twizzle), having his annual competition with Maggie Mountjoy as to who's class would get better exam results. Percy Black's physics lessons, where I learned time and time again that "you can't get money for old rope" when trying to get us to understand the laws of such things as kinetic energy. Mr Durrant, my biology teacher, famed for his slightly strange walk which was a great source of amusement to a number of his pupils. Mr Daley (my form teacher for 2 years) who made a point of calling everyone "my friend". Mr Wesson, maths and games, who I never saw out of a rugby shirt (or so it seemed). I never was very interested in being taught at school, but all the teachers managed, despite my best efforts, to give me a good education and for that I will always be grateful. Isn't it strange that when you look back in this way, you rarely remember the bad points, only the good ones and the fun you had. Not the seemingly endless history dictations (oh, that memory has just come back) or the afternoons spent cross country running in the pouring rain through the nearby pig farm (that one too). Ok, you 'mainly' remember the good points.
I was saddened to hear of the death of Percy Black all those years ago. He was a truly great teacher who, at the time, was the main-stay of the school. Despite him dishing out several strokes of the cane to me (mainly for being caught smoking behind the oil tanks) he had my greatest respect. It also saddens me to hear of the recent passing of Maggie Mountjoy, although I had very little time in her class, she was a great character and will be missed.
A little about myself since leaving.
Generally, despite me being a fairly typical picture of under achievement throughout my time at Dartech, my time at the school was a pretty good educational experience. I, like so many others, did little to help myself, but the teachers did a sterling job and I managed to leave with a decent number of O'level passes, going into the outside world at the age of 16 to start an apprenticeship in electronics. This lasted but a year, when I thought that it would be far more interesting working in the motor trade and took up position in a parts department at a local dealership, where I stayed, ascending to the perilously high echelons of manager, before leaving in 1984. I worked in direct sales for a graphic arts company in London for a while, leaving there along with my sales manager to start our own business in self drive car and van rental, which was a struggle for a few years and was sold in 1990 leaving me with the problem of what to do next in my life. At the time I decided that an interesting business to be in was importing and retailing such luxury purchases as jet skis and quad bikes, which I started to do with initial success, only to be faced with the recession of the early 1990's which lead to me being asked to buy more vehicles than I was selling, leading to the unfortunate failure of that business just 2 years later. Being a stubbornly self sufficient person I went into business for myself once more, this time as a residential letting agent. This proved successful and allowed me to get involved with buying, renovating and selling small terraced houses on the side, as a part time passion so-to-speak. After a couple of years I made the decision to sell the letting agency, which I did (it is still going well now) and concentrate full time on property renovation, which I still do, although, with my track-record of flitting from one thing to another, I suppose it won't be long until I think of something else to do that appears more interesting. Currently, my hobby turned small business is hand made soap making. Embryonic as it is presently, sales are growing and I see me devoting more time to it in the future. Couldn't get much further away from property renovating could you! www.thesoapkitchen.co.uk if you want to buy some. (is that classed as advertising?)
Anyway, my memories of Dartech will always be fond. I would be interested to find out what others did after they left. You lose touch with so many people when you leave school. Maybe others can be encouraged to write in and share their stories.
Keep up the good work. I'll try desperately to remember to give my new address when I move. Just in case, maybe Dennis would be good enough to e-mail me the next issue so as I definitely get it, to jog my memory.
Greetings from Wiltshire - Geoff Martin (1957-62)
I was so pleased to receive my copy of Newsletter No 12 the other day. I do not know who gave you my address but I am very grateful. Any chance of the earlier editions?
I was at the Tech. from 1957 to 1962 like Terry Genese, Chris Portwine etc all mentioned as having attended this year's dinner. I regret not hearing sooner as I am sure I would have attended.
I have only kept in touch on a regular basis with Peter Ward, partly because we work in the same industry.
When I left School, I joined Ove Arup & Partners a large Consulting Engineering practise and was sent to their City of London Office to work on the Barbican Redevelopment scheme. My role was very junior but interesting all the same. I went to Westminster Tech. one day and two evenings a week and studied Civil Engineering. The syllabus still seemed remote from the work in the office and I was not a good student. In 1967 I sorted out a place full time at Guildford Tech where I embarked upon a 3 year HND course. I was a much better full time student and did well. I returned to London in 1970 (having sometimes worked in the holidays) and soon moved on to a smaller practise (Anthony Hunt Associates) near the Strand.
In 1975 we were all offered the chance to form a new office in Gloucestershire.
We moved into a 17th Century Manor House in the summer of 1976 in the village of Coln St Aldwyns, nr. Fairford. It was a fabulous summer and I soon made new friends principally through Cirencester RugbyClub. I began to play rugby at the ripe old age of 31, the highlight of my short career being a part season in the 1st team in 1978/79.
I met Marilyn in the summer of 78 at Coln Manor when the boss had a party to celebrate his swimming pool. Marilyn was visiting a work colleague and his wife for the weekend in Cirencester. Our relationship became distant when Marilyn returned to Bahrain (Sept to Dec.) and then went to Hong Kong for two years! we kept in touch and eventually she came back to England. We were married in Oct 82 and moved to our present address in July 83. Rugby gave way to refurbishing our cottage and bringing up two boys, David is 16 and Alex is 15.
Coln St Aldwyns became Cirencester and then I left AHA and moved to Yeovil to work. In 15 months we could not sell our house. Just as we thought we had found a buyer, I was made redundant so we stayed put and I found a job in Marlborough where I joined forces with another Geoff. we worked together for 9 years but never made much money! In 1998 we were both offered a chance to help in the office of a larger company (Whitby Bird & Ptrs.) in Bath. I have been at WBP ever since as a Contract worker. For part of 1999 until this Spring they sent me to Basingstoke to work on an interesting town centre development where I bumped into Graham Mole.
It is so easy to lose touch with people. I should like to take this opportunity of making contact with old friends.
Do you know the whereabouts of Terry Canty, Mike Dorrian, Phil Bollen and anyone else who remembers me.
I was sorry to hear of the deaths of Percy Black, Charlie Wall and Maggie Mountjoy. We should not be too surprised because our parents are in their Eighties and my Dad died this time last year aged 79.
I do not remember nicknames too well but I do remember Beanpole the caretaker. I can remember a Physics teacher who could not control a class and Mr Amess' catchphrase was "I will send you over the road" meaning across to the Old Bldg. to outside the Headmaster's study. What about potty Pierce or Roland Dudley Winthrop Harold.
If I think of anymore I shall be pleased to send you more e-mails.
I have to check a drawing before tomorrow so had better stop. Keep up the good work
A few comments from Neal Tidman (1972-77)
Dartech old boys on the web. Heavens, wonders will never cease. Just to wet your whistles, here are a few fond memories: Riding first year pupils down the hill in the snow; Twizzle's knuckle cracking when you hadn't prepared your homework, (something that I was frequently plagued by); The burning down of the sports shed, (a careless fag end), and the statement by Percy to myself. "Ahhh, Ginger, look at this miserable predicament", as he showed me the punishment book, with nobody's name but my own for two pages !!!! Ahh. Dandelion days indeed. Keep up the grand work, I look forward to reading many articles in the future and possibly adding to it myself. By the way, Gary Love wasn't half a good Goalie, as I recall.
Roy Jenner (1946) Auckland New Zealand.
Learning German through Mr Altscul (Andrews) gave me a finer understanding of the English language, but at the time I wasn't aware. Mr Wall was head - in Essex Road - liked him - great guy. Mr Black (PB) taught science, my dunce subject. He was also a gentle man.
The West Indies were touring at the time as was The Don. Many great memories.
Christopher Richard Bennett – Pupil 1964 – 1969
It was purely by accident that I stumbled on the ODWA website on January 1, 2001, thirty-one years to the day since I arrived in Adelaide, South Australia from the UK. It was a delight to see the old school badge emerge on the screen (an original of which is still stored in my desk draw).
Over the years I have often discussed with my wife Kathryn, an Adelaide girl, that I have always felt a sense of missing history in my life. There has always been some small feeling of jealousy if, as she has over theyears, Kathryn mentioned that she bumped into an old school friend and had even a brief conversation with them.
Though thirty one years of living in Adelaide has scripted somewhat of a life story for me, I now realise in observing my own children that whatever kind of person I would be considered as today was, for the most part, forged in those transforming years from childhood to adulthood, and of course a good part of that time was spent at D.T.H.S.B.
Perhaps now I too will have the opportunity to share some common memories with old school friends, albeit at a distance and via a different medium. I therefore welcome anyone who may remember me to contact me, however briefly, to let me know how they have progressed in this sometimes-harsh world of ours.
My E-Mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
I include a treasured photograph of some fellow students and myself, taken circa 1968, containing evidence of misuse of school equipment.
Darren Aylward (1977-1983)
I have just been reading through the 'Feedback' section of your web-site and have stumbled across a couple of articles written by Barry Wright and David Collins. Both these boys were in my school year and I knew them well.
I did have a chuckle to myself at Barry's summary of the Bruges trip! He hit the nail on the head when he mentioned the memorable moments of the trip being the grotty hotel, huge fair, Angus's missing suitcase and the sex shops ( I'll come back to that one in a minute ). The only other one that comes to mind, and Barry may remember this, is another pupil, Paul Owers, dressed in full combat gear (complete with matching Smurf toys!) and how the rest of us nearly sank a canal boat trying to grab his beret!
Oh yes, the sex shops! My memory differs slightly from Barry's as I was one of the mentioned group of boys who attempted 'the quick visit'. Unfortunately for us we happened to bump into two teachers (you know who you are!) already browsing within the shop. It was at that point that we were forcibly ejected by both the teachers and shopkeeper!
Sean Gordon (1980-1987)
Fantastic web site. I have just had one hour indulging in a "nostalgia overload". I only happened across the web site by chance, and I'm sure that many former students and staff would get involved if they only knew the site existed. How extensively has the site been registered with the most popular search engines ? I've done searches in the name of the school on a number of occasions in the past and been unsuccessful. I only happened to do a search on "google" in the name of an old friend, when it returned a page from your newsletter, which led me onto the web site.
The pictures on the site are slow to load, but well worth the wait. I particularly enjoyed the pictures of the school rear, showing the covered walkways between the main building and the woodwork/metalwork building and the changing rooms. The paint on the side of the walkways looks just as it did when I left in 1987, i.e. badly in need of a coat of paint. The large wall next to the changing rooms still bears the mud of the thousands of football boots which have been "banged out" on it over the years. Finally, I'd forgotten the strange glass structure on top the main building? I never did work out what that was.
And what about Mr Nicholls ? Is it just me, or has he turned into a bit of a Des Lynum lookalike? As a student whose ability in French was, well limited to say the least, I always appreciated his encouragement. Glad to see he's looking so well.
I heard a few years back that Peter Boxall had passed away, but there doesn't seem to be any mention of him on the site. As a former pupil who owes his geography 'O' level to Mr Boxall, and who also went on three trips on the Thames with him and Ivor Jenkins, I was shocked to hear the news. Have there been any tributes paid in the past, and if not are there any planned for the future ?
My wife of twelve years used to attend the girls school. Do you know whether they run a similar web site and/or newsletter ? (Ed. We have had several enquiries about this but unfortunately they do not).
Memories ’55-61 - John Mummery, 1955-61
I was prompted to write a few words for the next ODWA newsletter when I read in the Daily Telegraph the obituary article for Colin Cowdrey, the England and Kent cricketer. Do any of my readers remember Colin’s visit to the school? The Telegraph didn’t mention it but I remember it very well. He came under the auspices of the Christian Union which was run by Eric Lewis. It was a fine sunny lunch hour and the room (maths room, ground floor in the new block) was jam packed with either potential cricketers or potential Christians. I was a prefect that year so I am guessing at the autumn of 1960. I met Colin with Mr. Lewis in the corridor but unfortunately I missed his talk because nobody would swap my prefect duty.
I remember Erie Lewis well. He taught me Chemistry throughout my time at Wilmington Hall and his living faith had a positive influence on my life. Sadly, after leaving school, I was never to meet him again but to my surprise I did stumble upon his brother Bernard and his wife about three years ago while staying in Devon at a conference- centre called Lee Abbey. My wife Sue and I had arrived for the same holiday week as the Lewis’ and so we were able to reminisce about Eric, his life and work at Wilmington Hall.
Then last year I read about the death of Maggie Mountjoy. She taught me French up to O-level, languages being my achilles-heel. After marking the mock O-level exam her final words to me were “I don’t think you will make it in June - unless there’s a miracle”.
Right Maggie, I thought, I’ll show you. My weakest paper was French conversation in which I had been known to start off speaking lousy French and finish by speaking fluent English. Then a friend outside school gave me some advice. “The examiners are bound to ask something similar to where, you went for your holiday. Revise and take into the exam a lively picture postcard of say, Bournemouth. When the suitable question is asked reply ‘Bournemouth’, produce the postcard and talk non-stop for five minutes about the picture - the cars, sea, sky, hotels, park, trees, people, shops, anything in the picture. After five minutes they have to stop you in order to see the next candidate.
The oral exam came and in I went knowing all about the postcard in my pocket. A suitable question was asked and I produced the postcard. I passed French oral grade B with an overall O-level pass grade C. Maggie was completely dumbstruck for the rest of that final term. I never told her how I did it. Forty years later I wanted to ....... but we never met again.
I remember French lessons because Maggie had commandeered for her lessons the first and only bit of technology in the entire school - the reel-to reel 7" school tape recorder looking majestic in its wooden cabinet. It was not allowed out of the room and no other department even set eyes on it. Maggie used it a lot and all was well until it broke down. Then, since it was the school tape recorder, Percy Black was wheeled in to put it right.
Do you remember how quite a few of Maggie’s French lessons began? Let me see if I can remind you some forty years later-:-
Notre Père qui es aux cieux,
Que ton nom soit sanctifié;
Que ton règne vienne;
Que ta volonté soit faite
Sur la terre comme au ciel.
Donné nous chaque jour notre pain ....... Enough.
Not bad for grade C French, eh!
In 1959 the school began teaching A-level courses and my year was the first year to have the opportunity of remaining at Wilmington Hall for A-levels rather than going off to Dartford Grammar. The pure sciences were offered and I did well enough to win a place at Bristol University in 1961 to read Physics. 1959/60 must have been the year when my peers and I all trooped off once a week after school to the Girls Grammar for dancing lessons. Remember that in those days ‘Come Dancing’ ruled the black and white air waves compered by Peter West so the waltz, foxtrot and quickstep were duly taught.
By the time the final week in the upper sixth arrived I believe that my peers and I had achieved prominence, being placed on a bit of a pedestal in the eyes of staff and pupils alike. We were anxious that our time at the school should be lovingly remembered through the coming years and so at midnight the staff car park wastransformed with fully labelled personal parking spaces (using water based paint). The following morning the Headmaster, Mr. L. V. Wall was quite upset. He had no idea who had done this dreadful deed and immediately suspected unruly fourth formers. They were instructed to scrub it away. I was Deputy Head Boy that year and John Fitton was Head Boy so later that morning we were both summoned to L.V’s study.
“Now, I want you both to keep your eyes and ears open, find the culprits quickly and let me know”, he said.
“Yes sir, certainly sir”, we replied.
In the short time remaining to us we never did find those responsible .............. Sorry L.V.
That week I left school for Bristol to begin student life. From Bristol I went to Leicester for a PGCE year. From 1970 -72 I became a part-time student this time studying for an M.Sc. in Astrophysics. The course was enthralling and the highlight of my academic studies.
Now I’ve reached the stage where I see my own two children studying at university both having taken fulfilling Gap Years. I’ve already retired once (from 28 years of teaching). Now I am self-employed and hope to finally draw stumps in two or three years time. The mention of drawing stumps brings me back to Colin Cowdrey and cricket!
It is good to meet old friends through ODWA reunions, long may they continue. If you read this and remember with gratitude your school days and peers then do come along and meet them at the next reunion. We would love to see you because we are all grey and wrinkly now, but much wiser.
Gerry Spice (1961 - 1966).
Many thanks for Newsletter number 12, which has prompted me to put pen to paper for number 13.
When I passed the 11plus and learnt that I and two others (Richard Moor and Jimmy Bolton) from Heath Street Primary School in Dartford would be attending Dartford Tech., my feelings were twofold. Firstly euphoric relief at having passed and second great apprehension at the prospect of five years at a new school and all it entails.
Of course, my first day remains vivid in my mind, the vastness of the school and grounds, somewhat different from the 4 roomed school from which I had just graduated!
My second day also sticks firmly in my memory as I was unceremoniously dumped headfirst in a dustbin, half full of water, by a group of second years (whom I considered at the time to be adults). Oh! The joys of being a first year in a brand new uniform come flooding back.
I’m afraid to say that I did not make the most of my time at Dartford Tech. I probably worked harder at trying to dodge things than if I had buckled down and got on with it. I was mostly interested in enjoying myself and must admit got into various scrapes and school-boy pranks, all of which, I have to say, seem harmless by today’s standards. In those days, it did cause many visits to the Headmaster’s office and a striped bottom for a day or two.
I remember many of the boys during my time there and the great friends I had, notably John Swann, Roy Hoddinott, Martyn Bradley and Ken Morez. Luckily, I have kept in touch and remained friends with Ken, and it was he who suggested I attend the last reunion on 6 May 2000.
I have often wished over the years that such an event took place, and was immediately excited at the prospect and looked forward to it for weeks. I arrived in time for the nostalgia trip around the grounds and classrooms by an ex-pupil (Tony Martin, I think). It struck me that he was probably the same age as my eldest son, but I was gratified to see that there were as many people there who attended the school before me, as after.
I found the whole experience truly fascinating and the memories it evoked. Looking at the old photographs of staff and boys and putting names to faces. I had the pleasure of chatting with Nick Crutchfield, who was a Prefect during my time and therefore a must to avoid, Ray King who left long before I started, and Terry Rooke, a member of my own class. Also Dave Brenchley, Bob Richardson and Dave Ferguson from the year following mine.
The years I spent at the Tech. were the times of Cassius Clay, a great hero of mine, the terrible winter of ’63 (apart from the fact that no coal could get through to the school resulting in 3 days off), the meeting with myfirst love, a young lady from the girls school opposite, the birth of the Beatles and the introduction of the new Headmaster, Mr Mogford. This introduction was made, I remember, during a wood-work lesson in Lowfield Street.
I remember all my teachers, most with affection and respect, but must single out “Potty” Pearce, to whom I owe my interest in the correct use of the English Language. He was always immaculate in his appearance and never raised his hand in anger to any boy. Indeed, he could command instant attention with a glance. He also had an uncanny knack of replacing his fountain pen in his inside right pocket with his right hand without employing the use of his left, a feat I tried to emulate but with no success! I was saddened to learn from a previous newsletter of his death at a relatively young age. My memories of Maggie Mountjoy are of a statuesque lady and an excellent teacher of French. I wonder who else recalls that if a lesson with her coincided with the last day of term, she would play a record by Petula Clark, “Mais oui! Mais oui! L’ecole est finis” - music to my ears in more ways than one!
To bring you up to date, my working life has consisted of 22 years in the City and the last dozen or so years working locally. I am now with “Rose Bruford College” in Sidcup, not in an academic capacity, I hasten to add.
I have been happily married since 1971 and have three grown up children. Two sons and a daughter. The year 2000 has brought for me (in chronological order) my installation into the chair - I’m sure some of the readers will know what that means - my first school reunion, the birth of my first grandchild (Thomas) and my 50th birthday.
I will certainly be at the next reunion on 12th May 2001 and hope to meet some more of my contemporaries. In the meantime, I am pleased to enclose a donation towards your administration costs.
We have been advised of the recent passing of ANDRÉ MOORE who was a Member of the Staff from 1962 to 1983.
At a recent Committee Meeting we discussed this years Dinner Menu with Stan, the Caterer at the early Dinners of the Association, who returned for us at the Millennium Dinner, and having not received a single complaint from our 170 Guests, we have invited him to cater for us again at this years Dinner. We have decided to have a Poached Salmon starter, a Carvery Main Course (with a choice from 3 meats) and Vegetables in Season followed by a selection of Sweets, Coffee and Mints.
We hope to emulate the success of our Millennium Dinner when we entertained 170 Guests, which was our best attendance since the Inaugural Dinner on 16th July, 1994.
We would appreciate it if you could return your application forms, with payment, as soon as possible to Mrs. Marion Miller and not leave it until the last minute as usually happens. If you complete the application form on the website please remember that bookings cannot be confirmed until payment has been received.
After covering all expenses at our Dinners we try to assist School projects with any balance of our income, bar profits and the proceeds of the Raffle. These proceeds in the past have been used for equipment within the School, and our latest venture is to get Cricket Nets in the Gymnasium, for School use and for Old Dartechs. The cost at the moment is more prohibitive than we thought and we are also awaiting permission from Wilmington School, who share the main Gym with our School. Another project is to get Honours Boards in the Main Hall for each years successful students from 2000 onwards.
It has been suggested on a number of occasions that we have Annual Subscriptions, but we have tried to avoid this. To keep in touch with all former pupils and staff, of which we have well over 1,000, printing and mailing costs for each Newsletter are approx. £400. We have two mailings a year, which are paid for by your generous donations, and we hope to continue these. Should you wish to receive your Newsletter by email and have not yet advised us please complete the form on our website: www.odwa.freeserve.co.uk
EIGHTH ANNUAL REUNION DINNER & A.G.M.
on Saturday, 12th May, 2001
Mr. Allan Hamerschlag
(Member of Staff 1970-84)
will be our Guest of Honour.
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NINTH ANNUAL REUNION DINNER & A.G.M.
on Saturday, 11th May, 2002
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