NUMBER 15                                                                     FEBRUARY 2002



Herewith Issue No 15, with details of our Ninth Annual Reunion Dinner, which will be held at the School on Saturday, 11th May, 2002 and will be along the same lines as last year with Stan our Caterer cooking a 4 Course Carvery Meal, so, as some Old Boys mentioned last year it will be like queuing up for School Dinners again. Bookings this year to Adrian Boyling (1953-56) please. (see back page and booking form)

Should you be planning to attend this years, or any future Dinners, perhaps you would like to help organise getting more of your own year to attend, if so we are able to help with new searches.

If your details have changed in any way since you were first entered on our Database, i.e. Phone No. or perhaps you have added an email address, but have not notified us, it would be appreciated if you could visit our website (www.odwa.freeserve.co.uk) and complete the update page, this will also give you the opportunity of authorising, or otherwise, the publication of your details and advising us if you wish to receive the Newsletter by email to save us expense.

Our lead article in this Issue is written by Mike Wesson (Staff - 1969-95) in Memory of


IVOR JOHN JENKINS  -  1943-46 / Staff  -  1970-91

Alias (to quote Mr. Black) ‘The Big Fella’

I think most of you know that Ivor was a genuine Old Boy. From Foster’s School in Welling he won a place at the Technical School (then a part of the Tech. College) in Essex Rd. and he often reminded me that in those days it was very much a technical institution delivering a strictly technical education (you know, the kind of thing being put forward as the next ‘new’ idea by the DoE !!!). Some of his fondest recollections of that time revolve around a young Margaret Mountjoy about whom he, and it seems most of the rest of the school, had less than pure thoughts!!  He left the school to join the navy as a boy entrant, then an engineering apprentice (an artificer) and transferred to the Fleet Air Arm. He served aboard most of the big Aircraft Carriers such as Ark Royal and finished up as a Chief Petty Officer (the rank that ran the navy, to quote him) in charge of a flight of helicopters on board or in such places as Borneo. Having been responsible for several million pounds worth of defence equipment it understandably came as a bit of a shock when faced with the small minded aspects of the education world which felt it could not trust staff even with the petty cash!!

His introduction to rugby came in the early part of his service career and was an immediate success. He later went on to play for the Fleet Air Arm, the Navy, Combined Services, Hampshire and London Counties (including a match against the touring All Blacks. He also had a ‘secret’ trial for a League team – highly ‘illegal’ in those days of course. He was also an England trialist and finished his rugby career coaching for the Navy and the FAA and was the services representative at the RFU.

These are some of the background facts of his life before Wilmington. He always felt himself very lucky to have had two careers both of which he enjoyed greatly. What follows are a few of my memories of his ‘second life’.

He was a natural teacher, bringing his experience and skills to the boys and he was always firm but kind and caring. His real skill was his ability to communicate with young people – equally at ease with 6th. Formers and 11yr. olds, whether as a woodwork teacher, a form tutor, games coach or on a school trip.

On the formal teaching side I remember busy workshops where boys produced some outstanding work – many parents and boys still treasure the coffee tables etc. that they made under his encouragement and guidance – and especially the Saturday morning specials as practical exam dates loomed.

But my main memories must revolve around the ‘extra-curricular’ activities in which he involved himself.

He, along with Bill Mock, Graham Nicholls and myself started Friday Club for the Lower School boys – it still continues.

He was one of the driving forces with the PTA – led by Wilf Hodgson in the early days – in particular with the instigation of the May Fairs held on the green specifically for the village and involving all three schools. I still have a vivid picture of Ivor, Bill Mock and Mr. Black struggling with the Swanley market stalls we used in the early days.

As a very high-level rugby player (and a West Ham supporter!!!) he was a remarkably successful soccer coach. One of the School’s outstanding teams developed under his guidance. The Willis, Matthew, Carter etc. group won all except one County and district competition from the first year to the fifth. Again there is one picture that has stayed with me – of this big man surrounded by his team of very small boys on a huge grassless pitch at Gillingham in the driving rain – our first County winners.

My other memories have to revolve around the famous canal trips. These were started because we felt that the other trips on offer were of the sightseeing type and were getting expensive. On these of course we were also ably assisted at various times by my wife and family, Bill Mock, Mrs. Holden, even Mr. Nicholls once and of course the Boxall/Jenkins water enterprise was born.  The highlight of the first canal trip was closing the River Nene when ours and another boat from the same yard travelling ahead of us simultaneously and independently took off two lock gates. With ingenuity and some railway sleepers, balancing water levels in and out of the locks we actually managed to replace them – much to the water-board engineer’s surprise. After that trip we adopted Jack as our driver. He had been born and brought up on the cut in the era of the horse, the ‘Fly Boats’ and legging it through the tunnels. The boys were amazed when they got back to school and found a picture of Jack and his young family in their history books!!

Other canal memories are of little Benny pulling out and dropping a drawer of cups less than 5 mins. after the inventory had been done.   Of treating Harris for a small scratch on his face that simply got worse as the week progressed (stopped him pulling all the birds I remember!!) only to find out on our return that he was allergic to the cream we used.   Of the stomach bug that went through both boats – literally!!   Ivor’s superb roast dinners.   The two boys – who shall remain nameless of course – caught ‘borrowing’ from Woolworths in the centre of Lincoln.   Watching the boys take the two boats down the 7 locks in the Foxton Flight unsupervised and with absolute precision and to the admiration of all onlookers.   Losing the propeller just before the Husband Bosworth tunnel – and replacing it properly in the almost empty lock outside the pub at 11.30pm. on a cold and frosty night without any of the boys even realising!

I could go on, as I am sure many of you could.  I am writing this article as a memorial to Ivor but also in the hope that if I mentioned enough names and places it would stir a few memories out there – enough even to goad some of you to putting them in writing for all of us to enjoy in future editions of the newsletter.

With Ivor’s passing I lost a very good friend (as well as a drinking partner!!) and they are much valued especially as you get older.  It is very true that over a lifetime you ‘collect’ many acquaintances but make only a few friends and so losing one is hard to bear.  They can never be replaced and so memories of them become very important.

I think I have enough of the ‘big fella’ to keep me going for a long time!!!

Mike Wesson.


I was sorry to hear of the death of Ivor Jenkins, I remember him well as form tutor/woodwork teacher, and last but not least as somebody who tried to teach the finer points of Cricket.  (Kevin Archer 1974-79)


Chris Portwine - 1957-65

Do I remember?

For the sake of posterity I would like to start some discussion on the all important part of our education, namely school milk.  For the younger members of the association, that is those who attended school after the reign of Maggie, no not Mountjoy but Thatcher, we were provided with 1/3 pint bottles of milk each day.

There was some discussion at the last annual dinner over the arrangements for this.

I seem to remember from my primary school days that the milk was already in the classroom at the start of school having been put there by the caretaker.  There was also a supply of straws and a plastic knitting needle to pierce the milk bottle caps.  The milk had been delivered to the school by the local Co-op milkman.  Then there was a change, and the deliveries were made by Wickens Dairies of Maidstone, who had got the contract for the whole of Kent.  Were there occasions, when because of bad weather ‘the milk didn’t get through’ or was late. In the cold weather the milk would freeze and force the cap off the bottle, so we could have milk ice lollies.

When I arrived at Dartech the milk was supplied from a shed/store near the bottom of the pupils’s stairs into the old building, next to the windows to the boiler room, where the coke was shovelled through, much to the annoyance of RDWH whose classroom was just above.  I have recollections of all of the boys getting their bottle of milk from the caretaker, but I also remember the milk monitors going to the shed before the end of period 2 to collect an almost cratefull of milk and straws and the milk being consumed in the classroom.  I say almost cratefull because although the crate held thirty bottles there were some boys who did not drink milk.  What happened to these non consuming wimps, I expect they turned out to be teachers or accountants.

For those boys who did woodwork at Lowfield Street in the morning, they could go to the shed during afternoon break and get their milk.  In the sixth form I have recollections of having the milk in the prefect’s room, this gave rise to a game called ‘crates’, a version of draughts, played with the milk bottles.  I associate this game with Robin Pitman, did he invent it?  In the upper sixth we organised ourselves with a kettle and were able to use the milk in our tea and coffee.

Has the time now arrived for these memories to be correlated into a school history?  Is there a historian available in the association, may be recently retired, who could take this task on?


Geoff Sinclair  -  1950-54

The good news was returning home and finding the Nov 2001 Newsletter after a beautiful, unusually  mild (14°c), mid November walk here in Montreal, my home for the last thirty two years. Like most recipients I suspect, I scanned it to see if there was any mention of someone from my years at school. To my surprise I saw the letter from Alan Mead who even mentioned my name.  The bad news is that I cannot place Alan (sorry Alan!!). To add to my surprise, Alan retired from the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell which is where I went when I left school in 1954.

I won a student apprenticeship at Harwell largely as the result of Mr Black suggesting that any boy who was interested in practising for the G.C.E. could have a day off from school (it could have been two days !!!) and go to London and sit the Ministry of Supply Exam for a student apprenticeship. I think the idea of a day in London  combined with no school seemed irresistible. Luckily on exam day I actually attended the exam and to my surprise did well enough to get an interview for an apprenticeship. When I told Mr. Black about the upcoming  interview he suggested that I take along some of the engineering drawings that we were doing at school. Brilliant!  The reaction at the interview was terrific. When I received the results I found that I had done well enough again  to apply for a student apprenticeship at an Atomic Research Establishment which required another interview;  in 1954 this was the equivalent of joining the space race. So off I went, drawings under arm, up to London for my interview. I still remember sitting in the waiting room, holding the drawings with the other boys eyeing me up with the look of, what’s that he’s got there, and me not liking to be the odd man out and hoping the Interview Board was not made up of the same people as before. Well the drawings worked like a charm and I ended up at Harwell which was a magnificent place to be. This was the hay days of atomic energy with the medical wonder of isotopes, the possibility of atomic fusion (ZETA project I think) and the unlimited possibilities of atomic power.

At Harwell we had two days off for study, one day to take National Certificate S2 and S3 level and the second day to take A levels. This study load also required three nights of schooling. What a shock. At school, I really only remember Mrs Mountjoy setting us history homework where we had to go to a library to research the week’s topic and deliver the obligatory minimum ten pages, not too obviously copied. I think this was when I first learnt how useful books can be. I am sure there was other homework that I have since forgotten but I do remember not being overburden by homework at school. At Harwell I was sustained in this hectic study programme really only by making friends with a small group of highly motivated guys who studied hard and played hard only on Saturday night during term. That’s another whole story.

During the day we  attended an apprentice school for the first year to learn basic skills like filing a piece of mild steel to a perfect cube as well as mastering various machines such as lathes and milling machines. For this we received full board and thirty six shillings a week. During my six year student apprenticeship (extended one year to finish university) we moved up a pay scale which was frequently raised by industry pay increases. We thought that was just great.

At the end of the first year you had to choose a field of interest and as two of my friends were going to study metallurgy, I chose the same. I was somewhat influenced by the fact that if I stayed with engineering, my initial choice, I would have to go to the Main Work Shop and start at 7.30 a.m. rather than go to the Metallurgical Division where you started at 8.30 a.m., and there were female Lab. Assistants! This choice led to university and a career in the subject which led to a thoroughly interesting and rewarding working life, spanning the Atomic, Aerospace and Railroad industries; thank you Mr. Black!!

Returning to Alan’s letter; it prompted me to go to my box of old photographs. Someone had a camera at school that took tiny photographs, 2.5 x 3.5 cm, and I recall they came in a  sheet of say a dozen, rather like a proof sheet and perhaps you chose the ones you liked and had them enlarged. Anyway, I have just two, one a partial class group and one of me sitting on the wooden gate, up towards the bridge over the road that was then out of bounds unless you were a prefect or staff.  Other photos, somewhat larger, are of a partial class group in my first year and the same in my last, (1954), outside of room 1, which was in the old house. Who had the camera, anybody remember. The faces and associated events seem familiar but the only names that come to mind are Staines, Keith Kershaw and Amos

I can identify Amos.  That was Mike, a close friend who introduced me to the A.T.C. (air cadets) where I learnt lots of useful things as well some not so useful, such as smoking. Does anyone remember me losing my prefects badge for smoking on the 401 bus back to Bexley Heath after school. I still do. Imagine the trauma of having it announced at the morning assembly and the joy of being called to Mr. Wall’s office and being reinstated. I quit smoking in 1987 and it was one of the hardest things I ever did.

I lived in Bexleyheath in the next street to Keith Kershaw and we would catch the 122 bus to the Bexleyheath clock tower and then take the 401 Green Line bus to school.  I think the local or county council paid for the bus pass. The journeys were largely uneventful except when there was fog.  We would then set off walking towards Old Bexley. I can still remember on one occasion jumping onto the slowly moving bus (it appeared to be slowly moving) and violently colliding with the vertical hand hold and spinning around. I like to think that was the last time I did something as stupid as that. Of course then we used to think we were indestructible or something. Those fogs before the banning of open fire coal burning were something else.

We still had steam railway engines at that time and with my older brother we used to train spot and collect the engine numbers and had a lot of fun. Tracking down the Flying Scotsman and getting the money together to go up to London to see it was a major project for us although I was definitely the assistant. Collecting bus tickets with various serial number combinations was big at some time as well as conkers. I wonder do kids still play that now or are the ways to treat your conker to make it a winner a lost art. 

When I visited in April 2000, (thank you Headmaster or may I call you Brian, for taking the time with me and putting me in touch with the old boys).  I could not recognize the school and was sad to see the old house gone and the beautiful yew tree that was at the side.  In my time there was the old house, the physics, chemistry, biology and engineering drawing block, a lunch room where we had morning assembly, and a machine shop where we did metal work.  We used to go to Dartford to take wood work and mechanics. Dove tail joints and steam engine efficiency were hot topics then. I still remember to keep my hands behind the chisel cutting edge as taught and I think, at the time, was reminded by a mild slap of the head if the teacher caught you doing otherwise.

There was an agricultural group who frequented the biology room and went to the farm, which we only saw on cross-country runs. Who was the sports master who used to ride behind us on a bicycle and encourage you with a gym slipper to the backside.  What with the physical methods of the cross-country run and woodwork classes it sounds something like Tom Browns school days.  I think the woodwork lesson was well learnt but I never got any better at cross-country running.  I claim the dubious honour of being last in on at least one of the annual interhouse cross country runs by which time everyone had left and I duly reported later to get my house point for finishing.  Could try harder or show more interest was the typical term sports report comment throughout my whole school life.  I think the smoking incident mentioned above occurred after staying late at school after the run and catching a much later bus than usual when typical schoolboy logic reasoned that the school ban on smoking did not apply as we were well out of school hours.

Brian Clark, younger brother of Frank Clark, a neighbour and friend in Bexley Heath, was in the agricultural stream but after I left, perhaps 1956 or so. Are you out there

I have  been on the  news letter circulation list for a year and a half  and may have missed some of the history of the school. If my memory serves me well I think the class of 1950 was only the third at Wilmington. Perhaps the Editor could give us  a postcript on this point. We were the first year to attempt A levels in other than wood or metal work in the fourth year. We attempted A level pure maths. I failed and I don’t know if anyone else passed or if the experiment was continued. Typically the fourth year was for taking Chemistry and Physics at O level and perhaps French and English Literature.

Our history of foreign language instruction was curious. In the first year the regular French teacher was ill for the year and a temporary replacement taught us German for a year. When the regular teacher returned, (I cannot remember his name but he was Czechoslovak by birth and had served in both the French and British army during the war),  he set us an  exam to determine how much German we had learnt. After all, three genders and four cases is a bit much! (At least I learnt that much). After marking it and finding that we had not learnt very much, no surprise to me; he decided, being able to teach either French or German, to teach us French which I guess was supposed to be easier. We were then a year behind but I cannot blame that for my record of failing O level  French four times because of poor oral ability. In fact I was only able to go to Imperial College in 1957 because they dropped the O level foreign language requirement. I do remember at some point we were told Mrs Mountjoy  had decided to learn French and in next to no time she started one of her classes with us by speaking fluently in french, which of course went generally over our heads, or at least mine, but I was very impressed and still am.  Even after spending the last thirty two years in Montreal in the french speaking part of Canada I am sure she would have been able to run rings around my french.

I have one very pleasant memory of our temporary German teacher. In the summer of 1955 he drove Staines, Keith Kershaw and myself to his brother’s farm near Bude in Cornwall. For two weeks we had the time of our lives driving the tractor, hunting rabbits, swimming  and trying to surf at Bude which I remember being told was the only place in England where you could surf. True or not I don’t know.  We experienced all the things that went on at a dairy farm including milking cows and feeding milk to calves which is done by putting your hand in its mouth and its nose in a bucket of milk. Watch out for their back teeth! To my school boy embarrassment a photograph of me milking a cow, I still have it, was put up on the school notice board for a couple of days. I also learnt that a slate cow barn forestep is slippery when wet and that if you slip into a bed of stinging nettles wearing only shorts and a short sleeve shirt, you don’t sleep for a couple of nights in spite of calamine lotion and rubbing with doc leaves. It was truly another time when a single male teacher could very generously take three fourteen years old boys away for such a marvellous holiday with apparently no unusual comment.

I hope I have triggered some memories and we get other stories of the 1950 to 1954 years.


THE OLD CANTEEN  -  Frank Pearson  -  1957-64

Having received several thanks for reminding you about French from 1957 to 1962, I am encouraged to share some more reminiscences. This time it’s of the Old Canteen during the same period. For during my Sixth Form days (1962-1964), Mr. Mogford took over and the Canteen was superseded by the School Hall with adjacent dining area. The Old Canteen was just not big enough to assemble the whole school of some 550 pupils but shortage of funds for the New Building caused the dimensions there to be cut so that dinner tables appeared on the stage and assemblies tended to spill into the dining area. Nevertheless the improvement was considerable. A prefect said grace to a seated assembly and food was served to our seats by whoever was head of the table. Furthermore it was decent food. Contrast this with the old system where we had queued up outside in the cold trusting that the left-overs from some other school had arrived and would prove sufficient. Prefects herded us in onto wooden forms placed end to end in front of a series of collapsible tables, which became semi-collapsible by the loosening of a wingnut. At crowded times it was possible to cause adjacent tables to move to and fro in opposite directions, whereby the boy sitting at the join might see his plate crash to the floor, just before the tables returned to their original place. All but one diner would look both innocent and seemingly enjoying their food. I’ll share none of the tales of the numerous other goings on at mealtimes as such misdemeanours tend to be shared regularly at the reunions. What is often omitted from the tales is that retribution invariably followed. Mr. Sant was renown. A single culprit would be taken by a short hair on his neck and whatever Sant did he caused excruciating pain. It was worse if there were two of you, when taking slightly longer hairs, he would swing the boys knocking their heads together. Such punishments were far worse than merely having the living daylights shaken out of you.

In the First Year most people ate in the canteen although you could avoid it by bringing sandwiches to eat in an Old Building classroom. More difficult to avoid was the occasional lesson, often music, which appeared

in the timetable as being held in the Canteen. Whole school assemblies were virtually impossible so the daily act of worship there was not a regular occurrence until the third year. GCEs, always taken in stifling heat, were something to look forward to in the Upper school but the junior forms were summoned to the canteen for assembly and dismissal at the beginning and end of each term. We sang there, what will always be for me the school song, namely No. 333 “Lord behold us with Thy blessing, Once again assembled here” finishing the term with “Lord dismiss us with Thy blessing”. It almost always brought a tear to my eye as we continued “All who here shall meet no more” and I was glad when the last two lines referred to me:

    “Those returning, those returning,

    Make more faithful than before”.

In stark contrast to the hymn, was what Chas Wall also rattled through to finish the term, which was to reveal the class results, prior to the issue of the dreaded sealed reports. Like “Miss World”, results were given in reverse order starting with Form 1D. At breakneck speed the head would read 30 - PAWSON, 29 - PEARSON, 28 - CROWHURST etc., etc.. Either Terry Crowhurst or David Pawson would continue to pip me for first mention throughout the first year. Eventually he would pause only slightly to announce “And top by 16 marks BING”. Then it was 1C and on and on he would go towards 2A and “top by 340 marks - CRIGHTON”. 340 marks; what did that mean? You could have added up all my marks on both excercise books and report and still not accumulated 340!

At this point I must admit that the article “From Old Girl to Old Boy” in Issue 14 was utterly enthralling. I knew, as Mary said, that Bob Crighton was both bright and a terrific sportsman. I can remember that we would clap wildly when something along these lines was announced. “Maidstone Technical 8, Dartford Technical 3 and all three Dartford goals were scored by Crighton”. What I never realised was that Bob also scored with the ladies, so to speak. Just tell me, Mary, that Bob was a cherub in Jake’s choir and I shall claim to have heard everything!

The old canteen is still there I believe but no longer sandwiched between the bike sheds and a kitchen garden. I’m not sure why the kitchen garden was there because the school did not cook for itself. Perhaps this is why one year cabbages were left to rot in the plot. It so happened that David Pawson pinched one such cabbage and one lunchtime he threw it, roots and all, into the canteen. I’m sure it was very unhygienic, but it still seems a trifle harsh, that Pawson was expelled as a result. His name, coming alphabetically before my own, had often resulted in us partnering each other in some activity or other. I’d like to meet David again but have heard nothing of him. I have seen his name in print as the author of some evangelical Christian book - but I cannot believe that “there’s only one David Pawson”. What was great was, that a couple of reunions ago, I encountered another boy from 1D who had eventually been given the boot - and he seems to have turned out smarter than the average former pupil.

As I said earlier, further up the school we had daily assemblies in the canteen. I remember extremes of weather. Sometimes we walked snow in. When it rained Maggie and Potty would wear their mortar boards. No other teachers seemed to have these but if a master had a degree he would have a cloak. With green boards and chalk, this protected normal clothes. Also, if a board rubber got purloined, a cloak could do the business admirably. Heatwaves were the signal for GCEs to start. A new young master, as blond as Bob Crighton, and with a prowess for more sports, playing hockey and tennis besides the obligatory football, came to teach economic history. At the time ‘A’ levels were confined to Physics, Chemistry, various types of mathematics plus Art, Drawing, Woodwork and Metalwork. He taught me ‘A’ level British Economic History, from scratch, in free periods during my sixth form years. I took the examination in an airless bakehouse. Despite my discomfort I achieved a more than respectable ‘B’ grade and will definitely be there to hear him (ie Len Hollingsworth) at the annual reunion on Saturday 11 May, 2002.

Please notice that I do not write 11th May, 2002. Mr Pearce always insisted on what he termed as the “correct English Department date”. I have still never been able to depart from what the Old School taught us. So I remember things like “dependent” is the adjective and “dependant” is the noun and that grammar dictates whether “its” has an apostrophe. Never could I do what Mary Orme did in Issue 14 and use “presently” to mean “currently”. Furthermore I remember being warned that only Americans spell “fulfil” with a double ‘L’. You can therefore imagine my extreme horror when I noticed that our editor had changed my “fulness” to “fullness”. I can’t ever remember seeing the word at school but I cannot imagine an extra ‘L’ being tolerated. So dear editor, abandon your spellchecker for the way you were shown, or in the case of Mr. Amess “shewn” - yes he still used the 1611 spelling in 1957 and beyond. (Ed’s apologies)


John Jones - 1969-74

Whilst at the school I was known as Jonah, a nickname inherited from my brother not because I brought everybody bad luck. It’s enlightening to read stories in the newsletter and I look forward to receiving it. My old mates will remember me for my football rather than my academic skills, I spent two years at Charlton Athletic until I was 16yrs but wasn’t offered an apprenticeship. I’m determined to attend next years reunion and look forward to seeing some old friends.

Russell Guard  -  1977-82

Hi, “ Stumpy” here but not so stumpy anymore. I joined the Stock exchange from school, now working for LIFFE. Married with one kid, expecting another in March 02 and live in Sidcup. Charlton season ticket holder with a passion for Glasgow Rangers. Currently training for my second marathon so if you see, a balding, sweaty guy jogging round Sidcup it could be me.


Richard Harcourt  -  1952-55

It really is amazing what one finds on the net! Though my finding the old school site is very much tinged with sadness when I read of the sad death of Maggie Mountjoy. I would have loved to have met her again if only to prove that the total lack of paperwork of any sort when leaving school does not make one a failure. School is a place of learning and as I have found in later years pieces of paper and lots of letters after ones name do not mean a great deal. I have a very long list of both technical and academic letters after my name all gained long after I left school and no one takes any notice of them. Personality and presentation go a lot further. Just a comment on the final report written to my parents when I left Dartford. In spite of all the adverse comments in my school reports I was offered an RAF Apprenticeship, which I did not take up at the time because I wanted Electronics and the only vacancies were in aircraft engineering. So I went into Industry for a few years before joining the RAF as an adult and becoming a Ground Electronics Fitter. I retired in 1980 as a Chief Technician having served and lived in every part of the world. As well as being an Electronics Technician I was also trained externally to the RAF as a photographer to enable me to carry out a large number of additional tasks within the Services that required photographic skills. On retiring from the RAF I set up my own company in Industrial and Commercial Photography and have not looked back since. I have only met one other ex-Dartfordian - John Tremain (ex Ag). We used to travel on the steam train to Swanley together. We met after we moved to a new house in Lincoln and his sister lived opposite. Unbeknown to each other John managed a rubber plantation in Kedah, Malaya while I was ten miles down the road serving with the Royal Australian Air Force at Butterworth, and travelling through Kedah twice a week to service remote radio equipment in the jungles of Northern Malaya. My wife and I lived at that time on the Island of Penang. Anyway that’s enough waffling for now. Look forward to keeping up with events from afar. Regards to all.


Jagtar Ner  -  1977-84

I was a pupil from ’77 to ’84 and stumbled onto the website by sheer chance. There are plenty of names from my year that I recognise. For years I have been meaning to get in touch and now with the website in place it is so easy.

Time does not permit me to say much more at this moment but I will return to the website and provide more details of what I am doing at the moment. I could fill the whole hard disk with stuff!!

So for now I’ll say adios and I’ll post something when I get time. In the meantime I would be really pleased if anyone who remembers me and wants to get in touch. I enjoyed the picture of 1983, I still have mine and although my name is not correct I can live with that since I remember Bibby and reading what Barry Wright wrote brought back names I had not heard of in years. Unfortunately I have a little less hair and a few pounds more around the middle area!!

I’d be glad to hear from any of the guys in my year or from Thames class or from the teachers who may remember me. I am looking forward to the next reunion dinner, please count me in!!

Edwin Cross  -  1964-69

I would welcome contact with anyone, especially if they attended the Christian Union at any time which had been run by ‘chick’. My memory of school is increasingly hazy but contact might revive it. I am now publishing through a charitable trust I set up in 1976 and have travelled quite a lot - but I should like to make contact with some UK folk too!


Jim Austen  -  Staff 1954-74

Should you still be needing newsletter copy, here are a few notes or points raised by June Braxton No. 10, Derek Bartrip No. 12 and Ken Rawlinson No. 12.

Mr. French, Dep. Head and maths, went on to Keston Hall, Bromley as Head (any contact yet?) ‘A home-made body’ indeed! This was his pride and joy, his ‘Jowett’ known as the thrashing machine.

The Head of English who went to Australia was Charles Harris. ‘Andy’ Andrews was a French teacher of central European origin, and Charles found devilish delight in teasing Andy into outbursts of spluttering Malapropisms of indignation and protest during the lunch-hour poker school held in the staffroom. ‘Vot you mean, four Kinks; ‘ow is this ven last it was nuttinks?’ Andy was remembered by Margaret Mountjoy in her speech, by a certain misinterpretation of an Andy comment by Reggie Clare. I notice that it was not reported it the N.L.!

Mr. Pearce was Head of English but died shortly after retiring.

The ‘pleasant grey-haired teacher’, soon to become white, was Mr. Amess. There was a famous day when, with the staff assembled behind Mr. Wall at assembly, Mr. Amess tried in vain to sink into his chair and blend into the background. Mr. Wall launched into a tirade against hooliganism, referring specifically to the hooligans, riff-raff and other social misfits, who saw fit to appear at ‘The Valley’ on Saturdays; the whole school, apart from Mr. Wall, were quite aware that Mr. Amess was a life-member season-ticket holder of Charlton Athletic F.C.

How many remember the daily, well almost daily, ear-shattering entrance of Louis Walton in his massive open-top Lagonda? The bonnet length gave the impression of the radiator arriving some time before the driver. I think that he was Art; he also assisted at games but not if the temperature fell below 60°F.

The science lady who married Ted Harper was Aileen Power.

As a motto for Cray House, ‘Percy-vere’ was almost certainly coined and suggested by John Fitton during his speech at a Christmas House Party. John was Captain, and Mr. Black senior House Master of Cray House.

P.S. Another excellent piece of work in N.L.14. The letter from ‘Old Girl’ was most revealing, it explained much of that which I would see sometimes across the road, from the D.O. store window. The honorary Old Girl also has a mischievous sense of hyperbole; ‘that august body of gentlemen, the Class of 56-63’!

Regards,  “Sam”


John Colechin  -  1950-53

I don’t often see articles from the 1950’s in the newsletter and in the November 2001 issue there were two.  The one from Colin Acton has prompted me to write as Colin and I together with another Hawley lad called Roger Ovendon went to school together at Oakfield Lane Primary and Dartford West Central before joining Wilmington Tech at the age of thirteen.  Football was the love of my life, I was a goalkeeper, and we had many memorable matches with Pre-Ag.  I continued to play football into my 40’s at local and county level.  As school days faded I found myself doing National Service in the Royal Navy where I travelled around the Middle East, Europe and America.  On return to civilian life I went to college to study what I didn’t do at school.  I finally settled in a career as a design engineer in the aviation industry with GEC Avionics at Rochester (now called British Aerospace).  I was fortunate to work on many interesting military and civilian aircraft’s flight guidance systems, a sobering thought when you are sitting in your holiday jet.  My job taught me to fly and my private pilots licence is a prize possession.  Sport was never very far away and on retiring from football I took up marathon running and have completed the London Marathon on three occasions.  One particular race I entered started and finished at Wilmington Grammar School, my first return in over forty years, the place had changed beyond recognition.  I also enjoy cycling and have ridden in the London to Brighton charity ride on many occasions. I am married with two sons and have lived and worked in the Medway Towns for over 30 years and retired a couple of years ago.  In retirement I took up walking and recently completed a 260 mile walk around the Kent and Sussex borders (the Saxon Shore Way and the Wealdway for any enthusiasts).  Next year we plan to walk in the Grand Canyon.  I said earlier that the school had changed, in 1950 the old house was the class rooms and dinning rooms for about 250 boys aged 13 to 16 years old and I have a photograph of the staff and pupils from that era taken on the lawns outside the house.  Hope these ramblings are of some interest to those I went to school with some fifty years ago.


To The Editor ODWA Newsletter


Sir  What is the world coming to?  In the last newsletter was an article by a GIRL! 

I was sent to DTHS by caring parents to keep me away from GIRLS and the wise staff supported this by constantly warning us about GIRLS, and how they could get us into trouble. 

It is interesting to have one confirm that they were hell bent on trying to distract us from enjoying doing our thrilling homework.  This is probably why GIRLS are said to be outperforming boys these days.   Do you remember on the buses how they stopped us reading by talking all the time. 

They are trying to take our association over, they are not clever enough to start one of their own so they are trying to hijack ours.  Notice in recent years how they have inveigled their way into the men’s world and our clubs, they’ll be getting the vote next. 

If you have visited the Friends Reunited website you will have noticed that one poor GIRL, Gloria Brown, has placed herself onto the role for our school.  But then may be she isn’t a GIRL!

Yours  Percy Flage


Ken Rawlinson  -  1956-62

During my time at the school the metalwork class started to make a model steam engine which had not been finished by the time I left. After many attempts I did manage to make the wheel axles. I found this a trifle difficult as the axles had to be made to a precise size and then the wheels had to be heated up and shrunk on. My mate Mike Sutton had the really difficult part of making the boiler and all the pipework. The question is did this steam engine ever get finished and what happened to it - does anyone out there know ?


David Walden  -  1960-66

Hello from Canada. Could you please contact Ian Collins for me and pass on my e-mail address. This would be very much appreciated as I would like to make contact with him.

The ODWA website is great and I visit the site from time to time. Because of this website I have made several contacts. In September I had the pleasure and thrill to spend a day with Brian Freed (1960) when he came to Toronto, Canada on business. We spent a fabulous day at Niagara Falls and cast our memories back 35 to 40+ years into the past. As a result we took years off our current ages.

If Len Hollingsworth reads this, I would like to pass on my regards.

Best regards to all - keep up the good work.  Dave

Steve Preston  - 1964-71

Went to Pearl Assurance in Holborn straight from school, and moved to Peterborough in ’74. Married to Sue, from Boston Lincs, and have two boys of 20 and 18, and a 15 year old daughter. Still a staunch Man United fan and attending rock concerts on a regular basis. However, I’ve been grey for 10 years now. Would be interested to hear from any of the old crowd.


Martin Smith  -  1970-76

Imagine my delight at receiving the November newsletter, imagine my dismay at being accused by John Rawlins of punching him on his first day at school! A case of mistaken identity or John’s senility creeping on ....again. However he is right about me going out with his sister. Good job I’m not very litigious.


Desmond Hughes  -  1988-95

Pleased to see a good network developing in conjunction with worldwide technological developments. I am looking forward to attending a reunion. In particular looking forward to meeting my ex-teachers, whose life I often made difficult but who provided me with memories that always raise a smile.


Laurie Woollcott  - 1950-53

Thank you for my first newsletter which I received today. I had given up on receiving anything after calling in at the school in May 2000 and requesting any info that I could get. Only this week I was given the web address of the friendsreunited and was going to see what I could find on that site. But now I have the proper site. Very sad to see that Maggie Mountjoy passed away. I have fond memories of her teaching us American history for two years. At that time I think she was the only female teacher at the school. Memories fade with the passing years and I note that in all your letters in the newsletter everyone has the same problem. I am glad I am not the only one to suffer the indignity of not being able to put names and faces to people we spent the best part of three years together with. Now I live in Australia and have done for the past 20 years and a 4 year stint earlier in 1969. My daughter was born here and is now a teacher. I have some happy memories of my time at Dartford Tech. Then it was a much smaller school, housed in the old Wilmington Hall. I have a picture somewhere of the school which I must dig up and send to you. Kind Regards to everyone and keep up the good work.


The year of 57.

If you joined the school in 1957 then there are some additional reunions that you might like to join.

On Saturday, 11th May, 2002 before the official evening reunion some of us will be meeting from 2.00 pm onwards at the Horse and Groom at Leyton Cross.

On Sunday 8th September 2002 we will be meeting at The Foresters at 1.00 pm. If you are not on the email grapevine and want to attend the September gathering will you please contact Chris Portwine on 01322 526505 because the venue, time or date may change.

If you unable to attend reunions on a less than annual basis then earmark the following:

2004 reunion to celebrate 40 years after leaving

2007 – 50 years after joining.  

2004 was chosen as a representative year since we left over a four year period.


1975 Intake

Mark Cooper is working  to get a good attendance from his year at this years Dinner so if you are a member of the 1975 Intake and want more information, contact Mark -  micooper@arsenalfc.net




In Memorium

We have been informed of the death of former Member of Staff Colin Newberry in a Swimming Accident while on Holiday in Mallorca in August 2000.




on Saturday, 11th May, 2002


(Member of Staff 1960-1999)

will be our Guest of Honour.

There will be a Carvery Dinner and of

course a Licensed Bar.


Final details herewith.

All ages are Welcome.

Bookings on the enclosed form with payment please to:

Mr. Adrian Boyling, O.D. & W.A., 31 Roseberry Gardens, Dartford,

Kent  DA1 2NX.   email: adrian@boyling.net





If you wish to find former School friends and

get more of your own age group together do

not hesitate to contact us, as we have the

original Intake lists and facilities to

make comprehensive searches.


Visit our Website and check out the names that we have, and give us details of any you know that are not there





Your next Newsletter is due to be published in August/September but to do this I need more articles and correspondence.

Comments with regard to your memories while at the School, experiences

at previous Reunions or details of your own life since leaving will be

greatly appreciated.


Please contact Dennis Wells, 3 Millbro, Victoria Hill Road,

Hextable, Swanley Kent BR8 7LF.  email: tartwells@aol.com






Dear Old Dartechs, Wilmingtonians and Friends,


Once again I have the opportunity of writing to you as Chairman of the Old Dartechs’ & Wilmingtonians’ Association, and look forward to the chance of meeting you again, or for the first time, at this years A.G.M. and Reunion Dinner. Your Wife/Partner is welcome to attend.


Please find enclosed your copy of No. 15 of your Newsletter, which I trust you will find interesting. Should you feel able to contribute an article for the next edition it would be appreciated, see details in Newsletter.


You are invited to join us at our Annual General Meeting and 9th Annual Dinner, with our Guest, who this year is Mr. Len Hollingsworth, to be held at the School on Saturday, 11th May, 2002. We hope that the demand for tickets will be as good if not greater than previous events so please return the attached form with your payment as soon as possible. Dress to suit the occasion, i.e. not untidy.


If there is sufficient interest we will arrange a Nostalgia Tour of the School and Grounds (weather permitting) with a guide, if you wish to join this tour please confirm on the slip below.


Tickets are priced at £16.50 per person. There will be a Licensed Bar, which will open at 6.00p.m. and a variety of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will be available. The Annual General Meeting will take place at 6.30p.m. with Dinner being served at 7.30p.m. The evening will end at approximately 11.00p.m.


A Raffle will be organised with tickets at £1.00 per strip.


The Menu for the meal will be as follows:


Cream Cheese and Spinach Roulade with Salad Garnish, French Bread and Butter;


Carvery to include Roast Turkey and Cranberry Sauce,

Roast Beef and Mustard, Roast Pork and Apple Sauce,

or Vegetable Tagliatelle with Mexican Salsa (Vegetarians),

with Roast Potatoes, Flemish Style Petit Pois, Buttered Baby Carrots and Corn;


Jam Roly Poly and Custard, Lemon Meringue Pie, Caramel Apple Granny or Chocolate Challenge;


Coffee & Mints.


Please advise on this form if you require the Vegetarian Option






Dennis R. Wells (Chairman)


— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

    Please cut off and return this slip to:

Mr. Adrian Boyling, Old Dartechs’& Wilmingtonians’Association, 31 Roseberry Gardens, Dartford, Kent DA1 2NX

I would like ......... tickets @ £16.50 each for the 9th Annual Dinner on Saturday, 11th May, 2002.

Name......................................................................... Pupil/Staff at School from ...................to ...................


Address ...................................................................................................................................................…….. e-mail address ........................................................................................ Vegetarian Option required  ............. Cheque, payable to ODWA enclosed for £.................... includes donation to Association Funds.

I would like to join the Nostalgia Tour at 4.15p.m. YES  /  NO


Newsletter by email/post.    Association may publish/may not publish email address on website.