OLD DARTECH & WILMINGTONIAN
A NEWSLETTER FROM YOUR OLD SCHOOL
NUMBER 16 OCTOBER 2002
Rigg 1957 - 62
One of my most enduring memories of DTHS was the
journey there and back; buses being infrequent and crowded, I very often got
home not much before 6 p.m. Not only did school finish at ten past four [for
some mysterious reason, those who left the “other way” via Leyton Cross left
a full 15 minutes earlier] but there was then an invigorating run to Wilmington
bus stop, the only occasion when I participated in sport with any relish, and
then the queue and endless wait for a bus that wasn’t already so crowded that
it passed without even stopping. Bus-conductors, fresh from the brutality of the
Korean war or Suez, imbued with heartless inhumanity to the lesser of their
kind, rarely showed any forbearance towards we short-trousered wretches, who,
despite our obvious piteous state and very cold red knees, were counted on
meticulously until the magic number five-standing-only had been reached. To
compound our misery, our travel passes were interpreted as strictly as legal
documents. A pass to Orpington meant that far and no less. Buses to Crockenhill
were twice as numerous as those to Orpington but to change at Crockenhill
constituted a contravention of traffic regulations which was only rarely
Otherwise, the journey was not unpleasant, long
enough to check your homework, or, in the case of Trevor Housago, long enough to
write it from scratch on some occasions. I can still see him, fountain pen in
fist and with a dexterity and deftness of hand that meant that his script was
indistinguishable from work that I had painstakingly completed at home,
composing or copying screeds of text, despite the bumps, pot-holes, bends and
swerves that the bus inevitably had to negotiate - he knew them all too well.
The favourite seat was the back-seat upstairs; getting this required either
extraordinary luck or studied and persistent manoeuvring from less favoured
positions forward. To sit there conferred on the proud occupant an importance
and status that compensated somewhat for the otherwise inferiority of his
position. Well, it was comfortable, had arm-rests but most importantly and
bizarrely it was sought after!
The best day, though, was when, once fortnightly, we
had woodwork! This was practically akin to being AWOL. First, the excitement of
getting a special bus ticket from the school office, then leaving school at
midday long before everyone else, and, on my part at least, going to a lesson I
really enjoyed. If this wasn’t enough, there was then the supreme pleasure of
getting on a near empty bus in Dartford town centre and skipping the dreaded
queue at Wilmington.
No wonder, that, come the infamous Autumn bus strike
of 1957 which lasted several weeks, I was forced to adopt a more rigorous form
of transportation, the bicycle, which, in turn, imposed other hardships on we
hard-pressed students. We had text-books then, (imagine!), ring-binders,
(several), and P.E. kit that was always subjected to military scrutiny. It was
scarcely possible to fit all this into one bag, let alone then strap it to a
two-wheeler. Anyone seeing me riding to school on P.E. days might have assumed
that I was a young recruit minus his fatigues. Prevailing winds took me
relatively effortlessly across the rolling Downs in the morning but the howling
gales that met me on the way home on the [then] open stretch of land between
Wilmington and Hextable would have crushed many a man of sterner stuff than me.
My steed, a sturdy Sturmey Archer hub-gear Raleigh, was not built for getting me
there and back quickly, in an age when light-weight alloys were reserved for
sputniks not push-bikes .........
Who else, I wonder, remembers the hardships we
endured then ............... ?
My family moving to the Midlands meant I had to leave
after a couple of years but I always remember Dartford Tech with a great deal of
affection. So sorry to learn that “Maggie” Mountjoy has died. I am pleased
to see so many names from my year on the database and would be pleased to hear
from any of them - though since I was only there for two years most of them will
have forgotten me !!
The news of Ivor Jenkins passing saddened me a great
deal. For me, along with Mike Wesson, Maggie, Percy, Jesse James, Ivor was one
of a band of teachers for whom there was almost universal respect from lower
school pupils to the sixth formers. My father was the same age and attended the
same primary school as Ivor. They were reacquainted during my time at the school
and in particular on Saturday mornings when Ivor, almost without fail, turned
out to referee one of the soccer games. Ironically, my two youngest daughters
– twins, are in their first year at the girls school’ up the hill’, where
Mike Wesson still fills in as a relief teacher from time to time. One evening,
one of my daughters came home, and said Mike had announced during a lesson that
he was writing an article on a dear friend he had recently lost. I assume that
this was Mike’s contribution that appeared in the latest newsletter. Make no
mistake, Ivor was one of the best. He had the ability to make the lessons both
productive and enjoyable and at the same time maintain a high level of
discipline if anyone decided to get out of line. You didn’t mess with the
‘big fella’! I am sure if statistics were available, Ivor’s track record
in terms of success rate at GCSE, or in my day GCE’s, would be very high
indeed. He had a knack of creating an environment where most pupils wanted to
learn and make a contribution to the lesson. This was also true of those
teachers I mentioned earlier, although with Percy there was always the threat of
the ‘wack’ that drove pupils on to greater and higher achievements!!
Although Ivor was not officially part of the sporting staff he was always very
keen to involve himself with the various School teams. I shall always remember
him refereeing one very tense cup tie where the opposing team constantly refused
to move their wall ten yards back from the kick. Ivor soon grew tired of this
behavior and announced that he was applying rugby rules whereby the kick would
be moved nearer the goal every time they argued. It didn’t exactly endear him
to the opposition prompting cry’s of yet more protest about changing the rules
but they soon complied once Ivor drew himself up to his full height and marched
menacingly towards their wall. Incidentally, I think we still lost the tie!! A
sad loss of a good kind hearted man and first rate teacher.
Whiteland - 1953-56 (3-5Ag.)
greetings to all the old boys of ‘53, especially the Ag boys, from here in
Ikaalinen, Finland where I have been living since 1995.
Wow! You can’t imagine how I felt at getting an e-mail from Dennis
Wells, and being in touch with a fellow Dartford Tech man! The screen got quite
misty reading the Newsletter No.15 where I saw John Tremain’s name the one who gave me my nickname of Fred) and I have enjoyed
immensely reading some of the previous ones especially ‘down on the farm’ by
Roger Hodge and about the bottles of milk, I still drink quite a lot (skimmed of
course). I had often thought about the old school (as one does as the years
pass) but didn’t know how to get in touch until I heard about Friends
Reunited. Names I recall are Peter Tyrell, Douglas Barden, Giles Killick (head
prefect in 1957?) and Roger Hodge, I must admit to recalling the surnames more
easily than the firsts! One question for all the Ag boys: I seem to remember
that we were supposed to go onto Wye College after leaving.
Did anybody go?
me, life at school had some relevance in later life.
Even running all the way to and from the school to the bus stop bred in
me a love of running, although now at my age that’s a breathtaking luxury I
can only afford sparingly, although I did a few Malawi half marathons in the mid
‘90’s. In the Ag group we learnt quite a lot about what are now considered
very trendy eco-friendly organically produced life styles, just a feeling mind
you, don’t ask for specifics! Don’t forget our poultry were free range/deep
litter, and the manure for the allotment? But
the symbiosis of the garden pond from Daphnia to Crested Newt fascinated me then
and now (I breed tadpoles in my old bath/water butt every year and my daughter
has the mosquito larvae for her aquarium) and was a model for our wild planet.
Hodge (Ag ‘53) reminded us of the egg candling (and I would add to this the
instructions in sexing one day old chicks that Jack taught us) and eggs came to
play a significant role in my early years at work and I recall being able to
examine a tray of 30 in around 15 seconds when in my twenties.
Many vaccines were/are made in the living egg embryo and I dealt with
thousands of them. I also remember
the physics of egg washing with the temperature 3 degrees above storage
temperature, (was it 18ºC ?), to prevent absorption of disinfectant. I also
remember travelling to school for feeding duties at the weekends by bike, which
seemed like a tour de France at that tender age.
we all remember the eclipse of the sun in 1954?
How we coated pieces of glass with carbon soot by holding them over a
Bunsen burner with the air hole closed? I
well remember one of the teachers (was it Mr Austin?), set up a frame with black
cloth and a telescope poking through at the sun and many of us at a time could
all watch the image on the floor outside the Physics/Biology block as the moon
slowly moved across, very impressive. Now
that was a physics demo.! We
were sternly warned against looking through the telescope directly by the threat
of instant blindness, but I did have a sneaking urge!.
It was a hot thirsty day,- and THAT reminds me of
another story, of torment and torture: The water in the drinking fountains was
perversely at very low pressure in the summer months, and with only one working
unit for what seemed a thousand thirsty boys, some sort of rationing was needed.
Two large prefects would stand either side enjoying their moment of
ultimate power, and you got 5 seconds sucking time if you were lucky,
followed by a cuff on the ear when your turn was over.
I was often totally parched in the afternoons and I wonder why we
didn’t drink water from the hand basin taps.
Of course one of the most pleasantly memorable
moments was of dear Maggie. No, not while teaching, but of the dancing lessons
she gave! I remember her teaching
the waltz to the chosen ones (us) and taking my turn to be gently clasped and
transported nervously, but unfortunately briefly, all the way on the three steps
to Heaven. It was partly thanks to
her that I learnt to dance the old fashioned way, skills without which I would
never have landed up in Finland with a Finnish wife, (a story too long and
tangled for inclusion here but involved Vietnam and the Hash House Harriers
If I may, I’ll include a brief history of my
working life (no, not at Wye College!). While at the Tech. I travelled from
Chelsfield by train and the double decker 477 (upstairs back seats of course!)
from Orpington station to Wilmington, collecting a few boys on the way (does
anybody remember?). After leaving
in ‘56 I worked at the Wellcome
Res. Labs. Beckenham and did more GCE O levels and The Institute of Science
Technology exams part time at Bromley Tech. (now Bromley College of Technology).
In 1965 I left Wellcome and embarked on a lifetime of
overseas development aid work in Veterinary Diagnostics and Vaccine production,
first with the UK ODA and then the FAO of United Nations.
Starting for 5 years in Kenya I moved to the Middle East (Egypt and
Lebanon), then Turkey (in 1973), Syria, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Vietnam
(twice), before ending up in Botswana (1986) and then Malawi (as Vaccine
Production Manager) where our two half Finnish children (now 13 and 12) were
born. I was also a consultant in Manila, Swaziland, and Iraq (1982)
where I may have inadvertently taught a few things I now wished I hadn’t). I
only came back to England for 2-3 weeks per year except in 1983 when I was a few
months in Pirbright working on Foot
and Mouth Disease and Rinderpest. The decision to settle in Finland was easy
after all that travelling and I
found myself at 60, (the retiring age from UN), and my technological expertise
pretty much outdated! I now look
after my young family and working wife, and muse about the good old days of yore
while teaching a bit of science/nature orientated English to adult Finns! I have
on the way learnt to cross country ski, and skate, although so far just watch
enviously as my kids snowboard and jumping down the local slopes.
I don’t often get to England but came
in May 2002 for a very short visit!!!
I could not fit in the reunion dinner which unfortunately clashed with a
40th wedding celebration, or to visit Roger Hodge. I have already given my
details for the database via the web site and would be really interested
in contacting anyone from my old AG class. Although I see that there are 5 names
now, not bad for a class of 24 or so some 46 years ago. Having no e-mail at home
I use my wife’s office address. My thanks to Dennis again and I look forward
to many trips down memory lane. Best
Hilsden - 1972-77
for your email regarding Colin Newbury. I didn’t realise that he had passed
away. For me he was the teacher that was most important. After listening to the
horror stories read by Mr. Kingsford for three years during music lessons Mr.
Newbury was a breath of fresh air for the last two years while at school.
He actually taught music and opened my eyes to pop and rock music as well as classical music. After leaving school I went on to study music and composition at Goldsmiths College and even wrote a few orchestral scores. Since then life has taken a few twists and turns and today I work as a freelance professional illustrator mainly concentrating on architectural illustration and even though John Daley was my form teacher, I didn’t really learn from him and choose to study music during my third year, that much or was even that interested till I reached the grand age of thirty. Please keep up the good work and thank you again for your email and putting to rest any thoughts that I had about personally meeting him and thanking Colin for his advice.
Well, where to start? I don’t really know why
I’ve picked now to write to this site, perhaps the sudden realisation that it
will be 20 years since I left that has sparked the nostalgia in me. I’ve been
aware of this news letter for some time and although not exactly excited about
it, more casually interested, I’ve read every one Dennis Wells has been kind
enough to pass on via my Mother. Reading one a while ago a letter from Angus
Gilbert (classmate) seemed almost dissatisfied with his schoolday memories.
I’ve personally kept in touch with two old school mates to the degree I would
call them life long friends. Glen Wade and Matt King, both are doing very well
for themselves as am I, and like me look back on our school days with great
fondness. My memory seems only to contain the good times, even though age has
managed to bring a degree of guilt never felt at the time. I vividly remember
Angus loosing his luggage on that Brugge trip, as too Barry Wright (another
contributer) the fastest if not the shortest rugby winger ever! After 20 years I
suppose I should at least say “thank you Barry” for all those geography
homeworks I copied and also to any of the teachers who tried against my best
efforts to educate me.....SORRY!!! Age has given me the ability to look back at
some of those teachers Mr Williams (physics), Sandy Message (TD) and of course
Wally James our form teacher, the only one brave enough to take us off the
honeymonster’s hands, and appreciate that they DID give above and beyond and
how woefully we appreciated it at the time. I can still see everybodies face
(even if the names are fading) and would be interested to see what has become of
my other classmates. I’ve run into Duncan Box and Jason Haskins, who like me,
are happy getting on with life, neither making millions or living in the gutter.
I wonder how much we have all changed? I myself haven’t changed at all (I’m
sure Glen & Matt would say) I’m older, WIDER but probably still just as
irresponsible. My twin daughters providing, instead of a calming effect, an
excuse to act even dafter than ever. Matt is now living in Hastings as a driving
instructor, Glen is doing very well indeed working as an area manager for a
global communications company. One thing this small sampling suggests is that we
have all done wildly different things with our lives. Many I’m sure will have
made use of the education we all recieved, many meandering to our current
position. I also wonder if leaving in 1982, virtually the height of mass
unemployment, has had any effect on the routes we have taken? Hopefully my
continued reading of this newsletter will provide some interesting answers.
Hopefully my classmates are all like myself 20 years older and still happy with
the way things have turned out. Above all I hope many share with me in that they
have some very pleasant memories to look back on. Phil :-) p.s Please DO NOT
show this to an English teacher, its far too late to correct my English now!
If headmaster L.V. ‘Chalky’ Wall were with us
today, he would probably comment that what follows is “music to my ears”
albeit not what I thought this idiot would aspire to in life
As all those of you who were in the ‘B’ stream
during the 50’s will unequivocally testify, my academic achievements while at
Dartford Tech.were not worthy of comment. With the exception of sport, I found
the whole experience uninspiring, de-motivating and in a nutshell… a bit of a
waste of time really! I suppose I
did have the ignominious honour of being the very first boy that ‘Chalky’
caned in the school but that was only because myself and Hemple were
‘shopped’ by McKenzie for letting off a firework, or so rumour has it! Other
than sport, the only other positive memories I have of the school are the
friendships…..Dave French, Adrian Hatley, Mike Mew, Pete Wright etc and the
record club. In 1956, during the lunch breaks we formed a record club at the
school and I distinctly remember a number of us pooling our meagre resources to
buy such 50’s greats as Why do fools fall in love by
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, All Shook Up by Elvis
Presley, Good Golly Miss Molly - Little Richard, Diana
- Paul Anka, Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis and Cumberland
Gap by Lonnie Donegan, just to name a few. Sad really to think
that five years of my life at Wilmington Hall were best summed up by Tommy
Steele’s …..Singing the blues! (however, it was 1959
when I left and Craig Douglas did remind me
I was Only sixteen with my whole life ahead of me).
At that time Keith Richard my classmate, was learning to play guitar……if
only he’d worked harder at his lessons he really could have gone places!!!
I suppose on leaving school in 1959 my parents must
have been listening to ‘Chalky’ (and Connie Francis) because they all kept
asking me the same question… Who’s Sorry Now?
Had I not been prompted by my very first boss to go
back and re-take those failed GCE’s, I might still be truly sorry today.
However, he encouraged me to go to Bromley College for a couple of years and
hey-presto, a fistful of GCE’s and the National Diploma in Business Studies to
boot. It’s what Helen Shapiro likened to Walkin’ Back to Happiness,
the year 1961.
Success at last – the one thing ‘Chalky’ Wall
said would elude me for life. I was delighted, Perry Como referred to MagicMoments
but Lord Rockingham’s Hoots
Mon probably said it better. So, armed with new found confidence,
enthusiasm and a few academic credentials it really was then a case of answering
Adam Faith’s question What do you want?. I had always
liked the idea of travel and Summer Holiday a big hit for Cliff
that year helped conjure up a dream.
The dream then was to travel, so I joined the oil
exploration arm of Texas Instruments as a trainee accountant, based in Croydon.
We are now in 1965 and after a short time with TI, my boss asked me to go
overseas. I suppose Go Now by the Moody Blues in that year
was somewhat appropriate, as was Get Away by Georgie Fame.
So in 1966 I found myself in North Africa working with exploration crews in the
Sahara desert searching for oil. Funny place the desert, I suppose the Tremeloes
came closest to describing it with Silence is Golden. It
certainly did not fit Ahmen Corner’s description If Paradise is half as
nice because during our three year tour of duty there, we had the Seven
Day War and also the military coup which put Ghadaffi in power…. a real
bloodbath that never reached the world’s newspapers because the army cut off
all communication, airports etc for a month. It was a tough three years but
earned me a promotion to Financial Controller and relocation to Singapore. Lee
Marvin sang Wanderin’ Star and I guess that was me! It was 1970
and I certainly was wandering (although ‘star’ is a bit OTT me thinks!)
I loved Singapore, a rare combination of tropical
climate, Eastern culture, multi-racial harmony and a nightlife to die for. I
think Dana summed it up with All kind of everything!
Rugby, golf and chasing girls filled in all the hours we were not working. In
1972 T-Rex were telling us to Get it on and I did just that,
getting married that year to Gillian, an English fashion model visiting her
parents. In that same year Slade released Take me back ‘ome but
for us it was not home but to the company’s head office in Dallas, Texas.
We spent six years in the States. In 1976 Johnny
Mathis had a number one hit with A Child is Born, and so
did we. Jason, our first son was born an American citizen in March 1976.
Having studied at SMU for three years, in 1979 I got
a Masters Degree in Business Studies just to prove to ol’ Chalky that I
wasn’t the stupid, half-baked ignoramus he always kept encouraging me to
believe I was. When motivated to achieve, I actually did it……and with
In the same year that I graduated, I didn’t exactly
Get a message in a bottle from the Police, but I was asked
by the top brass at TI to join an international cast and return to the UK and
help turn around the semi-conductor plant in Bedford. The factory was losing
money and if it could not be turned around, would be closed with the loss of
4000 jobs. Use it up and wear it out by Odyssey summed up
how exhausted we all felt after three very tough years, but we succeeded
in making the business profitable. We did it, and the company (like Abba)
decreed The Winner Takes it all and the top team were offered the choice of some very good
jobs worldwide. So, in 1981 I became Vice-President of our European operation
head-quartered in Nice where I spent five very enjoyable years (In 1980 by the
way, my second son Rory was born.)
My European VP role in Nice necessitated constant
travel all over Europe and I became a real nomad. I remember in 1983 Paul Young
singing Wherever I lay my hat that’s my home and I
knew exactly what he meant. In 1985 John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John were
singing up a storm with You’re the one that I want when
coincidentally I was pursued by Mohamed Al Fayed to join the Board of his
recently acquired House of Fraser Group. In that year I’m your Man
by Wham was top of the charts, and with a 200% salary increase on offer to make
the move, I guess there was no doubt in my mind, I was their man!
I have to say it was not the easiest five years of my
life working for the Fayeds, but I did get to meet a lot of interesting
‘shoppers’ The Queen, Prince
Charles, Princess Diana, Duchess of York, Pres. Chirac, Liz Taylor, Joan
Collins, Charlton Heston, Sean Connery, Michael Cain, Cliff Richard, Joanna
Lumley, Sir Richard Attenborough, Jason Donovan, Kylie etc etc. All you needed
was the key to the VIP toilets (just kidding!). I was decidedly under whelmed by
them all and cannot understand why we are such a star struck nation. Anyway, the
Monty Python team were crooning Always look on the bright side of life,
so that’s what I did.
In 1991 Should
I stay or should I go was a
hit for Clash, and it was very timely. After a major falling out with Fayed, I
took the helm at Bunzl and was lucky enough to manage profits up by 300% in two
years, which then resulted in my being invited in 1993 to join the Board, pull
together a team and try to turn around Gateway Foodmarkets. Everything
changes by Take That and Things can only get better by D
Ream were very appropriate songs from 1994.
As the Americans would say ‘we busted our balls’
for four years, turned profits around from zero in ’93 to £125 million three
years later, and floated the company on the stock market. I left on flotation
and despite a lot of lucrative offers, wanted to get away from Corporate life
and re-charge my batteries.
In 1996 I officially retired – bruised, knackered
and in need of a rest, but with a few ruples in my pocket with which to enjoy
life. Unfortunately my retirement lasted all of six months before I got itchy
feet and started up several ventures; a consultancy business, a property
company, two golf courses and a serviced office company. Was I a workaholic?
Maybe the record of the year I believe I can fly by R Kelly
epitomised my state of mind, I knew I had a lot of energy and a wealth of
experience, so why not put it to good use?
I play a mean game of golf and do follow Bath Rugby
FC, England and the Lyons rugby teams wherever they play. In the last few years
I regrettably got divorced after 26 years of marriage, but have found a new
I expect ‘Chalky’ is turning in his grave, as are
all those sceptics who wrote such nice things in my school reports; Percy Black
(“you have frittered away any chance of success you may have had”), Aitkins
(“you have the concentration span of an ant”), Amess (“a great
disappointment, your years of frivolity will cost you dearly”), Austin
(“although you may intend to do well, the proximity of hard work is still
repugnant”), Bates (“Work satisfactory, conduct exhibitionist”)……..and
last but by no means least Mountjoy (“Oral work in need of improvement”).
From 1953 to 2002 she was the only woman who ever complained about my oral work
In summary, it has been a good life. Recent records
like Breathless by Coors or Life is a rollercoaster by
Ronan Keating, both released in 2000 perhaps come closest to describing it all,
although ‘Chalky’ would probably choose Against all odds by Mariah Carey and Westlife. As for me….provided it’s not
Help the aged by Pulp, I do not mind!
Letter to the Editor OD & WA Newsletter
the GIRL who dared to write an article for your BOYS’ newsletter, (No. 14) I
cannot let this slur, this calumny against my gender go undefended.
I refer of course to the letter from ‘Percy Flage’ (No 15).
Oh Percy dear, with a name like yours, is it any wonder you’re such an
old curmudgeon? But the OED
provides the clue doesn’t it Percy? Percy
Flage? – Humbug. You don’t fool me Percy*.
Yet I digress -
as one of those GIRLS from whom your parents tried to protect you during your
tender years, methinks I espy a scintilla of regret peeping through your
apoplectic prose. Jealous Percy?
You are aren’t you? Just
have a read of my article again, if you can bear it, and then turn to Frank
According to Frank Pearson (‘The Old Canteen’
Newsletter 15) it would seem that Bob Crighton was something of a lothario. (Not
sure I like that plural Frank, as in, ‘scored with the ladies’ but
I’ll let it go…. for now) Crighton
a cherub? Perleeease. As for his
football skills, be careful you don’t ignite the ire of the rest of the team;
he was more often in goal than a striker. He was even ticked off one Saturday game when I turned up and
draped myself round the goalposts thus putting him off and nearly letting the
other team score. I was told to leave the pitch by the irate teacher in charge.
Outrageous. Bet they
wouldn’t do that to ‘Posh’.
So be careful Frank, your attempts to butter up the
boss are looking decidedly transparent from here (Bob interviewed Frank and he
now works in the same software company).
Re the English
issue. True, I used ‘presently’
when I could have used ‘currently’ but I was in that sort of mood Frank.
Know what I mean? - When the mind says, ‘Oh hang it all, I’ll just
write some old rubbish and let it go.’ We’ve
all done it.
And now back to dear old ‘Percy’. The
laugh of course is that if you’re reading this then I’ll have done it again.
I’ll have inveigled myself onto your BOYS’ newsletter and annoyed
you. Oh and by the way, do try to
improve your spelling old chap; there is a difference between role and roll.
Finally, ‘Sam’ Austin and his comment on my use
of ‘mischievous hyperbole’. The class of 56-61/63 ish, I can assure you, the
same ‘august body of gentlemen’
as always after their impeccable behaviour (with one notable exception!)
at the Annual Reunion Dinner on May 11th. Well I certainly
NB: * ‘Per-si-flage’ (n), light teasing banter
– frivolous conversation style or treatment;
friendly teasing. [C18;
via French from persifler, to tease.] OK
Pity you didn’t reveal your identity on May 11th .
Another time perhaps.
Carter 1938 - 1940
see in the Feb 02 Newsletter that a young shaver is on about a girl writing an
article, so what’s wrong in that. When I entered Dartech, Essex Road in 1938
girls were pupils there.
did a Commercial Course, while we did the Technical. We did not mix class wise,
but passed on the stairs at the change of periods. The first two periods on
Friday were in the Gymnasium in Lowfield Street. The girls gym was up on the
first floor, and the boys on the ground floor. The object of the exercise was to
see who could creep up the stairs to the girls gym. No one ever made it. Today
we would call it radar, but in those days masters and mistresses had eyes in
their ‘bums’, but boys creeping up very often passed a girl creeping down,
so honours were even. When the war broke out in 1939 the girls were moved out
and I think they went to the Girls Tech. in Townley Road, Bexleyheath, and so we
lost our bit of glamour.
other thing is about the milk issue. Milk in my day cost one halfpenny (½d) old
money per day, 2½d per week (approx 1p today). We did not get our ration, as we
were to busy running back and forth between Essex Road and Lowfield Street. Some
boys also paid School fees. Depending on your Fathers income, you paid fees on a
sliding scale, some of us had a free Scholarship and did not pay. We also had to
buy all text and exercise books, in fact we paid for everything.
were good happy days until the War came along and we went away, but thats
Carne 1955 - 1959
I was thinking back to my days at the tech. trying to
remember names and put faces to the names and this is what I have come up with:-
Keith Betts - he of the flying saucers & space travel (remember the
“Willit” rocket we designed?) Chas Knott with his multi geared cycle, 32 if
I remember rightly, Jerry Finch, car designer & goon impersonator supreme,
ffitch (sorry can’t remember first name, Dave I think, Joe Carr, School
Captain 1959, Pickering, deputy Captain, Dennis Wells & the mystery of the
masters bike at the top of the tree on the last day of term 1959?, and many
others. It would be nice to hear from them again particularly Keith & Chas.
living in Peterborough with wife Sue, sons aged 20 and 19, and daughter 16.
I’d love to hear from any of the old crowd - drop me a line with a little news
and I’ll do the same back. Grey hair with a bald spot appearing, the bags
under my eyes are bigger than ever, and boy have I got fat - but otherwise I
haven’t changed a bit!!!
(Fred) Whiteland 1953 - 1956
on all you Ag boys where are you? How many are still in Agriculture? Double
digging in the canteen garden was good for the muscles, so Jack ‘o bow legs
might have said. I married a Finnish girl I met in vietnam and moved here in
1995. Not often in the UK I am coming in May for a couple of weeks so get in
J Vincett 1955-1960
I send my best wishes for 11th, and trust that you all will have a great reunion
(and AGM of course). Please pass on my regards to any ex pupils attending who
might remember me from the 1955-1960 era. Equally, to any members of staff of
the same period.
have found the newsletter most interesting and amusing. I particularly liked the
article by the “Technical Drawing” master, (“Sam” Austen), “he who
used to sell cigarette cards”!
if I get my act together in time, I shall make the reunion next year. Thanks for all your efforts.
John Stevens 1958-1963
Thank you for the newsletters you have been sending.
It is wonderful to hear the recollections of all the old boys some of whom I
knew and there are others I am not familiar with but we all share the same bond.
I am sorry that I shall miss the dinner especially as
Len Hollingsworth is to be your Guest of Honour as he has been out to NZ to stay
with a relative and we met for a good long chat.
Please remember me to him.
I have only just got on the net and this week visited
the odwa web site through which I made contact with Barry Bower a good friend
for many years. I was back in UK in
January but a flying visit with little time for contacting any but the family.
I came to NZ in 1971, so more here than there now. I
am a Quantity Surveyor, being an Associate of the Institute here in NZ and have
worked in the building industry all my life.
I am married with three children and a lovely wife and we live in
Auckland. I was 58-63, going from there to Erith College to do a Diploma in
Building followed by Professional exams, then love dragged me to the Antipodes
but that as they say is another story.
My on - going passions are History and Genealogy, and
collecting antique woodworking tools, sound like a boring old f— but I don’t
think I am. I will close now, hope
things go well for Saturday and that lots of other boring old f— can be
(Barney) Taylor 1968-1970
I went to Dartford Tech in 1968 and left in 1970 aged
17 (I did two years of “O” levels, got three the first year and 5 the second
and then left. Names I remember are Gerard Smith, Clive Tulip, “Nosher”
Brown, Derek “Woody” Woodward, “Benno” Richardson, Steve Driscoll. I
also remember this little guy who could beat everyone at cross country, but
don’t remember his name. There was a physics teacher there we knew as Percy
(not to his face). I came to the School from a Grammar School in Tunbridge Wells
and was surprised at how laid back things were, having had a much more serious
homework regime. The Geography teacher was a youngish bloke who had a picture of
Marianne Faithful on the wall. Anyway I moved around a fair bit after leaving
School. I got married just last year (for the first time aged 48!) My wife and I
had been friends for the previous 20 years. I am Sales Manager at a Small
Builders Merchant and live in Birmingham. I was only at the School a short time
and probably not well remembered. If anyone does remember me which is possibly
not that likely, it would be nice to hear from them.
Somehow managed to find myself as Head Boy during my
time at WGSB - I’m sure that the prefect strike and resulting lunchtime chaos
was nothing to do with me - Mr Traves might remember it differently, but I’m
sure it all started with a water fight and him going over on his . . .
Does anyone remember Narna? I’m now living on the
Gold Coast in Australia, married with 3 boys: aged 22, 19 and 17. Thankfully
they are doing a lot better than I did at Dartford Tech. It helps being married
to a teacher. I still keep in touch with Graham Carter, and would like to thank
him for registering my name on your mailing list. I look forward to receiving
the newsletters. Must go now, Arsenal is just about to kick off!
Metcalfe (Staff) 1974-1978
It was very good to be back at ‘Dartford tech’
last night for the reunion dinner, to be shown over the school by Judith Hogg
and to see what was still the same and how other things had changed too. Both my
husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the occasion - an opportunity to meet up with
some old staff, friends and pupils too who remembered me! I now teach in Bedford
and have been in several schools since I left the tech in 1978 but have many
fond memories of four great years spent there at the start of my teaching
career. The first term was certainly challenging but I settled in and with the
support of more senior colleagues, especially Mr. Black I soon felt quite at
home. My thanks again to all responsible for a grand occasion last night!
I recently received a copy of the ODWA newsletter,
and inside, I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of Mr. Jenkins. He,
like another favorite teacher of mine, Mr. Boxall, helped make my days at
Wilmington Grammar School some of the happiest and most memorable of my life and
both men will be sorely missed.
I always thought I’d be writing to this newsletter
one day, and say how I was getting on, but what I’d like to do instead is
share a few of my favorite recollections and memories of these two big fellas,
big in size and big in heart.
Mr. Jenkins was my woodwork teacher and he helped me
create no end of wooden marvels, a small trinket box, a tiled place mat, a
dartboard case and yes, a coffee table that still sits proudly in my parents
home. I also remember that Mr. Jenkins never stopped encouraging me in my
efforts to play for the A side football team, and although I never got beyond
playing as the regular A side substitute, his encouragement did help me receive
a short lived stint (1 game in fact) as the B side captain. It meant a lot to
Now Mr. Boxall as my geography teacher always wrote
on my report card, that my poor exam grades never matched the potential that he
saw in me. Kind words in deed, so much so that I was more worried that I’d
disappointed him than myself when I only managed a ‘D’ in my GCSE’s. He
like Mr. Jenkins really made you feel that they wanted to see you do well and
that kind of teaching was priceless.
Fox and Geese on Friday nights was great fun, running
around on the beams, climbing the ropes, and hanging off the walls. We’d
bounce around on the Trampoline, play some badminton and then of course we’d
have the Floor Hockey face off. Sticks were waving everywhere, reminiscent of
“St. Trinians”, and several bumps and bruises were created, but no
concussions to my knowledge. The pure fact that they, and many other teachers
gave up there time for us kids to enjoy ourselves outside of the school hours
was always admirable and very much appreciated.
My best memories though of both these men are funnily
enough, not those of time spent in school but instead, it is the 2 Thames trips
and the 2 Mountaineering trips I spent with them during my summer holidays which
will remain some of the best childhood adventures I ever had.
On the Thames trips, each morning we were awoken with
the banging of pots and pans and the warning cry “wakey …. wakey”. If this
warning cry was not enough to rouse you from your sleep, you would find yourself
hauled out, still within your sleeping bag, onto a wet deck on a cold misty
morning. Not surprisingly, the following morning you had no trouble waking.
Revenge though came at dinner, when a strategically placed lid on a bottle of
Tomato Ketchup, meant that both Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Boxall were left with red
faces. Each evening would be comprised of several games of flashlight tag, a
bedtime snack, and then off to our sleeping bags.
The best thing however, about the whole trip was the
cooperation of everyone aboard especially during the times, when we reached one
of the many locks along the way. We pulled up, tied off, opened then closed the
lock gates, let in or let out the water, the boat sinks or rises, then when the
waters level we open the gates and jump back on. We were a well-oiled machine,
except for the times of course when we miscalculated our jump to the river bank
and ended up taking an early swim. But without knowing it, I was learning stuff,
from both of them, and they made it seem so easy.
I also went on 2 Mountaineering trips with Mr. Boxall
and Mr. Wesson and loved the challenge of it all. It was cold and wet, and often
smelly, we hid inappropriate reading material under the stairs, we repelled down
deep treacherous gorges, hiked for miles, camped out at night, and cooked soggy
mash and peas on tiny stoves.
Most exciting of all though, was climbing Mt. Snowdon
We hiked through
steep mountain passes that fortunately for us were foggy, and that way we could
never tell how far we might fall. But we all took it in our stride and just
followed the shadow of the big fella up ahead, leading the way for all of us.
And that is the way I will remember them both, the
big fellas up at the front, who you knew to listen to and to follow, because you
could tell that they truly cared.
I just hope that they both realized, that we all
truly cared too.
To all the teachers who remember me, … I remember
you too, and I thank you.
Warman 1942 - 1944
Thank you for Newsletter No. 15 together with the
invitation to the Reunion in May.
As I am a Cricket Umpire on the Kent League Panel all
of my Saturdays are taken up from the beginning of May until September,
depending where I am officiating I may not get home until about 10pm. I must
therefore decline the kind invitation, but wish you all a very pleasant and
With reference to Newsletter No. 6 - a letter from
Rhoda, page 1 para 5, I still have my slide rule which I purchased from Rhoda
over the counter. I think I paid 4/6d (22½p) (perhaps she gave me a discount).
Peter Hair was our form (T.1.B & T.2.B.) prefect.
He always sat at the front of the class for history lessons with Miss Williams
(later Mrs. Mountjoy), I wonder why?
on the wind. Derek Window. 1950-1953
I have just read my first newsletter from my old
school. Interesting stuff. Blokes who became rocket scientists, General
managers, Chairmen of the Board’s. (Is that correct? I notice that someone was
complaining about spelling and Grammar!) Well,
I get the impression that everyone did very well!
The fact is; not everyone did well. Someone, namely
me, did less than well. Mediocre is probably the right word.
The title of this little piece is actually very true.
The electricity that is powering this computer comes from a 200watt wind
generator that is whistling around on a pole on a hill just behind my shed. I
cannot afford to have the electricity put on.
The computer I am using to write this came from a
lightning strike that blew up my old one. Am I confusing you? I
Last year I was given an old computer. 8meg of ram, 1
gig of hard drive. I would switch
it on and then make a cup of tea while Windows 95 booted up. It was a little
Then, three months ago, God took pity on me and sent
a bolt of lightning that destroyed the poor old thing. On examining my Home and
Contents Policy I found that I was eligible for a new one. So here I am, with
128meg of ram and 20 gig of hard drive.
I use the above story to illustrate that hard work
and dedication are not always necessary to swan through life. Luck plays a big
For me, bad luck played its part when I was eleven
years old and attending Westwood secondary school. I started to go deaf. Every morning I accompanied my mother
to Shooters Hill Memorial Hospital where student doctors took turns in peering
in my ears before squirting powder into them with a puffer. The powder then set
like concrete and the deafness got worse. Also, the first four periods each
morning at school comprised of Math’s and English. These lessons were
therefore, lost to me as I was on a no. 89 bus.
Prior to the onset of deafness I was a good student.
Always up in the top three places.
So I drifted to the back of the class. No teacher
bothered with the ones at the back. No questions were asked and I dreamed along
whilst watching the groundsman through the window.
Three years passed. Then came the Technical exam. A
written one. And dopey Derek passed
without an oral. The Staff were horrified! ‘Who did he cheat from?’ The only
other boy who passed without an oral was John Larkin, and he sat on the other
side of the classroom.
Off I went to Dartford Tech. I started the first term
in the ‘A’ class and the second term in the ‘C’ class.
Mrs. Mountjoy was firmly of the opinion that I should be sent back to
Westwood to let a more deserving boy have my place.
Black told my mother on open day that I would probably be a good student if I
ever attended his class. He had completely failed to notice me hiding up the
back behind the Bunsen burners. I spent so much time in the headmaster’s
office that I had my own chair. Nobody realized that I lip-read. They thought
that my attentive stare was some sort of ploy.
hung on for the three years and carefully destroyed all my school reports.
Taking them to a prospective employer would be sure-fire way of getting chucked
out into the street. So, making
full use of the prestigious name of Dartford Technical College I obtained an
apprenticeship at Frazer and Chalmers in Erith, as an Apprentice electrician.
fifty years on, my wife and I have
three children and ten grandchildren. I wear two hearing aids and own a 500 acre
wildlife preserve. My nearest neighbor is two miles away and the cost of running
electricity over the mountain that separates us would beggar the national debt.
If the Sun comes out today, I shall make more electricity. Hopefully, enough to
get on the net and send this.
PS. Frank Pearson, please don’t knock spell checkers and
grammar thingo’s. Your old schoolmate would be lorst wivout em!
Swanton - 1953-56
old age advances I find myself living more and more in the past (the approach of
Alzheimer’s perhaps), and very much appreciate the existence of the
Newsletter. Like everyone, I was particularly sorry to hear of Mrs Mountjoy’s
death. Each day I would catch the same service bus - she already there all the
way from Belvedere - ensconced in the front seat and looking fixedly forwards to
Leyton Cross, where she would be
by Mr Wall’s glossy black Hillman Minx. Having to walk down with a gaggle of
pupils (however well-behaved) was clearly unthinkable. But there might have been
an element of appeasement.
the years following World War 2, until 1953, the one foreign language taught at
DarTech was German. Then in the summer of ’53 Mr Wall had announced to Mrs
Mountjoy (headmasters didn’t need to persuade anyone in those days) that next
September German was to be replaced by French. Never having learned French, she
spent a great deal of the summer holidays listening to a small number of French
popular romantic songs on 78 rpm gramophone records - which she then inflicted
on the new intake. I seem to remember the sound of Charles Aznavour. But whoever
it was, he was certainly responsible for implanting a distinctive,
embarrassingly Ealing- comedy-style French pronunciation in us all, which I
retain to this day. Neither the vocabulary nor the grammar could have been much
use to us - even if we could have understood what was being sung. This
experiment was abandoned after a couple weeks, by when she had had time to
prepare sheets of paper bearing set dialogues (a pedagogical method which goes
back to Anglo-Saxon times, and probably beyond). Anyway, it seemed to work. Was
it she, I wonder, who took us to Paris during the Easter holidays ?
Half-a-century is a long time ago.
far as I can remember, it was English language that was her major role. I recall
the first lesson quite vividly - possibly because I found myself sitting in the
front row (for the first and last time, anywhere, ever). Straightway she turned
to look through the window of that elegant first-floor room in Wilmington Hall
(originally the family’s drawing-room I imagine), and said simply ‘I want
you to write an essay on the Tulip Tree”. The words “tulip’’ and
“tree” scarcely seemed to go together, and very few of
the class could see what she was looking at. More importantly, we had no
idea what an ‘essay’ was (I’d certainly never done anything of the sort at
Bexleyheath Secondary Modern). At least it kept us quiet for the remainder of
the lesson. And then we were told to finish it for ‘home-work’ - another
concept we hadn’t come across, and which nobody bothered to explain. Parents
had only a very hazy idea of what might be expected. But again it seemed to
work. I must have learned a lot personally, inasmuch as eventually I was
supposed to have become quite good at English.
on the other hand, was quite another matter. So much so, in fact, that my
appalling incompetence seems to have become a topic of staff-room ridicule. When
staff-room bets were laid on my chances of getting OL Maths, Mrs Mountjoy was
the only one to back me. Maths and English Language were the only two OL’s to
be taken in our 2nd year. In the event, she - must have raked it in, because I
actually passed Maths. I certainly shouldn’t have done, since I still can’t
add up the change in my pocket! Ironically, however, I managed to fail OL
English Language shamefully. To the present day I’ve never had the slightest
faith in the academic reliability of any known exam procedure - let alone its
social usefulness. Subsequent experience has done nothing to alter my opinion,
and frankness about this has comforted (if sometimes puzzled) generations of my
own students - although when announcing this to the assembled company at
Wellington when giving the prizes there recently, the stage party seemed
decidedly discomforted - which was the whole point (I should make it clear that
I don’t know how I got invited there in the first place !).
on the topic of OL’s, I wonder how many would remember Mr Downing - either a
student- or supply-teacher recently graduated (from Cambridge was it ?) who came
to teach history for a year. The only teacher, other than the headmaster, to
arrive in a motor-car - his was a small grey van of a kind commonly driven by
young men at that time, since road-tax for a commercial van was lower than that
for a ‘private’ motor-car. Parked out of sight down towards the iron gates,
it certainly did not detract from the splendid isolation of the headmaster’s
Hillman drawn up on the gravel outside the Hall porch. During the year he was
there, Mr Downing taught us an OL course on ‘Social and Economic History
1830-1885’ - presumably reflecting an interest of his own (industrial
development, the rise of trade-unions and so forth), and very valuable too.
Apparently unique, the examination paper was to be set especially for DarTech by
London University. Indeed, this fact was announced as much in the title - as we
saw when Mr Wall instructed us to turn over the paper and begin. It took some 15
minutes or so before someone (not me) had the wit to put up his hand and point
out that he couldn’t in fact answer any of the questions. None of us could,
but it simply didn’t occur to us that it might be ‘them’ (adults,
teachers, the ‘system’) and not us who hadn’t understood. The paper that
had been set especially for DarTech was ‘Social and Economic History 1066 to
1914’. I can only imagine the panic outside the classroom door. Anyway, there
was a telephone in the Secretary’s office and a few minutes later the
instruction came from London University Examination Department: “Do what you
can.” Well, by that time we had - which was nothing - and we slowly and
awkwardly shambled out. I tried to keep a paper, but was very strictly told to
leave it behind - and now I can quite see why ! Everyone passed I believe.
anecdotes abound - including one in which a chance remark of his led an OL Eng.
Lang. failure to become an Emeritus Professor of
- Eng. Lang. - but that’s another story.
ANNUAL REUNION DINNER / A.G.M.
ninth Annual General Meeting/Reunion Dinner was yet another success. The day
started with the nostalgia tour, conducted by one of our younger members, Tony
Martin (1983-89) and our Headmaster Brian Titterington, this was enjoyed by
about thirty members.
Annual General Meeting followed and the Committee was re-elected en-bloc, yet
again, despite requests for new faces to join. The first Committee was formed on
Monday, 20th March, 1995 and seven of those are still serving, with only three
changes since. The Committee meets three or four times a year to plan and
organise the Annual Dinner, so it is never to late for volunteers to come
years Dinner was once again well attended with our Guest of Honour, Len
Hollingsworth (1960-99) and 120 members sitting down to a three-course Carvery
meal, followed by Coffee.
is remembered not only for his long service to the School, but for his work
outside of school hours. We are especially thankful to Len for his work in the
early days of the formation of the Association in its present form.
mentioning the formation of the present Association we will be welcoming John
Daley (1963-92) as our Guest of Honour at the Tenth Annual Reunion Dinner. On
retiring from the Staff of the School John expressed a wish to get an Old Boys
Association going and thanks to his initial work with Brian Titterington
(Headmaster), Len Hollingsworth, Terry Whifffen and Adrian Boyling, the
Association exists as it does today with over 1300 contacts on the Database.
Association in its present form was started with the Inaugral Dinner on 16th
July, 1994, but there was an Old Boys Association back in the 50’s, and an
attempt was made to resurrect this through the Old Dartechs Football and Cricket
teams in the mid 60’s.
YOU ON THE INTERNET
If you are on the
Internet, have you advised us, or have you changed your server and not told us,
visit the Association Website and complete the update form. Every Newsletter
sent by email saves the Association Money. We also need your permission to give
out or publish your details so if you haven’t visited our site recently please
do so as soon as possible.
have been advised that Andrew Cruickshank, 1992-97 has died following a road
ODWA Photograph No.
Pictures from our files, When, What Trophy and
Your answers please
Photograph No. 97
TENTH ANNUAL REUNION DINNER & A.G.M.
on Saturday, 10th May, 2003
(Member of Staff 1963-1992) will be our Guest of Honour.
will be a Carvery Dinner and of course a Licensed Bar.
All ages are Welcome.
Forms and final details will be enclosed with the next Newsletter
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 at its new address and check out the names that we have, and if you know any members not listed give us their details
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your next Newsletter is due to be published in February 2003
to do this I need more articles and correspondence.
with regard to your memories while at the School, experiences
previous Reunions or details of your own life since leaving will be
contact Dennis Wells,
Millbro, Victoria Hill Road,
Kent BR8 7LF.