No. 17      FEBRUARY 2003


DARTFORD TECHNICAL COLLEGE    Ray Scott  -  1945 - 1948

I must have shown some promise at practical subjects for, at the age of about 13, I was sent to Technical College: maybe I hadn’t been good enough for Grammar School?  Anyway, it was a period of growth and development for me in many ways. To start with, it was a long way from home so I had to catch a train every day from Falconwood to Dartford, though later I often did the 10-mile trip on my racing bike, bought from the newspaper-round earnings.  The train journeys were an adventure.  We school-buddy commuters used to hang upside down from the luggage racks like a carriage full of bats.   To stop other passengers getting in to our carriage (as if they might want to!) I made a train door key in the metalwork shop out of quarter inch bar material.   As we got more adventurous, or more foolhardy, one of us would get out on the running board on the ‘blind’ side of the guard and driver while the train was going round the Slades Green bend in the track and, keeping low down whilst holding on to the handrail, would reach up and lock the door of the adjacent carriage so that when the train arrived at the station the passengers could not get out.  What a scene of panic that caused! 

Sometimes I was influenced by older boys (or so I always told dad) and graduated to acts of vandalism such as throwing the seat cushions over the bridge parapet on to Upper Wickham Lane trolley bus wires, just before the train pulled into Welling Station. Although I had become a little more interested in sport, and was for a short period the captain of the second-eleven cricket team, this may have been more in recognition of being a ringleader amongst my classmates than in any demonstrated sporting aptitude. Anyway, it was a long walk to the sports field and the route there went past Dartford station.  So often, we decide to get the train to London rather than walk to the sports field.  In those days train compartments had advertisements for Hovis (‘All lines lead to HOVIS’ – with those letters on the fronts of each of 5 trains, indicating their routes: e.g. S was for our Southern route) framed behind glass. We decided to brighten up the decor for the weary commuters by unscrewing the frames and placing pictures of nudes cut from Health & Efficiency and Naturist magazines behind the glass, screwing the frames back again.   Sometimes we remained in the train when it reached the terminus at Charing Cross so that we could have the fun of watching boarding passengers’ re-actions to our new advertisements.   The returning trains were so crowded with rush-hour travellers that it was difficult for them to avert their gaze as there were many standing and they had to hold on to the luggage racks for support. But most times we would get out at Charing Cross and hang around Trafalgar Square or Piccadilly Circus.  It seemed to me that all life was there in Central London and I could not wait to leave school and start work in the great Metropolis.

The technical college was a series of buildings in two separate locations, some very old, some still then under construction. New foundations had been excavated and concreted at the Lowfield Street site, but had been abandoned filled with rainwater.  Herein lived a terrapin, which somebody with a schoolboy sense of humour had of course named ‘Dick Terrapin’.  We had to walk through the town to get from the commercial subjects part, known as ‘The Annex’ in Kent Road, to the workshops and gymnasium in Lowfield Street.  This encouraged the more adventurous of us to ‘explore’ shortcuts and anything of interest en route. In a dilapidated part of some back-doubles, off Spital Street, was a derelict building, which cried out for exploration, particularly the dark basements. In order to investigate these we tore some tarpaper from the collapsed roof and rolled lengths to make flaming torches.   Unfortunately the floorboards above us were very old and dry and caught fire from our homemade ‘flambeaux’. We had to call the fire brigade and had some explaining to do.   My dad was summonsed to the Principal’s office to argue a case for me not being expelled from college, as this was not the first time that I had been cautioned.  Even lunchtimes were exciting, as we would go round the car parks indulging our passion for car spotting.  In the late 1940s there was such an enormous variety of makes and stylings and some of these, like SS Jaguars, Lagondas, Lancias, Rileys, etc., were really beautiful. I remember being absolutely entranced one day when a huge American car, a Lincoln Zephyr, stopped near Falconwood Station. I rushed home and did a drawing of it from memory.  Nowadays my grandchildren all seem to have pictures of Kylie Minogue decorating their bedroom walls: I had my drawing of Lincoln Zephyr and I still aspire to owning one to this day!  Creative styling was then a more important consideration than wind-tunnel efficiency, which has resulted in the boring sameness of most modern cars; and probably the same can be said of most modern pop-idols.

But, to return to my Tech College days, when it was raining at lunch times we went into Woolworth’s (the three-penny and six-penny stores) to practice chatting up the shop assistants. My classmate, Rex Watson, with his dark good looks, had an advantage over me, particularly as he wasn’t so shy; but I had a really flashy necktie, which was a good conversation piece with the girls. Another classmate, (who will have to remain anonymous for another 30 years) conveyed an initial impression of innocence, with his soft voice and round boyish face; and he blushed readily. They say that blushing is the colour of virtue: not so in his case. He was probably the worst vandal in the school. His lunchtime trips to Woolworth’s were to shoplift, having taken orders for items required by classmates. Woolworth’s consisted of long flat counters in those days, with lots of small items on display and one had to point at the item and ask the shop assistant behind the counter to pick up the item, and complete the transaction before it was handed to you. This classmate was obviously ahead of his time in deciding that self-service was more efficient – except that he always forgot to pay for the goods.  It was also he who first started throwing train seat-cushions out of the window. Initially cushions were launched into a creek belonging to Dussek Brothers, Oil Refiners, near Slades Green.  I still associate this act of vandalism with the smell of mud and oil waste wafting in through the train window, opened fully in order to launch our missile over the creek bridge parapet on the train journeys home from school. But a bridge-too-far occurred for our would-be rocket scientist when railway police apprehended him after he threw something heavy from a train just before it pulled into Dartford Station.  Apparently the object smashed through the glass roof of a factory and could have caused serious damage and injuries. After school one evening this same lad suggested going to the local cinema, which was about 3 miles from home.  I agreed, but my ‘wouldn’t-say-boo-to-a-goose’ friend did not have in mind walking, cycling, or catching the bus, as I would have done.  No, we went round to the alleyway at the back of his house in Orchard Rise East, and he got me to help push his dad’s car quietly out of the garage and down the alleyway from where he started it up and he drove it, underaged, unlicensed, and uninsured.


There was another rogue in my class who assisted in the process of leading me astray.  He also caught the train from Falconwood Station. His speciality was rather primitive electrical experiments, a budding Michael Faraday.  He would progressively remove bulbs in a railway compartment so that the remaining ones came on more brightly. We would nip out from compartment to compartment at each station on the way home until we had a complete carriage with perhaps just two bulbs glowing very brightly indeed.  This task was later made much easier with the introduction of through compartments. He also experimented with the metal rods that were used to keep the old blackout blinds down on each compartment window.  He would push these rods out from the blinds and lean out of the offside window to drop a rod so that it fell across the live rail and the running rail on the other track.  Fortunately, the rods were covered with a thick insulating layer of some material (probably in anticipation of vandalism) but they made an impressive display of sparks and arcs as they bounced along striking the rails.  ‘Faraday’s’ other speciality was to open the door of the carriage whilst ‘in motion’ between stations and then, holding onto the door, would stick his arse out, and crap.  Often the train pulled into the next station with a large deposit still on the running board.  Small wonder that we rarely had other passenger join us in our compartment!  I suppose we never thought about the possibility of tragic consequences to ourselves, or to others when we got up to these ‘schoolboy pranks’ or our experiments with reconstructed incendiary bombs that I referred to earlier.

Two of my T2B classmates, Robert Andrew and David Meredith never failed to attract the attention of Mr McCaskill, the mathematics master at Dartford Tech.  He was very old, or appeared so to us boys and was therefore known by us as  ‘VOD’  our abbreviation for Veteran Of Dartford. He was also well-known for his attempts at humour – such as “I see we have Meredith Andrew sitting together – well, that takes the biscuit!” (Meredith & Drew, being a popular manufacturer of biscuits at the time). Vod’s memory, and his eyesight, must have been failing as he always cracked the same jokes. But that didn’t stop us all roaring hugely with laughter at every repeat, even kicking our legs up under the desks in noisy acknowledgement of his wit. I don’t know whether he realised that we were ‘taking the Mickey’ out of him, or whether he thought that he genuinely had the gift of spontaneous humour.  My favourite jape was to put pieces of calcium carbide into my desk inkwell and sometimes to light the gas that came off.  That was about the extent of my interest in Chemistry.  A casual observer might have thought that we were quite studious as several class-members and I would often troupe into the Dartford Public Library, near the entrance to Central Park, at lunchtimes.  On closer observation we could be seen making for the same shelf in the Reference Library, which contained the  ‘Dictionary of Slang Words & Expressions’.  In loud stage whispers and sniggers of laughter we would take turns reading out the most vulgar phrases and sayings, much to the annoyance of the other students trying to study there, and of the elderly residents of Dartford trying to sleep.  Some well-remembered passages from this erudite tome were ‘Every little helps, as the old lady said as she pissed in the sea’ and ‘Fart-Catcher – slang term for the footman who rides on the back of a coach’.  Near the Library was a footbridge over a small river (presumably the River Dart) that flowed quite strongly in wet weather. On such occasions we would sometimes purchase a small crusty loaf from the Lowfield Street bakery and cling on underneath the bridge supports whilst tearing off and devouring great chunks of the warm bread. This depended on one of us having some spare bread coupons available, as bread was still rationed for some years after the war ended. This  made our simple act of sharing a loaf together not just a re-enactment of a biblical parable, but one of more luxury and adventure than would be appreciated today. Later, an enterprising business in the high street set up a doughnut-making machine in it’s shop window. It was always a temptation to stop and watch this fascinating machine in action, even when we were supposed to be going direct from the Kent Road classrooms to the Lowfield Street complex, or vice-versa; invariably the warm smell of doughnuts became irresistible and required a further delay while we purchased and consumed a bag full of them.  

It may seem, from the recollections that I have recorded about my period of schooling ending with the three years at Dartford Technical College, that I had not gained very much from full-time education.  Certainly I left without any formal academic qualifications, and never went on to University.  But then, far fewer teenagers did in 1948 as is now the case with a ten-fold increase in the number of Universities and the massive growth in tertiary education generally. During my 3 years at Dartford Technical College I believe the Principal, Dr Gyngell and Headmaster, Mr Ward, and other teachers, did raise my interest in English Literature and in commercial subject.  I also enjoyed Engineering Drawing and got good marks in these subjects.  It’s a mystery to me why I never attempted the Ordinary National Certificate (ONC) or even the Higher National Certificate (HNC) in these subjects; perhaps students in the ‘B’ stream we were not pushed to take the exams as much as those in the ‘A’ stream?  However, although I did not follow the three-year schooling by taking an engineering apprenticeship, as did most students, I quite enjoyed workshop practice.

Of course, the workshop facilities there would now be regarded as primitive. I remember the main workshop for its one huge wall-mounted electric motor driving a long belt which flapped noisily around, in turn driving several other belts through a series of axles and pulley wheels which connected up to a range of old lathes, grinders, surfacers, and other machinery, such as the giant hack-saw which was a tempting bucking bronco to ride on.  The metalwork master was a hard bastard - it’s OK to use that word, because we used it a lot in the machine-shop, it’s a technical term for a coarse file.  We schoolboys found it an indispensable term and were always demanding of each other “pass me that half-round bastard….no, not that small bastard, I want that big bastard over there you silly bugger!” and similar phrases.  Well, learning should be fun, they say.   On reflection, I feel that my choice of career was stimulated and helped by the exposure to a technical education. Although I left at the age of almost 16 with no qualifications, I had a healthy and confident outlook on life.

Thanks for your web-site. Hope I will now have more luck with contacting schoolmates than through www.friendsreunited.com where I have posted some notes about myself. Anyone have contact with some that I remember from Tech. such as Robert Andrew, Roger Chaise, Rex Watson, David Croucher, or can name others in that period? I shall be pleased to reply to all contacts.


Ted Pepper  1949-1953

I was unaware of the Association, until the web address was given to me by an old boy, Derek Window, now living in Australia. I was a pupil from 1949-1953 and would like to contact Michael John Hilton, whose name is listed on the web site. We were in the same final year and travelled to school together. I should be grateful if you could provide me with his address.

During my years at the school, I was taught English by Mr Leonard Taylor. I have kept in contact with him, by letter at Christmas, through all the intervening years. After leaving Dartford, Mr Taylor went on to teach at a grammar school in Bromley, but spent the last few years of his teaching career at a private school for girls in Sevenoaks. One of the girls was a seventeen year old named Diana Spencer. When I visited Mr Taylor about three years ago in Sevenoaks, where he still lives, he spoke very highly of the girl who had been destined to become the Princess of Wales.

My last year at the school was the year of the Coronation and I recall that we planted an avenue of cherry trees in the grounds of Wilmington Hall. Do any of the trees remain? I still have the photograph taken of the pupils (about 200) and staff (about 20) dated 1950 -1951. If you have this photograph, I am the last boy on the right of the top row. The teaching skills of Mr Black, Physics, and Mr Lewis, Chemistry, were instrumental in my subsequently following a career in Chemistry with a large Pharmaceutical Company. Mr Black was strict, but effective. He required us to learn many facts parrot fashion, but it worked: e.g. Archimedes Principle: ‘When a body is weighed in air and then in a liquid, there is an apparent loss in weight and that loss is due to the upthrust and equal to the weight of liquid displaced.’ That has stayed with me for 50 years!

Mr Campbell, a highly gifted and quietly spoken teacher, taught us Mathematics in the large ground floor room on the extreme left of Wilmington Hall. I can still picture the 2.5 metre long slide rule which was housed on a marble fireplace in the room. Mr Wall, the Headmaster, rarely took lessons, but I do remember him taking my class just once. A boy stood up and asked, “Can I go to the toilet, Sir?” Mr Wall replied, “I dare say you can, but may you?”

I am now retired and sadly, a widower, but I have two fine married sons, both graduates, and two dear little grand-daughters. I spend about 2-3 days each week as an unpaid tutor in Maths and Science at the local Primary School, that my two sons attended more than 25 years ago. I also seem to have become the computer trouble-shooter for the school. Cycling 20-40 miles every Tuesday keeps me fit and sometimes I ride the 52 year old restored bicycle, that I occasionally rode to Dartford Tech from Sidcup. When my sons were 17, they decided to learn to ride motorcycles. I decided that I couldn’t stop them, so I joined them and passed the test first time in my 50’s. Now I’m the only one of the three of us still riding a motor cycle, a Honda single cylinder XBR 500, which makes one good thump every lamp-post. Just remember, when you are speeding around in your brand new motor cars, those leather-clad riders that pass you on their growling mean machines are not 17 year olds, but are all pensioners out enjoying themselves, so give them plenty of room!


John Bunnett in the ’62 list

Thank you for sending the magazine to me.

As to me - I’m living in deepest Wales. After nearly 20 years I’m finally getting my tongue adjusted to saying Cwmllyfell, Ystradglynlais & Cwmtwrch (wot no vowels!)

I last lived in Kent some 10 years ago, when I became a temporary member of Hartley Morrismen. I was most surprised to meet several other DTHS Old Boys. Odd really, because I was convinced Jake Clare had driven all musical talent from the school. Then again, my interest in morris dancing was driven by a love of good real ale, and the realisation that morris dancing was a licence to get p...ed for free.


Alan Costar (Staff 1978-1993)

I suppose that each of the contributors to the ODWA newsletter are moved from passive recipient to active contributor by something that they read which strikes a chord and makes them want to tell a tale. I am no different.

I was prompted by the story of Ivor Jenkins’ adaptation of the Laws of Association Football to include the principle, borrowed from Rugby Union, of moving a free kick forward to penalise the defending side who will not retreat 10 yards. [Gary Love Issue No 16] How Ivor would have laughed to find FIFA had finally caught up with him! It is this sense of what is fair and right, which was so typical of the man. [ He was as good a colleague and as genuine a human being as all the tributes have said].

My story concerns an incident in a famous occasion for all those who witnessed it. It was the first[?] and last[?] Rugby match between Dartford Technical High School for Boys Staff and Pupils and Wilmington Secondary Staff and Boys. As you re-read that sentence (unbelievable if you had not been there), picture the scene, out on the field with the whole of two schools surrounding the pitch cheering on their team in the Autumn of 1978, my first year at the school.

{For those members who do not know the era of sharing the field and other facilities with the “Wilmos”, a brief guide - imagine having a ready-made ‘enemy’ whenever it snowed! Hundreds of kids conveniently placed right next to the snow and wanting to take your territory! For the staff we knew it would be our job to sort out the trouble because ‘they’ never turned out to supervise their pupils anywhere, let alone on the field in a snowball fight!}

The team news, in so far as I can remember was as follows: I believe Mike Wesson played hooker, and he was throwing in to the lineout to a second row pairing of Colin Newberry and Peter Boxall - a combination almost guaranteed to give a twisting scrummage once the pushing started. The fly half was Bill Mock [Was it all his idea? Mike would know.] My role in this was at inside centre. For those who do not know me, I must explain that at the time I was still playing Rugby regularly and so was considered worthy of a ‘handicap’. Thus it was that a 6' 2" prop forward [that means ‘extra large’ to those who do not know me or Rugby] found himself in the position which should by rights be occupied by a fleet-footed glory boy.

The ebb and flow of the game was controlled by the best qualified man in the whole area - of course, Ivor Jenkins. He was an England Rugby trialist and so knew all the Laws of the game and when to use them [see above]. He was also the best man for the job because his sense of fair play would prevent him from being biased in our favour.

In the match itself, it soon became evident that the sides were evenly matched, which, considering the way they were thrown together, is near to a miracle. The incident which prompted me to write occurred as a scrum took place on our left hand side. The two lines of backs were spread out opposite each other across the field to the right. The ‘Wilmos’ won the ball and moved it from scrum half to fly half as the two lines of backs closed on each other. With DTHSB arranging its defensive cover I eyed my opposite number, who was next in line to receive the ball. He was a youth of some 15 summers [it would not be allowed these days], about 5’10" and not above a ‘medium’. As the ball reached his hands I did what I would do in any Rugby match; announce to my team-mates in clear and certain tone “He’s mine!”. The effect of these words on the callow youth were sad to behold. The best parallel I can find is of the rabbit crossing the road, caught in the headlights of a 10 ton truck! He froze, clearly struggling with an image of him holding the ball and me crushing him in the tackle. [He didn’t realise that I still had to catch him to make good my confident assertion.] Ivor summed up the situation instantly, before contact was made or blood was spilled. He blew his whistle and awarded a penalty to the ‘Wilmos’. “What for ref?” was the cry which arose not just from my mouth. The answer was the mark of the man, whose sense of fair play ran so deep: “Ungentlemanly conduct! ... back 10 yards!”

The outcome of the match, which I cannot forebear to record, was that we won by the only try, scored by a slow moving inside centre ‘on the crash’ from a distance, which, even 25 years later, cannot have been more than 3 yards!

Keep up the good work with the newsletter. I always enjoy reading it even when I have no idea who the contributors are. I do, however, feel that publishing the team photos [in issue 16] is cruel to staff like myself. I know I taught at least 3/4 of those boys, but the names will not come. It must be my age!


Steve Preston  -  1963-1971

Living in Peterborough with wife Sue and two sons (22 and 19) and 16 year old daughter. I’ve been grey for 10 years now, but still young enough to get to Rock Concerts and actively support Man Utd. Would like to hear from any of the old crowd. I’m a good person to swap life-stories with as I’ve done nothing at all, really....


Keith Hopper  -  1955 - 1962

Don’t know what made me contact you. Nostalgia, perhaps. But I have enjoyed reading the most recent news letter, and was delighted to see the news from Jim Austen. He gave me so much help in Engineering Drawing lessons, which has never been forgotten. He’s probably long forgotten me, but I’d like to say thanks to “Sam”. He was a superb teacher.


Garry (once known as ‘Fred’) Barker  -  1964-1971

A few memories of members of staff from my time at Dart. Tech. between September 1964 and December 1971.

Names, mostly from my early days which for some reason are clearer in my memory...

‘Moggy’ Mogford (Head); ‘Percy’ Black (Deputy Head & Physics); ‘Bill’ Hodgson (Maths & my 1st year form teacher); ‘Doug’ Dougall (French); ‘Pud’ Gregory (Woodwork); ‘Tutters or Tut-Tut’ Lawson (History); ‘Pinhead’ Smith (Geography); ‘Chick’ Lewis (Chemistry); ‘Jackabo’ Hughes (Nature Study); ‘Sam’ Austin (Tech. Drawing); ‘??????’ Walden (Art); ‘John’ Daley (English); ‘Snowy’ Ames (Maths); ‘Bracket’ Bruce (Physics); ‘Don’ Pestell (Metalwork); ‘Potty’ Pearce (English); ‘Jake’ Clare (Music); ’Maggie’ Mountjoy (French); ‘Gavin’ Russell (PE); ‘André’ Moore (Physics); ‘Ben’ Cartwright (Geography); ‘Chris’ Laker (Lab assistant); ‘Jessie’ James (English); ‘Paul’ Parker (Maths); ‘Lurch’ Rudman (English); ‘Hitler’ Davis (German); ‘Gordon’ Gough (Woodwork); ‘Terry’ Moyle (Geography); ‘Mike’ Wesson (PE); ‘??????’ Hardman (English); ‘Beanpole’ Joyce (Caretaker); ‘Taffy’ ?????? (Physics); Mademoiselle Destiny (French assistant).

I have memories of a few other Staff faces but both the nickname and the surname are ‘??????’, for instance a tall teacher with glasses who taught me Applied Maths in the sixth form 1969 to 1971. Not even the extensive ODWA database has prompted a recollection.

It would be interesting to have the ‘??????’s resolved, any I have remembered incorrectly corrected and some of the nicknames explained (Tut-Tut?).

‘Dan’ Daley taught me English for the first 2 years. I understand he was a frustrated Art teacher and took over the art department when Walden left ‘under a cloud’, a shame it was not a cloud of deodorant! I think Dan was a better Art teacher than English teacher, his English lessons were hell but he had a good taste in cars.

‘Snowy’ Ames was brought out of retirement to teach us I believe. (‘Snowy’ because of his thick white hair. If only I had that much hair now, any colour!) I remember that he gave us a series of little ‘tests’ to determine if any number could be divided by each of the single digits 0 to 9. I remember him giving them to us but I do not remember how to do the tests, except 0, 2 and 5 of course.

I heard that Mr. Bruce never cut his toenails and they grew so long they doubled back along his foot. This was recorded in the local paper when his wife cited it as part of grounds for divorce.

There was another maths teacher whose name escapes me. Smoked like chimney and his fingers and moustache were yellow/brown. Paul Parker used to get his fags cheap for him.

Paul Parker was a bit of an entrepreneur as he also set up the tuck shop. When I changed the fuses around in the old building so we could use a record player in the 5th form common room I also removed power from the tuck shop freezer. A lot of ice cream melted. I think he had a sale and also claimed on the insurance.

And Maggie, who could forget Maggie? She never had the pleasure of teaching me but I still have a painful memory of her. The whole school (except Roman Catholics) met for an assembly every morning. We were supposed to wait in silence. Any boy talking had to stand up. Teachers took turns to oversee this pre-assembly silence. I don’t think any teacher liked this task but I felt that Maggie very much thought it was ‘below’ her status. This morning it was her turn and I along with a dozen or so other boys were caught by her and made to stand. Normally this was not a problem as when Moggy & Pearce swept into the hall the whole school would stand and we would just ‘disappear’. This day she was going to make an example and she sent us all to see Percy after assembly. She had a lot of influence with the ‘management’ and she used it. We all got one stroke of the cane across the buttocks from Percy, though I am pretty sure he felt it was unjust and was reluctantly ‘following orders’.


David Bailey  -  1959 - 1964

Through friends reunited I recently made contact with Colin Fradd, Bob Gammon, Richard Jessop, David Rayburn and Allan Hale. All joined DTHSB in 1959 and left in 64 or 66. I left in 64 with good ‘O’ levels and was introduced to my first job by [SAM] MR AUSTIN the then careers master. I married JUDY at 19 and we bought a house in Hawley Road. I Joined Halls in Dartford in 67 and trained to be a refrigeration design Engineer. After stints in sales and contracts I moved to a company in London in 73 and became Contracts Director in 77. After various other changes I now run the UK operation for a French Refrigeration manufacturer.

Judy and I have just celebrated our 35th Wedding anniversary and we have lived in St. Albans for the last 25 Years.

We have three great kids Nicola 33, Andrea 30 and Stuart 26. Nicola has given us two Grandsons.

I represented the School in the Kent 63 athletics championships and again at the all England in the 440 yards. In 64 again at Kent in the 220. I believe my record stood for some years .

I met Colin and Bob for a beer and a curry last night after 36 years and it seemed like yesterday! Colin gave me the site details and I will definitely be at the next re union dinner hopefully with several others from our years.


David Lloyd  -  1943 - 1945

Not many of my era on the list, except for Mrs Mountjoy. She was still Miss Williams when I started there at Essex Road and Lowfield Street. Perhaps the other name of the school - County Technical College - Should be added to the site. I have added a link via the Friends Reunited website. Other teacher names: Barr(Chem) Harris(PT) Howard(Tech Drawing) Mumford(Physics) Lunn(Maths) West(Woodwork) MacKaskill alias Vod(Mechanics and R.I.) and we had a Czechoslovakian to teach us French!!


Richard Lees  -  1983 - 1990

RE Tim Buckley’s note in Issue 16. The prefect strike was taken in disgust at the way in which the “Head Boy” election that year was fixed by Mr Traves and his staff-room blacklist. Although the six-formers were allowed (and encouraged) to take part in voting for headboy, the votes cast and the official results were entirely unrelated. As Headboy (elect) for the year and as one of only 3 boys barred from becoming prefect in the same year, I want the truth to be remembered. Great website guys!


Dave Elcome  -  1971 - 1978

Hi to anybody that may remember me. I have eventually, after various industrial jobs, found a place in life that allows me to continue all the stage lighting and work with local bands that I did during school years. Remember the end of year shows and panto - highly edited by staff if written by us pupils, always directed by Jessie James if I remember correctly. I don’t see many names from 1972-78, I remember good football teams in that era, I remember names: Pete Browning, Rob Drain, Harry Bright, Steve Lawson - I never quite made the grade until most of the good players left in the 5th year and we had a 1st eleven mixed of upper and lower 6th. Other names “Jammy” Hartley, Jamie Course, Ewen Crosbie, John Garside, Steve Kember - Some I kept in touch with for a few years after school in common interests but I have now lost touch completely Please pass on my updated details if requested. I would like contact details of any of the Thames house class that you have or the 6th forms for those years. Many thanks The memories get better with age.


Andrew Wilmot  -  (1956 – 1961)


It is interesting to read the ODWA newsletters, stirring as they do previously long forgotten memories of people and places. In an attempt to add something to the collective data-bank I’ve added my reflections from a cold December afternoon

Upon leaving DTS (DCTS??, DTHS???) back in 1961 I attended a couple of entirely undistinguished academic institutions and proceeded to earn my living as an engineer in the construction business, mainly in the tunnelling and water fields, including a spell in hydraulic design with the Milton Keynes Development Corporation.

By the time the early seventies arrived, with all the attendant problems, the sunny shores of Africa beckoned and I found myself with a pregnant wife and a small child headed for Johannesburg with a one-way ticket.

My first posting was on a new gold mine development in the Orange Free State and what an eye-opener it was: gold had just been freed from its official valuation and the price was heading for the sky. That meant that people like me had to head in the opposite direction as fast as possible to get to the gold bearing rock!

This was fun while it lasted but after a while the somewhat harsh Free State climate and the desire to hear English spoken in the streets led us down to the Natal Coast, where I was to be happily based for more than 20 years.

For the whole of this time I worked for a large national construction company, working throughout Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands, starting as a site engineer and ending up as a board Director.

Initially these were momentous years in South Africa; the international sanctions and general opprobrium perversely resulted in a vibrant import-replacement environment for the industry both in South Africa itself and the neighbouring states. Of course there were problems; not least with the government of the day and their job reservation laws; for example, a  “black” could not be a qualified bricklayer, whereas a “coloured” could. Of course, in Natal with an 85% Zulu population this was a bit of a problem so we all had to be on the lookout for police raids.

We also had a slight problem with the government insofar as our Managing Director was concerned: like many South African businessmen he was a persistent critic of the government and its apartheid policies and for a time in the 70s had to leave the country and direct his business from Zambia!

Of course we all viewed the democratisation process with apprehension, to say the least but on the whole everything went remarkably smoothly and the mid 90s saw our company surviving as a successful enterprise.

In early 1996 I was approached by Tarmac International in the UK to be their Estimating Director. Since our children had by then flown the coop we decided to accept the offer and my wife & I returned to the UK.


Initially we found it a huge culture shock; apart from a couple of holidays we had been absent for over 20 years and it had become a very different and slightly spooky country in comparison with the one we had left behind in the early 70s.

The following few years saw me involved in many large international projects, criss-crossing the world and racking up so many airmiles I still haven’t used them all!

Unfortunately, the rise of the big far eastern construction conglomerates, who enjoyed the support of their governments in a manner of which we could only dream, meant that the UK operators in the international construction field were no longer able to give the added-value that they once could. When Tarmac demerged its operations in 1999 they consequently decided to devolve their UK based international activities to autonomous regional businesses and on one memorable sunny afternoon in June 1999 the entire International head office staff in London were told our services were no longer required.

Since then I have been working as an independent consultant – altogether more rewarding – should have done it years ago!

Back to Dartford Tech: I can’t honestly say they were the happiest days of my life although in retrospect I realise that I was fortunate to have attended the school when I did. My only genuine regret is not staying on to take “A” Levels at the school. Life might then have taken a different, but perhaps not as interesting course (as my wife says: “at least we’ve never been bored!”).

Of my contemporaries, memories are somewhat fuzzy: Robin Pitman, of course, we were always getting into dire trouble together in the early years; “Leadboots” Hyland, the star tactician in the “2nd Team Ball Game” (football, but not as we know it). Tony Carpenter (marathon joint homework sessions on the telephone), Chris Wood(s?) who had the enviable ability to live life at 30 degrees from everyone else, “Wally” Hammond, “Gert” Goodchild, Roger Brown, Mike Ashpool, Nigel Bourne and then the mists of time start to close in……

The teachers remaining in the forefront of my memory are the usual suspects: “Potty” Pearce, the yardstick for all English teachers before or since. Mr French and Mr Hodgson, particularly Mr Hodgson who ignited my interest in applied maths and hence civil engineering. “Sam” Austen, of pipe and sarcasm fame, whose technical drawing teaching and, in retrospect, keen engineering insight has proved invaluable throughout my working life, especially when the computers go down! Maggie Mountjoy who somehow managed to impart a workable knowledge of French that remains to this day. Percy Black, who was still teaching Physics at the school when my own daughter was a teenager! Chick Lewis, the chemistry teacher who didn’t offer explosions as an optional extra and the only one who managed to catch me cheating in an exam. The fleeting, but memorable “Ted” Smith, the history teacher with his pointy-end 1940s MG. “Slash” Edgington the RI teacher. “Pinhead” (surname forgotten) the geography and on occasion, less than enthusiastic RI teacher, and “Jake” Clare the music teacher.

And of course the English/Sports teacher, Mr Mathews, whose predilection for prescribing semi-public cold showers to young teenage boys and parading them naked to check for athletes’ foot might be less understood in today’s world!

The other enduring memory is school dinners! They were delivered luke-warm from some gastro-industrial plant in Dartford that would probably even now be of interest to the UN inspection teams and had a taste which lingers to this very day. 

Not being of nostalgic bent I have been nowhere near the Old School in the last 40+ years and having our home on the Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire border makes it unlikely I shall be passing it by chance in the near future. All of which means I really must make a conscious effort to come to the 2003 reunion – my New Year’s resolution!


Richard Short  1962-1970

Thanks as always for the interesting October 2002 Newsletter. Sorry that I was unable to make the last Reunion. I am still disappointed to see so few responses for my year group. The older and younger guys appear to have better memories of their school days!! Maybe the halcyon days of the 60’s are taking their toll!! They say that if you can remember the 1960’s then you weren’t actually there enjoying yourself.


OD & WA Committee Report

At our January Committee Meeting we finalised the  arrangements for this years Dinner / Annual General Meeting, as previously announced our Guest of Honour will be John Daley, Member of Staff from 1963 to 1992, and on his retirement he was the main instigator in the formation of the Old Boys Association in its present form.

It has been mentioned that in past years the after dinner speeches have started late, and gone on to long, so this year we have brought forward all our times by 30 minutes, and requested that speech times be reduced, hopefully this will give more time for after Dinner chatting amongst old friends.

The Carvery format appears to have helped with the memory of collecting School Dinners in the Canteen so this is being continued this year, unfortunately our costs have risen again so the ticket price has had to rise to £17.50. At the 2000 Dinner we decided to arrange a nostalgia tour, owing to its success each year we have agreed to arrange another one this year and our regular guide Tony Martin will be assisted by Brian Titterington the present Headmaster helping out with the more up to date information.

We still wish to continue with our policy of not making annual fees to retain membership, as we feel that having made contact with over 1300 former pupils and staff, we do not wish to lose contact through unpaid fees. To do this we rely on proceeds from the Dinner and also from any donations from our more generous members.

Proceeds from our Dinner Raffle normally go to the School to assist in a project, which over recent years has been for Cricket Nets in the main gymnasium, because of the problems that were created by the two Schools sharing the gym, and getting an agreement on ownership, etc it has been decided that we would not continue. There being a number of projects within the School that might be better suited to our assistance the Committee agreed to supply a printer and scanner for the Business Studies block; a wide screen TV and DVD/VCR for new media studies courses (GCSE and A-level); and engraving for this year on Honours Boards. I am including the application form for this years Dinner within this copy 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 on back page.


You are invited to join us at our Annual General Meeting and 10th Annual Dinner, with our Guest, who this year is Mr. John Daley, to be held at the School on Saturday, 10th May, 2003. 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.

We will again arrange a Nostalgia Tour of the School and Grounds (weather permitting), at 3.45p.m., with a guide, if you wish to join this tour please confirm on the slip below.

Tickets are priced at £17.50 per person. There will be a Licensed Bar, which will open at 4.30p.m. and a variety of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will be available. The Annual General Meeting will take place at 6.00p.m. with Dinner being served at 7.00p.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:


Prawn and Asparagus Terine on a bed of Salad Leaves

with French Bread and Butter;

* * * * * * * * *

Carvery to include Roast Beef with Accompaniments,

Supreme of Chicken with Mushroom and Brandy Sauce,

Roast Leg of Pork with Apple and Calvados Sauce,

Hazelnut and Brown Rice Roast with Tomato and Basil Sauce,

with Roast Potatoes and a selection of Vegetables;

* * * * * * * * *

Pear Crumble and Custard,

Lemon Meringue Pie,

Fruits of the Forest Trifle,

Chocolate Truffle Torte;

* * * * * * * * *

Coffee with After Dinner Mints.


Dennis R. Wells (Chairman)



on Saturday, 10th May, 2003


(Member of Staff 1963-1992)

will be our Guest of Honour.


There will be a Carvery Dinner and of

course a Licensed Bar and a

Conducted Nostalgia Tour.


All ages are Welcome.


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

www.odwa.co.uk     email:  oldboys@odwa.co.uk


Your next Newsletter is due to be published in Aug/Sept 2003

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: dennis.wells1@ntlworld.com