DARTECH AND WILMINGTONIAN
A NEWSLETTER FROM YOUR OLD SCHOOL
NUMBER 20 FEBRUARY 2006
Jim (Sam) Austin 1954-1974
Omitted from Newsletter No. 19
Many thanks for remembering the ‘Veggie’; it was a super meal.
If you have a few lines in the next Newsletter, I would be obliged if you could include ‘Ref the 11th Annual Dinner, please convey many thanks for the magnificent bouquet, it made Margaret’s day, came the morn.
Also thanks to those ‘Old Friends’ (I do not consider them as ‘Old Boys’ any longer) who had time to have a chat and recall old times. Special thanks to the Class of ‘56. I reached home alert and sober (honest!) but, retiring to bed in the latter part of the early hours, I must admit to a somewhat hazy, but definite feeling of well being! J. ‘Sam’
Howard Woods - 1960-1968
Thank you for the latest copy of our newsletter, which I received a couple of days ago, and as you know contained a very open letter from Dave Miners (1960-65) in which he revealed his terminal illness with colon cancer.
I would be very grateful if you would please publish this email in the next Newsletter:
Sadly, David lost his fight , although losing was not a word in Dave’s vocabulary, against this “dreadful disease” (Dave’s description and more of this later) and he died in hospital on Wednesday 9th March 2005.
In his letter to you he mentioned that he had been in touch with a couple of old DTHS boys - namely Peter Robertson (who lives in North Buckinghamshire) and myself, Howard Woods (living in South Buckinghamshire).
The three of us lived near Orpington, started at DTHS in 1960 and for 5 years we shared the same bus journey (the 477), although as we moved up the pecking order we were allowed to cycle to Wilmington.
Dave had left DTHS before motorbikes and cars became the preferred transport for the 5/6th forms (anyone remember my distinctive ex-Whitbread dark brown & cream Mini-van?) Well I thought the cream roof made it look like a Mini-Cooper - yep, you’re right - nothing like it!
Pete and I visited Dave and his wife Jill, at their home near Stroud in September 2004, soon after Dave got in touch with me via www.odwa.co.uk., and I visited him again with my wife, Sally (ex- Wilmington Girl’s school) just before last Christmas. Before we arrived in the afternoon, Dave had earlier played 9 holes of golf with his brother!
No surprise that David’s sporting skills were the foundation for much of his social life (whilst he mainly played football and cricket - both for school and college) he could outshine, always with honest modesty, most of us at any sport he turned his hands to!
I understand that golf became a passion for him and certainly during the last years of his life he demonstrated that here again was another sport at which he would excel.
Indeed, golf acted as the back drop to the short, but moving and informative film that David prepared for BBC TV’s Breakfast show, in which David eloquently appealed for a more open approach and understanding of Bowel Cancer - the “dreadful disease” that was killing him.
So, whether or not you remember Dave as an old school pal - please go to www.bbc.co.uk/breakfast and search Colon Cancer.
What you will see and hear is a fitting epitaph to a very brave and true sportsman - David Miners.
Derek Window - 1950-1953
I was in my final year at Wilmington; the season was winter and the weather cold with snow flurries. My friends and I alighted from the 401 from Bexleyheath clock tower and started the walk down the hill toward the school and another six hours of purgatory
It had snowed heavily in the night and the hill was one slippery slide of ice. We all stopped at the top although the younger boys were sliding happily toward the main gate or the casualty room at West Hill hospital, whichever came first.
As we perused the peril that lay ahead Mrs. Mountjoy came up behind us. She also stopped then suddenly linked he arm through mine.
“Come with me Window,” she commanded haughtily, “You will assist me.” And without further ado she led me across the road and into the lane that ran behind the top woods. I glanced helplessly towards my friends, their mouths were hanging open and Vincy informed me later that he developed a raging toothache from the cold air rushing into his gaping gob.
Halfway down the lane Maggie led me through a hole in the fence and we started down through the trees toward the school. Through the deep snows we floundered, in and around the trees and bushes. I still remember the red holly berries, bright against the green of the leaves and the whiteness of the new snow.
I remember watching Maggie’s shoes as she picked her way down the hill. Actually they were ankle boots topped with fur that matched her Cossack hat. Maggie held my arm tightly as I in turn held her briefcase.
Nothing was said between us but I think that I fell in love with her on that bright winter’s morn. The first lady I ever ventured into the woods with.
We reached the school arm in arm still, “Thank you for your assistance Window.” She said as I handed her her briefcase. Later that day she sent me a little note. It read…’ See Me!’ and was written under an essay that had been in her case.
I received a Saturday Morning Detention for wasting her time with an essay entitled ‘INK’ and which was written entirely in capital letters in order the take up the required three pages.
A factual account of a morning that I will never forget. Also… I became the man of the moment in the eyes of my circle of friends.
“Frank Payne taught us metalwork and under his guidance I made a gate lock and a set square that had an angle of 91 degrees. Mr Payne held it up as a monumental waste of metal and my time. He remarked to my Mum on open day that I had fallen into a bad crowd. I think he meant Bill Turner a noted waster!”
“I think he held me in some regard because my name being Window we obviously had something in common. It was Turner who made the connection in a loud voice.”
“ I liked him very much, a good teacher and easy going bloke but you couldn’t take liberties”.
Keith Potter - 1958-1964
At the recent Annual Dinner, there was some discussion as the exact date on which the school had first moved to Wilmington. The following article – The Move - appeared in the first edition of the school magazine published in 1950. It must be presumed to accurately record that the date in question was 20 December 1949. However, an article in the 3rd edition of the ODWA newsletter notes the early years of the school as recorded by the first Headmaster – MR L V Wall. Here it states that “in 1950 (January) we first took over part of Wilmington Hall after alterations. However, we were still split between the Hall, Essex Road and Lowfield Street.”
From this we can reasonably conclude that the first boys were taught at Wilmington Hall following the Christmas / New Year Holiday in 1949/50 but that for some time, some lessons were taught at two sites in Dartford. Indeed, woodwork continued at the Lowfield Street centre until the 1960’s.
Whereas it is generally known that on the 20th day of December in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and forty-nine divers articles of school equipment, to wit, books, furniture, writing utensils, gymnastic equipment and Parsy’s chess set were bundled and despatched from the premises of one Dartford County Technical College situated in Essex Road, Dartford, and whereas it is also generally known that the equipment hereinbefore mentioned duly appeared on the premises of one Wilmington Hall situate in the parish of Wilmington in the County of Kent, but whereas thee intervening circumstances between the hereinbefore mentioned despatch from Dartford and the likewise hereinbefore mentioned appearance at Wilmington of the said equipment is not equally generally known, it is herein proposed:
To cut the pre-amble, what happened at the Wilmington end of THE MOVE?
(To avoid offence against the modesty of the persons concerned in this narration all names have been suitably disguised).
9.30 a.m. - Under the indefatigable (and more) leadership of Messrs. Jock and Frightener, there were assembled out-side the porch at Wilmington Hall some forty boys of Matric-cum-3a forming a team which even without the inclusion of Tony and Brag would justify the epithet, “worthy.” Enthusiasm to get down to business was intense.
9.45 a.m. - Still waiting - enthusiasm waning.
10.00 a.m. - Still waiting - apathy setting in.
10.15 a.m. - Still waiting - spirits drooping.
10.30 a.m. - Break at the Girls’ School opposite - spirits revived.
10.31 a.m. - Two masters and some four boys still waiting.
11.00 a.m. - Removal van arrived.
The first item on the agenda was to locate Parsy’s chess set, which his over-efficient form-mates had included in the packing. We expected during the search to unearth Stooge as it was felt that 2c could not have failed to seize such a glorious opportunity to dispose of him, but 2c being 2c - (Enough Said!)
A request had been received from the foreman on site that boys were not to tramp up and down the staircase. The obvious alternate of hand walking was abandoned as none of the boys volunteered and the feat was too much even for the two stalwarts, Jock and Frightener, to carry out single - or rather double-handed. A grand chain was thereupon formed and books passed rhythmically from hand to hand up the stairway to the occasional refrain of, “Special Care, here come the maths. books.” All went merrily until, “Hold it, Hold it,” swelled along the line. The truth of the dictum that the strength of a chain is in its weakest link had been experimentally confirmed (however did Norman get into the team?). But soon the job was under way again and rhythm restored. But alas, the foreman on site drew attention to the danger of collapse of the stock room floor under the weight of books. In defiance of the Law of Moments he required the books to be centrally placed on the floor. That the floor did not thereafter bend, crack or split may be held to confirm the wisdom of the Foreman’s advice. But gradually an awful thought dawned upon us. Would the floor support the weight of a form of boys?
And what of 2c with Spud and Rich in the same form? Had not the builders been informed of this? A possible solution would be to allocate boys to A, B and C forms according to avoirdupois instead of ability. (Drink up your milk, boys.)
In the whole of this superhuman achievement only one regrettable incident occurred: Mr Frightener, rounding a corner, was met full-face by a textbook, a moment previously held by Willet. Now as Willet figured high in the Physics list it must be assumed that the incident was purely accidental and unprovoked. Nevertheless, it is conjectured that Willet will not figure quite so high in the Physics list next term.
Books having been successfully stored, there remained furniture and gymnastic equipment. Disposal of these brought forth great feats of strength of which two only shall he recorded here as representative samples: Pip, struggling manfully upstairs with a large agility mattress on his shoulders and Tubby striding forth with a skittle in either hand. Details cannot unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) be given of the wonders performed in the dark passages and recesses of the basement aided only by one small piece of wax for illumination but sufficient has been said, we hope to immortalise this noteworthy occasion.
George Whitehead - 1950-1953
Frank Payne has a special place in my memory as our Form Master and as a person who gave me the most important piece of advice that I have ever received.
We were coming up to the end of our third year and were trying to decide what we wanted for our careers. I had already decided that I was ‘going to sea’. When the war was over and we were able to roam around, a couple of mates and myself found ourselves constantly attracted to the River Thames. We would get down to Erith Wharf to see the ships arrive and depart and watch the bigger ships go further up river to the East End Docks. One of our frequent adventures was riding on the Woolwich Ferry, spending a lot of time ‘toing and froing’ until eventually we would get ‘kicked off’ on the Northern side of the river. We would then have to walk back under the River through the tunnel, but that would never bother us. My passion for the sea became so strong that on several occasions I went down to Erith with the intention of stowing away, but without any real chance of success.
So back to 1953 and our career interviews; Frank asked me what my plans were and I told him about my passion for the sea. His opinion was that if I did this, at best, I would only be a Deck Hand and that would be a complete waste of three years Technical School education and I should set my sights higher. We talked about it for a while and then he told me he had just heard that The London Division of The British Electricity Authority (later to become the Central Electricity Generating Board) was opening a new Apprentice Training School adjacent to Bankside Power Station. This would be a nine-month course followed by the balance of the apprenticeship being served at one of the Power Stations. He told me that the closing date for applications had expired but as our school had only just heard about the scheme he would get in touch with them, and together with a reference from Mr Wall ask them to accept an application from me. They agreed to this and following an interview at the Authority’s head office I became a member of the schools ‘A Intake’ in September 1953. After this initial period of workshop training I was transferred to Deptford Power Station where I completed my apprenticeship as a Mechanical Fitter.
Like all lads there are events in their training that are the most memorable, mine being after seven or eight months at Deptford I was summoned to the Chief Engineer’s Office, (in those days this was red carpet territory) and he told me that it was part of his policy that all apprentices should have some sea-going experience and in two day’s time I should come prepared for a trip. I could not believe my ears.
Those two days could not pass quickly enough but eventually I found myself on board the “Captain W. J. Woods”, up on the bridge going down the River Thames on the evening tide. After we had cleared the River and the English Channel and the Pilot had gone ashore the first mate said to me, “Come in here Boy and I will show you where we are going.” We went into the Chart Room where he lit up his stinking old pipe and gave me a run down in basic navigation. He told me that we were going to pick up a load of coal from the Immingham Docks up the River Humber.
Following this came the inevitable question, “Is this your first time at sea Boy?” “Yes sir,” “You will not be down for breakfast.” Being the macho man that we all are I replied, “Of course I will,” which I was. However, as we got further out into the North Sea conditions became fairly choppy and having an empty ship we were bouncing around like a ping-pong ball, I was not down for lunch! That was the only meal I missed and fortunately it is the only time I have ever been seasick.
We reached Immingham on Saturday morning and I decided to go into Grimsby for the afternoon. One of the Stewards was also going into town and he came with me to show me the ropes. Before leaving the Docks he introduced me to the Harbour Master so I would have no problem getting back in. We travelled on an old electric train that had wooden seats whose backs could be tipped in either direction and on reaching town the train became a tram travelling on the streets. The Steward and I arranged to meet at the Seaman’s Club for the journey back and he went off to do his own thing. However, he didn’t make it to the club that evening as arranged so I caught the last train back alone.
Walking from the station to the Docks a car stopped, it was the Harbour Master. “Get in Boy, I will give you a lift.” It became apparent immediately that he had been having a pretty good night on the booze and was blown out of his brains. Fortunately it wasn’t very far and we got to the Docks in a few minutes. Security let us in, he parked outside his office, got out of the car, left the engine running and let himself into his office. I learnt later that he had his quarters at the rear of the office. I turned the engine off and headed down to the waterfront where we had docked.
When I got there I could not believe it, the ship had gone. It was pitch black but after a while I spotted it anchored about 40 or 50 yards offshore but I hadn’t got a clue how to get back on board. I walked around for some time trying to keep warm and eventually the Steward turned up. “What are you doing hanging around here?” “Well how am I supposed to get back on board the ship?”
The Steward simply bellowed out, “The Woods ahoy.” The Watchman sculled ashore, picked us up and we were back on board in a few minutes. A simple lesson learnt the hard way. I found out the following day that the hoist that was needed to lift the coal wagons in order to load our ship had broken down and we had moved out of the way to make room for another ship whilst the hoist was being repaired.
The return journey was different from the first, the weather had blown up, and the ship being well loaded ploughed strait through the waves. Everything was battened down and the bigger waves swept right up the deck. It was a great adventure and being my first trip at sea is one I have never forgotten.
Two years National Service was still compulsory in those days but an alternative was five years service in the Merchant Navy. Minimum requirements for admission as a Junior Engineer were completion of a suitable apprenticeship, provide the Ministry of Transport Examiner of Engineers with a Workshop Service Testimonial, have an interview with the Examiner and be graded Class Two. You could then apply to shipping companies for any positions that might be available.
Unfortunately for me 1958 was a bad year for the shipping industry and business was so slack that no new crew members were being taken on. So off I went and did my National Service with The Royal Air Force.
One of the conditions of National Service was that on completion of your service your employer had to re-employ you in the same or similar position. So back I went to Deptford Power Station. Nothing ever remains the same so after a short time I departed for pastures new and green. By this time I was a happily married family man so any thoughts of going to sea were long past.
In 1972 we came to New Zealand where after a while we bought a boat, only a 16 footer with an 85 horsepower motor, but it allowed me to pander to my lingering passion for the sea with a bit of fishing and diving.
I have often thought about Frank and his advice to me to take up that apprenticeship and the enormously beneficial effect that it had on my career. Without it what would I have finished up as, probably a Deck Hand.
Thank you Frank!
John Woolett - 1964-1971
Just getting there was a mission with a train to Bexley then a 401 bus to Dartford heath then a walk. Getting home was notable for the unruly queues to get on the buses at Leyton Cross. In the end I think it was worth it to go to a school in the countryside
I spent the 4th and 5th years in Maggie Moutjoys form, I was also rubbish at French which was an unfortunate combination. The seemly huge amount of French homework did not help.
This got even worse when I was somehow put into Herr Davis’s German class where I remained at the very bottom of the class.
Fortunately salvation came when we had the option to choose subjects and was able to do Technical Drawing with Sam Austin, being able to do something I enjoyed made a huge difference. I carried on with engineering drawing at work, then CAD when Computers appeared.
I moved to Clive Dougals French group which was far more relaxed.
I also did physics with Percy Black, despite his strictness as deputy head he was quite approachable as a teacher.
The standard of teaching seemed to vary from excellent to fairly token. If you were interested in your subject and had good teaching it was fine otherwise it could get tricky.
It seems sad that ones future seemed to depend upon what choice of subjects we had and how good the teachers were.
I would have liked to have done both Geography and Technical Drawing, but they were timetabled at the same time.
Games and PE were not a pleasure, cross country running across the fields in winter was torture.
I recall in the 6th form using the common rooms in the old building, these were good for getting homework done, playing cards and eating sandwiches.
Bringing in sarnies was a relief after school dinners, the lumpy mashed potatoes put me off for life.
Sightings of the girls in the school opposite were rare although I do recall doing the joint dancing and drama classes with the girls school with some embarrassment.
Roger Wood - 1954-1958
I left the Tech back in 1958 and a few years later moved to New Zealand, where I still reside at present. I do travel back to UK on a regular basis (next being Aug/Sept this year) to see my old mum who is at the tender age of 92 this year and lives in Longfield, so would love to hear from anyone of my vintage who are registered with you? I am fortunately already in touch with John Ince and Vernon Nicholls and will be lining up to see them on my next visit. However I would also be particularly keen to hear if anyboy knows the whereabouts of 2 other good mates of mine from the school Roy (Ginger) Elliott and Anthony Moody. If anyone has news of them please let me know, thanks.
Rhoda Windiate - (Staff) 1943-1949
I did find Hugh Websters letter (News Sheet Jan. 2004) most amusing and enlightening as well; it certainly gives further answers to this fascinating poem (Ex Tenebris ad Lucem can be found on the Website), particularly those parts which relate to the Wilmington era, when of course, I had remained at the College and knew little of what ‘went on’ there. (However, I do have to admit that I don’t remember Hugh from Adam, Bert or Fred, - sorry about that Hugh! - Actually, I thought that from the ODWA Magazines, most of the boys preferred the ‘OLDER, older woman’ - aka M Mountjoy - rather than just an ORDINARY older woman! Anyway, I am very flattered by the descriptive term he used)!
BUT - I digress - I still aver it is LV who wrote that poem, nothing to do with ‘Flat’ Ed’ - because I knew not this latter guy and only someone who knew the layout at Essex Road (which as it appears he followed on after C L Harris who I DID know), could have written such a soliloquy. (If that is the right word??) As you know, the nom-de-plume of the author is ‘Percy Flage’ and on musing about it yesterday after reading your e-mail, even before we’d had breakfast (!) my husband, a crossword fiend, casually said, ‘ of course, that IS a word, you know’ - though he couldn’t remember its meaning - and off he went to ‘the library’ - in the next room - and came out with the largest dictionary we have, open at the page showing - “persiflage: - light banter or raillery; a frivolous manner of treating any subject.” That of course, is just what the poem sets out to do! It IS banter and frivolity! To my mind, there WAS only one person who could have written that, had knowledge of both Essex Road, Lowfield Street and Wilmington, had that certain special degree of wit to produce such a poem and that was LV - he certainly WOULD have loved it as Hugh (Wally?) says and to my mind, particularly so as he wrote it! (I bet my bottom dollar on it!)
As for poor Mr McCaskill; he always looked terribly unkempt and most unwholesome. I know the boys drove him bonkers! It was Roy Warman, I think, who said that ‘VOD’ stood for ‘Veteran of Dartford’ - another ‘nom-de-plume’! McC was born on the Isle of Skye, and as I had casually mentioned one day that I knew the Skye Boat Song, he asked me to sing it to him. Thereafter, whenever I saw him in the staff room, I had to do an encore.
Oh yes, the terrible stinks from the chemistry lab which also permeated our office, I remember well. ‘Mr Barr is at it again,’ we would sigh. I wonder if Hugh remembers all the little notes that Mr Barr used to keep about his person?
Colin Lowe 1967-1974
Thank you for the regular newsletter. I would like to say a few words concerning Allen Hamerschlag
Allen taught me in “A” level Chemistry and Biology. I’ve been “in chemistry” ever since leaving Dartford Tech., the last 25 years in Germany (they even gave me a Gold watch in 2004)
When I now look back I realise Allan Hammerschlag had a lot to do with this. The subjects he taught me I enjoyed then and still do now and I am a very grateful for this. It makes me sad to hear he has passed away. I appreciated his perseverance with me and the amiable way he dealt with people.
David Bunnett - 1965-1972
Thank you for your speedy reply and for getting the Astronomy Club image back on line. I’m on the left next to Mr ‘Chick’ Lewis holding a telescope. I remember having the pic taken by the Kentish Times. I’m fairly sure the boy next on the left is Chris Jordan, the others I can’t put a name to but I believe we were all amongst those who sat Astronomy ‘O’ Level.
It’s an odd feeling seeing many names that I recognise in the Old Boys lists. Unfortunately my elder brother John (1962 - 1968) was a bit of a bully - and I became something of a punchbag for many of his victims after he left, I also had a hard time with most of the staff who assumed I was from the same mould - so I don’t remember all of them very fondly.
As I went straight to university from DTH I met up with a few school friends only once or twice in the next year or so after leaving.
In 1983 or 4, when I lived in New York, I met someone who was from a younger intake who recognised me. Unfortunately I couldn’t place him, though we nevertheless spent a pleasant few minutes reminiscing about ‘Percy’ Black, ‘Moggie’ Mogford and cross country runs through slimy Wilmington mud tracks, all in the unlikely setting of Times Square subway station and to the utter bemusement of my American partner of the time.
Alan Hammershlag taught me ‘A’ Level Chemistry in a very small class, only about 6 of us. He made an impact on me because he was extremely kindly, had a wry sense of humour and stuck to rationalism in his teaching, never mixing it with Christianity, or any other form of mysticism, which made him a refreshing break from the others who taught pure science during my time.
I’m saddened to see he has died, it may have pleased him to know that I learnt a number of useful tricks from him that I still use today when confronted with sloppy thinking.
Anyhow, thank you for your work on the web-site. It has pleased me to find it, and I look forward to receiving any future newsletters.
Derek Window - 1950-1953
I read with great interest the ‘Number 19’ newsletter and was struck by the amount of nostalgia exhibited by the older ‘Old Boys’ Also, how many of them reside in Australia.
Colin Tedman, Colin Acton, John Stuart Young, and of course, your’s truly, to name but a few.
I was in touch with JSY but unfortunately, due to a computer problem I lost his address.
Colin Acton, who was in my class, only sent me one email and has now gone walkabout. Was it something I said?
Colin Tedman’s article awoke memories of the 477 and the 423 bus routes and strange as it may seem I am sitting in my caravan beside the Bruce Highway at this moment on my way north toward Caloundra where he lives. I have a bitch with me that needs desexing so I shall try the ‘Old Boys’ network !
I returned to the school a few years ago, once with Alan Mead and once with Ted Pepper and we noticed that the tunnel that led up to the bus stop had vanished. Does anyone know when? We used it on Wednesdays to catch the bus to Lowfield Street for Metalwork and Woodwork. Mr. Payne and Mr. Woods were the respective teachers in those days. (Peebo Alley, as I believe it was known is still there and open. ed.)
Ray Scott, What an interesting life you had. From Deptford to Bougianville and back to Brighton... Tell me more about mini skirts and Wellies!! By the way, was that boring secondary school ‘Falconwood’ by any chance?
I enjoyed Marion Millers contribution, I liked the thought of getting a teachers view of school life and the memories she has of those bygone years. (In this case; a ‘Birds Eye view) Mind you..... I would have thought that it would have been a lot more fun trying to get floury handprints on you Marion!
Mr. Black, now there was a teacher! I never ever remember him being the worse for drink, but he was easily sidetracked from the subject at hand by questions about Astronomy.
As A point of interest, I wonder how many of our teachers had spent the previous years trying to kill Germans, and of course, trying not to be killed in their turn. To go from that to facing a bunch of pimple faced kids such as us must have been quite a contrast. It’s no wonder they threw things at us!
Mr. Wall was nicknamed ‘The Dome of Discovery’ by our year.
Graham Burger - 1960-1967
I saw David Walden’s profile on Friends Reunited and he made reference to ODWA which I promptly looked up.
I remember some of the names. Len Hollingsworth taught me (or tried to) history - he used to come to school on a Matchless motorbike.
There are not many of my old classmates on Friends Reunited but a lot of names I do not recognise. It must be something to do with the changes/mergers?
Some of my old chums were John Simpson, Alan Mayne, Dave Chandler, Rob Mahoney, Derek Johnson to name a few. It would be interesting to hear what they are up to.
The photo from 1966 (I thought perhaps a bit earlier). I remember the chap between O’Halloran and the teacher was Russell - I think he was headboy and a very good footballer & sprinter. The teacher, I can’t remember his name, but he smoked like a chimney and taught Maths. He had a classroom across the corridor from the Physics lab (Mr Swarbrick) and the next teacher along the corridor was Mr Hodgson.
The head was Mr Mogford when I left. He taught A level maths.
Neal Stuart Turley - 1980-1980
I was a former student of Dartford Technical High School for Boys. I started at the school in 1980 and unfortunately left in the same year due to my parents decision to emigrate to Australia where I still reside.
I was flicking through the pages of a book on Dartford which led me to doing an internet search on Wilmington Grammar School and hence led me to this database. It was interesting to see some familiar names listed as past pupils who I remember attending some classes with so many years ago. I thought I would send you a line or two in case you wanted to add me to the database and also in the hope of tracking down another former pupil from my year by the name of Mark Phillips. We were once very good friends but have lost contact over the years so I don’t know when he left the school or if anyone remembers him or better still speaks to him. I would love to hear from anyone if this is the case so that I may be able to once again contact him and catch up on the years that have passed.
My email address is below. Now that I have the website address I will make regular visits to see what is happening at the school and who knows, one day in my travels, I may attend one of your dinners and catch up on the past.
and after my response
Thankyou for your prompt reply to my email and also for helping me to try and reach Mark. I hope that you are able to trace him for me although it has been close to twenty years since we last corresponded with one another.
On reading some of the past newsletters and information posted on the website, I have become intrigued as to the whereabouts of former pupils and staff from my year at the school. My school house was Cray and I would be interested in any information you may be able to supply me with as to fellow students from Cray and also the teachers of the time. I remember a fondness for a particular teacher who taught me in Woodwork and was also my form tutor I believe but for the life of me I cannot recall his name. I did keep my school report from the time and I am trying to track that down to help me remember but thought you might be able to find this information quicker.
If there are official channels I need to go through then by all means let me know and I will follow them.
I appreciate all of your help and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Andrew Prewer - 1950-1954
I joined Dartford Tech (as it was called then) in about 1950 and left in 1954 and joined the Army as a boy entrant. I served in the Royal Artillery until 1979. After a further career with the government I retired early and now wear the OAP label.
I was in Thames House and can remember quite a few of the teachers but funnily enough very few of my fellow pupils. I had a brief contact with Fraser Nicol a couple of years ago but have never come across any others over the years. Thats enough for now. I should like to know more about the Association so if you could send me details I would be grateful.
Angus Gilbert - 1977-1981
Dennis, Phil, Old Boys,
I thought I had better write as I saw my name popping up a few times on the feedback page! Also though because I am interested in the old school and old colleagues.
In response to Phil’s comments about my memories of school days, to be fair in response to my slightly negative letter of a few years ago, yes I do not have care free and happiest of day’s memories from school, but that is no reflection on the school, teachers or fellow pupils. It is purely a factor of my maturity (or lack of at the time) and late development.
I recognize what a good school I attended, and still tell tales of those days, such as my naivety when the French teacher sent me down to the office with the register and said ‘while there do not get your books you left in your locker [for the lesson]’ and so I did not! He sent me back down to get them.
Or the history teacher who I am sure could hit you with a piece of chalk with a blindfold on so long as you were talking.
Or the fields and space we had to run and play in.
And two clearest memories, one being the stitches in my head when a chair was thrown at me (you know who you are), I still have the scar but blame no-one (a group of us did set up the chairs to fall upon the first person to enter the room); and yes, the Brugge trip, where my luggage was lost and I spent the weekend in variations of school uniform - but why did I not get invited to sneak off to the sex shops.. um see ‘slow development’ above.
I am smiling as I write this.
I will tell you what I know, the school I attended, along with the teachers and pupils are in some part responsible for who I am today, and he is fulfilled, happy and grateful.
Two years ago I took my girlfriend, now wife to see the school. From the outside and beside the mass of cars parked around the buildings it seemed pretty much the same, n.b. I showed the school with pride and good emotions.
And Phil, I see in one of your responses you wonder what paths we had all taken, if unemployment of the 80s affected us, etc. so for the records; I missed the unemployment problems, worked from the day I left school. Stumbled into I.T. and never looked back. Have run $1 million projects for customers, run Support Operations Centers, and am currently working as a Self-Employed IT Business Analyst to a large company in America on their migration of financial and operations systems to a new platform. Married 3 times, 1 daughter, living in America (east coast) and just filed for citizenship. Not rich, wife number 2 took care of that.
I was thrilled to find out Keith Richards attended our school having just seen those guys at their World Tour opening concert in Boston.
So look, I have made contact, my email is email@example.com, get in touch. I am off to see if I can find some photos from school days to send in, the after school photography group is a happy memory and hobby still with me today. I will look at attending the 2006 dinner.
Paul Bennett - 1977-1984
Hi, I am currently living in Ireland and married to Carmel, a Dentist. No children as yet. I am currently a pilot for BA and am commuting back and forth and enjoying the staff travel! I visit Wilmington frequentlyas my family still live there.
Have enjoyed pouring over the site which has brought back so many memories. None other than that photo supplied by Darren Aylward, although that is definitely Andrew Bibby in that photo and most certainly not Guy Robinson. Get those beekers checked Guy.
Sheila Holden - Secretary 1969-1996
At the moment Caravanning around Oz., (break for Christmas and moving into our new house) Stayed in Maroochydone, Queensland in September and met up with Dr. Colin Tedman (1969-76), who is the Veterinary Surgeon in Caloundra about 20kms from where we were staying. All thanks to the ODWA Newsletter where he had sent in a resume, and I was able to track him down. Our meeting was great and he is very healthy and happy - still collecting and renovating Jaguar Cars!!
Trevor Anderson - 1957-1962
It’s hard to realise that over 40 years have passed since my days at Dartford Tech. Time really flies when you’re having fun. So much has happened since and so many memories still exist in my ancient mind.
The best place to start is at the beginning and go from there. My memories of School days are a mixture of good and bad, however the good out way the bad by a considerable margin. I was excited to read up on the past class mates on the web site and just as excited to read some of the comments and newsletter articles. Since registering on the data base I have had communications from David Catchpole and Adrian Yates which in itself was great. It’s always good to hear about the lives of people that you can relate to and understand. Many names on the data base bring back all the interesting things that happened at school. Names I thought I’d forgotten but are soon remembered conjure up all sorts of weird and wonderful memories. Michael Martin will always be remembered for his flaming red hair and the fact that his mother is the only person outside of school dinners that knew how to cook “Gypsy Tart” (I still haven’t found that recipe). Classmates like Trevor John, John Sheffield (Fred Pawson Sheffield’s protector), John Pritchard, Michael Dorrian, Carl Targett, Terry Canty, John Bing, Terry Crowhurst (who could never resist an “argument” with Gordon “Ding Dong” Bell), and all the football team from our year. It’s hard to capture all those memories on paper. Some of the teachers like Jesse James, Hopkins (on his racing Bike), Amos, Maggie Mountjoy (I still remember the Lord’s Prayer in French), Ted Smith (who gave history dates in lieu of lines), Sam Austin, Jake Clare (I actually sang in his choir for two years), and who could forget Percy Black. At the time I didn’t appreciate some of the things that these teachers enforced but looking back you learn to be thankful for the way they shaped and moulded us in their own ways.
I left England in 1964 for greener pastures in Australia and have been here ever since. My trips home have been limited to three business trips passing through and one trip in 1996 when my father was taken ill and died.
I married an Australian girl in 1968 and have raised two sons and one daughter who are all involved in music in some way or other. My working life has been in the area of Resource Construction and Mining Projects in the field of Contracts. I am currently employed on a 2 Billion dollar upgrade of BHP Billiton’s Iron Ore facilities at Port Hedland in the North West of Western Australia as Senior Contracts Engineer. My work has taken me all over Australia and have now lived in all the states except Tasmania.
In the not too distant future I would like to attend a reunion at the school and to that end I am endeavouring to be at the 2007 reunion to celebrate the 50 year milestone. Until that day when I can come face to face with the boys I went to school with I’ll keep reviewing the newsletters with the hope that some of the articles are written by our year. To all the old boys from 1957 I wish you every happiness and hope that some day in the future we will meet once again. Until that day please feel free to email me and keep me up to date.
Adrian Luff - 1948-51
I came across the ODWA site whilst browsing the internet and then spent the next hour happily reading all the various newsletters since the start of the association. Joining the school in 1948 we were then housed in the Essex Road school, Lowfield Street and the YMCA building close to the station. We did seem to spend most of our time travelling between sites and of course in 1950 we partially moved to Wilmington, which meant journey times increased although we did vacate the Essex Road building. I lived in Mottingham, S.E. London during my time at the school and used the Dartford loop line. It was just possible to catch the 4.28pm train if we ran like the wind when classes finished at 4.15pm. There were of course times when we jumped on the train whilst it was moving out only to find ourselves merrily on the way to Slade Green and all stations to Woolwich Dockyard. Our amusement during our journeys was to play what we called luggage rack football which involved flicking a matchbox with alternate turns from one end of the rack to the other. It was also at this time British Railways introduced the double decker train although it was soon taken out of service due to the length of time it took to get off especially during rush hour. I recall also that there was a particularly nasty assault which again hastened its demise. I have been told many times that I am a mine of useless information with a comprehensive memory of things past. I can therefore remember the names of most of Form 1A of 1948 – Adams, Barron, Brown, Barber, Carter, Clark, Clare, Cunningham, Dillon, Edden, Gasson, Hadler, Hawkings, Mills, McCaffery, Nicholson, Osborn, Seabrook, West. Of these, and also from Mottingham, were two particular friends, John Clare and Sid Seabrook. John I believe took a student apprenticeship at Frazer & Chalmers of Erith and Sid possibly took up pig farming. Peter Barron was a very good footballer and cricketer, took a short term commission in the Army and became a director of a civil engineering firm. Alan Cunningham, who I still see occasionally at The Valley, worked as a chemist in the MOD and Osborn did something in insurance. Derek Hadler was an outstanding athlete running and jumping for Cambridge Harriers, Kent, and in the AAA championships. There have been only two others who I have kept in touch with over the years, and they are Vic Golds, 1946-49, who like me played football for Chislehurst Athletic for many years, and John Edwards, 1949-52, who lived close by in Petts Wood until he moved to Fairlight, Sussex about five years ago. Of the teachers I remember Maggie Mountjoy with affection. She must have been about 35 and in her prime at that time and I can still vividly recall her singing a duet in front of the school with Mr Black. It was called ‘Madam will you walk’ and ended with the line ‘O no John, no John, No!’ Other teachers in my time included Lewis, Pestell, Payne, Hatt, Austen, Williams, Clare, Murphy, Payne, Merchant and Harris who used to drive a large open top SS Jaguar. Mr Altschul changed his name to Andrews at this time and of course Mr Wall was the Headmaster who occasionally took a class in English but usually kept a low profile. I tended to think he had a soft spot for Maggie Mountjoy – but so did we all. Perhaps the most significant events of my school life were the move to Wilmington Hall in 1950 and the introduction of ‘O’ levels in 1951. The move was quite disruptive as it meant even more travelling but the surroundings were beautiful and I recall an enormous tulip tree just outside the French doors of the largest room. On leaving school I joined the Post Office Engineering Department and worked quite happily in automatic telephone exchanges until National Service in the RAF where I became a radar mechanic. This set the pattern for the next 40 years spent working as a technical project manager for the MOD on Air Defence radars, simulators, Met Office systems, and eventually becoming the UK technical representative to NATO for identification systems (IFF). Now retired since 1995, happily married for 44 years, two children and four grandchildren, I look back with some nostalgia to my time at DTS. Through the newsletter I would love to hear from any of my contemporaries. I am unfortunately unable to attend the 2006 reunion on the 13th May as I have another commitment on that date but wish you well and hope to attend on a future occasion, where hopefully I would not be the most elderly old boy
We have been advised that Desmond Waller (1965-1972) passed away in February 2005
David Miners (1960-1965) passed away in March 2005
Colin Cleghorn (1954-1959) passed away in March 2005
ANNUAL REUNION DINNER - 2005
Although our numbers were greatly reduced for the 12th Annual General Meeting and Reunion Dinner on 14th May 2005, we were pleased to welcome a number of members attending their first ever Association event. A good attendance from the 1970 Intake helped to fill our numbers. Approx. 20 members turned up for the excellent conducted tour of the School which has been taken by one of our younger Committee members, Tony Martin (1983-89) for the last six years.
ANNUAL REUNION DINNER - 2006
It has been suggested that we hold dinners less frequently in the hope that attendances will improve, but this may have the adverse effect that with some groups liking to attend on certain anniversaries, if there were not a Dinner that year they would miss out. This year sees the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Intake and they are hoping for a good attendance. Having not had a Guest of Honour last year we have invited Paul Parker, (Member of Staff from 1962-72 & 1974-76) to be our Guest this year.
The question of dress code has been brought to my attention following last years dinner and I have been asked to remind members that we request Smart Dress, i.e. not Jeans and Trainers.
The Menu and other information, including the Nostalgia Tour, for this years Reunion day can be found on the following pages.
ADVANCE WARNING - YEAR OF ’57 - DID YOU START IN DTS IN 1957
Failed the 11-plus first time? Scraped an Interview? Landed in the first (and last) ever “1D”?
(OR JOINED THE POSH LOT IN 1C UPWARDS?)
THEN 2007 IS YOUR BIG YEAR!
Yep – It’s your GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY!
(50 Years since your big move to Secondary Education.)
Don’t miss this chance to meet up with your old Classmates. If you’ve been to a reunion before then you know where it’s at and what it’s about. Eat, drink, smoke and do all the things THEY wouldn’t let you while you were in school. (Aside from wrecking the place…)
Never been before? Then this could be your finest opportunity to meet more classmates than ever. Whilst many may have received good grades in their GCE subjects, none of us passed “Immortality!” Remember all those things you talked about at School? (or would like to forget??) Get back down memory lane before the remaining few million brain cells get there first.
If you know anyone on the mailing list “qualified” to attend the above extravaganza, please get in touch with them and pass on the information. Come to the Reunion in May 2007.
Guest of Honour will be Philip (Pip) Cartwright Staff - 1959-66
WITH THE ATTENDEES GETTING YOUNGER EVERY YEAR, IT’S TIME TO PUT THE “OLD” BACK IN “OLD BOYS!!” - SEE YOU THERE!!
ANNUAL REUNION DINNER - 2007
Having been approached by Members of the 1957 Intake I contacted Wally James (1957-89) with a view to his returning as our Guest of Honour again for the 2007 Dinner, but regretable received the following letter:
Many thanks for your letter. I was very flattered at the suggestion from members of the 1958 Intake that I make a second visit as Guest of Honour in 2007. The first occasion is still a vivid memory and is one of the highlights of my life, and I wish I could accept the invitation. However I feel I must decline.
I suffer from a variety of ailments including heart failure, asthma and mild arthritis. By filling my stomach with pills and my lungs with vapours I can cope with everyday life, provided I take frequent rests, and retire gratefully to my bed at about 6 o’clock. Improvement is possible but unlikely.
However, a fiftieth anniversary is an occasion and I am loth to reject the opportunity to meet once again expupils who played an important part in my life. I will do my best to attend, even if only for an hour or so before dinner.
I have neither computer nor mobile telephone; as a result the world of E mails and texting is beyond me. Will you convey my thanks and regrets to David Catchpole and the other members of the 1958 Intake.
Yours with best wishes Wally
Arrangements are well in hand for this years Dinner and we have agreed to continue with the same format of a conducted tour of the School in the Afternoon followed by the Annual General Meeting and then the Dinner with our usual large display of memorabilia. Of course our Licensed Bar will be available for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks following the return of the touring party and until everybody has retired for the evening.
Our Guest of Honour at this years Dinner is Paul Parker, (Member of Staff 1962-72 & 1974-76).
The Menu will be as follows:
Carvery Main Course
Roast Beef with Horse Radish Sauce
Roast Turkey with Cranberry Sauce
Selection of Vegetables in Season
A selection of Sweets
Coffee and Mints
We have kept the ticket price at £18.00, the same as the last two years. The application form for your ticket can be found in this Newsletter, please apply early so that we can confirm numbers with our caterers. Wives/partners are always welcome to attend.
Tickets can be reserved via the Internet (firstname.lastname@example.org), but bookings will not be confirmed until payment has been made to our Treasurer Keith Potter, details on application form. As we will not be issuing individual tickets again this year, confirmation will be made by email where possible, if not it would be appreciated if a stamped addressed envelope could be included with your booking.
Our thanks to all members that added donations to your ticket money for last years Dinner, also those that tendered their apologies and sent a donation, we need these donations to save having to start a Membership Fee, which creates a lot of work, plus will no doubt cause a lot of those that we have contact with at the moment to sever that contact. So once again we continue the appeal for donations, even if you are not able to attend the Dinner.
Owing to a shortage of articles it has been a struggle again to put this Newsletter together and caused us to continue with only one issue a year, so please start writing. The Website is active, although we are still having problems with the update forms, any amendments can be registered by sending them to our email address: email@example.com
13th ANNUAL REUNION DINNER & A.G.M.
on Saturday, 13th May, 2006
Guest of Honour PAUL PARKER,
1962-72 & 1974-76
There will be a Carvery Dinner and of
course a Licensed Bar and a
Conducted Nostalgia Tour.
All ages are Welcome.
14th ANNUAL REUNION DINNER & A.G.M.
on Saturday, 12th May, 2007
Our Guest of Honour will be Philip (Pip) Cartwright 1959-66
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your next Newsletter is due to be published in February 2007
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
Please contact Dennis Wells,
3 Millbro, Victoria Hill Road, Hextable, Swanley, Kent BR8 7LF.
Please return form with payment to:
Mr. Keith Potter, O.D. & W.A.,
11 Thirlmere Road,
I would like ............ tickets @ £18.00 each
for the 13th Annual Dinner on Saturday, 13th May, 2006.
Pupil/Staff at School from .............................to ..............................
e-mail address .....................................................................................
Vegetarian Option required ............
Cheque, payable to ODWA enclosed for £.................... includes donation to Association Funds.
I would like to join the Nostalgia Tour at 3.45p.m. YES / NO
Newsletter by email/post.
Association may publish/may not publish email address on website.
Association may/may not give out my email to other members on request.