DARTECH AND WILMINGTONIAN – Issue No. 7 – JANUARY 1998
Unfortunately I have not received any articles for this Issue of the Dartech and Wilmingtonian. So I have reproduced a number of the Letters received during the past years. Editor.
Dear Mr Daley,
I was pleased to receive the ODWA newsletter, I guess I have reached that time in my life when my schooldays were the best days of my life and I look back with affection. My receipt of your newsletter coincided with my admonishment of my eldest son who has completed his first term at the local Grammar school. I had informed him that not working to the best of his ability was not good enough and that he must try harder. That week my mother visited and brought for my son a copy of my first school report dated Summer 1969, as a member of form 1D.
Needless to say the comments of my teachers in the report about my first term undermined every guideline I was imposing on my son, thank God for grandparental support!
I must confess that looking down the list of guests of the annual reunion dinner not many names now seem familiar, with a few exceptions.
I certainly remember you, Mr Daley, who I had for Art, I feel now you were a man of infinite patience given my natural ability to defy any of the parameters for Art, yes I know Art has wide limits but my work always managed to exceed them. Through all of this and the occasional clay fight, Mr Daley remained “our Friend.” 3 attempts and no O level but fond memories and no career doing pavement drawings.
Mr Wesson I remember as one of the first fair games teachers I ever encountered, being 15 stones from birth, the term that had cross country or sport’s day was always endured with trepidation but Mr Wesson’s blind eye to short cuts was always remembered with fondness, as was the blind eye to 6th form in “the Foresters” at lunch time.
Mrs Mountjoy I remember well and I joined about the time when the language laboratory had been first introduced. I did get my French O level and this is more useful now than I would ever thought it would be, being so close to the Tunnel here in Ashford.
Mr Bruce (Physics) springs to mind he had the most nicotine stained fingers I ever saw, at the time I thought he was going rusty!
Mr Hollingsworth (History and economics) I remember most for an essay which had a correction in large capital letters marked “HORRID.” I believe it was for a reference to Watt’s Rocket! I also remember feeling he was a bit reactionary for a comment he once made about the sixth form having driving lessons. It went something along the lines of “you lot being able to propel a ton at 100mph”, as my own son starts to talk about driving lessons Hmm, maybe not so reactionary after all.
Mr Dougal I remember for RE and his famous special cushion, a particular lesson and the use of a whoopee cushion is remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Terry Moyle I had for Geography, my recollection was that his eyesight was not 100% so you could get away with the occasional thing in class. I also believe he was also rather fast on his feet particularly in his hush-puppies.
Woodwork with Mr Gregory was always fun, what patience! he had uncanny accuracy with a piece of wood. I remember this particularly when I tried to do up some screws with several of his hand sharpened chisels, (screwdrivers were all being used by fellow classmates). He did not appreciate my breaking all the points off! Lesson learned, I did not do up screws with chisels any more. I remember one of my school reports which awarded me E+; “The boy tries hard, but quite frankly he will make a better Lumberjack than a cabinet maker.” Fair comment, still avoid DIY under wife’s orders.
As far a colleagues go I remember Crispin Whiting, we also both attended the same primary school. Aubrey Patrick Watts I also remember, he gave me lifts home in his “souped up” mini, and his driving approach does not seemed to have changed much! I used to see Mark Payne and Alan Povey when I commuted to London, occasionally after I left, as we were all misguided enough to pursue accountancy as a career.
I will not labour on about what I have done since leaving school, suffice to say I graduated, trained as a Chartered Accountant, have spent 4 years working in the USA and to date have been fortunate to have had only a few months out of work in the last 23 years since leaving school, so the education received cannot have been too bad!
I hope to attend the reunion in March 1998. if only to see if I can still cycle up that bl**dy hill at 40 and several stones heavier than the last time I tried it. At least there are more gears on the modern bikes compared with my “Sturney Archer 3 speed.”
Yours Sincerely, Brendan Morrissey (1968-1975)
Fat Boy, Had hair then, last in cross country, broke one hurdle on sportsday, never made prefect!
FOOTBALL MATCH / QUIZ NIGHT - September 1997
Having received applications, which would have meant a total attendance of only 28, one week before the event the Committee decided that we had no option but to cancel.
We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this and trust that no Member travelled unnecessarily.
Dear Mr Wells
I was delighted to read the OD & WA newsletters of May/June and December. My apologies for not responding sooner. The letter from Greg Hall in the May/June issue particularly entertained me - Greg and I were in the same group through our school years and I can verify his anecdotes. He was indeed a talented cartoonist, as was Mick O’Halloran (who was an outrageously gifted all-rounder). As a group we had many good times. Greg didn’t mention that our gang must have been among the first to drive to school in their own cars, a motley collection of old bangers - among others a Ford Pop, a Morris 8, a Talbot, and Greg’s large van. I have a photo of them lined up outside the old building. Funny to think that those old cars, bought then at giveaway prices for fledgeling schoolboy drivers, would now be highly valued collectables. And that Lagonda owned by one of the teachers must now be worth a fortune. I think we were also the first sixth form to organise a school dance, taking advantage of the then brand new assembly hall.
The letter from Jesse James, in the December issue, also brought back memories. I remember with great respect and affection the teachers mentioned. When I swap school memories with others I realise how fortunate I was to be at Dartford Tech, with its superb old buildings and grounds, and teachers who really knew the business. Some of the ‘new’ buildings were there when I started and more appeared during my years at the school. They were of course a great advance for the school, particularly the assembly hall and the gym, but the old buildings were always my favourite. For all I know they may have been dreadful to teach in but they had style and character. I remember an English lesson being briefly interrupted by a cleaner who was polishing the door handles. He popped his head round the door and said “Knobs” to the teacher (Mr Bates?), who curtly replied “And the same to you.” Even such provocation wasn’t able to disrupt the lesson, such was the discipline then, though the agony of not laughing was considerable.
I now have three daughters, aged eight, twelve and thirteen, and my wife and I are watching their school careers with great interest. They are at good schools and are doing well, taking full advantage of the many opportunities schools now present in the way of facilities, trips and so on. We didn’t have language laboratories, computers or skiing trips back in the fifties and sixties but we did have excellent teachers and that, really, is the bedrock of school life.
It was a real advance in facilities when the gym was built (in my final year). Our physical training took on a scientific approach. The first thing we had to do was to check our fitness by measuring how rapidly our pulses returned to normal after a set exercise. I was declared the least fit person in the class. My revenge was to win the victor ludorum medal at the sports day that year - I came first in the 100 yards, third in the triple jump and first in the long jump, my jump of 20' 6" breaking the school record by a substantial margin. Was I chuffed, though the record must have been broken umpteen times since as each generation grows bigger than the one before.
I was one of the few who went straight to university from school then. I went to Newcastle and gained a physics degree. After that I joined an electronics firm for a few years, and was sent to work as a radar installation engineer at West Drayton, near Heathrow. The work wasn’t exciting but the money was, as we got a weekly off-site living allowance that more-or-less doubled our wages, and the really good bit was living in Earls Court at a time when London was THE place to be. Geoff Lines, another of my mates at Dartford Tech kipped on the floor at my Earls Court flat for a while, as an impecunious student. The flat was burgled and I remember us reporting the theft to the local police. Geoff had lost a pair of new shoes and when asked by the constable at the police desk to describe them he raised his flared jeans an inch or two, revealing his old tatty green shoes, and said, “They were like these - only cream.” Possibly the longest speech Geoff had made at the time - a lad of few words - but he was a brilliant mime artist. I wonder what he’s doing now?
After leaving the electronics firm I travelled around Europe in a van for a while until finally settling down to a proper job, in consumer research and writing. I’m still with the same outfit; my work nowadays is all management but I still find it a stimulating organisation to work for. My other great interest besides my work and family has been the renovation of old houses, first a Victorian terraced house in East Dulwich, followed by an Edwardian semi in Putney, and finally a farmhouse in the wilds of Kent, which dates back about five centuries. I guess Wilmington Hall instilled a love of old buildings in me - I’m sad to hear it has gone.
I’m afraid I haven’t kept in touch with any of the people I shared my school years with. One of my brothers, John, also went to Dartford Tech. His year-group was four or five years earlier than mine. He went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music, was a cellist in the London Philharmonic Orchestra for some years, and now lives in Australia. One of Mr Clare’s successes, though Mr Clare was severely let down by me, as I couldn’t play a musical instrument to save my life.
I’m sure more of my year-group will surface as a result of Neil McKay’s great efforts to track former pupils down. I look forward to reading about them in the newsletter and perhaps we’ll be able to meet up one day.
Yours sincerely, Keith Nisbet, (1958 to 1965)
A.G.M. / ANNUAL REUNION DINNER
on SATURDAY, 7th MARCH, 1997
Guest of Honour: Mr. Jim (Sam) Austen
Licensed Bar Raffle Ticket £14.75 each
(See application form with this Newsletter)
Mr N McKay
It is more than thirty years since I walked up Common Lane for the last time, a lightness in my step and without a backward glance. I have to admit that my schooldays were not the happiest of experiences, for reasons which best belong in the past. You have been kind enough to send me two newsletters, the first of which I read with indifference. However, my apathy was diminished on reading in number five Mr James’ letter to Keith Salmon, how the memories came flooding back! Members of staff may recall with horror, the dishevelled and somewhat slothful individual who in 1960 embarked upon an inglorious career as a member of 1B under the steely eye of Mr Swarbrick. From then on it was downhill all the way, until I departed in 1965 clutching a few O levels, let loose upon an unsuspecting world where employment was taken for granted. There is little more to recount, I made few friends whilst there, true fellowship being found through my membership of the Boys’ Brigade at Bexleyheath. However, I remember with great affection Mr Black, without whom Physics would remain a closed book to me. Mr Lewis and Mr Pearce, were both sound Christians who’s influence endured in the years to come. It is therefore with great sadness that I heard first of Mr Black’s and later his colleagues’ deaths. Each of those men displayed a mixture of warmth and firmness which is so often missing in the teaching profession today. I make this claim on the basis of experience as a school governor and parent. And so to the present.
After a brief flirtation with the MWB, in 1966 I moved into management services, passed my professional examinations, left home and moved to Yorkshire in 1971, married Margaret later that year and fathered two sons, Richard (22) and David (19). Richard has an HND in Business Studies and a BA in Arts Management from Durham and Northumbria respectively. David is taking a year out - or sponging off his parents, depending on your point of view. He hopes to take a BA in Performing Arts at LIPA and make a fortune in the rock business. Don’t hold your breath. My wife Mag works in the Department of Educational Studies at University of York, where she keeps the academic staff in some sort of order. As for me, after twenty odd years working for various firms in the food industry I became in 1985. a management consultant and am now the co-owner/director of a consulting firm with offices in York and Telford. I’ve left it a bit late, but last year I embarked upon an OU degree and passed the foundation course in Social Science. Only five years to go! These days our lives are centred very much on the Christian faith and despite what people may say, it’s no easy option. For us there is no option.
So there you have it, a potted history. Today we live in what is probably the most beautiful county in England, who could ask for more? Although my work takes me around the country (and occasionally past the gates of WGS - my sister lives in Hawley) it seems unlikely that I will be able to participate in the proceedings of the association. However, this letter leaves Yorkshire with all best wishes and warmest greetings to those who still recoil at the sound of my name.
Yours sincerely, John Tull, (1960-1965)
IF ANY MEMBER HAS ANY MUSICAL
INSTRUMENTS THAT THEY HAVE NO
FURTHER USE FOR, THE SCHOOL WILL BE VERY PLEASED TO HEAR FROM YOU.
I have just received the December issue of the Old School newsletter and now feel extremely guilty and embarrassed in leaving the previous newsletter together with your introductory letter in the top drawer since last year.
It has been 35 years since I walked out of the school gates for the last time and into the reality of pending adulthood, unfortunately the decision to leave was not entirely my own choice. School and the associated discipline together with Tony Foster was not a combination that gelled, it was 4 years before I realised fully the mistakes I had made and commenced what was to be a 22 year programme of further and higher education.
Like all other “old boys’, reflecting on those early years of our lives brings back many memories;
‘Charlie” Wall the headmaster whom I was sent to on many occasions and his stern deputy Mr Black (his nickname escapes me although “Percy’ comes to mind), other members of staff include Mrs “Maggie” Mountjoy, ‘Jessie” James, Mr Austen and not forgetting my maths teacher Mr Egerton. I recall quite clearly being caught many times talking as Mr Egerton emerged from the back room during a Maths lesson after having a crafty smoke, if he missed me with the blackboard duster he would catch me later with his ruler!
The school canteen (how I liked that gypsy tart and always asked for seconds!) next to the bicycle sheds, whilst waiting for our time slot we often could see through the trees the young pupils from Wilmington Grammar School for girls going through their PT exercises.
That long and arduous cross country run, the ‘high’ point being as we run adjacent to the pig farm behind Leyton Cross road, unless that is we took the short cut and waited for half the class to go past before re-joining.
The No 428 bus ride from Oakfield lane to Leyton Cross (yes there were buses in those days) and of course the traditional ‘School Reports’. How I dreaded the postman coming and then sitting down in front of my parents whilst they read out the ghastly details and demanding a commitment that I will correct all my misgivings. I still have all my old reports and often take the opportunity to sit down and read through them recollecting not only my academic success but also my old school chums and wondering what they are doing now? Messrs Palmer, Schofield, Johnson and Jewiss come to mind (I cannot remember the names of the remaining magnificent seven of class 2C through to 4C during the years 1958-62 ). Young G. Jewiss always used to bring sherbet lemons to school, how they used to make the roof of your mouth sore after sucking your way through ¼ lb bag! (I note he has attended the last two functions and would appreciate you passing my address to him or his to me) I must not forget Roger Willimott who passed your name and phone number to me last year after our paths crossed in business.
So where did that grounding get me in life? Today I am a successful senior manager in the ever demanding 1st tier automotive supply industry and have been fortunate to remain in full employment throughout my career. I have travelled the world either on business or on pleasure, in fact I fly to the USA on the 8th March for a series of meetings so am unable to make the AGM or dinner, but don’t worry I have made a note of the September date and intend to walk up that drive again.
I have enclosed a cheque being a donation to your cause and ask you to add my name to your mailing list for future newsletters, again apologies for not being able to make the 8th March and hope to see you in September.
Best Regards, Tony Foster. (1958-62)
As mentioned in past issues Neil McKay has spent a great deal of time searching for Old Boys to add to our numbers. Such has been his success, that our Database now includes almost 800 names and addresses. During these searches he has been advised of a number of those that are no longer with us, which have been added to a separate Database of those that we were already aware had passed away. I include the names that we have for your information.
D. Brims 1949; D.Pert & P. White 1953; R. Cheesman, A. Pauley, G. Southworth and T.W. Stevens 1954; P. Brenchley 1955; A. Carpenter 1956; R. Carey 1957; D. Giffen 1960; R. Bones 1962; J.M. Grogan 1969; A. Boyd 1971; R.W. Whitmore 1972; and D. Yandle 1975.
You recently wrote to my father concerning the reformation of the “Old Dartechs’ & Wilmingtonians’ Association” and he subsequently passed on your correspondence.
I very much enjoyed my time at “D.T.H.S.F.B.” and am grateful for the education that they afforded me. I would be delighted to attend any future functions, both to see old friends and to raise funds for the school. As such, I would like to accept your invitation to the event planned for September 27th.
However commerce has taken it’s toll and, whilst I represented the school for a few years at first eleven level, even the thought of another 90 minutes on the top pitch leaves me shattered. Accordingly, I will not be taking this opportunity to “dust-off” my football boots for one last fling.
I look forward to receiving details of the function and if I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours faithfully, Gary Haines (1975-1980)
18 August, 1997.
Dear Mr McKay,
Thank you for your letter on behalf of the ‘Old Dartechs’ & Wilmingtonians’ Association’.
I was a pupil at Dartford Technical School from 1976-1978, where I studied for my A level exams.
Thank you also for the kind invitation to the football match and following buffet, the game I find to be 90 minutes of sheer purgatory and would therefore gladly miss, but would like to attend the buffet, assuming that would be acceptable and that there would be old boys attending from my years.
Unfortunately the date falls within a week I have set aside to celebrate my wedding anniversary and cannot guarantee I will be able to attend; I will not know positively until during the preceding week. I realise this is a little open ended but if it is not too much trouble please forward the exact details to me and I will let you know as early as possible if I will be able to attend or not.
Should I not be able to attend the September soiree please let me know of future functions which I am sure I will be able to make an appearance at.
I may also be able to help you trace more of the old boys as I keep in contact with a few, or have mutual friends who would assist in forwarding current addresses; some immediate names which spring to mind are Vincent Jewell, Kevin Perkins, Mark Howman, Andrew Clough, Andrew Woodall, Stuart Williams, possibly more with a little more thought. Just let me know and I will do what I can.
Yours sincerely, Adrian Crockford (1976-1978)
We have received a request from the School for
assistance in providing Musical Instruments for the Boys to learn to play. If you have any old Musical Instruments that may be of use to the School please do not hesitate to contact the School, even if the instrument needs repair, as it will no doubt be cheaper than purchasing new.
Telephone: 01322 223090 Fax: 01322 289920
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON SOCIETY
Any former pupils, or Staff that went on to the
University of Southampton, (or pre 1952 Hartley
College) are requested to contact Nigel Impey, Alumni
Officer, University of Southampton, Highfield,
Southampton, SO17 1BJ
Formed in 1993, the Society publishes 2 magazines a year to all members, plus the University’s Annual
Report free of charge.