Newsletter No. 8  -  July 1998


Mr. PEARCE - Written by A.G.G. Campbell (1960-68)

Dear Mr Daley,

One of your letters in the August edition of the newsletter referred to Potty Pearce. This e-mail is simply to put on record one schoolboy’s memories of a great teacher.


This is not a description of a friendly man. Pearce was not friendly: he was formal and brittle. His smile replicated the jaw movement of a ventriloquist’s dummy and he could produce instant silence with a maniacal stare. He wore cap and gown from the moment he walked into the school building; even batting in them when opening in a staff/sixth form cricket match. He drove his expensive Wolseley like a praying mantis looking for a meal and would often rub his hands in class like a mantis that has just finished its meal.


It is not a description of a popular man amongst students or staff. On our first meeting he told us he was a Christian, assumed we were all the same and that was why he never went to the staff room because it housed non-believers. He preferred to take his breaks in the library quietly munching away at sandwiches stuffed with the best that Shiphams could produce. Fish paste wafting round the shelves accompanied by the crackle of grease proof paper meant he was in residence.


It is not a description of a humble man either. Unmarried, he lived in Sidcup with his sisters. As his illness worsened, I went to visit him with a friend whose principle claim to fame was his steamy relationship with a beautiful girl from Wilmington Grammar school. Not only was it the ‘full monty” but carried on with the approval and knowledge of her parents - something of an achievement in the early sixties. He was the only person who came to school with pyjamas in his case for the overnight stay. (Unsurprisingly he did not drop this into our conversation with Pearce). We were shown into the sitting room where Pearce was lying in bed too ill to move. I can remember only a little of the conversation now. I asked Pearce his opinion of my trip to a Billy Graham meeting at Earl’s Court. Another friend whose church had booked a coach had empty seats and I was invited to make up the numbers. Cliff Richard sang to the crowd (He seemed to have been around a long time even then). Billy Graham asked who in the crowd had the nerve to come down and stand in front of him. The challenge had to be answered so off I went and paid the penalty of regular mail shots for two years plus my father angrily testing me for the after-effects of brainwashing. My friend sensibly remained in his seat and became a bank manager. Pearce knew exactly what had happened in London: “God has spoken”. But he never told me what God had said.


Actually God featured a great deal in that visit to Sidcup. We were given tea and just as we raised the cups, Pearce cleared his throat and said “Let us pray for this tea”. We prayed for the biscuit as well and also for a slice of cake. But this was nothing compared to the man who came in after chopping up logs for the fire. He dropped to his knees by the bed and thanked the Lord for the strength to cut the wood. Pearce told us he was happy. “I know I am going to heaven gentlemen and God is waiting”. No one doubted him. It was the last time we saw him.


So why did we go? No one asked us. We organised it amongst ourselves. Earlier, when he was admitted to Guy’s Hospital more of us had gone. A nurse told us of his fear that he had used bad language under anaesthetic. Most people worried about their illness, Pearce worried about his language.


We visited Pearce because we knew, inside, it was the right thing to do. It was the respectful thing to do. And he always respected his students. ‘You are gentlemen and I will treat you like gentlemen” was another thing he said during the first class meeting. And he did. In front of him was an interesting collection of sixties children. One later died on the drug trail in Turkey; another ended up in California making films and I would not be surprised if my fellow visitor to Sidcup has spent his life in happy debauchery probably running a topless bar in the Far East. I spent twelve years in central Africa mixing law, civil servants, family and politics in a one party state. He was eccentric but he was honest with his students; he was strange but was precise and clear in what he wanted from his students; he was odd but exuded decency and trust; he was a disciplinarian who began by meeting his own standards before turning to us. Like all great teachers he knew that it was how you behaved that determined what you could teach. And he behaved courteously.


When the door to his class room closed we all became his students to share in his delight of language. I have never been able to recapture my sense of wonder as he read and explained “Ozymandias”; he had insights into T.S.Eliot that vanished when you looked at an ‘O’ level crib; I have no memory of anything but our group listening deeply as Pearce went through Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was not his favourite Shakespeare, but no one would have guessed. Because he set high standards for himself and expected it in us and because he believed in what he was teaching, he opened new worlds. For some it was only temporary and forgotten as soon as the bell rang. For some of us it was permanent. That was fine: he had given us the experience and we could choose.


Pearce was no fool. In the third year, he had a novel way to make us improve our writing style. He would cut out short news items from the Times and hand them out each week. These had to be memorised and then written down in the first lesson on Monday afternoon. One of the class had the brilliant idea of asking to come in during the lunch hour to write it down early. Pearce agreed, amazed at such enthusiasm. Of course there was no supervision and the resulting effort was perfection. Good ideas spread fast and a number of us asked for the same “privilege”. Pearce must have realised what was happening - for schoolboys to suddenly change from lunch time football to writing Times pieces was too good to be true. He announced that as we had improved so much there was no need for the exercise any more. There was a shuffling of feet. His students would never cheat because they were gentlemen. He almost winked when he said it.


Today I run my own college training people in the offshore finance industry. When the lecture door closes the people in front of me are my clients and they all count - those who are quick and those who need extra time. They do not need to take notes (these are provided) as I need to see their eyes. That way I know if they understand and I want everyone to understand. Our training is intensive: they are specialists in their own field and time is precious so we need the best teaching techniques. We are expanding the business.


And I know who taught me most important teaching techniques before I had any notion I would become a teacher!


Why bother writing this e-mail?... the same reason that I went to Sidcup over thirty years ago.

Yours sincerely    A.G.G. Campbell (1960-68)



PAUL TULLY (1957-63)

Dear Mr. Wells,

In response to your request for personal experiences at “Dartech”, it is more than forty years ago that I was dragged kicking and screaming from Primary School and unceremoniously dumped, complete with grey short trousers, into the newly created “Form 1D” of Dartford Technical School for Boys. This achievement followed marginal success with the original 11-Plus Interview system and securement of a place at Secondary School as far away from home as one could possibly be flung at the time. A twice-daily journey on the old “477” from Orpington did nothing to ease the situation, especially when, on one occasion I had the audacity to actually lose my Bus Pass and was threatened by a genuine “Blakey” look alike with all sorts of dire consequences. Mind you, I had been travelling ticketless for at least three weeks beforehand. . . All in all, I don’t think one could have gone any further down the barrel than 1D in those days, but at least a start had been made on the educational ladder of life, and we did spend most of our formative years studying in the New Building rather than “Castle Greyskull” across the driveway.


Our Form Master was Mr. Orton (Tom) whose main vocation was teaching Art to the masses, including 1D and its motley crew of junior misfits. For other subjects, Mr. James (Jesse), whose reminiscences I read with interest in past Newsletters, held sway in the English department; Mrs. Mountjoy, French, Mr. Amess, Maths, Mr. Dann (Desperate - what else?) Physics and Chemistry, Mr. Clare (Jake) Music, Mr. Sant, (Rusty) Geography, Mr. Austen (well known even to this day..), Engineering Drawing, Mr. Edgington (Slash), Religious Instruction - now there was a marksman with a piece of blackboard chalk! Less esoteric instruction was later given by the two Ps, Messrs. Payne and Pestell for Metalwork and Mr. Gough and Mr. Gregory for Woodwork at Lowfield Street. I did look forward to the scheduled morning trips into Dartford for Woodwork as this was the only opportunity to arrive back at Wilmington later during the day without being booked for lateness by the Gate Prefect. I feel somewhat fortunate to have been placed in Mr. Gough’s group as I understand Mr. Gregory became an extremely powerful missile launcher whenever he felt it necessary to point out the shortcomings of slipped chisels and bad joints to unsuspecting students.

After a brief but enjoyable two years toil down at the blunt end, some of us eventually succeeded in gaining membership of Mr. Pearce’s select group of “A-Stream Boys” (3A to the uninitiated.) and never really looked back. At that point in time, school life was beginning to take off. Many, if not all of us were now kitted out in the most fashionable clothing accessory of all - long trousers, and more than just a passing interest was being taken in the Girl’s Grammar School on the other side of Common Lane. (A great pity the footbridge had been removed some years ago..)


From 3A onwards we were treated to a genuine smorgasbord of teaching talent, from Mr. Hopkins (Signor Buffo after the famous Esso commercial at the time) in the subject of History, Mr. Robinson (Piggy) for French, Mr. Bruce (Bracket) for Physics, Mr. Lewis (Chick) for Chemistry, good old Percy for Physics, Mr. Smith (Pinhead) and Mr. Carter for Geography, Mr French for Maths, whilst taking an occasional break from his Deputy Head duties, and many more that time and the death of a few million braincells prevent me from mentioning.


However, I do remember Mr. Hopkins as one of the most popular teachers of the time although his mastery of class discipline came in well behind his ability to teach. One afternoon during a History lesson, at the stroke of 3.pm, the entire class of thirty students simultaneously lifted then let go their respective desklids. (The sound of thirty desklids hitting the stops at the same time, significantly enhanced by the acoustics in a large classroom like O1, is quite unbelievable.) As a result of the combined antics of the entire class, poor Mr. Hopkins had no idea down which row to run, or which unfortunate to punish first. A word like apoplectic did not adequately describe the effect on Mr. H. although, I believe a more modern adjective along the lines of “Simian droppings” would have been suitably acceptable in this instance. He was, nevertheless, sorely missed by many when he eventually left the school in search of fresher fields and, coincidentally, many gave up History as a GCE subject following his departure.


Life was, however, not all fun and games as the occasional backhand to the ear from Mr. Robinson would attest, and time always appeared to slow down considerably when being made to stand outside the classroom for the duration of his lesson. The Friday Night detention was also an obstacle to one’s scholastic enjoyment, although I can recollect only being awarded a total of three during my entire stay at Wilmington Hall. One was given for smoking on the bus, another for going into a sweet shop on the way home (a cardinal sin in those days), and a third for the heinous crime of not wearing a cap whilst travelling to/from school. Since I had experienced the “correctional system” at first hand, this may have been instrumental in the eventual decision to promote myself and one or two other members of 6R to the status of School Prefect.


Whilst being in such an exalted position, this still did not allow anyone the opportunity to exact revenge on those who had gone before, but at least we could now wear with pride, “one of them big fancy blazer badges” - the same one, in fact, that graces the front cover of the Newsletter. This was our first real taste of responsibility, and I think I can honestly say that Derek Langridge, the Head Prefect of the day, worked us all to capacity. (It was uncanny that I seemed to be rostered for afternoon Gate Duty whenever I had an activity organised for the same evening. Was it something I said...?)


Going back to the early days, one of my dubious talents is the ability to still remember the entire Register of Form 1D in alphabetical order, and therefore, with your permission and sincere apologies for any misspelling, now fondly reproduce it for anyone who may be reading this letter and who may have formed an integral part of the old “outfit” :-


Anderson, Bing, Bollen, Bradford, Catchpole, Chambers, Clench, Crowhurst, Cushion, Dorian, Gooch, Grant, Hall, Hibbert, Huggins, Ince, Ingram, John, Lane, Martin, Moore, Norris, Pawson, Pearson, Pritchard, Sanford, Sheffield, Yours truly, Walker and Morgan (a late arrival!) - any of you guys still out there?


Phase Two of my life - the part where you earn money and proceed to forget everything you learned at school, or so your employers would tell you, would take some time to serialise. Notably, this includes a lifetime in the Telecommunications business, eighteen years of it spent in various parts of the world and nearly the same again in the United Kingdom. Along the way I have collected a beautiful wife and two equally fine daughters, - “Daddy and family still doing well”! Recently I commenced early retirement, (not on health grounds I hasten to add) and am therefore looking forward to Phase Three and whatever it may entail, so if there is anyone teetering on the edge of boredom, with a few days to spare, please feel free to get in touch for the complete and unabridged version. (e-mail address paultully@compuserve.com - regretfully one has to move with the times.)


To end I would like to thank you and your associates for all the hard work and efforts you have made in tracing former students over the years and look forward to reading about them in forthcoming newsletters. I am only sorry that I have been unable to attend this year’s reunion but welcome the opportunity to attend future functions.


And by the way, should Mr. Carter and/or any of the complement of 4A be reading this, I have a confession to make - On the one and only occasion ever and in a desperate attempt to avoid complete failure, I DID cheat in the geography exam; my near perfect topographical map of Australia came straight from my school-bag!


Unfortunately, and to confound the theory, this particular cheat did prosper - I got the top mark -Sorry! Mr. Lewis clearly failed in his duty as Invigilator...



Letter received from Mr. JIM (Sam) AUSTEN, (1957-74) following the 5th Annual Dinner


Dear Dennis


Many thanks for your hospitality on Saturday. The journey back was excellent - no problems!


Please convey my thanks to the Committee for the magnificent bouquet; Margaret was over the moon with it and promptly trimmed the carnations and potted them up as cuttings - kept her busy all Sunday morning!


I would like to ask the Member who recounted a tale of Mr. Black taking a group down a Kent coalmine to put it in writing for an article in a future Newsletter; it was hilarious and although it took place during my stint at the School I had never heard of it before and it should make good reading. (The Editor agrees).





The way it was


The affectionate if slightly irreverent recollections of an old Ag student.


I have the worst memory in the world. Trying to remember who I was at school with is a fruitless task. Even the dates I was there have to be worked out but I’m pretty sure it was 1953 to 1957. I’m an old, old boy! I was on the Ag (agricultural) course, a course which was a mystery to anybody who wasn’t on it and a mystery to some who were. Mr Hughes was the principal master and he lived on the premises in a cottage with his wife and daughter.


When my peers and I first arrived at the school to begin our respective courses the buildings consisted of the old mansion (Wilmington Hall) and the stables which had been converted into the chemistry, physics and biology labs and the wood and metal workshops and dinner hall which were situated behind the labs and bordered the kitchen garden. We also had a potting shed and anyone who listened to ‘Round the Horn’ in those days and remembers Rambling Sid Rumpold knew what that meant.


Mr Hughes came from a different world from all the other masters who were then at the school. He was a true country gentleman who new the ways of the country. Down to earth, farm reared, bio-degradeable, everything we would now call ‘green’ and probably find on a supermarket shelf. But I don’t mean to make fun of him. He had a very responsible job not only teaching but also looking after the quite considerable farm we then had and that’s a seven days a week job. The farm consisted of an orchard of apples and pears, 300 or so laying hens in deep litter, six pigs, a six acre field which was used to grow a cereal crop and another field which was left for hay. And I nearly forgot, a gaggle of appallingly hostile, nip your ankles or anything else they could reach as soon as look at you, geese.


At Christmas time we killed most of the hens, prepared them for the table and sold them within the school, turkeys were not so popular in those days. Seeing a barn full of boys with their hands up chickens bottoms is quite a sight! It’s called drawing and we were always being reminded ‘not to burst the gall bladder ‘cos it taints the meat’. I’ve always been very cautious of gall bladders ever since, not that I’ve seen any, but the very mention of the words rings the bells of danger in my mind. Anyway they were very popular, the chickens that is not the gall bladders, and there were never enough to satisfy demand.


The Ag course ran on the basis that we boys were expected to attend for farm duties at weekends and holidays and this was done on a rota basis. Most of the work centred on the chickens, watering and feeding, changing the straw, collecting eggs, scraping bird shit off your boots and similar everyday activities. Of course being quite normal boys, I bet you were beginning to wonder weren’t you, absenteeism was a problem and poor old Mr Hughes would have to cover the duties of the miscreant. Not a situation he was very happy about and, unless you had a plausible excuse certified by a notary public, a matter for detention.


We also had a tractor, a ‘Fergy’, which we were allowed to drive after satisfying Mr Hughes that we knew which gear was to be used for the various tasks the tractor performed and the difference between the clutch and spin break. Using the tractor was one thing that most of the boys looked forward to but the antithesis of this was the kitchen garden. If ever a modern school used slave labour then this was it. Digging in a garden with a fork or spade is hard when each tool has to be oiled with an oily rag kept in a tin full of oil for the very purpose of which I have already mentioned. Your hands become all oily and you will all recall the impossibility of finding a piece of soap in the washrooms so trying to clean up becomes a nightmare. What made the whole kitchen garden business so dismal was that nothing ever seemed to grow!


From memory, the state of which you are already familiar with, Mr Hughes did not teach biology to any classes other than the Ag courses, with one exception. Just which year it was escapes me but once, just once for each year, he took the non Ag classes to tell them about. . well, you know. . . thingy. . . sex. A lesson which it seems was needed for those taking engineering type courses but was felt to be unnecessary for those who already had a certain affinity with the land because I don’t recall having that lesson myself. Perhaps watching chickens copulating all day long was considered enough guidance.


You may have gathered by now that life on the Ag course differed somewhat from the norm expected of state education. It probably was then, it certainly would be today. But it was a great education and I have found that the practical side is something that you keep with you always. I can still tell a field of wheat from a field of barley after 38 years in finance!


So, what went wrong. Well nothing really but long term security seemed like a better option than muddy boots.


Who can I drag up from that scant brain cell called a memory. Well two are very easy, Adrian Boyling and Michael Phillips. We all found ourselves working for the Post Office as Postal Officers directly after leaving school. I left the Post Office in 1962 and then lost touch with them both. So as not to tar Adrian with the same brush as us Ag boys I should mention he was not on that course. He probably knows nothing whatever about chickens. I can recall a Fletcher, Killick and a Polish name maybe Wolek and Ted Broadrib. Faces I can picture but the names are not there. Perhaps somebody can help me out.


BRIAN (Lead Boots) HYLAND (1956-63)

Dear Dennis

Many thanks for your letter and newsletter - it was great fun to read. As I said on the telephone, it was a pleasant surprise to read the local paper article on your forthcoming annual reunion dinner. Fortunately my sister Joan, (who went to the nearby girls school) still lives in Kent and is an avid reader. Regretfully I am unable to join you due to a prior engagement but look forward to the opportunity of discovering some long lost friends.


I attended Wilmington from 1956 to ’63, graduated in civil engineering in ’66 and continue to enjoy my career as a Chartered Engineer, for Bechtel, largely in the UK. I am currently based in the west end of London, commuting from Basildon, Essex.


I am married to Jenny, and have a son in his second year of university, also civil engineering - I tried not to influence him, but failed.


I have many good memories of DTS, my fellow pupils and teachers. Some of my school-learnt skills, (or lack of them), have continued to this day. For instance I hated French. I was useless and achieved the bottom GCE grade of 9 at my first and second attempts. I remember ‘Maggie’ Mountjoy having a bet with the other French teacher, (name now forgotten) that it would be impossible for me to pass. Well I did pass, just. I learnt some phrases and repeated them for the oral even when I did not understand the questions. I guessed most of the translations and also learned some standard short essays. I don’t know how I passed but I either guessed correctly or earned some sympathy marks. However to this day I hate French and am reluctant to learn anything in another language.


I particularly remember enjoying the light relief of metalwork classes. I remember the forge - an excellent device for roasting chestnuts. The lathe - my turning was good enough to make a simple water pistol. Maintaining the teacher’s bicycle - it had drum brakes, which often got a good oiling. Persuading fellow pupils that you could anneal steel in the same way as copper by heating to red heat and plunging in the acid bath - resulting in horrible fumes and steel that damaged your files! Work was often kept in large OXO tins - a competition to see how many times one could fold a tin lid into half was always fun, as long as it was not your own lid, and as long as you were not caught and banished from the class, as happened to me. I wonder if the model steam engine ever did get finished?


I enjoyed sports at school, but did not excel, with the exception perhaps of my ability in soccer to flatten opponents, especially with the old solid toe cap boots - hence my nick name ‘lead boots’. My speed, trips, hip throws and tackling completely outshone my ball control - but it was sometimes quite effective. Only some years later did I discover I was skilled, but at racket sports and subsequently badminton has been my adult life long passion.


In the sixth form I must have been incredibly boring, being interested only in model aircraft, real aircraft, (flying solo at 15 years), and motorbikes. Not for me were there girls, dances or Buddy Holly - perhaps the lack of a record player at home restricted me.  Well again some things haven’t changed as I only recently gave up motorcycling - 30 years of riding without a scratch - I must have been lucky. When I occasionally drive past the school I always remember the sight of Tony Gilmore coming down the hill on his BSA C11G removing both hands from the bars to put up his goggles - he was also always quicker than I was.  I also still fly occasionally, even to the extent of persuading Jenny to have a weeks gliding holiday with me. I no longer fly control line model aircraft, though I still possess my engines, from an era prior to silencers and when they could be flown in public parks.


My peers in the 1992 lower sixth were Paul Oakley, Tony Carpenter, Tony Clark, Robin Pitman, Bob Crighton, John Stevenson, David Budd, Tony Gilmore, ‘Winkie’ Taylor, Peter Woodward and Mick Bartle.


I kept contact with Tony Clark for some time as we both went into civil engineering, and Mick Bartle in mechanical engineering but once at work old friends were forgotten, to my regret in later years. I recall David Budd moved to the Cirencester area, and I regretfully also lost contact with John Stevenson, most famous at school for his fantastic looking sister! Their nicknames are still on the one photograph I have of those years, taken by Mick, whose hobby was photography and fast cars.   I understand Tony Gilmore went to South Africa after graduating in mechanical engineering; he was my closest friend at school, and it would be a thrill to meet once more.


Where are they all now? Most should be traceable as many would be professionally qualified and registered with one of the major institutions. This group were exceptional, 9 ‘O’ levels and five ‘A’ levels were expected and I remember genius Bob Crighton getting grade 1’s in all - amazing for a mere Technical School. Whilst the post war boom contributed, and I suppose we all dragged each other along, much credit was due to teachers such as Bill ‘Ozzle’ Hodgeson and ‘Percy’ Black.


One year with Bill’s clarity of maths teaching transformed me from a 5th year leaver to a potential graduate and eventually to a rewarding career. I can still clearly remember the beauty of the calculus explained from first principles - I have tried to pass on the lessons to my son, but I am not in Bill’s league.


Thank you Dennis for the extract from the 1963 database, though I recognise few names. There was a three-stream intake that year, which would have been close to 90 pupils, so perhaps it is not surprising. Also my main memories come from the sixth form years. I do remember Colin Ridley - supreme distance athlete; and Roger Brown - Jaguar enthusiast from Chelsfield, Kent.


Re your puzzle of remembering my name, perhaps it was just my singer namesake, with ‘Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Bikini’ and ‘Ginny come lately’. Apart from the first year, (bus), I always cycled to school from my home in Crayford.


I hope you and the other Old Dartechs’ have a great evening on Saturday.

If anyone wants to make contact, my address is: 6 Roseberry Avenue, Langdon Hills, Basildon, Essex SS16 6BJ. Home telephone 01268 412674, work direct line 0171 681 5121,

work e-mail Bxhyland@ctrl.co. uk



JOHN DRURY - 1963-1969.


I have been passed a copy of  the January newsletter by an old school colleague whom I had not seen for at least 20 years. Fortunately our paths crossed again recently and I am taking this opportunity to register my details on the data base of ex pupils and also to share a number of memories of my time at  Wilmington Hall in the early sixties.


I remember my first day at the school in September 1963 where the new intake were herded into a classroom on the upper level in the old building to be allocated forms issued with School Bible and School Hymn Book.


My first Form was 1B under the leadership of Mr. Daley and, if I remember correctly . . . this was Mr. Daley’s first day at the school as well.


Early memories include morning assembly in the art room with “Percy” Black in charge and being segregated at break times from the upper school members in a completely different playground     more for our own protection than anything else in those early days of our school life!!! In those days school uniform was strictly enforced and ‘caps’ had to be worn! ! !


As the years progressed I particularly remember ‘cross country day’ every year which was an awful experience to have to endure. In fact in the fourth year I clearly remember the Fourth Year race being postponed because of the high absenteeism on that day (was this arranged beforehand)?? Luckily it is too long ago to remember! We did not get away with this strategy as there was a special re-scheduling of the ‘day’ for the fourth form at a later date.


What the Games Masters never knew (they may have suspected something) is that as I used to live in Rowhill Road (part of the weekly practice course during Games periods) and that several of us used to deviate from the course to spend a few minutes in my garden to have an illicit ‘puff’ then rejoin the course without having expended the same amount of energy as the rest of our co-pupils. If any of you remember this. . . happy days . . .!


I also remember clearly that the 1963  intake were the first ones to be allowed to park their transport outside the old building (subject to permission from Mr. Black) and in those days the ‘transport’ was a mixture of Lambretta and Vespa scooters. What a sight to see so many prime examples lined up outside the old building! David Lacey . . . do you remember when people who shall remain nameless managed to manhandle your machine up the stairs in the old building and deposit it in the 6th Form common room? For those of you who remember the old building and the staircase. . . you willappreciate that this was not an easy task to perform . . . Yes we helped return the machine to it’s original parking spot! I do not think that Mr. Hollingsworth ever realised that there was a Lambretta scooter in the room above when he was conducting lessons.


Looking back, I enjoyed my time at Wilmington Hall and realise how lucky we were in those days to have such good facilities for learning in the new science labs/language laboratory and the extensive grounds for sports facilities.


I hope that some of this rambling will make it into the next newsletter, failing which please include my details on the data base for future reference.


MICHAEL H. SAMUEL, BSc., F.R.I.C.S., F.C.I.Arb. (1956-62)


Dear Dennis,


It was good receiving your welcoming letter to Old Dartechs’ & Wilmingtonians’ Association.


T’was Friday 3rd October and I had to travel to Chislehurst for a visit to a new Client. My trip took me over the Q.E.2 bridge and onward - past Dartford. For some reason, my Rover car took me towards Wilmington and before I knew what was happening, the car turned into Wilmington Grammar School For Boys. This was amazing as it slightly resembled Dartford Technical High School that I spent six younger years of my life trying, with the help of Mr Wall & Co. to form my future life.


It seemed to work, albeit a little late, being a ‘late developer’. I rose to great heights (including flying) but it was all unfortunately smashed due to a catastrophic road accident at 20.30 Hrs on Thursday 13th September 1990 in Basildon. However, with the encouragement of many close friends, my beautiful daughter Miriam - currently in Leeds University, my Solicitor (together with “Rumpole of the Bailey”) - both fighting for massive compensation, Orthopaedic & Plastic Surgeons and “a zany sense of humour”, I am starting to get life back together. With the help of all, plus my trusty computer (which for some reason ocaasoallly deos knot speeell two well), I have recently formed:


Project Management - Computer Design - Planning - Quantity Surveying - Construction.

It is early days, but with many contacts from the past and ‘AUTOCAD’, the practice looks to be heading in the right direction - UP.


I constantly have, foremost in my mind, a comment from “Sam” Austen. Project your thoughts beyond your immediate ability and set these as your goal. He was right then and is now. Thank you “Sam” Austen.


I read “A NEWSLETTER FROM YOUR OLD SCHOOL”, Number 6 - August 1997, with enjoyment and nostalgia. A wonderful trip down ‘Memory Lane’. Names came flooding back to me, including:-


Mr “Percy” Black - Physics,

Mr “Jessie” James - English Language,

Mr “Snowy” Amos - Maths,

Mr Hodgeson - Maths,

Mr Gregory - Woodwork at Lowfield Street - the early Barry Bucknell,

Mr “Potty” Pearce - English Literature - who dreeeeamed a dream,

Dangerous Dan - The Chemistry Man,

and of course Mr “Sam” Austen.

And the list goes on. There were so many more!


There is so much I remember of life at Dartford Tech. including the origins of John Craven’s Farm & Country Life. The easy way of completing the Marathon (going by bus for a part of the cross country run), The frustrations of being amongst 200 boys at Leyton Cross faced with the route 401 buses having only 156 seats. This is where the comedy “On The Buses” was originated. There was the time when, on a Friday afternoon form meeting in the old Physics Lab. We were accused of going home early. To disprove this the following week, by slipping out through the back door and through the loo and rejoining the queue at the front to enter in a large circle, we were counted. 96 boys attended the final weeks lesson.


Within the next couple of weeks, I shall make a donation to the Association. I really wish to keep in touch.

I do wish to attend the 1998 Annual Reunion Dinner and Annual General Meeting on Saturday 7th March 1998 and look forward to rejoining my youth. May I bring a lady guest? What will the cost be? When do you want payment?


and after . . .

Dear Dennis

Thank you for your warm hospitality on Saturday 7th March 1998 at Wilmington Grammar School For Boys, nee Dartford Technical High School. It was good meeting you.


My dear Raynor did not know what the hell to expect when agreeing to come with me to an ‘Old Boys’ reunion but was more than pleasantly surprised. A late evening tour with Robin Pitman, Michael Lyons and Michael Ashpool, together with others met that evening, convinced her that I attended the male equivalent of ‘St. Trinians’.


It was good seeing and meeting Mr Jim “Sam” Austen who, amongst others at Wilmington Hall, set me on the right path. Sadly Mr “Jessie” James could not make it.


I have been instructed by Raynor to keep the contact going. I need no such instruction! I instantly lost 36 years in time which is not bad for a 53 year old. My daughter found my relating Saturday evening highly amusing. Southend High School for Girls and Leeds University seem so different.


I, like my old ‘school mates’, were saddened that Wilmington Hall and the old entrance Lodge were demolished. We were surprised that some sort of preservation order was not in existence.


Please excuse the use of my formal Practice heading. I was a somewhat late developer, academically, but it shows that with a good grounding provided by Messrs Wall, Black, Hodgeson, Lewis, James, Amos, Gregory, Payne, Robinson, Pearce and in particular Jim Austen Esq, much can be achieved. It is my small way of displaying heartfelt thanks for what Dartford Technical High School for Boys did for me.


My grounding at Dartford Tech. was called on following my near fatal road accident in late September 1990.1 have been able to reform my life and a new future as a result - with thanks.


You may pass this letter on to Mr Jim Austen, from ‘Master Samuel’, as he remembered me. I was honoured to meet him on Saturday for the first time as a damned nice man, as against my school master 36 years ago.



ROY CARTER (1938-40)

Dear Dennis

I wish to thank you for your letter and for sending the Newsletters, which I have read with great interest.


I was at the Tech from ‘38-40, forms T.1.B. and T.2.B. in the days of headmaster Mr. N. Brettnye and Vice-Head Dr. Woolfe, who went on to become Head at Erith Tech.


At that time the workshops, labs and the Gym, were all new in Lowfield Street, with footings dug out ready for the new school buildings. It was never built because of the War, and is now the Market Place Car Park.


As we had lessons in Essex Road and Lowfield Street we had to walk between the two buildings, through the town centre, sometimes four or five times a day, no wonder we were always late for the next period. Always on a Thursday, Market Day, a great attraction for us boys, as at that time they still sold livestock.


Tuesday afternoons for our Form was given over to Football, Cricket or Swimming. The old sports field lay between Birling Road and the Railway, and is now in the middle of a housing estate. Swimming we had in the old Dartford Open Air Pool in Birling Road, which is now a Squash Court.


When the War broke out in Sept. ‘39 we were on School Holidays. We all received letters telling us not to go back to Essex Road but to report to Uplands Road Junior School, Church Road, Bexleyheath where we spent six to eight weeks before going back to Essex Road just before Christmas ‘39.


Things were never the same after that, the Workshops were given over to War Work, so there were no lessons and all sports were stopped. I can not remember and exams being taken, and come July ‘40 we all left to go our separate ways.


I find it hard to remember the names of the Masters, I think a Mr. Wadbrooke used to take us for Metalwork. Now nicknames I remember “Firery Lil” taking us for English, “Muzzle” for Maths and “Annexitis” for History. Of the boys I remember, Laurence (Sproggy) Howser, Dave Newstead, Stan Smith, Harry Pollock, and one surnamed Stallard, another named Robson.


Sproggy Howser, Stan Smith and I spent three years together playing in the band of the 74th Sqdn. Air Cadets. Stan Smith went on to play in the band of the R.A.F. Sproggy Smith went into the Airforce as a rear gunner in Lancasters. His plane was shot up over Germany and they ditched in the North Sea and Sproggy was drowned.


I myself did a bit in the war, but afterwards I joined the Postal Service and spent the rest of my working years with them until I retired in ‘85. I have three children in their forties and five grandchildren, with a Golden Wedding to look forward to this year.




At a recent Committee Meeting we were pleased to welcome two new Members to the Committee, being Ian Edmed (1965-71) and Tony Martin (1983-89). We discussed the planned Summer Event which was originally scheduled for 18th July, unfortunately I had not been able to produce a Newsletter and so advertise it. Although the publication was imminent and we might be able to arrange a Games Evening for late September, it was decided  not to organise another event before next years A.G.M./Annual Reunion Dinner on Saturday, 13th March, where we are able to confirm that Wally James, who was unable to attend this years Dinner owing to ill health, will be our Guest of Honour.


In an attempt to keep our attendance up we are trying to get as many of our Members as possible to work on finding, and encouraging others to attend. Any member wishing to try and assist in the search for more Old Boys from their own age group would be appreciated. Neil McKay has found quite a few family addresses to which there has been no response and perhaps if a contact came from someone they may know it might be more successful.


I would like to thank all those Members that have written articles and letters for publication, I have used a selection in this Issue, but there are still some that I have kept over for Issue 9, so if yours hasn’t been included it will hopefully be in that issue. If you are planning to write an article I can always use new material, especially the Member that related the coalmine story to Jim Austen at the Dinner. Please send by e.mail to:  oldarwil@aol.com or by post to me at 3 Millbro, Victoria Hill Road, Hextable, Swanley, Kent BR8 7LF.


Prior to this years Dinner I wrote to the Local Papers appealing for new Members, and was successful in finding 12 new Members, a number being pre Wilmington days, and I am pleased to include an article from Roy Carter (1938-40) in this Issue.

Dennis Wells (1954-59) Chairman.








Mr J A Austen (1954-74) - Staff

                                  (Guest of Honour)

Mr B N Titterington - Headmaster

                                                (1992-  )

Mr M Fitzsimmons                (1944-47)

Mr A Riddington                    (1950-53)

Mr D Walden                         (1951-54)

Mrs D Walden

Mr P Minch                           (1952-56)

Mr A Gregory                        (1953-56)

Mr D Lockyer

Mr S Frith                              (1954-59)

Mr D Wells - Chairman         (1954-59)

Mr R Taylor                          (1954-59)

Mr T Whiffen                       (1954-59)

Mr D French                          (1954-59)

Mr N McKay                         (1954-59)

Mr J Gatland                          (1954-59)

Mr P Dudley                          (1954-60)

Mr A K Hatley                      (1954-60)

Mr K Prebble                         (1954-61)

Mr J E Mummery                  (1955-61)

Mr J Nunn                             (1955-61)

Mrs J Nunn

Mr M Lyons                          (1956-62)

Mr M Samuel                         (1956-62)

Guest of Mr Samuel

Mr M Ashpool                       (1956-62)

Mr R Pitman                         (1956-63)

Mr P Liddle                           (1957-61)

Mr M Watts                          (1957-62)

Mr J Pritchard                       (1957-63)

Mr M Green                           (1957-63)

Mr C Portwine                       (1957-65)

Mr W H James- Staff             (1957-89)

Mr G Jewiss                            (1958-62)

Mr J Meakins                         (1959-64)

Mr L Hollingsworth - Staff      (1960-  )

Mr T J Rooke                        (1961-66)

Guest of Mr T Rooke

Mr G Carter                           (1961-66)

Mr J Yelding                          (1961-67)

Mrs J Yelding

Mr P Hills                              (1961-68)

Mr R Richardson                    (1962-67)

Mr D Brenchley                     (1962-67)

Mr D I Fergusson                   (1962-68)

Mr R Short                            (1962-70)

Mr J Fergusson                       (1963-68)

Mr J Daley - Staff                  (1963-92)

Mr C Laker - Staff                 (1963-70)

Mr M Harris                          (1964-71)

Mr J Duff                               (1964-71)

Mr S Goodall                          (1965-70)

Mr J Grogan                           (1965-70)

Mr J Walker                          (1965-70)

Mr I Edmed                           (1965-71)

Mr H Little                            (1965-72)

Mr A Syrocki                         (1965-72)

Mr D Munford                       (1965-73)

Mr T Musgrave                      (1966-73)

Mr M Gofton                         (1966-73)

Mr P Moor                            (1966-73)

Mr J Peters                            (1966-73)

Mr E C Smith                        (1966-73)

Mr S Nash                              (1966-73)

Mr S Marsh                            (1967-72)

Mr K Mitchell                       (1967-73)

Mr C Smith                            (1967-74)

Mr A Suter                             (1968-74)

Mr A Moon                           (1968-74)

Mr J Nash                              (1968-74)

Mr C Whiting                        (1968-75)

Dr P Munford                        (1969-74)

Mr I Dennis                           (1969-74)

Mr K Rogers                          (1969-76)

Mr I L Smales                        (1969-76)

Mr W Leavens                       (1969-76)

Mr W Nash                            (1969-76)

Mr N Facey                           (1970-75)

Mr A Hamerschlag (Staff)      (1970-84)

Mr P Thomas                        (1972-79)

Mr P Blackman                     (1978-83)

Guest of Mr Blackman

Mr A Martin                          (1983-89)

Guest of Mr A Martin



Mr R Carter                           (1940-43)

Mr R Warman                       (1942-44)

Mr P Gee                               (1942-44)

Mr J Boult                             (1953-55)

Mr P Nickolds                       (1954-59)

Mr P Wright                          (1954-59)

Mr. T. Stevens                       (1954-59)

Mr B Hand                             (1956-63)

Mr R Brown                           (1956-61)

Mr D Catchpole                     (1957-64)

Mr G Mole                             (1957-63)

Mr C Goodhew                       (1962-67)

Mr I D Hunt                          (1963-68)

Mr P May                              (1963-68)

Mr G Barker                          (1964-71)

Mr T Moyle - Staff                (1966-72)

Mr R Freeman                       (1969-74)

Mr I P Blades                         (1970-77)

Mr C Stringer                         (1970-77)

Mr J Hampton                       (1972-77)

Mr G Lowe                            (1972-77)

Mrs L Kent - Staff                 (1974-85)

Mr S Message - Staff              (1975-86)

Mr D Evans                           (1981-88)

Mr D B Thomas - Former Headmaster (1983-91)

Mr S Willis                            (1985-90)

Mr. D. Clements

Mrs J McKay - Staff