Graham Stewart-Jones (1955-1957)

Information from Sir Adrian White


Graham joined in my first year (third form) in 1955 and left early in 1957 to join an Officer Cadet Course in the Merchant Navy.
We were told at Assembly in 1958 that he had died from a fall onto the deck of a ship when one end of a derrick snapped.
Graham was a good friend also of Peter Hobcraft also lost to us but about four years ago. Interestingly Peter Hobcraft, who never married, ran a successful Tentrek Holiday Business, as well as a coach and bus, hire business. Peter helped me organise the ‘Invasion of Hastings Walk’ in 1966 from which we achieved a large sum of money for four charities from 2,100 walkers undertaking the 50-mile walk from Orpington to Hastings! With repeat walks over the following three years we raised over £56,000 – a huge amount in those days! I wonder if any CVTHS boys also took part?

May I also bring you up to date on our ‘90 years young’ history master Tony Bradley with whom I had lunch earlier this month. Tony is still as fit as he was at the Reunion and let me have several volumes on the key innovators and entrepreneurs of our Industrial Revolution which he had taught and inspired me, in a more modest way, to replicate in the water industry over the last 57 years!
With more teachers like Tony Bradley, Brexit will be in safe hands as the youngsters of today are encouraged to take up engineering in its many fields and convert their ideas into inspired products for the future.

Sir Adrian White CBE, DL, C.Sci.DUniv.


Ed. Graham’s name has been added to Absent Friends

Electric Cars – continued

Further to our debate on electric cars, this lady has the same vehicle as Peter Donaldson but clearly has not shared his good experience! Click on the image to read her account.


Would you still vote the same way?


Two years ago, just before the Referendum on leaving or staying with the EU, we conducted a poll on the CVTHS Blog. The results (to date) are as follows:


At the time Cray Valley boys voted slightly more in favour of leaving than the rest of the country voted as a whole. Whilst he realises that we tend to steer clear of politics on our Forum, old boy Neil Gent suggested earlier today that we ask the same question again to see over two years further on, whether opinion has shifted one way or the other. So, as it is such an important course of action about to be executed, let’s ask again to see how the results compare. With any luck, we will get a higher number of old boys voting this time – which incidentally remains completely anonymous. You must have an opinion so please take a moment to vote.



This time Neil suggested that we ask the additional question of whether we would vote for Theresa May’s deal in its present form as it is about to be put to the Commons vote.


Absent Friends


Please note that our list of  ‘Absent Friends’ is now on the Blog menu with links where appropriate to further details about the person. Where possible we have included the years that were spent at Cray Valley and the date of the person’s passing.

If you have further information on any of the people on the list, especially missing dates, perhaps you would kindly email them to us HERE for publication?

Electric Cars – Future or Fraud?

Electric Cars – Are they really the future?

I am so grateful to Peter Donaldson for kindly supplying the following piece about his experience with electric cars which will hopefully open up a long-running debate on the subject. In an ideal world, they may be the perfect solution to help in cutting down ICE pollution and as city cars not travelling too far from a home base I think they are an excellent idea but for any sustained long-distance travel, as Peter’s article will indicate, I think the impracticality of mass re-charging in the future could become a very big issue. I am sure that most of the still technically minded amongst us will have an opinion and we really would like to read about it here on the blog.

Opening the debate in favour of electric cars then is Peter’s article sent from his home in the land of the free charging point – Scotland.

Peter Donaldson outside The Grampian Transport Museum with his blue Zoe electric car.

From Cray Valley – to the future!

I suppose that my interest in electric cars is partly down to Cray Valley Technical High School! In the late 1950s, we were studying electric motors as part of the curriculum and that made me vaguely aware of having seen a small motor in dad’s garage. “Yes, lad. It’s a quarter horsepower and will probably still work.” With permission, I dragged it out and once wired to a plug, was impressed with the quiet power of the thing on mains. Like many of us, I had a soapbox cart with pram wheels and I wondered if the motor would drive that. I mounted it on the deck at the back – with the motor spindle driving one of the back wheels. It was perfect! Speed was about 3 mph but acceleration was instant. The downside was trailing a wire behind me which, of course, I broke and blew the plug fuse!

That was my early brush with electric propulsion, but I always had a soft spot for the electric motor. Dad’s motor had been unused for 40 plus years – and just started as though it had been in use every day. Not many internal combustion engines would do that.

Fast forward to 2017, and at the age of 72, I decided that I wanted to try out an all-electric car and enjoy the new technology while I still had all my marbles. So, I purchased a six-month-old all-electric Renault Zoe demonstrator car from the Renault Dealer in Brechin here in Scotland. It arrived in July 2017 and cost just over £12,000.  Why not the more well-known Tesla? Well, for the uninitiated, a Tesla ‘S’ – model D costs over £90,000! This will buy a comfortable long-range cruiser that can cover 300 miles at 70 mph on one charge but it was out of my price range. My normal maximum driving journey is up to 100 miles round trip and the ‘Zoe’ seemed to fit the bill admirably. The declared range for the car between charges is 180 miles in summer, and 120 in winter. (The latter figure is due to the fact that lithium-ion batteries used by most current electric cars are less efficient in really cold weather.)  On the 27th of July 2017, I joined the electric revolution and started to experience a new way of driving.

July in Scotland proved to be a good time to commence this sort of experiment because the weather is warmish and the battery range is not a problem for normal commuting runs. The initial experience was so satisfactory that after a few months, I sold my diesel car which I had kept back in case the electric car experiment was a failure.

The main difference with running an electric car is using charging points to ‘refuel’ the car rather than going to a filling station. Renault prudently provide a free home charging point that can refuel the car from empty in about seven hours so a quick home top-up is never a problem. However, at the time of writing in November 2018, most public charging points in Scotland are free.  I work part-time at Grampian Transport Museum in Alford, Aberdeenshire, and there is a fast charge unit in the car park outside the museum. With normal driving requirements, a free charge once a week is sufficient for my needs.

And so I started to get comfortable with electric driving and gradually increased one-way journey lengths to over 100 miles (even in mid-winter) as my confidence grew.

Then came a journey that I had not remotely considered. My wife’s niece, a committed environmental scientist and ‘eco-nut’, was getting married at the beginning of August 2018 in Oxford and asked if there was any chance of using the Zoe as her all electric, pollution-free wedding car. What could I do but say ‘yes’ and start the planning?

Long before the acquisition of the Zoe, we had stopped driving six hundred miles in a day as my wife and I resented getting so tired.  Dividing the journey to Oxford into two days made the planning easier, leaving the problem as to whether to go down the east or west side of the country. The growing electric car charging system in Britain is publicised in a constantly updated internet guide called Zapmap. A close investigation of the location of chargers showed rather more were available on the east side so east was the decided route. It then became simply a matter of dividing the days into manageable chunks and seeing what chargers were available around those points. That proved fairly straightforward. I went back to the sort of planning I did when a pilot and arranged each charging destination with one or two alternate charge point in case the first was broken or in use. The route chosen was home (N of Aberdeen) to South Queensferry, Edinburgh (lunch and charge) – then to Newcastle for a night stop and charge. Day two would be Newcastle to Rotherham, (lunch and charge) then on to the destination in Noke, outside Oxford. We had booked a cottage as a base for the wedding – and it was only after booking that we discovered that it had its own electric car charging points. What a bonus that proved to be!


The journey itself was reasonably straightforward – arriving at Oxford with no major difficulties. We were surprised as to how fresh we two septuagenarians felt after arriving.

 We started from Scotland using 55 mph as a cruising speed, but this increased to 60 mph as my confidence grew with the car’s range. When on motorways, I had bursts of up to 70 mph to get past knots of trucks before slowing back to 60mph. The longest leg driven was 140 miles but we never arrived with less than 30 miles to spare. The electric car is very relaxing to drive – very quiet, and instant torque if sudden acceleration is needed. A very dismissive reviewer in a large car magazine described the Zoe’s performance on motorways as so poor as to be ‘bordering on dangerous’. The writer was probably concerned that you can’t reach 90mph in seconds.! The Zoe accelerates rapidly low down, and even at 60 mph, a push of the pedal gets it past 70 mph and on up to 80+ pretty quickly. This is more than good enough for me.

The week in Noke went really well despite the daytime temperatures being over 30˚C. The heating and air-conditioning are handled in the car by a 1kw heat-pump. However, the battery capacity is 41 kWh – so an hour of continuous heating or cooling only reduces your range by only 1/41st!  The Zoe was decorated in the approved wedding style and looked rather pleased with itself. The cottage we stayed in was situated on an ecological farm site – with extensive solar panels. I charged the Zoe during the day with no cost to the owner or myself.

After Noke, we drove down to a village near Dorchester to stay with old friends. Dorset is a bit of an electric car charger desert – so my friend kindly allowed me to recharge the car from the mains. This again went well with the car fully charged by the early hours of the next morning.

Following the stay in Dorchester, we drove up to near Derby to stay with my sister. We did a few trips with her and charged from her mains’ plug each night.


On the 14th of August, we started the journey home. First to York for lunch and recharge and then to the border town of Jedburgh for a night stop with sight-seeing and recharge. On the way from York to Jedburgh, we had a comfort stop at a hotel in Otterburn and guess what – it had a charging point too! I put the Zoe on charge while we had an afternoon cuppa and then went on to Jedburgh.

The following day was very easy – Jedburgh to Dundee for lunch, shopping, and a charge, then back home which was arrived at by 15.30. Dundee was easily the best place to recharge as the city is making a big effort to woo the electric car and my first choice charging spot contained no less than ten charging points.

The total mileage for the two weeks was 1,571 at an average speed of just under 40 mph. Not bad considering that many hours were spent around Oxford and in Dorset at a lot less than 30 mph.

The public charging points cost just over £4 for electricity, and I gave my sister £8.50 for electricity, making a total of £12.50 for 1,571 miles. Our Scottish card costs £20 per year, and there is a small monthly charge for the Polar card. If we add these prorated charges, it still cost less than £17 for the journey!

My wife and I would be first to admit that the journey was not quite as convenient as a petrol car. The manufacturers are working on reducing charging times (the most inconvenient feature for us – it takes about 2 hours at a fast charger) – and increasing range. However, as we became accustomed to the new way of operating, it was easier than expected and there was time for a very relaxed lunch and forty winks. The cheaper electric cars coming in after 2020 are forecast to solve many of these problems.

A current gripe for many electric car owners is a), the number of charging units that are unserviceable because the card readers are defective and b), the fact that one needs lots of different charge cards for various points south of the Scottish border. (Scotland has it right: one card covers the majority of the country.) I had a Polar card for the ‘England’ part – courtesy of the Polar Charger installed by Renault at our house. This reduced the number of charging points available to me but there were more than enough to fulfil our needs until we arrived in the south-west – where there were very few charging points. If the UK government wants to encourage electric car use, these problems need addressing.

The main advantages for an electric car are low fuel prices (zero here in Scotland!), minimal servicing charges (not much to service!), super quiet ride with instant torque, zero road tax and in my case, really low insurance. The next generation cars should solve the slow charging times and increase the range. However, having got used to the different way of thinking, it is now second nature to me and I would not go back to the old ‘ice’ car unless I had to! As an aside, my museum has an electric car history display and I have been very popular for information. Did you know that Robert Davidson, Aberdonian, created the world first electric driven vehicle in 1839? Mind-blowing. We have made a full size, working replica of his first motor.

I get shouted at from time to time – usually along the lines that I am even dirtier than petrol because coal is used to generate the electricity I use. However, people usually go quiet when I point out that a gallon of petrol takes 6 kWh of electricity to refine. I – like many other EV users, installed solar PV panels when I got the car. My annual solar production is 3500 kWh – and the car uses 2750 kWh per year!

The electric car is not yet perfect, but it is a hell of a lot better than most of the crap that was being produced when we were at school.

Any queries gladly received, and grateful thanks to Colin for keeping this site going.

Happy Christmas – Peter Donaldson. 1956 to 1962.

PS Photo shows me at Grampian Transport Museum with my car (the blue one) and an all-electric Mitsubishi iMiev which was donated to our museum. I had just driven it from a formal presentation in Aberdeen.

Peter Donaldson

If there are any other old boys who may own a fully electric car (not hybrid) please be in touch with your own experiences as we would love to hear from you.


Alan Marshall – CVTHS 1954 to 1957

Received today from former master Alan Marshall

Recently an arthritic pain in the hand reminded me of where, when and how I got it. 

In 1954 I was a newly qualified teacher at Cray Valley, joining members of my House on the rugby field.  The boys enjoyed tackling me and managed to inflict a broken finger on the left hand.  64 years later the bent finger made me think of Cray Valley and I found the excellent website.  Many congratulations to all concerned with developing such a fine archive.  I spent a couple of hours looking and listening to the various sections. Those that remembered me spoke of the Austin 7 that I drove until its death in 1956.

I was the only newly qualified teacher in Kingsland’s original team (see website photo of teachers – back row, thin-faced, fourth from the left).  It was a perfect place to start teaching; just one small cohort of 13-year-old students, a new workshop and just a few supportive staff.  In fact, I already knew Mr Kingsland, and Mr Mayo, because I was a former pupil at Kingsland’s old school, Beckenham Technical School. It was Kingsland who had suggested that I might like to go into teaching and we kept in touch until I qualified.

I only taught there for 3 years, but remember many faces and names as the school built up to full strength.  Reg Wincott (an old friend and fellow Training College student) does a great job describing what it was like for a new and uncertain teacher in a developing school and co-teaching in the single workshop.  Few students realised that CVTHS was something of a landmark school.  Kingsland had already transformed Beckenham from what was essentially a school for tradesmen to a place where exams could be taken, and many students were able to take exams that led on to higher education (and could go into teaching).  Cray Valley also had a strong design ethos, developed by Mr Davies, and from the outset, we never followed the pattern of set projects in the workshop (so common in many schools at the time), but always encouraged students to design, to think for themselves and explore new techniques and materials.  Don Porter, a senior HMI who encouraged the development of engineering in schools was a frequent visitor and admirer of the school. In 1956 Mr Kingsland arranged for me to be seconded for three months to Standard Telephones and Cables (and also Kent Mouldings – a plastics company), which stood on the Crittals Corner site. He was keen to link the school to local industry and make staff more sensitive to the needs and practices of industry.


All my subsequent career owes much to Cray Valley.  I stayed in Education all my life and enjoyed a variety of jobs in the UK and America, in teaching and teacher training, in curriculum development and the Open University (where I developed a course called “Technology for Teachers”).  Time and again, the fact that I had a technical school background opened routes to promotion.  For example, I had followed the footsteps of Mr Davies into HM Inspectorate for schools (he had retired by the time I was an HMI) but most inspectors had an arts/classics background and many from the private sector. So, there was a shortage of HMI with a technical/scientific background. As ministers got more interested in technical education, I was promoted to help with the development of Kenneth Baker’s £12 million-pound initiative to promote technology in schools.

Maybe it’s the sentimentality of old age, but for some reason, Cray Valley boys seemed to have more drive and character than other schools that I taught in.  I can see from some of the achievements that this might well be true.  There were plenty of light-hearted moments too. Visits abroad (organised by Dennis Wiggins) were always fun.  I remember one occasion when we spotted a boy (you know who you are!) attempting to smuggle a bottle of alcohol back to England. We decided not to confiscate it but to let customs do the job back home so that he would learn a lesson. They didn’t.  The boy got away with it, who would suspect a 13-year-old (in those days!) of harbouring booze? So much for responsible teachers. 

Incidentally, Dennis was not just a linguist.  He built a light aircraft in his bedroom.  

Sadly, I lost touch with former colleagues – probably because I moved about a lot; at one stage emigrating to the USA. But the website bought back many memories, so once again, many congratulations to all.

Alan Marshall

Where are Alan McCarthy and Clive Dean?

Alan McCarthy

Bob Jones contacted us today with this request:


Every now and again I check the register to see if an old chum from CVTHS days has appeared on it.  His name is Alan McCarthy and I foolishly didn’t keep contact with him when I (and he I think) left in ’64.  I just wondered if it would be possible for me to make a post inquiring if anyone knows the whereabouts of Alan?

Best regards



Clive Dean

Another request arrived this afternoon from Keith Knight

I have been looking for Clive Dean of my school year (1964-1969 or 1971) from CVTHS. He used to live in Arcadian Close, Bexley. Like Chris Smith (on the Register) he was interested in model planes or more to the point, the lovely noise and smell the glowplug and diesel engines made when started up in the shed at home or on the school field where they were very likely confiscated! Clive was big and powerful on the rugby field. If I remember correctly he played No. 8 – Lock. He could also be a useful 2nd row but there were so few as big as him it would unbalance the scrum! You wouldn’t want to get into a scrap with him but then that was unlikely because Clive was a true ‘gentle giant’.

The start of our register was – Birckett, Charman, Cooper, Dean, Digman, etc., Actually I would love to hear how any of our old classmates have got on and where they are now from 1A, 2A, 3A. 4A. 5A at CVTHS, class of 1964-1969. I have only ever made contact with very few of them and now, in the twilight of my years, when I have painfully learnt the power and value of friendship and the loneliness by NOT having them when I really needed them, I really wish I had stayed in touch with them all. My life would have been much richer for it and I regret not doing so, more than I can say. Peace and Love to all of you and yours, wherever you are.

I also should have stayed in touch with Martin Carr, who changed, nay, saved my life! I was so sorry to hear of his pain and his passing. I had tried to contact him after he died without knowing. I had just learnt a really painful lesson and wanted to thank him for guiding me back then by showing me the life skills I needed, so I knew how to survive it much later. I was inconsolable!


Keith Patrick Knight (aka KP Knuts).

Beamish & Williams

One of our loyal and generous contributors to the CVTHS website and blog Keith Knight asks the Cray Valley community for information on two of our old pupils who sadly left us whilst still very young. This is Keith’s email:

This is about two CVTHS pupil deaths, probably in the 1970s. I know that unless pupil archive access is within your remit it may be hard to trace individuals. However, I am aware that Christopher Beamish (1 or 2 years older than me) of Goodwin Drive (no. 41?) Albany Park, Sidcup died in a crash of some sort and similarly Anthony Williams of Footscray or Bexley Lane (the two joined next to the railway bridge near Albany Park). Anthony wasn’t at Cray for long, though he was in my class. I think he went off to a college but he was my age. Chris Beamish and his sister Carol (who I had a crush on) were my close friends. I lived at Number 33 Goodwin Drive, a few doors along. It was Chris who inspired me to ask for a place at Cray despite being my father’s fifth choice – I still got my wish. Thank God!

I knocked on Chris’s door sometime in 1969 as I had been told about Cray and was interested as I had passed the 11+ exam. He showed me (demonstrated – Ouch!!) an electric shock machine he had made in the workshops. It was a battery-driven transformer with two wire wound handpieces on a copper tube. It packed quite a punch. Chris was clever with that stuff (as I was already). The fact that there were engineering masters to terrorise and labs to blow up (Mr Nash and Mr Fearn) sealed the deal for me. I think I would have run away from home if the Kent Education board had tried to send me anywhere else. It was as though they knew.

I hope you can find enough about Chris and Tony to add them to our list of Absent Friends. If I can help, please let me know.

Kind regards
Keith Knight