Season’s Greetings to One and All

 

2017 CVTHS Christmas Card – ‘Dachshund Through The Snow’ (click to enlarge)

 

Well, here we are again, with our 17th Christmas almost upon us and having already entered our 18th year online. As always Jan and I would like to thank all our ‘viewers’ and contributors for loyally supporting the website and blog both materially and financially for yet another year and to wish you all a truly wonderful Christmas and a very healthy and trouble-free New Year.

‘Open’ over Christmas

This year we are in the studio throughout the holidays so please don’t delay your comments or publication material as they are always most welcome. Christmas is inevitably a slow time and a good time to reflect. Why not spend a while digging out any Cray Valley archive material, whatever it may be, that you have been meaning to find and send in for publication on the blog or for inclusion in our website? Photos, negatives, programmes, letters, memories  and memorabilia or maybe even write a few lines about your life at or after Cray there are 450+ old boys who are eager to hear from you! This page on the website shows how YOU can help us.

Sixty Four Years

2018 will see the 64th anniversary of the School’s formation in 1954, so there will be just one more year to go to our 65th Anniversary Reunion in May 2019. A few of you have come forward already offering to help organise what will probably be the very last one and for that we all thank you. Plans have yet to be started so there is still plenty of time to ‘volunteer’ your help.

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

Barry Jackson Gets to the End – (of his alphabet!)

Since we started the website in 2001 and the blog in 2009 Barry Jackson has been a major contributor in more ways than one. His great sense of humour has given us many excellent articles over the years and as well as being the blog’s top ‘commenter’ he has always been a very generous and consistent supporter financially, earning his ‘Gold Star’ long ago.

It is almost ten years ago now that Barry started his alphabetical memories of Cray Valley and today marks the conclusion with his final journey to ‘Z’. I am sure you would like to join me in thanking him sincerely for taking the time to write these pieces which I am sure have been appreciated by all who have read them.

Barry Jackson – AND FINALLY I GET TO ‘Z’.

First a little note. If I repeat myself in this final piece I apologise right now. I believe I got to S as in ‘Sport’ last time so I’ll continue with a bit more of ‘S’ before scrambling on to ‘Z’.

STUDENTS

There were only two lads with the a surname beginning with an ‘S’ in my first form at Cray, namely Stanley and Savager. Paul Stanley was a member of the junior rugby teams I played in. I believe he left in his third or fourth year because his parents moved from the area. I lost track of Terry Savager’s school career following the realignment of classes at the end of Year 2.

SOCKS

I remember there was a craze for wearing fluorescent socks one summer. This was about as far as we went to rebel against the imposition of a school uniform dress code. Prefects would randomly select a pupil entering the school and request the boy to reveal his leg above the ankle – very risque and Victorian. Any lad supporting gaudy pink, green or yellow socks was told to return home and change into the regulation grey attire. The wise among us ensured we carried the correct pair in our bags or pockets  so we could prevent the trudge home and back.

If any boy can recall the year of this attempted coup, can he please attach his answer to a cheque for a substantial amount of money, made payable to one Colin Cadle for the upkeep of the site. (Ed. As we are a bit short this year I thought I’d leave this bit in!)

SCIENCE

I think we were extremely lucky to go to a school endowed with such fine science facilities and teachers. I still recall my amazement at the results of the Liquid Chromatography on apparently simple products like writing inks , or was the condition brought about by the acetone?

The sixth form gave us the chance to take the New Scientist magazine which I still pick up now and again in WH Smiths if something catches my eye. I’m now amazed at the price of it, but of course like the prices of beer in 1966 and 2017 it’s all relative.

TECHNOLOGY

I often wonder if I was cut out for a life in Technology. I enjoyed the science of matter immensely but had very little interest in making things except as components but not the whole. I think this was a result of poor eye to hand co-ordination. I could manage for instance marking up a piece of metal with Prussian Blue and inscribing the lines and circles. However, with hacksaw in hand the intended square became a rhombus, and the drill always seemed to ignore the carefully punched centre of a circle and produce a hole somewhere more adjacent to the perimeter.

TWICKENHAM

No! this is not a history of dark and light blue sporting prowess, more of a social comment as we moved from innocence to ignorance. One of the ‘games’, we who went to the December Varsity match played, was a sort of ‘I-Spy’ variant. As 12 year olds we’d pick a car colour and registration number each and see which of us could amass the most ‘spots’. In later years this developed into looking out for car makes and models. As we grew older and more ignorant one side of the bus would compete with the other to see how many coloured people we could spot. This then lead to us allocating ethnic types to people on the streets, and debates ensued about a particular person being Hungarian or Serbian, even though none of us had in all likelihood met a Scot let alone an eastern European. In our late teens we discussed the virtues or otherwise of the young ladies we saw on our journey to the match. This all now seems unsavoury but maybe we shouldn’t judge yesterday’s acts by today’s sensitivities.

U

Is for 1U, my first form at Cray and subsequently 2U and 3U. As Derek Ash previously stated in the blog this stood for ‘Unsurpassed’. I suppose we were also lucky to to have Harry ‘Wedgie’ Wedlock as our first form master. Just the right mix of discipline and fun for rowdy nervous 11 year olds.

One thing over the years Derek and I have discussed is the make up of that first class. He believes there may have been only 29 of us while I’m insistent there were  30 boys . The list we do agree on is Ash, Azzaro, Baxter, Black, Bridgen, Christmas in the first row. Clements, Coman, Crane, Duddy, Farmer and Ferrer in row 2. Ferris, Girdlestone, Hubbard, Jackson, Kempster and Kempton in the next. Kennedy, Lillicrap, McClilland, Mole, Mottram and Pells in the 4th and Savager, Stanley, Wakeham, Walkling and White in the final row by the window.

Some of my suggestions for my ‘missing’ boy would be McGuire, Pike, Potts or Workman. Any answers would be appreciated and rule out the nagging suspicion that the esteemed Mr Ash may be correct.

UCCA

The Universities Central Council on Admissions.  This was the organisation we applied through if we intended to continue in education. I can’t remember exactly how many institutions we could apply for on the form, I have a feeling it was six. I applied to study metallurgy at Brunel (then based in Acton, before being granted university status being known as Acton College of Advanced Technology), Surrey (previously Battersea CAT) and Bradford and Aston in Birmingham. As mentioned a while ago I also applied to Loughborough to study ergonomics and cybernetics.

I made my own way to interviews at Acton and Battersea. I was a bit disappointed with the state of the buildings I saw but was reassured by the prospectuses showing the new campuses at Uxbridge and Guilford respectively. A colleague of my dad drove me for my interview at Aston. The weather was atrocious, windy with heavy rain all the way to the outskirts of Birmingham. The driver, Dave and I spent long periods with a hand out of the window wiping the water and dirt from the windscreen as the wipers on his Ford failed to cope. A consequence of the wipers being vacuum ported (whatever that means) from the engine intake manifold (whatever that is) and struggling particularly under the strain of even the smallest incline.

I found Birmingham and in particular the Aston area depressing, the only saving grace of having the interview was a visit to the Metallurgy Department’s foundry area which contained a large wooden trestle supporting a large keg of Mitchell and Butlers best bitter. Evidently this liquid was freely available to all students during their work in the foundry.

The other thing I noticed on the journey through the mirk was that every county, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire etc seemed to be using a different product to surface the M1 as it passed through their authority. I’ve never got over the feeling that councils are missing a trick by not getting their heads together to find ‘best practice’. Just have a look at refuse collection and recycling in this country as an example.

I decided not to travel to Bradford for interview and declined an offer without interview from Loughborough. I was offered places at all of the other 3 places and chose Brunel, mainly because they showed real excitement in the opportunities of the new Uxbridge site.

Just so you can astonish your grandchildren I actually received a grant of about £96 per term to study which was just great until I discovered the cost of text books, particularly those published by our American friends at McGraw Hill. I recall a copy of Rhines Phase Diagrams cost around £14 alone!

UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE

During my last year, 1966, at school I took part in a ‘University Challenge’-type quiz along with three other lads against the young ladies of Orpington Girls Grammar School. We won quite comfortably, so gaining revenge for the defeat of the previous year’s CVTHS team. I don’t recall  the names of the other members, but the names of Pete Mcguire and the Johns Black and Wakeham crop up in my memory.

If you were on the team let Colin know along with a starter for £10. I must say I find the current televised version a bit dumbed down particularly in the area of starter questions. Anyone agree?

V

Is for Dave Verral. A few years ago Dave and I got in touch following his contact with the site about his personal life and career. We were conversing mainly about chickens, allotments and music. Sadly he’s gone off the ‘radar’ and I haven’t heard from or of him for over 18 months. Any positive information would be welcome.

W

THREE Ws

Never mind Walcott, Worrell and Weekes, form 1U had Wakeham, Walkling and White who gave valuable support to the rise in CVTHS’s sporting achievements notably in rugby and gymnastics. Of course John Wakeham has written for the site and the dentist himself attended the 2014 reunion. Ian White left in the 6th form to start a family. Of Graham?

WALMSLEY and WEDLOCK and WATKINS

Three of the school’s legendary masters. The long flowing dark locks of Mr Walmsley along the hallowed corridors will stay in my mind, and to a lesser extent so will his slight confusion when he tried to thrust the pre-exam A Level Art paper in my hands and I responded “I’m not doing it sir”  “Are you sure?”

H J H Wedlock was my form master and English teacher. He must have pulled out even more of his hair over my attempts, he certainly used a lot of red ink in my exercise books. He was a stalwart of the drama productions. One thing I learned (actually overheard at the reunion) was that ‘Wedgie’ as he was affectionately known was the supreme master of the ‘power nap’ during breaks in the staff room, even getting in the way whilst fast asleep of the ‘chair leg’ cricket some teachers participated in the room at the same time.

Mr Watkins was one of the many teachers who opened up my interest about the planet we live on that none of my 10 grandchildren’s teachers seem to have been able to do or more probably not had the time or need to teach them.

As some of you are aware I’m a regular correspondent to the Northern Echo, so here’s one piece of learning from Mr Watkins that was published in December 2010 as part of a debate regarding weather and forecasting

Further to recent correspondence about the weather and forecasting, I remember what my geography teacher, Mr Watkins used to say:

Having explained the differences between climates and the variability of weather, he concluded that if we assumed the opposite to the Met Office forecast every day we would be right 51 times out of 100.

Having used this method for over 40 years I have not been disappointed. I commend it to all your readers.”

 WOODWORK

As with my comments under ‘Technology’ I was hopeless (well perhaps not quite that good) at woodwork. I really enjoyed the bits on wood grain structure, the individual scents of the woods, even the uses, but once let loose with a saw, plane or drill disaster soon followed. I never managed to complete a dovetail or any other type of joint let alone a box or coffee table to take home to impress my parents. I think if left to my own devices I could have done more damage to the rain forests of the world than a hundred thousand IKEAs. I’ve made up to the environment in some way by having a crab apple, two rowan trees, an oak, a willow and a horse chestnut, together with six currant and a couple of gooseberry bushes on my allotment. I’m also a member of the Durham Wildlife Trust.

X

Lost boys. As with my comments on 1U it may be interesting to know if anyone else can clearly or even partially recall classmates so that it may be possible to build up a record of all who attended Cray Valley in all its disguises over the life of the school.

Y and Z 

Not much more now, I can hear the communal sigh of relief! Just two more points: 1. If the the sun is the major contributor to Earth’s warming why doesn’t the government introduce longer nights, so reducing its effect and at the same time allowing us more sleep and hence less time to worry about global warming?

And finally a paraphrasing of other of my letters of 2010

” As the clocks ticks out the last few hours to Christmas may I ask you to consider an alternative to the post-Yuletide scramble for refunds and exchanges that seem to be a growing feature at all major retailers?

Why not give your unwanted, duplicate, unfashionable or ill-fitting gifts to a local charity to pass on directly to a needy person or sell to raise funds for worthy projects.

The gift you never had on Christmas Eve and do not want on Boxing Day would be treasured, and the thoughtfulness and the person who gave you the present remembered throughout the year”

So thanks for your kindness in ploughing through all this over the last few years and I hope to see you all at the big 2019 reunion. Or to put it another way it gives you plenty of time to organise an avoidance plan.

Merry Christmas to you and all those you love, and health and happiness for the New Year 

Barry Jackson – 8th December 2017

‘Cray Valley – 63 years’ Montage Available Now as a Limited Edition of just 25

The next in the edition is 10/25

Why not treat yourself this Christmas? Own it now

 

‘Cray Valley Technical High School – 63 Years’

The long promised Cray Valley photo-montage ‘Cray Valley Technical High School – 63 Years’ is now available. The gallery-quality giclée print come directly from The Print Space, the UK’s leading fine art lab, in a Limited Edition of just 25 of which 9 are with old boys already.

Looks very handsome in a black frame with a wide mount.

The fine-art print uses archival inks onto 310 gsm Hahnmühle German Etching paper and measures 548mm x 378mm including a 20mm white border all round. It is shipped to you in a very strong tube by 1st Class Signed-for and both the quality and delivery is guaranteed by The Print Space and you can rest-assured that their work is as good as it gets. (Just a happy coincidence but Ken Lloyd pointed out to us that The Print Space are located in Kingsland Road!)

 

The last square!

Each print comes with a hologrammed certificate of authenticity bearing a unique registration number and also showing the number of your print within the edition. A further matching hologram sticker is supplied for affixing to the back of the print after framing.

The Limited editions are being offered at just £95 including VAT  (plus £5.22 shipping UK only). Worldwide shipping rates are available at checkout before payment is taken). Graham Spence in Jersey was our first buyer who received Edition 1 of 25.  This is only a very small limited edition and is only available on a first come, first served basis.

To buy a print please click the image above or use this link. where you will find the ‘Buy’ button on the bottom right-hand side of the page. Payment is by any major credit or debit card or PayPal if you prefer and all proceeds go towards the running and maintenance of our website and blog.

Can you find yourself within the 600 ‘squares’?

See if you can find yourself in one or more of these four sections of the print: (click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Reflections by Paul Green

Hi Colin – just discovered the site – I normally work in the city but started a short engagement in Sidcup last week so feeling very nostalgic driving past the old school in the morning.
Lots of memories even though I was only there for 3 years – my dad was a policeman and we moved to Epsom when he was promoted. Before that we lived in a police house in Orpington just two doors from Andy Trotter’s family.

Memories

Mr Carr and rugby on Saturday mornings. Getting sent on a cross country run by Carr after a match because we lost at rugby. Went on a school trip to Ostend and we flew from Lydd Airport in around 1965. It was my first flight and it was in a propeller plane which was at an angle when on the ground – brilliant.
Lt Col Turner maths which I loved. Built a sledge in woodwork / metalwork – practical hands-on skills stood me in good stead for life.
Buns at break. Could you eat one in one mouthful?
Fridays – the Catholic boys had fish or egg.  Lots more ….
I have a copy of 1971 Rook that Ivan Couchman gave me when we caught up about 20 years ago – it’s another story – he was CFO of Red Star parcels at the time – met him in a hotel car park about 6.00 am when someone set off the fire alarm.
Will put some memories together over Xmas – some hilarious stories of rugby matches against other schools ….
Paul Green (1964-1967)

The Complete set of Rooks online

Paul makes reference above to the 1971 Rook. For those of you who have only recently joined us on the website and blog, you may be interested to know that every single publication of the Rook Magazine from 1954 to 1975 is online for you to enjoy. You can access them either through ‘Archive’ on the website menu or use this link HERE.


Last call for 2017

It is almost time for our graphic designer Ken Lloyd to dig out his Letraset once again to add another year to our logo. As the year end rapidly approaches it is time to make the updates to the website, blog and Register in preparation for another year (our 17th).

I always hate having to remind those of you who have not yet kindly made their Voluntary Annual Contribution for 2017 but with only three weeks to year-end it would be great if you would kindly visit the page HERE  to help us maintain this facility. Thank you.

The Edgebury – Cray Valley Integration

The Edgebury – Cray Valley Integration by John Dowley

I thought it was about time I put pen to paper and talked a little about my experience of Cray Valley in the early 70’s.  Twelve months ago, I was lucky enough to catch up a with a group of guys from the same era after nearly thirty five years. It was a very special experience, and although we are all older, we are clearly not that much wiser! We recounted many great stories and amusing times from the past. The integration of the two schools featured strongly amongst our memories and some of the amusing events around the time. For many of you who are on the  CVTHS  website you will have missed the fun and games that happened when Edgebury joined Cray in 1974.  The 1st year pupils that would have been at Cray went to Edgebury School in Mottingham and the 4th years from Edgebury joined the Cray Valley site. Needless to say it was a very interesting and colourful time! Kids from very different backgrounds all of sudden in the same classes, sports teams and mingling in the playground. A perfect recipe for volcanic happenings…..

For many of us at Cray Valley it was certainly different from the hard-earned privilege to be there and the school changed drastically in such a short period.  I know it is also something that has shaped many of the decisions I made over the subsequent years. We all arrived fresh-faced and naïve in my year 1973. Caps had to be worn until we realised the whole sport of ‘debobalising’ existed.  That said, Cray was a very traditional school but perfect for me. All of that was soon to change with the arrival of a whole band of new peers.

My biggest memory from my first year was the transition from football to the world of Rugby. I’d had no experience of Rugby Union except from watching the TV where Rugby League was shown every Saturday. A bunch of guys indistinguishable after fifteen minutes, covered in mud, would slug it out over an oval ball.  This sport was an incredible shock as it was so different to anything I’d ever done before. The biggest lads seemed to have such a spectacular advantage! Pick up the ball and run, for someone shaving in the first year you’d found the sport for you. I wasn’t that person and I was also in Folkestone house, which was by far the worst rugby form. We were also paired with Maidstone who in our year were by far the best.  We were so bad and got ritually humiliated every week.  Mr Rocky was our teacher and allegedly played for North Wales.  After one particularly poor performance, as a punishment, we were made to do head over heels across the full length of the soggy, muddy pitch.  Not only did I feel sick and dizzy at the end of it, but the white rugby shirt never recovered and remained brown from that day onwards.  My mum was not happy…..

Mr Rocky did come with an ingenious approach that involved those players who looked like they had not tried. The plan was that boys who appeared ‘muddied’ were allowed to tackle the boys that appeared to be clean. This was real fun. What happened in subsequent weeks was that you’d see colleagues picking up mud during the game and smearing it on themselves.  The result never changed, we got panned by Maidstone…..

Everyone seemed to get on well.  I loved the house structure and getting to play sport with people you looked up to. Sports days or game days were an absolute highlight and I looked forward to these times. Having never played rugby, I was keen as mustard; I remember being so disappointed that I didn’t make the team. This was completely understandable as I really wasn’t very good!  After a couple of months I did get a chance to make the 1st team.  I remember being so excited until the first maul….. I got picked up and gratuitously dumped by several well developed young men…. I then started to miss football. It then took me the whole of the first year to get out of the team.

It was year 2 when the school changed rapidly beyond recognition – 1974.  Many of the staff, some of whom were really tough (e.g. Colonel Turner) or at least seemed it at the time, decided to leave. A whole new batch of teachers who were only just out of college joined.  The school, which had once been a phenomenal institution, in my mind started on the steady road downwards. I remember watching the coaches of Edgebury boys turn up at the front gate and I was transfixed. Who were these people? Whose idea was it to bring 4th years from another area to our school? Why didn’t I know this was going to happen?  Even though we only lived in areas probably eight miles apart we were so different. We’d had drummed into us that we must wear the right school uniform or you were in real trouble. These guys seemed to come from a very different regime. These kids were really tough.  To begin with the 2nd year (my year) were so insignificant, that we were just ignored.  The bigger Cray lads had quite a tough time. Until the school was properly integrated this would continue. There was always a ‘Us and Them’ and it was so obvious which camp you fell into.

The worst year was when we were in the 3rd year and our size was approaching that of the new 4th year kids who joined.  Avoiding the playground and toilets became a game of life and death importance. Also knowing who supported whom was the difference between an easy or difficult encounter.  Mr Turner left at the end of the 2nd year, replaced by a much less tolerant head in Mr Hassell.  We were all pretty scared of him but what he did bring was a change in approach. It’s alleged that he expelled 22 children in the first two weeks as headmaster.  I don’t know whether this is true but lots of the more colourful characters didn’t come back to school and with this there was a lot of relief. The school started to settle down. Football was introduced, and we were very good at it.  Just in my time there were three guys that ended up as professionals.

Everything changed but the new batch of teachers (and this was probably a deliberate policy) were big into sports and outdoor pursuits. Having survived the early years I got to spend most of my sixth form weekends climbing, potholing, orienteering and playing Hockey. I loved it but we had to endure a lot to get there. Some the trips were unforgettable and brought to us a world way beyond our boundaries at the time.

We were the last Cray intake at the school. I think we missed out on a stable education but we gained immeasurably from the younger teachers who actually remain in contact to this day.  The likes of Peter Price, Paul Peacock, Geoff Westgarth, Martin Spolstra to name but a few. There are others who have lost contact but were hugely influential: Martin Hore and David Horton as just a couple of examples.

Overall, my summary is: 1st year was great, 2nd-5th year you can keep them and the sixth returned to being an enjoyable experience that probably shaped us as human beings more than we will ever know.

 

John Dowley 

1972-1980