Peter Woodward – A Service of Thanksgiving

Peter Woodward – A Service of Thanksgiving


A Service of Thanksgiving for our Music Master Peter George Woodward is to be held on the afternoon of Wednesday, 21st February 2018 in Sevenoaks, Kent. The Service will be followed by refreshments.

In order to facilitate catering Peter’s wife Olive has asked me to co-ordinate a list of those wishing to attend from CVTHS. If you will be attending please email me and I will provide further details.

My email address is:

I look forward to hearing from you by 12th January 2018 latest please.

Kind regards,


Graham Mitchell  (1962-1969)

‘Between the Sheets’ (and other developments)


Back in early October I asked if there were any amongst you who have been responsible for innovations or inventions. Following Rick Gilling’s ‘Inhalers’ response here are a couple more:

Clive Keen (1960-1966)

This doesn’t quite count as an invention, since it wasn’t patentable, but I did have rather a useful idea in the mid-eighties when I was producing a prospectus for a polytechnic. The place was short of cash, so I was thinking of ways of reducing costs. I noted that copies were to be sent to around 7200 addresses (schools etc), exactly the same as every other university, college, and polytechnic in the country. Around 200 places in all, in fact, would be doing the same mailout. So I thought – why not distribute centrally, using large containers rather than the higher education system posting 700,000 small postal packages annually. I did some sums, and realized that the system would save millions each year. I approached the appropriate powers, who of course dragged their feet. Failing to get them to act, I set up a company to do the job. Over the years since, it will have saved the education system hundreds of millions of pounds.

I indirectly got a UK professorship out of it, but shortly thereafter left to help set up a new university in Canada. Reg Mayo would have been happy that I’ve been known here since largely as an essayist.

Rick Gillings (1958-1965)

I was thinking last night that although I can’t claim to be much of an inventor, all my life was spent developing and improving production processes and a lot of this could be termed truly inventive, from automatic assembly machines to arcuating robot spray processes. I always involved my production engineers at the earliest opportunity whilst product development was being made not after it was developed when modifications were harder to incorporate in the design. Purchase of CNC coil winders was particularly pertinent in this field since I was able to provide more flexibility in the design of speed and torque probes used to monitor Jet Engines through the development of more complex winding parameters. Perhaps others ex CVTHS pupils claims of developing and improving “things” should be added? What do you think?



Colin Cadle (1958-1965)

Since leaving behind my short flying career in the RAF in 1971 I soon discovered ‘entrepreneurship’ and with the exception of a year at BMW Park Lane (75-76) I have survived that way ever since. The only time I truly used my technical education gained at Cray Valley was some 18 years after leaving school. The devices I developed required me to dig back into engineering drawing, maths and physics, but it proved to be ‘like riding a bike’.


In the early 1980s my current dabbling in business involved a small company I started called Sure-Tags which produced plastic laminated products such as laminated business cards and identity tags. My main film supplier was Morane Plastics in Staines from whom I also bought the continuous feed hot laminating machines. It was a very long-winded and slow process hand feeding cards and tags into the machine and then manually punching them out using a foot operated electric punch. The cards would be laminated into the plastic on a long roll which in turn had to be hand fed, straightened and when ‘eyeballed’ into the perfect position before hitting the ‘stamp’ pedal.

Although Morane had never requested it I decided to design and build a prototype auto-feeder which placed cards into the laminator at regular spacing without an operator having to do it manually. I bought a few drawing materials and a small desktop drawing board and set about actually producing some crude working drawings for the mechanical side of the device. I got a local engineering company in Beckenham (Swieveland Engineering) to produce the metalwork and I had great fun sourcing gears, pullies, motors and other components. Fortunately I had a friend who designed the electronics and produced the circuit board. I remember visiting the Science Museum (pre-internet) to find out how computer data-card feeders worked but in the end I used a system similar to modern printers to ‘slice’ a card from the bottom of the stack to then feed into the laminator.

The gravity-fed Card Feeder mounted on the laminator.

The machine proved to be a great time-saver for me so I presented it to Morane who immediately ordered 4 machines of their own. They then called for a meeting to discuss my developing a further machine which would automatically punch out the laminated cards, leaving the distinctive sealed edge all around. The challenge was on but this one proved a little more difficult. Because there were sometimes the odd missed card being fed into the laminator and a small percentage of the successful ones were often slightly askew the machine required a detection system which would reject the occasional skewed card and then move on to the next ‘good’ one. Again I was assisted with the electronics although this took quite some time to perfect. I used a compressed air punch and die, again designed on my tiny drawing board, and I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process having been away from ‘engineering’ for so many years.

Following a rather nervous presentation of the two machines together Morane bought the prototype from me. I was not really equipped to go into production myself so the company bought the design from me. The assembly was then urgently put on display at Druper in Germany where the stand was visited by the current Minister of Trade and a representative from the Swedish Government bought the first production model to research the lamination of their national identity cards. (I am sure they eventually found a higher capacity and better way to do it!)

I realise that for production engineering experts like my classmates John Woodhouse or Rick Gillings my ‘invention’ was a bit Heath Robinson but then again the only training I had was totally gleaned at Cray Valley many years before and for that I will always be grateful. I went on to produce quite a few more retail products but that’s another story…

(It was subsequently learned that the model Morane used in their adverting material was in fact a Page Three Girl!)

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Original rough of our SureTags advertisement for plastic laminating.

Development and Improvements

So, I you had a hand in the development or improvement of a product or process do write in for us to publish as it is always so interesting to hear what we have all been up to in the years since leaving Cray.

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.



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’.


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.


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!)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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?


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.



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?


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.”


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.


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)