Eddie Brede (1979-1981)
During my period at the school I remember the environment as being one of 'toughness' where you emotionally either 'sank, swam or disappeared'. Bullying of a victim was common including myself, I "learnt to swim", those of a more academic ability tried to disappear into the background. Fights were common, with the field behind the town hall being used as a battleground between rival schools.
This said, I never regretted the 'lessons in life' that I learnt at Monoux during this period. Standing up to bullying made me a stronger person (some would say too strong), and made me realise how miserable it can make a pupils life. Further, observing the behaviour of others there put me in good stead when I later became a secondary school teacher in inner city schools...I could see the situations, excuses, and lies 'coming a mile off!'
Memories of staff, with no disrespect to those concerned:
Mr Brockman (Headmaster) - Appeared very distant to most pupils, and never really seemed to be part of the 'life of the school'.
Mr Taylor (Deputy head) - Never really seemed to command much respect from students, and even less discipline.
Mr Khan (Design Technology teacher) - Amazingly we didn't really 'hit it off'. Through a misunderstanding where I was accused of swearing (saying "bloody") I was thrown out of the class until I apologised. Having not committed the 'crime' and being a little stubborn I spent about four weeks missing what was my favourite subject. Eventually I realised that if this continued I would not be sitting the exam, and not going to college. I learnt another important lesson in life, some times its better not to 'cut off your nose to spite your face', and an apology was given. I also applied this 'lesson' in my career as a teacher, by always ensuring that if a student was in a similar situation they had a 'way out' without them or me 'losing face' in front of their peers.
Mr Potter (Biology teacher) - Mr Potter exemplified how difficult it must have been for the 'old' school, moving from an environment where the majority of students wanted to learn and were disciplined, to one in the comprehensive system where the majority didn't and/or weren't. I can remember Mr Potter exploding once, and quite rightly so. A 'low ranking' pupil, trying to exact kudos from his peers, had put some chemicals in Mr Potter's tea, he having left the lab for a minute. We convinced the pupil concerned that he would probably poison Mr Potter and be held accountable for his murder, this frightened the pupil so much that he confessed to Mr Potter upon his return, the result, fireworks and a pupil even lower in the 'pecking' order....the fact that you shouldn't eat or drink in a lab was lost or Mr Potter's sense of justice!
Mr Reeves (Accounts teacher) - Maintained discipline within the classroom, but made me realise why I didn't want to become an accountant...sorry accountants no disrespect meant! Young sociology teacher - I cannot remember his name, shameful really as this was one of my favourite teachers/subjects and I won a school prize for the subject. Miss Carney? (young English teacher) - Unfortunately one that should not have been in such a rough school. A very nice genteel person, but due to this she had no discipline, no respect, and was often bought to tears by students. I have left the best till last so that you hopefully realise that things weren't all bad and good can come from such an environment.
Mr Evans (Housemaster - Edison House) - I am amazed how I remember all of this detail!.I have fond memories of Mr Evans. Seeing that I had a talent for Design and Craft he, upon his 'own back', procured application forms for what was then The London College of Furniture (now London Guildhall University), and encouraged me to apply. This he suggested would be better than following my own thoughts (and those of the career masters) of becoming a carpenter. I applied, was accepted and after two years successfully completed a BTEC Diploma in Furniture studies. The importance of this shouldn't be lost; I left school with just one 'O' level and a sense of failure, having sat seven and failed! This success made me realise that through 'self-belief and hard work can come success' This man is probably not alive anymore, I can remember he was in his late 50's when I was there, if you are still alive THANK YOU MR EVANS...you did make a difference!
Ken Burns 1957-64
I was at Monoux from 1957 to 1964 and was involved with the Weilburg exchanges from 61 to 64. I was amazed to see that two articles I wrote for the Monovian of 63 and 64 on the trip were on the web site; did that ever bring back memories! Coincidentally, several of us had a reunion in Weilburg last June, my first visit back since 1967, and we were treated royally by our former exchange partners, a wonderful experience.
One thing I especially remember was a Speech Day in the early sixties (?). It was the evening session (who went in the evening - was it just 5th and 6th forms?), and the guests of honour were John Dankworth and Cleo Laine!
When it was first announced that they were coming, I don't think we quite believed it. After a steady diet of local MPs, councilors, and business executives at previous Speech Days, having two of the greats of British jazz was inconceivable, even if he was an old boy.
Cleo distributed the prizes, and John was the main speaker. If I remember correctly, the underlying theme of his speech was "if you find your passion, go out and follow it, and never mind about finishing school"! He didn't put it that bluntly, but it certainly caused a few of the staff to look mildly uncomfortable.
I've noticed in the "Memories" section that many old Monovians have fond recollections of J.S. (Iffy) Durrant. I was never one of his students, but I do remember his regular "top of the bill" appearance with straw hat and cane at the annual Rag Concert singing "Let's All Go Sailing To Sunshine Bay", including the line, bellowed out by everyone, "Where there won't be detention ANY MORE!". JSD taught Spanish, and, as you've probably gathered, my second language was German. I'm sure I'm just one of many who have abidingly fond memories of Dr. Martin Warschauer, a kind and gentle man, whom I have to thank for my abiding fascination with Germany, its people, and language.
Music at Monoux
In his autobiography Johnny Dankworth recalls that Mr Belchambers expected pubescent schoolboys to sing "My Mother Bids Me Bind My Hair in Bands of Rosy Hue." I don't remember that one but am intrigued by a few others I can recall singing a few years later.
One was "Cherry Ripe," loudly rendered in falsetto in our class by a boy called Walls. Another that featured recently in the film of Becky Sharpe included the lines "Come with me and we will go, Where the rocks of coral grow, of coral grow. Follow, follow, follow me. ... , etc."
A third that I quite enjoyed went:
"Light as air at early morning,
Our feet they fly over the ground,
To the music's merry sound....."
Then there was "....
Upon the bridge stands musing young Phyllis, Wondrous fair.
Fond fisher vain your trying,
(repeat) (repeat with variation)
That fish you may not snare."
At the time I assumed that Phyllis was the daughter of the trawler captain. (We did indeed sing a song, though not within the hearing of the masters, about a captain's dauighter called Mabel and experiences she underwent). Only now does it occur to me that it is some sort of rural idyll by a stream.
Can anyone throw any light on what the songs in the Belchambers canon were, and where he got them from? And does anyone remember any more of them?
It seems to me a tribute to the power of music to overcome obstacles that Monoux produced so many distinguished musicians. Terry Empson (1942-50)
I must say that whilst I didn't appreciate the educational value of his lessons, I thoroughly enjoyed belting out "Who is Sylvia". Don Anderson
Many thanks. I'd forgotten "Who is Sylvia?" Now we've started, other titles come trickling back: Where're You Walk; Drink to Me Only. The words of the latter, closely examined, now seem to me a long way short of the unambiguous tribute I originally took them for. E.g., the singer sent his girl friend a bunch of flowers in the firm belief that they would be dead and withered by the time she got them. What sort of message was that meant to convey?
Dennis Knappett 1935 - 1939
I enjoyed reading about "the old man" as we all referred to him at the time, not to his face of course. He never seemed old and probably wasn't but that was what we called him. I think that I had more respect for him than for any other person before or since, I could not have asked for a better Head in spite of the fact that my hand was sometimes on the opposite end of the cane to his own. He actually taught us for a year, in 1952 I think the school was short of a maths master and Mr Stirrup took us for the year and very good he was too.
Like other correspondents I also remember Lizzie Hyde well. I believe his nickname came from his habit of saying "Orford - lisez" as he roamed around class getting us all to read from the French book. The name was particularly appropriate as he was just slightly effeminate and lived with his mother although he must have been in middle age. He was an extremely nice man and I remember him well as I delivered his morning newspaper to his flat in Forest Road from the age of 13 until about 17 (I was a very poorly paid apprentice and still needed the paper round money). At Christmas time and after exams finished he used to read short stories or chapters from books to us and was really brilliant at it keeping us all enthralled.
Not mentioned on the site was Mr Colgate an excellent history teacher. I was not a good student at school but so good was he that I can still remember virtually all of the headings relating to the French Third Republic. His drawings of matchstick men on the board were very memorable and illustrated his lesson very well. I met him by chance several years after leaving school when I won a scholarship to the London College of Printing - He was the headmaster of a Naval College which was taking over the building we were vacating in Stamford Street. I can still remember the start of the first lesson we ever had in my first year at Monoux. Room 1 it was and old Belchamber started by saying that surprisingly there was a strong connection between music and maths (this was a maths lesson). John Orford1952-56
EVACUATION SEPTEMBER 1939.
Although Neville Chamberlain had returned from Munich in 1938 waving a piece of paper and proclaiming "Peace in our Time" the Government continued planning the evacuation of school children from London and other large cities. In rural England homes were contacted and financial incentives offered to those willing to accept evacuees. Elaborate transport arrangements were made with railway, bus and coach companies.
As the summer of 1939 waned it became more and more likely that war would be declared. In the last week of August parents wishing their children to be evacuated were told to send their children to school complete with a suitcase with clothes, respirator and a label tied to them with their name and the name of the school. No member of the public knew to where the children were going.
Thus it was that in that in the last week of August the boys of Monoux together with sundry brothers and sisters assembled at the school. It was glorious weather and we spent the time in the playing field. If orders to move had not been received by
3.30 pm we were sent home with instructions to return early the following day. At last, on Saturday 2 September the telephone call came and we were on our way.
We walked in double file through Lloyds Park and along Winns Avenue. I well remember a Greengrocer with his horse and cart giving away all his fruit as we passed by. The masters and their wives accompanied us.
At Blackhorse Road Station a train waited and we were told to board. After a long journey we arrived at AMPTHILL in Bedfordshire and detrained to be met by a reception party. Much consternation! They were expecting a party of infants and arrangements had been made to billet the very young children in Ampthill and some of the surrounding small villages. Monoux had got on the wrong train!! Too late and the original arrangements had to be adhered to.
This was far from ideal. With Grammar school staff being specialist teachers there was a problem in maintaining the full curriculum. I was sent on with some 30 others to LIDLINGTON, some eight miles away accompanied by Mr. & Mrs Bellchambers, Dr. and Mrs Lloyd and Mr Ninnim. Thus we could study Spanish, Music and play games and athletics for our exercise. After a few weeks arrangements were made for those teachers who had their cars to travel around the villages teaching their specialist subjects.
Behind the scene efforts were being made to relocate the school so that we would be altogether again. Eventually we were moved by a convoy of buses to Colchester where we shared with the local Royal Grammar school. They attended from early morning to midday and we from midday to early evening.
Came the evacuation from Dunkirk in June 1940 and the powers that be decided it was not a good idea to have children from London evacuated nearer to the East Coast. So again a fleet of buses moved us from Essex to Leominster in Herefordshire where again we shared accommodation with a local school. Here it was that we of the fifth form sat the matriculation examinations.
Chipperfield, the Circus people had taken a farm in the area to house their performing animals "for the duration". Farming was the last thing on the owners' minds and they were soon served with a notice from the Ministry of Agriculture to clear the land of a certain poisonous weed --- I forget the name. The Chipperfield family approached Mr Goodall, the Headmaster and arrangements were made for the fifth formers waiting their exam results to go and help. We were collected each morning in a fleet of 4 Rolls Royces, given a sumptuous lunch and returned to school in the late afternoon. We became as brown as berries during the three weeks we were there.
Came the results and our time as evacuees came to an end as we departed to a world of commerce and industry.
Calvin Bobin 1969-72
I joined Sir George Monoux School from Chapel End in 1969 as a 4th former along with many school friends that I had known since infant days. I believe my year was only the second intake from the comprehensive schools so the pupils and staff at that time were a mixed bag of grammar school and the 'new kids' from the comprehensive schools. The comprehensive intake was taken from several local schools - if my memory is correct possibly up to 4 different schools. No doubt this was the new bright idea of the Education Minister of the day. Some of the pupils who came into the Monoux 4th form would have left at the end of the 5th year having spent only 2 years in the school - it would be understandable if those people felt no real affinity for the school when compared to someone who had joined at the age of 11 and left at 18 (as I suspect was the norm in your day). I suggest this is the reason for your observation about the lack of involvement from the 70s/80s pupils. There is no doubt that during my time the Grammar School influence was very strong however the school had been changed forever.
At my time the Headmaster was Mr Stirrup to whom I have much to be grateful. I actually left school at the end of 5th form having no aims or idea of what career I should take up. I spent the summer holidays of 1971 working in a menswear shop in Walthamstow High St and after a few weeks I began to realise what a dead end job it was. Towards the end of that summer break I received a letter from Mr Stirrup giving me the option to go back to school if I felt I had made a mistake. I didn't need any time to consider so having formally left school I then rejoined as a 6th former for the 71/72 year. I worked hard that year and although I could never say I had any specific career aspirations I did at least understand the importance of that step from school life to a working life. I left in summer 72 because I got a good offer from the Post Office (later to become BT). To be honest I was no more than average academically so the timing was just right however without the extra school year and exam results the opportunity wouldn't have arisen. I soon realised the importance of academic achievement within my work area and commenced studying for specialist vocational qualifications - something I did for 6 years which provided the springboard for a successful career. I believe Mr Stirrup passed away some years ago and it will always be a regret that I didn't make more effort to seek him out in his retirement years just to say "thanks - you changed the course of my life".
Once I left Monoux I joined the Old Monovians Football Club and spent many happy years with likeminded souls. My playing days are over now but I still manage attend the occasional Annual Dinner.
Ralph Smith, Victoria BC Canada
Here's something which most old boys will remember - the green hymn book (click here) which we carried to assembly every morning - mine is still complete 'cept for the back cover! Goodall's agnosticism never appeared to have influenced the choice of hymns. Religious instruction and 'morning prayers' seemed quite normal to me - perhaps I was missing something! The whole school even assembled to listen to the Armistice Day service on the BBC and I remember when Edward VIII was in attendance at the cenotaph a disturbance was clearly heard on the broadcast - must have been November 11, 1936. Some nut ran forward with a starting pistol and was immediately subdued by the cops! Ralph Smith, Victoria BC Canada
Here are a few of my recollections of some of the masters between 1935 and 1939.
Dr Percy Hyde Reaney
Although I was the worst Latin scholar he ever tried to teach I found 'Kips' a commanding teacher who was prepared to spare time discuss any subject in which we took an intelligent interest. The first book I bought with my first week's pay was "Place Names of Essex" and I also often consult his book on English Personal Names. His bete noir was the internal combustion engine and it now seems he was probably right! I am sorry not to have met him after the war when he was living in Tunbridge Wells. Today he would be having immense fun combining his work on personal names with DNA research!
L. C. Belchambers
Every week we listened to his abominable gramophone with its fibre needles and everlasting record of Eine Kliene Nachmusic. Strangely, his music lessons were never boring and I still listen to Mozart. He would be amused to learn that although I never learned to play a note or absorbed much of what he taught us I did, in one of my later incarnations, become the manager of a symphony orchestra! His notes on famous composers and their contemporaries proved invaluable over the years in writing symphony concert programmes!
R. W. Blake
This civilian version of 'Old Bill' was a kindly old man and the worst French teacher this side of the Urals! He was happier talking about interesting things that boys enjoy, like police activities, the Whitehead torpedo or the moored mine, than teaching a foreign language. Although he obviously meant absolutely no harm some of his remarks would today have got him into trouble with politically correct parents - occasionally he'd comment about a nice looking young lad, "I'd like to eat that boy" which clearly was not his intention at all. He often spoke of being a 'Britisher' but obviously we was not French! I was sorry when he retired.
A. G. Brobyn
Was he Welsh and did he teach carpentry? If so, he taught me some useful things about woodworking and the care of tools which I was able to put to good use when I became a building contractor and restored an ancient house in Norfolk. As I recall he did great work in making the sets for the Mikado, the Pirates, a spectacular production of The Ghost Train and numerous class plays which required scenery and sound effects - in the making of which he was quite brilliant.
J. S. Durrant
I have to thank "Iffi" for all the encouragement he gave me in essay writing, I was astonished the first time he produced one of my efforts and read it to the class - none of whom would believe it was my own work. He did and he was right - he even introduced a new grade 'Inspired' of which I was the only recipient which infuriated the hoi polloi!
A good teacher with charming eccentricities and one from whom I received every encouragement.
A. E. Hayes
He tried and tried but at least he taught us to prepare paints from three basic colours.
With limited equipment he produced some remarkable successes and I've no doubt was also involved in the scenery construction with Mr. Brobyn. He got us interested in producing posters for school plays and found this teaching of great value later on. He was not averse to talking about air raids in WWI and the danger of shrapnel from our own anti-aircraft guns - he was right, as we found a few years later! At assembly one morning Goodall was wearing one of his more serious faces when he told us that on the the previous evening some miscreants had loosened the front wheel on Mr Hayes' bicycle with the result that he'd been hurled on to the road but fortunately not seriously hurt. This was a very serious matter and would be thoroughly investigated - so far as I know nobody was found guilty!
H. J. Hyde
He also tried to teach me French and sent me to see Goodall when I told him that there was little point in my doing homework which I couldn't understand and in which I had no interest. I don't recall any serious consequences or anything more than a few sharp words from the 'Old Man.' Hyde had a nickname which I cannot remember but which was far from complimentary; was it Lizzie? However, this gifted pianist and singer frequently gave a short recital at morning assembly. I can recall especially his 'Sorcerer's Apprentice' on the grand piano and often thought of him singing the Englsh version of "Non piu andrai, farfallone amoroso" when I was on active service!
Took us for swimming lessons at the Walthamstow Baths. He must have been encouraging for I learnt after only two lessons. He had a novel method of teaching global weather systems which made world travelling much more interesting and understandable - although I'm sure he'd never been there I found the doldrums, the 'roaring forties' and the Susquahana River were exactly as he'd described them to us. I doubt if he ever flew over northern Canada but if he had he'd have seen hundreds of oxbow lakes so obviously formed in the manner he'd accurately explained. He also seemed to be present on most school 'outings' - I remember two, an exhibition of Japanese art in one of the London museums and a visit to Portsmouth Dockyard in company with Mr. Arthur, a place with which I was to become more familiar later on! We spend a lot of time climbing all over Jellicoe's old flagship HMS Iron Duke and even had a meal in the NAAFI which was good training for some of us.
Did he really have a farm near Sevenoaks? Certainly his appearance and that of his car suggested a rural location! If I'd known that I was to spend much of my life in the countryside I might have paid more attention. I vividly recall how one winter morning he produced a dead crow with a broken neck which he believed had suffered a hard landing during a snowstorm and then explained how it might have become disoriented and lost its horizon - 'though he didn;t quite use those words. A man too good for the type of boys he was expected to teach which he must have found frustrating without ever showing it.
A man of action! I wish I'd asked how he won his O.B.E. He taught us about explosives, ginger beer, poison gas and thermite, even igniting a demonstration sample of the last in the lab! He seemed to live in a very dangerous quarter and once there was an explosion of a car battery in class when a boy got positive mixed up with negative. Probably every year there were numbers of small explosions in the district as boys did voluntary homework with chlorate and sulphur after his most interesting chemistry lessons. Some lost their eyebrows! He was gas officer for the Walthamstow council's air raid department - they couldn't have found anyone better; when challenged he could write out the complete formulae of any known war gas with complete accuracy! On the trip to Portsmouth and our visit to the Royal Oak he called for three cheers for the officers and men who had been very tolerant of schoolboys swarming all over their ship and leaving fingermarks on the glass and brasswork.
In addition to physical education Mr. Ninnim who was never referred to as 'colonel' in my day, also taught us about the less interesting functions of the human body. Those lessons probably happened when scenery for a major dramatic producion intruded into the gymnasium. I believe he described the length of the large intestine as the length of a cricket pitch! However, in physical training and field sports it would have been very difficult to find anyone better - every track event was set out and prepared by him and discus, javelin, shot putting, hurdling and every kind of jumping was within his scope. The school caretaker and I believe a groundsman also assisted in setting out those events but I have forgotten their names!
He also found time to run clubs for jujitsu, boxing and wrestling and rounded off his accomplishments by MC'ing parent's evenings. Where could he have learnt all this? He was clearly and army man and may have been a PTI but all I heard about army life was when he gave a bar of soap to a camel in Egypt - camels don't like soap and he was chased into a railway truck just escaping its 'orrible green teeth!
H. V. Horton
That very quiet and pleasant master could even make his lessons about the amoeba and protozoa quite interesting whilst one essential of their criteria of life always seemed to excite the interest of those boys who spoke of their anxiety to ascertain if their reproductive essentials were also fully intact! He seems to have been my tutorial master for some time and I do recall quite pleasant and unexciting reviews of my lack of progress from time to time. One suspects from his manner that he might at one time have worked at one of the better public schools.
S. A. Watson
I see from my reports that I was taught history by this master. Sad to say although I am sure he was an excellent man I can recall very little of what he tried to impart! It was I suspect because we were at the deadly dull end of the syllabus and places named Ur and the importance of early civilizations are very distant from the minds of boys more centred on exciting events in thirties Europe or rhe effect of the 'means test' on the working classes!!
S H Rayner
He tried to teach me maths and although I see his encouraging remarks I just cannot remember him or very much of what he said! Must have been quite remarkable for later in business I found that I had an aptitude for figures retained no doubt from some method of subliminal teaching of which we were completely unconscious!
Pythagorus must have been retained as a useful item for future use!
A G Emery
Did he really teach physics? I don't remember him but much of what I tried to skate over during periods of attention seems to have stuck - with valuable results. Bless him, he saved me a fortune with his lesson on siphons when I needed to replace a defective sewer system with a design which must have incoporated all he ever taught me!
I even recalled being taught the theory of osmosis which was valuable when a lady in Washington threatened to transform me into an Anerican using osmosis!! Perhaps she believed I was unfamiliar with the process!
No doubt next time I read your newletter I will be reminded of more interesting aspects of life on Chingford Road - in fact mention of that thoroughfare recalls a Mrs. Barr who owned a confectionery shop opposite the school right opposite a similar but inferior property which dispensed fizzy drinks from what was probably the most unsanitary machine even in those days! Mrs Barr was I believe a widow whose son was also at the school. I believe I saw that both those properties were damaged during the war.
Robert Barltrop's portrait of Percy Dennis Goodall does not do justice to that complex character or to those of us who suffered in the extraordinary world which he created on Chingford Road.
The years between 1935 and 1939, when I was released by the outbreak of war I now believe were about the unhappiest of my life whilst a private school in Essex, which followed, and later service in the Royal Marines I recall with happy memories and lasting friendships! Not so with the "Monner" for I think that many of Goodall's 'attitudes' as catalogued by Barltrop were imitated by the younger patients in 'Speedy's' strange asylum in which groups of non-paying students from local schools, where they had known each other since the age of five, moved en bloc to torment those from schools unknown and different social,backgrounds!
Although I was a poor scholar I never found Goodall anything but personally friendly as during the school trip to Switzerland in 1938 when I took the attached photograph of him on the quay at Stans and which he later endorsed 'but on holiday.'
I cannot recall that he was particularly irreligious or that he was a proclaimed pacifist and I still have my hymn book from which a hymn was selected every morning and which was accompanied by Mr. Hyde on a grand piano.
The assembly readings whilst not necessarily biblical included writings of Nurse Edith Cavell, Edmund Burke and Stanley Baldwin and I am sure there were numerous occasions when the Second Master was allowed to ply his trade!
I would have described him as more of an internationalist than a pacifist and he often spoke of his belief in music as a friendly bridge between different nationalities and even extended that idea into inviting members of the Hitler Youth dressed in their full regalia to give a recital of Nazi songs during a visit to the school , including "The trumpet sounds from roof to roof!"
Maybe he was more pro-German that Peace Pledge! Certainly he could be cruelly sarcastic and whilst his views on sex education may have been somewhat avant garde his tolerance did not extend to what he called filth to Form 2L on one occasion when a boy named Pettigrew (or similar) was awarded three days suspension for passing a note during class with a limerick concerned with a young lady from Madrid.
"This class is wallowing in filth," he told us next day but he didn't go into details.
In my other school such a note would have earned six of the best which would have been much more effective and left no doubts in our minds! The welcome and for me sudden departure from Sir George Monoux meant that I never had the opportunity of seeing Goodall under the stress of wartime and although rumour had it that he left the school under something of a cloud I have never been able establish the reasons for what must have been an early retirement!
I suppose as headmasters go he wasn't at all bad but sadly I suspect there was something in his background that hindered his potential - he had the makings of a great headmaster but sometime, somewhere, something went wrong. His was a story worthy of a book - there was lots he could have told us.
Charles Plouviez (1937-44)
The OM website is a tremendous undertaking, and I haven't explored more than a tiny part of it. I look forward to spending more time with it during the winter months.
But I have one grievance. I've scoured the Memories section, and I can find only two references to the late Dr P.H. Reaney, both hostile, and one of them even spelling his name wrongly [which he would have hated, not because he was vain, but because he thought Monovians ought to take the trouble to spell correctly]. [Editor's note: Correction made below.]
Dr 'Kip' Reaney was probably the most distinguished master the Monoux school ever had, and he also happens to be the one to whom I owe most. I don't know much about his early career, but I think he was already teaching at Monoux before it moved to the present site in 1926, and when I joined the school in 1937 he was already regarded as a bogeyman. This was partly due to his unprepossessing appearance - his mouth was disfigured in a way which had given rise to the nickname 'Kipperface' - and partly to his solemn and sarcastic manner.
So I was pretty scared at finding that he was to be my housemaster and whatever we called moral tutors in those days, as well as teaching me Latin. Yet when, small and trembling, I had to see him about something to do with the house, I found him immediately accessible and helpful.
Reaney wrote two of the Place Name Society's volumes, The Place Names of Essex and that for Cambridgeshire. For the latter, he took a year's sabbatical while I was in the IVth form. After his retirement, he compiled a marvellous Dictionary of Surnames, which has been revised since his death but never superseded, and a useful little guide to place names.
I've forgotten most of my Latin, but he taught me how to write English more than any of the English staff, and how to be painstaking and accurate. I managed a 32-year career as an advertising copywriter quite largely on what I learned from 'Kip'. I also learned not to take people at face value. By the time I got to the VIth form, I knew that Reaney had a wicked sense of humour, and was laughing at all us kids. He probably still is.
Paul Layburn 1966-71
I entered Monoux at the age of 11 years in 1966 after getting my 11 plus, complete surprise to all who knew me!
For me there was no alteration with the influx of new pupils at the time of conversion to the comprehensive system, in fact I hardly remember them at all. I think we just integrated as a matter of course. What I do believe is that I was in the last year when we had school caps, and it was the end of an era when Monoux was more akin to a public school than a grammar school.
We had cap checks after school, we had a sixth form common room and we had fag week. Very much Tom Brown's Schooldays stuff. Many of the teachers still wore their gowns ( I remember one in particular who walked so fast he was nicknamed Batman ) to teach, and it was accepted as the norm.
We had nicknames for many of the teachers, usually derived from their forms of dress or their eccentricities. Mr.Evans the maths teacher, was nicknamed Caveman, because of his unruly hair, his old tweed jacket and the fact that he always had sticking out of either side of his jacket pockets a packet of No.6 cigarettes and Swan Vesta matches.
Then there was Mr.Haslem who was always extremely smart.
I remember Messrs. Diprose, Pashby, Durrant etc; all of whom had their individual ways of teaching!
Mr.Jenkins, the deputy head was nicknamed Nero because of his hair. And of course we had V.J.Stirrup the Head, who always used the split end of the cane on me for maximum effect, I'm afraid it didn't really work.
We came back from one holiday to find a Reliant three wheeler on top of the gym, how they got it up there was a feat of marvel. Also at that time we came back to find a pair of girls knickers flying from the flagpole.
Edward Cocksedge (1935-40) New South Wales
Thoughts of Evacuation 1930-1940
In 1989, at the Old Monovian dinner, Tommy Mandl entertained us all with stories of the school's evacuation from 1939. I was one of many of my year (5th form) who enjoyed the adventure then, and continued to look back on it as a carefree period, preparatory for later years of war service.
When the school moved on 17th November 1939 for Bedfordshire to Colchester, I had the great good fortune to be billeted in the household set up by Mrs Brockman with her two sons, Allan and Brian. As well as myself there was Eric Day and Pete Chambers. It must have been a boisterous household. Yet I remember Mrs Brockman always cheerful, keeping things harmonious under her good-natured guidance. As a garrison town, Colchester swarmed with soldiers marching in hobnailed boots. As we walked long distances, Peter and I also covered the soles of our shoes with hob-nails, and clattered along the empty roads at weekends to places on the Essex coast. Some boys had their bikes, and "cutting in" - a favoured activity, positioning your rear wheel to hover close to the front rim on your left quarter - to see who would fall off first. Joe Warne was the master.
In Colchester a reasonably normal routine was established. We were reminded that in about six months time we, fifth formers, had to sit the Matriculation exams. We nevertheless convinced ourselves that the examiners would make generous allowance for "poor evacuees" in their marking. In the Brockman household Eric Day was a very good student. The rest of us were easily diverted.
Our third move on 2nd June 1940 to Bromyard was at the beginning of glorious summer weather. Two weeks without schooling during which we tramped the Bromyard countryside, while always intending to spend more time reading text books and class notes. Even Leominster offered irresistible temptation with its open-air pool and diving board to practice "bombing". You reap as you sow. Matric was upon us. We emerged each day into the sunshine, eager to compare notes, hoping we had scraped a pass. One of our form, a clever studious fellow would say in his irritating, superior manner: "Oh. I expect I will get a distinction!" And he did. Six of them. Rotten Swot!
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Robert Barltrop 1933-38
Cross Country. It was an annual event, though I don't remember it taking place later on. Perhaps the NSPCC intervened. An afternoon of the whole school was given to it, at the end of January when the weather was most dire. We went to Chingford, to the Jubilee Retreat. That was the nearest and largest of the Epping Forest retreats: tea-rooms, a little fun-fair, sheds where ponies for rides were kept. There was a silver-painted helterskelter tower, a landmark on Chingford Plain.
The run was compulsory unless you were unfit (quite a number discovered that they were). We changed in the pony-sheds, the advice to most of us being to wear our football boots. Outside, in the cold damp misty afternoon we lined-up untidily. The word was given, and away we charged en masse - two miles for juniors, three-and-a-half for seniors. I think the course was mapped out to comprise the messiest, hilliest, most unwelcoming parts of the forest. The crowd of starters quickly broke up; we became a collection of stragglers out of sight of one another. No taking short cuts or rests. When you thought of such things there would be a master or a prefect stationed behind a bush, directing you on. All right for them, standing on dry ground in overcoats and scarves. With the football boots caked with mud so that they weighed like lumps of lead, you pounded on to the piece de resistance: the water-jump. It was an inlet forming a small deep pool, and you had to jump in and wade across. A crowd of non-runners and masters stood round to make sure you did. The water came up to my chest; short boys must have been nearly submerged.
Then, soaked and fagged-out, the final stretch. In the sheds at the Retreat zinc baths were put out and filled with warm water from pails and kettles. We jostled one another for as much of a wash as we could get. Who won? Search me. Maybe in one of the other sheds somebody was being congratulated on getting home first, but I don't think many knew about it. I knew who played football and cricket for the school, and who excelled at the hundred yards and the high jump, but I never heard it said of anybody "He won the crosscountry". What was it for? Exercise in the open air is fine; that was rather drastic for 11 and 12year-olds. I think it represented the tradition that the Battle of Waterloo was won on playing-fields, so the muddier and more arduous they were the better.
Ray Koster 1971-73
I was a pupil at the school 1971 to 1973 and always thought that I got a grammer school education for free. very fond memories of Duncan Kirkland and Mick Ive (The Hovercraft) as I read their articles from your site. I always remember the highlight of the day was to kick start Mr Albrighton's Motorbike at 3.50 in the afternoon. He owned this lovely Vincent 1000cc Black Shadow which sounded like music when it started, so you cam imagine the que to do this. Mick Ive taught me about engineering and I spent many 100's of hours on that hovercraft. He was most upset when I announced that I was going in to Electronics as a Job. He use to call me Ray untill then but it changed to KOSTER!! after that.
We use to go for a smoke behind the art block untill we got caught by the head, Alan Brockman. He confiscated 19 Rothmans from me and I had to see him at 4pm only to find that he was smoking my fags!!!
The late 60's. That famous school skiing trip which culminated with the master taking the party of about 35 boys with only one parent to help. We thought that the trips were a riot, which they basically were, with Sir leading the party to the bar or what ever drinking establishment was chosen for the evening. Our party had very few skiing accidents, however our return from the trip at Victoria station looked like the battle of the Somme with so many legs in plaster, arms in slings etc all largely alcohol related. But the strangest thing by todays standards was that not one parent complained and the trips continued. I have a strong memory of being delayed at Innsbruck station for several hours and Sir leaving the main party and with a small group of boys going across the road to a bar where we all drank several tumblers of schnapps. On leaving the bar the tepmerature drop was so graet that my glasses snapped across the bridge but I didn't notice too much as my vision was by that time pretty impared!
The second memory which I only got as a rumour was a master overstaying his lunch at the Rose and Crown and bringing the Bar Maid back to class then sitting chatting to her for the afternoon - whether this is true or not it sounds like a likely story. This particular master took a great liking to GARLIC and used to eat it like an Apple until the office staff refused to have him in the school office which you will recall was a very small room. Ah happy days and good memories of times when we could grow up and not have to worry about regulations.!
Jean-Pierre (Duncan) Kirkland, teacher at Sir George Monoux 1966 - 74
Mr Tomlin was the caretaker and I am sure was the role-model for the subsequent TV Grange Hill caretaker! He interrupted staff meetings that overran by popping his head around the staff room door and abruptly announcing that he was locking up in ten minutes. His array of garden gnomes was the pride of Chingford Road, and long before an episode in Coronation Street, some went missing with accompanying ransom notes. (I wonder if we had a TV script writer amongst the pupils at that time!). Perhaps the most memorable incident was when some fifth formers played a practical joke on him. He had a 'coal hole' at the north end of the school. As he was emerging one lunchtime, the pupils dropped a 2 lb bag of flour on his head. Instead of going back down and brushing the stuff off, he trailed all the way up the stairs, along the top corridor, leaving a long white line of flour behind him, to the old staff room in the south west corner, entered and stood looking like the abominable snowman and exclaimed 'Look what they've done to me'.
Ralph Smith Victoria BC Canada
Does anyone recall the 'mock' election held at the school at the time of the 1935 General Election? As with the national election it resulted in a Conservative victory although the seniors voted Tory and the Junior School went to Labour! I seem to remember that most of the staff appeared to be generally sympathetic to the Labour Party. The local Candidates from both Tory and Labour parties came to address the school and I remember the Labour man gave a fiery and spirited speech designed to put small boys off the political process for life!
I found the two school results interesting and have since wondered if there had been a change in the admission process, perhaps about 1932, which had resulted in more boys from less privileged backgrounds being accepted than in earlier years. Those of us who paid fees were in a small minority - I think about four out a thirty in Form 1L and on the first day of term we were very publicly extracted from class to take our Father's cheques to the school office which did nothing to endear us to the socialist majority! My fee was seven pounds per term which, when considered against a 14 day school trip to Switzerland (fares, hotel and excursions inc.) for 14 pounds, was quite a lot of money!
Robert Barltrop 1933-38
It was my last year at school. We were preparing for the General Schools Certificate exams. In English, one of the set books was Julius Caesar; so the whole year, about a hundred of us, were taken to the People's Palace to see it performed one afternoon. Other schools were there too, as they were doing the same; a full house of 14 to 15-year-olds.
Julius Caesar is a great play. Unfortunately, the company didn't do it very well. The chap who played Cassius with the "lean and hungry look" was actually rather bulky. The speeches were not given enthrallingly, and even the assassination - Act 3, Scene I - was tame. We talked and fidgeted.
It reached the final stages: Brutus's tent on the eve of the battle. Lucius, the boy who waited on Brutus, came in. Suddenly all the talking stopped. The schoolboy audience sat up, transfixed.
Just as they hadn't a suitable thin actor for Cassius, the company had not a juvenile male to play Lucius. He was, unmistakably, a comely young woman; wearing what the boy would have worn, a tunic (blue) which came less than half-way down the thighs. While Lucius said "It is my duty, sir", we gazed astonishedly and avidly at a pair of bare feminine legs.
In case this sounds not much of a cause for excitement, legs were semi-taboo in those days. At merry summer fetes a ladies' ankle contest might be a special attraction, considered slightly daring. Stage revues with dancing chorus girls were known as leg shows.
And here before our eyes was Lucius. We were supposed to give the play our close attention, and we did. Being already familiar with it, we knew when he left the stage that he would be back after Caesar's ghost had called; we waited eagerly.
When he said "The strings, my lord, are false" we felt like joining in. At the last glimpse, the actors lined-up taking their curtain call, we applauded fervently.
At school next day, Lizzie Hyde asked us how the play had been. Oh, terrific, sir! Ah, he said, it had a first-rate cast, had it? No, the cast were lousy: all except Lucius, we yelled.
Lizzie looked puzzled. Was Lucius an extraordinarily good actor, then? No, we said, he couldn't act for toffee. In chorus: "but he had smashing legs, sir." He muttered something about the Bible enjoining us not to delight in any man's legs, and changed the subject.
As a further contribution to our getting to know Julius Caesar inside out, we acted it ourselves. I had a small part, and can recall practically all the cast. One of my friends was Metellus, and we called him Metal-arse.
What I can't remember is who played Lucius; he didn't command attention as the People's Palace Lucius did.
Walter Crowe 1939-1944
I read with pleasure the varied submissions covering many years, on your excellent web site. Nobody submitted a memory of Mr Hayes looking after our class in Shrawley, Worcestershire, in 1940. There was no school building available, but we were taken by him to sketch in the fields instead of classes. Nobody complained! We soon thereafter were sent to Lucton School, and real life began...
Years later, in the summer of 1944, I believe he was the master stationed on the roof of the Monoux building, with a whistle. On the approach of a flying bomb, he was to blow the whistle, and we were to dive under the desks - we were writing the matric exams at that time. Whilst under my desk during one exam, some student guessed that London University would estimate our final marks on the quality of the questions we had answered before time expired.
Thanks be to that intelligent soul, since on most papers there was only one question I could answer with confidence, and when results came out I had passed quite excellently (compared to what I deserved). Before the exams the staff set us Mock Matric. papers, to give us some real-time experience. My proudest moment in my five years at Monoux was when Mr Morgan sent for me later that week. "Crowe," he proclaimed, " the School was founded in 1527. I must inform you that you have achieved the lowest mark in Mathematics recorded during the entire history of this school."
He had a point, though many years later I was a Professor of Statistics in a University. Luckily, maths had become much easier in the intervening years.
Thank you for the Newsletter, particularly the reference to the Choir. I was a member during this period and participated in tours to Hungary, Poland and Russia (I wrote the obituary for Roger Moffatt that appeared in the Newsletter a year or so ago). It was in this choir that I learnt the value of musical excellence in schools (as against simply participating and having a few laughs!). Perhaps that is why I have ended up Director of Music of one of Australia's most famous schools!
Yes, I remember Fergy and have news of some others. I was a "treble" aged 12 in 1964 when the Oslo picture was taken - I'm the tall blond in the front row! Roger Moffatt sadly died in 2001 and a number of us were at his funeral at City of London Crematorium to pay our last respects.
There was a tribute speech to him by Roy Philips at the Service, accompanied by music from the record. Nick Common was another one who I saw for the first time in years. Roger's ashes were distributed in the Memorial Quad some time afterwards and several former choir members came including Chris Baldwin and Steve Studd. It was truly exciting times - I went on all but one of the 7 overseas trips, they happily coincided with my time at Monoux. These were 1964 - Norway, 1965 - Germany/Switzerland, 1967 - Hungary, 1968 - Poland, 1969 - Russia, 1970 - Denmark. I didn't go to Czechoslovakia in 1966. The Parents Association raised money to subsidise these trips.
In respect to 1964, my Mother tells me that she said goodbye outside the school and had no idea exactly where we were going! One story from that Norway trip concerns our two day travel to Oslo by train via Copenhagen. At some point, we were moved from seats to couchette accommodation further up the train. Two of our sixth formers, however, didn't take their luggage with them and when they went to get it, those carriages had been unhooked. Those two spent the next fortnight in the same clothes! I see Roy as well as Tim Goodworth, Rick Law, Geoff Hotten, John Cunningham and Colin Symes fairly regularly. Paul Tarling (a Church of England vicar) led the Service. Most of these names are on the sleeve I believe.
Robert Barltrop. 1933-38
Bernard Bromage was at Monoux only four of five terms. For three of them, he took my form daily in English. We were 2S, 1934-35. It was an unforgettable time - for him more than for us, I'm sure.
We nicknamed him "Tough", because he looked it. I remember him as medium height and sturdily built, with a slight roll in his walk; strong jaw, and dark straight hair which, parted near the middle, tended to fall both sides of his forehead. I would guess he was in his late thirties.
Some years ago I picked up a copy of "The Occult Arts of Ancient Egypt" by him. That kind of thing was his profound interest; he had also written "Tibetan Yoga" and "In Tune With Your Destiny". But the range of his abilities and experiences was extraordinary. He was in the RNVR (he sometimes wore his blazer at school), and in that book he speaks of when he was a young seaman in New Orleans. In the twenties he went to Germany and "on a ramble through the Balkans" which led him to Athens. He wrote a long article for the Monovian describing a Russian journey. If you asked for his autograph he might write something in Chinese or Arabic.
He had graduated at some time, was a prison visitor, and, most memorably for all who were at Monoux then, was a brilliant pianist. We were told he had given recitals all over the place.
Opportunities were made for him to play for us. Goodall the headmaster launched a fund to buy a grand piano. Bromage gave a concert to the whole school, then a public concert on the Saturday. The custom was started of having a piece of music after assembly every morning, and it continued after Bromage left (Jennings on his viola, Mr Skinner singing, Harry Hyde and Freddie Carpenter at the piano and several others).
What an outstanding man to have on the teaching staff of Monoux! However there was an awful flaw. Bromage was unable to manage boys. It took us only a short time to realise it, and we took advantage with all the cruelty of which youth is capable.
His lesson periods became bear-gardens. To an extent he helped to make the conditions for them, because he obviously wanted to break away from the formal work in English. We had debates, speech-making and poetry; disorder flourished. Boys stood up, shouted, sang, and overturned furniture on various pretexts.
The strange thing was that we liked Bromage. We admired his talents, and when he talked about Edgar Allen Poe or Dunne's Experiment With Time he was extremely interesting. But the onus for good order was on him, not us; if he could not control us, he was fair game.
The ragging and baiting grew beyond a joke. Two boys played a dreadful trick which might have caused him to be seriously injured (they were suspended and within a hair's breadth of being expelled). Somebody stole his notebook. It was thick like a Filofax, containing data, which he had been gathering for a book. Goodall appealed strenuously for its return, but it was never seen again.
Perhaps that was the last straw; I know nothing about the circumstances of his leaving. 2S became 3S. Our new English master, excellent Bert Brobyn, was astonished and angry over the missing groundwork; for a whole year we had done no English, noses to the grindstone then!
The school benefited from Bromage's short stay. There should have been a good deal more; rather sad.
Mr Hammer used to teach German and English. He had a tendency to spray saliva upon speaking. Boys used to compete for the front desks. The would place a piece of paper on their desks and as each droplet was deposited it would be marked in ink. The boy who had the most spots won!
Mr Blake was not qualified as the other teachers. He didn't wear a gown but dressed formally and wore a bowler hat in school. Upon arriving at the class room for a lesson he would take off his bowler and place it on top of the cupboard.
Click here to see some of the staff at the time.
The Rev. Geoffrey C. Mills (1944-49)
Perhaps this may stir a few memories among those who were part of the postwar scene. Mr. Elam moved on and V.J,Stirrup arrived bringing a new strictness, and keenness to make us the kind of lads he wanted us to be. "What kind of a lad is he who .,....?" he would proclaim at assembly, waving, aloft some object of shame, e.g. a filthy cloakroom towel, etc. A.F.Ninnim had by then 'put the school on the map', as he told us often, and was certain that we should be the means of keeping it there. Dr.Reaney was the most awesome figure we knew. Heads were engrossed in books long before his arrival in the classroom. Woe betide us if they were not, so we had our simple early warning system! L.C. Belchambers drew out our talent in Room 1 with such songs as 'Who is Sylvia?' Incidentally, I once sang a solo at a Speech Day evening - 'Cherry ripe, cherry ripe, ripe I cry ...' A.G,Brobyn kept us busy making Balsa Wood models as there wasn't any wood available for the woodwork periods. I think it was 'Taffy' Walters who caused an explosion in the Chemistry Lab, his experiment having gone wrong. There was A.E.Hayes in the Art Room, F.G.West the Geography King and T.E.N.Starbuck with History. His regular habit of lifting the front lid and balancing his arms on the top edge while he talked, led us to various slogans written on the underside. We just sat there waiting for the slogan to be revealed, which it usually was, and he still talked on! There were other 'famous' characters - Mr. Emery in the Physics Lab, G.Rothery, Dr. Whitt, T.C.Taylor, W.E.S.Powers in the Biology Lab, J.S. Durrant and Dr. Warschauer.
Who had ever heard of ladies teaching in a boys' school? It was a novel experience in which Miss Appleby was cruelly treated by us boys, but in which Miss Harrison survived for a while, and Miss James found a husband in S.H.Rayner.
D.J.Insole was our sporting hero, playing for Cambridge at that time, and also appearing in the Gentlemen v. Players match at Lords. We all went to Lord's one day and cheered wildly as Insole batted well. The London Evening News reported that "the quiet tranquility of Lord's was shattered ...." I wonder how many will remember our efforts in the Pirates of Penzance, H.J.Hyde and L.C.Belchambers in charge? For a short time following school days we had a Form group called the 5-Emians headed up by Fred Sylvester and Raymond Tacagni and others. Now that we have all passed 70. I wonder how different we are comparerd with the lads of the forties.
Robert Barltrop. 1933-38.
Is the accompanying piece (click here) of interest to the Old Monovians' web site?
It is a pair of pages, Lesson 4, from Siepmann's Primary French Course which was the text book in use in my first year at Monoux, 1933-34. Lesson 1 was L'Ecole, Lesson 2 was La Rue ("Tu est bien lent, Georges") and so on. Each double page followed by a page with the appropriate verbs and vocabulary.
From the dress in the superb illustrations, this book was produced about 1900. It was still in use in my second year, then we had a wave of new language texts.
This photocopy is taken from a Siepmann in my possession; perhaps I had better say I didn't pinch it while at Monoux but picked it up joyfully in a junk shop some years ago.
Victoria BC Canada
Does anyone recall a visit to the school by 3 or 4 Hitler Jugend arranged by Goodall in '37 or '38? The headmaster believed that music had no international bounderies and to prove it a party of Hitler Youth, in official dress -- Sam Brown belts and daggers -- gave a recital of Nazi Party songs with piano to the whole school gathered in the hall! They sang very well and included Horst Wessel and similar pieces - great stuff if you happened to be a hun!!
Incidently a number of senior boys were members of the British Union of Fascists but this not stop at least one from serving in the Royal Navy!
Michael Parkin 1942-47
Ode to true Jazz
In the 40s we'd Classics dinned into us,
All day long, till I dreamt I would drown.
The Benny Gooodman's Quintet came along,
Demonstrating that 'Bach Goes To Town'.
I listened and learnt every part off by heart
- in my heart is where it will stand -
Then on records I heard Mugsy Spanier, and learned
The tunes of his Ragtime Band.
One day, from Leyton, I went with a load
Of pals to the YMCA, Tottenham Court Road.
There we heard some real Dixielanders, led by George Webb
And I grew ten feet tall that night: I was no Pleb!
And my heroes were Reg and George and, yes, Owen!
The whole building shook to their stompin' and blowin',
And when I got home and I sorted the 'bumf',
The second cornettist's a young chap called 'Humph'.
After Tottenham Court Road there came Red Lion Square,
The 200 Oxford Street - what nights we had there!
Freddy Randall squeezed notes out at Cook's Ferry Inn,
One memorable evening Rex Stewart sat in -
(His trumpet could talk, but I don't care to say
the actual words it purported to play!)
The Trad Revolution's becoming a fact,
And others came quick to get in on the act -
Kenny Ball & Chris Barber and then Acker Bilk,
But the purists continued - like dear Eric Silk
At the Red Lion, Leytonstone; Fishmongers, Wood Green
Great were the bands that I've heard and I've seen.
In these few lines above I have mentioned the best -
This doesn't detract from the worth of the rest.
But then there arrived one horrible day - We shook as we heard the news
Humph had completely gone Mainstream! and left us Singin' the Blues.....
I can add to Stanley Hales's memories of the highly-respected Dr.Lloyd (by the way he did have a nick-name because some knew him as Moaner Lloyd,I'm not quite sure why): to him I owe good foundations laid for a subsequent career in which I needed Spanish.We used a pre-WWII text-book which was based on the travels of a group of American students visiting Europe.If my memory serves me correctly they disembarked at Barcelona,and chapter began,"Algo cansados de la vida mas o menos formal del vapor, entramos en una bien conocida pension de la Plaza Real".I wonder if it's still there.A friend and I used to recite the words from memory 50 years later as a kind of mantra.
During the War,Dr.Lloyd was keen for us to economise with exercise book space,as a contribution to the war effort,so no margins were kept and the top of each page had to be ruled with an extra line, also the foot of each page had to be used.Any boy failing in this respect would find Dr.Lloyd over his shoulder,lamenting the lapse and asking,"What would your father say if he knew?" Then it must have occurred to him that perhaps a boy didn't have a father,so the question was changed to "What would Mr.Churchill say if he knew?" Shame indeed.
I remember Dr.Reaney remarking after we'd had Double Maths that he despised the subject, and the only interest he had in it was to be able to check the change that was given to him. Also,one Monday morning he asked if any of the class had been in church the previous day.When five or six of us put our hands up,he responded,"I see we have some parsons at work among us!" In my own case that was to come true in due course.
Stanley Hale 1942-47
My memories of the Masters:
Mr. Stirrup, a disciplinarian, not afraid to use the cane. Willing to cane those who transgressed the principles and rules of the school; including those pupils who had acquired 3, or more, detentions from prefects, or teachers, during a 2-weeks period of time.
Mr. Ninnim, the person who most remained in my mind, over the years. He taught pupils about the conditioning of, and capabilities of our bodies. I can envision him, today,striding along a corridor, looking you straight in the eye. He expected you to stand tall, walk straight and be aware of your immediate surrounding. Without warning, he would feint a blow to one's solar plexus, to make certain that you were in control. And, then, would flash a broad smile. When he approached, we would make certain that we obeyed his dictates. His method of physical education continues in the front of my mind. In fact, I have always thought that if I start a health spa, I would name it The Arthur Ninnim Spa.
Dr. Lloyd. A delightful, benevolent person, totally dedicated to teaching his students, in a style second to none. Percy Parkin was 100% correct when he wrote "Even today I can hold my own on an Iberian holiday." To those who had the good fortune to be in his classes...olvidarse de, olvidarse de, olvidarse de de de, olvidarse de. The Dr Lloyd chant.
Mr. Rayner. The "rogue" who neutered our passions, by marrying Miss James.
Miss James. We never missed one of her classes. She wore blue sweaters. We all liked blue.
Miss Harrison. I seem to remember that she arrived at about the same time as did Miss James. Some of the class felt it was important to test the the patience and resolve of this fine lady. I believe that to calm us down, the name of Mr. Stirrup was introduced. That was enough for us.
Mr. Powers. Known by us as "Pipsy." He quickly brought us under his control. There was only one "incident," when a pupil choked off the supply of gas to his Bunsen burner, causing a back-flash; resulting in the burning of the gas within the barrel of the burner. Quick as that flash, he uncoupled the gas hose, and, with specific detail, explained what would happen to the next pupil who pulled the same trick. No further trouble.
Arthur Hayes. A kindly, dedicated teacher, who strove hard to instill in us the basics of drawing and the painting of water-colours. My favourite memory of him was the time I spotted him, quietly painting a scene of the old Sir George Monoux School, located next to St. Mary's Church, Walthamstow. I have always wanted to get my hands on that painting.
Dr. Reaney. "Kip Reaney," to his students. Stern, opinionated. No, "joie de vivre."
Mr. Brobyn. Woodworking. The name is forgotten, but I still remember that when the teacher showed us how to use a lathe to turn a wooden bowl, we would dive for cover. Every time he tried, the bowl would explode into several pieces. We were all familiar with shrapnel, and did not want to be conked and killed by a piece of flying wood. Hence the quick reflexes. Thank you, Mr. Ninnim.
Arthur Roberts, III
My stay at Sir George Monoux was quite short. I think it was from sometime in 1944 until May 1945. I was in the First Form. Even though I was born in London, my parents were Americans. I remember the piano recitals held in the Assembly Hall where we would appeal loudly to have The "Warsaw Concerto" played.
The most memorable event for me was a lunch in early 1945. We had finished the main course and a splendid looking cake covered with lemon sauce had just been set before each of us. I was sitting in such a way that the back of my chair was towards a post close behind me. The windows were several feet behind the post. As I was about to pick-up my spoon, I remember everything becoming very dark for a split second and then the room was filled by a blinding flash of light followed by a huge explosion. The shock wave must have stunned me for a second, because the next thing I remember seeing was the dust and debris settling all around me. Pieces of glass and plaster were imbedded in the dining table, but most of all I remember looking down at my lemon sauce cake and seeing that it was so covered in glass and dirt that I knew there was no way I was going to be able to eat it. What a ridiculous reaction when I could see that the boy sitting next to me, who had not been shielded by the post, was bleeding from his head. Those of us who were unhurt were escorted to our class rooms to pick-up our belongings and then told to go home. Such was my closest experience with one of Hitler's V 2 rockets. I was told later that it had landed the length of a football field away from where we were. Right after VE Day, my father was able to secure passage for my mother and myself on an American troop ship that took the three of us to America. I was eleven years old when we left Southampton on May 20, 1945. I would love to hear from anyone who experienced that rocket blast and with whom I may have attended school.
Richard Bacon 1974 - 1978
I read Bryan Daniel's comments, and largely agree with them. But I also remember some fun times as well, like setting up the film club with Mervyn Sambles, Jeff Sargeant and a couple of hangers on and showing an 18 rated film (Seven Golden Vampires) to the school and almost being expelled for it...suffice to say that was the last film we showed. Then there was Mr Edens whose chemistry experiments never worked. And Mr. Groom and his term "It's been Monouxed!" when something was broken or stolen!
Michael "Percy" Parkin 1942-47
Teachers' nick-names in the 40's
Mr Hyde was "Harry", L.C Belchambers was "Elsie", "Iffy" Durrant was another of whom we were very fond, and the two Messers. Morgan ( "Wet Mog" and "Dry Mog"). The latter used to visit the local at lunchtime. Others were too highly revered to be referred to by nick-name, in particular Mr Hayes (Art) and the dear late lamented Dr Lloyd who taught us Spanish to such effect that, 60 years later, I can still hold my own on an Iberian holiday.
George Cox 1928-33
Dr Whitt and Mr Toplis
I benefitted particularly from the teaching of English by Dr Whitt and Mr Toplis. The latter was highly dedicated and wrote extreme comments on our essays, probably to compensate for his severe deafness. This gave rise to peversely amusing incidents when boys, called to read aloud from Shakespeare, instead took the opportunity to abuse one another vocally, undetected by "Uncle Wally Toplis".
Bryan Daniels 1974-76
Monoux in the mid seventies
Have to answer David Gibbs' comments. Although the school had gone a long way downhill from the grammar school days, it can hardly be laid at the foot of Allen Brockman's door that the Labour government of the time was using Waltham Forest schoolchildren as guinea pigs. There was definitely a sloppiness about the school in that kids who didn't want to learn were left to their own devices and we definitely got away with too much (If I'd ever taken a legitimate sick note, it would've been classified as a forgery). So a lot of "problem children" maybe fell through the net. But I definitely don't see that as being any different from the other local schools at the time, it was endemic of the 2 tier secondary system, not of one or other school. At the end of the day, when I tried and needed help, there was always a teacher there for me. When I didn't try, or didn't know I needed help, there wasn't. The school gate behind the playing fields was often too inviting and always badly policed - so some of our potential definitely disappeared down that road. But isn't that what they call character-building? One thing I definitely learned from those chaotic 2 years was, if you don't ask, you definitely don't get. I met a lot of good people at Monoux and even if I might have wished it to be different, my time there helped shape my life - and I can't see that it caused me to screw up as and when. I'm pretty sure I've managed that without Monoux's help!!! For more click here!
Derek Harris' note on the Lucton refugees prompts this note. Harry Horton (a biologist) claimed in the year to have taught us enough Biology to pass School Cert-but then we didn't have much of any other subjects! He had a strong right arm for the cane and there was a competition to see who could accumulate the most strokes -measured by Army ranks. The most successful exhausted the Army and the RAF and were well into the Navy by the time we moved on to Leominster in Sept 1942 We played the Luctonian boys at soccer -our game -and won. The return Rugby match saw us trampled into the mud. One of their XV, the youngest of 3 brothers, later became an England international-D.B.Vaughan
It was during WW2. We were evacuated, Liz Hyde was taking French. Facing him in a line we were John Dankworth, Jack Sharp and John Ind. In our course reader Jack Sharp spotted 'ton professeur'. Ever the wit, he chuckled, 'Pop Emery'. Well he was rather rotund if you remember. It brought uncontrolled merriment which however discourteous, could not be stopped in spite of Hyde's remonstrations. It was the only time I saw him angry. Eventually, past patience we were put outside the room and still could not stop laughing.
Some 30+ years ago, driving home from my office along the A11 I passed an almost liquid Jack Sharp, long distance road runner. Aware of his apparently distressed condition and yet mindful of my pristine upholstery, nvertheless I offered him a lift, which true to his sport he politely refused. I saw him again later when he was house hunting and stood outside my house on the edge of Epping Forest. We invited them in for tea and I reminded him of the laughter event. Sadly he did not remember it. Perhaps for Jack it was one too numerous or maybe I dreamt it. As for John Dankworth our paths have not crossed, although his daughter was singing recently at our local theatre in Taunton.
By attending Sir George Monoux (between 1975-77) qualifies me as an Old Monovian, I don't 'feel' an 'Old Monovian'. My memories of Sir George Monoux are of a school who didn't care who you were, or what you thought, who treated their pupils not as people, but as some kind of temporary regiment, that happened to be stationed in 'their' barracks.
I know I was part of the 'comprehensive experiment' which invaded your school in the late seventies, but we were also people who needed help, guidance, & dare I say education, things that were regarded as mere distractions, where the priority seemed to lie in traditions from a bygone age. I'm sorry that this e-mail sounds bitter, for generally I'm not a bitter man, but It's how I feel, even after all these years.
Tim West (1975 79)
Memories of Arthur Jenkins
I was at Monoux from September 1975 to July 1979 (4th form to upper 6th). I was quite pleased to spot Arthur Jenkins in the photo of Prefects 1972 as I've seen little or no mention of him elsewhere. He was the Deputy Head (possibly between Brian "Bulldog" Farman and Brian "La-di-dah Gunner Graham" Taylor - no disrespect intended, just the way it was then) while I was there and he took us (all 4 - Dave Barron, Michael Drane, John Wright and myself) for (the dying art of) Latin, which nevertheless proved very useful in other fields. We were often able to distract him from the Latin onto war-like stories and other subjects, which we did find interesting, but mainly enjoyed the fact that we could distract him. He also used to try to infuse some culture, in the form of classical music, into many disinterested young minds at assembly whilst sat waiting for the head (Allen Brockman) to sweep down the hall to the stage. I'm not sure he ever really appreciated that the threat of not playing the music because people weren't listening was a little hollow to many. I've no idea where he may be now, although I know that he did live at Coopers Hill, Essex.
Gordon L. Hewstone 1970-77
Our "A" Level Biology teacher Mr. Potter
He spent years on a waiting list for one of those hand-built Morgan two-seat sports cars and would bore the pant off us about it. In the meantime, like a true boy racer, he drove a Ford Capri. Finally the Great Day arrived and he took delivery of his new Morgan and was seen in the next few days whizzing around in it, wearing a flat cap. But all was not well and he finally confessed that the car was just too small for his 6ft+ frame and he went back to the Capri...
A great character, Mr. Potter; I recall on our Biology Field Trip to Slapton, Devon, how he chased a pheasant down a country lane in our mini-bus in an attempt to "accidentally" run it over so that it could be added to his larder!
I wonder if you or anyone can help me.
I attended the school between 1976-79. I have some very fond memories of my time there. My house master at the time was Mr Eagle who was a very helpful chap. I have tried to find out his where about's with very little success. Maybe someone could help? On a sad note I would like to send my condolences to the family and friends of the late Mr Brockman who was headmaster during my time at the school and whom I found a very pleasant and fair man.
Votes for girls
There was a mock election to mirror the general election that was taking place. I thought we were missing out without girls so I campaigned as "The Co-education Party" and displayed posters featuring pin ups with slogans such as "Wouldn't you like me to be at your school?" Sadly, I was a little too far ahead of my time in that respect and reactionary forces lead by the headmaster banned my posters!
The old desks with the ink wells and with seats connected on an iron frame were lined up in columns in the classrooms. I remember that lads without the right text book would be allowed to move their desk alongside the person next to them. A "game" was now to move your desk forward into that space bit by bit whilst teacher's back was turned and eventually move across the room through the gaps without teacher noticing. Suddenly there would be the realisation and the question "what are you doing over there?" when you just had to make out that you, too, were having to share!
League against cruel sports
I remember the demonstration outside the biology lab when some poor creature was about to be killed for dissection. I cant remember if it was a rabbit or a terrapin, but I remember us all shouting about vivisection and feeling that a horrendous crime was being committed!
Charlotte Daly (Charlie)
I attended Monoux college between 1996 and 1998 where I studied Geography, Geology and Art. I went on to study towards a BSc Geography at The University of Luton, which I successfully completed in 2001. I now work as an Environmental Consultant for a large civil engineering consultancy, 'Mouchel Consulting', based in Blackfriars, London. I am also studying part time towards my MSc Water and Environmental Management at The University of Hertfordshire.
Whilst I was at Monoux I had a brilliant time, I took part in the 'young enterprise' scheme, went on three field trips with my Geography and Geology classes, went to many funky student parties, and even became student president between 1997 and 1998.
Lords 1948 (? Need to check with Wisden)
Oxford - Cambridge cricket match.
Cambridge captain was Doug Insole, ex Monoux school captain.
The school was given the day off to watch the match. We cheered his every action. Marvellous!
The head master VJ Stirrup had a seat in the members enclosure. He was mortified. In those days one didn't cheer at Lords.
The next morning assembly was devoted to a tirade on how we had let the school down.
How things have changed since then!
I fell in love with her at age 12. She taught French. She was wonderful in her tight sweaters.
Then she married the Maths master. I was so disillusioned.
A magnificent Maths master.
He joined the school from the army. Rumour had it that he commanded a POW camp.
At the beginning of every maths class he would begin with a quick test. Ten questions to be answered and marked by one's next door neighbour.
To me he was inspirational. He made differential equations magical. I owe him so much. This cartoon from 1939 demonstrates the affection that some had for him.
Do you remember those school dance lessons that Mr Ninnim used to organise? The girls would come from the Walthamstow County High. They would line up at one end, and we at the other. In desperation Ninnim would would order us to show some initiative and then at a gallop we would choose our partners.
I was so proud of my dancing ability until word was passed by one of the delightfuls that dancing with me was like going on a route march. There's no accounting for taste.
I think my dad was a teacher at Sir George Monoux until 1967. At that time I was 6 months old and obviously don't remember a great deal. My dad died in 1978, and I am trying to piece together parts of his life - I know he worked at Matlock College after moving from London, but before that details are sketchy. His name was Ralph Wood and he taught English. Does anyone remember him? One other point - I have scores of his old photos but I wouldn't know if any of them were of interest to you - probably not, but if anyone wants to spend hours ploughing through them....
Tubby Taylor tried to teach me Pure Maths when he returned from the army. We generally believed him to have been in the artillary, mainly I think, because his enthusiasm for explaining ballistics to us. I think he drove a small MG
Does anyone remember Hairy Horton at Lucton where us first years were sent in September 1941? He was really a chemist but taught everything except art as I remember. He ran a comic club for us which included The Daily Mirror and,I think, The Daily Express.
The Poplar Trees
I understand that the Poplar trees planted around the original Chingford Road site were planted by the Old Monovians Association in memory of the OM's who were killed in the 14-18 war.
I was one of those boys who came to George Monoux school from a comprehensive, William Fitt to be precise. It was hard coming from a school like William Fitt where things were relatively laid back (school uniform code had been relaxed at that time for example) to a school with a very traditional ethos (strict uniform code, and some teachers wearing gowns and mortarboards, as well as it being an all-boys school). I transferred to Monoux for m fourth year, and it was expected that I and others who came with me would stay on at least until the end of the fifth year. At that time, the leaving age was still 15, and I was in the last intake who were able legally to leave at that age.
As it turned out I left as soon as I could, feeling unable to cope with the academic demands of the school. I left in July 1972. In retrospect, it would have been better if I had stayed on, and I have often regretted not doing so, and wondering how my working life might have been different if I had stayed. I started work straight away at a factory and had a series of manual jobs. Then, in the early 1980s, I went to Waltham Forest College, not a million miles from Monoux, to do a couple of GCE 'O' Level courses, in English Language and English Literature, which I passed in the summer of 1982. From there I went on to do a course at Middlesex Polytechnic (now Middlesex University) which eventually led to a degree in Humanities (History and Literature).
History had been one of my favourite subjects at school, along with English. As I remember, my history teacher at Monoux was a Mr Elliot, who I seem to remember had a beard. My least favourite subject was mathematics, and this was taught at this time by Mr Davies. When I started there in September 1971, Mr Jenkins was acting headmaster, and after Christmas of that year, Mr Brockman became the new headmaster. Mrs Williams was the English teacher, and I remember she used to ride around on a moped or scooter. There was another lady teacher at that time whose name I can't remember but I think she taught art. I seem to remember a Mr Smith who taught religious studies, a man with white hair as I remember, and quite strict. Mr Crispin was the games teacher, and I believe there was another games teacher, a younger man, whose name now eludes me. My form teacher was Mr Daniels, who I didn't have for any other class except registration, and I remember he had worked in the theatre. I remember Mr Kirkland, who I think taught French, and although I never had him as my teacher, was told by other boys that he always smelled of garlic!
Detentions were held on Saturday mornings, although I managed to avoid that, although nearly got it on a couple of occasions. The cane was still in use at that time, but I never got that either. I did find the ethos of the school quite intimidating at the time. It was hard coming from a comprehensive to a school which still had a grammar ethos, and I felt like a fish out of water at the time. It was only later that I came to appreciate the school and teachers more, and education in general.
In the last few months of my time there, we had a bomb scare one day, and for me that was during games on a Friday afternoon. We all had to evacuate the building while it was searched. This was during a time when the Provisional IRA were becoming more active on the mainland. However, it turned out to be a hoax.
It is now 35 years since I left Monoux, and my memories have faded somewhat, but still some things stand out. I remember the wood panelled corridors, the flower beds at the front of the building, and I remember a few names of my fellow pupils. I never returned to Monoux as an old boy. But in 1986, I took part in a fun run which started and finished at the school grounds, as there was a race track, and I seem to remember using changing rooms there on the day.
I no longer live in the area, having moved out of London in the 1990s, but can still remember what the building looked like, and although I was only there for about ten months, I can still picture the faces of some of my fellow pupils and the staff, and remember the smells of the polished wood in the corridors.
Having passed my Scholarship in 1945 I was over the moon at receiving a letter offering me a place at THE Sir George Monoux Grammar School - always regarded as the best boys school for miles around. How proud I was when I started wearing the school uniform.
Ironically, I received my first detention for being spotted cycling to school without my cap on. I received a second detention soon after for tearing too many pages out of my Maths book. I then took charge of myself and cannot recall getting further detentions. However, I did have some leeway as regards the issuing of notings since there was always another Davis in my class. Any notings given could therefore only be allocated to me if the donor asked for my initials. I know I got away with murder because I was often caught running in the corridor. I really did not want any more detentions because I preferred participation in the school's Saturday sports activities.
I recall two insignificant but unforgettable occurrences at the Monoux. First, "Taffy" Walters, the Maths master scored a direct hit with the chalk when I wasn't paying attention. I had to return the chalk and on turning to go back to my desk received a kick in the you know where. I reported this to my Father whose instant reply was "serve you right". Nowadays the incident would have become a court case. Secondly, again in a Maths lesson, I was asked by "Tubby" Taylor to "open the window at 45 degrees". This was after the usual "quick test" which started as he came through the classroom door. I left Monoux in 1950 having matriculated. Although I was academically pleased with my results, I knew t could have done better!
Dr Martin Warschauer
Having had quite a lot to do with language teaching and language textbook-writing over the last thirty years, some of it in German schools, and for German publishers, I can now appreciate what a talented, ground-breaking teacher Dr Warschauer was.
I remember colour-coded underlining on the blackboard to provide a visual fix, some twenty years before the German publisher I was working for introduced it in school English textbooks. I remember alternative names for intimidating grammatical concepts. I remember a number-coded system for correction, that cracked the complexities of German grammar.
But like all truly great educationalists, Dr Warschauer tempered innovation with the preservation of the best of the old. So I also remember ancient textbooks, actually out of print, which Dr Warschauer explained were being used because the modern ones had pupil-pupil dialogues only. These old ones had a role for the teacher ; so we could use him as a pronunciation model.
Inspired and inspiring teachers have complex and long-lasting effects. So let me make a public confession to you: The callow youth that I was rejected Dr Warschauer, as an individual and as a teacher. I didn't go on the school exchanges to Germany. I stopped learning German. Dr Warschauer took all this with characteristic, wry good humour.
A few years later, chance took me to Germany, to live and work. I came to love the country, the language and the people. Although back in Britain now, I revisit Germany two or three times a year. And I remember Dr Warschauer, the erudite, gentle reconciler of cultures, who, I suspect, must have suffered much before offering his skills, his wisdom and his goodness to the green youths of Walthamstow.
Gott segne Dich, Dr Warschauer. Du bleibst mir immer in Erinnerung - God bless you, Dr Warschauer. I shan't forget you.
William Beer 1948-53
I was the worst possible subject to be educated at such an esteemed establishment. My memories are therefore largely non-academic. Reviewing some recently discovered reports reminded me how surprised I used to be at obtaning a mark higher than 'D'.
V J Stirrup A stern disciplinarian who stood no nonsense and had no sense of justice. Only punishment. He scarred me for life. I wonder if he ever found out who threw the dart into the Hall ceiling or who it was playing cards in the stationery cupboard close to his office.
H A Colgate (HACK) The complete opposite he tried to teach me History and English. He gave up in the end by telling me I was only in 'C' set because there was no 'D' set. A friend and I once visited him at his home after leaving school and were welcomed with tea and biscuits. A true gentleman and much liked by his students.
S H Rayner Achieved the impossible by getting me to do extra-curricular Maths. To attract your attention in class he would often use the phrase "Waiting for you ......"
'Gus' Roberts A chemistry teacher who tried to convert us to playing rugby. To Monovians at that time it was tantamount to treason, (Lipton Cup etc.)
Mr Morrish An English teacher who had a lasting effect on my life. He would insist on making his students stand in front of the class and give a speech, not appreciating how traumatic such a thing can be. I have since avoided all occasions where this might be required. A considerable social disadvantage.
'Goofy' Named after his likeness to the Disney character. Tought Geography and once accused some of us of being dull because we declined the offer of a school trip. The actual reason was that our parent(s) could not afford the cost. Famous for throwing chalk at his pupils.
'Taffy' Walters His idea of teaching Maths was to set an exercise at the start of his lesson and leave you to it while disappearing behind the latest copy of 'Yachting Monthly'. Just like being in detention.
F G West Geography. Often looking for his glasses which were usually pushed up onto his forehead. We were not sure if it was a joke.
L C Belchambers My first form master with a great sense of humour. His favourite joke was "both halves of this music are the same - especially that one". He was also fond telling us how he was once confused about which note to play because an insect had been squashed on the sheet - so he played bee flat.
A H Addy Tought French very well but had a short fuse and was not averse to dispensing his own form of punishment.
'Iffy' Durrant A later form master and tought Spanish. A dry sense of humour and an excellent teacher. It took a long time before I realised how he got his name. Hopefully more later but these are memories, so much will have been forgotten.