Vanbrugh Castle School

The Vanbrugh Chronicle - Summer 1968

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The Vanbrugh Chronicle


No one's ever told me how to write an editorial. I suppose it's a sort of summary of the rest of the Chronical to save you the trouble of reading it.

All right then, it hasn't been a bad term really. The cricket team did better than last year, and we had a record or two in the sports. We misbehaved near the end of term and got gated which meant you couldn't go out.

There were two sort of Speech Days which was fine because we got what was left over twice instead of once. The food has been wizard, and the boys in the tidiest house have been given Mars Bars and things to encourage them. The chip-fryer works hard and is wizard.

We've been on some outings this term which meant No Work, so that was wizard too.

Ten boys have left and will wish they hadn't. The staff say they are looking forward to the holidays, but what about us? We've been doing all the work.



Michael McConnell

This term's teaching Staff has been unchanged except for the retirement of Paddy Purcell whose place was taken temporarily by Mr. Adrian Brett.

We are sorry to say goodbye to Mr. Nicholas Welch who is going to Sussex University, but we shall be welcoming David Pafford, an old boy, in his place. Mr. Pafford is getting married at the beginning of August and moving into the flat in the Knollys Wing shortly afterwards.

Next term Mr. Carstang, the retiring Headmaster of Roan Grammar School, is coming to teach a few hours science every week to relieve Mr. Morton of some of his lessons.

In the domestic department we said goodbye to Miss Maguire, our Cook, and welcomed Tove Carlson and Mrs.Trevor in her place. We are grateful to note that the standard of the cooking is as high as ever, thanks to Mrs. Smith's efforts.

This is a suitable opportunity to thank everybody on the Staff from the Headmaster downwards for looking after us so capably and generously throughout the term. The leavers will miss their kindly influence and advice, but they have been told that they will always be welcome here when they care to visit us.


Ralph Smith

We have had the following guests to lunch this term:

Eight Cadets from R.A.F. Cranwell came to the Castle and were taken round by some of our boys and were very impressed by what they saw. In fact once they had started playing cricket with us they were reluctant to leave!

We forgot to mention that Sergeant Tune of the U.S.A.F, and Mrs.Tune lunched with us one day and then announced their intention of giving us a feed before they left for Virginia, U.S.A. One Sunday afternoon they turned up here with what seemed like hundreds of cookies that Mrs.Tune had made herself the previous afternoon. There was also a gallon or two of ice cream. We are very grateful to these good friends of ours for their generosity and the affection they show us.


Christopher Owens

As most people know, we provide the treble voices for the Chapel of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, This term the boys in the choir have been,

C. Owens
(Head Chorister),
J. Ingleson,
A. Butler, C. Sanderson,
I. Barlow, M. Gribben,
I. Jackson, A. Walker,
J. Rashid, T. Baker
G. Butler R. Blake has also sung in
the Choir and carries the Cross.

This term the Choir has been invited to sing at four weddings.
Owens, Blake and Ingleson are leaving and we are hoping that P. McCann, T. Cadweil and R. Leghorn will be taking their places.


T. Baker

It was a great blow when Mr. Paddy Purcell was forced to retire at the end of last term. He had a temporary Bandmaster in Mr. Adrian Brett, a flutist from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, but before the end of term he had to go off to the United States with his orchestra, and we were consequently unable to play on Prize Day at the end of term.

However, a close inspection of the instruments by a senior member of the school revealed that nine of them were in urgent need of repair, so we used the interval wisely to get all the instruments brought up to good condition for the beginning of the September term. We must then devise a scheme which will ensure that the instruments are inspected regularly, because it wastes a great deal of teaching time when instruments are constantly breaking down.

The members of the Band are:

Jakeman, B. Clarinet
Mackelden, D. Clarinet
Rashid, J. Clarinet
McConell, M. Clarinet
Gribben, M. Saxophone
Jackson I. Trumpet
Sanders, G. Trumpet
Baker, T. Trombone
Barlow, I. Tenor Cor
Borthwick, P. Tuba


M. Bariow

This term we have had a much improved Cricket Team. We lost only three matches compared with last year's seven or eight. The record has been :

Played : 9
Lost : 3
Won : 4
Drew : 2

Unfortunately four matches had to be cancelled owing to unfit pitches and other reasons that have made play impossible.

The Cricket Team is as follows:- M. Barlow Captain, J. Ingleson, J. Quail, A. Seaton, A. Calvin, J. Rashid, C.Sanderson, G. Sanders, I. Barlow, M. Elliott, R Blake


J. Stephenson

There are eight boys in Mrs. Spiers Weaving Class which meets every Monday and Friday afternoon at the top of the Castle. The boys are A. Calvin, T. Baker, J. Ingleson, Michael McConnell, A. Walker, D. Mackelden, P. Greig and P. Borthwick. Sometimes we have welcomed Mrs. Spiers daughter Christine as well.

The weavers are very grateful for the after-care which Mrs. Spiers puts into their materials, and those who saw the results on Prize Day must have been astonished at the skill of our weavers. We confidently hope that the classes will continue next September.


John Ingleson

This year eight boys have been invited to R.A.F. Bruggen in Germany for their Summer Holiday. They are: Philip Greig, Tommy Galvin, Martin Barlow, Michael McConnell, Ralph Smith, Robert Blake, John Ingleson and Robert Campbell (who left a year ago).

The boys will be travelling out by air on the 5th and returning on the 19th. While in Bruggen they will be staying as guests of R.A.F. Officers and Senior N.C.O's., and we have heard that they will be given free passes to the Station Swimming Bath and the cinema. I am sure we all realise what a great privilege this holiday is and that people will be watching our behaviour to see what kind of a school we come from.

Also this year three boys have been invited to Norway by the R.A.F. Association. They are A. and B. Seaton and S. Kimber, who will be staying on an island in the Oslo Fjord enjoying the hospitality of the R.A.F. Association Branch out there. These boys also will be flying to and from the island, in their case with the Royal Norwegian Air Force.



This term, as usual, we have enjoyed a number of visits to many interesting places.

On May 7th thirty boys were invited to R.A.F. Odiham where they were shown much of the equipment and given a most splendid meal. The twelve oldest boys were also invited to the Biggin Hill Air Fair and to R.A.F. Abingdon on the occasion when Her Majesty the Queen attended.

On May 22nd a number or younger boys were taken to the Regent's Park Zoo by Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Berry and Mrs. Spiers.

Our usual annual visit to the Royal Tournament was cancelled this year owing to the "Go slow" on the railways.

Two separate parties of Cubs visited the camping ground at Downe in Kent on the 13th and 14th July.

During the term Mr. Morton kindly took some boys to a concert at the Royal Festival Hall where we watched and listened to the orchestra most energetically conducted by Stokowski. As we had previously heard these pieces played on Mr. Morton's gramophone, the occasion was all the more enjoyable.


C. Sanderson

This year we have abandoned our traditional Speech Day and the mothers have been invited to a Prize Day on the last day of term so that the boys can go home with their mothers immediately afterwards. There is also the important reason that this gives the Headmaster an opportunity to talk to their mothers when he is spared the duty of caring for many other guests. The day was a great success, and the mothers seemed to enjoy the more homely atmosphere.

At the Common Entrance Examination in June, John Ingleson, Christopher Owens, Tommy Calvin and Martin Barlow passed into Reed's School as Foundationers. Ingleson and Owens were first and second in the Reed's School Pass List and were consequently awarded Exhibitions as well. This is an achievement that has never come our way before, and we congratulate them both heartily.

Philip Greig was accepted at Kingham Hill School as the result of an interview and a special test. Robert Blake, Ralph Smith and James Stephenson have qualified for Reedham School in Surrey.

In the past holidays Mr. Cheesman, Mr. Plumb and Mr. Tappenden decorated the Boys' Dining Room with a new paint-sprayer which the school has bought, and saved about one hundred pounds by their efforts. The room certainly looks much cleaner and gayer now and few schools can surely eat in a nicer room.


Everyone kept telling us that we ought to keep pets, and the experts said it was essential if a proper attitude to the Animal World was to be encouraged.
So after some thought we went down to Kent and bought two furry little ducklings and fed them on expensive and very special meal. At once the other boys dug a pond and had the hole ready in two afternoons. Mr. Tappenden then cemented it all in, fit to face the winter frosts.
The ducklings grew and looked different; one became a duck and the other a drake. The duck laid some eggs, but the drake ate them.
We shut the drake away and the duck had another shot and soon we had five ducklings needing special expensive meal.
But the pond began to go green, and the experts said it was because the water was motionless, so we bought an electric fountain which made no difference but become clogged with green slime.
Another expert came and said what we wanted was snails to eat the algae. (He sold snails). So we bought three dozen at 6d. each.
And the ducks ate them.
Another expert said nonsense, and talked about the Balance of Nature. Plant-life plus animal-life = balanced conditions he said. So we bought lots of water-weeds.
And the ducks ate them.
The expert said we ought to try again, but we sold the ducks and there we were with an empty pond, except for our devoted algae and a lot of slime on the bottom we weren't sure about. We cleaned it out and spread the slime on the radishes.
And the radishes died.
Gold-fish and Water-lilies, another expert said, and you can't go wrong. He too talked about the Balance of Nature. So we bought the fish and the lilies, and ...

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[This is a letter from Stan Willis in the USA.]

[....Text missing..this is the Old Boy's section..]

... of yesteryear. Certainly, your letter was a surprise - but you are hardly a stranger for we both drew facets of our growing characters behind the same brick walls. In my days at Greenwich Vanbrugh Castle held terrors reminiscent of those in the French Bastille which the place is said to resemble. We knew not what ghosts were hiding behind every corner, and nightmares were common in the dorms.

Life itself was spartan and a 1/4 inch, 3 foot, cane added to our misery. To see the sinister looking place looming over Greenwich Park and to know the "terrors" that awaited you within, was enough to make you feel like retracing your steps and fleeing when returning after the holidays. Looking back, however, I feel that an education less strict than that under the late headmaster, Capt. Slimming, would have left me floating aimlessly in the sea of this harsh world.

I entered Vanbrugh at the age of five after my father died and my mother went to India with my step-father, an army officer. I stayed from 1930 to 1939 and went on holiday with other boys to their homes or with my grandparents who lived across Greenwich Park on Royal Hill.

I was in the R.A.F. from 1939 to 1945 and was invalided after a flying accident that left me almost totally deaf. I get along fine with a hearing aid, lip reading and - bluff! My wife is American and has been doing Medical Research at the University of Washington the past 20 years. I have travelled extensively since leaving the R.A.F. and held positions as professional engineer, writer and editor.

At the moment I am trying to get my book published by the 50th anniversary of the school - 1969 or earlier. The lack of available spare time is my problem but I am working towards this aim, and I feel I shall meet it. Since I am in the publication business, printing it is no problem. The material I have collected now fills a four-drawer file and includes many ancient records and drawings. The book will have many pictures but I have edited the text, down considerably. The title is "Vanbrugh Castle S.E.3." It will have an account of school life down the years as well as the history of the place."

Stan has little information about the school since the war, and is keen to hear the reminiscences and impressions of any Vanbrugh boys, past or present, who have either the time or the inclination to put some of their memories on paper. Particularly scant are details from the mid-1950's, but if you have any written contribution, however small, that you think might be of use in the preparation of the book, would you please send it to me so that I can forward if to him.

Hugh Croxford (1963) wrote in early June: "After a very shaky two years, distinguishing myself in absolutely no way whatever, I joined B*rcl*ys Bank Ltd., my present and pleasant employers. Starting in their Brighton Branch of Income Tax Dept. I soon came back to London to their Greater London Computer Centre where I worked until a week or so ago. I am now work at Malvern House in Upper Thames Street, E.C.4. as a programmer. At G.L.C.C. we have one of the largest computer centres in Europe and all the equipment is I.B.M. manufactured. Future plans, in all the Banks, are to link every branch to a computer or several computers.
For the 70's, B*rcl*ys are buying a Burroughs computer which may well be the largest in the world. This will be housed at Willesden and can be virtually heralded as the entrance of third generation computing. The project itself is enormous, the cost incredible, the complexity staggering, the rewards unknown. There is also an immense gamble involved since the machine is still under development and not scheduled for delivery until the early 1970's. It is vaguely around this project that I see my next five years revolving.
Incidentally, at G.L.C.C. I was working on a shift basis, a way of life I would recommend to anyone, and to which I should always like to return.
Well, that is my life to date and at long last I seem to have found the direction of my future. I have only visited Vanbrugh once since I left, but seem to be continually bumping into 'Old Roans' of my time both in and outside the Bank."

Hugh joined the school at the age of 7 in 1951, and stayed at Vanbrugh for a period of 12 years, which is probably a record.

Recently I spent an extremely interesting evening with Hugh at the "Sherlock Holmes" near Charing Cross, where we spent some three hours talking over old times.
During the course of our conversation I discovered that before coming to VCS he spent some three years at the other RAF prep school, Rook's Hill, which has since closed.
While at Vanbrugh he was a member of Harries House and Head Boy for a period of five years. During his time at Roan he became school vice-captain, and captain of Nelson house, and gained 11 GCE passes at 0 level and 3 at A level.

Upon further enquiry I discovered that the "2 shaky years" referred to in Hugh's letter were an understatement for a period which include": 3 months as a professional musician before going to the University ot Nottingham where he stayed for a year and passed part 1 of the B.Sc degree in Chemistry; a year studying Electrical Engineering at Sussex University; and a further two years meanwhile as a professional musician. Hugh is one of only two "seniors" - the other being Peter LLoyd (1962) - who are members of the OVBA, and if this comes to the attention of any others, we are most keen to hear fron them.

As mentioned in last December's article, Nigel John (1963) is at sea with the Merchant Navy. In May we received a letter from him, the bulk of which I reproduce below:

" I joined the Merchant Navy in September 1966, and was on one of the best ships in the fleet at that time. After 2 1/2 months I was paid off just in time for Christmas.
In early 1967 I went to Plymouth School of Navigation, where surprisingly I learnt more about Physics, Maths and even Astronomy than I did about Navigation. The training is very good here - the academic side is broken up with sport including sailing. The school owns several small boats including an old ketch which I had the uncertain pleasure of crewing for a week. There were also several week-long hikes organised on the moors nearby. Overall it was an enjoyable stay.
After Plymouth I had 5 days' leave before being rushed off to join my second ship for a trip lasting 5 1/2 months. During this time I went to Curacao, Venezuela, Durban, Singapore, Indonesia, Manila, Hong Kong and Vietnam. If you think that sounds good, read on ... On Christmas Day I was in Singapore and worked for 12 hours, and this was repeated on Boxing Day. Merry Christmas?
I left the ship, the Aluco, in late January and was flown home from Singapore five days later. After Singapore the British winter was darned cold; at the end of 'four weeks' leave I joined S.S. Hima, the ship I am on now, and have visited only two new ports, Le Havre and Port Sudan.
I am writing from Bombay and have Japan and Singapore to look forward to and then nobody knows where. The future - I still have another 6 months in Plymouth, starting in... "

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