Vanbrugh Castle School

Recollections from the 60's and 70's

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Comments about staff members & other things.

Kevin remembers:

"Binky" Bottrill (1961- 1964)

Baldy, redhead and very gentle. Quiet and kind - always quite serious though. He would always listen to you and be very considerate. Unfortulately this made him vunerable and many of the senior boys (those attending Roan College) would openly tease him. I remember one incident at the saying of Grace before dinner. Binky closed his eyes during the prayer as usual, and at that time one of the senior boys poured salt over Binky's head. Whilst we all chuckled (Binky tried not to show any emotion or reaction) I felt very sorry for him on that day. The net result was that his credibility slumped. He was pretty handy with the slipper though. Anyway I had a lot of respect for him and for his kindness and compassion
He also took his role at football coach for the 1st and 2nd formers very seriously, even down to the black referee uniform and whistle.

Mr Morgan (1961- 1964)

A bit of an enigma. He had his kind side but definitely didn't suffer fools. I am very grateful to him for introducing me to classical music especially Shostakovich. I also enjoyed the many visits to the Royal Festival Hall (I think I had more than my fair share).
He took us for English, Geography and History.

Mr Payne (1964 ?)

He didn't stay too long. His son (profoundly deaf) also attended the school. He was a little bit brutish but I can't say that he was a bully. I think he took us for Maths and sport.

Mr Morton (1965, 66 and later)

What more can be said about this kind and very thoughtfull man. He loved his music and his cricket. He used to be Headmaster at his own private school until it all went pear shaped. Thankfully we got the benefit of his years of experience. I only wish that he had been at Vanbrugh during my entire time there.

Mr Trasler (1965-1966)

Another great teacher. He took us (5th form) for Latin, History and English Lang and Lit. His teaching style was new to us all. From his very first class everything seemed to be more exciting. He arranged field trips to Stonehenge etc and showed incredible enthusium for everything he did. A truly wonderful teacher.

He married Miss Elizabeth Orr, an Irish lady who taught the first and second formers.

Mr Van der (?) (part of 1965 and part of 1966)

I forget this gentleman's name but he does appear in the 1965 Vanbrugh Football team photograph. He was more of a stand-in teacher.

Brian Kettleborough (1965 - 1966)

Another great guy and an ex-Vanbrugh boy too! Not sure if he came to us as a student teacher (he did - Ed.) or during a gap year between college and unit. Anyway, a great Geography teacher and always good to be around.

Paddy Purcell (seemingly forever!)

What can I say. Paddy could be ignited by lighting the blue paper (usually a wrong note or a split clarinet rede). He always claimed that he had never hit a child in his life and I believe that. He didn't need to. When Paddy erupted the earth shook. Music stands would fly in all directions followed by spittle from his mouth. Worst of all would be him grabbing your clarinet or trumpet and showing you exactly how he wanted the piece played. The spittle dripping from the instrument after was a sight to behold!

John Corner

Much has been said about our Headmaster and I agree with most of it. I probably received a beating during every term that I was at Vanbrugh. On top of that he could clout you across the face with such ferocity that it would knock you down! Having said all that I believe that JHC wasn't all that he appeared.
He could show great kindness and generosity and seemingly in a flash he would explode. I think that maybe something happened in his past that surfaced when triggered. I only wish we all had known what that trigger was so that it could have been avoided.

There were many others too - not just teachers. Mrs Chalmers [Chambers] (Matron), Mrs Cowley (Matron), Cookie (Mrs Doyle), Neeta (cooks assistant), Mrs Smith (Housekeeper), Miss Smith (Matron), Miss Lyons (Matron), Mrs Goldie (Matron) and her blind dog, Mr Cheesman (School Caretaker and one of this planet's true gentlemen), Mrs Cheesman (Assistant Matron)
Martin remembers:

Mr Kettlebrugh and Miss Orr

Wonderful people who made life more bearable in the First Form, as most of us had just lost parents. Thankyou Miss Orr for introducing us to The Hobbit.

Paddy Purcell
Musical genius and tyrant

John Corner

Marching across the lawn swinging his black rimmed glasses, to where we climbed the tree behind the gym. We were for it now! Famous phrases ( Kick him up the A... when he ain't looking!)( RAF louts)

Monty Oldacres

Died a few years ago after retiring from Duke of Kent School. He was diagnosed late with diabetes. He was a lay preacher and died alone in his cottage in Suffolk - I went to his funeral.
Billy remembers:

J H Corner & Monty Oldacres

JHC used to read us stories from Brigadier Gerard. One of Monty's slippers was "Black Jack"

Graham Trasler

He married Miss Orr, and left to become ordained into the Church

Mr Lillywhite and Miss Johnson

Does any one remember these two? I recall he used to shoot pigeons and have them cooked in a pie.
Colin Thirk remembers:

General Memories
Remember the winter of '63. I can see the snow in Greenwich Park and the hill going down from General Wolfe's statue to Queen Anne's house. We got hold of anything that we could use as a toboggan and boy did we have some fun - brilliant.
I can also remember Mr Corner! What a tyrant. Lying in bed at night listening for his footsteps and hoping he wouldnt come in. He frightened me to death!
I am also very grateful for the sport taught at the school. It has given me many years of enjoyment both as a participant and as a spectator. I am trying to pass this appreciation onto my children.
Royal Naval College
Does anyone remember belonging to the choir at the Naval college? I can remember the distinct privilege of being allowed to walk down to the Naval College on a Sunday morning in advance of the main school! Such freedom. I think it was the only reason I joined the choir - apart from the fact that we got paid!
Nick Buxcey remembers:

I remember my first day, I remember my last. We were all the same, young, afraid or wide eyed. VCS has some very happy memories for me. Football on Blackheath, cricket in the nets. Church on Sunday (oh those Wrens!) Climbing round the side of the building. Those bunsen burners, the American Party, films in the fourth form....
Mark remembers:

Mr Morrison

Favourite has to be old Michael Vellum Morton, what a great man. Yes, I remember Miss Usher quite vividly with her hairdo. And Mr. Pafford, the Dwyers (Mr Dwyer directing the plays), vague memory of Rosemary Dark, happy memories of Mrs Speirs weaving with us in power cuts on the top floor. Mr Bouteloupe telling his Jersey ghost stories. But does anyone remember Australian Mr Morrison? Taught Geography, always seemed a bit uncomfortable (hope it wasn't my schoolboy crush that was responsible, that WOULD be embarrassing!) but I don't think he stayed long.
Anybody remember the man who took us on short trips - up the Monument (vertigo!) Chislehurst Caves, in his cool car?
Cary Daly remembers:


Anyone remember Mr Cheesman (the caretaker). His VW camper van and of course he let you smoke in his room!
Remember the dell and the tunnel under the school.!!?
Walking around the ledge that ran around the outside of the castle?
The American party and model aircraft competition?
Dundee cake of Victoria biscuits on your birthday.
Just some of my memories.
Nick remembers:

Miss Griffiths-Jones

I was in love with this woman! Most of us boys used to look forward to our swimming lessons in the Greenwich pool. Again, I think we were all lucky with all the teachers....they were all special.

Miss Usher

I don't remember too much about her, except that she was very pretty with a typical late 60's haircut. A guy called Barlow got me into serious trouble with her once...but luckily she forgot pretty quickly.

Mr Chris Dyer

I remember he used to live at the top of the castle, until he married and moved in to where the Paffords used to be. He tried to teach me how to spin the ball at cricket...not much success there. We did Shelter walks with him, and his wife used to feed us well afterwards. I wonder where he is now?

Rob remembers:

Monty and Fanny Oldacres

What ever happened to these two who were obviously meant for each other, Monty and Fanny Oldacres
Jeff Maynard remembers:

Pupils & Teachers

When I first went to VCS in '62 there was Botterill, Morgan (we used to call him sniff or scratch). Can anyone remember putting caps on the ground so that when he walked over them with his steel toe-caps and heels they went off.
Later came Trasler who made history a joy with his Relsart (Trasler backwards) training.There was de Weyman, Lillywhite (whose eye kept weeping). Then other teachers were Mrs. Smith with her 2 gorgeous daughters and of course Cheesy and Miss Lyons who I really adored. One person I would like to find out about is Iain Nethercott.
Martin Cribben remembers:

My Memories

Ah yes Ian Jackson (trumpet) Bryan Jakeman (clarinet) Peter Borthwick (tuba)Tim Baker (trombone and maths genius).Glen Webber (went to his wedding). Steve Kimber.John Cooke. McKeldon (large red cross parcels) The Jakemans (constantly picked on by JHC).The Seaton brothers (I must not play on glass roofs).Rashid.Steve Elias (Trapped finger in window Salmon dormitory)Fifield (emigrated to New Zealand).Peter Butler.Steve Keeble.Andy Butler.Gregory Sanders.Phil Greig.The Quails. Remember the green hand ghost stories Also attack of the flies Salmon and regular excursions to the roof tops and sunken gardens. Also marching down to the Greenwich pool and the Royal Naval College for church. Regular caning by JHC.
Mark Wringe remembers:

Choir and Splat

The choir, yes! I'd forgotten we got paid - but remember the freedom of running round Royal Naval College, looking round in the basement and discovering how disgusting flat beer left over from the night before tastes!
And jumping up and down in the washroom with the surround mirrors to see the endless reflection.
Back at VCS, who was it set up the projection room tuck shop fleecing us all for a fortune for sandwiches?
And smearing 'Splat' on the glass on the wall....

[For Mark Wringe.] Mark it was me and Steve Price who made a fortune selling lemon curd sandwiches! Corner stopped it when he saw the money we were making. Yes I also remember splat and throwing it against a window to make it stick. Colin Cummings.
Michael remembers:

Teachers All

I remember Corner being a tyrant and all were terrified of him and his temper, who puts people like him in charge of a school of kids?
Great teachers were Laurie Crookall (tried to teach us how to play bridge after prep), Mr Skinner ( had a great left hand with the slipper, but good for a laugh), David Jones (good sense of humour and made maths interesting, thankfully). Thank you for your help.
Adrian remembers:

Miss Johnson

Always remember the goodnight kiss.
Anthony Webb remembers:

Many Things

Colin Cummings and I used to while away our early days at the outdoor playground discussing Miss Johnson. Who wasn't in love with her? I think Adrian summed it up, we lived and died for a kiss from her, a substitute for our mums I'm sure.
Mr Lillywhite with the White Lady, Mr Morton with Black Jack. But so much more to this man. He would karate chop you, throw board duster at you but he was the finest role model I had growing up. We used to talk cricket all the time. I just remember him allowing us to play 'Roll over Beethoven' in one of his music classes and him being appalled.
Trips to Royal Festival Hall were always fun just to get out of school. Mr Pafford and Mr Dyer - wonderful. Miss Griffith Jones delicious as was the cat like Miss Usher - shouldering with sex appeal.
Mr Cheesman, every school boys 'mate' smoking in his workshop, listening to great stories and the latest race course bets. And let's not forget the dirty songs on soccer or cricket trips in the VW camper. Miss Oldacres and her passion for Mr Morton and the lovely Miss Berry. Mrs Smith who had 2 lovely daughters and used to let us go to bad after the schizophrenic Mr Corner had succumbed to whisky after leaving us stand out side his office at night for committing some schoolboy crime.
The Cooks, Rashids, McConnells, Borthwicks, Price, Cummings, Hughes, Connellys, McCanns, Quails, Sanderson(exceptional soccer player), Saunders, Cadwell, Barlow, Blake, Jakemans, Jackson, Butlers, Walkers, Nethercott, Wringe, Harris, Olner, Leghorns, Gribbon(sp?), Dow, Start, Webber, Campbell, Fisher, Davidson, Walsh and many others.
Birthday packages, waiting for post for letters and comics, Weaving lessons, the green hand ghost, band practice, choir and the wrens, soccer against Homegield and Cambridge, Cricket and wearing a 'box' that wouldn't stay in place, Mr Corner moods, air fix models and American party, getting picked for soccer in morning games on the hardcourt, playing British Bulldog, scaling the castle grounds, sunken gardens and then growing own flowers, cricket nets and 'Tipit', Radio Luxemburg after lights out, gated for Midnight Walks, smoking, eating dubious fungi in Mr Morton's Biology classes with trips to the dell, kicking soccer ball into dell. I could go on :)