People's Recollections      Back to Main Index


Rosemarie (Dawn) Schwarz (Hunt)

I was in the 'S' stream between '57 and '62 and went on to the sixth form. During one of those early years we had a male teacher who had problems controlling some of us; I do not include myself in this story because at that time I was a real goody-goody. If only I could remember the teacher's name, but someone may recall it... (sounds like the fondly remembered Mr Burns webmaster) I have no idea what the misbehaviour was but the poor man ranted at us, "You're JOLLY WELL RABBLE". For months after that the saying stuck and he was known as "Jolly well rabble". What made such an impression on me was the delicious feeling of being included in that epithet. I had discovered the glow of a new power and in my quiet way I nurtured it.

One of my favourite activities exercising my emancipation was "avoiding the duty teacher" who used to patrol the school during breaks. I was not alone in this - I had found a whole new group of fun people to indulge with. We used to position ourselves on a staircase and keep a lookout for the teacher. When he/she was sighted we would hare along the corridor and up or down another staircase. There was some skill in this and an element of danger if you got it wrong and ran into them. We occasionally got caught when two or more teachers positioned themselves in strategic places.

It may have been one such time when I was hauled before Miss Cast, my house-mistress, who told me that I was a law unto myself. ME? My husband has often reminded me of this flaw in my character, poor chap! Thinking about it, I probably got more exercise running up and down stairs than I would have had just roaming the playground.

Les Cooper 1947 - 1952

About Teachers 1947-1952. Firstly, Mr Arthur Owen was a wonderful teacher who’s subject was General Science. He had a passion for all the sciences and an even greater passion to fire us all with the same wonder of the Universe that he had. He was the most patient man I ever met and facing us lot every day, he certainly needed it! He yearly would decorate his laboratory with a wonderful selection of pulley mechanisms which he used in teaching Mechanics. When his back was turned we would re-arrange them so that they no longer fitted the worksheets he had prepared. He never batted an eyelid and simply ‘black boarded’ a new set of worksheets. I could go on all day with tales like this, but at the end of the day he taught us far more than was expected - doing it our way.

Mr W.R. Mitchel our Art Master was equally patient in keeping the paint on the paper, rather than on ourselves and was the inspiration of a wonderful frieze that was displayed around the main hall of the boys building. It ran all the way around the hall and depicted the History of Wandsworth from the Reed Dwellers of the Wandle to the building of The Surrey Iron Railway. I wonder if it was taken to the new school. It would be a shame if it wasn’t. There was also a master named Mr Church. I can’t remember his subject, but I do recall he drove an ancient motor cycle that was always backfiring up and down Merton Road. Sometimes it broke down and he arrived late at school – we all knew when he arrived and I think he enjoyed the noise of all the boys cheering him in, sometimes in assembly, sometime during class.

Mr Ted Colloff was known by the boys as ‘Killer Colloff ’ and was like most of the masters, unafraid of administering ‘trouser dusting’ when required. Mr Harry Taylor was known by the boys as ‘Pop’ Taylor and taught history which we thought was at ‘first hand’. When he retired, the boy’s contribution to his retirement present was £25, which at the time was more than a months average wage! His classes were the loudest and rowdiest that you can imagine and we loved him to bits. His replacement was another Mr Owen who I am afraid was not of the sterner stuff required to stay for long at the Elliott. He did impress us in one way, among his ‘training aids’ he had a complete set of hand-knapped flint tools which he had made himself.

Making a good man better

The most frightening thing I can remember from my time at the school, was being caught firing an air-gun at the headmasters car. This would have been around 1961 and this is what happened.

A group of us were in the locker room next to the science labs firing at the hub cabs, on his Vauxhall Cresta parked downstairs in the school car park.

All of a sudden I was left standing on my own (holding the gun), because everyone else had suddenly found something to do in their lockers. Of course this was because 'Porky Parsonage' had walked in and found us. Needless to say everyone (including the owner of the gun) denied when ask to having any  knowledge of what was happening. 

On my own, I was marched off to the headmaster office, who was of course at that time the legendary Mr Holmes. Expecting a good caneing I was relived to hear him say “To the police station with you”, but after a few seconds thought I realised I was in even deeper waters than I had first thought. Next thing I knew, I was in the same Vauxhall being driven to Putney ‘Nick’. It was the longest drive of my life, with everyone on each street corner watching me being 'Taken In'. I felt like I should have a dark blanket over my head!

We walked inside the police station and by now I had decided it must be the death penalty for such treason. Mr Holmes found the duty sergeant and said - “This young man has found this air-gun and has asked me to hand it in to you, to save it being used to hurt someone”. The policeman shook my hand, thanked me and the Head - and we drove back to the school in silence.

Of course I never did a wrong thing again and (apart from one slight indiscretion) have stayed on the right side of the law all my life.

What a guy he was !!!

Andy Lambert
1958 - 63.

Terry Baron (Now in Australia)

I joined the Elliott in Southfields in 1954 from William Penn in Peckham as an itinerant child (accompanied by my parents). I didn't enjoy it much as I was a poor student but the place seemed to grow on me and I settled into the routine of having lunch with the signing of Magna Carta- 1215- thanks to Mr Astley. Mr Price was head master and others were Syd Morgan- (Maths, Music, Morgan, Murder, we used to say). He also taught Scripture....A little incongruent, for a guy who would slap the inside of your upper thigh so hard the bruise would last for a week! Mr Hook, a nice guy and good teacher of Maths. His big claim to fame was his Triumph Mayflower saloon.

Then the move to Pullman Gardens and 3T. Mr Heally was our form master and took exception when, as a class, we voted the class villain as class captain. "I hope you're not trying to take advantage of Money". Trevor Money of course was his name.

People I remember. Stephen! ie Newton, Barbara Starnes, Derek Spragg, Derek Speller, Gerald Tong, Colin Heavey, Jacqueline (?) and Linda Jeffs- they were great friends; Mary Hart, Susan Fein, Wendy Curtis, Phillip Drake, Bruce Gadsby, Graham (Charlie) Frost-now living in La belle France; Stephen Allender- our first refugee from Hungary; a young girl from Poland, whose name evades me, but her parents had a bakers shop in Putney close to the bridge. She arrived in the middle of a science class and had no English at all, poor thing. The science master- name also in evasion, tried French and German, but to no avail. Also Anna Zappizzi(?) from Russia? The Balkans? She had reasonable English but was rumoured to be in her early twenties.

Other students and colleagues Jeff Sears, John Rofey, John Peak, Terry Giles(?),Malcom Mann, Malcom Peacock, Michael Beer, Patrica Ling, Paul Carter, Alan Greengrass, (Still with the Prudential Alan?), Sonja Hajissava(?),Rosely Hart, Keith Moralee, Ken Dobson, and many more. I 'm still in touch with Derek Spragg, Graham Frost- now lives in the Lore Valley, France and Jacquline Loftus- now Jacki Chia in Melbourne, Australia.

If Manners Maketh Man........ What maketh Woman????

Richard Ellisdon (1952- 1957)

I was one of the former Merton Rd. Elliott School for Boys pupils who attended on Day 1 at the new school in Hayward Gardens during September 1956.  We were 5th year pupils in our class 5E totalling  nineteen in number with an additional two or three others joining up from other schools. Our form and history master was the outstanding, new to the Elliott, Ivor Astley of whom it is very doubtful whether he has ever been forgotten by the lads who made up that 1956 class of 5E. Apart from Ivor (whom we nicknamed ‘Beau’) several other teachers were transferred from Merton Rd. and I can warmly remember the likes of George Hoffman, Mr. Andrews, Roy Hemens, George Hook, Harry Mason and Grant Parry. The six days timetable that operated at Merton Rd. to ensure that the same classes did not fall on the same day each week was transferred to the new school. To me that was quite a revolutionary and a unique arrangement for that time. For several years the procedure at Merton Rd. had been that upon completion of the 2nd year, pupils were split or streamed into either  a). Commercial or  b).Technical classes where they would remain until leaving the school. In 1954 a new division was created namely ‘General‘ which implemented a more academic syllabus. I just about managed to creep into this stream largely due to approaches by my father to the Head Mr. P G James.

To my knowledge we had been given little to no information on what to expect at the new school but my memories are such that from the sometimes modest and sometimes not so favourable conditions of Merton Rd. here was this wonderful brand new light and airy building with all new equipment, greatly improved sporting facilities, excellent surroundings with Putney Heath and Wimbledon Common on our doorstep and being in a mixed-sex environment which we had previously not enjoyed. It seemed to me that any levels of discontent which occasionally broke out at Merton Rd. were completely banished although in all reality there were obviously cases of which I was unaware of or can no longer remember. 

I do remember very well though when about three-quarters of our class ‘bunked off’ one afternoon to one of the Putney cinemas to see the latest top film the riot causing ‘Rock Around The Clock’ which featured the music of Bill Haley and the Comets, Freddy Bell and the Bellboys, The Platters and other stars of the time.  That caused quite a stir but serious recriminations were just about avoided but it was a close thing.  Nevertheless Hayward Gdns. to me was the proverbial ‘breath of fresh air’ in so many ways. On that first day in the new school the catering arrangements had not been fully set up and I can clearly recall having sandwiches (believed  SPAM of  which ’Specially Modulated American Meat ’was one the several acronyms applied to this pork and ham meat product ) and orange juice for lunch. After the quality of school dinners at Merton Rd ( ugh!!) this was indeed sweet nectar to me, although it must be hard for others to appreciate this now. For some reason the annual cross -country run at Putney Vale was not held and the athletics day was transferred to Hurlingham from Tooting Bec. New after-school pursuits were introduced for 5th formers such as ballroom and old-time dancing where I guess many pupils first learnt to dance. Hands had to be placed upon the partner’s shoulders (not around her waist) and there was strictly no jiving as was the craze at that time. The on-site tennis courts were a luxury.

The Elliott in Merton Rd. was a good school with some fine teachers and well run which could not have been easy for the Head so soon after WW2. Life in general could be tough for so many. I had my ‘moments’ at the old school starting off with the threat that as a first year intake I could expect a ‘christening’ from the second year lads with my head pushed down into one of those dreadful outside toilets. Somehow I managed to avoid that pleasure. I was not keen either on the school’s practice of having to attend detention after lessons for not wearing the school cap on journeys to and from school. I will not dwell on the caning and that dreaded punishment book. The sports arrangements were quite good though with regular football, weekly PT lessons, swimming at the old Wandsworth baths with an annual gala and annual cross-country and athletics day. The school was able to put out excellent football teams with certain ‘stars’ regularly representing South London.

Apart from the teachers mentioned above who transferred to Hayward Gdns. the stalwarts at Merton Road, under the headmastership of  Mr. P G James MA  Bsc.,  included Syd. Morgan ( maths and music where recorders were mandatory!! ), Cecil Owen ( history ),  ‘Killer’ Kollof ( maths and English ),  Mr Hill,  Mr. Mitchell ( art ),   Miss Burgess ( French ) a nice lady who was the ideal form mistress for new entrants,  Mr. Vaal ( woodwork ),  Mr. Roberts and Mr. Thomas   (sciences ),  Mr. Howe ( metalwork ), and Ted Porter.  Messrs. James and Hoffman were former pupils.  There were obviously others whose names I have long forgotten but I well recall one maths teacher who was a boxing fanatic. The trick was to engage him in a boxing discussion as soon as he entered the room to take class and it usually took him at least 15 minutes to realise as to what we were up to but it worked every time. We were all very wary and scared of Mr. Kollof and so to keep on his good side as a 2nd year pupil I joined his chess club which met after lessons had finished. All I can say is how approachable and helpful he was during these sessions.  

From 1951 onwards the school was very keen that all third year pupils were able to attend a school camp. Often as I recall Marchant’s Hill, Hinehead was the venue but in 1955 a large group of us stayed at Sayers Croft Camp in Ewhurst.  The cost per boy was £3 for the 15 days which covered everything. In many families money was very tight in those days and so the school permitted weekly instalments to be made. Also this was the only holiday that many of the pupils were likely to get.

For much of my time at Merton Rd. I would look forward to the day when I could leave school , start work and have some money in my pocket (£6 a week in a bank it turned out to be) but on that very last afternoon of the 1957 summer term with all GCEs finished and with the completion of the ‘School-leavers Hymn’ in the assembly hall it was suddenly all over and I still recall the feelings of anti-climax and real disappointment as I walked out the buildings for the last time.   In those days only a small number of bright pupils would stay on to sit A-levels with the aim of moving on to university but this was never an option for me.  Apart from some GCE re-sits in the late 1950s I had never been back to the school until the 2004 reunion open day.  It is amazing how quickly the memories come back to you. Hayward Gardens to me was a wonderful experience that I have never forgotten.

As a postscript to these notes following the school’s reunion open day during July 2004 a group of over forty 1956/1958 both male and female leavers plus some partners met up at the Crooked Billet pub on Wimbledon Common for a most enjoyable get-together where a buffet had been arranged. Some had travelled some distance to be there notably those from Norway, Houston and Melbourne. Much of this had been arranged over the Internet and whilst many had not seen each other since leaving school the event was a great success. 

Perhaps this will encourage others from differing periods to copy. It is well worth it.

Richard Ellisdon (1952- 1957)

Jim Hubbard  1966 - 69

My story is about the headmaster who eventually replaced Mr Holmes (after, as I recall a some what disastrous decline in discipline during the 'gap' between headmasters). I cannot remember his name but the new headmaster was very fond of thumping the lectern during assembly, to emphasise the point he was making.

A few boys, who shall remain nameless, had 'acquired' some railway detonators. Detonators used to be placed on railway tracks during fog, to warn train drivers of red signals. They made a very loud bang when a train went over them. They were round, thin and about an inch and a half in diameter. Just the right size to be hidden under a leg on a piece of furniture.

It was decided that prior to assembly, four detonators would be placed under the lectern, one under each leg. The aim obviously being to create a somewhat dramatic effect when the lectern was thumped.

That morning, attendance at assembly must have been a record high! There was an expectant air as those in the know, i.e. most pupils, waited for the lectern to be thumped. Fortunately (although that is not what we thought at the time) the thump never came. I assume the detonators were found later because after that assembly, the headmaster never thumped the lectern again.

Jim Hubbard  1966 - 69

My story is about the headmaster who eventually replaced Mr Holmes (after, as I recall a some what disastrous decline in discipline during the 'gap' between headmasters). I cannot remember his name but the new headmaster was very fond of thumping the lectern during assembly, to emphasise the point he was making.

A few boys, who shall remain nameless, had 'acquired' some railway detonators. Detonators used to be placed on railway tracks during fog, to warn train drivers of red signals. They made a very loud bang when a train went over them. They were round, thin and about an inch and a half in diameter. Just the right size to be hidden under a leg on a piece of furniture.

It was decided that prior to assembly, four detonators would be placed under the lectern, one under each leg. The aim obviously being to create a somewhat dramatic effect when the lectern was thumped.

That morning, attendance at assembly must have been a record high! There was an expectant air as those in the know, i.e. most pupils, waited for the lectern to be thumped. Fortunately (although that is not what we thought at the time) the thump never came. I assume the detonators were found later because after that assembly, the headmaster never thumped the lectern again.

Jeff Cordery 1958-63

Here is a story about Mr (Jack) Kyte. Head of Geography. My brother was in his class and always wondered how Jack managed to find them smoking behind the trees on the field at the end of the gym block.

One day he looked through the telescope that was in the Geography room and found that it was perfectly focussed on the tree behind which he and his friends took their lunchtime puffs. Mystery solved!

One up to Jack!



Recollections of Joan Child by Roger Maxwell

Joan was Head of Music 1975(?) to at least 1982. Before there was "old school" music, we just called it school music. Joan created an environment that helped many pupils go on to contribute to UK music culture of the 80s into the 90s. She was organised, imaginative, hard-working and willing to put great trust in anyone who wanted to do something they believed in. She brought in George Adie to do "Penny for a Poppy" and kept George on to set up and run the Elliott Jazz Workshop (EJW), EJW involved three future members of UK Soul band "The Pasadenas" Horace Cardew, Walter Cardew and Julian Crampton; also Neil Cole (aka Djum-Djum).

Joan raised the profile of music across the school, getting the School Band (led by Mr Bates) to play at evening events in the staff room. - we always got requests for The Sweeny - and occasionally a big concert during the day in the Assembly Hall. All seats occupied, including the balcony: Stuart Noble's drum solo got a big cheer. She also arranged an annual concert with the EJW and pupils' own spin-off bands sharing the programme. In 1981 she entered EJW in a competition to be in the Schools Prom. We won our section, we played at the Royal Albert Hall, we were on the telly. It was great.

Room 36 was where most things happened. Often Joan would be in there, trying to mark books or something requiring peace and quiet, while a few of us would be making a weird racket on whatever instruments were left lying around: drums, cello, electronic organ, piano, drinks can, vibraphone. She also gave some of us free access to the instrument cupboard in the Assembly Hall after school, trusting us to lock up after our rehearsal and give the keys to Mr Morgan (Head School-keeper) when his staff closed the school.

Joan didn't make a fuss about her own role, but she worked incredibly hard and very many good things wouldn't have happened without her. Other activities she was responsible for in 1981 were: the school orchestra, choir and steel band, chamber music groups and recorder groups; also the Elliott Music Club for primary school children. In the same year she arranged, rehearsed and conducted the music for the school production of Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan, with a small band packed into a tiny space by the side of the stage in the Drama Theatre.

Alison Prince on the on the new Putney Elliott

The above article is by former teacher Alison Prince and was published in the Spring 1957 School Magazine .

After leaving the Elliott she went on to write many Children's books and is responsible for some very successful TV programmes and Characters. Including such classics as Trumpton and Postman Pat.

About 'Archie' Andrews.

The staff room window opens to reveal the glowing forehead of Mr “Archie” Andrews.
Ellen. Go and fetch some coal for the staff room fire.
Me, Sir?
Yes, you Sir” There are at least a hundred kids in the playground that day, why pick on me?
Why me, Sir?
Because you are the ugliest,” replied Andrews,
Now get on with it

We share the coal shed with the Girl’s School which in those days was partitioned off by a long fence whereby the twain shall not meet. The coal shed was the exception, and on this day a girl from the other side of the fence was already employed shovelling coal into her scuttle. I join her when to out mutual horror the door of the shed slams tight, and we are groping around in the dark trying to find the door.

When I finally find the knob, the door won’t budge. Either it is locked or more likely some students are placing their weight on the door so that we can’t escape. When I hear uncontrolled giggling, I am aware that we are victims of the latter.

My companion whom I did not know, started to whimper, and I could detect panic emerging. I decide that it is time for some masculine action. I take a run at the door and shoulder charge it with every muscle and sinew I possess, only for the door to fly open with me gliding across the snow like some luge competitor.

The fifties had a lot to answer for!

John H Ellen
1952-56

An Elliott spy in the countryside!

"I have just recalled an Easter Sunday between 1960 and 65. We lived in the small village of Abinger Common on the slopes of Leith Hill and I was driving my big old car down a twisty Hollow Lane to go to the village. I narrowly avoided 2 teenage girls and 2 boys who leapt in the hedge as I passed. They looked all-in so I stopped and offered them a lift. Chattering with thanks, they piled in as they continued talking away in the back, like: Isn't it creepy round here? - There's no people. - Where are the shops? - I couldn't live here. etc.etc.

They said they were staying with a teacher at the youth hostel at Holmbury St.Mary (next village) and as part of an initiative exercise, they had to find their own way to Dorking station where everyone would meet up. They had a map. I drove as they chattered non-stop as teenagers do. I asked where they had come from. London, they said. Which part, said I? Oh, a place called Putney the girl said dismissively. "We've come down with some of our school".

I drove a bit more and said that I had lived in London when I was young. What was the name of your school, I asked. "Oh, The Elliott" said the boy. "You wouldn't know it!" (i.e. being the country bumpkin you are) I smiled. "Are your school colours still red and black? Is your motto "Manners Makyth Man"? Do you have an elephant on your badge?"

There was shocked silence. "I used to be an Elliottonian many years ago" I told them. They never spoke another word until I let them out at Dorking station 6 miles away, where they thanked me very politely and ran away inside. An Elliott spy in the countryside! I bet they had a tale to tell! "

June Broomer, nee Austin
Pupil 1942-45

Southfields and the new school

I cannot remember any teachers from my time at Southfields except Mr Morgan who I recall as being very strict especially if you couldn't master the recorder. I played soccer and cricket for my house (Saxons ) mostly happy days ,hated the rough shorts and shirts, I recall very vividly  standing in the playground waiting for a solar eclipse, I have enjoyed nature ever since. We used to walk to King George park for swimming and have a bus ride to Raynes Park for sports.

I transferred to Roehampton the year it opened, the building was amazing after Southfields. My form master was Mr Long. My favourite teacher taught geography (Mr Andrews I think). We had 10 boys and 10 girls, I recall 3 of the girls a Susan Deste and 2 named Patricia Williams.

I recall a story about Mr Holmes that says if you were caught smoking at the school, he would invite you to have a smoke in his office and also drink copious quantities of lemon cordial, it wasn't an invite of course but a form of punishment, I cannot say if this was true or a myth, as I never got caught.

Tony White
Pupil 1953-57,

A Sense of Identity at Southfields

School was what you did. But on arriving at the Elliott I found a strong sense of identity both with and through the school. I enjoyed learning and was a member of the school choir, Mr Morgan. School theatre Mr T. Edwards. Hopeless at sport. Forth last in the cross country run at Wimbledon Common.

I feel looking at the comments subsequently to my departure that the school underwent a sea change. The old ways and ideas being booted out. I left at fifteen for family reasons and never achieved my full? potential. Although much was lost through Mr Colloff's long illness. But we still have happy memories of the Elliott.

We had the London Philharmonic at the Granada Tooting. Went to the Old Vic for Shakespeare, Had sports day at Streatham sports ground. Sent ball boys to Wimbledon. Swimming at Wandsworth Baths. Entertained the Mums and Dads at Wandsworth Town Hall (Choir plus) Not bad for a street tyke from the Henry Prince Estate.

James Parker
Pupil 1951-54,

Long Remembered Gratitude

I have many happy memories of friends and teachers. I remember with gratitude to this day the generosity of the classmates who clubbed  together to replace the new overcoat that went "walk abouts".

Had it not been for that act of kindness, then I would have been pulled from school before being able to sit my GCE 'O' levels, and leaving school at 15 would have also meant missing many happy hours of playing "kingy"!

Danny Doyle
Pupil 1957-61,

An Elliott memory of the small but formidable Miss Cast.

The school was closed one sunny day, owing to a strike called by the NUT and only non-NUT members were in the building. Having been busy sorting things in my Art room half the morning I headed for a 'cuppa' in the Staff room and found Miss Cast on the landing over the chequered space, looking at the view towards Kew.

As I approached her she sighed and exclaimed:- "Isn't the School lovely without the children !"

Edmund Hodges
Art Dept. 1958-85

More on Elliott Art

Joining the Art Dept. in 1958, I was impressed to find a good reproduction of a famous painting in every classroom and, hanging in the Entrance foyer was an original oil painting, "Little Maisy sees Elijah" by Carel Weight (1908-1997) of especial interest to me, as I had attended his evening Life Drawing classes at Hammersmith.

There was also an original Oil, "Still Life" by John Bratby, which later lived in Room 169. These are both, at present (2005), 'for safekeeping' in the Archive Room, I am told, which is a shame, as nobody can see them there, and they were put in the school as part of the educational heritage. With so much 'Security' evident now, I would have thought they might be displayed, perhaps in the Library or somewhere.

Over the years, various teachers tired of the picture in their room and these were swapped or discarded, many ending up in the Art rooms. I had the Breughel "Children's Games" among others in Room 166. The School also benefited from a circulating Library of Pictures for Schools, a scheme which was, sadly, discontinued further to the changes in the London Education Authority.

Edmund Hodges
Art Dept 1958-85

A few more Merton Road School Memories

Our uniform consisted if I remember rightly was School Cap with Elephant trunk down. Dark red and Black tie, later to be added stripe of Celt, Dane, Saxon Norman Whichever you were in. I cannot remember the colours, but one was light blue. (Webmaster's Note: In 1958 the colours were Red Norman, Green Saxon, Yellow Dane and Blue for Celts.)

White Shirt Terribly itchy grey trousers normally short until you got to about third or fourth year then you could wear long. (We could not afford the long ones so I was kept in short trousers for a long while and when I finally got a long pair they got twisted up in my handlebars and ripped apart). Black shoes. Black Jacket with the elephant badge sewed onto the breast pocket long grey socks We were inspected on arrival by prefects to ensure you were dressed in the total School Uniform.

The assembly was held every morning in the first School Hall and we always started with the School Hymn I think this was selected by Mr Morgan, a nice Hymn, but not to the usual music. I would be grateful if someone could tell me what the hymn was, although I recognise it whenever it is sung.

Alan Day
Pupil (1951-56)

Thoughts from Canada

Since I left 'Elliott' in 1978 I moved to Canada where I presently live and hope to one day get back to the school and walk over every inch of it .Going to school there was some of the greatest times of my life and wish that I could turn the clock back for just one day to see all my old friends and some of the teachers that helped me become the person I am today, in particular my home room teacher, Mr. Terry Cole.

I've had several dreams of being back in school walking through the hallways and such and it always brings back wonderful memories for me. My dream one day is to retrace my steps from where I lived in Wandsworth and to walk to Elliott like I used to every day for nostalgic reasons.

I have been back to Wandsworth on two occasions but didn't have enough time to do all the things I wanted to at that time, one day I will.

From John Baillie
1974-78 (now in Canada).

Floating Contraceptives

I attended Elliott 1961-68 and I recall a story from this period. Bernie Beach deputised as a house-master for a while and had a number of boys brought to him for filling contraceptives with Helium. This took place  in one of the labs and they were floating them out of the window.

He fixed the boys with a stare of disbelief and said "Don't be so bloody wasteful. Get Out!"

Steve Tolhurst
1961-68

Hockey and a teacher romance at school

There was, I remember ,a P.E. Teacher called Miss Scott who took us for hockey when we used to go to play at Raynes Park. Our school team reached the finals in, I think, 1958/59 but we lost 1-0. Funnily enough, we always thought Miss Scott was our unlucky teacher and that Miss Zimmer was our lucky one. (So sorry to learn that she has passed on).

My colleagues in class 1s onwards couldn't understand what Miss Zimmer saw in Mr. Mckee (He was my Latin master then) but of course kids don't know about attraction at 11-12 yrs. of age do they, or at least not in 1956/7 we didn't!!! We knew that they were an 'item' even then and took great pleasure in watching them walk around the school grounds!!

From Mary Burnett nee Uphill

Bernard Tinker 1955-61 on the new Putney Elliott

Strangely enough, this memory which for me, goes back about 56 years is still fairly vivid. Perhaps I should be worried about long-term memory syndrome? Having been (what we then called) a first year at the old Elliott boy’s school in Merton Road, Southfields, like many of my contemporaries, the move was not without some trepidation. For a start, the concept of co-education was a new one to many a twelve year old. Girls in the same class! The school was a flagship building under the auspices of the (then) London County Council (L.C.C.). The country was still emerging from post-war austerity but it appeared that for this new breed of comprehensive schools, money was no object.

The building and equipment were little less than fantastic. I don’t know how the school is configured nowadays, but four teaching floors, fully equipped science labs (we were even allowed to have acids out along the centre of the benches as the norm.). The there were five gymnasia, workshops, domestic science rooms with their own flat to teach house-craft, needlework rooms, music rooms, typing rooms, drama theatre, assembly hall, two large dining rooms and those fantastic views across London from the Geography rooms; the list was seemingly endless.

When the school opened in early September, the large assembly hall, was not finished, so the huge wood partitions between gyms 2, 3 and 4 were pushed back to make one enormous space where we were all assembled. It may have been that the senior school had begun a day earlier, I can’t remember. Many people had already seen that particular area as the new school uniforms were sold there during the summer holiday.

We were all seated on the floor, roughly in year groups facing a seated array of what, at first site, looked like a row of vultures. These were the teachers, most of whom were new, wearing academic gowns, again a new experience for many and certainly for those of us from the ‘old Elliott’. After a brief welcome from the head Mr Maurice Holmes, proceedings were orchestrated by the senior master Mr J L (Leslie) Rose, who sported a rather handsome moustache and was to become our history teacher.

The ritual reading of names began and eventually we got to Form 2G. About 30 names were read out and luckily most of the boys were known to me as we had been in the same form the previous year. We were told to go with Mr Forgione and trundled along behind him, out of the gym, up the stairs and along the ‘ground floor’ (which wasn’t (?still isn’t) at ground level) and along to the last room on the right-hand side - number 37. This, it turned out, was to be our home for the next four years, 3G, 4G and 5G and supervised by Mr F. (also our Latin master) for the entire period.

Our class pretty much stayed the same, save for a few of the usual comings and goings - you can see a picture for year 1958/59 Form 4G in the school photos area of the website. In those days there was ‘streaming’ in the school and 2G etc. were flattered to be in the grammar stream concentrating more the Arts subjects, whereas 2S etc. was also ‘grammar’ with a bent towards the Sciences.

The school was officially opened (I think) in April 1957 by the Right Hon. Hugh Gaitskill M.P. Leader of the Labour Party and H.M. Opposition so I suppose Sir Anthony Eden must have been the Prime Minister as it was the year after the Suez Crisis.

A few other random memories from my time at the Elliott.:-

I saw a contribution from June Pavin (nee Chitty). Before my voice broke a was a boy treble and I wonder if she remembers during a music lesson in 2G with Miss Mountjoy that the pair of us had to sing duet in front of the whole class? I think it was “Drink to me only with thine eyes”.

By the time we got to 4G and the senior school, speech day was split into two. juniors in the afternoon, when the seniors got a half holiday, but we had to come back in the evening for our turn. We were ‘larking about’ in the corridor waiting to go down to the Assembly Hall, when somehow or other I got thrown over John Jones’s shoulder, fell onto mine and dislocated it. Ambulance to St James’s Hospital, Balham (blues and twos) with my friend David Pitkin being allowed to come with me. A kindly gesture, you might think, but when we arrived at the hospital, he jumped on a bus home and disappeared from view. There’s gratitude after getting him out of speech day!

Just over a year later we were out on the common doing cross-country with Mr Parry. The last obstacle was a very wide open ditch full of water. I said something to the effect of “I’ll walk round this one if you don’t mind, sir?” “Jump it, boy!” I did, slipped and reached out to grab the bank - guess what happened?

This time it was Putney Hospital driven by Mr Garth Gibson (Head of P.E.) in his own car.

Happy Days!

From: Bernard Tinker
1955-61

Memoires of Southfields (Girls) Elliott

Really enjoyed my time at Elliott. The Teachers were strict but fair. I liked Miss Caldwell best for Literature and Drama. I played Oliver Twist and was honoured to win the Hewetson Dramatic Prize.

I enjoyed all sports especially Netball with Miss Chapman. Miss Cast was our History Teacher and Miss Davis Geography.

The Art classes were in a place called the Dell.

We went to Hythe on a school trip and then to Sandown on the Isle of Wight.

We had many laughs with the Teachers and Mr Young was the only man teacher. He taught us Typewriting. Yes, it was a very enjoyable 6yrs.

Shirley Page, nee Smith
(1950-56)

Dr Elliott I presume?

It happened in the then Rhodesia at the height of the Bush War. I was engaged in Security Work in a very remote area. There in the middle of the African bush I bumped into a fellow Brit. I can't remember what he was doing in the same area as I but on several occasions and in various parts of the world I have had “Dr Livingston I presume” experiences so didn’t think it unusual.

I have no recollection of the chap's name. I just remember he was tall, had longish blond hair and wore an earring. Producing my mess tins and ration pack I started the customary brew. Sitting back to back with our weapons close at hand I ask where in the UK he came from. As I remember he told me he lived in a council estate near Roehampton. I told him I had lived on the Dover House Road Estate. We both at the same moment asked “What school did you go to?” Would you believe it was Elliott. He was in the year in front of me. Two thirds of the earth's surface are covered in water. The other third by former Elliottonians.

Regards Doug Parker (now living in South Africa)

Webmasters Musings

One of the many things that made the Elliott School special was the number of 'after hours' activities that went on (no not those ones! I meant the ones the school organised). Teacher Edmund Hodges found this impressive list of subjects (reproduced below), published in the school magazine back in 1963

Now we don't believe this was even a full list, because missing from it are two that I (webmaster) know of - the Astronomy Club, run by ‘Jack’ Keyte Head of Geography and the Microscopic Club, organise by that complete gentlemen Mr Burns. Does anyone else wants to add to the list and I am sure we all wonder if today's school, can boast a list anything like this?

June Austin, an Elliott girl in wartime at Guildford.

I was evacuated from Peckham in 1939, two days after my 10th.birthday. By 1941, I had been through the experiences of most London schoolchildren who were taught in the fragmented circumstances of shared schools in country towns and villages. Eventually I was moved again, this time to the Elliott School in Guildford which was a 45 minute bus ride from home.

My first class with The Elliott was in a room at the Park Street Institute by the Guildford bus terminus. Here, we registered with Mr.Kear for the day and other teachers came and went for various subjects. It was the time of the Free French freedom fighters, so Miss Casley taught us to sing “La Marseillaise” and put pictures of the Cross of Lorraine around the room. My next promotion was to the building of the Guildford Central School at the top of the High Street. Here we had one room, with Mr.Bennetto as our teacher. He had massive eyebrows which went up and down like brushes when he spoke. He could be very fierce and, in this mixed class, always had the cane ready as deterrent for any boy who was talking instead of working.

The final move was to Guildown House – an elegant mansion with beautiful grounds about 15 minutes walk from Guildford High Street. Here was the stability and educational expectation which I had not experienced since 1939. The atmosphere was more like that of the private schools of today, with an ethos to match. Heaven help anyone seen outside the school without the distinctive uniform complete and tidily worn. And as for eating in the street while wearing the Elliott identity of black and red hatband or tie with the enamel elephant badge, well there was always a lurking prefect to report you. Then up before the austere Headmistress, Miss Hewetson, for letting down the school by sloppy behaviour!

I remember the sudden order to pick up our books and lead out of class and down into the caves under Guildown House (which were presumably the wine-cellars) to continue our work when an air-raid warning had been given. We had hot meals, for the first time, and queued in a long corridor for meat stew and tough orange jelly made with rose-hip syrup topped with semolina. We carried the meals back upstairs to our classroom and ate them at our desks. The person on duty was often Miss Rolfe, a strict maths teacher, who inspected our plates to make sure we had not left a mouthful – however distasteful – as ‘there were people starving in Europe and we should be grateful’.

There were both boys and girls at Guildown House but I now realise that the girls often had a different programme to the boys as a recent contact said he remembered neither the caves nor the hot meals. We had school assembly in a church hall in one part of Guildford and then dispersed to walk to our various bases. I remember going to Stoke Park School in a crocodile of girls for our cookery lesson, back to Guildown House for dinner-time, and then down to Shalford Park for hockey. With the walk up the Portsmouth Road in the morning to start with and then back to the bus at night, this meant at least 4 miles of walking on some days, just to be somewhere for lessons!

Playtime and lunchtime meant the girls of Guildown House could use the lovely garden with its paths and seats but the boys were confined to the tennis court to play their cricket or active games. The resident gardener, Mr. Wells, housed in his adjoining cottage, made sure that nothing like that happened in the ornamental grounds, so we girls wandered around sedately like young ladies from a Victorian novel. In keeping with the custom of the time, after that first co-ed class, the boys led a separate existence within the same building so, although we were aware of them in that small environment, we had no contact to speak of unless we saw them going to or from school.

Our curriculum was shaped by the space, opportunity and teachers available so, as it was obviously not possible to include any of the science subjects, this was substituted by a programme of commercial lessons. These were typing, shorthand and book-keeping, and carried as much weight in the final exams for the Oxford School Leaving Certificate as English, maths, etc. and the results included in the final tally to decide if you had achieved Matriculation level. I remember climbing flights of stairs to a cold attic room at Guildown House for typing practice, with the boys queuing outside until the girls had finished! For many of us, this grounding in secretarial skills was to help much more in getting immediate work than any science lab. topics could have done.

Not all of us were able to follow the school back to its base in London after 1945 as circumstances prevented my family from returning. Peckham Rye was substituted for the hills of Surrey. Career became marriage and children. The predictions by Miss Hewetson that I would make a good teacher (if I worked hard!) did not come to fruition until I was able to become a mature-student. I like to think that if I was any good at it for those 20 teaching years, it was based on the examples set by those redoubtable men and women of The Elliott who taught us at Guildford in the difficult war times.

June Broomer (June Austin)
24 November 2007

Alan Day remembers his war years

My Grandfather was a School Caretaker and during the War looked after two Schools; Albany Road, near Camberwell Green and Mawbey Road School, off The Old Kent Road. My earliest recollection was walking into a room full of toys; bikes, pedal cars etc. in Albany Road School and choosing a pedal car to play on. I remember clearly being stuck in the slope of the playground which led to a drain and I was not strong enough to pedal the car out of it. That School was flattened by a German Bomb in about 1943. (when I was three). I spent a lot of time at my Grandparents Caretaker House.

My Father joined the RAF when the War started. He was an electrical genius all his life, at one time teaching Electronics at the London Polytechnic. He left to go to War when I was just born and I did not see him again until I was nearly five. We lived in The Chase, Clapham SW4.

My Mother walked everywhere and we regularly went to see her parents at Mawbey Road and she walked all the way, with me either in the pram or walking by her side. My Grandfather continued to work at Mawbey Road. His main job was to try to prevent lead being pinched from the roof. As the war progressed the School became home to hundreds of Polish ex- Servicemen.

They looked after me well if I wandered in there, particularly the cooks, who gave me cakes, a real treat for me as rationing normally prevented such luxuries. The Chase is situated just off the Wandsworth Road one end and the posher end was Clapham Common. Our end was approximately half way between Clapham Junction, a Major German Target and the Armaments Factory which was situated near Nine Elms, about the Thessaly Road area.

Some may remember The Granada, Wandsworth Road, that is the approximate area. As we were between these targets, my poor mother had to wake me up on a regular basis and take me down to the Air Raid Shelter, a corrugated tin bunker sunk into the ground half way down our back garden. My Mother told me I constantly cried and I wet the bed up to the age of seven - only four years before I joined the Elliott. A major problem for my Mother on her own with very little money and an awkward child to look after, with bombs dropping all around us.

The situation got so bad I was sent by train to Wolverhampton with other children and that created other problems. Mothers and Children were offered accommodation by people who had no experience of what this was about, or what we had already gone through. In the first week a door was left open and I got out in the street and was promptly knocked over by a chap on a push bike. That caused one hell of a row between my Mother and the lady who we stayed with. Shortly after, I remember being in the front of a car and the brakes being slammed on and my head smashing against the windscreen. It was shortly after this that we moved back to The Chase and back to the Air Raid Sirens.

Towards the latter part of the War The Doodlebugs came over. You could hear quite clearly the high pitched whistle which went lower in pitch as it went over. If that whistle stopped you were in deep trouble. This happened during one of my Mother’s walks, this time to Arding and Hobbs, Clapham Junction . We had just reached the corner when the sirens went off. The only place to hide was the Shoe Shop opposite Arding and Hobbs, in their basement. An enormous bomb went off and the whole of the area shook. My Mother and many of the other Women with us started screaming, it was such a near miss. When we got the All Clear, coming out of the shop there was utter devastation. Every window in Arding and Hobbs was broken and even though I was still very young I remember being shocked by what I saw. The devastation around Battersea and The Old Kent Road was unbelievable. Shortly after the War, I remember King George visiting the area and being very moved by what he and the Queen Mother to be, saw. The crowds were about ten deep down the whole length of The Old Kent Road. I was in the front.

Many of you will know the boating lake on Clapham Common and what is now the Netball Courts, that was where the guns were situated, the others being at the start of the Common at Battersea Rise. When the War ended I was awaken by searchlights sweeping the sky, I thought the Germans were coming again and screamed at the top of my voice. Most of my life I hated the Germans, but gradually time heals. I recently played in our band for some dances in The Leipzig Folk Festival, East Germany. They were friendly, some lovely, just the odd few a little strange (possibly X Gestapo - only joking ) I became very emotional when dancing with a lovely German girl .Just a short while ago I would have been pleased if we had hit the area with a bomb. Many of the children at Elliott at the time I was there could have told similar stories of the War, I was not the only one a bit mixed up when I joined.

Alan Day
1951 - 56
Please Note: You will find more about the Elliott at war in the Reference Section

Linda Hatswell 1962-70 Memories of teachers at Putney Elliott

I was educated at Elliott from 1962-1970. My brother John had been to Southfields and then to Elliott so I vaguely knew something about the school before I arrived in 1962.

My first real memory at school was sitting in a class and feeling very frightened that the world was going to end. It was October 1962 and the world seemed to be in the brink of war. The Cuban Missile Crises passed and we all breathed a sigh of relief and got in with our lessons and growing up in the swinging sixties. I was not an academic child but that was one of the really good things about Elliott. The teachers recognised your abilities whatever they might be. I found that I was good at sport and with tremendous encouragement from the PE staff, Marian Riley , Mary Driver, Diane Jones and someone I remember as Gwen Wright but I see from the website she is listed as Jackie Wright I found something I could do and be proud of my achievements. The encouragement I received from the PE staff helped me overcome my frustrations with my lack of academic achievement.

I began to control my behaviour and started to do better in other subjects. The other subject that I enjoyed and had some success with was Art. We were blessed with inspiring teachers and excellent facilities. I will be forever grateful to Edmund Hodges for his encouragement and help.

I took my CSEs and did okay but to get into PE college which is what I wanted to do I needed to pass my GCEs. A truly wonderful person took me under her wing and helped me to not only pass my English exam but to achieve the grades I needed. This teacher inspired me and give me confidence to overcome many hurdles to get to where I wanted to be. This teacher was Elizabeth Cross. Elizabeth Cross was a gifted teacher, she taught English but was also Head of Norman House which I was in. We had many one to one discussions, particularly when my father died when I was 16. She was my rock and I wanted to do well not only for myself but so that she would be proud of me.

I did get the grades I needed and was successful in gaining a place at Chelsea College of Physical Education. I will be forever grateful to her for the time she took to take an unruly child and guiding her to achieve success. I remember the phone call I received from Mr Evans the Headteacher telling me that Miss Cross had been killed in a car accident. I was stunned by the news and felt so sad that such an inspiring person should die so tragically.

I went on to achieve a B.Ed (Hons) degree and taught PE, becoming Head of Department before leaving teaching to pursue a different career. I have tried to take the lessons I learnt from those inspiring teachers with me in my own teaching and in the corporate world. If I could meet them now I would like to say 'thank you' ; you believed in me and that made all the difference.

Jeff(rey) Daish 1963-68 on 'School journeys'

I was at Elliott from 1963 - 1968. I was lucky enough to go on two 'School journeys' one to Kandersteg, Switzerland 1966/1967 Dec - Jan and then Saas Fee, Switzerland July 1968. Both these trips included a coach journey to Dover, ferry to Calais, then a fantastic train journey right across France into Switzerland to breakfast in Bern, then on to Brig where we transferred to local trains for our onward journeys through the Alps to our final destinations.

Kandersteg. This was only my second time out of England, Spain the previous year being my first, arriving at Kandersteg station my first impression was I'm going to get neck-ache looking up so high at the mountain tops, the town seemed to be surrounded by a wall of mountains and snow. The hotel, 'Institut' (no e) was on the outskirts of town (keep the rabble out of the way!) but luckily for us there was a small bar/café next door where we used to load up on Apfelsaft (not realising it was alcohol free cider) thinking we were all very grown up!

This bar had lots of wooden plates hanging on the wall which had been turned over and signed by us and previous visiting schools, hence the backs were completely full of signatures and comments, some not so complimentary! I can only think of this trip in black and white, maybe because I only had a B/W camera and after all these years of looking at the pictures that's how I see and remember it.

I shared a room, it was my first experience of a 'Scandinavian quilt (Duvet) like sleeping under a big ball of cotton wool, and seeing the maids shaking them out the window was disconcerting and amazing.

Our first day skiing was very exciting for us all, we were taken to the Swiss Ski School in Kandersteg where we were all fitted out with skis and ski-sticks, arm up straight over your head and the end of the ski had to reach your wrist, the ski-sticks had to reach to your under-arm. (I'm sure it's more technical now!) There, you were ready for anything - little did we know!

Day one: Learning the basics of the snow-plough, (the only safe way for us learners to stop!) walking on skis is not as easy as it looks, slide, slide and don't lift your ski off the ground. As we progressed we were taken on various routes around the town, for us it was the easy routes although it seemed hard for us, watching all the experienced skiers going around made us think "we'll be doing that soon" wet and cold bottoms instead! Ha ha! At the end of the trip we all had a test at the Ski school, I came second to Miss Driver by half a point and got a bronze award, wow, was I chuffed!

Saas Fee I was amazed when my parents said I could go skiing again to Switzerland, this was April 1968, I was due to leave school in July 1968, what a way to go out! This time my camera was a bit newer than the last one so my memories of Saas Fee are in colour, although Malcolm Fletcher took cine-film of which I think I only saw once, I'd like to see that again!

We met some girls on the train across France from Crawley doing the same trip from their school and met up a few times during the trip and visited them in Crawley sometime later. Because some of us were a little bit experienced we were taken on some more difficult runs, even skiing across a glacier which was weird to see running water beneath the ice you were standing on. A very enjoyable experience, I've not skied since but I know one who has, well done Bill Andrews!

The attached picture shows me and Christine (I think Gallagher?) the best ever taken of me, young, slim and with hair and of course the lovely Christine! These trips cost my parents - wait for it - 40 Guineas per trip for ten days, including pocket money, that wouldn't even get me to Dover now! I was very lucky then, my older sister always complains all she got was a day-trip to Swanage! The school was organising a cruise for the following year, maybe the pictures from Harry Papadopoulos in the picture section is from that trip?

Regards to all Jeff Daish Woodley, Berkshire

Sheila Chessman 1956-61 Happy Memories and all that Jazz

I attended from Sept 1956 till July 1961. My name at the time was Sheila Lovett. I started in 3H as did my husband, Roger Chessman. Roger had previously been at the Elliott in Southfields. We parted ways in the 4th year, Roger in 4S , me in 4H (I think), but we remained friends.

We got engaged on Christmas Eve 1959, much to the upset of Mr Holmes and Mrs Williams! We had several lectures from members of staff, concerned that we were too young. Miss Beacon offered to let us live at her house if we got stuck. We married in 1964 and had 53 very happy years.

Unfortunately Roger lost his battle with cancer and passed away on 12th June. With a few lessons from Mr Fox, Roger had taught himself to play the clarinet. Many happy hours were spent in the music rooms beneath the stage. How the lads managed to play music in the thick fog of smoke they created, I don't know. At lunch time and after school a group would meet on Putney Heath to play traditional jazz. They even played on top of the bus on the way home sometimes.

Get writing about your time

So many memories of my time at the Elliott, Miss Scarrott, favourite teacher, Mr. Seal only because he was always with Mr Brooker my Math teacher, Mr Holmes lovely head, Mr. Willink and now I cannot remember the last name......back to school for me then! I was in the Celt house, form 1t through to 4t. Loved my blue tie and scarf, wasn't too keen on the beret. Had a leather satchel, expensive in those days, managed to misplace it within the first few weeks, still getting the hang of moving from class to class, not like Heathmere, same class all day. School seemed so big then, huge classes, so many stairs. Loved my time there, cookery classes, sewing, ice skating at Richmond rink, now long long, learning to play the violin, albeit briefly, coincided with lessons so had to stop that.

Going to the plays at end of term, mid summer nights dream, winters tale, school disco (no proms for us then). Class mates Susan Bacon, Linda Hill, Doreen Jackson, Jaqueline Kennedy, Raymond Fidler and on and on...I remember when The Moody Blues came to the school, just as they were starting out.

OK, over to all of you ex-pupils, doesn't matter how long the post, once you get started it comes back. Get stirring those memories.

Lynne Mahoney  1960 - 65