King John School - Mr Neale's Tutor Group 1972

And a selection of comments from Friends Reunited

Mr. Neale's Tutor Group, 1972
George Webb

The photo above was made available by George Webb, who also sent us some comments, below, about life and teachers at King John School in the 1970s.  These were retrieved from the Friends Reunited website before it closed down in 2016.

King John School

1971 – Miss Morten and Mr Spicer Was it Elaine and Steve? remember I used to have them for French and Human Biology…used to be quite amusing… she would go really red when a note was delivered to the class from him

1971 – First Day Had a fight with Dave Cox, because he spat at me.
Trip to Belgium, all the girls singing to the radio on the back of the coach. Songs they were singing Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep and Knock three times. Hotel had square in middle, we used to throw things at the windows on the other side.
Trip to the trenches in France, was that interesting ‘yawn’. Got threatened by the police for riding on prom on hire bikes.

1971 – Cooking Made some cack I think it was called savoury beano, looked like some special effects out of the X-files.  Sponge cake aka crazy paving, my word was that hard. Like two discuses with butter cement filling.

1973 – Wilco Johnson Does anybody remember Wilco (John Wilkinson) sitting cross legged on the desk with his purple jacket playing Buddy Holly music for poetry. He left teaching to become lead guitarist for Dr. Feelgood.

1973 – Mr Neale Remember Mr Neal’s old Ford Popular, and being too scared to drive between the goalposts! Also, he taught us to sail at Old Leigh.  Lovely old guy.

1974 – Mr Rodwell Was anyone in S2 from 1969-1974. God, that man used to scare the pants off me, I think he taught German, but I know he made me even more nervous than I was already. Also does anyone remember driving the school car (donated by Kim Bartlett’s dad) around the school field at lunchtimes with Mr Neal the Physics teacher, that was pretty scary sometimes too!! especially when our driving made him dislocate his arm one day!!

1974 – Tog There must have been two Togs because the one I know was best friends with my brother Dean Herbert and he owns the Gumbies records shops in London

1974 – re: Mr Rodwell I remember that he also used to play cricket at lunch time, just stroll out onto one of the playing fields and within no time a large group of boys would be playing. And yes, he used to scare me as well.

1975 – More about Tog. Tog was Andrew Clift. He was given this name because he had learning and speech difficulties and his voice resembled the character from the childrens TV series “Pogles Wood” I met up with him back in 1999 when I visited him at his parents’ home in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. We all went for a pub meal on a warm summers evening. He is currently working as a Dustman in the Abingdon area. I had some great times with Andrew when we were growing up even if it meant trespassing on the railway. Andrew left King John in 1975 just before the end of our first year.

1975 – Maths, German Chemistry, Physics Mr Wanstall going on about how easy Maths was compared to navigating his Swordfish using a map on his knee during the war !
Mr Rodwell, complete nutter who drank and smoked Rose petals, everybody’s parents thought he was German and the rumour was that he had been a translator for interrogating German prisoners (if so he was pretty young)
Mr Chambers, Chemistry teacher, young bloke with beard used to work in ICI, showed us how to distil spirits from his home made orange wine.
Mr Neal, Physics, really great bloke, taught photography, car repair and driving at lunchtimes. Had a .22 bullet embedded in his groin (apparently) when shot by some moron as a kid, who had a real rifle rather than an airgun.

1975 – Cross Country Remember having to do cross country in your bare feet if you forgot your trainers (woops, plimpsoles)- gosh we were hard lol
Another time (lovely sunny day) Sue Eade, Karen Coward and myself fell asleep on the hill ( I think Pauline Droy may have been there as well) over in the Glen, we were supposed to be completing the cross country course. We got back just in time for the end of the next period…wow did we get into trouble with Miss Williams!
Sue and I used to skip Sociology, I can remember Mr Brogan to this day just waving at us out of the top classroom in the tower block, think he was glad to see the back of us 🙂 he never ever said a word about us bunking every lesson!
Mr Rollerson (PE) was my first tutor, he was great, used to walk down the corridors on his hands (those were the days). Then had Mrs Robey, phew, nobody crossed her, she was the cooking teacher (food tech now!) My sister, Tracey was in the tutor group opposite. Think she had Mr Brogan as a tutor.
Just remembered that it was Thorndike House. That’s all for now….why isn’t everyone leaving a few memories?
Oh, do you remember the lunchtime disco in the hall? And what about the Youth Centre?

1975 – Teachers Metalwork Mr Lyman, someone put vitamin C tablet(orange)in the kettle. At breaktime they drank tea made with water from kettle, when said kettle was emptied.
The water was found to be orange, they thought acid from soldering irons had been put in the kettle.
All metalwork classes that day got detention. Who did that you naughty boy.
Woodwork Mr Wallace, went to cane a class mate. Who removed his hand at the moment of impact, cane broke on bench. We all burst out laughing, which really made things worst.
The classmate received an extra two for removing his hand. I cannot remember why he was being caned, but he had some nice red marks on his hand.
Was there a teacher we nicknamed desert rat, he was a marksman with chalkboard duster. Used to pace up and down between the desks, clipping the odd ear on his way back to the chalkboard.

1975 – Out of School Going over the Bluey (the lake down the lane across Benfleet Rd) instead of going to lessons.
Sitting on top of the sand bank having a smoke, the sun was always shining.
Hanging around the back of Runnymede Swimming pool, by the manhole cover to keep warm.
One night we all went down under the pool, we got locked in and had to shout through the air vents so someone would let us out.

1976 – Nobby in fight Stuart “Nobby” Noble getting into a scrap in the English corridor about the time that LED watches first came out: holding out his hand for someone to take his new watch off so he could fight back without getting it damaged! That watch’d be worth something now Nobby!

1976 – Musical instrument competition Design your own instrument….in an English lesson? Most were simple, but Nobby’s Dad built him his own trumpet…. does anyone remember the “Nobbyphone”?

1976 – Teachers Steve Spicer was a friend of my older sister and gave my younger sister (Yvette) and I extra tuition. He moved on to teach at Furtherwick Park on Canvey. Mr Neal used to boil up all those mercury solutions in the chemicals store, and used to encourage us to play with the mercury with our bare hands… No wonder he died of mercury poisoning some years ago. Mr Vaughn was a JP, and was succeeded as HM by Katie Webb, ably assisted by Dog-end, who actually happened to be a great teacher (history).

1962 – Evans Headteacher. A tower of strength and sense – even though I recall being hit on the knuckles with his walking stick having hands in pockets! How he and the staff managed to keep all us post war ‘bulge’ kids in order I will never know.

1964 – Unknown Who was the female biology teacher who would take us out in the school van when Mr. Neale was unavailable and would then threaten to stop us driving if we kept skidding round corners and crossing over the footpath to the girls playground so fast that the old van and all its occupants took off. She also came to Germany with us in 1963.

1965 – Mr Ashton History teacher, obsessed with war as far as I can remember. Defected to Appleton sometime between me leaving King John and my children going to Appleton!

1965 – Mr Garton Think he taught English (shows how much I paid attention) He took us to the Palace Theatre where he was in the Tempest. Dramatic sort obviously.

1969 – “Primo” Geography teacher, great guy, can’t remember his real name though, he was convinced that I was on drugs.

1969 – Mr Bradley My favourite geography teacher,  took the trouble to turn my sloppy efforts into something worthwhile!! Super field trip to SNOWDONIA!! Thanks.

1970 – Mr Bell Mr Bell was my tutor group teacher. He had a great sense of humour, and the best pottery teacher anywhere

1970 – Mr Beddows I played guitar in the King John school band. We went to London and played on Radio 4. Anyone else remember that.

1970 – Mr Flemming Really nice Maths teacher who had two favourite phrases “Whoops nasty” and “I don’t think so” when you got something wrong in class… which I invariably did.

1970 – Judy Hare (nee Williams?) PE Teacher who had a sidekick called Sue Cohen for a time…(didn’t Sue Cohen marry Mr Rollerson and then leave?) Judy also used to enter us for music dance competitions using hoops and things.., the theme to Shaft springs to mind and the Good the Bad and The Ugly

1971 – Mr Beddows I played 1st clarinet in the band we went to London and made a record, can’t remember what year. My Mum still plays it to unsuspecting visitors!!!!! What a wonderful man.

1974 – Mr Beddows  Music teacher extraordinaire. anyone else play in his school band?

1975 – Mr Hurry Humanities – always used to write “Please leave – G H” on the roller blackboard at the end of the lesson after we’d gone…..was ages before I realised it wasn’t a request from the pupils!

1975 – Mr Powell For me, a great P E teacher (& taught English as his second subject I believe). Used to drive a Triumph Herald (with a Woolworths bag over the broken rear stop light!) Can you remember Phil Powell & John Johnstone in that small car?! They wreaked havoc together!
Took the school teams for rugby & basketball among others.
Think he went to a school in London & brought them down once to play my year at rugby – we beat them!

1975 – Mr Dammery English (Head of?) Longish hair, middle aged, gentle sort of chap.

1975 – Mr Rowley Housemaster – Thorndike (Prior to Mr Lounds). Ginger congenial chap.

1975 – Mr Brogan Economics teacher – told me I should have stuck to football when I broke my leg in the first game of the year in January 1976 – then broke his foot playing….football!
Nice, funny bloke, had classes at the top of the 3 storey block.

1975 – Mr Wanstall Strict disciplinarian, given to shouting in assemblies he took in the theatre when someone had done something wrong. He & Mr Rothman were the deputy heads. Believe he used to teach maths in the olden days.

1975 – Mrs Worsdale  English…very arty….used to work closely with Mr Dammery. Wrote round capital “E”s on the board.

1975 – Mr Cannell  Science teacher… used to drive a car like a hearse… unfortunately used to live two doors away from me and would sometimes offer me a lift. My mum thought that was terribly generous … I was mortified.

1976 – Mr Neale Physics teacher who made everything so interesting. Will always remember him laughing about my long fingernails which he called “talons”!

1976 – Mr Hurry I was terrified of this Geography teacher – always kept us in detention, especially the day we laughed when he slammed a window and it broke!

1976 – Mr Rothman History teacher (and deputy head) who told me off for only getting a B in O level History.

1976 – Mr Johnston What a lad! John joined KJS when Phil Powell was still there & they made an hilarious team (someone has suggested elsewhere “Starsky & Hutch” impersonators – yep!)
Is he still playing rugby for Rochford 100? (Probably the veterans now!) Has he still got that mullet? (Could be a scouser in a Harry Enfield sketch!)

1976 – Mr Gibbins Careers master. Took my year school football team. “The more scars you’ve got on your legs, the more of a man you are!”

1976 – Mr Kenway Mr Kenway (Mike I believe), who taught commerce and typing, was the man of my dreams when I was 14! I took both subjects for this reason (although very grateful now that I learned to type). I even insisted that my first car was a Renault 4 like he had. I remember him bringing his two-year-old son into school with him one day and getting me to look after him during the lesson!

1978 – Mr. Rodwell Head of Languages as I recall. Avid cricketer too; took out more than one pupil during lunchtime batting practice…

1978 – Mr.Spicer Managed a great balance of class control & humour. Even managed to teach us too! Anyone remember the hydrogen-filled soap bubble experiment? Married Miss Morton, the German teacher, but then whatever happened to him? Great bloke.

1978 – Mrs. Osbourne Maths teacher. Pretty damn good maths teacher actually. One of those who could stamp on any sign of mutiny but who had a sense of humour and put across her subject well.

1978 – Mr. Prosser  Maths teacher to be feared. A good teacher nonetheless à la Mrs. Osbourne. Still lives in the area, though probably happily retired now.

1978 – Mr. Neale Physics teacher with more enthusiasm in his little finger than many had between their ears. Great teacher; shame I hated the subject…

1978 – Mrs. Wilkins Stern French teacher, but under that cloak of strictness lay a sense of humour.

1978 – Mr Beddows – Music I didn’t play any instrument, don’t think I was good enough. I do remember Mr Beddows though, and sitting in his classroom at lunchtimes.

1978 – Mr Johnston & Mr Powell Remember when they looked like Starsky and Hutch? Wonder what they look like now? !!

1978 – Mr Chambers Very patient biology teacher and a really nice chap – wonder where he is now?

1978 – Mrs Osborne Maths teacher – she was great – helped me to really understand maths – Thank you


Comments about this page

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  • Dear Richard,

    Thanks for adding your memories to the site.

    Pamela J. Bird-Gaines

    By Pamela Gaines (13/09/2023)
  • I remember the oft mentioned Mr. Rodwell, who used to click his heels as he reached the end of the classroom like a gestapo officer. We all thought he was an escaped Waffen SS officer. Favourite teacher: Terry Dammery who gave me a lasting obsession with books, and enabled me to get A’s in Literature and Language. Mr. Spicer used to steal our fags at break times. We all, like the idiots we were, thought they destroyed them. On meeting him twenty years later, he told me that when they were short in the staff room, they’d come down and take ours which we weren’t allowed in any case, being fifteen. Yes, really. My tutor was Mr Cannell who distilled his own vodka in a room at the back of the class , I remember him being breathylysed by the police in the playground in his green VW 412. We never saw him again. Remember Mrs Combe in science , she was virtually deaf so we all sat at the back and spoke very quietly. I put some stuff she left out once in a bowl of water , it exploded and some went in a boys eye. He screamed as purple smoke poured from his eye, an enduring image, he was ok though. We never did practical after that. All dictation, ah happy days . 1976

    By Richard Simpson (13/09/2023)
  • Bruce
    Interesting use of the past tense. I’m still Gill’s brother!
    My own memories of KJS are a bit vague but I enjoyed being in Mr Neale’s tutor group. I do remember some of the teachers mentioned above (incidentally they’re not my comments) but I’m trying to remember the name of the nice young female teacher who taught French in the ‘temporary’ classroom just outside our tutor room, F5.

    By George Webb (28/03/2023)
  • George,

    Were you Gill Webb’s brother?

    I was in the class of ‘74.

    I was in L6; my tutor was Mr Roberts. Head of House was “Bill” Bailey, replaced by Geoff Ottley on retirement.

    Alf Neale was simply the best teacher; Stuart Blackshaw (Maths) came a close second.

    I endured bullying during my early years from some of the guys who then were allowed to leave the Easter after their 15th birthday.

    One day, it became too much, and I reacted disproportionately. I was eventually pulled off my attackers; they had failed to appreciate that I may have grown some muscles by then!

    Stuart Blackshaw was the ringleader’s head-of-house (Napier). I got called into his office, where I expected a severe roasting for fighting. Instead he shook my hand and said “well done son” in his North Country accent.

    Blackshaw used to patrol the Skool Disco’s. There was more than one occasion when he intervened when I was dancing over-amorously with my partner, with the command “save it son, save it”.

    46 years later, I’m reunited with that partner, and we’re engaged to be married.

    By Bruce Wilson (23/04/2022)

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