Memories of King John School in the 1960s

Remembered by Steve Davis

The following is a comment on the post:
King John School Days in the 1960s – Remembered by Glenn Newman

How very odd to read the names and see the faces of so many many young people from the 1960s.
It not only seems like a life-time ago, it seems like somebody else’s life!

I left KJS in 1968, so I knew all the lads in the physics class photos to a greater or lesser degree; Trev Dear I knew well as he lived just down the road from me. I also knew Richard Coleman & Paul Chidley out-of-school. I think Naresh was from India and was only at KJS for a term or two. However, he made a huge impression on us. He was funny, good at arm-wrestling and taught us several swear words in his native tongue!

Despite knowing most of the kids in your own year group, I guess we all had an inner circle of friends that we hung around with, outside of school. My group included Viv Mead, Lesley Ellwood, Angela Shortel, Trev Harwood, Mick Prewer, Ian Clements, Pete Kinnaird, Mark Stuart and a few more that drifted in and out like Steve Holmwood, Paul Chidley, Gary Faux & some I can’t remember.

Anyone remember Ian Gibbons? I knew him right through primary & secondary school, and met up with him a few times in the 70s & early 80s as we shared a mutual friend, the drummer Pete Thompson. Ian was a friend, but we were not close. He was a talented musician and went on to have a successful career and played with the Kinks for 10 years:

Rather surprisingly, I only saw Ian play 3 times; the first time was in New Thundersley  primary school, Rushbottom Lane, when he climbed onto the stage during morning assembly. You could hardly see him standing behind the accordion. I think he was 9yrs old, so circa1961. I also remember seeing him play guitar with the school group “The Cents” at that hall in Benfleet near the War Memorial. I guess that was 1966/7. And then in early 2019 we were lucky enough to see Ian play keyboards with the Kast Off Kinks. I say lucky because it was a great show, and because Ian died just a few months later. So as it turned out, it was our last chance to see him play.

Ian had fabulous hair and always seemed to have a smile on his face.

I would have been at New Thundersley primary from 1957 until 1963.  My brother (who started there 5 years earlier) used to give 6d a week to the school fund so they could buy a swimming pool. But it wasn’t built until a few years after he had left. It was a simple blue plastic sided pool, where you had to climb up over the sides to get in. It was always bloody freezing.  I don’t think I learnt to swim until I got to King John.

Mark Stuart, Mick Prewer, Steve Davis & Trev Harwood (Tavern-in-the- Town, Southend - 1969)
Steve Davis
Weymouth caravan 1968; Trev Harwood, Mick Prewer & Pete Kinnaird (photo by Steve Davis)
Steve Davis

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  • Hi, I hope you don’t mind me adding a comment:
    My name back then was Catherine Webb, and I remember Peter who I had an awful crush on at the time.
    I left in summer 1968 to start my first job at a bank National Provincial up in the City.
    It has been lovely to see some of the comments and how progress through life has been.

    By catherine Webb (29/02/2024)
  • Hello …its 23:45 Sunday night and my lovely wife has just found this page thingy. So here I am. How can I condense the last 100yrs into this little comments box ? Perhaps I could use smaller letters or type quicker ???… Good to read everyone’s memories

    By Ian Clements (18/02/2024)
  • Hi Steve, May be a ripping yarn or perhaps folklore, no heater fitted as standard so may not have seen the roundabout, so not guilty to that, have been trying to find your email for proper chat so left mine with administrators to contact you but no word yet. Parts care of Ron Clift of Tarpots Service Station local Ford agent also assistance from Bob Scott your neighbour who I thought you were related.
    Hello Joshua James wondering who your father-in-law is?

    By Paul Chidley (29/11/2021)
  • Hi Steve,
    Wow. what a long-time-no speak. I’ve only just found this site and reading through the comments was saddened to learn the Trevor Harwood passed away at only 55. He was a good friend back in the day. Do you recall the time a group of us decided to go for a long bike ride and ended up in Kent? Believe you had a Moulton speed 6 at the time. I know we ended up at the Dartford tunnel and loaded the bikes onto a trailer and were taken across in a land-rover. Disreali Gears….Ah, what memories. I haven’t seen Mick Prewer since a year or two after school, but knew he was in the freight forwarding business. I do see a few classmates from time to time, and after our 50th reunion decided to start a facebook group (as per the link) Take a look. Lots of pictures and memories from the distant past. I think we intend to get together again soon, so you may want to join the group. Pleased you seem to have made a good recovery after your cancer. Long may it continue.

    By Gary Faux (13/11/2021)
  • Hi Paul, good to hear from you.

    My scooter days are a very small chapter in my life. I had a Vespa 125, and I figured I could make it go a bit faster by running it on 25:1 rather than 20:1 {petrol:oil mix}. It seemed to work, but within 12 weeks it wrecked the engine. I had to take my test on Mark Stuart’s Lambretta 200GT.

    But at least with a full driving license, I could ride around on the back of other peoples bikes & scooters …mostly Trev Harwood’s Lambretta. One Friday night, we rode through-the-night all the way down to Honiton. This was in November, so it was damn freezing. We stopped a couple of times and huddled into a phone box, using our cigarette lighters to warm our hands. {Reason for the trip: Trev wanted to see his girl friend, and I was going on a blind-date!}

    So please tell me; was the story about you, your car and the roundabout true, or just another ripping yarn?

    By steve davis (12/11/2021)
  • High Steve, remember you well as scooter pit stop in the evenings with you building radios from boxes off old components and listening to good music, probably pirate broadcasts. Think Peter Kinnaird still suffering from bending bottom bar of hurdle with his forehead while impersonating a granny athlete.
    Retired from Dunton 2012 and think Josh must be referring to Dave & Ian Walkerdine, great times at the engineers day centre for ripping yarns.

    By Paul Chidley (09/11/2021)
  • Pete
    I didn’t really know Barry Andrews, but I understand that twins have a special bond with each another, so his struggle with the loss of Graham is understandable. Graham and I were in the same Metalwork class, and we spent a lot of time laughing at daft stuff. He had a great sense of humour.

    Beatle cut? …well my mates at Marconi called me Ringo!

    I only went to Weymouth with you in 1968. Actually, you & Trev drove down, me & Mick ‘thumbed it’ down …but that’s another story. I went again to the same caravan park (in 1971 or maybe ’72) with Trev and our girl friends.

    It occurs to me now that if we had been asked to write about our future lives during our final year at King John, I would not have got a single thing right! I wonder if anyone’s life panned out the way that they had expected.

    As a kid, I used to watch David Attenborough chasing animals around Africa on our old, second-hand, black & white TV. I never bothered to even imagine that one day I would go there, because the idea of a working class kid traveling to such an exciting continent was just too ridiculous, even for an imaginative 8 year old. But I did go, many times …how incredible is that!

    Its probably just as well that our future lives remain unknown to us, otherwise it would spoil the surprise.

    Cheers mate,

    By steve davis (25/10/2021)
  • Steve
    First and foremost good to hear you are thriving and well on your way hopefully to full recovery from prostate cancer. Doubtless your obvious positivity and pro active approach to dealing with the slings and arrows life presents has augured well for you. And so glad you have retained the luxuriant barnet, but suspect you have moved on from the beetle cut?
    And likewise so pleased to hear that you have had a life that has taken you far and wide. I can never be sure if it is simply the random way chance and opportunity strike in life, or if some of us are naturally more adventurous but I am so glad to have had the opportunity to travel and get to make friends of many nationalities and cultures.
    With regard to Weymouth, do I recall two trips or just one? I have relatively firm memories of traveling on a little red Honda motorcycle, but also vague recollections of travelling together in a Ford Zephyr or Zodiac or some such, maybe one lent by my father at 17 a year later once I passed my test?
    Yes I worked for a while on the pumps at a garage in Chalkwell, I think it was more while I was in the 6th form at Sweyne, before I went to Birmingham when sponsored later by BL.
    Yes I heard about Graham Andrews. A tragedy that I gather his brother Barry has had some difficulties coming to terms with, but who now seems content working as a landscape artist.
    Anyway, I will certainly check your other ramblings here, to see if they jog further memories lost in the mist of time. Are you back in Essex these days or elsewhere? Great to hear from you.

    By Peter Kinnaird (23/10/2021)
  • Hi Pete! That’s a bit of a coincidence, as we have just returned from a short break in Weymouth, and I’ve just fired up the old laptop to discover your post.

    The very last time I saw you was when I pulled into a petrol station on the A13 near Chalkwell, and you topped up my old car with 2 star…probably 1970-71. I think you said you were working your way through uni at the time.

    I’m so glad you have had an interesting, rewarding and happy life.

    Yes, unfortunately Trev died at the age of 55. I believe Mick had a successful Freight Forwarding business based at Southend airport, and had at least one child (a son). I lost contact with him a couple of years after I moved out of Southend in 1984. (note: you probably heard Disraeli Gears on the ‘valve’ amplifier that I built for him in that summer of ’68 between leaving school and joining Marconi)

    I consider myself to have been very lucky in life. I found my 2nd wife on an African beach, I managed to ‘blag’ my way into a few interesting jobs in Engineering, and along the way I gained 2 step-sons and a son of my own. In a working capacity I’ve been as far east as Tokyo and west as far as Vancouver. Holiday-wise I’ve been as far north as Norway and as far south a Durban (…or maybe Albany in Oz, whichever is more southerly)

    I took voluntary redundancy in 2009 and life got even better…I don’t think I was ever really cut out for work! I should have been a wealthy Victorian inventor.

    I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2020 and started my adventure just over a year ago. After 6 sessions of chemo and 37 sessions of radiotherapy, I’m making great progress and steadily regaining my strength. What’s most important, is that I didn’t lose my magnificent hair! You probably won’t believe this, but I see the last 18 months as a positive experience.

    (For all ex-KJS gentlemen, please see The Prostate Project video: Get Tested

    I remember Matt Grocott, he was a great guy. I wasn’t so keen on his dad!
    I believe one of the Andrews twins (the funny one, was it Graham?) died in a stupid accident, while only in his 30s.

    You will find more of my ramblings on this site including: “Ah! School…the best days of my Life!”, The “Swinging 60s”, “King John School visit to Interlaken, Switzerland (1966)” & so on.

    By steve davis (22/10/2021)
  • Wow. Thank you Steve Davis for rekindling long lost memories and friends from 1968. I have vague recollections as a 16 year old setting out for Weymouth on a distinctly uncool 50cc Honda moped cum motorcycle – I think my motor trader Dad had fortuitously taken it in PX and it was more reliable than my Lambretta.
    So what has become of the Weymouth 4 in the intervening 50 years? Steve you say little of yourself here, and through other comments here I gather Trevor Harwood is sadly no longer with us.
    Mick Prewer, a kind big lugubrious presence as I recall. I spent many an hour listening the Disraeli Gears huddled around his record player.
    For my part, and entirely unexpectedly I miraculously got a bunch of CSE grade 1s at KJ and rather lost track of you guys when I went on to Sweyne to do A levels and got sucked in to quite a good social scene in Rayleigh. Then went on to get sponsored by British Leyland and did a Business degree and worked in the car industry for 40 years, becoming Marketing Director for BMW GB in the ’80s, MD of Alfa Romeo GB and then Daihatsu UK, before rejoining BMW as Regional Director for Latin America based in Santiago Chile in the ’90s and then for BMW MD of Land Rover UK finally leaving when BMW sold Rover and Land Rover, and joining Subaru UK as MD. Can’t complain. Life has been kind, and seen a lot of the world through business and now pleasure. Happily married to Jude my wife of 42 years, and two great kids in Alexandra 33 and James 31. Now long retired and tinkering with cars and old tractors, playing tennis several times a week, eating drinking socialising! Living in an old farmhouse in Worcestershire.
    It’s been great to surf stumble on to this site and find all these names associated with our teenage years.
    I can add only a few more names from my memory bank….a tall lanky Paul Taylor and a diminutive Paul Tuckey both alongside me, as I recall in Brian Morris production of “An Italian Straw Hat”. I was a great friend of a lad called Matthew Grocott who was the son of Mr Grocott maths teacher at KJ, and who went to school in Rayleigh, I wonder if anyone knows of him. I remember the Andrews twins, John Evans, Barry Mence, did we have a Subbuteo league? And my sister Linda who went to Southend high, stays in touch with Shelley Thomas.

    By Peter Kinnaird (22/10/2021)
  • Hi Josh,
    I don’t think I saw Paul Chidley again after about 1970/1, by which time we had all moved on from 2 wheels to 4.

    I heard through the grape-vine that Paul had driven his old Ford 100E Anglia/Prefect over one of the roundabouts on the A127. The Police were very interested in how this old 1950s car was traveling so fast, but this was due to the Ford Cortina 1600 cross-flow engine that Paul had installed under the bonnet (…maybe he hadn’t got around to upgrading the brakes!).

    As Paul was working for Ford, we joked about this, drawing a comparison with the Johnny Cash song “One Piece at a Time”.

    I remember Jasmin Ali (also ex-King John) mentioning Paul when we were both working at Marconi Basildon, but I can’t remember if they were, or had been, in a relationship.

    By steve davis (13/03/2021)
  • Hi Steve. Great little insight.

    I’m after some information about Paul Chidley if anyone has any! My father-in-law was good friends with him at Ford Dunton but moved out of the country and lost touch! Always brings him up in his stories!


    By Joshua James. (10/03/2021)
  • Well done Steve,
    Carina Cramp…..married Bob Beaurain, if I remember right.
    Fantastic memory you have.

    I knew Ron Gibons also, (Ian’s Father) as well as Ian. Ron was a very talented car painter, skill obviously ran in the family.
    Ian used to be known in the music trade as ‘Little Legs’ and was much revered by most who knew him, a VERY talented musician.

    All these times seem like yesterday to me.
    Obviously ‘rose tinted’ memories I have.
    Wouldn’t change them for anything.
    Ian Roberts

    By Ian Roberts (02/03/2021)
  • I remember that Benny Miller was in our art class and the lady art teacher thought he was marvellous, and thought the rest of us were rubbish.
    She once said “oooh, come and have a look at BENNY’S pot!”
    That was it, we kept repeating her phrase and fell about laughing every time.
    Benny was a great guy, but he got a lot of stick about that.

    Who was the geography teacher that had a cactus called Percy that he was very fond of? Was it Bradley? We used to talk about getting into his classroom at lunchtime to knife Percy…but I don’t think anyone ever did.

    By Steve Davis (24/01/2021)
  • Let me see how many names I can remember.
    Ann Harvey, Susan, Peter Horseman, Ian Gibbons, Angela Shortell, Carina Cramp, Peter Kinnaird, Trevor H. Nigel Sharp, Ian Robberts, Steve Davis, Glenn Newman, Benny Miller, Nigel Watson, Barry Langston, Teresa Keeves, Miss Hartley, Mr Hilton, Lisa Langston, Mr Neale, Mr Evans, Mr Evans (head), Mr Garton, Mr Beddows, Mr Wallace, Mr Buddy Edelen. I learnt to swim at the school pool. Ann was my girlfriend for 2 years. Thank you for the days. x

    By Steve Langston (18/01/2021)
  • Yes, Trev Harwood was a fit, strong young man.

    Unfortunately he had an accident while riding his Mercian racing bike which didn’t result in injury, but he seemed to be in a state of shock afterwards. A short time later he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

    He then gave up the idea of completing the extended course at KJS and left school at 15 to train as a cabinet maker.

    I think the diabetes really took its toll and I believe he died at the age of 55. Only the good die young!

    By steve davis (09/01/2021)
  • Glenn Newman was head boy in my time there with 7 x grade 1’s and a grade 2. Trevor Harwood was faster at sprinting than me. Well done. I remember Steve Davis and Peter and Ian taught me what he knew about playing the accordion. I still play the same accordion today. Bless you all. Ian Gibbons was a good friend as most of you were. Nigel Watson in the dance band and Mr Beddows was in my thoughts last night. Thank you Lord for all the love and smiles of friends in my life, and also the occasional hard moments. So many good memories all coming back. I could talk all night.

    By Stephen Langston (08/01/2021)

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