Sunday, 29 November 2009

Martin Jones writes about George Love

" I am attaching below a story on George Love's post-retirement guitar making (Dick Newman's article). Hope you may be able to use it.
My PGS friend Martin Everett, has passed me an article from 'The Bourne' (local history records) from Chris Richards on 'Tollers Lane in the 1940s'. Chris is an OB of Purley GS (1947 - 54), and the school gets a fair mention in the article. I want to respond to the Bourne Society, and I wonder whether you would be agreeable if I mention you and the fasetpatria website / blogspot (in a good light of course!).
Interesting collection of local photos and memories on the Francis Frith collection website, including one of the old conservatory at Purley GS in 1955 (I think you have previously included this on the website).
Best wishes.
George Love

Sometime in the 1970s or early 1980s, I was asked to pick up an item from a newly-opened music workshop in Rectory Lane, Woodmansterne. Much to my surprise, the door to the old stone-built bungalow half-way up the hill was opened by one George Love, resplendent in his post-retirement toupee. I think he must have owned the property and workshop since it was full of guitars in various stages of construction. George had either forgotten who I was or he was living in a state of post-retirement bliss, since he spent well over an hour chatting and showing me around, this despite the fact that I was useless at woodwork and he got totally frazzled whenever I asked for the left-handed equipment to be got out from the nether regions of Room 30. I don't recall seeing George at the school reunions in 1978 or 1988, so that was probably the first and last time I saw him post-1968.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Demolition Continues - photos from Graham Tong

tached hereto are some more photos of the demolition works taking place. I was hoping to get up on an interim basis to obtain shots that would still give points of reference to interested viewers, but such has been the speed of the work I have missed the opportunity.

Using the same sequence of the photos, the following may help viewers appreciate the scale of works-
1.       This is taken from the mezzanine floor that has now been installed in the main hall, and looks over what was the quad to the end of the block that housed rooms 19-22 (ground) and rooms 7-12 (first). The wing that housed rooms 13, 14 and the junior & senior physics labs can still be seen.
2.       Taken from the same location as (1) but to the area where the biology labs, dining hall used to stand.
3.       Again the same location, but looking straight out towards the first team rugby pitch.
4.       Taken from the stairs over the old cricket kit store room leading up to the physics labs. The view is over the old tennis court towards where the dining hall used to stand.
5.       A general view from Percy Gardners old room (14). The houses in the background are on the Coulsdon Rd. and may well include Chez LeHur!
6.       Pre fab classrooms now cover most of the first team rugby pitch.
7.       A view back over the protective fencing showing the physics wing.
8.       A panoramic view from the upper floor of the gym block back towards the school. The rounded tops of the distinctive windows in the school hall can be seen.
9.       The last three shots are close up images of the view in (8) above.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Memories from 1969-75

An anonymous, let's call him Steve, has written in "I found your site completely by accident on Sunday evening. It is now Wednesday, and in the intervening period, memories have surfaced from somewhere deep in my sub-conscious which have been so vivid in their return that I have felt compelled by "forces unknown"  to drop you a line. Apologies, but I have no photographic memories of my own. My writing is purely anecdotal, spattered with questions. The content is also my own thoughts, written after many years, so memory is also an issue. 

1. Does anyone re-call the mass fainting in assembly when Mr Akers recounted in gory detail the stabbing incident in a class one day ! Details of throbbing cartilage and ligament exposed by a wounding to a leg. I re-call it as being a muffled thud followed by another and another, with many others staggering to the end of their line and out. I stopped counting at 20 thuds and in the end there was a convoy of prefects ( who also keeled ) and teachers escorting or carrying the unconscious off somewhere. It began to resemble a battle scene ! This would have been around 1975. 

2. The rugby result : Dulwich 102 Purley 0 ! This was read out with the proviso that everybody at the "match" had lost count at the end and this was decided as the official score. Well.... somebody suppressed laughter behind me and this resulted in the giggles... which resulted in possibly the longest assembly ever ! Mr Akers took this result like a personal shot through the heart and proceeded to thunder along on subjects such as pride, standards, passion, socialism, moral vacuums etc. I think we went straight to break from there so call it 10.40am !

3. The day Mr Jarman took assembly and proceeded to act the part of a German Officer commanding people onto trains and off to concentration camps in WW2. There was a moral to the assembly but I can only re-call the impressive ice chill that this had on all present including teachers. 

4. The immortal line "Its not real snow" from Mr Akers, as the aftermath of a marauding horde (80% of the school) going on a snowball rampage against teachers and prefects during a particularly bleak winter storm.

5. I saw the film "The Dark Knight" last year and I am convinced Batman and Mr Akers had the same tailor. There was one particular "swoosh" in the film which made me regress to the age of 12 and the sight of Mr Akers filling a corridor width wise, cape flowing behind at a precise 30 degree angle (easily measured with my immense talent for maths !sic). Uncanny !

6. A word on Mr Akers : You had the material for a major sitcom but were too young to know it ! You always knew where you stood with him ( outside his office !). You knew when to stand as well, as he entered or left your classroom or assembly.

Question 1 - Is it true that in really appalling weather conditions, the SAS were allowed to go home earlier than we were ? Is it also true that we were only allowed to go home early when all public transport had been ordered off the roads 2 hours previously ?!

Question 2 - Did Mr Akers really drive a Fiat 126 or did he wear it ?! If you had phoned the science correspondent of a national daily and described the man and the car would the word "impossible" have been used in the reply ? Well he did ! and what is more he used to pick up school members and bring them in from bus stops in Purley and Croydon. Many of them still use the same Osteopath as me !

My view of Mr Akers is that he had begun to detect an altogether unpleasant change in society, the trigger being the Suez Crisis ! His nirvana was a small town on the North Island of New Zealand circa 1955.. his element. By the time I reached Purley in 69 his lone battle to re-establish Latin as the first language in Britain again had not been successful and he had therefore sought to create an "oasis" in a desert of perceived moral, social and cultural decline and corruption. If you were good at Rugby, Cricket and Latin (or all three !) then you were relatively unscathed from his outpourings (beware of becoming overconfident however). If not, first principals of survival had to kick in ! My idea, later developed by Stephen King and made into my favourite film "The Shawshank Redemption" was to lower ones head below the parapet, to prevent it being knocked off. To attempt to become "anonymous" and to press on with an outward expression of glazed cheeriness until your youthful exhuberance burst into a caneable offence. When the time was right you could walk free... escape was futile !

I shall call myself Andy Du Fresnes (from the film above) as I wish to remain anonymous at this stage ! I shall be naming names in other stories !!"

Friday, 13 November 2009

George Love

Dick Newman writes 
" When George retired from PGS, after years of producing Sports Concerts and complaining about boys picking their nose during his lessons, he became a very well known maker of spanish guitars. I used to play viola in the school orchestra and George asked me one day if he could try my instrument, after which he told me that he intended to spend his retirement making guitars. I believe that it was originally intended as a pastime but he actually became a very well known maker and some of his instruments were played by leading professional players. He is listed in several books about important professional makers, although all that I can honestly establish is that he was born in 1913 and sadly passed away in 1999. I wonder if anybody who visits the site would be able to furnish any more details about him? Did Peter Yorke keep in touch with him?
I remember one lesson that George took around the time that Cream split up. I think that George was invigilating rather than teaching and he came in to see that somebody had written "Goodbye Cream" on the blackboard. He confessed that he didn't know what it meant and then altered it to read "Goodbye - Scram ". He found that incredibly funny  - nobody else did, as I recall.
I was in Placehouse Lane last week and saw that the main old building is still standing but it was horribly sad to see it surrounded by scaffolding and temporary builders huts. End of an era - thank God for the site which keeps the memories very green.
Hope you are well and best wishes,
Richard (Dick) Newman 

Saturday, 7 November 2009


Graham Tong has sent along a bumper pack of photos from Placehouse Lane taken last week. 
"Attached hereto are a few photos of the old place, most showing the scale of works now being undertaken. I am sure you will recognise most of the vistas but, for the sake of good order, the following details should help the untrained eye....

1.       A view from the old junior biology lab up past the end of the kitchen block where the tuck shop used to be.
2.       The hatch to the shooting gallery – part of the block currently being demolished. (See post.)
3.       Taken from room No 9, overlooking the tennis court onto the first team rugby pitch – showing the construction village/temp classrooms.
4.       The view from the edge of the tennis court alongside the pavilion, looking back towards the new gym block.
5.       Again, from the tennis court looking up to the old cricket nets.
6.       The view of the contractor’s portacabins from the tennis courts – obscuring the gym!

Works are really in full swing and I have been trying to send a  few video clips which, even tho’ zipped, do not seem to be getting out. I will try and send them individually after this. If I do manage to get them through, they will be as follows –

Clips 1 & 3 will show the view from the top of the stairs leading up from alongside room 23 to the physics labs. They look over the tennis court towards the senior biology lag and dining block respectively. Clip 2 shows the view from the end of the physics labs and pans round from the gym, over the construction village/temporary classrooms towards the second team rugby pitch.

I hope these are of interest."
click the photo to see it full size.

Fas et Patria

Please explore the world of Purley Boys School 1914-1988. Feel free to leave your memories and comments on the photos.

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