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Forest Hill School
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threelinkdave


Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2016
Post: #41
03-10-2016 10:25 PM

My memories are more in line with earlier posts. I do wonder if the view you formed had anything to do with the house you were in. I was in Shackleton, house master Stanbury later Haswell when Stanbury became deputy head. My recollection was that Shakleton was fairly academic and there were some real thugs in Harvey and Drake

I was there from 61 to 68 and my recollection is that classes were streamed for most topics and that you could be in a different stream for maths and English. When I started there were 8 streams and I fell into 1.5 but 1.3 for maths.

Whilst I cant say they were the best days they weren't that bad

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longtimegone


Posts: 1
Joined: May 2015
Post: #42
09-10-2016 04:49 PM

Quote:
there were some real thugs in Harvey and Drake


No shortage of thugs in the school then.

You could well be correct, probably down to The bully Francis obcession with sport.

I remember once he was trying to heavy handedly co-erce me into 5 a side football, after hours at that, I have never forgotten his response to my assertion that I could not give a damn about football in any way.

His response, "What will you talk about with your friends when you leave school if you don't like football?" has in retrospect summed up his contempt for the less scholarly working class lads he was in charge of.

Lots more to my life after that, motorbikes, girls, books, films how to make a few bob, how to buy a house...girls.

I am pleased to say I have done better in life that he did, or he ever said I would.

I made quite a few bob indeed, and invested it well in land.

Sorry if that sound a bit "loads a money"

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MossMan29


Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2017
Post: #43
29-04-2017 09:02 PM

Read your words "the most miserable years of my young life, I was so glad to leave." with sadness. Rang so true. I was at Forest Hill from 1972-76 and can honestly say, I hated and dreaded every day. On the last day I walked out and never once looked back. Like you, I did just fine once away from the ghastly nightmare of a place.

Can fully understand your words about never using anything you learnt there "except never trust authority".

I was in Browning B4, by the way. Remember the names Walsh, Agnew, BIF, Stanbury, and more.

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MossMan29


Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2017
Post: #44
22-05-2017 06:35 PM

I guess there were some good teachers at the school. Law of averages means that there must have been. Sadly, the whole structure and organisation was horribly wrong in my opinion though. Even teachers that I got on with, I ended up distrusting in the end. I did well in the first couple of years or so (still hated it but did reasonably well) and was liked by the teachers. Things went very much downhill after that.

Does anyone remember Tony Wiltshire and David Flatt (Music teachers), Mr. Dee (English), Richard Price ("Dickie") who taught French? And the rather unusual character Roland Polastro?

I remember a few that I particularly disliked. Johansson (RE) and Innes (woodwork) and, I think, the whole of the P.E. department without exception.

Like I say, there must have been some good teachers in there somewhere.

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Zandonai


Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2017
Post: #45
21-08-2017 10:40 AM

I watched The History Boys on TV last evening, and found myself musing about my time at Forest Hill School. I was born in 1945, so joined the school in its first year. I left in 1959, I think.

I’m afraid my memories of FHS are decidedly mixed. On the positive side I remember school plays: Julius Cesar, and Henry lV Part one; school holidays to Sayers Croft, Skokholm, Ve-Ve in Switzerland, sailing the Norfolk Broads and the Bristol Avon. I remember, too, a boy playing Beethoven on a piano in the practice rooms under the state – which stopped me in my aimless tracks then; and brings a tear to my eyes now as I hear that tune in my head. Those are memories for which I must be grateful.

But if there is one abiding and overwhelming impression those years imposed upon me, it is fear. I was frightened by many of the masters; I was frightened at being caned for things I did, and didn’t do; and I was frightened by the many bullies, who reined unchallenged. When I left the school it was because it allowed me to wake in the morning without fear. I realise all of that is as much about me as it is about the school, but boys such as me were as much in need as those who were detached in their world of academic brilliance, and those who were practicing to become full time professional thugs. I could have been optimized if the teachers (and indeed my parents) had spotted me, and seen something worthwhile. Neither did. Thank God, late in the day I blagged and educated myself beyond the clutches of State education in ‘sarf Lunden, ‘ and visit those memories only as spurs to drive my family as far from its limitations as I possibly can (and you would not believe how far that has taken us all). That understanding meant I did not make the same mistake with my own children, who were all educated privately, with the constant monitoring and customized adjustments that investment provides. That financial investment is not possible for most people, but investment in one’s offspring - in time, and ambition, is free to all.

Before the school was rebuilt and re-designated, I thought I might offer to give a talk about ambitions, and how to realise them. That extraordinary and wonderful teacher, Mr Stanbury, remembered me after forty years, and would have liked the idea. It’s too late now, I fear; and I would be considered far too politically incorrect in today’s left-wing education soup.

Hummmm – this has been quite cathartic, for me.

I’d add a few names, in the hope of jogging a memory or two.

Headmaster – Mr Howard
Deputy head – Mr Hooton (was it?) (who I best remember for giving six ferocious slashes of the cane to six boys who had messed about in a school play evening. Three of them had been sitting in front of me in the audience, and had done nothing wrong.)

Browning B3 tutor group – Tutor master Mr Large
Browning B3 tutor group (later) Mr Clarke (young but quite wearied. A decent chap)
Browning housemaster Mr Thresher (A kind and gentle man)
Mr Stanbury biology – the best of the best
Mr Boon arrived a year or two later (had a posh car)
Ashby
Flemming - horrible bullying man
Harveson - music. (Had BIG hair). His deputy played the trombone
Harris - art (stole my stuffed owl)

Bennett was the head boy – followed later by Colin Ancliffe

Boys I remember:

Hooten
Alan Green
David Stein
Sean Scully
Adrian Mendoza, who once had a tremendous fight with Scully – a points draw.
John Griffin
Richard Peyman
Collins

Isn’t it interesting that there are so few following Forest Hill School, despite tens-of-thousands having passed through it.

Enough!

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Peter Skipp


Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 2017
Post: #46
05-11-2017 09:11 AM

Was at Forest Hill School between January 1972 (I joined in Year 4, arriving from Bulgaria with no English) and 1975 school year (when I left the Upper Sixth). My house was Browning; cannot remember the Tutor Group, though a Mr Newberry (PE teacher) rings a vague bell.

Head was a Mr Philips (Phillips?), a trad aloof teacher with a toga and mortar board. Deputy was renowned Darwinian scholar David Stanbury, very lively and friendly. He was consultant to a late 70s BBC series on Darwin’s journey with The Beagle. After his mid-1990s death, his heirs bequeathed a large collection of papers to Christ’s College, Cambridge. A related bright spark was a Mr (hmm-m… “N” rings a bell…), an early-30s chap who taught Biology and researched the biology of pain and the fruit fly Drosophila.

English masters were Mr Dawes and Wally Knight, both nearing retirement and both thoroughly excellent. There was also a much younger master, Mr Conti.

History was taught by 30-ish Welshman Jones plus a picaresque 35-ish years old geezer, Alec Richardson. Alec was a Trotskyist and regularly came to work nursing picket line injuries. Two national broadsheets ran obituaries on his early death some years ago. A very right-wing guy called Noble (ahem… possibly) headed the department.

Maths was a shambles. A new building was inaugurated for the subject in 1973 but there was a shortage of teachers. Lacklustre staffers Gubby and Nagy found an Indian teacher called Mr Patel (incredibly fond of cricket) but too late to make any difference to our dismal O-Level showing.

The Sidcup Bypass runs mentioned by others above were over by my time. I recall very comfortable Clarkes of Penge (latterly “of London”) coaches to the sailing boat centre on Raven’s Ait or Crystal Palace facilities.

Odd characters included Francis, known as “Biff” because of his habit of initialling homework with his initials BIF. Biff’s assistant (?) as head of Browning House (?) was a short red headed chap (Colins?) who was forever bemoaning democracy and praising Franco. There was a very aristocratic Russian émigré lady part-timer called Mrs Behr who taught some RE and some Russian to them as wanted it. I also remember the short and lively Colin Finbow who later scored a BBC documentary and some short art movies. Drama was headed by a discretely camp, tall, dignified guy whose name escapes me. His colleague was a flamboyantly dressed tiny lady of a certain age who enjoyed intellectual after-hours discussions, possibly in a local pub. Librarian up in “the UFO” was a Miss Cadell (sp.?).

Fellow students included Simon Steyne, a firebrand with the Schools’ Action Union and later the NUSS, supporter of the numerous teacher strikes of the early 70s. He co-organised the 12 May 1972 school students’ strike directed against school uniforms and much else. Evgeny Daynov, a fellow Bulgar from the year under mine, went on to rank top in the 1979 Tripos at Oxford and is today a political commentator in Bulgaria (where both he and I returned to live). Others I recall were Ralph Meopham, Keith Madden (larger than life, fun, good natured), Ian Goode (a great Black guy whose dad was a School Governor), Brian Weston (amazing homemade cartoon movies), Gerry Waterman (choice Bonfire nights), Tony Price, Paul Scarrott, Bob Hewer (unusually well versed in Northern Irish politics)…

The Sixth Form Forum was a weekly fixture. I recall talks by local MP Chris Price, Spanish Civil War veteran Peter Kerrigan and (then) Goodies’ star Bill Oddie. The Forum was held at Sydenham Girls’ School on alternate weeks.

Also recall the annual Open Evenings to recruit students (I was regularly asked to skin and dissect frogs) and the Sports Days held in the dying days of Summer Term.

The School was still a leader among comprehensives. The shine had begun to wear off and bullying was rife (mainly the “gis tuppence” variety), but the BBC still regularly scouted the School for quiz show and discussion programme participants.

This post was last modified: 05-11-2017 09:19 AM by Peter Skipp.

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Zandonai


Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2017
Post: #47
05-11-2017 09:35 AM

Peter:

Beautifully written. You're half a generation being me, of course. It's clear you recognised and grasped the opportunities available at the school. I wish I'd done the same.

Bulgaria has regained a very special son.

Z.

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Peter Skipp


Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 2017
Post: #48
05-11-2017 10:16 AM

Well, kind of you to say so, Zandonai! Not sure I could genuinely be accused of grasping too many opportunities, but enjoy the School I certainly did!

Talking of opportunities, I recall the great 1970s battle between CSEs and GCE O-Levels, with many teachers supporting CSEs and unwilling to even hear of anything as "elitist" as O-Levels. Even if you were in an upper stream, there would often be propaganda by teachers to do a CSE and cock a snook at the establishment. The fallacy that a top grade at CSE was equal to an O-Level pass was widely mooted (and totally false, as I was to find out to my cost). Having said that, once the School sensed Oxbridge material, they spared no effort honing it, as I witnessed with my compatriot Daynov.

Among the assorted characters, forgot to mention the lovely Cockney couple running the Tuck Shop located at the back of the gyms, on the way to the outdoor swimming pool. Oh, and the pool itself: it was a point of huge pride for the School that students had built it themselves from scratch sometime in the late 1960s. Buut... the pool was shaded by huge mature trees, meaning its water was always Arctic cold and often full of dead leaves and tree bark, not to mention assorted raucous amphibians. Needless to say, it saw little use.

Also forgot the nice ginger-bearded Chemistry master who doubled as RE teacher, and an amazingly intelligent, tall Physics master with an upper class accent and manner, who managed to demystify hugely difficult concepts. I regret I have forgotten both their names...

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Dogman


Posts: 3
Joined: Oct 2011
Post: #49
01-06-2018 02:30 AM

Tom Toomey now plays for the Zombies, a well known 60's band. When not touring, he resides in Somerset as a music teacher.

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peteboh


Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2018
Post: #50
20-01-2019 10:39 AM

I was there from 1963 to 1969. Harvey house with Mr (BIF) Francis as housemaster then Mr (Daddy) Dawes

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Steve1950


Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2019
Post: #51
20-09-2019 12:15 AM

Yes I was there from 1961 - 1966. I was in Reynolds house. When I joined Mr Howard was Headmaster then he left and Mr Potter became HM. My tutor group was R6 and to start with we had Mr Dalton as tutor way up in the geography rooms I think room 208.

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BrownBaz


Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2021
Post: #52
10-01-2021 09:28 PM

This thread has gone quiet but I'll have to have to have my two penn'orth (oh dear, that dates me).

I am Barry Brown; attended the school 1967 to 1973. I am still in touch with Phil Szlapak, Trevor Biggs, Derek Boyd, Jim Lownie, Bob Beddison and Ewan Davis.

Do you remember history teacher Howard Norton from about 1970? He went to another school and then took the cloth. I heard him on Radio 4 a few years ago with his male partner talking about the trouble they had had with the Church of England.

We had great fun and learning on the various Sunday history trips that Howard arranged.

Phil, Trevor, Derek and I went to seem them in Winchelsea a couple of years ago. Derek was eager to return a book he had borrowed from Howard - only about 50 years late. It was a bound collection of Punch, so the book was already antique when he borrowed it.

Anyone know what happened to Michael Rush and Peter Turner? I was at primary school with them but they completely dropped off the radar.

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Paul Williamson


Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2021
Post: #53
24-02-2021 08:58 PM

Hi, I'm a bit late to the party, but I also remember Fairlawn and Miss Skipper and Mr Thompson. I "think" I was the director on Mutiny on the County, and I also went back to Mr Thompson's home. If I remember correctly his railway went around their bedroom at headboard height, and he had a model suspension bridge which went across the door! Thought nothing of going into his bedroom in those innocent days!
I met Barry Edmands on my first day there and we're still good mates. I also remember John Glover, and we all went to Forest Hill together.
I was in Newton 3, with Steve Mansell and Howard Church. Can't remember who else was in my tutor group, possible Eddy Bonzu(?)
I remember: Bill Rudman, The Korn twins, Dave Gibson, Barry Mayhew, Danny Wagner, Geoff Newton(?), for now.
Someone mentioned being in love with the French teacher. I think she rented a room from Danny Wagner's parents - and yep, I always wished I wasn't doing German - Mind you I fancied Frau Pukwana(?) as well. In fact that was why I did pottery. My hormones must have been going ballistic!
Do you remember those old sports sheds behind the metalwork shop? We found old fencing helmets - which seems mighty strange in a purpose built comp!
I also hates cross country at Sidcup. Who was the teacher with the Hillman Imp California? but I remember running around at Crystal Palace - must have been Sports Day. What I really liked and was pretty good at was cycling at Herne Hill. I joined VCL which was run by Bill Dodds and Sean Purcell and trained in a school gym in Peckham.
I'm sure you'll remind me of a few more things. It'd be nice to know if anyone remembers me, Paul Williamson or Barry Edmands (we've been joined at the hip since 4!

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Micky


Posts: 1
Joined: May 2021
Post: #54
25-05-2021 08:27 PM

Hi all. Briefly, I'm very late! I was House Captain of Browning House in 1967/68 and went to Fairlawn in 1958, having been to St Franvesca Cabrini (Fairlawn wasn't built then). I have lots of stories and memories, some good and bad. So if there's anyone out there fancy a chat.....

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