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This is the history page of the website which records the activities and history of the Kingston Day Commercial School 1910-1947, and extends into the period when the Commercial Department was part of Hinchley Wood School.

The Association's members have contributed their stories in the magazine formerly edited by John Crisp. The Committee members organising reunions are: Mrs. Janet Creighton-Kelly (Wright); Mrs. Janet Steeples (Haddrell)

Please note that the feature on the sad death of John Crisp follows at the end of this section


(Updated version by John Frost (1944-46) and with further research by Janet Creighton-Kelly (1948-50)photos courtesy Rosemary Searle/Cynthia Ayliffe

February 1st 1910 saw the opening of Kingston Day Commercial School, the first commercial school in England. It was a far sighted move, giving our 14 year olds a further two years of full time education. The School was founded as a result of the efforts of Alderman Gridley and Mr Roberts, who was then Principal of the Kingston Technical Institute. Mr J B Whitehead was the first headmaster and continued until December 1933.

At first the School was housed in the premises of the Technical College. Most of the classes were held in huts, even the staff had huts as their staff rooms! For twenty years the Day Commercial School had been promised the use of Tiffin Girls' School in St James's Road and in September 1937 they at last moved in. Mr C H Bray was the second headmaster from January 1934-1947.

Surrey had imaginatively met the needs of expanding enterprises in Edwardian London, and, for the next thirty seven years, KDCS was brilliantly successful in teaching thousands of Surrey students who could put their commercial skills to work with little further training.

In 1939, success brought recognition with two new schools under construction on the same site in Hinchley Wood. In January 1940 KDCS, under Mr Bray, moved into the north end.

(Extract from KDCS Chronicle Easter 1940)
"When moved into new premises at Hinchley Wood in January 1940, everyone was delighted with the new home, with its light and airy classrooms, its wonderful gymnasium with dressing rooms and shower baths, its dining hall and kitchens and its spacious playgrounds and playing fields.

A few months later Hinchley Wood Secondary School moved into the south end under their headmaster Mr Halifax. 2010 was the 70th anniversary of Hinchley Wood School."

Students well remember the success of the former staff, who also gained high distinctions. In the 1940s Edward Britton was the Cambridge educated maths master, writing his notes in impeccably formed Gregg shorthand. He was a vigorous cricketer, later a headmaster, and went to high office with teaching unions, advising government on educational reforms, was knighted, but never forgot his students. He recalled a wartime flying bomb exploding in the playing fields as he conducted classes in the air raid shelters. Several forms were evacuated to Leigh, Lancashire in 1944. They forged links with this warm hearted cotton town that took in hundreds of Surrey evacuees, sharing classrooms at the famous Leigh grammar school. (Sir Edward died in 2005, sadly missed).

The syllabus was ahead of its time, akin to a modern further education college. As well as English, French, Geography, Economic History, Maths, it offered shorthand in two forms, Gregg and Pitman, double entry bookkeeping, high speed typing, the practice of commerce, and rigorous PE conducted by Sergeant Willis, an ex army PTI who drove the pupils to excel in keeping fit and produced some Surrey junior athletes. Girls were separately trained by a devoted Miss Orr.

The Headmaster who put his stamp and character on the KDCS was Charles Bray. He walked the corridors, goatee beard, tweed suits, dog and always a friendly - or challenging - word for students. The school motto was 'Strenue' - Latin for 'With vigour'. There was no corporal punishment, members of the four school houses had to clock up house points for merit, or lose them for misbehaviour. Worse than the cane was being upbraided by Charles Bray at Assembly for losing points. The girls in this co-ed establishment proved tough competition for the boys, who found it chastening to be beaten at maths by a female, but they learned to accept women in business or industry on level terms: a social feature ahead of its time. Some masters in wartime were over age for military service, so students benefited from their experience in business - the tactics of the Stock Exchange, manoeuvres in company board rooms, ways to get ahead. Above all, in the war years, they drummed into students the need to cultivate the work ethic.

"You'll be competing with ex service people for jobs, you must never slack, always deliver what you are asked to do!"

Charles Bray and Edward Britton took the school into a higher academic echelon in 1944 with some students staying another year for the Oxford School Certificate exam, a forerunner of 'O' levels. The KDCS syllabus was up-rated ingeniously. Science was compulsory, yet physical science was not taught, so Economics became a modern substitute. Scores of students stayed on and their results were outstanding. Whether they stayed on the extra year or not, many succeeded in business, or diversified into other careers. There are former Service officers, a colonel among them, company directors, a former BBC tv producer and administrator; a university governor; churchmen and women, entertainers, journalists including a News of the World crime reporter. One became a leading labour politician in Australia and another, the ceremonial chief to the Senate of Canada. Some were honoured with MBE's and OBE's. There were cricketers, athletes and junior boxers, all contending in the county.

The school stimulated interest in the creative arts. Would be thespians were encouraged by the typing instructor Miss Knight, who, after school hours, conducted workshops in drama and dance.

The school's role changed in 1947, when both Mr Bray and Mr Halifax left and were replaced by one headmaster, Mr Harold Thorp. Hinchley Wood school took over the commercial courses until these were transferred back to Kingston Technical College, as part of Kingston College.

Kingston University brought Higher Education to the borough. The College was reformed in 1962 and is a large and diversified institution, History has come full circle! From 1995, a former student, John Crisp, edited and published the Associations quarterly magazine, in which ex students wrote accounts of life at school and of their varied careers, a fascinating contribution to Surrey's social archives, attracting articles and anecdotes from ex students across the world. John was a successful small business man whose lively wit in 'Johns Jottings' was as eagerly awaited as news from former students. In 2006 John was honoured with a special award. In 2007 members of the Committee he supported were also recognised with Awards from Harry Stanley, on behalf of the guests at the popular reunion lunches, attracting hundreds of former students back to the school from England, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The vigour and enthusiasm of the Association's members has not diminished, despite the inevitable losses through time. This is largely due to the work of the unflagging Committee, and the continuation of the Newsletter, now edited by Janet Creighton-Kelly. This attracts stories from members, as before. Janet is also including photographs, some from the Association's website,, which inevitably is seen by fewer members unless they use a pc.

The KDCSA Reunion Committee members are:
Janet Steeples (Haddrell), Janet Creighton-Kelly (Wright). Members will wish them continuing success!

More of Cynthia Ayliffe's photos from her diary follow: First, Rosemary and Cynthia at the Reunion Lunch.

Then staff - Dr Appelian, the French master (replaced by M. Welti); Mr Rose shown with Cynthia 1941

Then - sixth formers -

Brian Shepherd (from start 1948-end49) has sent a montage of teachers,extracted from form photos, with names supplied from him and classmates. The sizes differ because of limitations of the website process

The first strip below shows Messrs Jarret; Rose; Scrutton; Bamber; Godfrey

The next strip shows Ballantyne; Stagg; Williams; Evans

Next, Sir Edward Britton; Sammy Weaver (Dep. Head); Harold Thorpe Headmaster; Miss Adams; Miss Russell (an exchange teacher from New Jersey); Unnamed; Miss Knight; the unnamed person is believed to be the HM secretary

Then the Misses Williams; Felgate; Neale; Howell

Then Miss Mackintosh and Miss Cooper. And Brian taken at the time. Thanks for good forensic work, Brian!

Perhaps the best known ex KDCS student to the public was the outstanding actor Edward Woodward, who died on 16th November 2009. Harry Stanley (Curly) remembers sitting with him on the bus to school. "Ted once spent a journey reciting the film words of 'Mutiny on the Bounty' - including sea wash effects!" and already Edward was notable for his arresting performances in school entertainments. He went to RADA and speedily became established as a versatile actor. He was appointed OBE in 1978 and became a patron of the new Rose Theatre Kingston as a Campaign Vice President.

Mr H Thorpe, Headmaster - Sports Day 1949

Bob Coleman has sent in a picture of Mr H Thorpe, the Head Master, giving a speech prior to awarding the cups at the 1949 Sports Day. Additionally, just above his left shoulder as you look at the photo, wearing spectacles, is Mr Williams, who taught Book-keeping and Accounts, and just behind him with the striped tie is Mr Jarret, who taught Geography. The photo is the property of Pat Nichols (Slarke) who was in the 1948 intake. Pat has kindly given permission for it to be displayed here.

Sports Day 1949

John Crisp RIP - feature and tributes

It was with great sadness that we announced the death of John Crisp. His son David wrote that "John passed away peacefully on 16th August, Age 81, at Carshalton. He quotes from John's last entry in the July newsletter, which he completed and sent out when he was very ill:

"Little did I imagine when I started this journey, more than a decade ago that the road would be so long. It has been a lovely road. Many stops on the way. New friendships made and reminiscenses shared."

I have been extremely lucky in my life, enjoying everything I have done. And this includes journeying with the Association along this long road. Eventually we will reach journey's end".

John is survived by his three children, David, Stuart and Anne, their respective partners and six 'fantastic' grandchildren."

A memorable funeral and celebratory reception for John Crisp, RIP

The funeral service for John Crisp, in the crematorium chapel, was well attended by family members, friends, and ex students of KDCS. John's grandaughter, Amy, played "Greensleeves" (composed by Henry VIII) on her flute, and there was music from the shows, reflecting John's light hearted tastes. Members of the KDCSA committee, headed by Dennis Davey were there, and promised that the reunion planned for next April would go ahead, sadly without John's contribution, which had kept the Association informed and bonded in his brilliantly edited quarterly Bulletins.

The reception at John's home in Pine Walk, Carshalton brought together John's family, business and neighbourly friends, and veteran ex students from KDCS.

The catering was organised by Bobbie Stride - on her first solo assignment. David and family had written to everyone on John's mailing list - more than 300 - to break the sad news, giving details of the service and reception.

The family, including John's six grandchildren, gave their floral tributes (all other donations were sent to Great Ormond St Hospital for Children)

There were friends from Holland - business and personal - and many well wishers.

Photos and memorabilia of John's remarkable life were much admired

Former students included Bob Coleman, Marian Coleman (Smith), also Pat Nichols (formerly Slark), Dorothy Bobbins, and Kay Brown with Peggy Parlet and Alfred Solomon. John Frost(1944-46) took the photos for this website.


"It is said of most of us when we reach the end of life's journey that "he or she will be sorely missed by friends and relations."

John Bernard Crisp, who died on the 16th August, will not only be missed by friends and relations, he will also be missed by many people all over the world.

As initiating administrator and treasurer of the KDCS Association, he brought pleasure and renewed friendship to countless of ex-students both at home and across the seas from Aldershot to Adelaide, from Manchester to Montreal. The key to all this, as if that was not enough, was his single-handed editorship of a quarterly news-letter which he produced without fail to act as the "clearing house " of news and information for all members of the association.

After the absorption of the KDSC into the Hinchley Wood School there were many sporadic "local" re-unions of classes and years but following Val Read's initiative to contact her classmates for such an event in 1995 John opened up the whole facility for all members of all ages and years with a mammoth gathering in that year . Ever since there have been re-unions virtually every year bringing old friends together and cementing new ones with ex pupils travelling from all over the world.

John was born in Mitcham in 1928, and grew up, as many did, in difficult times. His academic prowess however gained him a place at the KDCS where he shone in all subjects and in sport. He must have been a diligent pupil with a flare for commerce, for most of his life was as a successful entrepeneur in the import and export business.

My dealings with John convinced me that he was a man of the highest integrity who would not countenance anything that was not ethical whether it be by an individual or a large company. Many were his stories of fearless encounters with such bodies and with the mindless bureaucracy of the public sevices and banks, most of which he won.

John never owned a television set and the stories relating to his battles with the licensing authorities over the years can only be described as legendary and it was not that long ago that they finally accepted that someone such as John could actually face life without T.V.

John was not an ordinary man. An indication of his character was the fact that he used to leave his front door open in the summer, when challenged he would tell me that " anyone can pop in and join me for a cup of tea ".

He was one of life's interesting,original,positive and creative people. Life will not be the same without him.

Dennis Davey


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