Victoria School

I attended Victoria Secondary Modern Boys School from 1957 – 1961, although in this period of my life I was known as David Jones, I didn’t know that actually my name was David Taylor-Jones, my mother having changed my name by deedpole for her special reasons without me knowing it!
So if any of my old class mates read this I hope this is helpful. I now live in France, near Nice and get home occasionally to visit the town in which I grew up. This story is from a collection that I have made about my early life called “Life in the Suburbs”.

Victoria Secondary Modern Prize Giving Ceremony 1962 (5 Upper GCE Class of 1961) Back row, from left to right: J. McLean, D. Broom, P. Hancock, P. Kingsley, D. Taylor-Jones, C. Heathcote, R. Knight Front row, from left to right: R. Gilmour, N. Timms, D. Batchelor, J. Cockram J.P. (Guest Speaker), F. Amor.

Victoria Secondary Modern Prize Giving Ceremony 1962 (5 Upper GCE Class of 1961)
Back row, from left to right: J. McLean, D. Broom, P. Hancock, P. Kingsley, D. Taylor-Jones, C. Heathcote, R. Knight
Front row, from left to right: R. Gilmour, N. Timms, D. Batchelor, J. Cockram J.P. (Guest Speaker), F. Amor.


This page was added on 20/06/2015.

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  • Here is a poem wrote about Victoria.

    Victoria School Memories
    by Dave Taylor-Jones

    On a dull day in September, in nineteen fifty-six,
    On our first day of what we later, came to know as ‘Vics’,
    Lined up in the school yard, were hundreds of new boys,
    All in short grey trousers, you should’ve heard the noise.

    Mr. Hard, the Deputy Head, assigned us to our class,
    It was great to see old friends, then into school we passed,
    With boys from all of Watford’s schools, like Beecham Grove and Chater,
    Watford Fields and Rickmansworth, the others I’d learn later.

    We settled in and settled down, the timetable made it plain,
    Some days we’d be at the Wing, where it always seemed to rain,
    But for woodwork and games periods, we’d attend Victoria School,
    Make sure that you were there by nine, or detention was the rule.

    We’d long days filled with lessons, which couldn’t be ignored,
    Oh yes, you know as I do, that we were often bored.
    The teachers I remember best, were Fenton, Spouge and Spours,
    But also, Church and Chalmers, Nigel Sagar got applause

    For playing the piano, but if we tasted his recorders,
    We just spat out disinfectant, and other known disorders.
    So, for all the Old Boys here tonight, I want to let you know,
    Of what is still lodged in my head, from sixty years ago.

    Metalwork was a bit risky, but it also could be fun,
    Who could forget when Lombardi, made a poker for his mum?
    To make it bright and shiny, he used the buffing wheel
    But it got so hot from friction, heating up the steel,

    Peter needed some protection, his hand was being burned,
    So, he held it with his overall, which wasn’t what we’d learned.
    Wait, hold on just a minute, his overall’s strap got caught
    Pulling him into the buffing machine, he didn’t give a second thought,

    Rather than get a buffing too, Pete pressed the red STOP button
    Just in time the motor stopped, ‘fore he was dead as mutton.
    Mr. Pereira, horrified, cut him loose, and clipped his ear,
    Then gave us all a lecture, “Now boys, just listen here…”

    Do I really need to tell you, who invented a new plague?
    On a school trip long ago, just for now I’ll keep it vague.
    The watermill at Winchester, had become a YHA.
    Remember when you had a wash, and your bowl was swept away,

    And disappeared in the mill race, to be fished out way downstream,
    For us fifteen-year old Watford lads, we found it such a scream.
    Dave Pomfret seemed to have the knack, of making us all laugh,
    Just when we’d all been told off, by the teaching staff.

    Late in bed, we couldn’t sleep, when he made up the Black Rats
    With all of us in stitches, their return was something that’s
    History rewritten, it made our stifled laughter numbing,
    You’d have creased up too to hear, “The Ratties are a coming!”

    Cliff Langley will surely remember, the woodwork shop nightmare
    Where half the class had to study, without a teacher being there.
    Later back in our classroom, they were summoned to return
    To the woodwork shop, for something awful had been learned.

    A new teacher had spent hours, sculpting an exquisite wooden bust,
    Now he was almost spitting blood, and asked, “Who’s been so unjust?”
    With a flourish he unveiled his sculpture, a big nail planted in its head,
    Cliff was unable to contain a snigger, which made that man see red.

    He reached for a huge wooden mallet and chased Cliff round the shop
    Everyone ran for the door to escape, that man had lost his top.
    The alarm was raised and teachers came, to subdue him just in time
    But we never ever got to know, who was guilty of this crime.

    And who else should we remember? Heathcote deserves a mention,
    Was he just an early rebel, or simply didn’t pay attention?
    He was always being punished, but he didn’t seem to care,
    If he got the cane or slipper, Colin didn’t turn a hair.

    Bernard Church would catch him, slopping paint on other’s clothes,
    Produce his sandal, size thirteen, and administer those blows.
    But Colin never let him see, the pain that he would feel,
    Never cried or showed if he was hurt, did he have a bum of steel?

    At Christmas ‘twas the season, when Vic’s performed their plays,
    Then Peter Hancock trod the boards, as Henry the 4th and prayed,
    He’d manage to remember his lines, but when Henry was to die,
    The words kept disappearing, it almost made him cry.

    On the big night Peter triumphed, so what if he forgot his lines,
    For hidden in the curtains, Jones prompted from behind.
    Yet poor King Henry took so very long, to expire without text
    He couldn’t stop his groaning, ‘cos he’d forgotten what came next!

    When we were in Upper Five, table tennis was the game,
    Dave Elson with his bat in hand, was anything but tame,
    An ace at ‘Round the Table’, as soon as he’d hit the ball
    He’d tear around the room, praying hard he wouldn’t fall.

    Dave set his sights on fast things and motorbikes became his thrill.
    He dreamed of owning a BSA or a Triumph Bonneville.
    And sometime later he got one – his kind mum helped him pay,
    But riding pillion from the hairdressers, she lost her perm in Harrow Way.

    So, we finished school in the Annex, our classroom on the top floor
    With Lombardi in charge of biscuit sales, who could really want for more?
    And me and Elson used to hide, gambling our pennies away
    Playing ‘Banker’ by the boiler room, it’s like a SHED I heard him say.

    I rarely saw Martin Malvisi, when we were both at Vics,
    But being in the same Scout troop, here we got up to some tricks.
    Martin had the longest shorts, which hid his knobbly knees
    But in the winter he was warm, and the rest of us would freeze.

    Malvisi became a sort of legend, when on a school trip down to Spain
    They stopped the night in Paris, and then nearly missed their train.
    In Gard du Nord he went missing, when the train was under flags
    Found at the end of the platform, he was buying twenty fags!

    Six years later, my brother Victor, was to start at our old school
    But he wasn’t there for very long, hadn’t time to learn the rules
    When Victoria moved to a brand-new building, built in Tolpits Lane
    Modern facilities, a swimming pool, everything was changed.

    Except he’d the same old teachers, we’d known in our time there,
    He’s a bridge between the old and new, allowing him to share
    How this new school felt to him, being set in a different time,
    Many things had been improved, – he said the lunches were sublime.

    And what became of us, after quitting those red brick walls?
    We’d spent thousands of hours in them, trying to learn it all.
    They say that some men can be judged, on how they’ve lived their lives
    By taking a close look, at who they have chosen for their wives.

    In this respect, I have to say, that Vics has done us grand.
    I’m sure our education there, has helped us all to land,
    The girls that we would find to love: Gina, Liz, Sue, and Sue
    Without forgetting Jenny and Julie, Bonny and also Pru.

    Weren’t we lucky?

    Saint Blaise, April 2019

    By Dave Taylor-Jones (06/07/2022)
  • Opened this page sheerly by chance and found that I was looking at a very young “edition” of myself! Good to see so many old friends and colleagues again and to learn of their life experiences. I well recall every one of you, however, I think that the Guest Speaker was Lord Lindgren, who I had the pleasure of meeting (somewhat nervously!).
    By a strange coincidence I recently came across my old school reports from that era – OK, I know that it’s an odd thing to keep. However, it did serve to remind me of the teachers I’d experienced / worked with during my five years at “Vics”.
    I’m still in touch with my oldest friend from primary school, who later went to the Victoria Girls’ School. She was Hazel Skingsley then but later married Keith Durant (who was in the year above us).
    I met up with Nigel Timms whilst we were both working at the Open University (where I was Contracts Manager for 17 years). An interesting but challenging job as we were contracting in every continent, apart from Antarctica – mainly trading in intellectual property.
    My school reports served to remind me how much I hated PE at school. Obviously didn’t get presented with the best fit so far as sports were concerned; as I subsequently took to badminton like a “duck to water”. I coached junior county squads for 25 years before moving into more administrative roles, later becoming Chairman of Badminton England for 9.1/4 years.
    Good to catch up with you guys after a gap of a mere 60+ years!

    By Derek Batchelor (27/03/2022)
  • Hello just to inform anyone on here who remembers Mr Maurice Knights who taught at the school in the early 60’s. He has sadly just passed away at the age of 88.

    By Kevin Phillips (31/08/2021)
  • I was at Vic’s from 1958 – 1962. I was a “Caley kid” as we were known. All we did in PE was a boring game called skittle ball. Tombo said that as I showed no interest then I could just run around the yard. This suited me fine as I loved running and cross country. He gave me a D minus for pe ability and effort. After leaving I went on to gain teachers qualification and became head of PE in a Hertfordshire school !!
    I have a photo of class £B at the tower of London in about 1959. If somebody can tell me how to send it I will.

    I remember the YHA group and a number of great trips with Mr Harris, Mr Galligher and Mr Williams.

    Now living on a farm in North Wales. I go to visit my grandchildren in Watford once a week and walk around old Watford and Cassiobury park. Great memories

    By Stuart Robertson (04/07/2019)
  • I was at Vic’s from 1958 – 1962. I remember most of the teachers as great characters and I had a lot of respect for them. I have a great form photo of form 3B on a visit to the Tower of London in about 1960. I was a Caley Kid as we used to be known as. For PE all we used to do was play “skittle ball” in the playground, which I hated. Mr Tomlinson told me that I was a lazy “good for nothing” and to run around the playground for the rest of the next Two terms which suited me as I liked running.
    Later in life I qualified as a teacher and became head of PE in a Hertfordshire school so all that running did some good !!

    If I can find out how to do it, I will post the old class photo.

    By Stuart Robertson (01/07/2019)
  • You all make me feel so old !!1
    I was at Victoria School from Sep 1937 to December 1939 when I was taken out to Australia!1
    First year= Mr Hard and the second we had Mr Lanham!
    I attended quite a few schools out there during the next 18 months — But none equalled the Watford School !
    I couldn’t wait to leave at 14 ???

    Eddie Aldridge

    By edwin aldridge (07/09/2018)
  • You all make me feel so old !!1
    I was at Victoria School from Sep 1937 to December 1939 when I was taken out to Australia!1
    First year= Mr Hard and the second we had Mr Lanham!
    I attended quite a few schools out there during the next 18 months — But none equalled the Watford School !
    I couldn’t wait to leave at 14 ???

    Eddie Aldridge

    By edwin aldridge (07/09/2018)
  • Since this story’s publication I have been contacted by old class mates who had read my Victoria memories, and two imortant things have happened.
    First, Peter Lombardi contacted me and together we have put together a Reunion of some of our class mates. We meet every year for a night out and to remember the time we spent growing up together in Watford. Presently we are Dave Taylor-Jones, Peter Lombardi, Dave Elson, Peter Hancock, Colin Heathcote, Martin Malvisi and David Pomfret.
    And secondly, in this story of Victoria I made the mistake of thinking that none of our teachers would still be alive. But we have been put in contact, by the Watford Museum, with Mr. Michael Crump, who was a young teacher when he joined Victoria in 1957. It was his first teaching post. He was often responsible for organising our sports afternoons. One time, he discovered that someone was stealing personal possessions from the changing-rooms in Cassiobury Park, while we were absent on the pitches. Crump decided to catch the thief and hid himself in the changing rooms after we had left to play football. He caught the thief red-handed and gave chase when he fled. The man didn’t realise that Michael Crump was very fit, a fast sprinter and only twenty-two years old. He was quickly overtaken and apprehended. There were no more thefts after that. In 2017, I had the pleasure of traveling with Peter Lombardi to meet him in Edindburgh. We took him out to dinner and he told us some wonderful tales of Victoria, this time from a teacher’s perspective. He was responsible for much of the Drama presentations at the school and also organised and led many trips to France and Spain.

    And all of this because the Watford Musem was kind enough to put my story on its website. So thank you very much, Watford Museum.

    Dave Taylor-Jones

    By Dave Taylor-Jones (11/08/2018)
  • Your account of life at Victoria school was so accurate. I attended Victoria from 1954 – 1958. You brought back lots of memories including the trip to France with Church and Spouge. You refer to Tombo he was a real mummies boy, he was still living with his mother when teaching at Victoria. One day I bumbed into him on the way to Watford Hospital where I was receiving physio because I had been stabbed at school which cut tendons, nerves and arteries. His comment was quit shirking and get to school. As you say it was a tough school but I did ok. I’ve lived in Canada since 1963 before retiring I owned my own company life has been good to me. Thanks for the memories.
    Robert Reece

    By Robert Reece (04/06/2018)
  • As an ex Caledonian lad I would correct you on the paragraph about us. We were not all orphans or even poor. The majority had parents, usually a single mother or father. Obviously there was a scottish connection through the forces or a relative in the forces. Our kilts were only worn at ‘home’ so to speak and we only got into fights when picked on. Which was often. A lot of our education was only in between school times as we didn’t get involved in outside activities. I went there from 58-62.
    All the rest of your recollections ring so true, Cassiobury cross country runs, hell in the snow.
    Thanks for the memories.

    By E Church (02/03/2018)
  • Does anyone remember a pupil known as Sharkie? He was friends with my Dad in the mid 1950s at Victoria Boys’.

    I’ve always wondered what happened to him, as they used to tease the local bullies by climbing a massive wall and taunting them from the top!

    Leave a comment or contact the site administrator if you want to be in touch directly with me.


    By Jessica Leschnikoff (11/01/2018)
  • David Taylor – Jones

    Well done – you bring back great memories .

    Mr Pereira – the poker – ha ha – he and Jack taught me well – am Chairman and Co Owner of 3 large Engineering Companies

    Well done Dave

    By PETER ( BOMBER ) LOMBARDI (05/05/2016)
  • I really enjoy reading Dave’s stories as they are very precise and make you feel as if you are back again in our youth.
    Dave is my brother-in-law, married to my sister Bonny.
    My younger brother Pete went to the same school as myself but on the other side of the tracks to where Dave lived and grew up. He was at Victoria and my brother and I were at Hampden on Little Oxhey Lane. Much could be written in an identical mode as to Dave’s adventures including the dread of starting at Hampden at the age of eleven years old. Except for the different names of the teachers and the names of close friends his whole story line mimics my own recollections.
    I am so glad he took the time to write his stories of growing up and for the Watford Museum to appreciate the time and effort he has spent recounting times spent in Watford back in the fifties and sixties.
    Well done Dave
    Paul Kelly now living in St. John’s, Newfoundland

    By Paul Kelly (12/07/2015)

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