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Letters to Old Boys and Staff

A selection of letters written by NRB

To Clive Perry in South America

Dated 4th January 1974

The Airmail Letter to Clive

My dear Clive,
Thank you very much for your card which has arrived safely. How scattered our Old Boys are. A few weeks ago I met the sister of Nigel Bingham & asked to be remembered to him. Result? A card from Ross Territory on the edge of the Antarctic. He is with a New Zealand Exploration Expedition there and was hoping to fly over the South Pole.

I hope you had a happy Christmas, though appear to me to be unlikely to raise traditional Christmas associations & memories. I think most people at home tried to celebrate in the traditional manner & were content to push behind them the indusrtial troubles which were bound to rush upon us as soon as Christmas was over.

It is a sad world really. We now read of theatened strikes by school children. I have my own ideas of how to deal with such young people !!!

I am not quite clear on what you are actually doing. Your present habitat does not suggest school textbooks. Anyway I hope it is lucrative & that you are able to deposit and store a goodly sum ready for use if needed.

One or two Old Boys have hit the headlines recently. Ken Perkins, a brigadier, has commanded a brigade in Ulster, & has gone to the War Office as Director of Defence Operations. Geoff Ford is an Air Vice Marshall. Richard Gardner is a director of Joseph Lucas, the big electrical firm & Derek Shrubb of Shell.

I also saw Brooker a few days ago. He is a fellow of Wadham & Stephen Fleet has left FitzWilliam to become Tutorial Fellow &Domestic Bursar at Downing College, Cambridge. Soon I shall begin to wonder how long some of these chaps will admit knowing me.

You may know that Harry Hoggins died. His widow has married Dick Page, who lost his wife. Page has gone back to Norfolk. He could not stick Lewes Comprehensive School any longer. Look after yourself.

Happy memories


From NRB to Norman Osborn who was at LSE London studying Law.

Osborn LetterNorman Osborn (1951)

From NRB to Bill Arnold

Thanking Bill for the work he was undertaking in making a Roll of Honour board with the names of the
Old Lewesians lost in the war. This board was later erected on the wall in the school hall.

Arnold Letter

A Letter from Neville Bradshaw to Bill Euston

31st December 1973

From Jenny Lewis

My dear Bill,
You were very kind to write to me as you did. I made no effort to reply at once because you intimated that you were going away.

I hope you have had a happy Christmas. We have had Bridget and her husband from St. Leonard’s with their son Jonathan aged seven, and Susan, all last week. Susan is still here. She departs tomorrow.

I think there was at our school at Lewes an atmosphere, an ethos, a “climate” which does not exist everywhere. In a recent letter from Geoff Ford, notifying me that he had been promoted to Air Vice Marshall, he mentioned his debt to the school, not merely in his academic achievements, but in its atmosphere “which had shaped his personality.”

However it requires more than one man - the head - to achieve this, and I was fortunate in the men who helped me from the beginning. They created the character of the common room and later arrivals absorbed much of what they found there. How strong was the realisation of the bond which bound members together is, I think, illustrated by the following incident.

Ridley and Dolden left Lewes the same year, 1939, I think. Ridley went to Cambridge, Dolden to K.E.S. Birmingham.

It was the spring of 1945. We were making our final major attack across the Rhine. Both Ridley and Dolden, unknown to each other, were in the 36 “Airborne” Division and had been “dropped” East of the River. Dolden got a smack on the head and was sitting on the ground in a dazed condition. Through the smoke and dust he saw a figure approaching. At once he recognised the ungainly walk. “My God, Ridley,” he exclaimed, “dodging gym again!” So, instinctively, the associations recalled were those connected with the school.

The greatest tragedy of the Comprehensive system is the size of the school and the absence of loyalties to the school and to each other. Ah well. I suppose we are old renegades but without boasting I should be willing to claim that no school has a better record than ours in the achievements of its old pupils. Only yesterday Geoffrey Brooker, now a don at Oxford, came up and had a coffee with me at 'The Tatler'.

As soon as the Christmas involvements are over I will get in touch.

Ever yours,


Five Letters (1970-74) to Michael Short, a scientist, who had emigrated to the U.S.A.

Mike Short, 1948 Lewes

My Dear Michael,

No doubt you got my Christmas card & this is a "short" follow up (I did not mean it as a pun) to let you know I found your news letter most interesting. The children obviously fill your lives & provide a constant interest & they sound most attractive. Sorry gardening is so difficult. My wife is the expert here -- flowers, plants etc. With my lower I.Q. I do all the vegetables. We have a man 1½ days a week. On the odd days I had an Old Age Pensioner who was glad to come 3 days a week at 1/- [one shilling] per hour. My present chap charges 7/6 and is, I fear, about to ask 10/-. He does all the "work to rule" tricks, ie, counts travel time from his house and back again as time at work. He mows the grass & does all jobs we do not want to do. At the moment he is creosoting the garage. It too is taking him an astounding time.

Your old school is now comprehensive --- 1500+, Boys and Girls, in 3 different buildings, (Boys Grammar, Girls Grammar and Secondary Modern). They chase about from Southover to Mountfield Road. All very sad. Yet some of the products of my time are doing so well that one finds it inexplicable that they should have rushed to destroy a school with such a record.

A few names which have come to my notice recently -- you may or may not remember them -- are Philip Ridley C.B.E. in the Birthday Honours List last June. Now at the Embassy in Washington. Baldwin, Professor of Chemistry at Boston M.I.T. Satchler on staff of Massachusetts M.I.T. after being a Don at Oxford. Geoff Ford Air Commodore, Director of Engineerig Policy, Ministry of Defence (Air). Tony Burgess -- Master of one of the London Livery Companies (So we may have an Old Boy Lord Mayor yet). Geoff Brooker. Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford. (He spent 2½ years doing research at Harvard) And so one could go on.

Must close. A pile of O.L. cards etc in front of me.

I do hope all goes well in March.

Ever yours
N. R. Bradshaw


74 in May. Faces and names begin to elude me. Inevitably feeling older since I passed 3 score years & ten. Heart a bit suspect but controlled by pills. Can garden. Mind still active -- that is assuming people accept that I ever had a mind.

Good luck to you & happy memories. I had the best set of boys and parents in any school in the country.

Scott Ford, mentioned above, served in the R.A.F. in the War, got a "first" in Engineering at Bristol (your alma mater if I remember rightly,) & then returned to R.A.F.


My dear Michael,

Thankyou for your Christmas letter. I was faced with 600 G.C.E. scripts which had to be finished by Jan 15, so I had to leave letters to Old Boys until this task was done. I am not examining again. I shall be 76 in May & it is becoming too big a strain. It had this advantage. To have a definite commitment twice a year -- June and December -- made one feel that one had a use in life & that one was not completely on the scrap heap. Now I shall have to spend my time visiting and comforting old ladies. There are several along our road, widows or spinsters, all over 80. Poor old things.

I do not know what news you get of our old school. It is, of course, no more so I do not intrude on the present set up -- 1700 boys and girls of every range of ability, scattered in three different buildings. It is almost impossible for pupils or even staff to know each other. Possibly you know Hoggins died about a year ago -- heart trouble. He would go on teaching after he could have retired. Pett and Page left last summer -- retired. They were young enough to continue for a few more years but could not stick the changed conditions. Gourlay, Nichols, & Silk are still there but they are over 60 so cannot carry on for many more years. I saw Silk only last Saturday for the first time for about a year or two. He is nearly bald and looked very old. Euston left several years ago. He potters about Lewes with a stick but at times looks very ill -- heart.

I had about 150 letters from old staff & old boys this Christmas -- scattered all over the world. It was quite touching to learn how their memories, especially at Christmas time, go back to their old school. One of them mentioned the carol service, when Southover Church was filled with boys and parents.

The sentimental tie obviously still exists. Sentiment has been a great feature of the English School tradition of the past. Sentiment *******s giving & asks for no return. How can it exist among 1700 youngsters in three different buildings who do not know each other & do not even recognise members of the staff.

Ah well! It was nice to get your letter. I gathered from it the impression that you are a very happy family and that life in it is a happy experience. What more can you ask.

Good luck and God bless
N R Bradshaw


Dear Michael
Thank you for your letter which has arrived safely. I am sorry you have been compelled to have an operation during the past year and hope there will be no repeat during 1974. I have visited the operating table three times during my existence. On two occasions I have been given only a local anaesthetic -- once when I was operated on for hernia during the war. I believe that today this would be regarded as scandalous. [ In 2001 it is a local anaesthetic and send you home by taxi two hours later ! ]

I hope you had a nice Christmas. Here in Sussex it was mild calm and sunny, but since then it has been very cloudy and damp. I fear there is a feeling of depression owing to our industrial troubles. And the government does not govern. Either the unions will continue to enforce their demands or else there must be a show-down sometime. Men will go on striking or "work to rule" if they can do so with impunity. They would think twice if "Social Security" allowances were stopped. A man can strike -- draw strikers pay from his union, & anything round £20 a week social security money for his wife and kids. A sad world I fear.

Old Boys of the school appear to do well. You will not know many of those I mention but Geoff Ford is now an Air Vice-Marshall; Ken Perkins a Brigadier & Director of Defence Operations at the War Office. Richard Garner is a director of Joseph Lucas, which is, I suppose, the biggest electrical concern in the country. Philip Ridley is a C.B.E. and Assistant Secretary at the Department of Trade & Industry. Today I met Geoffrey Brooker from Seaford. He is a Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford. These are just a few records which have come my way. One cannot help but feel that many of our products were first class chaps. It seems both foolish and tragic that such a school should have been swept out of existence.

It was nice to see you when you were over here. I trust that good fortune will attend you & yours in 1974.

Ever yours
N. R. Bradshaw.

Have had a card from the edge of the antarctic. Nigel Bingham, a Radio Announcer in Wellington, New Zealand, is with a N-Z exploration party which hopes to fly over the South Pole.


My dear Michael,
Thank you very much for your kind Christmas gift - John Gunther's book on Australia, which arrived on Saturday, two days ago. I suspect it has taken some time to reach me so I am using an "Air Letter" for me to reply. I did not know that John Gunther had continued to produce the "Inside" books. I read his first, "Inside Europe" & found it fascinating so I am sure I shall enjoy the one you have sent me. But you are very naughty and should not have sent it.

Here in England we had a nice Xmas Day -- sunny and warm. Since then we have had a lot of rain -- which we badly needed to build up our water reserves. No frost or snow in Sussex since Xmas but it has been dull & no sunshine. A damp cold atmosphere has appeared to cling as one went outside. On Saturday, with my wife, I went to Weir Wood Reservoir just south of East Grinstead. It is a wonderful stretch of water -- fishing, sailing, the lot. We took sandwiches and ate them in the car. Before I came to Sussex I was in Somerset and thought that county was wonderful but I have come to think that Sussex beats it.

I am sorry to report the general outlook here is pretty dismal with all our labour troubles. One wonders that men can be so foolish and self-centred. The ultimate result will be to injure everyone.

I expect you know that Harry Hoggins died & that Dick Page, who lost his wife, married Mrs Hoggins. Page became so fed up with the Lewes School as a "Comprehensive" that he threw in his hand & returned to his native Norfolk where his family are farmers. I understand that Dick was an expert in making money by side-lines even when he was a schoolmaster.

Anyway he is now on Safari round the world with Dorothy Hoggins. They left a week ago. I understand his car was a wonderful sight, piled with the needs of a round-the-world trip for two. Again thank you for your kind thought & gift.

Ever yours,

> My dear Michael,
Thankyou for your letter. I was interested to know that you had looked up Satchler. I fear I have lost touch and I admire the way in which you keep track of all these people. I have had a second letter from America recently -- from Alan Stuart (1939-44) [ who incidently is still alive and wrote to your webmaster as recently as 10-11-2001 ] whose address is [was] 3 Ridgewood Drive, Malvern, PA, [ U.S.A.].

Last week too came a long account from Ethiopia. You probably know that Dick Page lost his wife & married Dorothy Hoggins, who lost her husband. Page has retired from schoolmastering & the two of them are making a journey round the world by car.

Very glad to know that you have so promising a son, no doubt a source of pride & satisfaction. My three daughters are all married. My son is the youngest of my offspring. He is a navigating in a submarine - what a cosy career to choose.

Last weeks "Birthday Honours" list contained the name of Geoff Ford who left school in 1940 if my memory is correct -- I should have said "Air Vice-Marshall Geoffrey H. Ford". He has been made a C.B. Soon I shall be addressing some of my former pupils as "Sir". Of course I attribute successes gained by Old Boys to the number of times I applied correction to their bottoms.

When you decide to tour the world I will give some O.L. addresses to call on. Some months ago I met an O.L.'s sister and asked how her brother fared. Within a short time I received a card from the antarctic -- Nigel Bingham announcer for the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation. He was about to cross the South Pole by air & had heard from his sister that I had enquired about him. I knew of a headmaster of a boarding school, years ago, an unmarried man, who, when he retired, planned to go all round the world, making stops at the homes of former pupils.

Keep smiling. I am now 78 so have decided to shed a bithday each year.

All the best,

To one of the original Old Boys



24 - 12 - 51

My dear Freddie,

This will be too late for Christmas, but not, I hope, for the New Year. May it bring you all the best of luck.

As you were so kind as to write to Betty Gerard Davies, I thought I better let you know the outcome. Susan has not got in to St. Hilda's. I do not know whether you are aware of the nature of the competition but we heard there were 800 applicants for 40 Arts Vacancies at Newnham Cambridge this year so I suppose it was something approaching that at Oxford.

Susan had her written exam about 3 weeks ago. A week later she was one of those to go up to Oxford for interview -- three interviews in fact, one by Betty, Susan found her "great fun". We have now heard from the principal that Susan did well enough to be admitted but that there were not enough vacancies for the number who had qualified and that she has been put on a waiting list in case some drop out -- some of these girls may be offered & accept vacancies at Cambridge -- that they will let us know next term.

I hope some young ladies will choose the wrong place. I badly wanted her to go to Oxford -- for what it alone can give. Any place is good enough to mug up Text Book knowledge.

We have recently had (last Friday) a lad get a Science Exhibition at Keble.

Last Saturday Lewes club included the School halves -- twins named Hill -- in their 1sr XV against Bec Old Boys. Lewes lost 16-12 but I was told the Hill twins were the best backs on the field. If any college would give these lads places, I believe they might be the 'Varsity halves in a couple of years time. Wins against Skinners (twice), Worthing (twice), Hurstpierpoint, Eastbourne College 2nds, Brighton Coll 2nds (47-0), Bec School(twice) & Lewes Martlets (club 2nd XV).

I expect you will be thinking of the old country on Xmas Day. I hope the new job works out alright. Do not change again in a hurry. You are getting older you know.

You will have to fill a stocking this year. Robert still believes in Father Christmas. My wife has breathed a prayer of thankfulness that there is no moon this year.

Please remember me to your charming wife.

Ever Yours


PS. No Old lewesian Rugger Match this Boxing Day against the Club. I have run it every year since the war and this year delegated it to someone else. I felt I had earned a rest. Now it has fallen through.
Have you read a new book "The Dam Busters"? If it appears in America get a few natives to read it just to see what the RAF did.

Notes by Webmaster

1. Susan was one of NRB's three daughters; Robert was his young only son.
2. Mary Isabella Gerard Davis was Tutor in Modern Languages and Fellow of St.Hilda's College, Oxford.
3. Susan went to Westfield College (London University) whose Principal, Dr Kathleen Chesney, was previously Vice-Principal of St Hilda's and Tutor in Modern Languages. Wheels within wheels within wheels!
4. The "lad" who won the Science Exhibition at Keble College was Eddy Wood (LCGS 44-52).



14th January, 1953

My dear Fred,

I was very pleased indeed to receive your letter and do congratulate you on the arrival of [your daughter]. I fear that you may have hoped for a [son], but don't despair. I still hope to live long enough to go up to Twickenham to see a [son of yours as a] forward playing in the dark blue jersey. One thing I do note from your letter is that you have arrived [in New York], though I also note that you hope to move to Canada. Of course you are in a much better position to assess prospects than I am, but I cannot help feeling that fundamentally it is a mistake for a young man to stay in England.

One cannot avoid the fact that we have fifty million people in an island that cannot hope to support with any degree of ease, more than thirty million and I don't think one is biassed or prejudiced if one also makes the assertion that the outlook of the English working man is to get all he can and work as little as he need. That is the spirit of the Trades Unions. The fact that a war has to be paid for means nothing to them provided that they themselves and their classs are not called upon to pay for it. Other people's standard of living may go down but not theirs. Undoubtedly, too, there is a good deal of Communistic influence that the public is completely unaware of. At the moment the London Shops Stewards are trying to organise a protest Transport strike in Coronation week, above all times, to coerce the Government into refraining from denationalising transport. I have no doubt myself that it is a Communistic racket.

I always say that I should like to settle in British Columbia. My wife says, no -- she would prefer to go somewhere where there are domestic servants!

Yes. I am afraid the Varsity lost the rugger match. However, H. F. Tayler who accompanied the school party to Twickenham said that even he was compelled to cheer the Cambridge side when the match was over. Apparently the seven Cambridge forwards that were still on the ground when the match finished had played like men inspired and had withstood the constant hammering and assault of the whole Oxford Fifteen.

I am sure you will be pleased to know that our present school captain played for Sussex against Dorset and Wilts in the last county championship side. The Sussex R.F.C. were so pleased with the show that he put up that they made him a member as a small token of appreciation.

This afternoon, Wednesday, Soss Phillips who now captains the Lewes R.F.C., is bringing a team of Old Boys to play the school. I think it will be good fun. Half of the Old Boys side, if not more, will be members of the Lewes Fifteen, while Ted Wynter is making the jouney down from Dulwich specifically to turn out against the school.

I do not think our Old Boys at Oxford are in any way equal to the post-war vintage. Fortunately I have re-established pretty close contacts with my old college, Merton and so I am now sending decent all-rounders there instead of being limited to the odd academic representative who gets a scholarship and never does anything else.

When the ex-service students came to an end it looked for a short timeas thogh the only people whom we should get to Oxford or Cambridge were those of high academic ability. John Woolmore at Merton is next year's secretary to the College Cricket Eleven and so should be captain [in] his third year, while he has also played for Sussex at rugger. Cedric Andrews, school captain last year, is also at Merton. He is quite a good rugger player but appears to be concentrating on athletics. He ran for Oxford Freshers agaimst Cambridge and has also represented the University at cross-country, so I hope he will get a blue before he goes down. Unfortunately he is a miler and with himas Freshers are last year's army mile champion who took two seconds of Chatterway's record for the Freshman's mile and also a Rhodes Scholar who was mile champion at Harvard. Had Andrews gone to Cambridge he would have got a blue this year. In the Freshman's Mile he beat all three Tabs, but did not beat the two Oxford men.

You may ask why Merton and not S.E.H. [St Edmund's Hall]. I am a bit fed up with S.E.H. The last fellow I sent them, after keeping him hanging about with a half-promise that they would take him, they ultimately turned him down. He was in our rugger fifteen and an outstanding actor. I have not bothered with them since. Selwyn College, Cambridge snapped him up straight away.

Perry, the boy at present at school who played for Sussex last term will probably go to Merton. His cricket is as good if not better than his rugger, so he should get both Greyhound colours and Authentics. Ted wants to snaffle him for S.E.H.

I am glad to know that your family are well. Please give my kindest regards to your very charming wife. I hopethat it will not be too far distant before we see you all again.

Ever yours sincerely


P.S. No, Susan did not get to Oxford unfortunately. I think I told you that she got an interview on the result of her examination and also was placed on the waiting list, but nobody fell out and so she was compelled to go to London. Incidently at her college, Westfield, she thinks that the women are a darn sight better lot than she met at her interviews at Oxford, at least they are normal beings and not eccentric intellectuals, and at her particular college are very good socially. A number of them were with her at Cheltenham [Ladies College]. Two of them are being presented at Court this Summer.

PPS. Later
School 6pts Old-Lewesians 11

Old Boys.
John Hersee (Keble 1st); Maurice Phillips (Lewes); John Carter (Lewes & Sussex); R.J. Humpfrey (Lewes, Merton & Blackheath); M. Cox (Lewes); D. Cox (Lewes); John Dewdney(Lewes & Sussex); K. Hills (Lewes & Sussex); J.H. Woolmore (Lewes, Merton &Sussex); R. de Rohan; I. Winchester (Magdalen 1st); K. Pink (Lewes); R Dorian (Lewes); E.C.C. Wynter (Oxford and Barbarians); R Larkin (Seaford)



6th February, 1953

My dear Freddie,

I am so sorry we have been so lax and I am glad that your disreputable reputation is such tha you have now become known throughout New York.

I am afraid de Rohan has now returned to England. His father has business interests in London and New York and the son went over there for six months for experience. I believe the family business is pencils and that they have a factory in both capitals, certainly de Rohan brought back with him about half a gross of pencils and presented one to every player and most of the members inscribed " Stolen from the Lewes Rugby Club ". However, he is a keen chap. He arrived back in England on Friday but cabled to the Club two or three days previously asking for a game on the Saturday after his arrival. Had he been here the whole Winter I think he would most certainly have played for Sussex.

Incidently, you must treat the school with proper respect when you pay your next visit. De Rohan's father is Prince de Rohan. He was in a German concentration camp throughout the war, arriving in England soon after and settled in Sussex. He knew nothing about English schools but the boy was a rugger fanatic and heard we play rugger. Hence his arrival. No doubt had he been English, he would have gone to Eton or some other place.

This is only a short letter but I did not want your speedy reply to go unanswered. You will be amused to know that I appeared in a B.B.C. feature programme last Tuesday with two of the B.B.C. big guns, Gilbert Harding and Wynford Vaughan Thomas and also Lady Bonham Carter. Don't think I am boasting about it; you will be amused. However, it was a good puff for the school.

Ever yours,


To Gerald D Sutton

A reply to Gerry Sutton in Canada shortly after Sutton had left school and emigrated to Canada.

A letter to G D Sutton shortly after he left school A letter to G D Sutton in 1943

Denis Thomas

A letter of recommenationl A thank-you letter