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NEWS > Alumni News > Chris Wickham (OJ from 1952-59) Reminisces about His Teachers at Judd

Chris Wickham (OJ from 1952-59) Reminisces about His Teachers at Judd

Chris shares the amusing names the boys had for their teachers between 1952-1959 and how the teachers at Judd prepared him for his exciting future career with the MOD.....
Teachers at Judd 1952-59
Teachers at Judd 1952-59
I regret that as I left Judd in 1959, all the teachers who were there when I was have passed away by now and are shaking the chalk dust from their gowns in the great classroom in the sky.

I have a feeling Norman Evans might still be with us – he dragged me screaming through A-level maths in 1959 and was responsible for filling my head with kinetic equations.

I owe Judd a lot - I came from very humble origins. Whatever success I have had throughout a long and undistinguished career in which I rose to the dizzy heights of, “Senior Principal Scientific Officer in the Ministry of Defence” I owe to FH Taylor and his staff. All my teachers were terrific especially Richard Scruton, Garth "Buller" Whitehouse, "Pip" Cox, Norman the aforesaid Evans, "Joey" Toft, "Abdul" Rayner and Jasper "Fishy" Haines.

The only really horrible character was a maths teacher called Collins who was a religious zealot of the worst sort who only lasted a couple of years. 

In the photo below I can see 20 masters who were my contemporaries:

'Swingjaw' Swale,(Science); 'Napo' (short for Napolean) Friend (Art); 'Sambo' Lock (French and science); 'Fumph' Johnson (German); 'Len' Goldsmith (Maths); 'Pip' Cox (Chemistry); 'Joey' Toft (Maths & Cricket); 'Abdul' Rayner (RE); 'Scorp' Williamson (English & Latin); 'Mal' Oakely (English); 'The Old Man' F H Taylor (any subject); 'Boozer' Buisseret (Classics); 'Seedy' Sutton (Music & History); 'Pum' Scruton (Physics); 'Fishy' Haines (Science & Rugby); 'Buller' Whitehouse (Geography & Rugby); 'Bosun' Bean (Woodwork); 'Elli' Ellison (English); 'Snowy' White (PE); 'Coins' Collins (Maths); 'Johnny' Allen (History); 'Paddy' Cussell ( History)

There were others but I don't have any photos of them and some never taught me:-

RW ('Jimmy') Proctor (French),  WW ('Bosun') Bean (Woodwork and Organ), EJ ( 'Tamph') Taylor (Maths),  EJ ('Trinity) Cussell (Latin), NE ('Norman') Evans (Maths),  P ('Knotty) Knott (PE & Games),  H G ('Hughie')Tebay (Maths)
Not taught by:- PG Baker (English), RV Fricker (Organ & Woodwork), DR (Dan') Gibling, (English?), Mrs B Hughes (Geography), E Quinn, (Don't know subject)

Chris came to Judd from Bayham Road Primary School in Sevenoaks as an 11 plus student, an innocent who thought Tonbridge was a city!  School life progressed through the 1950's and eventually he left Judd in 1959 after 'A levels' in science and maths. After a short period waiting for the results of written and oral tests he went to work for what was then the Ministry of Supply R&D establishment at Fort Halstead, north of Sevenoaks.

Over the years the Fort was taken over by different defence departments including the Ministry of Aviation, Ministry of Defence (Army), Defence Research Agency and several others too obscure to name.
Here Chris entered the post-war fledgling world of defence electronics and specialised quite soon in high speed instrumentation - oscillography and photography. Academically the Department gave Chris "time off" to study at Bromley College, SE London Technical College and Goldsmith's College for ONC and HNC in Electrical Engineering. He eventually graduated in 1963 in Electrical Engineering specialising in Electronics and Electrical Measurements.
Chris had several interesting tasks mainly concerned with trying photographically to observe the details of high velocity events such as the action of explosive charges and other components of munitions. The electronic high speed cameras at the Fort were state of the art although now at least two of them languish in the Science Museum in London. Eventually his latent genius was recognised and he became a Principal Scientific Officer responsible for a major development project in the field of tank/anti-tank ammunition.
He did several courses at the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham and in later years returned there on the teaching side, as a visiting lecturer.
The munitions projects that he worked on took him to several 'exotic' places in the UK -  Shoeburyness,  Eskmeals, Kirkcudbright, Pendine and overseas to military bases and firing ranges in  France, Germany, Norway and Switzerland, and rather more excitingly to Aberdeen in Maryland  USA.
However even the exotic places pall and it was the 22nd time that he had visited the USA before he went anywhere other than Aberdeen Proving Ground.  He made many working level friends and colleagues at Aberdeen and this later stood him in good stead because in 1992 he was approached with a view to taking a technical MOD post in the British Embassy in Washington DC.
This was a magnificent opportunity as a career move on promotion to a prestigious senior post and Chris lived in Northern Virginia and worked in the Washington embassy until August 1995. He acted as Technical Staff Officer to the Counsellor for Defence Science who was the senior UK scientist in the USA. The job involved fostering defence relations between the US Defence Department and UK MOD and harmonising projects of joint interest.
On return from the USA, Chris took a post with the Defence Safety Group based at Aquila in Bromley working to the MOD Chief Safety Officer in London. This was also quite a career change as it meant overseeing the practicalities of defence explosive operations rather than participating in them. Aquila was closed in 1997 to allow its development as a housing estate and Chris moved firstly to offices in St Giles Court near Centre Point in London then to the unlovely and deservedly much maligned St Christopher House in Southwark Street. Thus for the last 3 years of his career Chris became a commuter to London although the nature of his job took him out of the office for much of the time. This sweetened the bitter commuting pill somewhat as he never came to terms with the grinding diurnal ritual, often having to stand for the journey to work on the 07.10 train from Tonbridge.
His final post was as Head of Explosive Safety Audit. The work took him to many UK Service, MOD and US Visiting Forces establishments in UK, Gibraltar and to Germany and the Falkland Islands. Although he worked for central MOD he was in daily contact with all three Service arms where his objective was "To keep our Service personnel safe in time of peace to enable them to be efficient in time of war"

At the end of his career he said that he could look back on "42 years of undetected crime", in which he met and worked with literally hundreds of dedicated people working on interesting and challenging tasks in largely unfriendly environments. Overall he came to the conclusion that our Armed Service personnel are well trained, well prepared, and well equipped to give confidence that the future security and safety of the country is assured.

This photo shows the UK Trilateral Trials team at Aberdeen Proving Ground Md USA in the extremely cold winter of 1974 (Chris is on the far right hand side):

This was a shoot off competition between USA, Germany and UK to provide the main armament for the US Abrams Main Battle tank. They won the technical competition but lost the political fight for the contract.

Below is a photo of Chris clearing his "yard" of leaves during the fall in Great Falls Va USA in 1993 and proves that Embassy staff do have domestic duties to perform!

Chris is happy to speak with any OJ who is looking for advice in any part of his career noted above (although long retired), just email: and we will put you in touch.

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