DAVID ARNOLD - Teachers Jock, Burt and the notorious “Killer Valentine”

School leavers at Lewes County Secondary Modern School in July 1952
School leavers at Lewes County Secondary Modern School in July 1952

Len Fuller, of Bishopstone, kindly let me have the photograph reproduced here.

It features a number of school leavers at Lewes County Secondary Modern School in July 1952 (which happens to be the month and year I was born!). Len tells me the head master at the time was Tim Bowley and he remembers some other teachers were Jock Timlin, Burt Bristow and the notorious “Killer Valentine”!

In the back row of the photograph Len identifies Michael Light, Barry Dixon, Edward Griffiths and Peter Thorpe (?). In the middle row there’s Roderick Whippy, Michael Arms, Michael Shoesmith, Phillip Weir, David Austin, Brian Sayers and Keith Nolder. Kneeling in the front row are Lawrence Steggal, Dennis Adlam and Arthur Walls.

Len says several of his schoolmates went on to do very well in their careers: “Sadly some have passed on and those that remain will be, like myself, now retired. Best wishes to all of them – and keep taking the tablets.”

I met with Len when he lent me the photograph. He said it was taken with a pre-war Box Brownie camera that his family won in a competition promoted on Kellogg’s cereal packets. He also said that he’d traced his family roots to a Solomon Fuller in the Waldron and Horam area of Sussex as far back as 1588, the year the Spanish Armada threatened to invade England.

Len’s father Herbert (Bert) was a Lewes milkman who delivered close by Elphicks in Cliffe High Street. A story he’d told Len was how once when Mr Elphick was ill, the shop staff put down straw in the street so as to muffle the noise of the horse-drawn carts and not disturb the “Guvnor”.

Len learnt of another occasion when his father witnessed a barge that got stuck under Cliffe Bridge. The Ouse at Lewes still carried commercial river traffic in those days: “There was a clear danger of the tide raising the barge and in turn the barge dislocating the whole bridge. Luckily the danger passed but it sounded potentially a pretty hairy incident.”

I enjoyed my chat with Len and I intend meeting him again to mine some more of his Sussex memories. Before we parted he told me that he had a celebrity cousin – Simon Fuller of Spice Girls and X Factor fame!