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Class photo c1957

I’ve managed to locate my old class photo from Downs County Primary (formerly Ditchling Road Council) School. This was sent to me by a former fellow pupil, David Kydd, a couple of years ago out of the blue. It is allegedly from 1957 and would therefore be at either the end of first year juniors or the start of second year juniors.

A bad hair day
I am the fellow on the extreme left end of the second row (as you look at the picture) with the surgical boots, leg caliper and pronounced frown. I’m not sure why my expression is in such gloomy contrast to those of my colleagues, but maybe I was just having a bad hair day: with that haircut I can well believe it.

1950s children’s fashions
I can’t put many names to faces, but I’m pretty sure that, as you look at the photo, front row third from left is John Young, last but one is Francis Ward and extreme right is Christopher Mason. Middle row sixth from left is Margaret Carpenter, and third row third from left may be David Marum. A fine period picture notable for the fine display of 1950s children’s fashions – especially the girls’ wonderful dresses and hairstyles.

Names to faces?
If any of these guys see this picture and wish to correct my inaccuracies, they’re very welcome. If any others wish to put their own names to their faces, they’re equally welcome. If anyone can remember the teacher’s name, better still!

Downs County Primary class
From the private collection of Len Liechti

Comments about this page

  • A small correction to the above: on reflection I now strongly believe front row third from left to be my near neighbour in Prince’s Crescent, Ivor Edwards, who introduced me to the modern miracle of television when I was about eight years old by inviting me to watch Popeye The Sailorman twice weekly in glorious monochrome. John Young may be the cheerful chappie in back row seventh from left. It’s hard to be sure more than fifty years on!

    By Len Liechti (06/07/2008)
  • I went to the Downs School (Infants and Juniors), taking the iniquitous 11 Plus in 1960. Junior school teachers were Miss Webb, Mr Hinton (Annex), Mr Dibben (given to foaming outbursts) and Miss Cox. I do remember the young lad on the left of the photograph who was wearing heavy leg supports. Now I know his name! And bottom row third from the right, wearing a blazer – was that Tony Barnes?

    By Phil Allsopp (11/07/2009)
  • Hi Phil, and many thanks again for your memories sent to me via e-mail. Now you’ve mentioned her name, I think the teacher in my picture is indeed Miss Webb, which makes the picture Summer 1957, at the end of my year 1A. A lot of other folk have mentioned the fiery Mr Dibben, mostly in the companion article on Ditchling Road School (the earlier name for The Downs). I have no memory of him at all, and given the nature of other people’s memories, must be all the more fortunate for not having experienced him. Instead I had the redoubtable Miss Cox. You win a few – you lose a few!

    By Len Liechti (11/07/2009)
  • Hi all. Well I wish I could remember the teachers name; I should because I’m standing next to her. My name is John Horn, Ivor Edwards was a good friend of mine during these days, and yes it is he who is sitting in the front row 3rd from the left. Do any of you remember Miss Jenks? she rode her bike to school everyday.

    By John Horn (30/07/2009)
  • Hello John! Now that I’ve seen your name I recall you as well – bit of a footballer if I remember rightly? I’m now pretty certain that, as mentioned above, the teacher in the picture next to you was Miss Webb. Nice to be getting some feedback from the photo at last! Incidentally, for those who remember me with the leg calipers, they were not, as most people thought, anything to do with polio but the result of surgery for clubfeet. I was free of them by my eleventh year and have lived a completely normal and active life since.

    By Len Liechti (04/08/2009)
  • Hi Len, thank you for the response and how I appreciate this technology to be able to communicate with each other after 52 years! I was able to share this photograph with my mother (83), and immediately said it was Miss Webb…. Oh to have her memory! If you are interested, I have additional photographs from the Downs School of the following teams – Football, Swimming and Athletic. I will just need to know how to upload them to the site. You are correct about the football comment; after the Downs Middle School I went on to Fawcett Boys School and played for Brighton Boys, Sussex Boys and Southern England Boys. Did not turn pro, but finished up emigrating to Canada, and finally now reside in Charlotte, NC, USA. Additional names from the school photograph: Peter Mullen, 3rd row, 3rd from the left. David Yates, back row, 5th from the left.

    By John H Horn (05/08/2009)
  • DOWNS COUNTY PRIMARY CLASS It’s amazing how one small photo from your past can evoke so many wonderful memories. The teacher is Marion Hill, who later became Mrs Smith. Marion is the sister of Brian and Dick Hill (our vintage) who both went to Varndean. Miss Webb was reception class for 1954/1955 and Miss Hill took over for some reason? Then we had Miss Mongoll, Barbara Jenks, Ray Taylor in the annexe opposite the Jolly Brewer, Miss Parks and Miss Cox in 1959/1960. My recollection of class names is ?, Pat Smith, Margaret Syrett, John Young, ?, ?, Dave Yates (goalie and now GP in new Zealand), Roger Holden, Brian Reeve, John Horn, Suzanne Anderson, ?, Peter Mullen, Michael Thomas (later Dartnell), Maggie May, ?, ?, ?, Jeanette Leishman and twin sister??, Monica Eckert, Len, Heather Gifford ? (brother Jon), Jane Baker, Sandra Clamp, Susan Penfold, Margaret Carpenter, Rosemary Martin, ?, Jennifer Spells, Honor Patching, Barry Barstow (Hare & Hounds pub), ?, Ivor Edwards, ?, Richard West and Chris Mason (sister Viv). Other names from our year: Judith Beynon, Rosemary Oxley, Rosemary Payne, Barbara Shepherd, Christine Storrie, (legend parties!), Sally Cotton, Cynthia Penfold, Michael Fanstone (minister at a Gravesend church), Terence Green, Terence Ware, Hazel French, Janice Barnes, June Willett, Dave Marum, Graham Pitney, Roger Sweetman who died in 2007, Derek Palmer, ? Newman the caretaker’s son and Michael Stringer who recently retired as Rear Admiral from the Royal Navy. Anyone remember the Texan girl who briefly joined us in 1959/1960? I have lived and worked in Brighton all my life. My best job was taking Denes Natural Per Care into Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose and Safeway in the 1990s. I am now Governor Chair of Finance at Varndean College, trying to help repair the damage that the LSC inflicted on about 200 sixth form colleges, earlier this year. Michael Dartnell, FCCA

    By Michael Dartnell (27/08/2009)
  • Uploading pictures is easy John. Just hit the Contribute button on any page then follow the instructions. This website is brilliantly user-friendly and Contribute will allow you to add a page including text and photos. Look forward to seeing your pix.

    By Len Liechti (27/08/2009)
  • My goodness Michael, have you got a photographic memory or what? Now you mention all those names, I remember almost all of them, not least yourself including your change of surname. Memories come flooding back! Heather Kifford (I believe the K is correct) was my usual partner during the dreaded country dancing sessions. Margaret Carpenter was inordinately intelligent – I remember her flooring us all in a spelling competition by offering “charabanc”, and once telling me not to be sarcastic – I didn’t take offence because I didn’t know what it meant! David Yates we used to call “lanky” because he was a head taller than most of us. I seem to recall Michael Fanstone having a distinctive very premature (!) grey streak in his dark hair. Christopher Mason was my favoured chess partner. It’s just brilliant that this photo is drawing out some responses from folks featured in it. Hope to hear from more of you!

    By Len Liechti (27/08/2009)
  • It’s great to catch up with the photo and all the great comments. The teachers I can remember are Miss Jenks, Miss Parks, Miss Cox, Mr Taylor (choir master as well as form master) & Mr Foster (choir pianist about whom Mr Taylor wrote a song). I’m sure that when Mum comes up on Thursday we will remember more and I will tell you those. The people in the photo I’m not sure of many, but am sure that once again Mum will help me remember more – I hope she will anyway. I have some photos but at the moment, it being Christmas, they aren’t easy to get at but when they are I will send some. It’s great news that you don’t have the calipers now Leonard. I, like many, imagined you wearing them for all of your life and was therefore very pleased that you had done so well in your life when I contacted you through work – SAL some time ago.

    By Sue Harman (nee Genin) (19/12/2009)
  • Hello Len, What a great photo – it took me ages to even find myself! I don’t think it can possibly be as late as 1957 though. I would have said it was 1955 or 1954. I also think the teacher is Miss Webb. In 1957 we would have been in Miss Jenks’ or Mr Taylor’s class and I’m pretty sure that isn’t Miss Jenks. Did we have some teachers for two years running? My memory is 1954 & 1955: Miss Webb, – then 1956: Miss Jenks, – then 1957 & 1958, Mr Taylor. Sometime in 1958 I moved to Portslade and Benfield School for my last two primary years, so that has helped to fix some things in my memory.

    By Honor (23/01/2010)
  • Hi again Len, reading the comments again I was quite surprised to see that you remembered Margaret Carpenter as giving the word ‘charabanc’ to the spelling bee because I had always thought that that word along with ‘blancmange’ was ones that my Mum had told me to use in those bees. She’ll be most disappointed if I tell her what you have said. Never mind she won’t be worried if I don’t tell her, will she? It’s still good to see all the comments.

    By Sue Harman (25/04/2010)
  • The teacher is definitely not Miss Webb, I see her still and chat with her. She never married and ended up as a Headmistress. She is still going strong and is well into her 80s. She is still as lovely as she was then. Miss Hill is the teacher in the picture. As for Michael Dartnell, well thanks for not remembering me, obviously I didn’t make much of an impression on you! I was in Miss Webb’s class when I first started school. I remember Cynthia Penfold, I have been to a couple of reunions and  met up with her, she still looks the same. Miss Steers? was headmistress, in the Infants, then Mr Morgan? Mr Diben and Mr Philips (used to throw the blackboard rubber at you) were teachers,and Mrs Ayeling was the secretary. I’m going to throw a few names out now: Donna Jones, Eileen Beck, Heather Oxley, Susan Smith, Avril Foster (deceased), Pearl Berry, John Eden, David Lynn, John Menzies, Stewart Tate, Off now to hunt out old school photos – could be back later!

    By jennifer parker (Keeble) (08/06/2011)
  • Just want to say that I seem to have started something by submitting the first Downs class picture to MYB&H – at least I think mine was the first! The subsequent flood of pics is really gratifying and they make a fine display. The latest ones have taken us into the 1960s – those youngsters! Great stuff: keep them coming!

    By Len Liechti (26/08/2012)
  • We are looking at another Varndean reunion, (last one 1990!). Let me know if you wish to participate.

    By Michael Dartnell (08/02/2013)
  • I have just picked up on some very sad news, confirmed by Andrew Wakeford. Hazel French died suddenly in 2008, married name Bines. Check out the details with full bio on Google.

    By Michael Dartnell (03/07/2013)
  • I found this site yesterday. Oh my goodness; the memories flooded back. The photo of 3A in 58/59 was extremely moving. I joined 4A under Miss Cox in 59 having been previously in 3B. I went on to Varndean in 60 and did attend the 1990 reunion. My ‘best friends’ at that time were David Kidd, Terence Wares, Francis Ward, Barry Barstow who was my next door neighbour, and dear Len. I was thrilled to read that his damaged leg was fixed. Our last day together, Len, was trainspotting at the turntable in New England Road. My outstanding memory of Miss Cox’s class was the quizzes and spelling bee’s. Whilst academically rather useless, I had a brain full of useless information which came in handy when sparring with the dynamic duo Margaret Carpenter and Hazel French. The above news being very sad indeed. I would love to know what became of the old group, in particular the ones mentioned above.

    By Edwin Campbell-Jenner (13/08/2013)
  • I think the teacher’s name was Miss Hilary. I seem to think she married and her name obviously changed – but to what I cannot remember.

    By Mick Cowley (10/05/2014)
  • I think she became Mrs Smith, as I recall her from my days at the Downs – 1962/3 until 1969.

    By Martin Scrace (11/05/2014)
  • I started at the Downs School in 1957 and my maiden name was Rice. It has been so interesting reading all the previous comments and remember some of the names mentioned. I had a Susan Carpenter in my class who was always top of the class in every subject. I think she must have been the sister of Margaret. My best friend was Linda Horn.  I would love to hear from anyone who remembers me.

    By Jill Rowley (30/11/2014)
  • Hello David – I am sorry but it was not clear what you were wishing to say in your piece. Would you be kind enough to re-type your entry clearly? Thank you so much. Editing Team

    By David Kydd (24/08/2015)
  • I was two years ahead of this class, but was friends with Hazel French when we were both members of the Girls Life Brigade at Florence Road church. Unsurprisingly Hazel went on to have a glittering career as an educationalist, but sadly died in 2008. Her obituary was published in the Guardian and is still on the internet here.


    By nee Linda Farrell (14/08/2017)
  • Hello. That is possibly me, Cliff James, 1st row, right. I was often bullied for wearing glasses and often had a patch on them, in the hope of training a stigmatism. John Young was later my chess partner at Varndean. I also remember a Sally Bloom, Susan Carpenter and David Etherington at Downs. I live in Austria and occasionally get to Brighton, where I enjoy singing at Open Mic sessions, having left my engineering career in the 80s. I’ll have a look for childhood photos next time I’m in Brighton visiting my mum. It was in looking up things for her that I came across this site. All the best.

    By Clifford James (16/03/2018)
  • What a memory, that’s me , back row 3rd from the right near our teacher.

    By Roger Holden (23/02/2019)
  • Remember Michael Stringer as we two were the only boys from the Downsto go to the Technical School after the 11+.

    By Roger Holden (23/02/2019)
  • I started at the Downs in 1955/6 so am three years behind this group. It was nice to see appreciative comments about my late sister Hazel Bines (nee French). My year included John Young, Alan Jenner and Philip Hobden all from the Sylvan Hall Estate. John and I were neighbours in the Poplars in Princes Crescent. Susan Carpenter was also in my class. I now live in York.

    By Jonathan French (23/02/2020)
  • I enjoyed your post Jonathan. In 1963, when I left The Downs as Jill Rice, you signed my autograph book as Jonatan E. French , VC ; DSO !! I still have that book and love to look back on it. You clearly had aspirations of a high flying military career. Did that happen?

    By Jill Rowley (04/03/2020)
  • I recall many of the names mentioned above. Alan Jenner, my cousin; Jonathan French – a good friend and neighbour on the Sylvan Hall estate; Jill Rice; Philip Hobden; Clifford James, a fierce chess competitor; Terry Yates; Colin Eley; Susan Carpenter. I recall Jane Leichti presumably the sister of Len. My dear sister Susan, two years older than me passed away in 2015. I’m living in London now.

    By John Young (18/04/2020)
  • My sister Susan is right in front of the teacher. Was there another John Young? I was there two years later?
    I recollect Mr Foster running a fantastic choir and putting on incredible productions – HMS Pinafore to name one.
    Mr. Owen was one of the best teachers – caring and always joking. Mr Hinton ran the chess club. Ms. Parkes was the teacher in the 4th year – strict but very good.

    By John Young (18/04/2020)
  • I recall a teacher named Miss Line. She introduced herself by telling us to “think of what Mother hangs the clothes on” and then we would never forget her name.
    Well, I’m 72 now and she was quite correct – I have never forgotten her name.

    By Dick Saunders (18/06/2021)

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