1957 School Camp At Danbury Park
Post by David Ross Walker
Back Row 1: Tony Brown, ?, ?, ?, Mr. Dick Fry, Peter Hoye, ?, Paul Cordess, ?, John Prigg, ?,
Mr. Eric Beaumont, Malcolm Filmer
Row 2: ?, Peter O’Connell, Harry Smith, Barry Eaton, ?
Front Row 3: ?, Mick Penn, Alan Eldridge, John Frankland, Malcolm Irvine, Norman Lombard, ?
I took this photo of a group of Mayfield boys who went to camp at Danbury Park near Chelmsford in June 1957. I’ve added names where I can remember them, but it’s 50 years ago now and the grey cells are getting greyer. Apologies if any of the names are wrong.
The camp was organised by Mr R. E. Fry (Dick), who was a Religious Education Teacher. The Mayfield Fellowship he organized really took off and thirty or more boys attended on a regular basis. The camp itself was very basic; under canvas. It was the second one that Dick Fry had organized. I had been the previous year when Mr. Hicks showed quite a bit of interest and came on visitors day. He also came occasionally to the weekly meetings. I kept in touch with Dick Fry after I left Mayfield as he became pastor for seven years at Roding Lane Free Church, by Redbridge Station, where I worshiped. He then joined the Wycliffe Bible Translators as UK Director until his untimely death in 1987. I’m still in contact with his wife. Mr. Eric Beaumont, a science teacher at Mayfield, still lives locally and I see him occasionally. Stan Frankland also came to the camps and organized the games activities.
You cannot imagine my amazement when I came across this photo of the Danbury camp with me in it. Thank you David Walker. The first camp organised by Dick Fry was on Canvey Island, a desolate place in those days. I recall whilst clinging to a tent pole being put up, it was blowing a gale and sleet was lashing my face. I was tired and hungry after the trip by pedal power. The main object of these camps was to share the Christian faith with anyone who would listen. I have little recollection of the group save two, John Prigg and Michael Kneller, the latter who would have been in the photo. I think he is on the right of Dick Fry but I’m not totally sure. I left school in late 1957 but kept contact with Dick Fry till 1960, when we left the UK. He lived in Seven Kings with wife Phylis and I think three boys. The car Peter mentions was a Wolseley, with a built in jacking system. Quite modern in those days. I remember the first day Mr. Fry came into the classroom, he went round and opened all the windows. He loved fresh air. Then he took from his bag, a cane and a Bible. Previously we’d had Mr. Husain for R.I, which suffered some disruption by a moron element. That stopped with the coming of Mr. Fry. Mr. Husain was a gentle, quiet spoken Indian teacher whom I liked. I also recall Mr. McGuire, and no one can forget Mr. Hicks. Despite being caned by him on at least one occasion, a painful experience, I still hold the utmost respect for him. Mr. Hicks fought for us pupils in order that we were properly equipped and educated. Some came from pretty rough backgrounds, fights in the playground were not uncommon. Mr. Hicks would wade in and woe to those at the centre of the fighting. Playing knuckle stones and conkers were the main activities at playtime. The latter could be obtained from trees in the Barley Lane Mental Home grounds. James Clavell’s ‘To Sir with Love’ was very much our scene. I have a DVD of Lulu singing that immortal song in the same film. Does anyone remember the long distance running competitions in Hainualt Forest? About the only time I gained any points for my House. Now I’m retired, living in Gawler, South Oz and loving it. Peter Hoye
We used to go to Danbury Park near Maldon in Essex and were sometimes guests at the Quakers Meeting House. A group of thirty strong 15 to17 year old girls and boys let loose for a week under canvas. Certainly the Friends Meeting House was never quite the same after Mr. Fry’s Group had been for a visit ‘To experience the basis of other Christian faiths’. I wonder all those lovely, kind people didn’t take to drink after having us lot around for a few hours. Their generosity and kindness was really something to behold. But Richard Fry always made sure that everyone expressed personally their thanks for the hospitality we’d received, after their Prayer Meeting and special guests buffet lunch.
I was pleasantly surprised whilst looking through these photo’s to see one of a summer camp at Danbury Park. What memories came flooding back and amazingly I can still remember most of the other boys in the photo and can put a name to the boy in the front row 2nd from right. It is Norman Lombard. I remember the day he came to the school as he caused quite a stir, wearing a top hat and a very formal suit. I believe his father had recently arrived from Africa where he was possibly something in one of he governments there. This was one of many camps I attended with The Mayfield Fellowship, I also remember one where we cycled all the way to Brighton with stops along the way and bedding down in church halls for the night.
Hi Chas, I think I vaguely remember you! However the camps that I went to, Danbury twice, Southockenden, Lancing (in a church hall) and Mersey Island remain very clear in my memory although I didn’t remember any girls! Dick became pastor of my church in Roding Lane Ilford for 7 years then became international director of Wycliffe Bible Translators. He unfortunately died in 1996? suffering from a severe asthma attack but not having his ‘puffer’ with him. Very sad. I went to his funeral and have kept in touch with Phillis his wife ever since. She is getting quite forgetful and lives near Reading close to her som. I attended her 90th Birthday party last year. Good memories. Best wishes David Walker
Hello Mike. It’s 55 years since this photo was taken I still remember you playing your guitar (I think!) I remember Norman Lombard’s first day as well, He was in my class. Nice guy. I think that he was the first ever non white in the school. I think that he came from South Africa.I think that I was a year below you. I went to, Danbury twice, Southockenden, Lancing (in a church hall) and Mersey Island with Dick. He became pastor of my church in Roding Lane Ilford for 7 years then became international director of Wycliffe Bible Translators. He unfortunately died in 1996? suffering from a severe asthma attack but not having his ‘puffer’ with him. Very sad. I went to his funeral and have kept in touch with Phillis his wife ever since. She is getting quite forgetful and lives near Reading close to her som. I attended her 90th Birthday party last year. Good memories. Best wishes David Walker
David, I’m very flattered to be remembered after all these years, although I do remember a fair number of my classmates, like Tony Bailey, Robert Hurrell (who’s father was a School Governor) Alan Eldridge (a good all round sportsman and who I later heard had committed suicuide because he thought he was gay, how times have changed in that regard) and many more.
I still tell people today how the school was run just like a public school with a prefect system (I was Deputy Head Prefect in my final year) and how we received a good, all-round education. Even though I left with no qualifications, I don’t think I did too badly having started work at an advertising agency as a messenger boy and ended up as sales director of a magazine publishing company.
I am now enjoying my retirement in Wooodbridge, Suffolk, a few miles outside Ipswich. If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, do let me know and we can get together over a coffee or a beer. Best wishes, Mike Penn