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Leslie Tomlin

Peckham Branch was housed in a beautiful mid-victorian building of three floors plus basement. Large bay windows to the ground floor front overlooking Peckham Rye on the SE15 side of the common. These windows provided the aspect from the Principal’s office enabling him to observe the behaviour of his pupils awaiting entry to his classrooms. I found this out painfully one day when he confiscated a catapult I had constructed from my Xmas Meccano Set. I never saw that again.

I started there in 1927 following a family tradition. My brother started there 9 years before. My sister 8 years after. We all loved it and we all done well.

The building was large and spacious giving rise to large well lit ventilated classrooms. This was certainly an aid to education.

Of course, like all schools, it had its characters. One that immediately springs to mind was a tutor whose tutorial capabilities were, in my opinion, above the average. He taught general education including specialised subjects for Civil Service. His abilities made him highly respected, sometimes feared but he had his trade marks. Above I mentioned my brother who started 9 years before. At that time Mr. Charlie O’Malley (that was his name) wore a grey/mauve coloured suit. He was wearing the same suit when my sister left and the branch closed in 1936. We all believed it was the same suit as the appearance at that time seemed to confirm it. This trade mark with delightful Irish characteristics led to the usual schoolboy asides made with great care out of earshot. One of my colleagues was a promising cartoonist who managed to produce a seemingly endless stream of cartoons showing our Charlie in differing comical situations appearing all over the school. There was no malice here though. The cartoons were all in good taste and knowing our Charlie I’m sure he enjoyed them himself. He knew the cartoonist. He must have done.

I am unable to report on the educational successes but I know we had our fair share of Faculty of Teachers and London Chamber of Commerce passes. Not forgetting the R.S.A. I and my closest friends all acquired good positions in the City thanks to Clarks. I ended my working days in Banking and a good pension which isn’t bad.

It was in sport where we excelled. It was in football where we got the best write-up in the EDUCATOR. We regularly played other branches and it was ‘away’ at Ealing one Wednesday afternoon in 1933 or 4 we suffered our greatest defeat. We lost 32-nil. Shall I repeat that? I don’t think any of us saw the other end of the field except at a distance. Bully for Ealing.

I left Peckham Branch shortly before 1936 with two others. We transferred to Brixton Hill to complete our education and to our surprise we were invited to join the team.

That is about all I can remember of Peckham branch except my first principal who was never seen visiting the classrooms without the cane tucked under his arm. I never saw him use it.

One point of interest regarding Clark’s College in general, do you or any of our ex-colleagues remember the ‘Model Offices’ or were they before your time?

Leslie Tomlin


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