With thanks to Frank Harper
Duncan A North was the Headteacher of Kite Hill School, Oakwood Avenue, Purley, Surrey.I attended the school from 1956-60 between the ages of 5 and 8, the school having prepared me successully for the entrance exam to Caterham School
Although I was very young, my memories of Duncan North are quite vivid as follows:
He was in his fifties, possibly, clean shaven, and very much captain of the ship, benign but outwardly stern,who coloured when he was annoyed, as he often seemed to be.
At the beginning of the school day, he would stand at the entrance to the (only) building, and as boys arrived, greet them by surname. One morning, he greeted me as usual with a Good morning, Harper. The expected response was to say Good morning, Mr North, and tip your navy blue school cap in defference,and I was slow in responding and he bawled a repeated good morning at me so loud I jumped three feet in the air, my heart pounding.
He was known by the boys to keep a gym shoe in his office, which he used to slipper us with for extreme indiscretions ; I can remember getting it once as punishment for sprinkling pepper over the jelly of a boy called Ross one lunchtime.
Iremember him being a very formal but effective teacher, and I can recall isolated learning experiences which have always stood me in good stead, such as how to spell certain awkward words or know the distance around the earth.
I can remember acts of great kindness on his part, such as consoling me when I was upset after I had been warned not to worry if I passed my father's crashed car on way home, since he was not hurt.
In the Summer Term Mr North took a very large group of us boys once a week by bus to Croydon swimming Pools to learn to swim. We would all sit together upstairs in the double-decker bus, and we boys all clamoured to be given by Mr North the very long bus ticket that the conductor would roll out of the silver machine hanging from his neck The conductor and Mr North always spent a long time together, calculating and re-calculating the total fare, before they reached agreement and Mr North would hand over a fistful of loose change. It was like ' On The Buses' c1957!
Mr North seemed to have the knack oh hiring out some very good teachers , amongst them my favourites Miss Keeble, and Mr Exon (who wore a dog collar). Another person who did some occasional teaching was a Mrs North, whom I took to be Duncan'swife, but I wonder now whether it could have been his mother, since they are reported as living together at the School at one time.
Mr North wrote a school report each term, and although unfortunately I have lost all mine, I can recall them generally being supportive,and also visualise Duncan's spidery signature at the bottom of each one.
With thanks to Tony Russell
I was a pupil there from 1954 to 1958. My family lived in a big house in Warren Road, Purley, sadly long since demolished, and I well recall walking up the steep hill of Selcroft Road to Kite Hill School on the corner.
Mr North was a kindly man, but he had a tendency to be fiery when annoyed.I remember being marched into his study at the front of the house to receive my punishment for whacking another boy on the head with a ruler. The slipper really stung when one was only 9 years old.
We had boxing lessons in the gym, and I was a frog in the school play. Somewhere in my archives is a photo of that memorable occasion. I will try and locate it. In my study I have a little silver cup inscribed "A.P.Russell. runner up Kite Hill Sports. 1956. I am very proud of that, even to this day some 55 years later.
I remember Mr. Maynards music lessons and being berated for singing out of tune.
I also recall the kindly Miss Keeble.I was fascinated to view Keith Daveys, 1956 School photo on your web site. I am third from the left, top row 1. I left Kite Hill in 1958 to attend the John Fisher School for boys in Purley.