I joined the staff in 1955, the second year of the School. The stalwarts of the first year staff are seen in the recent photo on the site and I managed to remember all the names since they all went on to teach for at least one year more. I had most to do with Dennis Wiggins, German, since he was Housemaster of Canterbury House which I joined. C.R. Wright, English, had taught History in the first year so I liaised with him - a seasoned campaigner! I remember at the first staff meeting, as we sat round the table with our class files, he asked ‘who’s got 2D?’ I said I had; a slow smile spread round the table! That form obviously had form! I sat all my classes in alphabetical order for quick identification until I got to know them - that first year I taught the whole School at two periods a week. So 2D started Butt - Capon - Davis - that’s as far as I can go 61 years later. H was for Hillman - Alan who turned out not to be the tearaway I was warned to expect and actually stayed the course and ignored the temptations of Geography to get his GCE in History.
I got on well with 2D and they gave me a pricey book token at the end of the year, probably the only teacher’s pressie I ever got - it didn't happen in those days. Being form-master was an education for a new teacher.
Another education was housemaster. Not much is said about the House system on the website. I found it very rewarding. I started as sidekick to Dennis Wiggins in Canterbury, inhabited by such luminaries as Alan Eaton. However, Canterbury was lost when the Houses were reduced to four in number and I took over Rochester from Frank Bird (M.Oiseau note only one ’s’) when he left to work in Coventry - I also bought his house! The House competitions were an interesting sideline to teaching History - fancied myself as a universal coach! You couldn’t invent a second row called Beer and Basham, rejoice in the magic of John Pinder, feel delighted with the 400m victory of Ben Brown, almost as lanky as me but no sprinter but willing to have a go at most things, or rejoice when the chunky member of the tennis team, name has drifted away, took on the job of fly-half and nailed it.
We had our House meetings on Wednesday in the Dining Room and the House Prayer was taken from, I think, St Ignatius Loyola ‘Teach me O Lord to serve Thee as Thou deservest, to give and not to count the cost, to fight……etc. Once a month each House led School prayers so you all got it sometimes! Perhaps we don't hear too much about the House system because three-quarters of you weren't in Rochester and want to keep quiet about it - yah boo!
I left CVTHS in 1963 after eight very rewarding and HARD years during which, alongside starting A level Economic History, running the School Tennis Team with its fixtures, organising a Sixth Form debating group, I took an external degree of B.Sc(Econ) at London University and assisted my wife to raise three children, the eldest of whom will be 60 this year. Education was going Comprehensive and promotions from outside that system proved difficult, so I stepped into the unknown to Further Education to teach, Economic History, Economics, British Constitution and Statistics - yes all on the same timetable and to A or Professional Qualification level - at Catford College of Commerce which was making the ambitious step from Evening Institute to take day students mainly from abroad.
I was in the right place at the right time - I got on the lift and it went up with me. In 1966 I moved to Kingston College of Further Education as Head of Department of General Studies and in 1970 I became Vice Principal of Walbrook College in the City of London which grew to be City and East London. Finally in 1975 I became Principal of Westminster College, newly amalgamated with Poulteney Collge to make a large multi-disciplined College of Further & Higher Education on five sites in Westminster and Battersea, including the famous School of Catering in Vincent Square and the old Battersea Polytechnic building in Wandsworth. All of these challenging and largely unfamiliar areas of education were a fitting follow-on to the spirit of CVTHS whose contribution I readily acknowledge. I retired in 1988 and have had a very rewarding time traveling to worthwhile places in Western Europe, reading loads of books and making sure my neighbourhood is run to the satisfaction of the several Residents Associations that I have been allowed to Chair!
Listen here to the 62 minute interview with Tony Bradley recorded by Adrian Appley in 2012