St Joseph's College Blackpool

Old Boys reunions– Southern Section

If any OBs are living within easy reach of London they may be interested to know that the ‘London Chapter’ meets twice a year – Spring & Autumn.

This group was set up in 2015, not as an alternative to the Blackpool reunion, but as an additional one and has proved to be very popular. Albeit the current membership comprises OBs who attended between the early 50s and early 60s but other years would be most welcome to join us.

Obviously the annual reunion dinner and Mass for deceased Old Boys in Blackpool is the main event of the OB’s year and we have no wish to form a renegade group but these London meetings have proved to be very enjoyable for those living within easy reach of the capital.

Newcomers would be very welcome – just drop me a line johnrsheard@hotmail.com and I’ll add your name to the list of interested parties.  John Sheard (Southern Section)

This is what the Southern Section get up to.

Minutes written by John Sheard, St. Joseph’s College Old Boys Association (London).

Reunion 29/10/19.
The following regulars of the London Chapter of St. Joseph’s OBA had their autumn reunion on Tuesday 29th October – Chris Eaves, Peter Ellwood, Michael Fenech, John Higham, John Sheard, Michael Tyrer and Howard Yates. We were pleased to be joined by a friend of Tyrers, Brian Kiely, who hails from Melbourne, Australia and who had the dubious honour of being educated by the Irish Christian Brothers at St. Kilda’s College in Melbourne.

We all met for coffee on the fifth floor of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in order to escape the hoards of schoolchildren that we had encountered in the ground floor coffee shop on our last visit. We intended to return to Joe Allen’s for lunch but we had a change of plan and so made our way to the IET (Institution of Engineering & Technology) in Savoy Place where we were all guests of Ellwood.

Culture now intervened and Tyrer led us via a No. 11 bus to the Guildhall (where London began – according to their booklet). First stop was the Great Hall, which dates from 1411 and where they were preparing for the ‘Silent Ceremony’ of swearing in the new Lord Mayor of London on 8th November. Next, to the Roman Amphitheatre which is under the Guildhall Yard, then the Guildhall Art Gallery. The church of St. Lawrence Jewry is the official church of the City of London Corporation and was rebuilt by Wren after the Great Fire. Believe it or not but another church was next on our route and as we heard the chimes of Bow Bells we felt compelled to visit their source, St. Mary le Bow which has been on this site in Cheapside for nearly a thousand years.

Regular readers of this piece will be amazed that we had not yet found a watering hole – and it was getting dark! Fear not, Tyrer led us to Ye Olde Watling in the street of the same name. At this stage we disagreed about the route of this famous Roman road. Mike thought that it ran due north to Scotland and Sheard was convinced that it ran to Holyhead – they were both wrong! On checking St. Google it seems that it ran from Dover via London and St. Albans and then on to Wroxeter!

One by one we all left for home but not before we were joined by Yates’ daughter Stephanie. It is a fact that we have now met her twice – always in a pub!

The suggestion that our next reunion, in the spring, will be to take a river boat to Greenwich where there is plenty to see – the Prime Meridian, National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark etc. and no doubt an odd pub or two.

We would welcome other OBs so if you would like to join us get in touch with John Sheard (johnrsheard@hotmail.com) and I’ll add your name to the list.
 

Reunion 23/05/19.
The London Chapter of St. Joseph’s OBA, which was set up in 2015, had its late Spring reunion on Thursday 23rd May (Euro election day!) and we were joined by two “new” OBs – Michael Fenech (the only border in our midst) 1950-55 & 1958-61 (he left to become a CB then changed his mind!) and Kevin McGuinness 1961-69. In addition our party consisted of John Higham, Chris Eaves, Pete Ellwood, Tom (Lord) McNally, Howard Yates & John Sheard.

Most of us met for coffee at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden where it was almost impossible to hear each other as the place was constantly assailed by hundreds of young schoolchildren awaiting a special matinee performance of I don’t know what! We then returned to a previous venue choice for lunch, Joe Allen’s, which has moved into the basement of the Strand Palace Hotel, just off the Strand. Here we were joined by Eaves, whose train from Preston had been delayed and McNally.

After lunch Tom had to return to Westminster and Kevin to a previous engagement but the rest of us went on a walkabout which included a visit to the museum in the Grand Lodge of the Freemasons in Gt. Queen Street as Fenech is an enthusiastic member and was keen to show us around.

It was a pretty warm day in town so liquid refreshment was obviously essential at this stage so we tried to elbow our way into the Punch & Judy pub which overlooks the cobbled street artist’s area at one end of the old market buildings. Unfortunately this place was heaving so our alternative choice was the Lamb & Flag in Rose Street. This is a traditional Georgian pub, the former haunt of Charles Dickens and once known for bare-knuckle fights! However, Higham insisted that we were there solely for religious reasons - the lamb being Agnus Dei with the flag being a Christian cross c/f Proud Preston! Yates had arranged to meet his daughter about 5 o’clock but as we had only just reached the pub Stephanie was persuaded to join us all there. Only time for one pint as some of us had to get home so we parted with regret and agreed to repeat the exercise in the Autumn.

Any other OBs are very welcome to join us – it’s obviously not necessary to live within easy reach of London – Chris Eaves travels from Colne and Howard Yates from Crosby. Just get in touch with John Sheard (johnrsheard@hotmail.com) and I’ll add your name to the list.

Reunion 1/10/18.
The London Chapter of St. Joseph’s Old Boys Association, comprising Pete Ellwood, John Higham, Tom (Lord) McNally, Mike Tyrer, & John Sheard, met again on 1st October on what proved to be a lovely warm, sunny day. It was only a couple of weeks since Tom’s OBA lunch in the House of Lords so numbers were a little down.

Our usual meeting point is Starbucks Cafe near the Embankment tube station and after whiling away a good half hour there we sauntered along to Joe Allen’s Restaurant which is just off The Strand, opposite the Savoy. There we met Tom and enjoyed a very good two course lunch which was enlivened by Mike’s tales of his recent pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella (the Camino).

Unfortunately Tom then had to get back to Westminster so the four of us made our way to Covent Garden and the Royal Opera House to inspect the recently completed ‘Open Up’ project. This was truly amazing experience. EM Barry’s original 1858 building has been enhanced by the conversion of the old Flower Market into a wonderful atrium with access to a roof terrace which overlooks the original Covent Garden and gives one an unusual perspective of the London skyline.

Next was a visit to the National Gallery on the way to which we remarked how quiet this part of London was. Not only did the traffic seem light but it appeared that the usual crush of tourists was absent. On reaching Trafalgar Square we discovered why – they were all there, and in the Gallery! However, we fought our way through several rooms of Constables, Monets, Turners, van Goghs, Canalettos etc. etc. fantastic! Then it was out into the Square to see the Fourth plinth which currently displays Rakowttz’s recreation of a sculpture, Lamassu, which was destroyed by ISIS in 2005. This one is made out of 10,500 tins of Iraqi date syrup!

Our last stop was the roof garden/bar of the Trafalgar Hotel which we decided would make a better meeting point than Starbucks for subsequent reunions – provided it’s available.

Our next reunion will be in the Spring and any OBs from no matter which years will be very welcome to join us. Drop me a line johnrsheard@hotmail.com and I’ll add your name to the list.

Reunion 26/04/18.
The London Chapter of St. Joseph’s Old Boys Association, comprising Mike Tyrer, John Higham, Chris Eaves, Pete Ellwood, Howard Yates & John Sheard, met again on 26th April. Unfortunately Tom (Lord) McNally was unable to join us due to Parliamentary business.
We met, as usual, near the Embankment tube station and after a leisurely coffee strolled through a wonderful display of tulips and other spring flowers in Embankment Gardens to Somerset House. Once again we were Pete‘s guests for lunch at the Institute of Engineering & Technology which is next to the Savoy Hotel and overlooks the river.

After lunch it was but a short stroll up Savoy Street, across the Strand to Covent Garden where, again at Pete’s invitation we spent an hour or so at the London Transport Museum.

Anyone who has read these reports before will realise that alcohol was now becoming necessary so we repaired to the Nag’s Head in Floral Street for a couple of pints. In September Mike intends to walk the Camino de Santiago and as Stanford’s map shop was just around the corner, in Long Acre, he was the first to leave us.

Compared to previous reunions this one seemed to be over quite early but as Chris had to catch the 7.30 train from Euston we all took that as our cue to wend our ways.

There is no doubt that we are all keen to continue with these London reunions and more Old Boys, from whatever period, would be very welcome to join us. A pattern of Spring and Autumn meetings has evolved so why not drop me a line (johnrsheard@hotmail.com) and I’ll add your name to the list of interested parties. We think that our next reunion will be in late September but timing might depend on the take up for Tom’s lunch in the House of Lords. We thought that a river cruise to Greenwich might be a good idea.

Reunion 11/10/17.
The latest (4th) London reunion took place on Wednesday 11th October 2017 and was attended by the following Old Boys (from the classes of the 50s and early 60s):- Chris Eaves, John Higham, Mike Tyrer, Peter Ellwood, Howard Yates & John Sheard.

We met by the Embankment tube station and lunched, as guests of Peter Ellwood, at the Institute of Engineering & Technology. Post-lunch tours are usually led by Mike as he is an occasional volunteer guide to London and this time we wandered up Savoy Hill and visited the Queens Chapel of the Savoy which is hidden away just behind the famous hotel. Since time immemorial the Savoy Chapel has been part of the central London estate of the Duchy of Lancaster, and therefore the private chapel of Her Majesty the Queen in right of her Duchy of Lancaster.

After crossing the Strand we walked through the old Covent Garden Market to visit Corpus Christi church in Maiden Lane, the spiritual home of the Catholic Stage Guild (CaAPA) and the Latin Mass Society. Cardinal Vincent Nichols has recently requested the complete restoration of Corpus Christi and the work has begun.

Just over the road is Rules, the oldest restaurant in London, established by Thomas Rule in 1798, but currently undergoing major engineering works which we were told had to be completed by the weekend!

Although we like to incorporate a reasonable amount of culture in these tours I’m afraid the lure of recounting our school days in a convivial manner is too great and so we soon found our way to the Salisbury pub in St. Martin’s Lane, noted for its particularly fine late Victorian interior!

After too short a time sadly our numbers diminished as other priorities took precedence over another pint and so just three of us were left to wander off to our various stations at about 6.30.

Thanks, as usual to Pete and Mike for their input and we agreed to repeat the exercise again in the spring. Maybe next time we shall head for South Kensington so that lunch could be followed by either the Science, Natural History or V&A museums.

Talking of which we thought that we ought to invite other Old Boys, not necessarily from our years, who have easy access to London, to join us. If that is you, just drop me a line (johnrsheard@hotmail.com) and I’ll add your name to the list of interested parties. As I have said before the annual reunion dinner and Mass for deceased Old Boys in Blackpool is the main event of the OB’s year and we have no wish to form a renegade group but these London meetings have proved to be very enjoyable for those living within easy reach of the capital. Newcomers would be very welcome.

In the meantime a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all OBs.

Reunion 27/04/17.
The following six Old Boys (from the classes of the 50s & early 60s) form the nucleus of the London Chapter of St. Joseph’s Old Boys Association: - Tom (Lord) McNally, Mike Tyrer, John Higham, Chris Eaves, Pete Ellwood & John Sheard with occasional appearances from Rob Shawcross. Howard Yates came down from the wilds of the Wirral and was very welcome this time. There are now sixteen OBs who have asked to be kept “in the loop”.

Obviously the annual reunion dinner and Mass for deceased Old Boys in Blackpool is the main event of the OB’s year and we have no wish to form a renegade group but these London meetings (four so far) have proved to be very enjoyable for those living within easy reach of the capital. Newcomers are always welcome – just drop me a line (johnrsheard@hotmail.com) and I’ll add your name to the list of interested parties.

Our most recent reunion took place on April 27th when we met outside the Embankment tube station. At John Higham’s invitation we then took coffee at the Civil Service Club which is just around the corner and then we made for lunch as guests of Pete Ellwood at the Institute of Engineering Technology.

Unfortunately Tom McNally had to leave us after lunch but everyone else was led by Mike Tyrer (he’s an occasional London guide) to the Royal Courts of Justice via the Strand and St. Clement Danes. In one of the courts that was sitting we were asked to leave the public gallery as there wasn’t enough space for us to sit and standing is verboten! Lincoln’s Inn, via Carey (Queer) Street was the next port of call and outside the chapel in the Old Square a plaque marks the spot where a bomb fell from a Zeppelin at 9.45 pm. in October 1914. Shrapnel damage is still very obvious on the surrounding walls. Next stop was by the Land Registry building that doubled up as the Halcyon Hotel in the recent TV series. On a walk through Lincoln’s Inn Fields Mike Tyrer was accosted by a group of Belgian teenagers. Their project was to invite a Brit to read a few lines of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet (Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou?) which they could record! Look out for Mike’s excellent performance on You Tube!

Alcohol was now becoming a necessity so Mike & Pete led us to the Lamb & Flag in Covent Garden via Drury Lane and Long Acre. This was a favourite watering hole of Charles Dickens and was known for bare knuckle fights. After a very enjoyable hour or so we all wended our separate ways home with the intention of holding our next reunion in the autumn – probably before the clocks go back on 28th October so get in touch if you would like to join us.

Reunion 09/11/16.
The following Old Boys (from the classes of the 50s & early 60s) form the nucleus of the London Chapter of St. Joseph’s Old Boys Association:- Mike Tyrer, John Higham, Chris Eaves, Pete Ellwood & John Sheard with occasional appearances from Tom (Lord) McNally & Rob Shawcross. However, there are now fifteen OBs who have asked to be kept “in the loop”.

Obviously the annual reunion dinner and Mass for deceased Old Boys in Blackpool is the main event of the OB’s year and we have no wish to form a renegade group but these London meetings (three so far) have proved to be very enjoyable for those living within easy reach of the capital. Newcomers would be very welcome – just drop me a line (johnrsheard@hotmail.com) and I’ll add your name to the list of interested parties.

Our most recent reunion took place on November 9th when we met outside the Embankment tube station and wandered through Victoria Embankment Gardens to lunch at the IET (Institution of Engineering & Technology) as guests of Pete Ellwood. A very enjoyable lunch at a reasonable cost (for this part of London – it’s next door to the Savoy!).
Mike Tyrer is now an occasional guide to London so, after lunch, he led us on a tour of:-
1 - Somerset House where we viewed the Nelson circular staircase and the ice rink which was due to open on 17th November.
2 - Kings College Chapel where we enjoyed an undergraduate choir practice. This chapel was designed by George Gilbert Scott and damaged by bombing during WWII, restored in 1948 and refurbished in 2001.
3 - A short walk down the Strand and Fleet Street passing the Royal Courts of Justice to the wonderful “other world” charm of Middle Temple. Temple Church was built by the Knights Templar and consecrated in 1185. As it features in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code they now charge £5 entry in order to control the flocks of tourists (in November?).
4 – Mike then led us to Gordon’s Wine bar (London’s oldest – established in 1890) which occupies the cellars of Kipling House which was the home of Samuel Pepys in the 1680’s and Rudyard Kipling in the 1890’s. This was at about 4.00 pm. – we eventually left for home about 8.15!
Many thanks to Pete & Mike for their input this time – really looking forward to the next reunion which will probably be in the spring so get in touch if you would like to join us. In the meantime a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all OBs.

 

If any other Old Boys would like to form groups or associations, please let me know and I will advertise it on the website. John V Ward (webmaster) jvward2003@yahoo.com
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