Memories from Old Scholar John Christopher Jones

Aerial photograph of Birchington Hall in Stamford, around the time that Christopher Jones was there

Our parents came to London from Wales in the late 1940s, looking for work.

Dad was a bricklayer so there was plenty of bomb damage in London that needed repairing. But sadly, Dad died in January 1951.

Mum struggled to look after me and my brother Robert (single parents got very little support back then), so eight months later we entered Birchington. It was in the finishing stages of completion.

I remember the steam rollers finishing off the roads – a highlight was the day that soldiers arrived to blow up stubborn tree trunks in the middle of the rec!

As most of the boys and girls had moved from Reigate to Birchington, Robert and I might have been among the first new boys. We were in Stanbourne House.

I remember the excitement of listening to the coronation on the radio in 1953, and all about the ascent of Everest.

At 11 I moved to Charlesworth House and King Ethelbert School. We were all very fit, walking the mile to school, back for dinner, back to school for afternoon and then home again. Great fun in the snow.

I loved football and cricket and represented Spurgeons at both. We had tennis courts next to the pavilion and there were always competitions between the different houses at Birchington, as there were at King Ethelbert School. Always competitions and sports, which gives you an idea about life.

Spurgeons football team, with Christopher Jones pictured top right

We probably thought things were strict, but we lived in new blocks, ate good food (but there were always jokes about that) and had clean beds and uniforms.

Mum visited us every month. Between times, she sent regular sweets and goodies, and the prized Charles Buchan Football Monthly and other comics. But sadly she died within a year of my leaving Birchington in 1958.

My brother Robert left Spurgeons nine months later. He joined the army and later became a policeman. I worked as a plumber’s mate and then became a plumber myself.

Spurgeons Old Scholars

Old Scholars are those supporters who spent some of their childhood living at Spurgeons Children’s Homes in Birchington and Reigate.

We encourage alumni to keep in touch with us and share their memories.

Read more about our heritage and Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

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