"It seems truly like the breaking up of a family, for that is how I have always thought of the Goldings folk. I am
happy to know that many of you have improved your circumstances sad though the parting was. I trust you all
will eventually find success and happiness in your new fields of endeavour and that some of us, sometime, will
have the joy of meeting up again."
These are the words written by my father 50 years ago for the last issue of "The Goldonian" having been advised
that the William Baker Technical School was to be closed down and "Goldings" in its Dr. Barnardos sense,
would exist no more.
However, not in his wildest dreams could my father have imagined that the very special family he had helped to
create would continue to gather each year on the 1st Saturday in October and today celebrate being together again
50 years after the school closed its doors.
So. Hello everybody! Look around! What brings each of you here today? Some have travelled long distances.
Others are here for the very first time. Surely it is neither an accident nor a coincidence that despite advancing
years and dwindling numbers, today is one of the largest ever gathering of Goldings Old Boys and their families
joined once again to celebrate a very special occasion.
A day to make a sense of collective belonging, remembering times now long ago when the thought and possibility
of a normal family life were completely in the imagination. However, in its place grew the roots of what you see
around you. A unique family with its own culture, traditions and even its own special language.
I remember particularly the phrase "Digsy Pinhead" which, when translated, meant the imminent arrival of my
father. He was "Pinhead" and, inevitably I became "Pinhead Junior"
Creating a more "homely" Goldings was the cornerstone of my fathers professional life. The decision to close
down after 21 years of hard labour and endeavour by all concerned literally broke his heart, from which he never
Looking at you all today, I am inevitably left with a question: How many other teenage boys were denied
opportunity by Barnardos decision, for whatever reasons, to shut up shop? There were no prior discussions with
my father and his senior staff. He was merely summoned to Stepney and told of Councils decision. When you
think how well Goldings boys have flourished across many different careers and endeavours, both at home and
abroad, including awards from The Queen, that decision seems like politics today- short-sighted and
Goldings was my home too. Arriving as an 8-year-old, I enjoyed collective companionship and friendship for
14 years before leaving to seek my fortune in the jungles of Borneo. Looking back, it was a real privilege to live
amongst you, enjoying, I must say, wonderful sporting facilities and certain activities not normally available
in the average household.
Perhaps, at times, I enjoyed being involved in too many collective pranks for my parents' comfort! Scrumping,
going out of bounds, climbing on the roof to look for baby Jackdaws to tame and getting into the Castle Cinema
without paying. The latter was achieved simply by one or two of us going through the proper entrance in order to
let the rest in via the Exit door!
When I was 13 my father toyed with idea of sending me away to boarding school. However, I was enjoying
myself far too much for him to have any chance of getting my cooperation.
Of course, days like this just donít happen by accident. They are the result of a lot of hard work by Old Goldings
boys over many years. Names of those no longer with us immediately spring to mind. John Hunt, Jimmy James,
Brian Perrier, Alan Dearman, John Horn and many others. Also, staff member Bob Newton, well-loved and
respected by all. We are delighted that wives Joan James, Ellen Perrier and Evelyn Newton are with us today. We
also welcome Joan Embleton, daughter of my fathers right-hand man and final Headmaster. She has travelled from
Wales to be here.
To our regular supporters I say "thankyou" for coming again, particularly Arthur Dearmer who was at Goldings
during the 1930s. We had also hoped to have Arnold Hargreaves with us to celebrate his 100th birthday, but sadly
he is not well enough to travel. I must also mention Bob Robertson who, until a few days ago, had intended to fly
in from Australia but ill-health has prevented him from making the journey half-way across the world.
Over the last 10 years the mantle has been assumed by Dave Blower and his lovely family. Thank you Dave for
making this joyful day a wonderful reality. I know that you have many helpers but if I mention some I will
inevitably forget others so thankyou to all concerned.
I once asked Dave how he ended up at Goldings. His answer was short and to the point: "Because I was a
naughty boy I wasnít aware of who owned certain goods."
We are also extremely grateful to David and Denise who each year open up their flat at Goldings and provide
ample food and all forms of liquid sustenance. This most generous act enables us all to relive moments and
memories of long ago when it was our home. It is great to have you with us at our Celebration Service.
There is one other special person of whom I must also make mention. Cliff "Pop" Steele has always been with
us throughout 50 years. Originally the youngest member of staff: Now the doyen of the Goldings family. Thank
you Cliff for always being there and for your unstinted support and loyalty.
In conclusion, let me just say that I am proud to be considered an honorary Old Boy and even more proud of my
fathers work at Goldings. He was a kindly, emotional man who himself came from a humble working-class
background. If he could see you all assembled here today he would know that the hope he had expressed in the
final edition of The Goldonian has been more than amply fulfilled.
Truly "Finis coronat Opus - The End has Crowned the Work"
I am sorry that Carolyn and I cannot be with you tonight. We must hasten back to Surrey for my daughters 50th
birthday celebration. She was born as Goldings closed. Every end is a new beginning. Enjoy your evening together.
We shall be back again with you next year.
David F. Wheatley,
October 7th, 2017.