Cyril Claridge has a lifetime of memories as an accountant, war veteran, sportsman, horticultural judge and much more.
Now aged 87, his mind is as alert as ever as he reminisces on the busy life he has led.
Born in Salegate Lane, Cowley, he went to St Christopher’s Primary School, Temple Cowley Senior School, then the Oxford School of Technology, Arts and Commerce in St Ebbe’s, when Arnold Wainwright was headmaster and John Brookes was principal.
At the ‘Tec’ school, he studied commerce, including bookkeeping which became his trade.
He joined John Allen & Sons, the Cowley engineering company, at the age of 16 in 1940 and rose to become chief accountant.
After retiring in 1989, he continued as a trustee of the company pension scheme, finally calling it a day in 2010 after 70 years with the company.
One of the highlights of the year at John Allen’s was the 25 Club dinner, for staff with 25 and 40 years’ service.
It was held at the Cadena in Cornmarket Street, Oxford, at Minchery Farm Country Club and latterly at the Eastgate Hotel in High Street.
New members to the club were presented with a silver cigarette box. Those with 40 years’ service received gold watches.
Staff celebrated well on these occasions, with food and drink flowing at the company’s expense. One year, a drunken reveller lost his false teeth down the toilet! Mr Claridge, who lives in Hockmore Street, Cowley, pictured above, also put his financial skills to good use at Oxford Stadium, where he was chief cashier for more than 50 years.
After leaving school, he joined Oxford City Football Club, playing first for the Colts, then progressing to the reserve and first teams, before joining the Navy in 1942.
He played a few games for City after the war, but then turned out for John Allen’s and later Rose Hill and was still playing into his 50s. He was also a member of Oxford City Athletic Club.
In his busy life, he has also found time to tour the country judging chrysanthemums at numerous horticultural shows.
Mr Claridge’s picture of pupils in the St Frideswide pageant, published last week (above), was taken at Temple Cowley School, not the Oxford School for Technology, Arts and Commerce.
More of Cyril Claridge’s memories soon.