Updated 08 Apr 2012
Retford Grammar School
British Amateur Rocket Research Association 1962
sent by Tom Randall
Tom Randall sends these scans, thanks Tom
Tom Randall writes
Whilst sorting out an accumulation of old papers & photographs today, I came across 2 issues of the newsletter of the British Amateur Rocket Research Association newsletter, Ariel, issued in April & May 1962. BARRA’s most notable achievement was securing as its honorary president none other than the renowned rocket engineer
Wernher Von Braun, who, if memory serves me well, agreed to accept this honourable post on the understanding that there was no financial commitment involved! I say this was the group’s most notable success since its attempts at getting anything else off the ground met with repeated failure.
BARRA was a sixth form project, the brain child of:
with a few others of whom my recollections are a bit hazy. Other listed “officials” were C.W. Revett, I. P. Burgeon, A. S. Gilbert, J. N. Harris, K. Sharpe, J. L. Bishop and J. Olsen. Apparently the membership of this elite organisation approached 40!
Dr Wernher von Braun
I apologise for the poor quality of the scans – they are just about readable – but it has more to do with the inadequacies of the school Gestetner duplicator than my scanner. I have only attached the first page of each issue.
I hope John Palmer finds this of sufficient interest to add to his excellent website, after all it serves to demonstrate what pioneers we were back then, at the cutting edge of space technology no less!
[Address, phone and email supplied, ask
Website for fine books:
Newsletter of the British Amateur Rocket Research Association newsletter, Ariel, issued in April 1962
Newsletter of the British Amateur Rocket Research Association newsletter, Ariel, issued in May 1962
----Anyone with more details for publication on this webpage,
please email ----
John Palmer writes:
Good to hear from you. I'll get the info on the Retford Grammar School website as soon as I can. Interestingly there is no result for "British Amateur Rocket Research Association " on Google. This will shortly be remedied!
In 1958 two of my buddies and I formed a rocket group. It was solid fuel, based on potassium perchlorate and aluminium powder. We spent a lot of time locating aluminium
tubing for the body. We had two failures, and a partial success, each time with spectacular sparks and vast quantities of white smoke. Later we heard that NASA had stolen our
ideas to use in the silo-based Minuteman and the shuttle solid boosters. We also had an offshoot bomb-factory and manufactured detonators based on Nitrogen Iodide
which we used with universal acclaim on Mr Maths Jones' chalk and on the steps up to the Hall stage. One day the full story can be told.......
I didn't think of asking Werner to be our Hon. President, but did write to Col. Nasser about Suez, and also made a collection for the Hungarian Uprising refugees, both in 1956 I think.
We first had to get permission from John Gover, who wanted to know who had put us up to it. We collected 25/-, quite a lot in those days.
Didn't we all have a good time!
John Palmer, Dorset, England
Tom Randall writes 08apr2012
I have just unearthed these 2 photos of the school production of Iolanthe
in the winter of 1961. Here are the names I remember:
Stage Crew: standing to the left of the ladder,
L – R Brooke (John? Son of the then geography master I think),
Fox (Charles), Millican (Peter).
Beneath ladder – sorry 4 names I cannot recall at all.
Standing to the right of the ladder, Randall (Trevor [me]),
Standing on the ladder, top, Wilson (James), middle – Wright (Ian?)
Actors in costume: I can only remember the Judge on the left,
that was Michael Power. The girls were from the Girls High School.
As I recall, the production was a huge success and ran for 3 nights.
Apologies to those whose names I have forgotten
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