Industrial Alien

John Douglas Johnstone

Written and researched by David Bohl, with the kind help of the historians of Werrington.

Born in Carlisle, 1885 John Douglas Johnstone(JDJ) was a pupil teacher at the age of 15 and took up a teaching post in Liverpool before WW1. He was a founder member and captain of The Alien5 Rugby Club from 1908-11. He boarded at 94 Rosslyn St, Toxteth with fellow team member Hugh Mitchell and married in 1913 to Toxteth girl Ellen Cherry in Carlisle.

(Colours were black with an emerald hoop)

Looking at the many match reports and considering he was down as a forward, JDJ was a gifted runner and kicker. 

At Lower Park, Birkenhead; 3 30.
Park: Back,
C.H.Stewart; Three-Quarters, C.Jones, A.M.Legge, W.R.Gibbings, and G.H.Raschen; Halves, H.O.Pain and T.F.Dod; Forwards, G.Jones, F.H.Kendall, H.D.Ryalls, R.P.Ziegler, G.Urmson, P.W.Griffiths, and F.M.M’Crindell.
Back, H.W.Mitchell; Three-Quarters, J.Wood, J.W.A.Taylor(capt.), H.Tolson, and F.J.Applebee; Halves, J.P.Scott and E.E.Bond; Forwards, J.Fairley, J.W.Hetherington, J.D.Johnstone, R.W.Jones, R.T.Robinson, W.A.Stewart, W.Thomas, and A.L.Walker.

(Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury Saturday 28th September 1907)


Judging by their display at Clubmoor against the Aliens, Liverpool second string would seem to be bent on emulating the recent performances of the senior fifteen. Granted they had a team depleted in the three-quarter and forward line, and, granted also that the Aliens played greatly ahead of their usual form, the fact remains that Liverpool seconds were miserably weak. At full-back Montgomery was not reliable, while the threes were a moderate lot. Two Liverpool University players at half made little improvement, Crawford in particular doing practically nothing with the exclusion of a good try for goal from a place in the second half. Of the forwards, Crean and Darbyshire were the best of the bunch. The homesters, as has been indicated, played really well, and won 29-0, the fine goal kicking of Fairley being responsible for many of the points, Johnstone got four tries, causing much amusement by the cool way he planted just as he was collared by an opponent. Robinson(twice) and Stewart were the others to cross. Brown at back was always safe. The three-quarters and halves worked splendidly, Bonney standing out prominently while the forward line were eminently satisfactory.

(Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury 1st March 1909)


The Aliens are weekly adding to their laurels, and at Clubmoor, on Saturday, had the satisfaction of administering a 21-3 licking of an "A" team from Waterloo. Throughout the game the Aliens attacked consistently, whereas Waterloo trusted to unexpected rushes on the home line to gain them their points. At three-quarter and half they were inferior to the schoolmasters, whose doings were watched with considerable interest by Mr J.G.Legge, director of education. Johnstone ran in a brace of tries. The finest try of the afternoon was by Tolson, and others to cross were Robinson and Bonney. Fairley again carried off the honours in the goal kicking line, improving three of the five tries scored. Waterloo had plenty of chances, but their combination was poor, and their only score was an unconverted try, the wind being responsible for the failure of the kick.

The Aliens scored a runaway victory over Waterloo thirds after having all the game. The Aliens securing 30 points to 8 points for Waterloo.

(Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury 15th March 1909)


The Aliens have improved greatly in the last few weeks, and there is more method in their game plan, especially they are to be commended for rallying round a comrade attacked. Unity is strength, and this was proved time after time at Clubmoor on Saturday. Again there was no selfishness in their play, for no matter who had the ball, the player never rushed pall-mall, on his own, to certain disaster, but parted with the leather as occasion demanded. This enabled them to play three parts of the time in their opponents territory. Not that Cosmopolitan were weak; indeed, it was their very robust play that tended to keep the Aliens so active. To single out two particular players, J.D.Johnstone must be given the palm, on the one hand for fine all round play and for his ready acceptance of a drop goal, and on the other side to H.Gordon, the sprightly full back, whose sterling good run was well rewarded with a try. Both sets of forwards were fairly equal in the scrums, but the Aliens had the advantage in the back divisions, this accounted for their win by 10 points to 3.

(Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury 19th December 1910)


The Aliens thoroughly deserved their success against the Liverpool University, although they played below their best form. The 'Varsity opened strongly, and looked like walking away with the spoils, but once they got a grip of the game the homesters were more convincing. Their forwards were smarter in their combination, and showed a better understanding. The visiting forwards were a disjointed lot, working in fits and starts, but even at their best they never compared with the Aliens for judgement and understanding. The Aliens did all the scoring in the first half. Croxford scoring the first try after a fine individual effort by Johnstone, the veteran cleverly intercepting a 'Varsity pass. Ellis failed to convert from a difficult angle. After a clever passing move in the first half, Croxford securing the try between the posts for Bishop to convert. 'Varsity improved in the second half and scored tries through Lee and Anderson, Moore failing to improve on either kick. A feature of the game was the strong tackling and kicking of the 'Varsity back.

(Daily Post 30/1/1913)

Annual General Meeting held at Elm Bank, Oakfield May 27th 1913

Mr Knipe was voted to the chair.

The Election of Officers resulted as follows


Mr Legge

Vice Presidents

Messrs Adams, Booth, Camidge, Hendrie, Flenley, Johnstone, Kay, Knipe, Kearns, Morgan, Milbourn, Patterson, Nicholas, Rochester, Röhrs, Smith, Stringer, Madoc-Jones, Waldron, I.R.Williams, R.W.Jones

It is difficult to pin a WW1 military career to JDJ as all the available medals cards do not state a full middle name except for a Lieutenant in the Royal Lancaster Regiment who sadly died in 1917. There is also no record of him in the National Union of Teachers War Service database.

Further research thankfully finds him again in 1919 joining a newly formed Masonic Lodge in Hanley, just outside of Stoke-on-Trent.


Jasper Lodge had some prestigious members and JDJ would have rubbed shoulders with Spitfire designer R.J.Mitchell who was on the books until 1933.

The profession of "Superintendant" can be explained by his further appointment at Staffordshire County Industrial School in Werrington, i.e.promotion from Headmaster.

The fact that this may have been a Home Office appointment may well be the reason why he did not serve King and Country.
In this snippet he explains the operation of Home Office Schools:-

[First Published April 1, 1931]

Mr and Mrs Johnstone became very involved in local affairs, the Werrington Woman’s Institute was formed in 1923 and the first president was Mrs Johnstone.
The decision to build a Village Hall was approved at a public meeting held in 1931, and after years of fund raising the foundation stone was laid by Mrs Johnstone in July 1937, the Hall was opened in the following September. In the original governing document the founder members of the Hall are listed and we now know the couple had familiar names "Nellie and Douglas Johnstone".
Grainy photo of Nellie and Douglas
[The Werrington Book]

[June 1932]

JDJ's professional and most probably local activities were finally recognized in 1934 when he was awarded the OBE.

Order of the British Empire

JDJ was appointed Air Raid Precaution Warden before the outbreak of WW2.

[1939 Register -]

The Staffordshire Advertiser of 17 March 1945 runs an article on 'North Staffs Field Club — New President Nominated' in which it says,

'... for the ensuing year, to succeed Dr. A. Hilton John, Mr. Johnstone, who is headmaster and superintendent of the Werrington Approved Boys' School, where he has been since 1913, has done a good deal of historical research work...'  (This once again endorses why JDJ was excused WW1 service)

June 1945
Dec 1946
Sept 1948


After the war Mrs and Mrs Johnstone continued in their quest of improving the quality of life for the residents of Werrington.

Darby and Joan
The first meeting took place at the Village Hall on 25th October 1950 with just a handful of members. The clubs aim was to provide a fortnightly meeting of the senior citizens in Werrington to get together and socialise for a couple of hours. The club was formed by a small group of ladies from the village who raised funds by baking and selling cakes, organising raffles etc. and donations. The first recorded donation in the accounts was for ten shillings from J.D.Johnstone.

A rear extension to the Village Hall was built around 1955 consisting of a kitchen, and two function rooms, one of which was named the Johnstone Room (with oak panelling all round the room on the walls), in memory of J.D.Johnstone who was the main instigator behind the building of the hall, and an upper store room.
[The Werrington Book]

Another string to his bow was his appointment to be the Chair of Cheadle Magistrates.

In 1954 Werrington Approved School relocated to Uttoxeter, JDJ may well have been retired by then as he was living in Cheddleton, a bit further out of town.

He passed away in Stoke-on-Trent in 1959

Obituary in Press: The death occurred at the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary, Stoke-on-Trent. yesterday, of Mr John Douglas Johnstone, of Cheddleton. near Leek, historian, magistrate and teacher. He was 74.

(Our earlist recorded Historian ! )

John Douglas Johnstone OBE


Appendix (apologies for the quality of the OCR in places)



I am indebted to Mr. J. Douglas Johnstone, the superintendent, for the brief account that follows.  It should be noted in connection with this description that all the pupils at this school are in residence — a fact which enables the " shop " to be used more frequently and more incidentally than would be possible in a day school.  

It is generally conceded in these days that it is applied and concrete arithmetic that has to be taught, and practical work in this subject now occupies a prominent position in the curricula of many schools. Such practical work frequently takes the form of exercises in " Shopping " and the school shop is but a step further on.   

There are two entrance porches to our school-room, and, as one of them was seldom used as such, we resolved to use it as a shop. A long narrow table was installed as the counter, and an old desktop placed at one end. The scales, weights and measures in school-use received a permanent place in the centre of the counter, and the fittings were completed by the conversion of grocery boxes into shelves.  " Getting the stock ready was a most interesting and instructive time. We collected jam jars, bottles of all kinds, tea and cocoa packets, sugar and currant bags, starch boxes, match boxes, salt and syrup tins — in fact, anything we could fill with substitutes for the real things. Jam jars were covered with gummed papers, and labelled " Raspberry," " Marmalade," " Damson," etc. Pickle bottles were filled with round pebbles and water ; the various packets filled with sand and sealed up ; and the whole arranged on the counter and the shelves in a business-like fashion.  " The juniors supplied us with hand-made envelopes and paper bags, and pebbles sorted in sizes. These were used as peas, lump sugar, sweets, currants or raisins according to size, while the biggest of all were labelled " Potatoes " or " Eggs." One class produced some very creditable plasticine bananas, pies, biscuits, bars of chocolate, cakes — even chops. The same material was used for butter, margarine, cheese and lard, and weighed out when ordered. A good supply of sand was obtained, stored in biscuit tins, and used as flour, coffee, sugar, etc. For milk, vinegar, and paraffin oil we used water which we kept in a bucket. Articles of clothing, games, pocket knives, balls, toys, etc., were borrowed from the boys, while some of the articles made in the manual training classes were added to the stock.  " As soon as the collection of the stock and the arrangement of the shop were well in hand, a few of the senior boys were set to work preparing price tickets, bill heads, and the price list. When all was ready the staff was chosen. We appointed a manager from the seniors and an assistant manager from the juniors. They were responsible for the shop, its arrangement, and cleanliness. Others on the staff were two assistants, a clerk, and a commissionaire.  " The actual shopping was a matter of no little difficulty, but we ultimately adopted the following method. A time table was drawn up to arrange that each class in the school would have the use of the shop on one half-day every week. Three or four customers only were allowed to go shopping at once, so that their temporary absence from their class did not materially affect their class work. The teacher in the early stages was in frequent   ---------- Most teachers will have already prepared their own all-practical examples, but for the sake of the younger teachers we print in an appendix to this book, by the courtesy of the Superintendent, Mr. J. D. Johnstone, a set of examples in actual use at Werrington Industrial School, Stoke-on-Trent.  The History of English Weights and Measures. A  knowledge of syllabuses and methods at present in com- mon use in our elementary schools reveals to us the excel- lent developments that have been made within a genera- tion in the teaching of English weights and measures. Much mechanical teaching of course still persists, and much aimless reduction through the whole length and breadth of a " table " is still the introduction of many children to what ought to be a real and fascinating  

The appended list of All-practical Exercises is printed by the courtesy of Mr. J. D. Johnstone, Superintendent of .the Werrington Industrial School, Stoke-on-Trent. All the exercises are actually in use there substantially in the form introduced by Mr. Johnstone  


1. How much longer is your foot than that of the boy next to you ? If you draw a line on the
floor 12 of your feet long, and he drew a line 12
of his feet long, how much longer would your line
be than his ? Do it and see if you are right.

2. What is the distance round this card ?
Measure the shortest distance between the opposite corners. Put 4 cards together to make a rectangle four times the area of this one. How far is it round this rectangle ?

3. Find as carefully as you can find the distance round this T-square.

4. Work with another boy and take each other's measurements : head, neck, chest ("up and down "), waist, thigh, knee, calf, ankle, " muscle," and wrist.

5. Measure the diameter of this ball, pipe, jam jar, cylinder. Callipers.

6. Here is a match-box, carefully open it out, and with this cardboard make one similar

7. Measure the length and breadth of the platform (or top of cupboard, desk, floor, etc.), find the distance all round it.

8. How much farther is it round the top of the table than round the top of the stool ?

9. What height are you ? How much higher are the blackboard and the door ?

10. If a fly walked from a corner of your book
right round the edge till it came to the corner at
which it started, and then walked to the opposite
corner, how far has it gone ?

11. Estimate the lengths of the cupboard, floor,
a desk, the heights of the door, the window, the
board, your teacher. Write your answers down.
Now measure them and compare your results.

 12. Here is a book. Estimate how much string
you would need to tie it up, allowing 3 inches for
the knot. Now do it and see if you were

13. How far can you span ? Measure the
length of the desk by spanning. Measure it next
with a ruler. Were you nearly right ? Which
has the larger span, your right hand or your left ?
How much larger ?

14. Take ten ordinary steps from a chalk line.
How far have you gone ? How long was each
step, supposing each was the same length ?
Remember how long your step is.

15. How high do you think the room is ? Get
a long stick and measure it.

16. I want to put a skirting board or picture
rail round the room. How long will it be ?

17. Take all the measurements you want to
make a " ruler " drawing of the door (window,
picture frame).

18. Draw a triangle, an oblong, a circle, a
square. Out them out and find the distance all
round (use thread for the circle).

19. Obtain a map of England. Measure the dis-
tances from (a) London to Stoke, (b) Carlisle to
Newcastle, (c) Bristol to Hull.

20. Here is a piece of string. Tie six knots in
it. Measure it now. How much string does a
knot take up ?

21. Here is a piece of string. Make a square
with it. How long is one side ? Make a triangle
with three equal sides. How long is one side ?

22. How long would 20 pencils be if placed end
to end ?

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