1095 Days

1095 days. Or 3 years. The numbers don’t matter; nobody’s counting. Each one is the same, each one misses you. Always my love.

The sunflower

Hold On

Before this website existed I had another one, norcimo.com. For quite some time accessing a top level area of that site has redirected to a holding page. I’ve just changed things to redirect here instead. How exciting.

Rochester Time

A view which shows the strength of Rochester Castle

Fortress

A view which shows the strength of Rochester Castle

Another trip to Rochester was long overdue and a sunny weekend offered the perfect opportunity. It seems we always manage to hit the weekend with engineering works on the trains though so we were left with the choice of a possibly unreliable rail replacement bus half way or, the route we took, the long way round via Bromley. Got there in the end though (passing through the new station they seem to be building) to glorious warm sunshine reflecting off the Medway.

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Google Fail (Or Brighton Avenue Photos)

A view of the infants from 1984

Brighton Avenue Infants

A view of the infants from 1984

And now for a tale of a bit of a failure at finding something online. In general it’s a sign one is struggling when your own pages are turning up at the top. Anyway, basic premise and frustration: It seems impossible to find photos of my old school (I should point out that by old school I also mean the old buildings, from before they built the “new” buildings and knocked the old down to form the current playing fields).

An undated view of the infants, seen from Whitehall Road

Brighton Avenue Infants

An undated view of the infants, seen from Whitehall Road

A Brighton Avenue school class outside the nursery in 1956.

Nursery View

A Brighton Avenue school class outside the nursery in 1956.

There are a few of course. The easiest to find seems to be this shot from 1984, which I originally found on the new apparently defunct iSee Gateshead (if the date is correct then, given I was 7 in 1984, that’s probably my lollypop lady!) That also appears in the Friends Reunited photos, along with a second* which appeared after my original post from the 1960s but looking pretty much as I remember through the mists of time. They’re just about the only shots showing the actual school (there are a few group photos taken outside but you can’t see much, though one does show the nursery building and the stairs at the corner of the infants—I have half a memory that at least until a certain age you didn’t use that entrance as the stairs were deemed dangerous).

The junction with Whitehall Road

Brighton Road 1901

The junction with Whitehall Road

Outside Brighton Avenue school

Class of 1958

Outside Brighton Avenue school

iSee Gateshead also had this 1901 photo, which has a glimpse of the school on the left (the church on the right is still there, though the church hall is gone). I did also turn up this 1958 photo from from another source, with a little bit of very red looking exterior. But it was back to iSee Gateshead for the final and probably best photo, from 1966 (mislabelled Brighton Road School, see this blog post for some discussion of that). From memory that’s the junior school facing Brighton Road.

Seen in 1966

Brighton Avenue

Seen in 1966

And that was about it! My quest for any more had failed. I don’t even seem to have any myself (a couple inside but nothing outside).

As seen from Balfour Street in 1989

Brighton Avenue School

As seen from Balfour Street in 1989

2004 street view down Balfour Street

Balfour Street View

2004 street view down Balfour Street

There's More: The reason for reposting the old post to this blog is I’ve recently discovered a couple more pictures, over on Gateshead Libraries’ Local Studies Collection. One is the long range of the junior school, looking down the hill from Balfour Street (it’s interesting to compare to the view today. The second is a similar angle to the last, best photo I’d previously found, but taken from outside the walls in 1989—so shortly before demolition. I suspect that what look like building materials in the foreground are related to the construction of the replacement buildings which stand today* Now I think about it, I’m pretty certain the photo is from the access road into the “new” school, as Brighton Road doesn’t curve round like that.

Shortly before demolition (1989)

The Old Brighton Avenue

Shortly before demolition (1989)

A couple more: Two more, looking along the rear of Ravensworth Terrace (now at Beamish) with the school in the distance:

Rear of Ravensworth Terrace, with a distant Brighton Avenue school

Ravensworth Rear

Rear of Ravensworth Terrace, with a distant Brighton Avenue school

A view of the rear of Ravensworth Terrace, with Brighton Avenue school at the end

Brighton Avenue Along Ravensworth Terrace

A view of the rear of Ravensworth Terrace, with Brighton Avenue school at the end

What I’d really like is a view form the other, Liddell Terrace, side. The search continues!

Where'd they come from?!:

Bensham, late 1940s/early 1950s

Pre-1953 Map

Bensham, late 1940s/early 1950s

While looking for internal shots following the comments below I actually found I had these two shots in my collection—no idea where they came from or any more information about them

The first of these is another view from the corner of Brighton and Whitehall Roads, showing the three main school buildings. I distinctly remember that “shed” in the foreground. What was a surprise on seeing this were the low buildings behind that little wall. Certainly they were gone by my time; I can’t help wonder what they were. Looking through some old maps they appear to date from the late forties/early fifties (Which I think fits the photo).

Brighton Avenue school from the corner of Brighton Road and Whitehall Road

Brighton Road with School

Brighton Avenue school from the corner of Brighton Road and Whitehall Road

Bensham in the late 1960s/early 1970s

Pre-1974 Map

Bensham in the late 1960s/early 1970s

I think the maps show those buildings vanishing in the sixties/early seventies—I’m presuming this map with shaded buildings is showing the outline of where they were? Incidentally, it does show the lightwells I remember climbing down to retrieve footballs!. When I was at school there was a low wall, roughly where the wall in that photo is. It bordered what was known as the “clay field” which was basically the only bit of grass, slightly raised and running down to Liddell Terrace.

It looks like that wall is the same line as the fence visible in this (I believe earlier) photo, taken from that illusive other side (though really, I want to be further to the left). You can just about make out those lightwells on the larger building. The single storey building in my period held the canteen and, if memory is reliable, music teaching rooms. That same dodgy memory tells me that the top left room of the building behind was my first junior school classroom, with Mrs Knighton.

Brighton Ave

Brighton Avenue

Finally another Gateshead Libraries photo, one of my favourites so far, as it shows a view across the playground (Brighton Road side) from the juniors across to the distant infants.

Looking across the full school

Brighton Avenue 1966

Looking across the full school

And yet more:
The school on the left in the snow, along with the now gone church on the right

Freezy Brighton Road

The school on the left in the snow, along with the now gone church on the right

Brighton Avenue infants in a blanket of snow. Probably late 1980s, early 1990s

Winter Whitehall Road

Brighton Avenue infants in a blanket of snow. Probably late 1980s, early 1990s

After trawling through a couple of Facebook groups (realising you can search a group helps!) there are a few more. The first two make me feel cold, a reminder of the wintry walks to school and back of my youth. One is a view along Brighton Road from the corner with Whitehall, the school stretching away to the left. It’s unclear quite when the photo is from but it’s pretty much the view I remember. The other snowy scene is from roughly the same place, looking down the hill of Whitehall Road with the infants building huddled in the snow (and look how hard it is to distinguish road from path!)

The final shot looks back up the hill from the other end, and a much earlier time. I’d forgotten how substantial that building actually was, becoming taller as it stretched down the hill like that.

Looking up the hill at the infants. I'd forgotten how bulky it was at this end

Infant School

Looking up the hill at the infants. I’d forgotten how bulky it was at this end

And More Again:
This is the yard behind the "catering" block, with the junior school beyond

Brighton Avue Rear

This is the yard behind the “catering” block, with the junior school beyond

Looking across from somewhere down Bensham Road. Seen in 1983

From Bensham Road

Looking across from somewhere down Bensham Road. Seen in 1983

Three further photographs. The first is basically the reverse view of the 1966 shot above (and presumably taken at the same time), looking back towards the Brighton Road side of the juniors.

Secondly we have an interesting, if obscured, view from somewhere down Bensham Road (near the corner with Liddell Terrace by the looks of it). The south of Brighton Road has gone, with Ravensworth Terrace removed to Beamish. I remember being sad when they removed those trees to build the new school. I don’t remember the school being so set back from the road at the south as it appears here, with the grassy area, but it was a while ago—the shot is apparently from 1983 so there’s not quite the chance I was in the building’s visible.

The final shot is something of a holy grail. This is my playground. The Liddell Terrace side of the school, from on the “clay field”. The later low extensions to the nearer building are all there and the junior school stands proud beyond (off left, a little out of shot, are the sheds). Though there’s smoke coming out the chimney the boarded up lightwells (or were they always? I don’t think so) and what looks like the new school in the distance suggest this might be near the end. Still nice to see it!

A view from the front, from on the "clay field" looking across the yard I remember playing in

My School

A view from the front, from on the “clay field” looking across the yard I remember playing in

Stolen from Facebook:

A lovely shot from the corner of Liddell Terrace, showing the side of the school that my memory associates with (despite home was the other way)

From The Corner

Brighton Avenue from the corner of Whitehall Road nad Liddell Terrace

Brighton Avenue

Back when I was younger than I am now, I attended school. Big shock. More to the point, I attended Brighton Avenue School. That’s not particularly strange either; it was the local school after all, which I could see (before they pulled the old buildings down) from my house. What was a little strange, and never explained by any of the people I’d casually thought to ask over the years, was why it was Brighton Avenue. If you take a look at the school’s location, you’ll find a distinct lack of Brighton Avenue (I should point out that I went to school I went to the lovely original buildings which stood where the playing fields now are. The modern buildings were opened just after I left and were built on what had been waste ground but before that held more housing. I’ve always had it on very good authority that what stood there wasn’t a Brighton Avenue though—incidentally, the street which was there, Ravensworth Terrace, actually still exists, transported brick by brick to Beamish Museum).

Scanned section of the old OS map, with Brighton Avenue (now road) and the school highlighted

Brighton Avenue

Scanned section of the old OS map, with Brighton Avenue (now road) and the school highlighted

So why Brighton Avenue School was Brighton Avenue, rather than say Brighton Road, was one of those little personal mysteries we all have scattered in out lives. Things we’d sort of like to know, and occasionally remember to ask about, but never get round to properly researching when Google fails to shed instant light. Except it’s not a mystery any more (as you may have guessed from there being a blog post about it). One of my obsessions (on a level to neatly match little personal mysteries) is with maps, modern and old. Hence I bought a handful of old map reprints for my enjoyment (may I recommend the service of Alan Godfrey Maps while I’m at it). One of those was the 1894 OS map of south Gateshead (actually, the second edition of 1897). I can only presume I’ve never seen this before because right there is clearly marked Brighton Avenue (the highlighting in that scanned section is obviously mine). Today it would be, and is, called Brighton Road and indeed runs by the school. Everybody seems to have forgotten that it was originally Avenue. I have no idea when that changed, though I do have a 1930-something map with Brighton Road marked, so it must have been in those 40 years or so. Of course this had always been a strong candidate for an explanation, and wasn’t that uncommon (the Rawling Street shown a little further south on that section is now also a road for example) but it’s nice to finally know.

Here we go again then. Haway the lads.