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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

Comments and Pings

12 responses

  1. Craig Campbell responded:

    Hi Ian,
    I came across your website whilst (funnily enough) doing some very similar investigative research about old schools in Gateshead. I lived on Liddell Terrace between 1982 and 1996, directly opposite the old Brighton Avenue County Primary School (to give it its full name, as I remember). If you would be interested, I would be very surprised if my parents did not have any photos of the school in a box in the loft! They’re in Spain right now but due back mid-January. I’ll get back to you when I hear more. On a separate note, I’m actually a Primary School teacher myself, having worked at Kelvin Grove Primary School a few years ago. I seem to remember that before Brighton was demolished, the Kelvin kids and staff “moved into” Brighton during the construction of the new Kelvin. Again, if it helps, I’ll use my contacts there to unearth what I can. Hope that helps mate. Kind regards, Craig

    1. Ian Scott responded:

      Craig,

      Thanks for your comment. I’d certainly be interested in any other photographs (as I mentioned, views from that side seem practically non-existent online—possibly thanks to the tall wall rather than railings bordering the school on that side!). I do have one or two from inside the school if they would be of any use to your research (though I confess they are more of a young me than the school interior)

      Now you mention it, Kelvin Grove moving into the old Brighton Avenue buildings does ring a bell, so it was certainly touted though I can’t recall if it actually happened (I’d moved onto another disappeared Gateshead school, Hillhead, by then).

      Incidentally, I’d imagine you’re quite familiar with this building I mentioned recently!

      1. Craig Campbell responded:

        Hi Ian,

        Thanks for your reply. I have had a quick look in amongst some old photographs and I have found one of the school from the Liddell Terrace side, taken in c1988. It’s actually a photo of my little brother riding his bike – the Junior School building is reasonably visible in the background. I’d actually forgotten how grand those red-brick buildings were – must have been pretty daunting to kids back then! (as compared to modern, identikit school building blueprints). I’ll get it scanned and send it to you. I also have 2 others which show part of the Infant School in the background, though as I mentioned earlier today, my parents will almost certainly have more.
        As kids, my brothers and I used to spend hours and hours playing in the deserted Brighton Avenue playgrounds after school and at weekends – football, hide and seek etc! Great days. The caretaker (Mr Myers) was our nemesis! When were you a pupil there? I myself went to Corpus Christi Primary School, just along the road, between 1983 and 1989. Yes – photographs of the interior of Brighton would be interesting – in all those years I don’t recall ever going inside. As for Kelvin Grove temporarily using Brighton Avenue, I’m almost certain that they did. I do remember the old Kelvin being vandalised and set on fire, probably in the summer of 1989 or 1990. Funnily enough, a recently retired colleague of mine did his initial teaching practice at Brighton Avenue in the late 60s/early 70s. I bet the approaches to behaviour management were somewhat different! Anyway, thanks again Ian and I’ll be in touch. Craig

        1. Ian Scott responded:

          Marvellous Craig, thanks very much. I’ll have a dig through photos for interior shots when I’m home.

          I don’t think the buildings were imposing, just exciting and mysterious with the huge rooms and bits we weren’t allowed in (plus the tales of ghosts in the cellar and mirror, and the boots bricked up a chimney). Some of the teachers on the other hand…

          I was there from 1982 (or slightly earlier, as I went to the nursery) until ’88 before going to Hillhead for a couple of years until it closed and then Kingsmeadow (which was basically Dunston Comp under a new name). I think I was in either the last or second last lot of leavers from the old buildings, so Kelvin moving in and being vandalised around that time fits.

          1. Craig Campbell responded:

            Fascinating stuff – sounds like you were in the year below me – I left Corpus Christi in July ’89 (notable for us being the last cohort of kids not to be taught under the inaugural National Curriculum which came into force that September). Do you happen to remember a teacher at Brighton called Mr Treherne? He was a music teacher who I later worked with at Kelvin Grove – I think he was a brass specialist. With regard to Kingsmeadow, we were joined in 6th Form at St. Thomas More, Blaydon (my senior school) by a few lads from Kingsmeadow in ’94. Do the names Chris McAloon, Steven Horn or Jason Mowbray ring a bell with you? They were probably in the year above you. As far as the drill hall on Liddell Terrace goes, my memories of the building whilst I lived there was that it was a timber or metal works of some sort. Obviously in more recent years it has become part of the St. Chad’s organisation. As for the Kelvin Grove transition to Brighton, the Head Teacher of Kelvin at the time would have been Alan Sergison (who, ironically I have had recent dealings with in his capacity as an Ofsted inspector) – I will try to contact him and ascertain whether his school did relocate. I will also email the head at the new Brighton Avenue – they are bound to have a treasure trove of documentation relating to their predecessor. Haha you’ve started something here mate and ignited my 80s nostalgia too!

            This response

  2. khalda khan responded:

    Hi I’m looking for some old photos of kelvin grove primary school from 1979 til 1985,
    Was this school a religious school, because from my memory, saying prays at the beginning of the day, at lunch time before food and at home time seem like a catholic school. I enjoyed being there. We also used to visit the church. I want to show my children what my school was like at which I went. It would be much appreciated if anybody has any pic,

    1. Ian Scott responded:

      I found a handful of photos while looking for Brighton Avenue. See this page.

      Brighton Avenue certainly wasn’t catholic, or Church of England for that matter, and I suspect very much Kelvin Grove wasn’t either. Sadly at that period daily prayers were extremely common within schools, particularly primary schools, there being no separation of church and state within this country. I too recall the bible lessons and assembly prayers.

  3. richard clayton responded:

    hi, i went to brighton road /ave between the years of 1976 and 81. i have so many memories of that school. i remember we used to play tuggy around what used to be the outside toilet block in front of the canteen, i was sad when i heard the school had been demolished. best years of my life. i lived on Rawling road at the time. Now live in spain but still think of that school.

    1. Ian Scott responded:

      For some reason those old toilet blocks (the “sheds”) used to fascinate me. Seem to recall the columns at the front made for quite good goalposts too!

  4. Bernard Tuck responded:

    Hi,

    I attended Brighton Road School and was in the class of 1958 (top pic of this post) second row from the top, five in from left to right.

    Mr Botcherby was the headmaster (centre of pic) My teacher in the 1958 year was a Mr Fisher (ex RAF) he was one of the best.

  5. Bill Smith responded:

    Hello Ian
    I am researching the history of 10th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment in the Great War. Several of ‘my’ officers and men spent time with 83rd Training Reserve Battalion, based at Brighton Road (sic.) Schools, Gateshead. I have a number of photos which I believe may be taken around the school around 1917-18. I am very happy to share them and would welcome your ideas on whether you would be able to identify them as being taken at the school.
    Hope to hear from you.
    Regards
    Bill

    1. Ian Scott responded:

      Hi Bill,
      I’d be very happy to look at any photos you may have. I may have a fair shot at identifying any locations (at least if they existed beyond the war)–I take it your aware of the drill hall immediately adjacent the school on Liddell Terrace?

      Regards

      Ian

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