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).
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
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.
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).
What I’d really like is a view form the other, Liddell Terrace, side. The search continues!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 lovely shot from the corner of Liddell Terrace, showing the side of the school that my memory associates with (despite home being the other way)
Noodling around the internet revealed something not actually photographic but none the less interesting. The planning application for forming the playground on the site of the old school (sadly there doesn’t seem to be anything from the old school itself, or its demolition) includes an existing elevation drawing, showing some of the details of the basic walls which surrounded, originally, the school itself.