Schoolgirl friends return to new guise of South Shields landmark where they played 70 years ago

Girls Grammer School friends reunion at former Ghandi's Temple, Colmans Seafood Temple
Girls Grammer School friends reunion at former Ghandi's Temple, Colmans Seafood Temple

Hitler’s bombs could not part them – and neither has age withered them.

And now, more than 70 years later, a group of old school pals remain determined to keep their home fires burning by meeting each month to talk about the past, present and future.

Gandhi's Temple as it was. picture by  David Barber

Gandhi's Temple as it was. picture by David Barber

With a combined age of around 800, the group – most of whom were pupils at the former Girls’ Grammar School in Mowbray Road, South Shields, and wartime evacuees - insist they still have many more good times ahead.

Thanks to the placement of an advert in the Gazette around 25 years ago, they were brought back together and have remained in close touch ever since.

It leads to occasions of recounting the years between 1939 and 1943, when they were forced to leave their school and families and seek safety from Nazi bombers in the town of Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria.

Group stalwart Jean Southern, 90, says Colman’s Seafood Temple was an obvious choice for yesterday’s gathering because many pupils at the school used to play around Gandhi’s Temple, around which the restaurant was built.

Pupils at the Girls Grammer School

Pupils at the Girls Grammer School

She said: “Most of our group went to the school and were evacuated to Kirkby Lonsdale soon after war broke out.

“Every child at the school, whose parents would allow, left South Shields. Some of us enjoyed being away, others less so.

“We all went to the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Kirkby Lonsdale, and we used to go back to the village every year, but that has tailed off.”

She added: “About 34 people responded to the advert, but sadly a few have since left us since. There are eight here today but another group member could not make it.

Older pupils at the Girls Grammer School.

Older pupils at the Girls Grammer School.

“It’s very nice to still meet up. We care about each other and look after each other.”

Girls Grammer School friends reunion at former Ghandhi's Temple, Colmans Seafood Temple

Girls Grammer School friends reunion at former Ghandhi's Temple, Colmans Seafood Temple