Gasometer brought back thoughts of air raid drills

THROUGH THE RED DOOR ... Gilbert Street School, before its closure in the 1970s.
THROUGH THE RED DOOR ... Gilbert Street School, before its closure in the 1970s.

THE thought of small children practising for an air raid chills the blood these days.

But it was something that immediately came to mind for a reader when she saw the picture the other night, of the gasometer in Shields, with a field of mud in the foreground that eventually became the site of Asda.

She was taken straight back to her time at St Hilda’s School, which was close by, during the last war.

Now 82, she was Jean Connett in those days and remembers taking part, with fellow pupils, in an air raid drill which, at one point, involved having to walk along the top of the school’s wooden bench seats because the ground round about was similarly awash and dirty.

“Everything was thick with mud,” she says.

This was before a purpose-built air raid shelter was built on to the school.

* Talking of schools, a little while ago, another reader was asking if anyone had a photograph of old Gilbert Street School in Shields.

I must belatedly thank Maureen West, who taught at the school for four years until its closure in the late 1970s, for this picture of the building, which I don’t doubt will be very evocative for all those who came and went through that door.

If it is still needed, and the original inquirer gets in touch, I’ll pass it on.