Pupils popped into pub

South Shields Gazette Memory Lane  May 1950  no old ref number    'Excusion to Alnwick and Kelso.
South Shields Gazette Memory Lane May 1950 no old ref number 'Excusion to Alnwick and Kelso.

When Sonny Hobson and his classmates went on a school trip to Alnwick and Kelso, 65 years ago, little did they know the “hullaballoo” they would cause when they had a “bit of a carry on” and went missing.

For the pupils from Westoe County Secondary School were late getting back to the train station for the journey home, earning themselves the stick.

But, according to Sonny, the five youngsters had the last laugh. For the reason why the “smartly dressed” 12 and 13-year-olds were delayed, was they stopped off at the pub – for a beer.

Sonny got in touch after seeing a photo of himself and his classmates in Time Of Our Lives recently.

He recognised all but one of the lads (though thankfully some of the other boys pictured or knew them, also made contact).

So, from left to right, are Malcolm Jenkins, Les Crompton, Dennis Middleton, Sonny Hobson and Derek Atkinson.

“The picture was taken during a school trip,” explained 79-year-old Sonny.

“The teacher pictured with us was Mr Oldroyd, who used to teach a number of subjects.”

Mr Hobson, who lives in Kingsway, said as far as he can remember, the school had booked a train for all the pupils in his year to go to Alnwick and Kelso.

However, he and his mates, who were supposed to get back to the train station at a certain time “wandered off” and were late making it back.

“We were having a bit of a carry on,” he admits.

“When we finally got back, they were all waiting for us. “There was a real hullaballoo, and we didn’t half get told off by the teachers.”

Now, although the boys were only 12 and 13 at the time, the way they were dressed made them look older, which might explain how they managed to get served in the pub.

“We went into a pub, and I think we had a half of beer each,” explains Mr Hobson.

“Although we got the stick for being late, it was something to tell the lads.”

Mr Hobson likened the incident to the time on TV’s Porridge (A Day Out) when Norman Stanley Fletcher (Ronnie Barker) – as part of a working party from the prison – volunteers to go to the chemist for ointment, only to end up in the pub.

Fellow pupil Les Crompton also got in touch when he saw the photo, but he has no recollection of “popping into the pub”.

He said the trip happened during the last year the pupils were at the school.

“The photo shows us and Mr Oldroyd, who was known to us as Beaky, looking up at the figures on Alnwick Castle ramparts.”

“It was a super trip, but I can’t remember going into a pub, maybe that’s because of the half!

“It may be right, Sonny is a wee bit younger than me,” added Mr Crompton, who, upon leaving school, went on to serve his apprenticeship as a joiner in Middle Docks, South Shields.

After serving his national service in the Army, with the 15/19 King’s Royal Hussars, Mr Crompton returned to Middle Docks before moving to Wallsend, where he retired as ship repair manager.

“I was amazed to see that old photo,”he added.

Another person who was delighted to see the picture was John Atkinson, whose brother Derek was in the photo.

John also went to Westoe Secondary, but was a year or so older than the other lads mentioned, so was not in the same year – or on the trip.

He said his brother, who now lives in Australia, was a member of the DLI Cadet Band, in which he played the clarinet.

“He served his time as an electrician at Whitburn Colliery before moving to the shipyards.

“After that, he got a job with an American oil company and moved to Australia.”

l Meanwhile, film-maker Gary Wilkinson has renewed his appeal for stories and images relating to workingmen’s clubs.

“The recent filming in the British Legion Club, Queen Street, South Shields, for “Home From Home” went really well,” said Gary.

“There was bingo and a turn, by excellent vocalist Alan Knights, all in a full lounge.

“Among others I interviewed were Pam Carroll, steward of the club, retired comedian Ned Kelly, musicians Jack Berry, Joe Peterson and Michael Davis, plus 12 other people who told some great and really funny stories about the clubs.

“What I am looking for now is some archive photographs or video of a club in full swing to help illustrate the film.

“Maybe some of your readers have some?

“I can be contacted on 07949 328 066 or email gwfilmmaker@yahoo.co.uk”