Recalling times at South Shields schools

Andrew's class at Whiteleas Infants School.
Andrew's class at Whiteleas Infants School.

For some people memories of school days linger, for others they’re glad to cast them to the back of them mind, where, hopefully, they’re forgotten.

Today, South Shields amateur historian Andrew Grant shares with us recollections of his early life and the times he spent at school.

Born at 214 Chichester Road, Andrew and his mam, Anna Phyllis (who worked as a clerk for the Victoria Bottling Company and later for the Engineering Department, South Shields Council) and dad Lewis (who worked for the Parks Department), moved to 91 Rubens Avenue, Whiteleas, when their son was three.

“The property at Chichester Road was an old one,” recalls Andrew, “while the house at Rubens Avenue was a new council house with a bathroom and a toilet inside the house. It also had a garden.

“My first memories of Whiteleas Infants School where I went to when I was five years old, was how small and compact it was. It was just down the end of my street so it was not too far to go to.

“The headmistress there was Miss Clancy, who was a small lady and who was good at her job: she took a real interest in her pupils. My first teacher was Miss Joan Burns who taught English.

“She was understanding towards me, and this helped me to adjust to being at school.

“I also remember the English teacher, Mrs Blackburn. Although she didn’t teach me, she too was good at her job. My best subjects at infants school were English, history, geography and music.

“I played football, rugby, cricket and rounders, though I wasn’t as good at sport as I was at those academic subject I mentioned.”

When he wasn’t at school doing lessons in class or playing sports, Andrew, like most boys, enjoyed reading comics and watching telly.

“I remember reading comics like the Victor and the Hotspur.

“When I got home I would watch TV shows like the Woodentops, Bill and Ben, Thunderbirds, and later on, Star Trek.”

Andrew goes on to recount some of the pals he made at school.

“I got on well with John Brash, William Wilson, Leslie Pounder, Derek Salam and Malcolm Grosby, who became a good professional footballer and football manager.

“John Sword was friendly towards me too, as was Derek Salam, Philip Swinbanks and John Robe.

“Some other people I remember from the infants school were Anthony Sheppard and Kenneth Oliver. Some of the girls I was with at the infants school were Janice Laing, Janet Dew, Audrey Moore and Catherine Deardon.

“I still have a photograph, taken during my time at Whiteleas Infants with my fellow pupils (which is attached).

“The lady in the glasses is the headmistress Miss Clancy, the other teacher is Mrs Taylor.

“When I moved from Whiteleas Infants to Whiteleas Juniors, some of those same people moved with me, namely John Sword, Derek Salam, Philip Swinbanks, Lesley Pounder, William West, John Robe, Audrey Moore, Janet Dew and Catherine Deardon.

“It was a mixed Church of England School and my best subjects there were English, geography, religious education, history and biology, although I was no good at maths.

“The headmaster at Whiteleas Juniors was Mr King, who had been in the army, as had a number of my other teachers.

“Mr Clint was an English teacher who taught sports as well. I also remember Mr West who was a very good teacher.”

Tomorrow Andrew continues his journey through junior school and on to senior school, recalling the good times (such as school trips) and the bad times (facing the dreaded slipper).

What were your school days like, did you like them or did you hate them?