Trudging through the snow to get to school in South Shields

Andrew's junior school class.
Andrew's junior school class.

In the second part of his latest piece of family research, local historian Andrew Grant today goes back to school where he “used to ask too many questions”.

He starts by recalling his time at Whiteleas Juniors where discipline was maintained by various types of chastisements and corporal punishment.

“Pupils could be given lines, the cane, the slipper or detention,” says Andrew. “And finally expulsion if a pupil’s behaviour was so bad.

“I got the slipper once, three strokes of it, when all the gym class was punished after someone had done something wrong.

“When fights happened at school, fists were used, there were no weapons.”

On a more harmonious note, Andrew recalls the school assemblies where no doubt hymns were sung and lectures given.

“We had assembly three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, I think, when religion was discussed.”

From the juniors, Andrew moved to Brinkburn Comprehensive where he attended from 1965 to 1971.

“I walked to school over the fields; it was usually a nice walk. However, when I first started there, there was six weeks’ of snow. It was terrible walking in it but nevertheless everyone got there and back home safely.

“Some of the people from school who I knew very well were John Brash, Philip Swinbanks, Audrey Moore, Catherine Deardon, Janet Cains and Janet Dew.

“The teachers I still remember are Mr Spoors, who taught English as did Mr McYhte; Mrs Little; Mr Brown, who taught geography; Mr Black, who taught sport; Mr Kelly, who taught art; Mrs Thompson, who was the cookery teacher; Mr Yarrow, who taught English; Mr Alexander Forrester, who was a good teacher and Mr Fox, who was a kind man and taught me to swim.

“Mr Forrester had been in the army, as had many of my teachers.

“I remember Mr Owens, another one of my teachers, telling us about Iran, explaining how it was a Muslim country and how their system of government was different from ours.

“A number of years later, my relatives, the Thompsons from Morpeth, went to live in Iran, when my uncle was posted there where he worked for the United Nations as a Civil Engineer.”

Andrew tells of the kindness of teachers Mr Summers and Mr Stubbs and how Mr Carr, who was the senior master, was “a good influence on me”.

“Mrs Tate was the deputy head at Brinkburn. This was a good time in my life.

“When I was at Brinkburn, my year went to Catterick Army Camp. Later on Jimmy Robertson and his brother, Ian, joined the Army.”

Back at Brinkburn, Andrew also remembers the annual sports days, and twice taking part in races.

“Thinking back, I also remember doing French at school, visiting Durham Cathedral with the school and I doing an engineering course, which I liked

“There was no school uniforms when I was there but we did have free school dinners, which were very nice – along with home-made meals, including pie and peas, cottage pie, casseroles, steak and egg and chips.”

When it came to exams, Andrew gained six CSEs, three in English, one in geography, one in religious education and one in cookery. I also gained several swimming certificates.

“I do remember asking too many questions at school, although I only sought knowledge; there is an answer to every question, as I now know.”

Outside of school Andrew and his friends used to go trainspotting at Boldon crossing.

“We also went there to collect newts and sticklebacks in jars.”

Do Andrew’s school memories sound familiar to you? Please get in touch with your recollections of the time you spent at school.

How many of your old school pals have you kept in touch with?