Remembering the terrible winters - where you still made it to school

Life, they say, is an education, and for many of us, the education we receive at school goes on to shape the life we lead.

Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 7:58 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 12:58 pm
In October 1970, after 120 years, Barnes Road Junior School finally has a dining room, converted from the air raid shelter that stood in the yard. For many years the pupils have had to walk to Dean Road in all weathers for school dinners. The School Meals Acts of 1906 provided children with free school dinners.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be taught by teachers who are passionate about their chosen subjects and accompanied by kindly classmates, some of whom remain friends for life.

For the less fortunate, school can be a long and often unpleasant passage from childhood to our teenage years.

Back in October 1969 Lewis Ogle, chairman and coach of the South Shields Referees' Society in pictured instructing pupils at Barnes Road Junior School on football laws.

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Today, local historian and regular Time Of Our Lives contributor, Andrew Grant, takes a look-back at some of South Tyneside’s schools, tracing their history and talking to former pupils.

Andrew starts by turning the spotlight on Barnes Road Infants and Junior School.

He says the school was established in 1844 by the Jarrow Chemical Company for the children of employees.

“At first, it occupied the old station at High Shields, before moving into its new premises on the corner of Barnes Road and Eldon Street in 1850.”

Barnes Road Infants' School open day in July 1967. Pictured are Keith Perry, Stephen Saleh, Kim Sinclair and Janet Murray.

As part of his research, Andrew spoke to ex-pupil Elizabeth Coffey.

“Elizabeth started at Barnes Road Infants in 1947”, says Andrew.

“She lived in South Palmerston Street, which was approximately 50 feet away from the school.

“During her first year at school, she remembers going up the back lane through a wall of snow.”

“It was a terrible winter that year,” Elizabeth recalls.

“All the men, the fathers and grandfathers dug a trench up the middle of the lane because the snow was about four feet over our heads.”

Barnes Roads, she states, was a very popular and well-thought of school.

The entrance to the juniors was in Palmerston Street, one entrance for the boys and one for girls; the boys school upstairs and the girls downstairs.

“The boys and girls also had separate playgrounds.

“I’m not sure when, but in between my time at Barnes and my children’s time there, the schools amalgamated. It was always a happy school.”

Andrew’s research also uncovered the fact that in 1906 the School Meals Act was passed, providing children in South Shields and elsewhere would with free school meals in order to make them fit to do their schoolwork.

Watch out for more of Andrew’s school stories soon.