Christmas 2015 on Tankerville: New Build Floor nearly complete and New Extension steel delivered, 16th December

School Church in December sunshine: St George's, Jesmond.
School Church in December sunshine: St George’s, Jesmond.

Wednesday 16th December was the last day of the Autumn Term at Newcastle High School for Girls, the day both starting and ending at St Georges’ Church, Jesmond where the School Carol Service was held.  In recent years, the Church High Carol Service had been celebrated here too, though for many years it was held in the United Reformed Church next door on Tankerville Terrace, with hot mince pies provided in the Senior School Dining Room afterwards for all.

Mince Pies in the Dining Room, Tankerville c 1986
Mince Pies in the old CH Dining Room, Tankerville c 1986.  (Head of Geography, Miss Hazel Weatherill, right of image)

Walking down Tankerville from St George’s via the railway bridge in crisp sunshine post-service, I arrived at the site from the opposite direction to usual and was presented with a disorientating surprise.  The site access seemed nearer than it should have been and, when I arrived there, looked very different: a second site access had been created at the far end of the staff car park alongside the Sports Hall.  I later learned this had been in place for two months, unbeknownst to me; it certainly offered a different perspective on the new build.

New Approach: second site access by Sports Hall.
New approach route reveals 2nd site access by Sports Hall.

There were new workmen on site today and the gentleman pictured below had already been bowled over by the architecture within the old building so we hit it off from the start.  Knowing that last week just a small area of floor was left to be laid under the new build, I had expected my attention to be focused there first today.  Instead my eyes were immediately drawn to the big red crane now positioned in the area of the new extension with a shiny stack of grey metal nearby.  The first load of steel for the new extension had now arrived and work was clearly underway on the construction of the main frame.

The red crane now hovers by a pile of newly delivered steel for the new extension.
A big red crane & newly delivered steel mark the new extension site with new man-on-the-job, Bob, in the foreground.

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This modern extension to the old building will not only be glass-fronted, it will also house the relocated north staircase following the demolition of the old wooden stairs by Thompsons earlier in the year.  Plans on display in the Entrance Hall of Wates’ Site Office in Westward House show the position of this new flight of stairs.  Photographs of site work reproduced alongside also include an image (bottom left) of the site of the original stairs post demolition.

Elevations of the old building show position of new stairs.
Elevations of the old building  in Westward House show the intended position of the new  extension stairs (bottom left).
Photos in Westward of the demolition work also show the site of the old stairs (bottom left).
Wates’ photos in Westward  House of the demolition work also show the site of the original wooden north staircase (bottom left).

The final work on the new build floor was at an interesting stage too.  True, the last section of concrete had not yet been laid, but by arriving on site today I was able to see up close through the lens of my camera the metal caging now all in place waiting to receive it.

The last bit of new build floor is ready for the concrete.
The last bit of new build floor is ready for the concrete.

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Leaving the site to make my way back down to Eskdale, I looked for a bin to discard the Starbucks coffee cup bought on Acorn Road, which had previously been warming both my hands and my insides.  The nearest one was behind Tankerville House and on crossing the road I realised that, despite working in these buildings for 29 years, I hadn’t ever looked at the Sixth Form block from this angle before.

Tankerville House Sixth Form block from the rear.
Tankerville  Sixth Form block from the rear.

This building once housed Church High Junior School before the modern Junior School was built on adjoining Orphanage Gardens land.  It made me smile to see the Modern Foreign Languages Department’s satellite dish still in place, marking them as the last inhabitants of 1, Haldane Terrace which adjoined Tankerville House.  However, my attention was quickly drawn to a ramshackle pile of old wood just beyond the gate which must have lain there exposed to the elements for the last year and a half.  Sad yet also amazing.  As I mused on this, I suddenly realised I had a fair idea what it was.

Ramshackle wood long forgotten in Tankerville yard.
Old wood long forgotten behind Tankerville.

I have always had a love for old wood; it was once a living thing and when worn and misshapen by age, it is always fascinating to wonder how many bodies have touched it over the years to make it that way.

2 thoughts on “Christmas 2015 on Tankerville: New Build Floor nearly complete and New Extension steel delivered, 16th December”

  1. Do you know where that broken chair was from, Christine? Looking at the rear of Tankerville reminded me of when I used to arrive first in the building on cold winter mornings and walk along the “spooky corridor” to the MFL staffroom. On a lighter note, I can also think of a few occasions when we “climbed” through the rear downstairs window into the small yard to get some sun during our lunch break and had even considered at one point creating a small secret MFL patio area with plants etc – happy memories!

    1. I don’t know where it is from, Hilary, but I was right in what I thought it was – but with a little twist! Will save that little narrative for a future post, if you don’t mind ☺️ Despite the undeniable sadness, this is proving to be an interesting and, hopefully, healing journey I’m on here. To quote ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, one of my favourite books, in ‘the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned’ …’there is a deeper magic still’. Thanks for sharing the memories. I hope it prompts more people to do so; that’s the whole point of the blog.

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