Packing On Fast-Track: Penultimate Day At Eskdale, 6th July 2016

It’s just as well my week-by-week narrative of the Tankerville renovations was nearing its natural conclusion, because, by Wednesday July 6th, I really was struggling to find a new ‘point-of-view.’  But I did find one that day, the very last Wednesday I would ever journey up to the old Church High building at lunchtime in term-time.  For, hard as it was to believe, my enforced two year stint working within the old Central Newcastle High School building was nearly over.  Only two more days of the 2015-16 academic year now remained.

I don’t know how I hadn’t noticed the bright yellow City Council parking suspension sign in front of Tankerville House, but I hadn’t.  I suppose most of the time my attention had been focused in the opposite direction.  However, it was interesting now to see the predicted project timescale written down in numbers: 50 weeks.  We were not there yet, clearly, but my first encounter with Wates Project Manager, Nick White, outside Westward House the previous August seemed an age ago now.  Nevertheless, looking around me, there was still an awful lot of work to be done.  And I mean an awful lot.  I had faith though, despite the whisperings gathering momentum around Eskdale that the site wouldn’t be ready in time and we’d be forced to stay put for another term.  I swear that would have killed me.  It’s no secret the Eskdale buildings and I was not a match made in Heaven.  No, we didn’t get on at all – neither mentally nor spiritually, but particularly not physically.  The whole two years felt like a war of attrition to me and, by the end, I was definitely losing.

But, as the logo on a van taking advantage of the parking suspension on Tankerville Terrace that day proclaimed, all things to do with ‘The Move’ were being fast-tracked now.  In stark contrast to the tranquil, almost sleepy, atmosphere around leafy, old Church High.

That little wall outside the site gates was in disrepair yet again.

No work appeared to be being done inside the old Boiler Room.

And by the movement by Westward House it was clearly lunchtime.

The scene I’d left behind me that day in the Head of Year Office, as I set out once again with my trusty camera, was very different indeed.

The decamping process is now in full swing in the HOY Office.

There was no doubt an executive decision had been taken to ensure that crates wouldn’t be visible around school until it couldn’t be avoided.  But they were even there in Michael Tippet’s Office now.

Michael Tippett’s Deputy Head’s Office on the main corridor.

I returned to school that afternoon to attend an event which only served to underline the fact that the end of an era was nigh: the last End of Year Leavers’ Assembly ever to take place in the Central Hall.

Hilary French waits with prefects for the Hall to start to fill.
The second NHSG IT Team gather in front of the AV booth.
The first girls in teal blue/green jumpers begin to arrive.
And, yes, that really is a stack of red crates behind the screen!
The Hall now a sea of teal, Eskdale’s final assembly begins.

On my way back into the building that day, I remembered to take a couple of photos which made it abundantly clear that the (very, very slowly) shifting sands had finally moved enough to make a visible impact on what had for so long seemed utterly unmoveable.  Where exterior seating had once been, there was now only holes.

Eskdale Terrace’s entrance is looking empty.

Thanks to Giuseppe, we now know where all that seating had gone.

Exterior seating stashed in a cupboard en route to Tankerville.

As the girls filed out of assembly that day, it was possible to see just how far the plague of packing crates had encroached onto corridors.

There is now no doubt we are ‘on the move.’

Whilst everybody else was in the Hall saying their goodbyes to those members of staff who were leaving and wouldn’t be making the full NHSG journey, ICT Support had clearly been very busy.

A large pile of crates had appeared on the bottom corridor.

The first pile of filled crates lined up outside the ICT Support office left everyone in no doubt this move was definitely now underway.  And the white labels made it very clear where we were all heading.

The wheel is now come full circle and the word is ‘Karma’.

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