Knowing that Handover was due to happen on Friday 26th August, where do you think I ended up late morning on Saturday 27th then? Well I used my ‘noggin’, took a chance and it paid off. If you’ve been following this story all the way, you now may well be of the opinion that, if not exactly mad, I have certainly been ‘very dedicated’ to the task I set myself way back in 2015. Perhaps ridiculously so, I know. In all honesty, on April 20th nearly two and a half years ago, when I realised demolition of Church High Junior School had already begun and decided to take my camera to work the next day to get some pictures for posterity, I had no idea where it would lead. All I knew was I had loved my time at Church High. Really, really loved it. And as I had served as magazine Editor, I had always taken photos of the key events each year. It just became a habit, I guess. Two phrases come strongly to mind here and I swear by both of them: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and ‘If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well.’ I also firmly and truly believe that Truth Conquers All.
In addition to depositing a lot of artefacts detailing the last year of Church High with Tyne & Wear Archives, I’ve also become a bit of an archivist myself since the summer of 2014. Sometimes you don’t appreciate things – and I mean the real value of things – until you have lost them. EBay has provided me with quite a few objects which will become the subject of historical posts when the building full-circle has been fully recorded. Despite the pain and sadness along the way, it has been quite a story, you know. Moves and transitions on this scale haven’t happened to that many schools. When I joined Church High, and for a good many years after that, engraved silver spoons were traditionally the Governors’ Gift to departing staff. The presentations were always made in the Dining Hall at a Governors’ Tea Party all staff were ‘invited’ to attend after the End of Term Service at St. George’s. I say invited, but it was always a three-line-whip job. I remember a number of long-serving staff saying just before they left, ‘And I do NOT want to be given spoons!’ I wonder if any regret this now? I would have loved some, but that tradition had died out long before the end. Very expensive, I’d guess. Imagine my joy, therefore, to spot this online. And it’s a heavy, early one too.
I have always loved history. I studied it at university as well as English and was a member of the Richard III Society for many years. Perhaps that’s where I gained my passion for digging for the truth, uncovering white-washes and vindicating lost causes? Who knows. But it’s amazing what can be recovered with time, effort and patience. I learned this as a girl watching Rosemary Cramp’s archaeological dig at St Paul’s Church and Monastery, Jarrow, where my Aunt, Anne Black, was Verger. Now that is really slow work. I recall being fascinated by the time-consuming activity of students gently removing soil from between the ribs of an Anglo-Saxon monk’s skeleton. And the tool being used? Why a teaspoon, of course.
They say that ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’. So I have an early rise on a Saturday in the hope of getting some shots of the move into Tankerville to thank for the bonus opportunity of recording the emptying of Eskdale that day. When I turned the corner after leaving Jesmond Metro station, that line of shiny, bright red removal vans was really very hard to miss.
Just as had been said about the furniture from Church High, Hilary had said very little from Eskdale would get into the new school too. From what I saw the men loading onto the van, it was largely tables.
For a firm of Office Removal Specialists, the name Braines was most apt and raised a wry smile. Since everyone was on the move all the time, I got no names on this occasion but the driver had a nice smile.
One thing is for sure, I’ve made a lot of friends and met some really genuine people in the process of taking photos over the course of this project. We’ve had some laughs and I have learned a lot. About architecture, fire-proofing, engineering, joinery – you name it. But it’s the connecting and the people I’ll remember for the longest. And that includes the connections made via this blog too. For who could have guessed how widely it would end up being read? Or that it would have Twitter followers and a Facebook page of its own too? By January 27th 2018, the site analytics had been running for two years and again there has been no day blog/website were unviewed. Thank you everyone and for those who are interested in such things let me share with you the results of High Times’ two-year report. The first Google screenshot shows the two-year activity Overview.
Being a bit low at the moment, I hadn’t checked the analytics for some time prior to the anniversary, so the increase in site traffic was very heartening. It’s good to know that people do still care. For those who need the data interpreting, the results were as follows: 7,889 sessions (ie, visits to either the blog or Heritage site); 3,907 different users (though to the computer this means devices used); 18,201 pages have been viewed, with the average of 2.31 pages per session. The average duration of each session is 2 mins 40 seconds. This is good because it indicates that more people stay on the site to look at something else after their initial page view than just log off. Since the initial aim was to establish an active Church High online community, the percentage of returning visitors made even better reading: 50.4% returning visitors and 49.69% new visitors. The fairly even split is also good, of course, because it means that new people are finding their way to the site all the time. A real boost. The horizontal squiggly blue line in the top third of the image shows the number of pages viewed each day. As I have already said, the traffic is constant, averaging about 3-7 hits a day, which isn’t bad at all for a ‘niche’ interest site (or as an online bookseller based in York described it, ‘a real little labour of love, you have got yourself there’). If you’re curious about the huge spike on the continuum near July 2017, this is when the video ‘Church High Made Us Happy’ was uploaded to the Heritage site. It still makes people very happy!
I don’t believe I reproduced the sub-continent report last time, but it is essentially little-changed. The site has been accessed on every continent and now only two subcontinents remain with no activity: Central Asia and West Africa. A bit off the beaten track, I suppose.
As the above image shows, it’s not exactly global domination, but we are getting there! The site has now been accessed in 70 different countries around the world. Most of the site traffic comes from the United Kingdom, of course, but I am constantly surprised how the list keeps extending. The image below shows the top 13 countries for views. Some will be higher owing to 43 views on ‘not set’ devices.
Of course, when you view the analytics report for cities (below), you can see that it just takes one hit in one city for a whole country to ‘light up’ on the map. Nevertheless, I think the total of 608 different cities is still very impressive for a small Newcastle-based school.
Again, it’s not surprising that the United Kingdom expanding out-over into Northern Europe boasts the highest density of access points, shown by the huge blue circle on this area of the map above. Beyond that, it is intriguing to muse on who exactly is reading the copy further afield, although in some cases it will be returning visitors on holiday. The image below shows the top 13 cities for views, this time with 420 visits registered as ‘not set’. Newcastle is top, of course, but London placed next on the list may surprise some.
It just goes to show how big a game-changer the World Wide Web has been in transmitting information and connecting people together. But back in the present (or at least a year and a half ago in blog time), those bright red Braines removal vans did not have very far to travel. Indeed, in the time it took me to walk to the top of Eskdale Terrace crossing Clayton Road and Burdon Terrace on the way, the guys had already arrived at Tankerville and were starting to unload the vans’ contents. In terms of physical distance, this must have been one of the shorter moves this firm would have had to facilitate.
However, as everyone concerned well knew by then, the distance between the schools in other areas had not proved as quick or as easy to bridge. Even now, the lurch of the wrench is still being felt.